Tuesday, 22 May 2018

"Come And Stay With Me" (a.k.a. "Vincent van Gogh on his way to work")

Above: Come and Stay With Me by Harry Pye May 2018. Every artist is influenced by other artists. Sometimes it's surprising who inspired who. In Vincent van Gogh's later years he became very interested in Japanese prints that depicted plum orchards or celebrated the arrival of blossom. He was amused by the way Japanese artists gave the impression that making their work was "as simple as breathing" and as straightforward as butting up a shirt in the morning. Vincent's versions of these prints tended to feature more thrusting brush stokes and he'd swap some colours around so pink might become orange, he'd also paint black outlines round trees. On the first of May 1888 Vincent wrote a letter to his brother Theo to thank him for sending him some money (on this occasion he'd received a 50 franc note). In the letter he mentions he has discovered this new house that is yellow on the outside, white on the inside, and has a red brick floor. About 4 weeks later, Vincent writes to his brother again and this time he asks if Theo would mind contacting his friend Paul Gauguin? He says let Gauguin know that the yellow house has 2 bed rooms and he adds "You know that I have always thought it idiotic the way painters live alone. you always lose by being isolated." Paul Gauguin was based in Brittany at this point. Gauguin was a friend of Theo's who Vincent had got to meet in Paris. They got on ok but P.G. had found V.v.G a bit intense. There was also a bit of a problem in that P.G. was an atheist and VvG was the type of chap who believed every single word of the bible was true.
Vincent started to go on walks to a place called Tarascon and, my understanding is that he began to get a bit obsessed with the idea that if Paul Gauguin did come and stay with him in the yellow house all his problems would be solved he wouldn't have to worry about money any more and Gauguin would encourage his work and give him advice and support.
I think Vincent was happy fantasising about a best possible scenario of the two artists being under the same roof. Throughout the Summer Van Gogh started making paintings that were intended to decorate Gauguin's bedroom. He writes to another friend that he's excited about a dozen or so paintings he's made of Sunflowers that feature a yellow that will blaze forth on various backgrounds.
By September the Yellow house has been done up to Vincent's satisfaction and he paints his bedroom and then he does a self portrait which again he intends to give to Gauguin as a present.
A short time later Vincent writes in one letter that he is out of money lives on just bread and that he drinks 23 cups of coffee a day. I think when Vincent tells Paul that he paints he does so as though he's a sleep walker I think Gauguin gets cold feet about the whole idea of living with him and it dawns on him that there might be trouble ahead. However, Theo van Gogh manages to sell one of Gauguin's paintings for him and, knowing that his brother isn't the easiest person to live with, he promises Paul that if he does go and stay with Vincent he will actually pay him 150 francs a month. Vincent felt bad that he was financially dependant on his brother but dreamed that one day his paintings would be highly thought of: "I cannot help it that my paintings don't sell. Nevertheless the time will come when people see that they are worth more than the price of paint" Many, many years after his death Francis Bacon made a series of works inspired by Van Gogh's image of a painter on the way to work.
Bacon said he loved the way Vincent lied to get to the truth. But Gauguin couldn't see the quality that Bacon saw. Gauguin believed Van Gogh should use his imagination rather than exaggerate what he saw in front of him. To put it in a nutshell - he wanted van Gogh to be more like him. The whole idea of Vincent painting himself on the way to work and deluding himself that Gauguin will be the expediter of his dreams is something I find very interesting. "Life is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel." In my painting my intention isn't to make fun of Vincent - what I'm doing is presenting him as I see him which is like a child whose head is full of dreams and whose happiness is based on wishful thinking and delusion. In my collage/painting I was trying to capture that joyful, optimistic, childlike sunshiney feeling we get - it's the high we experience just before everything downhill.
Here is a song called "Come And Stay with Me" sung by Francis Macdonald. I wrote the words and Francis composed and performed the music.The track appears on our album Bonjour.
The painting "Come And Stay With Me" will feature in a group show ("Push The Boat Out") which takes place in the last week of July at The Art Academy, 155 Walworth Road, London, SE17 1RS

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Rutlemania returns to the U.K.

