Posts Tagged With: art

A Portrait of the Modern Artist as a Young Time Lord (part one)

“I do not think,” my friend Jay once said to me, over a network connection, “that you can possibly write me an email with the subject line ‘Empty shells, ghosts’ and escape with your dignity intact. Unless you were planning on using up your entire 1998 stock of irony now, I think you might want to reconsider.”

At the time, I was hurt. Retrospectively he was quite correct, and I wonder what Jay would say if he could see the rubbish title I’ve given this post. Oh, it fits, of course – but aren’t you, he’d say, in that Estuary English voice he has, in danger of devolving into that pretentious idiot you once were? To which I’d shrug and say “Perhaps he never really left”.

Anyway, artistic pretension is kind of the topic. And we’ll start here.

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What was I doing at the Tate Modern? We were on a Cultural Visit. I’d pulled the boys out of school (all pre-approved, of course) and we went on one of Emily’s Grand Excursions, all timetabled and planned to the last detail so as to avoid long periods of inactivity and waiting around – not because either of us are impatient but because the boys get restless when they have to queue. It’s the way of things for us, and something I’ve learned to tolerate. It was the reason we didn’t go to the Natural History Museum and the start of the chain of events that led to me threatening to delete Thomas’s Xbox profile.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get back to the converted power station. Visiting the place was an experience – a good one, by and large, but the sort of thing that has you scratching your head. I’ve decided, in the first instance, that I will never understand Marcel Duchamp.

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I mean, it’s a bloody toilet. I don’t care that removing it from its intended setting and labelling it ‘art’ gets it a glass case. If I was to nail a door handle to a piece of chip board and call it art, would you give me a wing to myself? I don’t bloody think so. What’s that? A snow shovel? Oh, very well. Just let me deal with the burglars first.

One floor down, and we found a room full of enormous Polaroids where people’s heads had been exchanged with different fruits. It’s supposed to be a statement on rejoining with nature. It looked like something I do in Fireworks for the sake of a cheap pun. This person had a gallery to themselves. A gallery! In another room, we found twelve TV sets, each displaying a different piece of looped footage; the installation was entitled Workers Leaving the Factory in 11 Decades, and included scenes from Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon (thought to be the first film ever made) through to Dancer in the Dark, a film I’d hoped never to see again. Bjork’s lovely, but I still don’t understand how David Morse ever got his equity card.

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On the other hand, there were some wonderful pieces. They have Warhol, which Thomas (who developed something of an interest after a school topic) refused to believe was genuine. They have a large, primal-coloured Lichtenstein taking up most of a wall. They have a magnificent stack of radios, floor to ceiling, designed to emulate information overload. And in a darkened screening room they were running loops of Hito Steyerl’s How Not To Be Seen, which was simultaneously  bizarre and, I think, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced.

Oh, and they have this. It is thirty feet high and it reminds me of the last time I had to clean the bathroom wall.

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“I mean, seriously,” I said. “You could have done that.”

Josh glanced up at the thing, clearly interested. “Maybe it’s supposed to be a cyclone.”

“…You know, it does look uncannily like a cyclone.”

“Or my bedroom.”


What does all this have to do with Doctor Who? Well we’ll get to that another day, when I’ve processed the myriad ideas I have in my head about how to reconcile Doctor Who and modern art. In the meantime, we should be grateful that the TV show was never quite so pretentious.


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Dogtor Who

Oh, this is lovely. Well done, that artist.


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What happened about the statues

Cambridge is in a bit of a tizzy. According to reports in the Cambridge News, there is much consternation about a proposed sculpture that would sit outside an office block in Hills Road. Said work, a commission by a Uruguyan sculptor named Pablo Atchugarry, has thrown up all sorts of arguments about whether it’s art, whether it’s acceptable for public viewing, whether anyone will actually see it, and whether it is in fact any worse than another local piece of art that visually resembles jelly beans.

You can read all about the public spat in the article I’ve linked to above, but here’s an image of the statue itself.


