Author Topic: Ken in The Times 2009  (Read 13586 times)

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Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2009, 08:47:48 PM »
Nothing by Ken this week.

Offline Iain Fisher

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For raw emotion look no farther than the kitchen sink
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2009, 12:43:45 PM »
Ken in The Times today, 17 Mar 2009

Ken looks at two films, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, both of which are released on DVD om 23 Marc 2009.

Ken writes:

“Patience is not what these movies peddle. Both written by Alan Sillitoe, Long-Distance Runner (1960) is directed by Tony Richardson and Saturday Night (1962) by Karel Reisz. These two films initiated the British New Wave cinema, followed by Look Back in Anger, Billy Liar, This Sporting Life and A Kind of Loving. Known as “kitchen-sink dramas”, these breakthrough movies of the early 1960s were about the hopes, fears and foul-ups of young working-class fellows entering adulthood in a culture that held no rewards for their unique vitality and emerging vision, but only drudgery and repetition.  Drawing on physical vigour, boredom and an inner life just beginning to find expression, these youngsters struggled to escape gravity and the dearth of opportunities that they saw around them…”

Ken then talks of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning “…Finney plays… a reckless steelworker in industrial Nottingham, fond of ale, women and practical jokes… Finney was hailed as the British Marlon Brando”

On The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner “Tom Courtenay plays Colin Smith, the downcast but likeable petty thief living with his folks on the seedy side of Nottingham… A slim lad with a sometimes pained expression, Courtenay may lack the glaring physical beauty of young Finney, but he makes up for it by being less cocky and more likeable… This may be the better film, with jazz music by John Addison, ironic versions of the hymn Jerusalem, beautiful solitary runs and a parallel action montage in which an inmate is beaten while the assembly sings; but Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (with music by Johnny Dankworth) may have the more compelling character interactions. It's a toss-up. The former is for the rebel, the latter for the rascal in you.”

Offline Iain Fisher

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GPO films: Postman Pat, Evelyn the twerp and love letters to the mail
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2009, 02:41:45 PM »
Ken in The Times, 10 Mar 2009


Ken looks at We Live in Two Worlds , a DVD boxed set of short films by the legendary GPO Film Unit (the GPO are the British Post Office).

Ken says “The GPO Film Unit had directors such as Len Lye, Harry Watt, Basil Wright, Norman McLaren and Humphrey Jennings, composers such as Brian Easdale and Benjamin Britten, the poet W.H. Auden, the author J.B. Priestley, and producers such as the Brazilian Alberto Cavalcanti.  From 1933, for seven years, the unit produced arty educational films on how the Post Office worked,.. They were mildly amusing, had a certain naive charm and were delivered in a pastiche of animation, mini-drama and mythic poetic gushes.”


The most famous is Night Mail with music by Benjamin Britten and text by WH Auden which reflects the noise of thetrain in the rails “Now the Night Mail is crossing the border/ Bringing the cheques and the postal orders/ Letters for the rich, letters for the poor/ The shop on the corner and the girl next door.”

Ken says “this collaboration between Auden and Britten, makes it romantic that 40 workers scooping millions of letters into nets leave Euston [Railway Station] at 8.30pm daily on the travelling Postal Special. “

Ken describes many of the other films such as The Horsey Mail "set during a storm on the east coast of Norfolk. Seven hundred yards of sea wall have collapsed. There are floods everywhere. So Postman Pat goes to rescue Mrs Stokes, whose bed is surrounded by ducks swimming in 5ft of water. Postman Pat rows her the 15 miles to Horsey High Street to mail a postcard to Farmer Fred. "

“Buy this box set and enter the twilight zone of 22 films from 1936-38. You'll get technical marvels, simple smiles, insights into manpower when it was still elegantly organised and trips across the country with the love letters of a nation. “

You can buy the DVD here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001MK9ZHG/savagmessiakenru

« Last Edit: March 12, 2009, 09:23:12 PM by Iain Fisher »

Offline Iain Fisher

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By George she's got him! Maggi makes Melly with her old friend
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2009, 11:34:32 AM »
Ken in The Times, 3 Mar 2009

The on-line version has a different title from the printed title above “George Always: Maggi makes Melly with her old friend”.  Ken looks at George Always, an exhibition by Maggi Hambling, at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool 31 May 2009   The exhibition is of portraits of jazz musician George Melly.  Ken writes

“…George Melly's mix of energy, camp and rhythm was totally original, funny and very sexy. And here he is as a revolving pot-bellied bundle of dazzling rainbow blue with a black eye patch in a painting by Maggi Hambling.… She paints the action of a wave breaking and the suppleness of her good friend Melly dancing, singing or laughing. “Paint can live, move and breathe in front of us,” she says. “This wave breaks for him.”


"Melly kept performing until a week before his death in 2007. Six weeks before he died, his dementia by now advanced, he came to lunch with Hambling. “Dementia suits me,” he confided, “I'm a surrealist.” A short time later he died of cancer.… The Melly paintings are vibrating, speaking to me. Here he's lecturing at a garden party, an interdimensional portal extending from his shoulder. “That's an angel's wing,” Hambling says. “What's this in his eyeball?” I ask. “His long-time love, Squeaky,” she replies. Here he is with a fish in air. “George loved fishing. Fish are always showing up in surrealistic paintings.”