Above: Fans of the Rutles go crazy for Ron Nasty, Barry Wom & their pals.
Last Wednesday I ventured to Highbury Corner N.5 to see what's left of The Rutles play The Garage - I had a totally fantastic, "Ten out of Ten" evening and left with a spring in my step. Highlights of the night included Barry Wom's paper tearing and some amazing guitar playing by "Rutling" Ken Thornton.
It was surprisingly moving to be part of the sell out crowd go wild in the aisles as we sung along to firm faves from the pre-Fabs such as Cheese and Onions.
If you haven't seen them. Don't panic as there are a few dates on this tour left...
Friday the 18th of May: Leeds, Saturday 19th of May: Godalming, Monday 21st May: Wolverhampton, Tuesday May 22nd: Cambridge, Wednesday 23rd May: Hull,Friday 25th May: Newcastle upon Tyne,Saturday 26th: Glasgow, Wednesday 30th May: Morcombe, Thursday 31st May:Carlisle, Friday 1st June: Liverpool, Saturday 2nd June: Hertford, Saturday June 16th: Caernarfon. For more info: Tickets
Meanwhile, both albums by The Rutles are well worth buying...
The first album features; I Must be In Love, Ouch, Living in Hope, Let's Be Natural, and Cheese & Onions.
The fantastic follow up features; Questionnaire, Now She's Left You, Easy Listening, and Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Musik

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Secret 7" 2018 in aid of the mental health charity Mind

Secret 7'' takes seven iconic tracks and presses each one 100 times to 7” vinyl. Hundreds of the world’s leading artists and creatives then create unique sleeve artwork for each record. All 700 records will go on display in an free exhibition at The Jetty in Greenwich Peninsula from 8th June 2018, at the end of which (24th June) they all go on sale for the uniform price of £50. The catch? The identity of the sleeve designer remains a closely guarded secret until it’s in the buyers hands. Therein lies the secret. All profits from the sale will go to mental health charity Mind. The tracks for 2018 are: The Clash - I’m Not Down Eurythmics - I Saved The World Today Jeff Buckley - Lover, You Should’ve Come Over Jimi Hendrix - Castles Made of Sand London Grammar - Help Manic Street Preachers - No Surface All Feeling Primal Scream - Damaged
Among the 700 artwork contributors for 2018 are: Sir Anish Kapoor, Sir Paul Smith, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Jeremy Deller, Ragnar Kjartansson, Polly Morgan, Paul Simonon, Pennie Smith, Es Devlin, Rana Begum, Stuart Semple, Mark Mothersbaugh, Sarah Maple, Modern Toss, Rob Ryan, Jean Jullien, StormStudio, The Designers Republic™, Malcolm Garrett, Barnbrook, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, Harry Pye, Sandra Turnbull, Andy Vella and many many more: https://secret-7.com/page/our-contributors
With unrivalled panoramic views of the River Thames, The Jetty is the ideal setting for the new summertime show, providing a unique backdrop for guests to enjoy the exhibition this year. They'll be food, drinks and events served up along with all the artwork.
Secret 7" 2018 is made possible with the support of Sony Music, Greenwich Peninsula and Squarespace. Visit www.secret-7.com for full details.
The address of the venue is: The Jetty, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0FL. The Jetty is a short walk from North Greenwich tube station on the Jubilee line. Alternatively the Thames Clippers River Bus to North Greenwich Pier or the Emirate Air Line cable cars will drop you right by the show with added excitement.
Times & Dates: Open from 11am until 7:30pm on the following days; Friday 8th of June, Saturday 9th of June, Sunday 10th of June, Monday 11th of June, Tuesday 12th of June, Wednesday 13th of June, Thursday 14th of June, Friday 15th of June, Sat 16th of June, Sunday 17th of June, Monday 18th of June, Tuesday 19th June, Wednesday 20st June, Thursday 21st June, Friday 22nd June, Saturday 23rd June. And then finally on sale day: Sunday 25th of June it's open 10am until 2pm.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Introducing Ignacio Miranda

