Category Archives: Music

Goodbye!

Sadly this is my final post for the Fishmarket blog. So forgive me for making it a long one.

I have been involved with the Fishmarket in some way or another for three years now. First as an exhibiting artist and more recently as the gallery curator.

I’ve been deliberating over how to end this blog for the past few hours in between packing up to leave for Hong Kong. I think it’s best to keep it simple so I present you with my own personal Fishmarket Top 10.

In no particular order:-

1. The Instruments of Oblivion – Exhibition

This was my first experience of showing on a truly mammoth scale. I had a tremendous time rising to the challenge of filling the space by building a 30 foot tall volcano and a replica of Northampton’s now demolished castle.

Back in those early days the Fishmarket was run by the indefatigable Jayne West. She had done an inspirational job of turning the Fishmarket into a bona fide contemporary arts space. In fact everyone attached to the Fishmarket project seemed to have contagious enthusiasm, so it seemed natural to remain in touch after my show came down.

The Instruments of Oblivion Live at The Fishmarket

2. Sixty Miles by Road or Rail – Closing Night

When I arrived at the Fishmarket to start my tenure as the curator  the gallery was going through a number of funding problems. The most pressing issue was that we did not have funding secured beyond the first four months of 200, closure seemed imminent.

By the time we got to the closing night of “Sixty Miles by Road or Rail” we had confirmation that the building would continue to be funded. Obviously this was a great excuse for a party!

We also gave away 100 “A love affair with Northampton is a journey into space” T-shirts. It’s always great when I spot somebody wearing one. You’ll have to some serious dredging of ebay to get hold of one these days!

Sixty Miles by Road or Rail Closing Night

3. Feast of Fools – Install

One of the great pleasures of curating at the Fishmarket is the install period. Every install has been different and the opportunity to see a range of different artists respond to the gallery and its spacial eccentricities has been valuable.

This particular installation sticks out in my mind because it was the show that gave us Chris Davies phenomenal “Banjo-Playing Tree Frog”.

While the piece was being constructed in the gallery, I was having serious concerns about how it would be received by the local public. It’s not the most subtle piece of art!

Although I had visions of myself being chased from the gallery by locals bearing flaming torches there wasn’t a single complaint. I was thrilled to find that it was immensely popular.

Chris Davies and His Frog

4. My Heart Spins on the grill – Install

As anyone that has spent any amount of time with Stephen Mathewson and the Brainmanagerz will tell you, there is a very serious danger of “funburn”.

“Funburn” is a symptom of too much laughter, which was in plentiful supply during the preparations for “My Heart Spins on The Grill”.

Booze City

5. Hiker Meat – Opening Night

The Opening night of Jamie Shovlin’s “Hiker Meat” was memorable for a number of reasons.

It is currently the most technically complex show that we’ve hosted at the gallery and it exploits the space to great effect. The photos don’t really do the installation justice, take my word for it – it’s well worth making a trip to visit.

The added performative element on the opening night transformed the Fishmarket for the evening, hopefully it showed people the amazing potential of the place. The exhibition is a great platform for the Fishmarket to continue to build on, and it was great for me to leave on a high.

Jamie Shovlin and Lustfaust

6. Renewed Funding

One of the best days of my tenure was recieving news that we had been given a grant for the arts by the Arts Council.

The news came after a long , frustrating summer without money to host exhibitions. To say that I was excited when I heard would be an understatement. I’m not certain what we would have done to continue our activities as a gallery had we failed in our application.

7. Sixty Miles by Road or Rail – Surround Northampton Fishmarket

“Sixty Miles by Road or Rai”l was my first exhibition as curator at the Fishmarket and as I mentioned previously it came at a point when we were all uncertain about the future of the project.

Bill Drummonds “Surround Northampton Fishmarket” performance helped us drum up renewed support at time when that was exactly what we needed. Aside from that it was a huge amount of fun.

The17

8. Natural Disasters

The Fishmarket is far from being your average gallery. This is in part due to the buildings micro climate. When it’s cold outside it’s colder in the Fishmarket, when it’s hot outside it’s hotter in the Fishmarket.

There have been floods, snow, ice and parching heat.

When rainstorms hit the gallery the sound is incredible. The drumming of the rain on the roof acts as a warning signal for us to man the mops in readiness for asuaging the flow of the flood water!

9. Don Letts

Don Letts’ appearance as part of the Feast of Fools exhibiton was a high point. His film “Carnnival” was excellent food for though and his talk and Q&A afterward was always lively and interesting.

Here’s a clip of Don at work.

10. Steve and Franziska’s Kids day

Steve Mathewson and his colleague from the Vienna Children’s museum and The Brainmanagerz very kindly agreed to put on a childrens day as part of the “My Heart Spins on The Grill” exhibition.

