Sunday, 17 July 2011

Dhol Drums lift you out of the doldrums!

I met someone today (Johnny Kalsi) that I must have met about 15 years ago, although we did not remember each other; we know that we were probably in the same place, at the same time.

Around 15 years ago I used to help a friend run a boys club in Hounslow, and we would occasionally invite the Dhol Foundation to come and entertain the lads and their families.

Today I went to St Austell because I had heard the Dhol Foundation were running some drum workshops in the town, and were also taking part in a parade.

The foundation is run by Johnny Kalsi, who also plays in ‘The Imagined Village’, whom we saw at the St Ives Festival year:

I took the opportunity to join in a workshop and have a go at the drums. I was probably oldest person trying it out, most of the others appeared to be between 2 & 12years old, but I’ve got to the stage where I don’t mind making a bit of a fool of myself.
One member of the foundation gave me what he called a ‘Mum & Dad’ training session, but I was useless at it so I gave up after a couple of minutes.

 The lad who is 3rd from the right is the one who tried to teach me.

After that I watched them perform in the town square. Here is a very short video of the performance:

And here is a better video of them performing:

Then I took the opportunity to talk to Johnny, who told me about all the things he is currently involved in.
Johnny Kalsi

By now it was time for the parade. So I followed the group as they joined with the  NoFit State Circus, who along with the Dhol Foundation will be in residence at The Eden Project during August this year. Some local children with colourful umbrellas also took part in the parade.

Here are a few pictures of the parade:

 During the parade I was asked by one of the officials if I was a journalist, maybe because I was stalking them carrying my man bag and shiny camera. Unfortunately I had to tell her I was not a journalist, but I was pleased to be asked the question.

It was a fabulous afternoon, I really enjoyed it.

Hearing the Dhol drums never fails to cheer me up.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Is it Art?

We went to St Ives last Sunday:

It was a beautiful day, the weather was fantastic

We went specifically to visit Tate St Ives. We had never been to the gallery before. Some friends had visited there and were not impressed, because they did not think the exhibits were ‘Art’.

I have quite eclectic views, so I thought I would probably enjoy the visit. But, I thought the Tate would have a permanent exhibition (because I am used to Tate Britain, in London), but it doesn’t. At St Ives the exhibits change fairly often.

This is the outside of the Tate:

There were works on display by Margaret Mellis, Naum Gabo, and others (if you click on the artists name it will take you the their websites and you can see examples of their works). We enjoyed looking at their work, but the best bit was when became part of the art ourselves:

First we came across Half the Air in a Given Space an iconic work by Martin Creed, which sees the spectacular sea-facing galleries filled with hundreds of balloons:

The idea is that you can walk through the balloons, we did, and even I was buried. It is quite disconcerting and can be a bit claustrophobic, But, it was a very good experience.

We then came to a large room, which, back in May this year, had four plain white walls. The work is being created by visitors, as you enter the room you invited to choose a place on the wall where your height is recorded as well as your name and the date of you visit:

Can you find Me? Look for : -Peter, 3.7.11

Can you find Davina? Look for : -Davina, 3.7.11

So we are now immortalised in a work of art (although I am sure the walls will be scrubbed clean at the end of the exhibition).

Is it art, well Wikipedia defines art as:
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the sensesemotions, andintellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including musicliteraturefilmphotographysculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics, and even disciplines such as history and psychology analyze its relationship with humans and generations.

Britannica Online defines art as "the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others." By this definition of the word, artistic works have existed for almost as long as humankind: from early pre-historic art to contemporary art; however, some theories restrict the concept to modern Western societies.[8] The first and broadest sense of art is the one that has remained closest to the older Latin meaning, which roughly translates to "skill" or "craft." A few examples where this meaning proves very broad include artifact, artificial, artifice, medical arts, and military arts. However, there are many other colloquial uses of the word, all with some relation to its etymology

So, is it Art? Of course it is.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Drummer

Last weekend Davina and I went to the unveiling of the sculpture by Tim Shaw entitled The Drummer. It stands in Lemon Quay - Truro:

The statue was unveiled by Roger Taylor (Queen), who lived in Truro when he was younger.

Here is a video of the unveiling (if you look very carefully you can find Davina, but I have not found myself in the video yet. Let me know if you spot me.):

There appears to be some controversy about the statue, some to do with the cost of such an artwork in the difficult times. Also, there seems to some concern about its nakedness and the size of  a certain appendage. Apparently, some women who want to get pregnant are clambering up the statue to touch the aforementioned appendage, in the hope that it will help them in their quest.

Spot the appendage!

