Your Garden is Looking a Mess Could You Please Tidy it Up @PayneShurvell

J. Cavanagh

Exploring print media through branding, notably via Phillip Morris’ classic Red Marlboro flip-top box, is a fantastic concept especially as once pervasive cigarette advertising now struggles to brand its own product. The current show at PayneShurvell owes its curious name to an anonymous note slipped through curator Andrew Curtis’ mail slot leading him to contemplate the relevance of “print” in the age of digital media.

Twenty artists offer original perspectives on the theme with half of the works created specifically for this exhibit.  Dominated by cigarette imagery the show’s introspective pieces extend beyond the realm of marketing into the personal notion of self.

Dick Jewell’s 300 American Tobacconists M-Z offers exactly what you’d expect; 300 Polaroid and black and white photos of industry leaders encased in a multi-cigarette border.  Found images of what once was “packaged” within a witty frame.

The distinctively colourful bottles of Jack Newling’s Management and Late Night Shoppers impressed me by melding the generic with the notion of successful totems (think Apple, VW bug and their ilk) whilst raising the spectre of Orwellian monitoring.

Bruce McLean

Two personal favourites were Bruce McLean’s Their Grassy Places and Leon Chew’s The Crystal LandTheir Grassy Place inspired thoughts on the contemporary fad for personal branding and the eternal existence of vain follies.  This work showcases a Daily Mirror picture for which McLean purchased the rights and now re-visits in several guises using great levity to reflect the temporary nature and lack of grounding in egoism.  Chew’s The Crystal Land juxtaposes manmade versus nature in a series of close up images of J.G. Ballard’s car which spoke of desire and permanence in mirrored contrasts.

The sum of the exhibit left the impression that brand individuality once so imbued with physical “identity” has become ephemeral and internal in the digital media era… or has it? PayneShurvell serves up a contemporary exhibition with an enduring nature that offers great scope for contemplation and discussion.

16 Hewett Street
London, UK, EC2A 3NN

Angel Lewis’s Hip Hop Time Machine pt.2

From the UK to the US and back these are the reflections of one man’s travels and experiences outside of the boundaries of time.

Thrown back and forth in hip hop’s colourful history. Enjoy the ride

…Its 1983 I’m on the cobblestoned streets of Covent Garden London, the stomping ground of opportunists and the training ground of many entertainers. Ozzie’s crew are popping in the background, its not new to me although at this time people don’t quite know how to place body popping and break dancing. It’sjust starting to blend in with the juggler, the unicycle rider and the clown. Absent from this type of street scene is the attitude of the street.

There’s a Carousel set up just as you enter the square. On one of the wooden horses right ahead is a girl that looks like baby love, it is baby love! Hey you the Rocksteady crew is playing on a turntable in my head.  The crowd’s star struck eyes supported my hunch then crazy legs, coming into view, made it a fact. At this point in time I saw them as competition. I had ambitions to one day take over their spot.

Fast forward a few years and My ego’s expanded beyond control. I won first prize in a breakdance competition held and hosted in wormwood scrubs by Mastermind Roadshow.  These all day events are held in summer this is a time when ragga, rare groove and hip hop are just beginning to blend. Mastermind roadshow made a name for themselves in the Notting hill carnival and played a variety of musical genres, so they were, at the time, the most likely medium to introduce the hood to this different flavour. Because hip hop was still new in London breaking was misunderstood by most, by rolling around on the floor, I risked my credibility yet who cares when I got my crew with me, besides the Lisa lisa and Cult Jam album I had won was like a trophy testifying to my skills making it well worth it.

Yet I blame all of this on Malcolm McLaren and his Buffalo Gals. See them here.  Who told him to show us body’s twist, spin and lock like that?  It took exactly 3 minutes and 40 seconds, the length of the video to get me over Jeffrey Daniel’s moon walk on Top of the Pops.  But this wasn’t gonna be as easy to get. As a kid all things are impulsive so to me, concentrate in maths class or use those smooth polished floors to figure out this backspin thing wasn’t even a real question. Some believe aspects of the dance came from sailors in the 50s, some believe it came out of lindy hop dancing from the 1920s and others believe its from Brazilian capoeira, to me it didn’t matter I just needed to be spinning.

