a penny for your...

Thursday, 23 December 2010

new work

most recent work oil on canvas 16 by 20

Enter the Sandbar

Outside, cold curls around concrete; frosting barbed wire to swirls of halo-like-ice-cuts set above the brick walls of Manchester, framing the night.

But I am inside - snow sliding off my damp boots; tucked under an oak church pew; glass of frothy beer settling dark in my hand while the event microphone is one-two'd under dimmed light.

The Event is 'Beatification', organised by the widely published socialist poet, and Mancunian a·fi·ci·o·na·do, John. G. Hall, who incidentally, has just published the first edition of, 'The Spleen', a poetic response to the current UK political landscape...


Beatification this evening = Beat Poetry Film, topical rhythmics from Manchester based poets and an excellent swell of acoustic harmonics from the band, 'The Ground'.

I confess to knowing very little about 'Beat Poetry' or the movement which twitched and surged through all US circuits before I was born. My ignorance is wholly down to being a peripheral fixate on all things Manchester throughout my teens, and thus somewhat provincial and introspective.

Beatification therefore, has snugged into my Monday evening as an apt opportunity to learn.

Watching the grainy film in a room for fifty or so when filled, I find myself smiling at the sheer freefall feel of Ginsberg's poetry, as the warmth creeps back into my toes and I fumble for a pen to record some thoughts. This is fast becoming learned behaviour, as the beat poetry films energise and encourage the merest creative act to the centre of experience.

Following the film, the poets line up to deliver their visions - Gerry Potter, Michael Wilson, John G Hall et al, do so with balanced verve for the brave souls scooting in from the cold of Christmas to listen - and forget for a few beautiful moments, the existence of cuts, the floods, the fist sized royal wedding and the VAT beanstalk stealth-twisting pantomine well beyond the season's year end...

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Epicurus plots a course for The Craven.

Over the Summer months, I read a book. The book was about philosophy. More specifically, the consolations which can be drawn from the philosophical teachings of great minds, now found bound on coffee shop shelves and echoed in bus stop conversations.

One of the thinkers noted in the book was a guy called Epicurus. For this greek bloke, living a fulfilled and contented life need only the presence of good food, good friends an other such related aspects of goodery.

Having been a pupil of the school of window gazing as a child, I was simply not interested in the lofty ideals of bearded heads. However, I have since had chance to grow my own beard(s), and so I realise that such learnings from antiquity have a very sheer relevance today.

Good food and congruent company is a full-stop must, if venturing out beyond the squabble of cheap booze shops, crowned with Orwellian cameras, is to be considered a worthy cause.

If Epicurus was alive today, I have no doubt that he would indeed plot course for 'The Craven', where he would find generous portions of Spanish and English dishes, friendly service, and also discover an elegant and contemporary interior - a further non-negotiable experiential when dining out with friends, lovers, family or colleagues.

It goes without saying then, that I am exceptionally pleased that the owner, Mrs Catherine Walsh, gifted me the opportunity to hang my artwork on the walls of her excellent tapas restaurant.

Yesterday, with my good friend Mr Rush, we placed and wall mounted the paintings and photographs - the finishing touches on what has indeed been an interesting year. For me, it is a year which has in some ways crowned the effort and learning I have invested in painting and other artistic mediums to date. Knowing now that my artwork furnishes a space where great food, great service and welcome company can be found, finds me very content in this moment.

So - if you want to escape the couch of mediocrity this Christmas, then...

The Craven, 7 Broad Lane, Rochdale OL16 4PG, England -

TEL 01706 750 600

... is more than worth a visit.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


It's cold and dark. The reclaimed structure amber illuminated in front of me is the British Muslim Heritage Centre. Later I would discover the facts, figures and future plan for this magnificent building, but, for a moment, I just want to marvel in the majesty and authority of this building, before scratching underfoot, the grit on the stone steps, and enter to receive the welcome warmth from the massive hot air blowers placed like sentinels at the apex of the inner stairwell.