The online friend who’d linked to this said “We were concerned the local children were not getting enough nightmares”. I mean, it’s pretty creepy. Never mind the end of ‘Blink’, in which we’re treated to a pointless and stupid montage of statues THAT LOOK NOTHING LIKE WEEPING ANGELS in a bid to frighten the wits out of any kids watching (it was a dismal failure as far as Josh was concerned). This really is the stuff of nightmares.

Anyway, the gleaming bronze / brass head got me thinking, and I thought we could improve it, like so:


Or even like this –

I have probably mentioned before that Gareth lives in Cambridge. Perhaps they should do a statue of him. With jelly beans. Or perhaps jelly babies. At least that way we link back to ‘Shada’.

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Years before the events of ‘The Invisible Enemy’, Professor Marius’s early prototype for K-9 was a resounding failure.



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“The phone’s just a dummy and the windows are the wrong size.”

“You think you’ve seen it all,” said Vikki. “Then someone shows you a stained glass TARDIS.”


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You’re a bad girl, Chloe Webber (revisited)

Today, I bring you the stuff of nightmares.


As acquired from here, and sent to me by sj and Gareth (separately, but within the same week). There’s an annoying reliance on New Who, with a couple of old standards thrown in (almost as if the artist decided to make it exclusively post-2005 and then ran out of ideas when he got to A, N and Q, and then more or less gave up once he reached W), and some of the scansion is downright appalling. Still, the images are lovely, and a lot of work has clearly gone into this, even if he has mis-spelled ‘Lazarus’…

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“I love humans. Always seeing patterns in things that aren’t there.”

We were up at the John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital yesterday, and the corridors are covered with artwork, thank-you letters from grateful children and a few sensory installations. You can sort of see what this one – well, the left hand part – reminded me of…

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You’re a bad girl, Chloe Webber

Last week, I asked the boys to draw pictures for their grandmother’s birthday card.

Daniel scribbled. Thomas came up with a complicated Rube Goldberg contraption that dispenses pasta. Joshua, after five minutes, was clearly struggling, and when I asked what he’d managed to do, this was what he had to show me. It was the beginnings, he said, of a Where’s Wally? picture.

My first thought was that we’d probably be here for a while, but I encouraged him to stick with it. Halfway through, he had something of a rethink, almost certainly because of the amount of figures he’d have to draw.

Anyway, this is what he eventually came up with.


He calls it ‘The Doctor and Wally grow lots of grass in the TARDIS and then get lost in it’. Which is fair enough. (I helped with the green!)

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A brush with death

Last Thursday, my colleague popped over from Ireland. Jim works from his home in County Clare, and his visits to the UK are infrequent, so it was a good excuse for lunch. We held a team meeting in a pub in the middle of Abingdon, and drank ale and talked about old times.

Jim probably won’t mind me telling you that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Kenny Rogers – music, indeed, is one of his great passions and we’d often discuss the relative merits of Peter Case, Johnny Cash or Joy Division on the way to dinner in Oxford back when he was working and living in the UK. His other hobby is art – he paints and draws whenever the opportunity presents itself, and it was during a conversation last week that he reminded me of a project he’d been involved in a couple of years back in Ireland.

“Wallcandy street art project,” says the website, “has drawn together artists & designers with diverse skills to create pieces of art on walls and buildings around the town of Ennis. The aim of Wallcandy is to give artists the opportunity and freedom to conceive and create a piece of art that uses a particular site in an interesting and quirky way. The resulting artworks hope to engage, surprise and entertain viewers of all ages. All of the sites chosen have interesting or unusual features and, although some of the sites are a little run down or have deteriorated due to damage or neglect, they have been given an artistic twist that totally changes the way you see them.”

Why am I telling you this? Well, because I only just remembered what he did with the dingy wall near the Ennis grocer’s. Here it is.

After he’d worked his magic, it looked like this:

And here are the close-ups:

They may be seen in their original context here.

Sometimes I think some of us are wasted in our day jobs…

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You’re Scottish. Fry something.

After yesterday’s comments about salami and oversized food, Gareth ran a Google search for ‘Doctor Who food’. And this, courtesy of Deviant Art, is what he found.

(The spelling error is unfortunate, but arguably adds to the effect…)

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