135 artists featured in "Inside Job" which took place on the 7th and 8th of April on Level 6 of Tate Modern and was visited by over 3,000 people. The Rebel Magazine has been chatting to some of the Tate staff who showed their artwork. Today it's the turn of Ignacio Miranda
Q) Where did you grow up and what kind of education did you receive? "I grew up in a small town just outside Bilbao, in Northern Spain. I made it all the way to Uni but I got restless and dropped out during my first year as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life! Because I was studying English at the time, I decided to come to London to practice the language as the perfect excuse for an adventure… And 24 years later, I am still here."
Q) How long have you been working at the Tate and what's the best show you've seen there? "Time flies at the speed of light. I have been working at Tate for almost 14 years now as a Visitor and Information Assistant and many great and not so great exhibitions have come and gone in that time. If you are sensitive to things, you can always pick up on something that can be inspirational or technically revealing, even if the themes or the visual content is not your thing. One that sticks out ( and it is a blatant and shameless source of inspiration for my painting at Inside Job ) is the Lichtenstein retrospective a few years ago. I was in heaven for over 3 months, as he is one of my art heroes. Being in the space surrounded by all those iconic works and much more was so uplifting, I think I cried inside when the show came to an end! I loved POP LIFE as an exhibition too, and all the little controversies that came with it. It was brimming with light and colour and cheekiness and clever stuff. I like art that gets people talking and it’s a bit provocative sometimes!"
Q) What can you tell me about the work that you exhibited in the Tate Modern show? "My painting for INSIDE JOB is called WE ROSE UP SLOWLY and as I mentioned earlier, it is directly inspired by one of pop art’s iconic images created by Roy Lichtenstein. I decided to create a brand new work for the exhibition rather than apply with something that was ready made. I had about 5 weeks to finish the large canvas and I enjoyed the deadline factor of it. In the original, we have your standard square jawed American hunk and pretty girl from the 1950s about to embrace in this dreamlike setting. What I did as a personal twist is remove the girl and swap her for another ginger hunk. I subverted the conventional expectation and added my own personal and visual experience as a gay man in the XXI century. The image is very pop and bright and looks like a fragment out of a comic book or graphic novel. I retained the original text which gives the piece its title. I had a lot of fun and it was a thrill to experience people’s reaction and feedback to it during the running of the exhibition. I love it that Tate has such emphasis on diversity and inclusion, I wanted to celebrate that support that I have felt all these years by including some boy on boy romance!"
Q) How can people find out more about your work - do you have a website or do Instagram? "I am currently in the process of creating a website for my creative output ( I think this is many artists’ Achilles heel, the working on the promotional side of things when you’d rather be creating!! ) but as it stands right now, Instagram is a bit my home for showcasing old and new stuff. I enjoy the immediacy of it and you can get to know me and my work a little bit better through it. My profile name there is iggstamatic."
Q) What's the best thing about working for the Tate? "The best thing about working at Tate is not just one thing but many. First and quite importantly, it gives me the flexibility to keep creating and making more of my art as I am now part time and the work-leisure-creative balance has been pretty much achieved nicely ( always room for improvement on this one, obviously ) . Also being exposed to all these new exhibitions and display changes, it is a luxury and privilege that we cannot really take for granted. I have my eyes peeled for anything all those artists may be able to give me in terms of technical knowledge and experience and all kinds of new tips that I could incorporate to my artistic practice at some point.The atmosphere at work is most of the time chilled and relaxed and we are really a big family and that is a great thing to remember. All families have their little moments obviously but I feel at home here so that says it all really."
"Inside Job": An exhibition of art by Tate Staff took place on Level 6 of the Blavatnik Building of Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Q & A with Micko Westmoreland