At night, this neo-gothic structure presents as imposing within the surrounding grounds; walled in within Whalley Range, an area of Manchester I learned of while sitting in my barrack room with my suitcase sized Walkman, listening to Morrissey and the Smiths,

What do we get for our trouble and pain? Just a rented room in Whalley Range...

True, these rooms have been the temporary home for those of Faith and Trade, and now, the former Lancashire Independent College is in the midst of a multi-million pound renovation project, and as such is a major foundation stone for British Muslim Heritage.

The evening is underway - the large white vaulted hall, fills to a seated brim with those gathered to listen. For this evening is dedicated to literature, discussion and reflection. Professor Tariq Ramadan is succinctly interviewed by Manchester Muslim Writer's founding member, Zahid Hussain on the tactics and logistics of authorship and moreover, opening out Professor Ramadan's latest book, The Quest For Meaning', for the audience, now settled and quieted into position to hear the finer philosophical suggestion and theological understandings of the text.

It is I feel, of great credit to Mr Hussain and his eloquent line of questioning, that such thinking printed into text is kept on a platform I can reach, and I reached the place in time to catch the ride. I found myself nodding in agreement with each answer involuntarily, for I was afforded the clarity of deep thought made easy, punctuated toward the end with several questions fielded well.

And with a wink, Professor Ramadan was gone, ushered out into the night, while those left gathered to feast on the delicious food which had taken several days to prepare.

I have not yet read, The Quest for Meaning', though i now appreciate the intentions within the text. My one hope for today, as I script this entry, is that all those who bought the book, will read it and pass it onto someone else, and spread those words like a table cloth over the new year to wait for the sun, like a semi-colon; preparing the sentence for change.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Tents From Spread Tables

If it wasn't for the fact of night and my ticket, I would have wondered how it was that i found myself in the middle of a plot of Mercedes and Audis - a veritable showcase of cars cooling to accept the Mancunian frost on offer; free of charge...

But fact it was, so i queued on kind invite and managed to resist the swell of security and volunteers asking which table i was supposed to be sitting at, before taking my seat with friends.

Things took time to warm up - the hosts 'on de mic' used tactics more characteristic of any big fish little fish cardboard box event - and thus; seemed at times, far from the madding crowd of fund raising for the floods which devastated Pakistan - the reason for the event...

The Venue was furnished with large screens and poor lighting. Mr Khan, when he arrived, was within a bubble of suited ushers who provided route through the cheap seats and into the inner sanctum of the 'expensives', to take his seat while various select individuals graced the stage to address not-many-of-the-attendees, which was a great shame, as the sound dispersal was strictly speaking; poor, when counterbalanced against the bulk of equipment dropped at not-so-strategic grid references around The Venue.

Films poured from the big screens of river waters ripping through towns, concrete collapsing, crowds of people stood stock still as lifetimes of debris swept passed en route to somewhere else. I know the figures for this tragedy; I learned of them from the comfort of my laptop sofa seat. I am shaking my head now reflecting at the devastating magnitude of the Rain. This tragedy is immense and under reported - the UK seemingly more interested in the X Factor and why we are in the clutch of below ZERO temperatures and SNOW (hint - isn't that because it's Winter?), than the plight of our fellow human beings seven hours flight from here...

A good friend of mine used to play cricket with a passion at County level. By text, he described Imran Khan as a legend, and that he would present as a man with an 'Aura'. I can but agree with my friend on this point, as Mr Khan did indeed present in this way. Even from our seated distance though, it was such a shame, for my mind, that the overall organisation of the event wasn't sharper thus making the most impact in terms of raising funds for tents from spread tables.

There was however, a BIGGER agenda being ladled here - the issue of Mr Khan's ascendance - by predication - to the seat of office in Pakistan to promote the trigger pull for massive change needed for Pakistan, and to move away from it's increasingly cobwebbed interactions with the US...

