The concrete cows are an iconic part of Milton Keynes. Recently, as reported in various parts of the press they had a makeover. Whilst this was initially talked about in a polarised language of community art verses vandalism the reality is that it was a wonderful act of non-violent direct action with a very specific purpose to try and restore and protect the towns art and the vision of community arts which inspired it, as this BBC News article explains.
Over the last 8 years and 2,499 posts art in various forms has been an important part of this blog. I have a long held appreciation of music, theatre and literature which I was bought up with.
Being the child of a poet and storyteller formed part of this I guess, although my mum who took me to the theatre loads whilst she was alive was a huge influence too. What probably had the most interesting and lasting influence was the role my dads involvement with punk driving various bands but particularly The Adicts around at various points in the late 70’s and early 80’s had on me. I was exposed to punk as a young child, not as something dangerous or a racket but as something which my dad would write home about on postcards. There was one I remember talking about a football match of some sort between The Adicts and Die Toten Hosen, written in that sort of way that indicated he was having a good time but I might also want to explore Die Toten Hosen’s music at some point. Tied into this was the left wing political side of stuff – one of the things I wish I could remember from being a kid was seeing the Clash at the Rock Against Racism concert in Victoria Park in 1978. Unfortunately as a 6 year old I didn’t realise the significance of what I was seeing. Thing is though my dad still took me and I can say, (even if I can’t remember a thing about it), I saw The Clash.
Some of the key posts on the blog which have related to art and culture are the following:
This one is about seeing the 2011 Turner Prize exhibition (amongst other things) in Newcastle last year. Didn’t seem to have much to say about the Turner Prize in 2009 when it was in Milbank. 2006 was a year when my post informs me that I much preferred the Degas, Sicket, Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition on in London at the same time to the Turner itself. This post reflects how, a few years before I started blogging, I got into the Turner Prize and more specifically on why I have the admiration I do for the work of Tracey Emin who is one of my favourite artists.
Perhaps the most important visual art event that I have blogged on was not some national exhibition but rather about a work of art I discovered at a small exhibition of the work of Egyptian tent makers, Stitch Like and Egyptian, in the Durham college where I did some mentoring work. This post describes my utter joy and thrill at seeing Hany Abdul Kader’s “The Revolution of 25th January”. Another local example of art I fell in love with during my time in Durham were the Miners Banners, which I first encountered close up at this exhibition reviewed back in September 2008 when I’d only been in Durham a couple of weeks.
Music wise I could fill a page with various links I guess. There’s festivals, big concerts, small concerts and small hall events which I’ve attended and reviewed. Narrowing it down the best gig of my entire life (and I’ve been to a few) was Green Day at Milton Keynes bowl back in June 2005 and so that was an early post. The Indigo Girls at the Sage in 2009 needs to go in there as a good gig I blogged about in a reasonably sized regional venue. Steve Winch in July this year was a great surprise at a local festival as this review indicated. As for the most surreal gig talked about on here that has to be Gareth Davies Jones at North Road Methodist Church, Durham (which has also been mentioned a few times in this blog), in April this year.
Book wise I could go for alot of things but I think Stella Duffy’s Theodora and the sequel The Purple Shroud which was published this year are probably amongst the best I have read and reviewed on here. Perhaps one of the most passionate reviews and surprising books I reviewed on here was Howard Schultz Onward, how Starbucks Fought for its Life Without Losing it’s Soul. If I was looking at it now I think my review may have been different.
Theatre wise there have been a number of productions seen which I could comment upon. One great experience was seeing Sir Derek Jacobi playing Lear last year. So looking forward to Vicious Old Queens the new sitcom coming out next year, according to reports yesterday, which will feature him and Sir Ian McKellen (who the blog tells me gave the best speech I heard at Pride in 2008). The post for Lear has a range of artsy stuff talked about within it and I think the heading Soul Feast seems very apt. June 2008 had a lovely post about me enjoying culture on a shoe-string and includes reference to me going to see A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Globe. Getting away from Shakespeare the way I love to use art to recharge is documented with an excellent example, our trip in March to see Noel Cowards Hayfever. The Durham Mystery plays were an excellent example of community theatre as I think came across here.
Reading through this is interesting because it shows how middle class I am in many of my tastes but at the same time it has highlighted how much I just love the arts in all their forms. I might not do opera and I struggle with classical and choral type aspects of “high culture” (see the end bit of this post on an interesting week for an example where I encountered Nick Clegg too) but I am quite obviously a bit of a culture vulture rather than a complete arts philistine.