December 3, 2013

The Beatles are holed up in a hotel in Tokyo, I am holed in up a (largish) 1 room flat in Malmö

Here are The Beatles painting their only jointly made artwork holed up in the Tokyo Hilton in June of '66. Paul's cigarette pack poking out of his shirt pocket looks like some sort of egg roll sushi brooch, of all things.
They are engrossed - it seems like a nice escape and probably a relief to be allocated a specific corner for your own artistic style. There is only so much collaborating one can do I guess.

I have been sick today, my body feels like a wet woollen jersey - slow, heavy and uncooperative. My head likewise. I am terrible at being sick, any days not working seem like a wasted opportunity to be productive, and I cannot focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Today alternating between reading snippets of Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem and watching The Beatles Anthology while continuing to work on an artwork which feels increasingly futile and has no end in sight. I wanted to spend today writing: but my energy has been siphoned out of my brain, perhaps through the snot dribbling out of my left nostril - the right one remains resolutely blocked.

I don't write long things, I struggle to maintain words over the length of a A4 page. These texts are just ideas observed and described. I never write dialogue. Like everything, the only way to improve one's writing is to increase one's output, which is a new intention. I had thoughts of three separate texts to work on when I went to sleep last night, I woke up this morning with faint recollections of two of them and a left arm that had refused to wake up with the rest of me and lolled around like a tentacle.

I have spent the majority of today trying to remember my third idea and reading maybe every fourth sentence of Slouching Towards Bethlehem. It still counts.

My tutor in my second year of art school, Richard Orjis, asked me once something along the lines of 'What's up with all this nostalgia? What isn't interesting about what is happening now?' and the fact that I am still thinking about this 6 years later means it must have made some sort of impression on me. I am not exactly sure what that impression is, except that I associate the word nostalgia with a sort of menacing dread, and I realise I have spent today (along with many many other days) entrenched in the music and writings of the mid sixties. I am listening to Rubber Soul as I type this.

Perhaps tomorrow I can begin to associate with the contemporary world, for tonight I am feeling irrelevant.

Arne Jacobsen furniture in films #1

Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair in Ringo's apartment in Help! while they all play 'You've got to hide your love away".

November 7, 2013

This is a spotlight that can be fixed to any appropriate surface, even the user's forehead.

Small things - clever, perfectly formed. Simple ideas, functional.
I want to simplify everything. I use so many words, smother works with a deluge of different ideas, theories, concepts each trying to justify the other while at the same time elbowing to the front of the queue.
I want to employ a new simplicity in my work - pare things backs, no over-involved plotlines; but to remember important phrases: a wild sheep chase; the macguffin; tangled threads of crime.

Just make statements. Of intent. I feel like I have been drifting aimlessly along for the past while (I don't even know when this feeling set in).
I found these lights in a book I was processing at the library. Great idea, suction cups! Beautiful and useful.
I am particularly partial to the light suction cupped to the forehead.

I want to put caster wheels on all my pieces of furniture so things can be easily moved around. I used to call these wheels 'coasters' because that is what they did, coast around.
Lights/Bookshelves/Cabinets not just tables and chairs. The ability to reassemble your living spaces. Living in movement.
Inspired by book trolleys at the library and a lamp suction cupped onto a dude's forehead.

October 18, 2013

Reflections in him

We spent two days mincing around Denmark: Helsingør, Louisiana, Klampenborg, Copehagen. 
Here we are reflected in the gleaming metallic veneer of Elmgreen & Dragset's permanent public sculpture  as he basked in the sun. Positioned on a small pier at Helsingør and titled 'HAN', he clearly rreferences Copenhagen's iconic Little Mermaid.

We went and checker HER out when in Copenhagen - it was a grey drizzling day, two busloads of tourists had just alighted, I helped a solo middle aged man get the requisite photo op of him and the 'maid. 
She was surrounded by shallow dirty water,  and mounds of stinky seaweed which buoyed up piles of waste - bottles, cans and plastic bags. Discarded most likely by the tourists or brought in by the tide. 

