Mail art postcard No. 4462…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the word ‘undergarments’.

This morning dear reader, I thought that we might have a quick look at another of my recently made ‘mail art’ collage postcards. (Mail Art)

WP F 4462As usual, this is a juxtaposition (I love that word!) of a couple of clippings from that cheap and gaudy TV guide magazine ‘What’s On TV’, but this time it features not an actor, but a politician – politicians, ah, they always deserve a bit of ridicule. Yes, this is Nigel Farage leader of UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party. Hang on a minute… let me scroll the page up a bit, I don’t like the way he’s staring at me… Ah, that’s better! He is a strange-looking chap though isn’t he? Notice how one side of his mouth goes down and the other side goes up – not really a smile is it? I suppose it’s handy for a politician though, he can be hard and cunning, but appear warm and friendly at the same time. The upper part of his face looks fairly normal, but… Don’t look at the eyes!… Don’t look at the eyes!…
Anyway, the caption… Well, it’s pretty random, not a great deal of thought went into its choice, but when I picked it up and put it next to Nige’s photo I thought, hm… that’s alright!… I’ll leave it up to you, my dear reader, to somehow connect the face and the caption – do let your imagination run free… Think of it as a surrealist exercise… but don’t let it stay with you, to invade your dreams, and wake you up sweating in the night…

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Showerings of sparks and jagged jets…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word ‘Molybdenum’.

DSCN3439Here we are! Another 1960s British pulp science fiction novel, a ‘Badger book’ from my dusty bookshelf - ‘Hyper Space’ – ‘The discovery of an electrical gateway to the hitherto unknown 4th dimension’ by R L Fanthorpe MBIF. Actually that should be ‘MBIS’ – Member of the British Interplanetary Society – the person who designed the cover obviously misread the scrap of paper sent by the publishers…
Shall we turn the book over and see what tempting prose there might be on its back cover?
‘”Elpowa” industries, the mammoth electro-engineering combine controlling half the galaxy, discovered the “Threshold” – a scientific gateway to the fourth dimension…
Was it the spacemen who were trying to sabotage the “Elpowa” process? Who were the “Others” with their weird super-human powers? Where did they come from, and what did they want?…
One of the most outstanding Science Fiction novels of the year, another of Schoolmaster/Author R. Lionel Fanthorpe’s super thrillers. It must not be missed!…’
‘Elpowa’ – that’s a very nice made up word! – it sounds like an unpleasant cross between Enron and Npower. Now, what about this cover painting?… I don’t think it’s by the usual Badger cover painter the great Henry Fox – it just doesn’t have his ‘class’ – I do like the ‘Hyper Space’ lettering though!
So, who is this in the green protective suit, pondering whether or not to pour the dangerous bubbling isotope from the tong-held test tube into his flip-top beaker – even under that helmet he still manages to look puzzled doesn’t he? I’ve just had a peep inside the book, and I think this person might be Max Dane, who appears and is described on the first page. Shall we leave Max for a moment and have a look around us? There’s a lot of coloured smoke and steam billowing, plenty of steel girders and stanchions, pressure vessels, a bridge, a plastic model of a molecule, and a couple of interconnected glass flasks… Oh, and a red-nosed rocket… No wonder Max looks worried… So, the way it looks to me, is that the scientists of the Elpowa corporation are creating a ‘Threshold’ to the 4th dimension by mixing dangerous chemicals in little cups in an old steelworks… Quite dramatic though!… ‘Hey, Max, be careful with that stuff, I can see your hands shaking from here!…’
Shall I dive into these brown crumbling pages and select some items of text to give us a flavour of the writing dear reader?
‘Max Dane was a tall, rugged, broad-shouldered individual, with a pleasantly ugly face. It was a face that had seen much of life – and an adventurous life at that – on most of the planets in the galaxy…
He looked up through the transparent steel-hard, plastic roof of the elevator car, to a night sky far above the towering Elpowa building. About five thousand feet above him, perpetual showerings of sparks and jagged jets of flame showed where the enemy missiles were being deflected from the enormous force field surrounding the planet…’
‘Was the giant playing for time? What tricks had he, up his almost unlimited sleeve?…
“Keep talking Vashtar. I’m listening carefully. What’s your angle now?”
“I haven’t got an angle any more,” answered Vashtar. Was that a ring on sincerity in the giant’s voice? wondered Max. That flatness. That lassitude of soul, which seemed to have beset the great executive?
“I haven’t got an angle any more Max,” he repeated…’
‘Aurora occupied one of the staff flats in the Elpowa building itself. Max usually slept with the security men in the basement…’


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Oh, those artist’s statements…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s giraffe is the one trying to get onto the bus wearing a backpack and carrying two large suitcases.

