a film about Kurt Schwitters
I’m lying in bed in Cumbria in my new room in Celia Washington’s house. I’m going to be here until the end of March, editing the film and dog sitting for her Patterdale terrier while she supervises the move of Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre to the wonderful Patan Museum. Being here, my mind is so much clearer and my health is better already. I’m re-reading Gwendolen Webster’s biography “Kurt Merz Schwitters” and its giving me even more ideas. Every time I read it, it inspires me again. So much so that I have now finally decided I should actually use some of my Arts Council grant to buy my own copy instead of constantly renewing it for what is over a year now from Kensington Library. Its out of print , so I have had to pay £60. Someone please re-issue it at a lower price. Its a corking read, it really is. Roger Turner lent me it first. He found a cheap copy but they don’t exist now.
I went round this old house yesterday collecting furniture for my room and creating my own space here. It now feels really nice and comfy and as I write there are two butterflies here with me, one at each window. Both Red Admirals I think. Brilliant.
You can hear the rain outside and the stream just below my window. And someone is chopping wood - with an axe not a chainsaw thank God. I will complete the editing here no problem. I find it so hard to concentrate in London. The M.E. is worse there and I get bad ‘brain fog’.
I came up via my family in Yorkshire for Christmas and called off at Leeds City Art Gallery which is currently hosting the Northern Art Prize. One of the short-listed artists who makes sculptural pieces out of ordinary furniture, Richard Rigg, was nominated by Emily Marsden my curator at the Hatton Gallery. I really like her taste in art. Quiet, quirky and deeply intelligent. She’s a bit like that herself actually. There aren’t many working class girls from Sheffield who went to Cambridge University in the art world. Actually the whole show is brilliant. Speaking as someone who comes from the North but lives in London and who finds the London art scene often pretentious and deeply depressing, both this year’s Turner Prize show (mainly Northern and Scottish artists and currently at the Baltic in Gateshead) and the Northern Arts prize are very different. Much quieter and less showy. Much more intelligent without wearing some deeply self-conscious imported conceptualism as a fashion statement. Really nice show the Northern Art Prize. Here’s the website. There is a slide-show of photographs by Leo Fitzmaurice that is very Schwitters-esque. Found every day images that emphasise formal relationships and chance visual coincidences. A line or a colour or a texture in everyday life. Loved it. And work by a woman called Liadin Cooke who is obviously a massive Eva Hesse fan - like me. In fact as a film-maker I can say that the Hesse’s textures are way more of an influence on me that any films I have seen. Roger Turner’s tiny percussion sounds are the same actually. Small, quiet textures and surfaces of percussive sounds. That’s why I asked him to be in the film.
Looking at the dvd of the footage I shot with the the musicians, I know that in spite of my complaints of no pre-planning (they are free improvisers girl! - the clue is in the title) they are totally right for this project and worth any headaches they may cause me. They look and sound so Schwitters-esque just being themselves.
I showed a little of their footage to Paul Bream from Jazz North East last week. He’s going to partner me as they say in Arts Council circles for the concert at the Sage in Gateshead of Schwitters inspired music on the 30th June. He will help keep away the organisational hassle , so I can get on with making the actual art work. I thought it was a great idea to have a concert of the musicians in the film but its turned out to be quiet a lot of work and I don’t have the time. So hopefully I can just swan around like Lady Muck now and be the curator while Paul books the train tickets, etc. Somehow I doubt it will be quite like that! I really liked him though and we know many musicians in common and we had a good gossip about the free improv music scene. Including me telling him that the Molde Jazz Festival will have a day’s tribute on the island Schwitters lived on in Norway this year, to celebrate the installation of a reproduction of his Large Merz Sculpture. Han Bennick is playing and the Globe Unity Orchestra (Wow!) and I hope my film will be seen as well but they have to check out the power situation as there is no electricity on Hjertoya. Its where I filmed this summer so would be very disappointed if my film were not included. Especially as its has such brilliant musicians. Fingers crossed. There is talk of solar power being installed. Its the 15th July.
I can hear a pheasant outside now. Crikey - there are 6 pheasants on the lawn! Its New Year’s Eve today. Its been a great year for me. Staying in with the dog this evening.