Thursday 26 May 2011

You can’t always say what you want

The RaspBerry

I suppose one way or another we are all waiting for a phone call, text message or email and for one reason or another we all have the phone calls, text messages and emails that we can’t or won’t do.

In these days where most people can use various communication devices to send images, I wanted to produce an image that people could send, when they can’t say what they want.

With the Turner Contemporary opening in Margate, where a lot of the art on display is and will be Modern, contemporary and some of it is and will be conceptual art, I wanted also to form some sort of link for the local people, many of whom have contributed towards the cost of this gallery, where they could see some sort of point in the this sort of thing.

If art is anything it has to be about conveying something that can’t be conveyed in words. There is also a sense in which art has to justify itself, show it has some point or purpose, this was easy in the days before photography, but now aspects of art can seem pointless.

The idea here was to produce an item, artwork if you like, that was in a sense both useless and useful and also to explain its purpose clearly.

More pictures of The RaspBerry at as far as copyright goes help yourselves to the images, no need to ascribe them to me or anything like that.

I did a couple of posts recently with drawings of Tracy Emin and David Cameron in them, that illustrate just how powerful a communication tool art still is. 

In both cases my posts with them were on the first page of Google today here are the screenshots 

I think it fair to say that with Google finding about 43,400,000 webpages for the search phrase David Cameron, without the art aspect my post wouldn’t have featured in the top ten.

Very little in art is entirely original, artists look at other artists work and this influences and inspires what they produce, the primary inspiration for The RaspBerry is a work by the artist Conroy Maddox called Onanistic Typewriter  you can always Google it if you want to know what I mean.

I produced a work called Onanistic Netbook here it is

Art tends to inspire reaction in other artists and two artists I was talking to and photographing this week Andrea Francke and Mary Ikoniadou added further inspiration.

I will do a post about their work and their recent appearance in Broadstairs at a later date, here are a couple of pictures I took of them at the weekend.     

A question that has been floating around here in Thanet since The Turner Contemporary opened is, what is art? And a question that has been put to people in the past is, are you an artist?

There are different answers here of course, one chap quizzed in this way drew freehand a perfect circle another a perfect straight line. No one really seems to have come up with the goods, when it comes to expressing the answer verbally.  

For me being able to draw a picture of someone that is recognisably that person, seems a reasonable qualification. 

Another indicator is putting something one has produced in front of someone who has qualified academically as an artist and having the something pronounced “good” or “OK” in terms of art, this is also something that would suggest one is an artist.

I stopped producing art in any form about forty years ago, mainly because of the trouble it caused, now I have started again and have run a few of the results through some of these criteria.

One problem is that once one starts again it isn’t easy to stop. 

Now we come to one of my concerns about The Turner Contemporary, which is are they pulling off what they hope to achieve, this isn’t quite as simple as are they getting the visitor numbers now?

What I mean here is, in the terms of the parameters of what they hoped to achieve, at the moment an exhibition of contemporary art, is what they are displaying good, average or bad.

Looked at as it were in the way readers of this blog have looked at the various bits of art that I have put there recently, does it work? This is quite easily explained in terms of the pencil sketches of Tracy Emin and David Cameron, regardless of whether you think they were good or bad, if they have changed your visual perception of these people slightly, then they have done what I set out to achieve.

I have only one only one tangible way of measuring the public’s genuine interest in what the gallery is doing and that is by looking at the viewing counters on the various videos they have published online.

The gallery published a video embedded in their website yesterday and since then it has had only 87 viewings I did the same thing with some videos on this blog on Sunday, within 24 hours they had all had several hundred viewings.

Now sitting through four or five minutes of video to the end so that the counter clocks your viewing suggests a genuine interest in the content of the video and my concern is that the genuine interest isn’t as much as it should be.             


  1. i THOUGHT i HAD COMMENTED ON THIS mICHAEL BUT OBVIOUSLY i DIDNT.oops typo etc I have forgotten what I wrote last night so I will re read the post and see if my brain cell remembers anything, I think I have been formatted overnight. HO HUM

  2. Conroy Maddox, Onanistic Typewriter And your Onanastic netbook ate QWERTY too me. I must say if something makes you look and question it it has done part of the job, but I must admit to not knowing the 'JOB' or how to get a 'job' application. Maybe you could get an APP for your phone but how you would use it now you have stuck pins on the keys I am not sure?

  3. should read ARE QWERTTY and not ate. I could do with a spelling/typing APP

  4. Memory restored. Michael I got back from a week away and was greeted with a fantastic view of the TC and as we got to the traffic lights and roundabout on the front some youngsters who were making a film maybe with TC funding approval I know not but TC was in shot. Margate Old Town/Harbour area has new shops and a buzz about the place. We have many art based businesses now in Thanet and I know a few people who have relocated here because of the hype asssociated with the TC, whilst not a massive difference I say its a nudge in the right direction. Hard to say what it will be like on a cold january day but Thanet will always have those with or without the TC.

  5. Don blogwise this is one of the most viewed, over 1,000, and least commented on posts I have ever done, apart of course for your comments, perhaps you are a victim of an art attack.

    You could say it has the teeth to eat QWERTY so either way it works.

    For me with the TC the problem is that local people are looking at it in it in the wrong way, I am afraid that saying to themselves. “I don’t understand Contemporary art.” And then following this through with being for and against the TC, based on a series of ideas based on their location and politics, just isn’t good enough.

    It is a visitor attraction like many of the others we have had in Thanet over past 200 years, and I am afraid that if we want it to help the local economy, then we need to buck our ideas up, learn to understand what it is trying to achieve and make certain that it is achieving it well.

    At the moment I think we are a bit like some of the locals in about 1820 looking at the new public baths being built around Thanet for the benefit of the visitors. At that time I would imagine that most local people would never have had or even seen a bath. I expect for some considerable time there was much comment about the new baths by local people who had never actually had a bath.

  6. Michael, you are right about TC not being a political football. It is an opportunity for the future, but it is no use saying "TC is here, all our problems are solved". The whole of Thanet needs to become a place where visitors like to come and come back.

    When TC opened I heard comments about it being a world class venue. Well for Margate to be a "world class" destination it needs to take a good hard critical look at itself and continue the work started by TC

  7. Say for argument that I live in Chatham. I wake up one morning and decide that I would like to spend the day looking at some art. I could go to the seaside and visit the TC. Or I could go north to the river and visit the Tate Modern or the Tate or both plus the National Portrait Gallery.

    I suggest that this is not an evenly balanced choice.

  8. Michael,

    What are these bath things that you are talking about?

  9. I truly wish the TC well. But it alone will not rescue Thanet.

  10. I knew Neros in its heyday. My wife worked there as a waitress making good money. People used to come to Neros from far and wide, including the Medway towns. They came and they spent money. They came because Neros gave them what they wanted at a fair price.

    I am not conflating Neros with the TC. But the principle remains the same. The TC can help the area but it must first be made special. I hear that Rodin's Kiss is coming in August. That should help.

  11. Readit, John, Don, I have put up a new post to explain what I am getting at here.


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.