It was a sorry spectacle.

October 11, 2013

I would describe my title like this

I don't appear to have many words in me these days, but then I have always considered myself a bit of a rambler. I would like to be able to explain my ideas and feelings in a few well chosen concise sentences. As yet I am unable to do this.

A drawing of mine currently hangs in one of the corridors at my work. It reads:


in capitals.

I thought about why I chose this phrase for this drawing. Why any phrase? And then I realised I could have chosen any phrase, in any language. But in my head, whenever I read any sort of statement, film/book/article title, tag line, slogan, my voice takes on a grandiose tone. The phrase is read as a actress making a melodramatic climax accompanied by the sweeping gestures of her arms. 
The thing is, in your head, it always sounds different.

It has become important.
Perhaps it's the Capitals.

The Gallery at the library has a standard template of questions the exhibiting students are required to fill in. The one I am always frustrated by (perhaps due to the fact I am an artist/library assistant, not a student, and this template is not really catered towards me) is:
Mina verk skulle jag beskriva så här: (I would describe my work like this:)

I didn't want to describe my work. That was too difficult. I wanted to title it. So I looked at it, and thought how would I describe what this phrase 'OM NATTEN ÄR ALLA KATTER GRÅ' is. The title would simply describe what the work is, as titles used to. Do they still? Don't know.


this is to be my method for titling from now on. "I would describe my work like this..."

inadequate photo documentation courtesy of instagram

The wood grain to the trees in Skogskyrkogården

The wood grain to the trees in Skogskyrkogården

they probably don't look like that on the inside. from a distance and in extreme close up. just trying to capture the feeling of looking through a crowded scene - a strong feeling to draw apart the series of trunks like a set of curtains.

printed wood grain curtains

Curve of Stadsbiblioteket & rectangle of knitted fishing line


Curve of Stadsbiblioteket & rectangle of knitted fishing line

going through photographs looking for repetitions.

both slightly blurred.
slightly dappled sufaces.

Kjell amongst deckare

Kjell amongst deckare, Stockholms Stadsbibliotek, juni 2013

September 16, 2013

Making things


I am working on things. The library gets in the way. 9-5 drudgery which drags on as I tell students where the photocopy rooms are and how to return books correctly. I spend time meant to be working doodling ideas on post-it's, which are then ferried home and drawn up on proper paper to I can take a step back and have a look at them. It all feels so insular, isolated though. Perhaps I actually need to verbalise these ideas instead of just writing them down. But these sketches are going to turn into actual physical things: I am going to build my first piece of self designed furniture, print my first fabric design, I have some grandiose plans for something I have named 'The Rocky Road' doorstop. (you'll get it when you see it - it's a pun).

I type this lying in bed with a throat that feels a grazed knee, unable to do a hell of a lot except read books and eat grapes. But it feels good to know that I have a vague idea of what I want to do with my life. I want to make things.

July 30, 2013

Stock film





images from Stockholm on film. i guess they are kind of repetitive but i start to see connections with colour and shape and form, maybe it is unconscious. another roll to come!

June 25, 2013

About a Boy

Charles Ninow from 'Dance Yourself Clean' at Ozlyn.

Last month my friend Charles had a show at a gallery in Auckland. He asked me to write a short piece to accompany the works. This is what I wrote.

ABOUT A BOY – 823.914

  1. The library I work at in Sweden has a split personality. One half in Swedish, the other English. The signs, the books, the general information, the students: both in Swedish and in English. I spend a lot of my time translating text from English into Swedish, and vice versa. In high school I studied Japanese. But now whenever I try to think of words, phrases or sentences in that language it comes out as Swedish. I guess my head only has the capacity for two languages at one time.

  1. In the early twentieth century, Malmö – the Swedish city I live in – had a city registry for dogs. Every hound, pooch, mongrel and bitch was duly recorded and archived. I learnt this on a trip to Malmö’s city archive with the Interloans team of which I am affiliated with. Did this mean that in circa 1910 there were no stray dogs in Malmö??

