William S. Burroughs (Can you all hear me?)

William S. Burroughs (Can you all hear me?)
October Gallery
London WC1... until 7 February 2015

I don't think I've ever read any Burroughs. I may have read The Ticket That Exploded, as that one popped into my mind.  I'll have to check Robin's copy and he will have a copy, that's for sure. My other half has been into Burroughs in a very big way for many years and that may explain why I've neglected him; Robin's kinda read him for me.

So, anyway, it was Robin's birthday and what better way to celebrate than to take ourselves to an exhibition of some of his artwork at the October Gallery. This was the first gallery to show Burroughs' work in Britain in 1988 (which Robin went to). We had already been seeing each other since '87 so I don't know why I didn't go at the time.

We cycled into town to mooch around the gallery and then go for a bite to eat but on arrival we found ourselves outside a rather closed looking gallery. We looked at the opening times, 'Closed', they said, so we walked away disappointed, saying "why didn't we call to check?" etc. But I decided to go back, unable to accept this change in our plans. I rang the buzzer and a woman answered telling me that the gallery was closed, I cheekily replied "But it says you're open on your website". She replied "Stay there I'm coming down" and low and behold she opens up, lets us in and turns on the lights for us. This is a most unexpected and delightful change of events.

Detail from Space Door 1987

Two fair sized rooms contain the work which consists mainly of pieces using spray paint, some in rather garish colours. There are also works made of wood with shotgun holes and a sculpture made out of a door that has been collaged.

Untitled Triptych 1993

Of course we know that Burroughs was fond of the gun so the shotgun pieces are no surprise really. I think they're good and reminded me of Nikki de Saint Phalle's "shooting paintings" of the early 1960s. Other artists also came to mind such as Johns, Rauchenberg, Polke and Warhol, who Burroughs does a great portrait of. It's this piece that is probably the most memorable for me. It is ghost-like and at the same time suggests a sci-fi vision sent through space TV, if you know what I mean.

Warhol, A Portrait in TV Dots..., 1992

Burroughs, primarily a writer, made a pretty good stab at art, but you can see that he's been looking at other artists' work to find ways of creating certain effects.

Included in this centenary homage are works by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Shezad Dawood and Liliane Lijn, all UK Artists whose work relates in some way to Burroughs' literature and his use of the use of cut-up technique invented by his friend Brion Gysin.

We spent a really nice hour or so in this gallery followed by coffee and cakes and a visit to an old buddy that still lives in the centre of town (very rare these days).

If you fancy seeing this exhibition it's free to get in but do check the opening times, unlike us.

Victor Pasmore's drinks cabinet at Tate Britain

Tate Britain BP Spotlights - New Brutalist Image 1949 - 55 (24 November 2014 to 4 October 2015 Free)

These displays fall into two categories. One which takes you on a journey through British Art, and 'Spotlights', which explore a theme or artist in depth.

I've fallen in love with a drinks cabinet which I saw in one of the spotlights of the BP Walk through British Art at Tate Britain. I'm partial to making furniture which I have done on many occasions. Most modern furniture is pretty simple to make as it's just a series of boxes really. Over the years I've made record stacking units, wardrobes, bed bases, coffee tables and other storage units. I have eight pieces in my home that I've designed and made, I can't help myself really, I like doing it even though my carpentry is not that good. Robin groans when I say I want to make something as he knows I'll rope him in for the build but after lots of cursing it's a very satisfying achievement.

But, back to the Tate spotlight on the exhibition Parallel of life and Art which was created in 1953, being the joint effort of the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi, the artist and photographer Nigel Henderson and architects Alison and Peter Smithson. This group collaborated on the design and building of the architecturally famous Hunstanton School in Norfolk, conceived by the Smithson's in 1949. The display of their work in the form of photographs drawings and sculptures is contained in one room.

Roland Jenkins's office at Ove Arup & Partners was the hub for the ideas of this group and it was in this office that the drinks cabinet resided which was made for him by Victor Pasmore.

I covet this wonderful object. It is sophisticated but simple and has human proportions, unlike a lot of furniture today. The way the hinges can be seen and the edges of wood revealed, the use of perspex and geometric shapes on the doors and the way these shapes are different on each door is something that I feel makes it a superb piece of furniture and art, but it is still fully functional and is obviously made by hand. It has made me think about the greater possibilities for my furniture making and possibly some customising too. 

I enjoyed this room very much and the other spotlight room on Marlow Moss who I will probably discuss later on.

Collage: 1969 Baby

Jane Pearrett 2014
1969 Baby
A4 Collage
Vintage images, graphite and gouache on black paper