Saturday 9 April 2016

Q & A with Derek Boshier

Derek Boshier first made his name in the early 1960s for work such as "Special K." He appeared in the much loved Ken Russell documentary "Pop Goes the Easel", designed Bowie's "Lodger" album, made films, sculpture, political banners and has had exhibitions all over the world. Paul Gorman has put together a brilliant book, "Derek Boshier: Rethink / Re-entry" (published by Thames & Hudson) which is a delight from start to finish.
The Rebel: How do you feel when you heard The Royal College of Art wanted to give you an Honorary Fellowship - did your heart swell with pride? Derek Boshier: "Yes of course pleased as it is a great honour and my time at the Royal College of Art was a marvellous time for me both for the development of my art AND life. Not for nothing as it is said has it just been voted for the second year running , best art college in the world."
Can you remember being at The Royal College in 1960 and meeting R. B. Kitaj for the first time? "I remember the Royal College of Art of 1959-62 very well . I knew Kitaj , but don’t recall first meeting .He used talk a lot about the Quakers and their movement, so I and other students thought he was Quaker. He might have been at the time as he wasn’t Jewish."
I'm a fan of all of Paul Gorman's books. Was he good to work with and do you think he did a good job editing Re-Think/Re-Entry? "Yes you are right about all of Paul Gorman’s books.He is an excellent writer and editor and since the book a very good friend. He did a great job in editing my book."
When I get friends to flick through your book the chicks with dicks paintings always seem to go down well. Do you have a favourite? "No favorite really , for my take I am interested in different bodies of my work and their interconnection. Glad people like , as you mentioned “ chicks with dicks “ . All my work has always come out of Popular Culture from the Pop Art work until now . I never like being referred to ( soley ) as a Pop Artist , although it's journalistically convenient."
Were you shocked by David Bowie's death? How would you describe your relationship with him? "I was surprised by David Bowie’s death , especially as a few weeks before his death he sent me an e-mail saying how much he liked my Thames and Hudson book, amongst other things. I didn’t reply as I thought I’d wait until I got a small package together to send later . Then he died. He was a good friend, a very interesting creative person, always good to be with . always interesting dialogue, I remember two occasion in particular in Paris, when he came to my opening and also when we went to see the Stanley Spencer murals in the Burghlcleare Chapel near Newbury. Discussions always lively."
Are there days when you think all contemporary British Art is bullshit? "Today's art world work is 80% crap, but then , so was 80 % PopArt , Abstract Expressionism , Surrealism etc ,etc."
Which countries haven't you visited? Is there anywhere you long to explore? "I have travelled In India (Spending a year there 1962-63, living in Calcutta and travelling while on a British Council / Indian Government scholarship ). Visited Japan , Russia, Hungary , Poland , Israel, Morocco Spain Mexico Germany , Italy and Canada. Would love to go to so many places . where ? Cuba as I have a work in a museum collection there, Columbia and Tibet amongst others."
What do you think was the best thing Ken Russell ever did? "I liked his documentary “Elgar “ about the British Classical music composer. Black and White film. I had a cameo part in his film “Dante’s Inferno “ playing the part of the Pre -Raphaelite painter Millais."
When students start a degree course they are often given a list of books to buy such as Berger's ways of seeing and Gombrich's History of art. Are there any books you often recommend to young art students? "I have suggested John Berger’s “ Ways of Seeing “ several times. And non -art books ,including “ The Intellectual Devotional “ ( revive Your Mind , Complete Your Education and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class ) by David S. Kidder & Noah D Oppenheim Publihed by Rodale Press . I take it with me most times when i travel . It is a tricky thing telling students to read art magazine , as they often tend to see the contents it as acceptance of the new academicism ( currently Conceptualism ). It depends on the student as to what they take from the magazines. I think it tends to be different from what I recall when at the Royal College of Art . The library had a very good art ,architecture and design magazines ,as good as any other art collage at the time . We would avidly read each new magazine , spending long times in the library. THEN .. put the gathered information from our mind into the trash , as we THEN knew what we wanted to avoid. Theory of course is very important, but used in the right way . not as a conformity , but a challenge, to expand or to challenge. I talked to an artist in Los Angeles recently who said she had given up teaching as so often she read an essay or looked at studio work and said to herself “ ……… 16 and page 70 of last months Art Forum “ or some other art magazine. Actually probably the same as it has always been ? Not fashionable at the moment would be Susan Sontag ’s quote “ Theory in art is the death of creativity."
If you could own any painting from history to own and hang on your living room wall, what would you pick? Difficult but would love ,Picasso’s “ Guernica’s" or Bruegel’s " Hunters in the Snow"
Find out more about Derek's work by visiting