Freestyle 85

The Crew came together like magnetism as all five of us had seen that video. We somehow found clips of most of the Rocksteady’s
performances, they circulated around the area, our addiction was obvious, Alf broke his wrist in Maths class.  I didn’t have much of an idea where this would take us yet at the same time I didn’t quite picture my future in this doing forward flips through the carriage of the A train uptown before it reaches Manhattan.  Impressive as it seemed, I couldn’t quite write home about that. This aspect of the art form just wasn’t me. This was often the scene on the train to Manhattan to be exposed to even more entertainment as the train pulled in to Times square, it always felt to me like it carried the same air as Covent garden, it’s the street without the street thing, that I couldn’t quite understand. Although the break dancers and poppers had often made a few extra bucks on the train journey back to the hood, you’d think it was legal, I could never quite imagine them doing those maneuvers in the hood, its like they were permanently attached to 42nd street.  Maybe that’s because the lino only came out between 4th avenue and 110th which, for the most part, was the safe, commercial district of Manhattan, tourists and all.

It’s 1998 I’m standing on Broadway outside MacDonald’s in Times square, looking at duke spinning on his neck I realise that I had succeeded in leaving my break dancing addiction back in London. After my crew buried The London Allstars, our adversaries, at Hammersmith’s Riverside studios way back then, I had all the justification I needed to go on to bigger and badder adventures in Hip hop, It was goodbye breaking hello scratching.…..

St Paul’s long shadow over Occupy London

by J. Cavanagh

St Paul’s remains occupied and the protest is a moving, peaceful affair. Surprisingly small, the tents are clustered to one side of the Cathedral leaving the entrances and steps fully accessible.

Having worked for years in the shadow of St Paul’s I can confirm the camp causes no inconvenience to businesses nor limits accessibility of workers and tourists to the area.  I’ve seen more obstruction caused by local offices workers having lunch on the steps, sun-trap that they are. The only inaccessible area is in fact Paternostre Square closed by the owners, Mitsibushi Estate co.  Clearly businesses within the square (Corney&Barrow, The Paternostre Chophouse etc) must be struggling but they need to talk to the landlord regarding sealed off access rather than blame the protest.

Tonight, as the Cathedral prepares to take legal action to oust the protesters, the Rev. Giles Fraser resigned his post as Canon Chancellor. I have nothing but respect for Fraser and his commitment to his beliefs and faith.  Ten days ago he instinctively demonstrated leadership and compassion inviting protesters to stay so long as they remained peaceful.

Having first visited St Paul’s two days before the Cathedral closed for preposterous health and safety reasons I can only imagine Fraser’s frustrations with his chosen organisation.  The situation at St Paul’s was far from a clear and present danger. The small encampment is well removed from access points, it has a pop-up library, a white-board listing the day’s events, and around the camp serious groups huddle together in intense discussions. Hardly the blitz.

The Cathedral’s overreaction and now pending legal action is simply another nail in the coffin for organised religion while Fraser demonstrates perhaps the only viable option for believers – follow your conscience.  Shame on the Cathedral for not seizing an obvious opportunity to cast itself in a new light as an all-embracing authority willing to back the 99%. I certainly found it touching to see protest taking place in the shadow of this iconic building. Having visited just after Fraser’s initial welcoming statement I felt renewed respect for the history and present incarnation of St Paul’s. Without getting in to the thorny “What would Jesus do?” debate it certainly seems clear that concerns about tourist revenue, health & safety and litigation wouldn’t be top of his list of worries.

The ground-breaking exposé that most protesters go home at night also hit this week. Given that this is purportedly the 99% should I be shocked to find they have jobs, families and other responsibilities?  That they are taking time from full lives to show their protest? The protesters that I spoke with were employed, some working via wi-fi while others juggled diaries to put in an appearance. Certain tents are occupied by hard-core protesters that stay nightly while others offer accommodation for a rotating populace. The camp runs a check-in process to ensure that they are aware of what tents are in use claiming most nights a 60-80% occupancy.

Finally the Media’s claim that protesters don’t know what they want belies the truth.  The consistent answer given to the question “what do you want?” was a return to the regulations that provided economic stability for 50years until they were removed in the 1980s. This was the proposed “solution” to how to separate government from corporate pressure.

This protest, unlike say the riots, is conducted peacefully not by a marginalised group but by employed contributing members of society demonstrating genuine outrage over financial inequities and sincere concern over growing economic instability.  It doesn’t feel like a protest down there in the shadow of St Paul’s, it feels like a movement.

Update:  A further resignation has come from the Cathedral’s Dean Rev Graeme Knowles (31 Oct 2011) and the Archbishop of Canterbury has acknowledged the Cathedrals’ faux-pas in closing while backing the protesters’ position.  As a result the City of London has, as of Nov 1st, postponed the plan to issue protesters with an eviction notice.