I thought that today we would once more visit the heady world of the ‘artist’s statement’. Artist’s statements – yes, those pieces of A4 paper pinned to the walls of the art gallery to justify the blandness of the work on show, and to attempt to wrap the thing in a cosy cloak of arty and clever-sounding trendy phrases.
Here are a couple that I have come across recently and have bothered to write down for use on such an occasion as this… As you will see, both are written in the third person, as if someone, some perceptive critic, some enthusiastic journalist, has taken time to write something about the artist, but I suspect that these are really written by the artists themselves, and this is just a device to avoid appearing a little bit too pretentious and cocky…

Diana Tapping:
Diana sees her task as translating and transforming the visible world into abstract compositions that hold true to her own personal vision, responding to the often transient nature of light, colour, weather and texture…

Alice Brewer:
…she uses various media and processes to create innovative visual designs. She particularly enjoys using book art as a key tool to record, document, and visually explore ideas, and her approach to graphic design is concept driven, drawing inspiration from personal and external sources…

Right then, I see… Diana’s abstract compositions ‘hold true to her own personal vision’ – well that’s reassuring to know… I’d hate to think that she was deliberately deceiving herself… Ah, and the ‘transient nature of light’… it’s a real bugger, light… it’s so transient…
Oh, Alice… Perhaps I’m not very bright, but I don’t know what, ‘using book art as a key tool’ means… Does it mean that you copy things out of books? Oh, and I see that you, ‘draw inspiration from personal and external sources’ – I’m glad to hear it… where else could it possibly come from?…

The funny thing is, that as you read these statements, you can easily picture the artist’s work in your head… So, perhaps artist’s statements are a good thing – you just pop into the gallery, read the blurbs, and buzz off again – you don’t have to bother looking round the actual work… What a time saver!…


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Some titchy, but pithy items…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s old snapshot is the one of me arm-in-arm with Marilyn Monroe sitting on the bonnet of a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud in 1959.

Excuses for being late. No. 226.
I’m sorry I’m late, but I desperately needed to push my cuticles back.

Guitar playing is like drinking alcohol, it is best not done on your own.
(Professor Mouldie)

A single overheard remark:
‘We’ve been invited to Wine College…’

A common sight in Dulltown:
A throng of people patiently waiting at a traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing, but nobody has had the initiative to actually press the bloody button.

A single overheard remark:
‘So, do you think it will go off by itself then?…’

There was an item of spam in my comments box this morning. It was from somebody called ‘private’.
Great goos from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are extremely fantastic. I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what you are stating. and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it wise. I caan not wait to read much more from you.
Thank you ‘private’. – I know that I am extremely fantastic, as you say – but still, it’s nice to have someone acknowledge it at last.

An observation:
Now, there’s someone who has never thought about the way they walk… Wow! Look at ‘em go!…

‘I want to be a forensic detective…’
‘You want to be a foreign sick detective?…’
‘That’s what I said!…’
‘Oh, alright then…’

‘What have you got there Dave?’
‘Oh, it’s just a pump-action bottle of kitchen hand-wash.’
‘Look, it’s got a little plastic turtle and some fish inside it…’
‘Yes, they are printed on a transparent plastic sheet fastened to the tube inside.’
‘That’s a bit weird Dave… What’s it called?’
‘It’s “Palmolive Aquarium”…’
‘Yes, I expect that it’s like washing your hands, in an aquarium…’
‘That’s weird!.’
‘I know. That’s why I bought it… and that it was reduced to only 99 pence!’
‘Who’d want to wash their hands in an aquarium?…’
‘Hm… I don’t know…’

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What the hell’s this?…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s featured letter of the alphabet is the capital ‘E’.
The lower case ‘e’ is like a cute grinning child’s toy, whereas the grown up version is stern, and rigid, and can used as a handy set of shelves to display one’s knickknacks on.