I could be wrong however in my assumption, as I couldn't exactly hear what was being said, and therefore I stand accused in the shadow of my naivety.

Time, as they say, will tell all - though time does not measure equally between political machines and individual need - the latter, being perpetually stripped bare of bureaucracy is the more immediate, and thus, exists without the luxury of lies.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

HUSH 26.11.10

'you better HUSH (hush) HUSH (hush) somebody's calling my name...'

now the film was a bit BOBBINS, but Steve Vai and the inimitable Ry Cooder made the film worth it - at the part in the film when the then young Mr Macchio stepped up to gittar duel with Mr Vai, the above line is pulsed out into the onlooking folk dressed in black... Good vs Evil and the battle of the MOJO hand and then the guitars seared through the riff after riff through the roof

(oh to be a rock GOD)...

It goes without saying then that the similarities between HUSH and Crossroads end at this very point in the 'BLOG ENTRY'

...In the red walled basement of a Manchester Friday night, deep within the warmth of the Earth Cafe; HUSH was in session.

The HOT CHOCOLATE (with choice of milk) was excellent btw - have to stick this in here as i have no idea how to link it into the rest of the entry...

Yes HUSH was in session for the second time, intimacy paraded quietly around the room as Mr Potter - whose younger years i knew nothing of until - after his remarks as polite as buttered scones - we did. Gerry's slow and deliberate progression of aspects of his life quilted the evening and provided bedtime spiritual sat nav directions on death, tramps and of course the booze...

Rod Tame's delivery was as excellent as the HOT CHOCOLATE WITH CHOICE OF MILK (remind me to edit the earlier HOT CHOCOLATE WITH CHOICE OF MILK out of the entry as it is now perhaps superfluous). Given his relatively short time in the arena of the word - confidence, timing and scripting of humane personal reflections decorated the path which led ultimately to Cathy Crabb...

With her mother's made mosiac box of trinkets (which reminded me of the line in Micheal Hartnett's poem, 'Death of An Irishwoman' - 'a child's purse full of useless things'), family photos, wafer delicate and downright thumping observations about her family were nothing short of delightful, and of course fully interactive - being allowed to root in said shiny box - which is a neat way to involve and coax a gathering into a sense of community.

mmm - now there's a word... community... why do we need a GOVT initiative about happiness isn't it obvious how people feel already?

'for a minute there i lost myself, i lost myself...'

ahem... thank you Mr Yorke.

Gerry ladled his observations of middle age for the appreciating huddle of Oliver Twist listeners, before poetic servings from several of the audience (Faustus, shushi listening to a listeners voice), warm around tables now furnished with drained mugs of HOT CHOCOLATE WITH CHOICE OF MILK, plates relieved of apple pie and tumblers reflecting the lighting - while outside; folk moved through the freezing silk of another city evening, ready for the cocaine fuelled cocktails of freedom; the first time tie looseners and the inevitable labelled handbags at dawn...

Great evening, good crowd, nuff said...

If you haven't been should you go? tick (YES)

Should you ask for HOT CHOCOLATE? tick (NEXT QUESTION)

Should you google the Earth Cafe and go eat there? (tick (YES)

Are you happy to have read at the evening Steve? tick (YES VERY MUCH SO)

Is it time to post this blog entry Steve? tick (YES)

HUSH now ....

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


windows are beginning to fascinate...

putting a set list together for Friday, i did the TV recording on Saturday - first take - though i have yet to see the film- watch this space.

Also putting together a collection of poems from the stuff i have written to date

tis cold this morning, not to worry we have an extra day off next year...

Friday, 19 November 2010

looks as if

i may just be being filmed this weekend reading a poem i wrote some months back in response to the devastating floods in Pakistan. Watch this space for the link - i've been filmed before, so i suppose i am not too phased by the prospect - for sure the reason for the film is to raise awareness for the plight of so many thousands of people who are not currently regarded as newsworthy...