To celebrate the announcement that Micko Westmoreland & The Mellotronics are not only playing live on 29/04/2018 at The Talking Heads, 16-22 The Polygon, Southampton.. but also on 03/05/2018 at The Roadtrip & Workhouse, 243 Old Street, London - Each member of the band has agreed to answer a few questions for The Rebel magazine. Today, last but not least, it's the turn of Micko Westmoreland
You sing and play guitar in The Mellotronics. How long have you been performing and who were your musical heroes? "I’ve been performing all my life..no, but seriously. I got my first guitar from an auction in the early 80’s, I was around 11. Very soon after that I was playing Ziggy Stardust/Get down and get with it at school assemblies, there was a great band scene in the town where I lived and the Art teacher, Malcolm Arnold organized proper gigs for us all to play at called ‘the Rockshops’, I still have recordings on cassette, there legendary, well at least for those involved. My first loves were Toni Iommi’s guitar playing and Pete Townsend’s playing and writing, he was like a lead rhythm player and his guitar parts always served the song. I’d watch the best bits of Tommy on VHS after school. I’d eagerly await Top of The Pops each week and would literally pray for ‘my bands’ to move up the charts so I could watch them on the show."
Your set features tracks from the Yours ETC Abc album as well as a few new songs. Are there any of your songs you particularly admire of feel excited about playing live? "Every once in a while you write a new song that pushes the bar a little higher. I wrote one last year called ‘Noisy Neighbors’, about certain characters I had experienced whilst living in social housing. “Is she 49? no more like 80, 1mm of extra makeup added per year”. “Apparently there’s no bed in the flat, just a spitfire on a table and boxes and boxes of model making kits”. All true! It was also the first track I worked with on with Jon Klein. When he sent me his first guitars over I listened to it ten times in row."
In what ways are you a bad person and what would you like to change about yourself? "Good question, I think too much and sometimes embroider opinions in my mind. I convince myself I’m right, maybe in part I am sometimes, but it’s not a good way to go. It can flip over to imbalance, not see and understand things for what they really are. It’s much better to behave more instinctively and to trust your intuitions. Self-awareness is key to evolving as a person. I think about my behavior a lot so it’s all work in progress. I very much apply this to the band, as I view it as more of a collective than anything else and they are such a great gang to hang out and play with."
What is the worst film you’ve ever seen and what is the best film you’ve ever seen? "Peter Greenaway has made some good films and a few turkeys. A Zed and two noughts I used to loved when I was in my teens but I re-watched recently and found it pedantic, the use of symmetry in every shot. The Draughtsman’s Contract is excellent though. My favorite of the 21st century without a doubt is Mulholland Drive, the first time I saw it I’d had a very peculiar day and ate some food from a supermarket where there had been a power cut and the fridges had been off a while, so there were signs up ‘Consume at your own risk!’. After the film I threw up at 3 in the morning, never could quite tell whether it was the movie or that burger that had made me take a turn. From the last century I love Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard."
What are your desert island discs? Do you have any singles or albums that you couldn’t live without? I think there’s 8 allowed. Here’s 4 mainstream and 4 a bit more left field. I love, Low by David Bowie, Computer World by Kraftwerk, Real Life by Magazine and Scott Walker sings Jacque Brel. I also like Iso Tomita Snowflakes are dancing, The Veritgo soundtrack by Bernard Herman, Thursday Afternoon by Brian Eno (a record some would argue is hardly there) and Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk (no, not the communications company!). I believe I’m allowed to take one object too, that would have to be a radio, so I could check the shipping forecast.
What is your idea of beauty in nature? "I meditate twice a day without fail, I couldn’t survive without it. I’ve found it has energized my life, changed my behavior, values and attitudes. It’s like cynicism in reverse and I find more and more it informs me of who I am everyday. I make no apologies for this. I believe that how your life is, is directly connected to your state of mind. I could go on, but I guess the point is that we are nature, it’s integral to our being, some of us know this but others have forgot and I find that Meditation re-informs us of this little life lesson."
Micko Westmoreland and The Mellotronics photographed by Natalie Hitchcock. Left to Right: Jon, Jenny, Nick and Micko. Top photo of Micko by Keiko Yamazo 2nd photos by Ashley Jones.
For more info: http://landlinerecords.com