Talking of the artist Maggi Hambling Ken says

“I browse through her London home, where a massive elephant chair, cowskin rugs, flying Indonesian sky dancers, Mexican masks, a mechanical ostrich, a glamorous long-lashed bust of her by the sculptor Andrew Logan, stuffed parrots, her own glorious portraits and a jungle garden straight out of Rousseau provide an ambience not unlike a gorgeous Art Deco salon. “George was very pleased to see I'd finally got a grand piano,” she laughs, pointing to a working toy replica.  Up the stairs under her portrait of Derek Jarman on the stairwell ceiling is her haven, although she spends most of each week at her house on the sea in Suffolk. Fedora at the ready for outside wear, she's wry, sharp as a tack, self-possessed and immeasurably loyal. “I cultivate a tough persona, because I'm very choosy about who I let eat me up.” She displays that loyalty by keeping alive in her paintings those dearest to her - Melly, Jarman and her one-time muse, the decadent beauty Henrietta Moraes, the failed cat burglar. “

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2009, 01:28:49 AM »
Nothing by Ken in The Times yesterday.

Offline Iain Fisher

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The Mug is a book by lovers for lovers of books
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2009, 05:54:34 PM »
In The Times today Ken looks at a new book by sculptor and artist Sarah Lucas and the artist and poet Olivier Garbay, The Mug.

"It's a 750-page... provocative illuminated manuscript for the postmodern pilgrim... a not-for-children alphabet book, starting with A... You can dip and choose from entries, but it's reading the whole shebang that delivers the maximum impact".

"Colour photographs of Lucas's and Garbay's art pieces, snapshots and portraits weave in and out among poems and sardonic wordplay. Modelled on William Blake's illustrated books and S.Foster Damon's A Blake Dictionary, The Mug traces a path through innocence and experience, sex and semaphore, mysticism and the mundane."

"Lucas once made and sold real mugs with Tracey Emin at The Shop, which they ran together for six months. At the most recent Art Car Boot Fair, Lucas and Garbay sold their own limited-edition mugs"

"Lucas and Garbay tapped into the same vein that T.S. Eliot uses in The Wasteland, ancient references combined with modern slang - a secret language to turn on the code-breaker in you. There are even French phrases that are mercifully not impenetrable. (“The spine of The Mug is the same size as my French/English dictionary,” Garbay says.)"

"... On a recent February Day of Apollo in St John's Restaurant, my wife Elise and I raise mugs with Lucas and Garbay. Despite their arty pedigrees, they are convivial, unpretentious, engaging and generous. Garbay talks - in French, in English, in leaps and bounds. Lucas talks, too, and grins and wiggles her orange-wellied toes. The two of them clearly love each other, grabbing opportunities to embrace with the joy of reunion. (Lucas lives in Suffolk much of the time; Garbay makes London his base.) I feel the weird spontaneous urge to embrace them myself. They are in full possession of their own talents and visions, and profligate with good feelings. This is what artists should be like. Audacious, magical, conspiratorial, fearless... Having lunch with them is like celebrating with Hansel and Gretel that the evil witch has been shoved into the oven."

"The story goes that Matisse was the only contemporary painter whose canvases Picasso didn't paint over, after buying them. Picasso discovered in Matisse that rarity - a kindred spirit. Lucas and Garbay have found in each other the same."

The Mug by Sarah Lucas and Olivier Garbay is published by Other Criteria/ White Cube (www.othercriteria.com)

Offline Iain Fisher

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If you want to get ahead, get a Piers Atkinson hat
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 01:25:28 AM »
Ken in The Times, 10 Feb 2009

Ken writes about an exhibition of hats in London's V&A museum.  I find it difficult to be moved by hats, so how did Ken do to move me?

"Hats can disguise, complete a look, define a personality, weave a spell. They can make people laugh or create a party mood. There are even tinfoil hats to keep out the aliens and government hypno-waves... When Aretha Franklin sang My Country 'Tis of Thee last month at the US presidential inauguration, everyone left humming the hat - an emphatic grey felt with a giant rhinestone-encrusted bow."

"...But the biggest scene-stealer of all would have to be any creation by the young Piers Atkinson, who is working on his third collection at the moment, to be unveiled this month. He has attracted the approval of Jones, who has invited Atkinson to display two hats in his forthcoming V& A extravaganza.

"See his hats on www.piersatkinson.co.uk and tell me your life isn't changed.".  Ken, my life has not changed. Sorry this summary is so short.

Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones is at the V&A, London www.vam.ac.uk, 24 Feb- 31 May 2009.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2009, 10:17:12 AM »
Because London was snowbound I didn't get my Times yesterday, but there is nothing by Ken in the aniline edition.

Iain

Offline Iain Fisher

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We're all able in our own ways, so vive la difference
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2009, 01:47:37 PM »
Ken in The Times, 27 Jan 2009

Ken praises an installation in Wolverhampton about disabled people.