Sunday 3 April 2016

Q & A with Franko B

"Franko B poses questions, challenges the liberty and judgement of everyone and interrogates the observer on the sense and value of the human body" Letizia Moritti, (Mayor of Milan)
The Rebel Magazine: Are you happy and healthy at the moment? Frank B: "I think so. As much as I'm aware yes .."
What is your current project? "I'm working on a theme of death and romance in the 21 first century, especially on childhood in distress. [ conflicts / lack of care and love and rights etc etc .]"
I was interested by Thinking of You - did being naked in front of people on a swing make you feel liberated? "Yes. Thinking of You come about because I really wanted to work with the British contemporary composer Helen Ottaway. She originally allowed me to use one of her compositions for a video of my performance at London's Beaconsfield Gallery. I became more aware of Helen Ottaway's music and loved it because it was romantic but in a British cool way - emotional but not hysterical. Years later I contacted her and told her that I would like her to write a piece for Thinking Of You but that I wanted it for electric pianola. This came about because I went to a wedding by two good friends of mine in a a pub and I heard this piano playing in the room where we all were sitting but I could not see the pianist so I got up and, as if by magic, I saw this pianist playing some old Beethoven by itself .. And this gave me the idea to be on a swing naked with a pianola playing. So we did this eventually and I bought a pianola for a bit of money and did the premier in Glasgow at Nikki Milican live art event. I loved it and people loved it but I felt that without the pianist playing it diverged the attention of the piece and changed it. Thinking of You was about the missing player. Then we altered the piece so Helen Ottaway could play it herself. I'm Thinking of You was about the moment I encounter the eyes of a person gazing into my eyes and vice versa."
Are you concerned with abuses of human rights going in Saudi Arabia? "I'm concerned with all humans right abuse here in the so called democratic first world west also ..." Who is your favourite Italian from all of history? "Primo Levi"
Do you worry about money/pensions/tax bills? "I don't worry about pensions no. What is the point .. life is short - but I can get stressed about not having enough to take care bills like rents and other necessary utilities." Would you like to be represented by any of the big galleries like Victoria Miro or Larry Gagosian - or are you happy as you are? "I'm striving to be free and independent and be able to make the work I believe in. this is my strategies , as long I can do this in a dignified way this is what I wish."
Do you enjoy teaching and being a guest lecturer -is it rewarding? "Yes. it is rewarding in a way that is helping me in develop as a human being." What do you think of the current art scene in London - what was the last good show you saw? "I don't really care for this.."
What kind of music do you listen to most? "Steve Reich, Patti Smith and Satie"
What animals do you most relate to? "Dogs."

Friday 1 April 2016

Piper's Son Live in Dalston

The second LP by Piper's Son, 'Who Started This?', will be released 8th April by Vacilando '68 Recordings, on gatefold vinyl LP and download. To celebrate, last night the band and friends played a special gig at Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston. I love Piper's Son. Their engaging and exciting songs are full of wit, charm and invention. They sound fresh. They sparkle. The title track of the new album sounds like Captain Beefheart jamming with The Fun Boy 3. What's not to like?
Above: Thom Driver and his Piper's Son chums
Above: Mr Peter Harris and Mr Victor Bock.
Above: Matt Calderwood
Above: Mysterious London-based outfit Clothes Horse were a brilliant support act and went down very well with the crowd.
Above: "Cheers"
Above: Piper's Son in fine form
Above: Mesut and Roger
In advance of its physical release, 'Who Started This?' is downloadable now at: