Occasionally, I do manage to get out and about and beyond the deeply internalised musings that can be found here, thanks to many kind people who ask me to talk about my work. A couple of weeks ago, I went along to the annual show of work presented by the staff from the School of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University, in the Bonington Gallery. It ends on the 10 February so go and see if you can, if only for Jonathan Gillies' 'In Orbit', a fab, sound based animation which "reimagines place as a stellar abstraction" but which also has some lovely swoony electronic sounds from a 1960s/70s Italian electronic arts collective, the magnificently named Gruppo Nuove Proposte Sonore. As part of this exhibition's events, I participated in a live and informal panel discussion on preoccupations with place and the role it plays in our different practices. Others who took part were Kate Genever and Steve Pool, artists who have recently spent time working in Parsons Cross, a council estate in Sheffield, the photographer Katja Hock who has been documenting decaying ex-Nato bases and housing in Germany, and the aforementioned Andy Lock, who convened it all. A lot was said about the differences between our practices, and our different approaches to a common subject, and all to a small but very select audience of about 10 people - all I remember saying is that the younger members of the audience should go and 'download' 'Sugar Sugar' by The Archies, a lovely, soulful and joyous pop song (handclaps are always the key here) that I will defend to the hilt with anyone who cares to slag it off.
In May, I shall be at the University of Derby, taking part in the 'Affective Landscapes' conference, giving a paper entitled ‘Places in which I forgot things: memory, identity and the English Council Estate in the paintings of George Shaw'. People seem strangely reluctant to get their head around Shaw's work (which is more complex than we think) and this paper offers a few tentative perspectives on what might make Shaw tick.
Later on, in June, more of my dubious pop references crop up in a paper called 'Sharing horizons that are new to us: planning, freedom and growing up on a 1960s English council estate' which will make a contribution to the 'Geographies of Enthusiasm' session at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference in Edinburgh. A taster for this can be found on the admirable 'Conserving the Twentieth Century' website.