Rambling about Leeds UK…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s architectural term is Beton Brut – ‘concrete in the raw’, that is, concrete left in its natural state when the formwork has been removed. Sometimes special formwork is used to show clearly the timber graining on the concrete surface.
London’s Southbank Centre, from the mid 20th c., is an example of the use of this technique, it makes the buildings look particularly dirty and unpleasant, and a bit uncomfortable to be near.
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Oh dear, sniff… I think I have a cold coming on… I expect it was the train-germs from last week…
Yes, I noticed somewhere online that there was a big art show just starting at the Leeds City Art Gallery, so I decided to go on a little train ride, about an hour, and have a look at it. It wasn’t a bad journey, though there was a loud animated business meeting going on in the seats across the aisle, but I took advantage of it and jotted down some Overheard and Misheard Snatches of Train Conversation in my little notebook – Tee-hee, if only they knew!…
The exhibition turned out to be the British Art Show 8  (9th Oct 2015 ~ 10th Jan 2016), apparently they have these things every five years. It filled all the rooms in the building except one, (the Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite collection) it occupied three floors, there was a lot of it; the work of 42 artists was on show. On the little (faultily printed) leaflet it says that it, Provides a vital overview of some of the most exciting contemporary art produced in the UK.
Hm, well dear reader, I think you know me by now… and you know how I often seem very reluctant to be impressed…
I did walk around it all. I was hoping that something would stop me in my tracks, grab my attention, make my heart skip a beat or two, make me catch my breath… but no… I even peeped into the Stygian, and inevitably noisy, gloom of the video installations (video installation can be defined as: ‘film-making by people who have no skills in film-making’) and got a ‘feel’ of them for a minute or two. I didn’t spend that much time on each of the wall and floor pieces in the galleries though; it only took a passing glance and you could take in all that they were offering; I suppose, like fast food, you could call this ‘fast art’.
Yes, it was pretty bad – that’s just my opinion of course – some people there did seem to be enjoying it. I wonder what those gaggles of bright-eyed teenagers clutching clipboards and chewing on their pen ends were making of it? I got the feeling they had been forcibly dragged along to be indoctrinated into learning how to ‘like’ this sort of thing, poor lambs… But what do I know? Am I an old fuddy-duddy? Perhaps I am missing the point, expecting it to be stimulating and visually interesting. I’ve probably seen too much ‘slow art’ in my time…
Anyway, after that, I popped across the badly designed and unsettling curved footbridge to the Henry Moore Institute gallery to see some work by someone called Paul Neagu – the show was called Palpable Sculpture, but you were not allowed to touch things. All pretty dull really, and again there were more of those poor thoughtful teenagers with clipboards.
After a satisfying interlude in a cafe where I exchanged a few pleasantries with the surprisingly cheery barista, an ‘Essex girl’ she said she was (cafe staff in big cities are usually a bit on the cool side and are a bit curt, but she was very nice) I wandered down over the river to the Tetley Gallery and looked at a show called The Feast Wagon. It was rather like British Art Show 8, but much smaller, and more ramshackle, if that is possible.
The one good thing about seeing this kind of art (yes, there is a positive side to it) is that any artist, me included, can get a little boost of confidence after seeing great quantities of such weak pissy po-faced stuff. You know that you are at least as good as all this twaddle…
To end on a more cheerful note – the highlight of my day was being pounced on and interviewed by a nice young chap in a smart suit on Leeds City Station – he was asking people about the signage relating to safety issues on the station platforms. He asked if I’d noticed this signage. I said that I had indeed noticed the sign pointing out the dangers of passengers taking heavy unwieldy luggage up the escalators, and seeing nearby, people taking heavy unwieldy luggage up the escalators.
‘That’s just the sort of thing we are after,’ he said, and added, ‘What do you think we could do about this problem?’
I said that they should hit the people with a big stick. He smiled at this, and then we talked over the issue for a few minutes. He took my name, snapped a photo of me on his phone, and asked if they could quote me in their November newsletter. I said that they could, then we shook hands and parted best of pals. Not a bad day out really…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in architecture, art, brain, cafe, conversation, design, humour, information, misheard, observations, overheard, serendipity, words and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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