Went the watch The Walkmen the other week - enjoyed the evening very much and would recommend St Philips Church Salford to anyone who is thinking of seeing a band there.

I have been at that painting thing again...

Friday, 12 November 2010

leaving the books

Over ten years ago i painted my first pictures.

It didn't matter to me then about art history, technique, form etc - i just wanted to paint.

However, when the first wave had passed, i realised what I had been painting was indeed connected to artists whose work i had the fortune to stand in front of.

So I started buying books and learning about artists I admired.

And now - it's full circle time - i know a little bit about a little bit; perhaps enough to be a half decent escort (must spend more time getting to know one wine from another).

Here is one of a series of new paintings which i completed recently - to me this constitutes moving on from the last ten years, taking only the feelings and painting them over and over again.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Dot Dash Dot Dash

Coming towards the close of 2010, so high time i published an entry on my blog. I am performing my poetry here and there more often and painting portraits now for next year. Aside from the creative stuff, I have read much and watched and learned from other poets based in Rainy City area.

I have written poetry specifically for the Floods in Pakistan and more recently completed a promotion film and logo for http://www.mistngo.org/

At the moment, I am writing poetry linked to childhood experiences, and this work will be read as part of the forthcoming readings I have in Manchester:



it goes without saying that i am grateful for the opportunity to read guest slot, it makes the hours of reading, writing and editing worthwhile

Saturday, 27 February 2010

the night i didn't see Twisted Wheel


The across the road three floor space for all retro appreciatives opened a couple of weeks back, long enough for paint to dry on all things done on the cheap for the drinking of beer and the watching of Twisted Wheel Friday last.

Packed to the bar space, a cross section of clubbers that spanned twenty five years of skin constitution, life experience and trends breathed the same air, soaked the same lighting, nodded, poked and cheered as the band played on.

It was with some trepidation that I stepped into this mini club nestled in the middle of the city night -

form a queue please, form a queue, keep the stairways clear.

The stairways snake away to three floors (not counting the lost persons trading office in the basement).

The crowning floor houses hunched lines of rotating spotlights filed along the ceiling apex, promoting a 'hemmed in' feel. Not that it matters too much, when the sports event of the evening is getting a drink before the next smiley person.

Down a floor and there's the dual sex toilet bank for deposits; complete with rough trade finish. (Having a number one was a bit like chinese water toilet torture), a landing area lost to passing refugees from other floors; the occasional suited guy keeping eye over proceedings like some indiestylesecretservice.

The middle room houses a dancefloor finding its way to the bar, mounted behind which are three ottoman sized screens providing a roll call of stars - Patti Smith, Ian Curtis et al - though not perhaps so surprisingly, any hint of SPM...

Going down again and the band space - Twisted Wheel wus well gud, not that i could see them, hugged into a brick corner, making way for the fat black bag carrying bar staff chucking out the refuse.

And lo... All was sated as the night unfolded back out onto the street and into the taxi driven night.

nice one, sorted, ting...

Sunday, 14 February 2010


Interesting word - will look it up while I listen to The Stone Roses. This being a change to the regular dose of Radiohead, which incidentally has been my staple musical diet for about two years now whilst forging the development of creative stuff from the scratch of mi ass moment to stage completion...

Been a busy week this one, and looking over my shoulder i can afford a smile - my exhibition is up and running and i have been able to think words again instead of images!

This week has been full of other events - Monday's Muslim Writers session about the essence of the creative was illuminating in terms of dispelling myths about the muse and other such elusives when we set about creating. Very useful session in that, when the creative airway is blocked, there's a surgical tool in the shape of thought process which allows you to breathe and therefore create. It's simple really, I smile now as I type - if you create (which we all do in some shape or form), then simple acceptance and ownership of this thought allows invisible passage through Checkpoints diligently guarded by the sentinels of idleness and passive magistrates of thought prison.

