December 12th

These blog posts are thinning out to say the least, partly because I'm busy, and partly because I've already said a lot of things I wanted to. Which is better, repeating yourself endlessly, or staying silent once you've said your piece?

Quote of the Week

  • "This house has been far out at sea all night, |The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills, |Winds stampeding the fields under the window |Floundering black astride and blinding wet |Till day rose; then under an orange sky |The hills had new places, and wind wielded |Blade-light, luminous black and emerald, |Flexing like the lens of a mad eye." - Ted Hughes, Wind

Monday, 22 June 2009

Banksy, Parts I and II

After much exhaustion on which I shall elaborate later, we are proud to present: Banksy vs Bristol Museum! More pics to follow when I have a bit more sleep.


As this is a work in progress and I can't yet upload my own pictures (these ones were taken by Daniel and I shall not steal any more of his thunder), I shall describe in words what I cannot yet in pictures.

Part I

It took me five hours to get to Bristol. Usually, it would only be about three, but for no clear reason, thetrainline.com decided that I would much like sitting around in Derby Train Station for an hour, and that Cheltenham Spa Train Station would also be a good place to leave me for about forty minutes. From my very brief stay in both these stations, I can only conclude that these towns are likely to be the most boring places in the world, and that they serve the pre-packaged sandwiches found throughout the UK that are somehow designed so that the "turkey breast and ham" sandwich tastes identical to "tomato and cheese", and not a very good tomato and cheese at that.

But no matter. Three trains, four stations and five hours after I leave from my comfortable abode in Leicester in pursuit of what I hope to be amazing art, I arrive in Bristol. It is 2.30pm. Daniel had gotten to Bristol an hour before me and has warned me that at the time, he had been in the queue for 20 minutes and still was not in.

By the time I reach the Bristol City Museum it is 3pm, and last entry into the museum is 4pm. There are at least 300 people in front of me waiting to see Banksy. The "museum staff", big muscular guys who look like they could pound you into a pulp if they so wished, look more like bouncers. They warn us at 3.15pm that it looks unlikely that many more of us are going to get in, but we in the queue hold on to the precious ground we had gained against the impregnable machine of museum policy. People continue to join the end of the queue, still hoping to get in. I was reminded quite surreally of queueing outside the club on a Friday night, only that it was daytime, there was no loud music, and the drunken students shouting obscenities were replaced by mostly middle-aged men and women, sipping coffee and having genteel conversation.

As you may have guessed, I did get in eventually after 45 more minutes. By the time I arrived at the museum steps, I felt like a king.

Part II

The main hall looked absolutely surreal. Masses of people shuffled about in orderly queues, staring at what appeared to be plain and simple vandalism. Right in the middle was an ice-cream truck with no wheels and smashed windows ("glass" fragments lay on the ground nearby). The body of the truck was covered with poor-quality street graffiti. A shopping cart lay destroyed nearby, and most surreally a full-sized SWAT officer was perched on a tiny carousel pony, riding up and down mechanically. A tag on its chest read "Metropolitan Peace". I left the queue to snap some pictures and realised that the smashed-up ice cream truck doubled as a reception.

Looking more closely, the traditional Greek and Roman statues had been remade into a parody of their modern counterparts.

Venus, Goddess of Beauty, is staring intently at the price tag of a pair of sunglasses in her hand despite already wearing another pair. A fashionable winter scarf is wrapped around her neck, while a revealing toga frames her plastercast assets. She cradles a bundle of shopping bags in her hand, the kind of oversized paper bag with fancy designs that is presented to you by branded companies as a "thank you" note for allowing them to rob you of your money, and their workers of their dignity.

Apollo is wrapping a cloth over his mouth to hide his face. A jacket lined with explosives is strapped to his chest.

Cupid, cigarette and beer can in hand, stands drunkenly over a small pile of junk food and energy drinks, clasping one high-heeled shoe in the other hand.

The Goddess of Victory, Nike, stands proudly with chest straight and wings unfurled, but a paint bucket has been placed rudely over her head. ugly pink splotches have dripped all the way from the bucket to the base of the statue. Further away, Buddha isn't spared either. He sits wisely as he always does, but his left hand is not raised up - instead it rests in a sling across his lap. His neck has been placed in a brace, and one eye appears to be swollen shut.

On the other side of the hall is a cast of a lion with a circus whip in its mouth. It stands fiercely over a hat and jacket that may have belonged to an animal trainer. His fate is hinted at by a small amount of blood-red paint on the lion's mouth and face.

Rejoining the queue, I walked down a corridoor into a side room, filled with Banksy's paintings.

To be continued in Part III.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Ode to the Past

Wow, it's been a while since I last poked my nose into my own blog. The last two months have been hectic, both medically and otherwise. Lab work, exams, post-exam celebrations and a trip to London have taxed me physically and mentally, and underlying these events is a sense that I am missing out on something I know is terribly important, but can't quite put my finger on. But more on that later, for those whom I would trust - this blog has been a place for me to bare my soul, but not right now. Some issues have not yet completely played out, others I would rather discuss with good friends in the privacy of internet chat rather than allow the casual wanderer to see my deepest thoughts. Some of you may be disappointed by the shortness of this post, but then my feelings and thoughts cannot be easily expressed in words.

The blog looks like an old room which I left ages ago in good order, but reenter to discover a fine layer of dust on everything that once was familiar. My every move stirs up faint clouds that add nostalgia to summer sunbeams from the window. Old declarations, bitterly sworn with clenched fist and pounding heart at stormy skies, lie faded on the webpage, the beliefs underlying them built on sand long since disappeared beneath the waves. Some of my crafts remain solid, yet with rough edges that once went unnoticed, but now stick out like a sore thumb. I barely remember the events preserved by the photographs on my facebook wall.

I step forward to identify each memory: Socialism, once a cherished ideal, remains standing, but has been eaten through by my own doubts. Nationalism, the very first concept that was the founding crux of my first blog as well as this one, lies dead, smashed by my own hand when I saw the beast for what it was. Faith in a superior being, that pristine glass carving that I once tried panstakingly to protect, was finally shattered by a careless thought. I may perhaps one day glue the delicate pieces together, but not before I change again. Even my taste in music has been fundamentally altered - when once it was the Backstreet Boys and Linkin Park, Massive Attack and Rob Dougan now dominate.

Taking in the room in its entirety, I can't help but realise how different I have become over the last two years. But though I am different, something within remains the same. All of these creations, splintered or maintained, worn out or pristine, were mine. And they still are.