Belinda's Bash

Belinda Naylor-Stables

Outlaws, pipecleaners, scaffolding, tea and other haphazard snippets

Thoughts and themes have all been a bit random over the last month. Here are some snippets…

So we sat and listened to Pure Evil. It was intriguing to learn about the inside world of the graffiti artist. Though I half expected more of a spectacle – a crushed-velvet cape, a red satin mask, perhaps even pointy ears and a tail. But no, he was Pure Evil unmasked and unplugged, looking like a normal guy. Wicked.

For much of his gallery work he appears to take ideas from other people’s art and change them slightly. I wondered vaguely about copyright – and then thought no, I can’t ask about that, it’s too normal, spoil-sport even. Then when someone actually asked the question, which was a natural question under the circumstances, I had to admire them. Cool.

Fairly recently, would you say over the last 10 years, vandalism has become a favour. That is if it’s done by a well known graffiti artist. But it’s really bad luck if it’s a not-so-famous graffiti artist that doesn’t add value to your house or block. But if you scrub it off or paint over it, they could become famous afterwards and your wall could have been worth a bundle. Would you kick yourself? Or would you say, ‘No. That was vandalism and I stand by my principles.’ Conundrum.

We heard about Banksy too. He is a much more reclusive artist. On 30 July 2004 he was unmasked by the Evening Standard when they published a photograph of him. The headline: ‘Unmasked at last - first picture of Banksy, graffiti outlaw wanted for art terrorism’. Revelation.

Despite being wanted for arrest Banksy has left works in many famous cities – and recently visited California because he was wanted by Hollywood – for his art. Yet most countries, especially the USA, have strict visa rules. How did he gain entry? A song comes to mind: baby, remember my name. Fame!

Back on form here, a new Banksy appeared in Bristol. Apart from being able to paint a mural, an essential set of skills clearly includes the ability to convey, unload, erect, and take down scaffolding totally silently, without waking anyone up, in the pitch black of night. Is anyone running courses on this? Could scaffolding erection trainers be arrested for aiding and abetting graffiti vandals? Pivotal.

Here at Herts Visual Arts things are about craftmakers too. We, of the Frog’s Folly Studio team, went to see Made London which doesn’t mean ‘made in London’. There were craftspeople from all over the UK. The noticeable trend this year seemed to be for miniatures. In textiles I noticed Linda Miller’s little embroidered story pictures. Outstanding miniatures in jewellery included the work of Helen Noakes, Becky Crow and Rachel Eardley. Then there were Claire Lowe’s unusual uses of tea, white wool and knitting in jewellery. Alice Walton’s wall art featured miniatures in ceramics too. Perhaps I was particularly drawn to all these because I had written an article about miniatures a few weeks ago. Deja vu.

And I discovered there is a reason why you make lots of things out of pipe cleaners when you are little. If you had persevered with this skill you could now be making wire frame pictures or objects – the sort that caught my eye at this exhibition. The wire frame clocks and drawings by Helaina Sharpley were there again. The wire frame pictures set in glass created by Jenny Ayrton were fun and evocative; as were the wonderful metal sculptures by Abbott and Ellwood as well as Rachel Larkins. Happy.

Relaxed style setters for me included ceramicist Adam Frew, Teresa Green with her printed textiles and Janie knitted textiles. Hot.

Great Portland Street, the location of Made London, doesn’t offer a wide choice of eateries. There was a great café at the venue – though full at lunch time. As we were getting the train back to Harpenden, it made sense to stop at St Pancras to eat. It’s a great for people-watching and I highly recommend the British bakery, Paton and Byrne. It was hard to ignore the naughty nibbles – but we did. I had a small quiche, a variety of salads including puy lentils, green lentils, bulghar wheat and mixed green leaves, with mint tea for £6.50. Fresh, clean and beautifully prepared, the reasonable price made it all the more wholesome! Yummy.

Afterwards I contemplated how prolific we all are. Stuff.

I came across The Learning Network – Teaching and Learning with the New York Times. Students are still responding to an article: Do we need art in our lives? from November 26 2013. The consensus seems to be yes, we need it! Joy.

Pure Evil was great. Now time to book your place at the Steampunk Photography talk by Gary Nicholls on 19 November 2014. Laters.