'Begging you' has just flooded my earphones and I think of the other events of the week - Un Propehete - Great film - within the content of this gritty-slick thrust of French realism, delivered into the visual cortex from the slow opening glimpses of malevolence and their accompanying auditory cousins, there are for my mind some noticeable homages - e.g. The razorblade in the mouth in front of the prison mirror scene, presents lineage to both Taxi Driver and La Haine - for me this 'update' is also a stark reminder that attitudes flux within the Crucible of socio-political shenanegans within which we all find ourselves shuffling around.

Anyway - before i go off on one about 'wherediditallgowrongandwheredidthatmoralthinggoto', I will instead mention Thursday's reading at the Albert Poets


I read in the hushed backpubroom with poets more established than myself, and it was a humbling experience and one which I was able to glean some creative thought from as I listened to and absorbed their words, rhythms and content -

And to Saturday - Facilitated a three hour session at Touchstones Gallery, and was encouraged by the diverse talent of the range of children who dropped in during the Family Fun Day at the Gallery.

stay tuned..

oh and before i forget -

customise - customize |ˈkəstəˌmīz|
verb [ trans. ] (often be customized)
modify (something) to suit a particular individual or task : the suit can be customized for every skydiving need.

Indeed it can ...

Sunday, 31 January 2010

random ramblings

finally remembered my password to this blog - and thought i'd run a few things off.

It is now one week before the opening of my first solo exhibition. Aside from the - 'ineverrealisedthattherewassomuchworkinvolved' bit, which is relevant but also has the potential to be somewhat moanworthy, so -

I thought it might be useful to make some comment of what is known as 'the creative' and the high spots of working with others from the point of the initial idea for the exhibition to this point in time (which reminds me i should write some ideas down for the opening).

I have always had ideas - as a child these would probably be viewed as 'above station' in type by others, but i don't want to get drawn into the whole socio-political yap, just say that ten years after being given a set of brushes, i am now on the cusp of my first solo art exhibition.

I am being asked if i am excited at the prospect - and at the time of typing this, i have to say i am not - i simply have not had the time to get emotional about it - i think rather that when i arrange and hang the pictures, see and hear the show outside of what up to now has been an audio-visual concept inside my head - then perhaps i'll connect emotionally with the work.

The exhibition itself isn't anything cutting edge in content - there are no bits of upended scaffolding poles jutting from the floor wired up to inflated dolls dressed as bus conductors - on show will be about 25 landscape views from around the globe. There is no significance to the locations of the paintings save only that they are paintings of photos taken by others on their travels.

here is a link to the paintings -

the bit i'm most chuffed about is the audio loop of children's poetry. A friend of mine once said that good ideas are only that unless they are realised outside of the idea, the initial verve of thought. I understand now what it is to populate an idea with a plan and execute that plan accordingly. I have to thank Zahid Hussain - Official Author's Web Site (apols for not being able to do the whole hyper link thing proper) for his time and considerations with regard to the poetry competition.

The poetry competition was themed on the environment and of the 100+ entries from St Vincent's Primary School. The 20 or so winners of the competition I recorded before Christmas and the resulting audio loop is now pressed onto CDs (always make a mental note to not put an ' in CDs - thanks to Lynne Truss) ready for the opening event which is 1pm on the 6th Feb at Gallery One, Touchstones Rochdale.

Creating is always a delight - though sometimes a trial, sometimes akin to meditation. Both involve silent thought workspace, within which a blank canvas sketch becomes a completed subject. I have no formal training in art other than the many books i have read on the subject and the many works i have stood in front of and studied.

The detail of brushwork when close up to a canvas i find both fascinating and revealing of the artist - and always somewhat humbling. I wonder if in years to come, that others will stand in front my work and feel even remotely that which i have felt of others. I hope so - this has been an interesting journey to date...

stay tuned