The statue is meant to represent that Cornwall Dances to the beat of a different drum. Here is what the Sculptor himself says about it:

A Symbolic Work that Celebrates the Spirit of a Land and its People.
The beat has been in existence from the beginning of time. It is life itself, present within us all. Perhaps the Universe has its own eternal pulse. That most primitive of instruments, the drum, is used to summon and communicate, it entertains and evokes feeling. My own relationship with the drum began during my early childhood in Belfast. On every twelfth of July, and throughout the marching season of the preceding months, the ground and air would thunder and pound with the 
collective beat of drums as Orangemen paraded in mass through streets across the province.
It was no surprise that when I first set foot in Cornwall, twenty five years ago, I described it as a place whose drum beats differently to anywhere else, referring to the primordial, magical and timeless aspect that the land possesses. This came to mind, when in 2007, I was invited for the second time to submit a proposal for a sculpture for Truro’s Lemon Quay. I viewed the opportunity as a chance to celebrate something that would reflect an aspect of Cornwall and its people, and not just the city.
What does it mean when we refer to Cornwall as timeless or magical and what makes this County different from any other? The search for answers led to walks across moor, coast, and underground into the tin mines, to conversations with different people, from all walks of life. “You could feel the black,” an ex-miner described the thick, stifling, dimly lit atmosphere of his subterranean working environment. It’s a description that had profound resonance.
After some thought, I concluded that Cornwall in modern times is better known as a tourist destination and a place where many people have chosen to settle. There is, however, something more fundamental that defines the peninsula. Many miles from the country’s administrative centre, poised on the edge, jutting out into the great Atlantic Ocean; Cornwall is geographically and to some extent, economically remote. The shared sense of magic and timelessness that one feels not only comes from the barren landscape and rugged coastline and from the quality of light the peninsula possesses, but also from the dereliction and desolation left over from a by-gone industrial age. Living in a remote place often brings some kind of hardship. Perhaps it is this that has instilled within the nature of its people, a quiet and proud sense of independence paralleled with an instinct to survive whatever the prevailing circumstances may be.
In the archives of Truro Museum there is an extensive collection of photographs of tin miners working underground around the turn of the 1900s, taken by the photographer J.C. Burrows. One photograph in particular, portrays seven men standing in front of a mineshaft. The image is both haunting and austere; the subjects look sternly into the camera lens, they are united by life’s hardships, which are etched into the faces of each and every man, a look that is more difficult to find in Cornwall today.
It is perhaps then, the men and boys that mined tin for generations in the heat and darkness below ground level, and the fishermen that battle against the sea that best describe the spirit of ‘steely resilience.’ It is exactly this that The Drummer celebrates as it forces a mighty blow upon the drum.
The ball on which the figure balances relates to the sea, earth and the bright moon that shines across expansive night skies. The composition originates from an installation entitled La Corrida ~ Dreams in Red. The decision to use the ball was inspired by the quay’s circular paving design, which refers to the tidal water beneath it. The ball suggests both a sea buoy and the globe across which a great many Cornish people migrated to find work.
The Drummer sculpture is cast in bronze, an alloy composed of copper and tin. The cast contains both an ingot of Cornish tin and Cornish copper which has been symbolically thrown into the crucible during the smelting process. The emblem of the lamb and flag embossed upon the drum represents purity and refers to Truro’s past as a stannary town where tin was weighed, stamped and sold. Situated midway between Land’s End and Saltash, Truro has traditionally served its rural community as a commercial centre. In turn, the Drummer brings to the heart of it a sense of the rural community through which it celebrates the rhythm and beat that drives many festivities throughout the county: the Helston Floral, Penzance’s Mazey day, St Just’s Lafrowda and that most primal and magical of rites, The Padstow Obby Oss and more recently, Truro’s winter city lights.
Twenty-five years on from my first arrival in Cornwall, it is an honour to have been commissioned to create this work. It is uncanny, yet fitting, that the sculpture, which endeavours to define something about Cornwall and its people, should have been created in a disused quarry building in a remote location that was once the centre of the granite industry where rock was blasted and shaped by masons. It is that same rock which paves the many streets of our capital, three hundred miles away.
Tim Shaw. 2011

This statement and more about the statue can be found at this website:

Here is a picture of Tim trying to explain the above to an interested local resident:

Personally, as a resident of Truro who pays council tax, I think this statue is a good addition to the town. I think the council has been brave to spend money on it, and applaud them for it.

If we do not provide art of interest in public spaces the world would be a very boring place.

Here is my favourite picture from the event showing all the dignitaries who took part:

albeit from the back!!!