DSCN3495Bright colours anyone?…
Yes, a few months ago I was strolling around that lovely Victorian building, the Leeds Kirkgate Market (Yorkshire UK) and came across this display at one of the stalls…
Actually, I don’t really know what it is that I’m looking at – I think the dangling things on the left are probably… Hm… perhaps they are like bead curtains, but made of plastic flowers and leaves – and the bugs and butterflies on the right, are… plastic bugs and butterflies… Nice colours though, aren’t they?…
I deliberately grouped the green flowery danglers on the left of the composition to let the eye, (which here in the West generally reads from left to right) to progress across to the more organised sparkling reds, pinks, and oranges, of the fauna and fruit on the dotted pegboard. If you do read it like that, it looks like they are all bursting out of the shrubbery with some purpose… Perhaps they are all shouting, ‘Come on!… It’s a lovely day!… Let’s all get some fresh air!…’
Yes, yes, I know, I’m just waffling on. I should really have cut this short and said, ‘Hey, look, a photo of brightly coloured things!…’ which is exactly what it is… Still, I do think a blog post looks more inviting if there is a bit of blurb sitting below the picture…

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A little red car…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s expletive, ‘God’s legs!’, was apparently a favourite¬† oath of Richard Coeur de Lion (King of England 1189-1199).

‘Yes dear?’
‘Sports cars…’
‘Little low cars, that go fast…’
‘Yes dear…’
‘They’re often red aren’t they?’
‘Yes dear, they are… What about them?’
‘Are they toys for grown ups?’
‘Yes, they are dear, but if you ever meet someone who has one… you mustn’t mention it…’
‘No?… Why not?’
‘Because they’d get upset – they pretend that they are not toys.’
‘They’d say that it’s all to do with ‘sport’ and ‘cool’ and ‘style’, and ‘technology’, or that ‘it suits my personality…’ or that it’s ‘an interesting hobby’… and things like that…’
‘So, if I did meet someone with a sports car…’
‘You should say things like, ‘Oh, what a nice shade of red’, or whatever colour the thing happens to be painted… or ‘What sleek lines!…’ or better still, ‘Gosh, doesn’t the engine sound nice and throaty!…’ or possibly, ‘How does it handle on corners?’ – that sort of thing dear…’
‘So why do they have them? Are the poor desperate things just showing off – wanting people to look at them, whizzing about in their bright little expensive car?… and don’t they care about all those burning hydro-carbons?…’
‘Yes dear… and no, they don’t…’

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The lino printing press revisited…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s weather will be moody, indecisive, smug, and petulant, and will be accompanied by clouds slashed with an unpleasant livid stripe…

‘So, Dave… how are you getting on with your new homemade lino printing press that you showed us last week?’ (link)
‘Oh… er, not very well…’
‘No… I’ve chopped it up…’
‘What? With an axe? In a fit of artistic rage?… Oh, you artists!…’
‘No, no, actually I just unscrewed it all… into its constituent parts… so they could possibly be used for other things in the future…’

‘Oh, so didn’t it work then? You said you weren’t sure about it…’
‘Oh, it worked reasonably well, but I found that I still had to rub the back of the paper with my spoon device…’
‘Your spoon device?’
‘Yes, didn’t you see it in last week’s post?’
‘Oh, er yes, of course… your spoon device…’
‘Yes, when using the press the prints still came out a bit spotty, with the white of the paper showing through in patches, so really the process wasn’t much improved… so…’
‘You chopped it up…’
‘… and Dave…’
‘How did it make you feel?… Chopping up something that you…’
‘Oh do shut up! Don’t start all that, ‘and how did that make you feel?’ tosh – I’m fine with it… it was an experiment, and it was an interesting thing to make, and it wasn’t as useful as I thought…’
‘So you say… You’ll be going back your old method then?’
‘Oh yes… I already have. Would you like to see my latest print, done with just the spoon device?’

It’s a bit ziggy-zaggy isn’t it?’
‘A bit stripy…’
‘Looks like one of Edward Wadsworth’s ‘dazzle camouflage’ things from World War I…’
‘Oh, good!… Thank you! – I like him!…’
‘I know you do…’ (E.W.)


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