Life in London has been very good lately. England endured the coldest winter since records began and lots of people talk about suffering from Seasonal Adjustment Disorder. However I believe: life is what you make it and so I've been trying to stay positive. My house has no central heating so at night I go to bed wearing jeans over my pajamas, a woolly hat, 2 hot water bottles, two duvets and a blanket as well as a sleeping bag. It's a drag but you just have to laugh about it else you'd go mad. I've also been visiting my friend and family a lot and trying to keep as busy as possible.
I've started a blog for my fanzine The Rebel. I've been interviewing lots of musicians and artists I find interesting and inspiring. Take a look here: therebelmagazine.blogspot.com. Finding out about creative people makes me happy. Yoko Ono once said that we should also try to transform our feelings of jealousy into feelings of admiration. If we do this what we admire will become part of our lives. I wonder if part of the reason I do The Rebel is to try and make people part of my world? I know that when I was very young I always promised myself that when I got older I would surround myself with creative people doing interesting things. I wanted that far more than I wanted material things.
I also started another blog connected to a project I undertook with Jasper Joffe. Jasper and I decided to make our own version of Tate Modern. Take a look here: jasperandharry.blogspot.com. Jasper was contacted by www.unit24.info and asked if he wanted to put on a show. Luckily for me he said he'd been thinking of a show I'd curated years ago called Viva Pablo in which I'd got artists to make Picasso fakes and had made info blurbs and signs in the style of Tate Britain. Jasper could have done a version of Tate Modern on his own but thought it was be fun if we did it together (and he was right).
Jasper went away and painted his version of David Hockney, Bridget Riley and Andy Warhol. While I did my take on other masterpieces in the Tate Modern collection by artists such as Henri Matisse, Patrick Herron and Amedeo Modigliani. The only one Jasper and I did as a collaboration was our tribute to Gilbert & George.
Jasper Barnett Newman
We both contributed lots of ideas to the show. We had a shop that sold postcards, Jasper made chocolate Brownies and got a sign made for the front window. I got friends to design and pay for the flyer and wrote the press release. Lots of people were very positive about the project right from the start. The opening night of the show was very well attended and so many people said they loved it. Lots of people laughed at my take on Francis Bacon and admired Jasper's Polke. On the last day of the show we had Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey come and give a lecture about his work.
The key motifs of Mark Leckey's work are desire and transformation. Judges of the 2007 Turner Prize said they gave the award to Mark because he "uses his own state of being to celebrate the imagination of the individual and our potential to inhabit, reclaim or animate a space or an object."
Mark's talk was very good. He started off quoting the lyrics of an old music hall song by Max Bygraves called You Need Hands. He said he no longer used his hands much. He showed images of Van Gogh and Philip Guston and read out quotes by Paul Gauguin. Mark once painted and sculpted but now the only time he used his hands in his work was when he was typing at a computer.
Sometimes people say that Morrissey is the last great pop star. Mark seemed to be saying that Philip Guston was the last great painter, or, the last great painter whose work was vital. I guess I share Mark's belief that when you look at a Guston painting of a hand or a shoe you feel you're not looking an illustration of a hand or a shoe. There's definitely some power there. Guston said painting should be like what happens when you bang a gong – endless reverberations. I like lots of painters around at the moment but I can't think of many of whose work that could be said.
Mark had been a recent judge or selector of New Contemporaries at the Institute of Contemporary Art. He showed us video clips of two of the young artists that he had selected. What I thought was interesting is that halfway through the screening of the second clip he turned it off saying, "Actually, I'm not in the mood for this one today." It was for things such as this that made me trust him more. There was also a lot of Northern humour in the talk. Mark compared his tastes in art to a bore who only drank real ale.
One friend at the talk who I've written about before (Mikey Georgeson) filmed part of the talk and made his own tribute ("Everything's Connected Now") which is up on YouTube.
I think the reason people liked the Jasper and Harry Tate Modern was that it was born out of a "Do It Yourself" attitude. A lot of people are worried about losing their job or having funding cut at the moment. We're living in very worrying times. Possibly the punk ethos behind our project is inspiring. In my art I can make films with Gordon Beswick and put them on You Tube for all to see. I can write songs with Julian Wakeling and get our band The Values to perform them. I can publish my own magazine. Or help Jasper create an Art Fair or our version of the Tate Modern. The possibilities are endless.
When I focus on making my art and collaborating with friends my life is brilliant.
Drawing: Edward Ward
Mark Leckey. Felix
Crowd at Mark Leckey's lecture
is a writer, curator and painter who lives and works in London. See also his postcards from London, São Paulo and Leeds in previous issues of Epifanio.