Friday, 27 April 2018

Q & A with Jon Klein

To celebrate the announcement that Micko Westmoreland & The Mellotronics are not only playing live on 29/04/2018 at The Talking Heads, 16-22 The Polygon, Southampton.. but also on 03/05/2018 at The Roadtrip & Workhouse, 243 Old Street, London - Each member of the band has agreed to answer a few questions for The Rebel magazine. Today it's the turn of Jon Klein
You play guitar in The Mellotronics. How long have you been playing the guitar and who were your musical heroes? "I started playing guitar in 1974, my 1st 3 big influences would be Duane Eddy, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Ronson."
Your set features tracks from the Yours ETC album as well as a few new songs. Are there any of Micko’s songs you particularly admire of feel excited about playing live? "When I 1st sat down to talk with Micko, we didn’t really know each other. When he mentioned a track called Noisey Neighbours, that seemed an obvious one to break the ice, as conjures up all sorts of images straight off the bat. Schmescos is always gonna be a fave, but all Micko’s songs are interesting, full of layers of ideas, attitudes, stories and processes, so it’s tricky singling one out."
In what ways are you a bad person and what would you like to change about yourself? "Usual stuff, selfish, a bit disorganised and hesitant when I should be more forceful. I am learning to be more patient, and to listen to people more! Also being a phone junky is a real challenge. I get really annoyed at people walking around like social media zombies and bumping into me on the street. I catch myself out doing the phone and walking thing, but try not to. I also don’t like being in headphones in public …I prefer the sound of the world!"
What is the worst film you’ve ever seen and what is the best film you’ve ever seen? "The worst film I’ve ever seen? Tricky as I always check before going to the cinema and don’t go to see crap films. One thing I remember though was seeing U2 in 3D as my partner had complimentary tickets. It wasn’t very 3D, mainly the credits and a few bits of footage. I generally don’t like 3D as it’s blurry in bits of the frame (in a bad way) and the picture doesn’t look as dynamic, often on account of the scratched up dirty goggles they give you, and the edits are pedestrian, as fast cuts can cause permanent eYe damage. That said I was shocked by how many U2 songs I knew (I’m not a U2 hater!) …and later found out that this film was what triggered Wim Wenders idea to investigate 3D for his movie Pina. Pina had good reason to be in that format, as it made for a new way to experience dance on the cinema screen. Best film? Not sure if it’s the best, and pretty predictable of course, but I loved the original Blade Runner. It felt like a trip to the future (via Shinjuku) and also was a high point of special FX model making pre the CGI revolution. Mind you Scott’s 1st Alien was pretty epic too."
What are your desert island discs? Do you have any singles or albums that you couldn’t live without? Normally I should say Velvet Underground or Metal Machine Music, but really Hunky Dory, Another Green World and Transformer have to be up there. I’m not even a fan of every song on Hunky Dory, but it’s got that ‘something’, and Rosnon’s arrangements are exquisite, as they were on Transformer.
What is your idea of beauty in nature? I dream of seeing the cherry blossom in Japan in the Spring, and will hopefully see it one of these days. This Spring they called it Cherry Blossom Rain!
Micko Westmoreland and The Mellotronics photographed by Natalie Hitchcock. Left to Right: Jon, Jenny, Nick and Micko. Top photo of Jon Ashley Jones.
For more info: http://landlinerecords.com