“…I urge you to go to the Wolverhampton Art Gallery to see the artist Simon Mckeown's elaborate state-of-the-art digital installation called Biodiverse: MotionDisabled. Mckeown uses motion-capture picture technology, 3-D animations of the performers as well as of their props (such as toothbrushes and telephones) and 50in video screens to present, with wit and verve, a series of movies featuring the everyday actions of those coping creatively with differently abled bodies.”

“…Mckeown would be the first to agree that it is more descriptive and accurate to call the disabled differently abled, given that he has filmed remarkable performances of actors whose physical specialities have given birth to amazingly agile adjustments..."

Ken points out that he was one of the first directors to use differently abled actors in Tommy “…with a variety of wheelchairs and surgical appliances, to portray acolytes coming to worship in the Church of Marilyn Monroe. “

Biodiverse: MotionDisabled is at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery (www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk), to 9 Apr 2009

Offline Iain Fisher

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When it comes to TV, fiction is truer than fact
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2009, 10:42:56 AM »
Ken in The Times, 20 Jan 2009

Ken reflects on fiction versus reality TV such as Big Brother “There was a time when so-called reality entertainment was the exception rather than the rule, particularly in television. No more. Now it's unavoidable, in the genre I call “Gloat TV”….

Where are the myriad works springing from the imagination? Scripts by such writers as Charlie Kaufman, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Tony Kushner, David Mamet and Woody Allen are being forced to the back of the queue. Yet they're the ones who give us the strength to shoulder our portion of the human condition, to laugh at our foibles, make sense of our contradictions, accept our limitations and reach doggedly for our greatest possibilities.”

Ken looks at fiction “There must be a reason that Buddha and Jesus conveyed their most profound teachings in parables, or fictional stories…  Stories are our soul containers, our initiations into a higher perspective. In them we carry our values, our lessons for living, our hopes and dreams, our felt remembrance of humanity as a noble experiment. Stories give us a glimpse of why and who we are. Without them, we feel separate, unrooted, restless, isolated, mistrustful. Through stories, we remember history, communicate feelings, honour the individual and better understand the world which nurtures and redeems us while it also tries and tests us.”

Then Ken tackles some films:

  • Metropolis: “…a powerful metaphor for a modern world at the mercy of the nine-to-five mentality”
  • Dave: “…shows the modern world through the eyes of a miniature alien played by Eddie Murphy wearing a giant spaceship in the shape of Eddie Murphy. In it humanity is seen in all its positive elements, showing that your average guy is not all bad and, given half a chance, will go for love rather than hate.”
  • Synecdoche, New York: “Caden Cotard is an insecure, procrastinating, terror-ridden everyman and woman (he makes that clear by casting a woman as himself in the play about his life)… A brave and ambitious effort to bore inThe Good Soldier: “One of the best novels yet written made into one of the best TV dramas. From the beginning, when the impeccably controlled Captain Edward Ashburnham orders his beef “underdone, but not too underdone”, we are compelled into the story of outer manners and inner turmoil, secret passions and frustrated love triangles,..“
  • Children of Men: “in 2027 “England soldiers on” amid chaos, terrorism, society's collapse, the worship of youth, environmental destruction, immigration wars and wholesale infertility. The emotional and biological responses of a populace under supreme duress are played out in a biblical story of hope, loyalty, stamina and the birth of a baby.”

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2009, 09:40:49 PM »
Nothing by Ken today.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2009, 12:36:20 PM »
Art for art's sake; money for God's sake

Ken in The Tiimes today 6 Jan 2009

Ken looks at starving artists: “Art is its own reward, but it has always helped to have a generous patron”.

“Starving artist syndrome is the lot of those obsessives among us for whom the desire and drive to devote ourselves to creative expression outstrips our income… For art is a powerful and intoxicating addiction to creativity. No artist ever really takes a day off. To create something that wasn't there before, to make a slice of the imaginary real and to get lost in the focused intensity of it may well be the ultimate joy…. It takes a lot of courage to be an artist. The comforts of stability may never belong to the person who is absorbed in an internal struggle to bring forth something ineffable, something beyond words but true nonetheless.”

Then Ken looks at individual artists:
  • Damien Hirst “…entitled to be rewarded for having the self-esteem to ask overblown prices for his stuffed sharks or slices of cow”
  • Michelangelo “It is said that he was forced by his agent to put dirt on a sculpture to improve its resale value as a supposed antique.”
  • Caravaggio “Patrons began throwing money at his art, enabling the birth of modern art… His taste for confrontation led him into exile and death at 38 from a knife wound.”
  • Picasso “…that most inventive of all artists, never took a day off.”
  • Van Gogh “…arguably the best artist of all time… Van Gogh's only financial ambition was to earn enough to buy a crust of bread, a tube of yellow paint and to relieve Theo from having to subsidise him”
  • Dylan Thomas “He believed that the freedom of an artist to explore evocative expression more than compensated for a lack of plush comfort.”

And a couple of artists Ken has filmed
  • Henri Gaudier-Breszka “The genius sculptor… was a passionate starving artist living in poverty, as were many of his friends in the Vorticist movement”
  • Isadora Duncan “so poor she hardly knew where the next bottle of champagne was coming from”