Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Finnieston? It's Artification not Gentrification.

pic from Vice
Finnieston in Glasgow has been labelled the new Shoreditch after coming top of a 20 hippest places to live list in The Times.  Vice sent a reporter up to uncover the truth, cue a bit of fretting about hipsters and gentrification.  

Gentrification is a rubbish term for what has been happening.  Ever since artists of all sorts colonised downtown Manhattan in the 70s and kicked off a process of improvement there's been an accompanying complaint that something inauthentic is going on.  The appearance of start-ups and young people wanting to live somewhere affordable and hip should be a cause for celebration.  

Finnieston's emergence owes something to the extraordinary number of Turner Prize winners and nominees who are Glaswegian, graduates of the art school, resident in the city or some combination of the three.  They in turn are part of a lineage that can be traced to the art school kids of 1991 who were graduating into the city the year after it became European City of Culture.  This remarkable event was the effect of a process that arguably began when Alasdair Gray published Lanark, a novel about a city without art.  That novel came out just as Postcard Records were championing the Sound of Young Scotland and Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, Josef K, the Jesus and Mary Chain all began bothering the charts, inventing bedsit pop and other new strains of indie until years later morphing into dance as the Primals Screamadelica beat the Mary Chain to win the first Mercury Prize.

The gentry had nothing to do with all of this so called gentrification.  It's never the gentry who take the first move into the run down area, its artists and its the young and skint.   It's not gentrification, it's more like Artification and its better that for Finnieston or Berlin or Shoreditch than stagnating forever, unloved and undeveloped.     Artists create growth.

Also published in Medium

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Existential Living Rooms

The person who is truly free is “engaged in doing something purposeful, in the full confidence that it means something.” So believed Jean Paul Sartre, says Sarah Bakewell in her excellent new book At The Existentialist Cafe.
Perhaps Sartre would have approved of the women I recently met who applied themselves with purpose to the project of re-styling their homes. The home was their thing, their ongoing passion and a canvas for their imagination. Shopping for accessories was a regular weekend activity and flicking through Pinterest in the evening was “better than TV”.
This is a new thing. The homes they had grown up in only changed every few years while their grandparents homes looked like they were last decorated in the 1960’s. However, their own homes are in a perpetual state of flux as they are constantly modified, refreshed and accessorised. It seems to be a fact of modern life that the home is never finished.
A generation that once left an important part of their brains somewhere in a field in Hampshire are now grown-ups and their creative energy which was once spent on fashion and music and pulling is increasingly channeled into searches for throws, lighting and the perfect shade of paint. (One woman said, without a hint of irony, that she had tried 12 test pots of grey paint before finding the right one. And isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey as much about interior design as sex anyway? His office…his place…his dungeon. There’s even a parody book called 50 sheds of grey.)
Unlike their parents and grandparents, this generation are well-served with off and online retailers offering homewares at a price low-enough to assuage any guilt about profligacy and allowing them to get as engaged as they like.
If your home is your project then you will be spending many hours online searching makers marketplaces and pinning things you love to themed boards. Your weekends will involve driving to some out-of-town big box retailer with your Bestie in tow or queuing outside the post office parcel delivery office for your latest eBay find. This is not just shopping as leisure or a way to kill time, although its probably those things too, its a fully engaging creative obsession. But does it mean anything?
There should be no value judgement here. Sartre’s idea of a project that gave life purpose may have been writing a play or a philosophical tome but why shouldn’t writing your home be equally valid? Its the same thing in the sense that its a project that makes life feel meaningful. In that way, each writer is free.
Its not the shopping that make us free though, its the pursuit of the project that liberates us. Our consumer behaviour is always a reflection of some other purposeful activity, like re-imagining a room or perfecting a vinyl collection or educating your palate in the nuances of craft beer. The consumer is just a shadow of a more authentic individual on a mission.
Does it matter that the homes all looked vaguely the same and the contents were bought in shops rather than made from scratch? Uniqueness and individuality were maybe not not the point. Home projects have meaning in that they express something personal about the owner. That something changes with mood and fashion and it is something that needs no justification. It is an expression that cannot be wrong unless you deem it so. It is your idea and you can hold it up defiantly against the world of taste, saying I like this.
“I want people to like my house but if they don’t then so what? This my place and this is how I want it.”

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Advertising after the Fall

good article on the state of the advertising industry

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Thierry Henry Sky Sports Ad

Our new ad just broke and is going absolute gangbusters on social media.  5m+ views in a few hours just on Facebook.   Not even on TV yet.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Do One Thing Well

Do one thing well
A day with David Hieatt in Cardigan

Down the factory, in the morn
Getting to Cardigan from London involves a train to Swansea and then a drive.  The satnav takes me over country roads through a myriad of junctions and hamlets.  At times trees grow over the top of the road forming a tunnel.  I have just finished reading Holloways by Robert Macfarlane and I wonder whether these lanes qualify as ancient footpaths.  They must be old as they are well set into the earth and surely the road builders followed the old carriageways that in turn followed the tracks of farmers moving crops and livestock around over thousands of years.

It’s the summer of 2013 and I’m going to Cardigan to meet a brand creation machine called David Hieatt.  He has launched four since 1995.  They are Howies, The Do Lectures, 25 Mile and Hiut Denim.  Howies, he no longer has anything to do with while the other three are at various stages of development.  It is Hiut Denim I am particularly interested in.

Chasing The Scream

Social disconnection drives addiction and re-connection aids recovery.  Good article on addiction by Johann Hari who has just published Chasing The Scream

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Bill Drummonds Manifesto for Artists

is here

1 Don't Make Art For Rich People

2 Make Art for Everyone

Don’t stand on the outside looking in, stand on the outside looking further out

4 Don’t make punk rock

5 Don’t make art bigger than yourself

6 Don’t come the rebel 

7 The Lost Commandment

8 Let your Lone Ranger ride

9 Riot now, pay later

10 Burn the Bridge 

11 Accept the contradictions

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Bitter Lake

This is here on iPlayer

An excellent documentary about how ISIS emerged out of Al Qaeda and The Taliban and, further back, Saudi Wahabism helped by both flawed western intervention and Saudi support.

Curtis' big point is that politicians have long tried to reduce the complex to simple stories and fables, which contributed to them picking the wrong fights in Afghanistan and Iraq and ultimately failing in their missions.

Now, with ISIS, it is no longer possible to tell a simple good guy, bad guy story.  Assad in Syria is a bad guy unless he's fighting ISIS then he is good. He is bad and good, something which is not simple at all.

Curtis' narrative, told through archive material and new footage is raw, shocking and dreamlike.

In the Russian sci-fi move Solaris, space travellers beam rays onto a planet to try to see if it is alive, unaware that the planet is doing the same to them, infiltrating their dreams and leaving them confused about what is real and what is not.  While they affected the planet, they never stopped to ask how it was affecting them.  This was used by a Russian journalist as an analogy for that countries Afghan war.  The soviets went in to encourage communism without realising that the corruption and bribery of a land run by competing warlords was eating away at their soul.  100,000's returned to the soviet union affected and disillusioned.  In the same way, western soldiers, aid workers, NGO staff, businesspeople and workers return from failing to create democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq struck by the strength of the enemy's beliefs and left with the feeling that we believe in nothing.