  1. At the library, we are currently in the process of transitioning over to the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Previously, they used SAB (the Swedish Classification system) which ordered material into different fields using letters as Dewey does with numbers.
    Letters into Numbers. The transition is an ongoing project, and at present both systems rub shoulders with each other on the shelves which the collection of numbered books steadily increases, while the lettered collection slowly fades away.  It seems strange to think about numbers replacing letters in a building housing the written word. I could say it’s the way of the future, but it’s been around since 1876. 
    As a library assistant, one of my particular roles is to change books over from SAB to DDC. It is a mind-numbingly simple task: delete some letters, add some numbers. Suddenly a book is reclassified – if it could think it would most likely have an existential crisis.
    If they could invent a machine to do this task they would.
Instead, they have me.

  1. Every dog owner was required to pay a ‘dog tax’ in order to keep the animal; hence the registry. The dog tax wasn’t much – perhaps a couple of öre. In fact, the monetary unit ‘öre’ is obsolete now, finally phased out a few years ago like the 5 cent coin. What was once the cost of registering your dog these days wouldn’t even get you a match stick (incidentally, a Swedish invention). The dogs were well documented – noted down were their respective breed, age, colouring and address, as well as the name of the owner and that of the dog. I would like to say that the dog registry was organized by the name of the dog, but on second thoughts, now I can’t be certain.

  1. The Swedes, being stereotypically a socially tolerant society, are not especially taken with the Dewey Decimal System. They believe it sexist, racist; too hierarchical. I would say they are probably right. Take for example, the 200’s: 
    200 – Religion / 210 – Natural theology / 220 – Bible / 230 – Christian theology / 240 - Christian moral & devotional theology / 250 – Christian orders & local church / 260 – Christian social theology / 270 –Christian church history / 280 – Christian denominations & sects / 290 – Other & comparative religions.
    But I guess when your classification system is invented by a 25 year old white Christian male, what can one expect?

  1. Like baby names, ships names, and street names, dog names fall in and out of fashion. In Malmö at the beginning of the twentieth century, ‘Boy’ was THE NAME to call your dog. An exorbitant number of dogs were registered under the name Boy. Why was this? Boy is not a Swedish name. Heck, it’s not even a Swedish word. Were unsuspecting Swedes reading English literature and mistaking the generic phrases of ‘Good boy!’, ‘Who’s a good boy?’  as the poor mutt’s actual name? Or perhaps this was the Swedish dog equivalent of John Doe – a dog with no name. I image this heightened popularity in the name Boy would be particularly problematic when one needed to beckon their faithful companion.


and they all came running.

June 17, 2013

Fountains flowing into musical streams

click image to enlarge! 

"Here is a musical streams-of-story, an appealing history of 'marketing trends and stylistic patterns in the development of pop/rock music.' Topping the chart is a time-series of popular and rock music as a share of total record sales, although the names are not scaled in proportion to their contributions to the grand total. Bold letters indicate some of the 24 stylistic categories, fountains flowing into musical streams,  (eg Schlock Rock, lower left). Several fashions, including Bubblegum and Surf, did not last, to the relief of a grateful world. In these overlapping parallel time-series, a few names of the 470 artists are repeated, as they resurface in fresh currents. The multiple parallel flows locate music-makers in two dimensions - linking musical parents and offspring from 1955 to 1974, and listing contemporaries for each year. With an intense richness of detail (measuring in at 20% of the typographic density of a telephone book), this nostalgic and engaging chart fascinates many viewers - at least those of a certain age. Also the illustration presents a somewhat divergent perspective on popular music: songs are not merely singles - unique, one-time, de novo happenings - rather music and music-makers share a pattern, a context, a history.

Library find of the day: Chart of musical groups and movements from 1955 to 1974, discovered in an Interloan book 'Visual Explanations: images and quantities, evidence and narrative', Edward R. Tufte, 1997. A fascinating chart, which I have also printed out to put up on my walls, and hopefully will work as a blueprint by which to discover more bands. And I could even do that chronologically.