Q & A with Nick Mackay

To celebrate the announcement that Micko Westmoreland & The Mellotronics are not only playing live on 29/04/2018 at The Talking Heads, 16-22 The Polygon, Southampton.. but also on 03/05/2018 at The Roadtrip & Workhouse, 243 Old Street, London - Each member of the band has agreed to answer a few questions for The Rebel magazine. Today it's the turn of Nick Mackay
You play drums in The Mellotronics. How long have you been playing the drums and who were your musical heroes? "I have been playing the drums since I was 11, so celebrated my 20th anniversary this year, although there have been many starts and stops over the years when I've played guitar in other bands. My musical heroes are The Beatles, The Kinks, The Beach Boys (especially The Wilson Brothers) , David Bowie, Sex Pistols, The Who, Harry Nilsson, The Stones (Mick Taylor and Jimmy Miller Years) The Cure, Iggy and The Stooges, The Specials, The Clash, Supergrass, Divine Comedy, Jimi Hendrix, Kapt Kopter and his fabulous twirly birds, Nirvana, Pixies, Nick Drake, Blondie (I share a birthday with Debbie Harry), Fleetwood Mac (especially the Peter Green and Bob Welch years) Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, The Four Seasons, White Denim, early Arctic Monkeys, Zeppelin (although less as I get older) Bjorn and Benny from Abba (more as I get older). My Drumming heroes are Joe Morello (better than Buddy Rich), Keith Moon (my favourite all time drummer), Joshua Block, Ringo, Mick Avory, Clem Burke, Reni from The Stone Roses and Sheila E, Matt Helders, Animal from The Muppets.
Your set features tracks from the Yours ETC album as well as a few new songs. Are there any of Micko’s songs you particularly admire or feel excited about playing live? As the longest surviving member of The Mellotronics, I always enjoy playing the older tracks like 'Schmeschos'. Although I didn't play on 'Yours ETC album', I try and replicate what the drummer did and put my own stamp/stomp on it at the same time. I am enjoying playing the new songs (there's a new crazy one called 'Imelda') and I really like Micko's chord sequences, some really nice changes. I also like locking in with Jenny on 'The Finger' too, thats our little spotlight.
In what ways are you a bad person and what would you like to change about yourself? Interesting question! I have lied or exaggerated sometimes in incidents in the past I'm not too proud of which shows an insecurity but I am trying to do that less as I grow up, honesty is the best policy and all that. I also find it hard to say 'no' to things which can cause problems although that is changing. I also think I sometimes have a short fuse and can be impatient. I can be quite competitive depending on the situation and have learned to relax more. I would like to be generally healthier and less fat so probably need to get to a gym soon, you would think drumming would solve that, but sadly not!
What is the worst film you’ve ever seen and what is the best film you’ve ever seen? I remember watching a really bad film when I was a kid in America with my brother called Al-Haddin, some parody on Aladdin, I was 8 at the time but that has stuck in my head as being the worst. It's probably not that bad now. Now I would say 'Synecdoche, New York', pretentious crap, waste of a cinema ticket, sorry hipsters! I'm a big comedy fan so 'Life of Brian' is my favourite, 'One Flew over the cuckoos nest' would be my textbook answer or 'The White Ribbon'.
What are your desert island discs? Do you have any singles or albums that you couldn’t live without? How many can I have? This is all dependent on my mood and subject to change. Alright -Supergrass (first song I think I discovered independently on my own, best pop song ever, could write a whole essay on why) 'Rhapsody in Blue' or Piano Concerto in F by George Gershwin (token classical choice), The Velvet Underground & Nico, 'Two Sisters/3rd' by Big Star, Sunflower or Pet Sounds- The Beach Boys, Nilsson Sings Newman- Harry Nilsson Hunky Dory- David Bowie D- White Denim The Beat by The Beat (the American new wave band although love the UK ska band too) Rubber Soul- The Beatles (hard to choose really) Sticky Fingers- The Rolling Stones Raw Power- Iggy and The Stooges Nevermind- Nirvana Kapt Kopter and his fabulous twirly birds- Randy California Pink Moon- Nick Drake Muswell Hillbillies, Lola vs The Powerman (Part 1), Arthur or Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks Sandinista- The Clash. Whatever People Say I am, That's what I'm not (I was in Sheffield, gigging at the time of this release, so reminds me of my 20 year old self and that period).
What is your idea of beauty in nature? I think it's mainly family/relationship associations you have with things in nature so snowdrops, red robins, the wind in the trees, Dartmoor and The South Downs. The sea, its the one thing I miss about living in London as I was born in Portsmouth. There is a beauty in decay as well, a sense of renewal.
Micko Westmoreland and The Mellotronics photographed by Natalie Hitchcock. Left to Right: Jon, Jenny, Nick and Micko. Both photos of Nick by Ashley Jones.
For more info: http://landlinerecords.com