It was fantastic to see so many people in the gallery having fun. Steve was generous enough to invite the participants to contribute to his exhibition in the form of wall paintings.

Painting in The Gallery

I’ve had an amazing time working at the Fishmarket, thank you to all of the artists and musicians that I’ve worked with over the past 18 months and a big thanks to all the staff, boardmembers and traders at the Fishmarket for making my time so rewarding.

Goodbye!

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Final Stretch

A room full of televisions.

Here at the Fishmarket we now have access to enough electricity to power two small houses, we have more televisions than 30 average UK households combined and we have the ability to make a huge amount of noise.

Yes, the installation is going very well.While millions of Britons were out enjoying the summer sun, myself Jamie Shovlin and Lustfaust collaborator Murray Ward set about preparing the gallery for the opening next Friday. The installation is on such a grand scale that we have had to have a whole new power circuit installed in the gallery to cope with the demand.  

After much of the day up and down ladders setting up the aerial audio system there are now half a dozen speakers suspended from beams, perched on the top of walls and concealed in secret locations around the gallery. I don’t think the Fishmarket will have seen a similar audio assault since avant-garde colossus Tony Conrad performed here. 

Jamie and Murray up the scaffold.

You may remember me moaning about the snow that fell in the gallery over winter. Summer in the Fishmarket is not without seasonal anomaly. To say that it was hot would be an understatement, the Fishmarket is probably one of the largest greenhouses in the midlands. Regardless of the subtropical conditions we somehow managed to keep well on schedule!  

At the end of the day Murray produced an astonishing box of audio delights with the intention of putting the new sound system through its paces. The sound was incredible. The mixture of 60 televisions, Lustfaust performing live and  the fully immersive audio is going to be an unmissable experience.

Murray Wards box of delights

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Austrian Potato Salad and the Opening Night – Part 2.

Following on from my post about the lead up to the opening of our current shows – “My Heart Spins on The Grill” in the main gallery and “Abstructavist Drawings” in Gallery 2 – it’s time to move on to the day of the opening.

As with all shows, no matter how much planning you put in there are always an enormous number of things that need to be done at the last-minute. One of the biggest tasks of the day was preparing the food for Stephen Mathewson’s grill party.

We had strict menu instructions from Steve – chicken legs, tiger bread (not made of tigers – see here) and Austrian potato salad. Steve has an aversion to mayonnaise but still has a passion for potato salad. Fortunately, Austrian potato salad is mayonnaise free and luckily for us Dieter Preisl drummer with the Brain Managerz, artist and all round nice guy is a master of the aforementioned salad.

Volunteers (thanks to all of you!) were sent out on mammoth shopping expeditions and by mid afternoon the ingredients for the grill were assembled. Tamsyn from the excellent Nook cafe very kindly assisted Dieter and together they created something marvelous.

While all of this was going on, Stephen Mathewson was still hard at work attempting to finish his wall painting before the show opened.

Stephen Mathewson finishing his wall painting minutes before opening the show.

The painting was completed just minutes before we opened the show and the paint was still wet when the public began to arrive!

Steve still had work to do. Not one to shirk his responsibilities Steve disappeared to concoct litres of sauce for the chicken – giving the public a rare opportunity to eat his art!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the gallery I was hanging the final painting of the show. Once that was done, it was time to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Josh hangs the final painting.

Mark Farhall’s selection of drawings were looking exquisite in Gallery 2. For the opening night Mark had provided me with a compilation of vintage science fiction music that he wanted played in the space as ambient sound while visitors took in the work. Think theremin. The effect was excellent and helped put the work into context, sadly we aren’t able to play the music at all times.

Mark Farhall and his Abstructavist Drawings.


Out in the Fishmarket garden, grill master Dan Brodie was doing a fantastic job of cooking vast quantities of chicken to Steve’s exacting instructions. He was ably assisted by our volunteers who deserve our thanks for giving up their time to help us.

Cristina Pedreira and Mark Farhall enjoy food from Stephen Mathewson's grill.

For thefistst time in a long, long time the weather was glorious. The sun was shining and the gallery was looking vibrant. It was a great way to celebrate the first show of the new year and a great way to open an exhibition. When the sun began to go down the musical entertainment came out.

The opening act was the incredible Mrs Pilgrimm who sang and played cello. If you weren’t there you missed a beautifully intimate performance. Click here to find out more.

Following on from Mrs Pilgrimm were Stephen Mathewson’s Brain Managerz. The band were excellent, their tunes being the right balance of rough-edged and beautifully crafted. It was a treat of a performance and a great addition to the exhbition, even if it was just for one night.

I mentioned earlier in this post that drummer Dieter Preisl is also a fine painter. The Brain Managerz are not just an excellent band, they are all talented individuals in their own right.

Brain Managerz bassist Franziska Abgottsponn is also a member of Viennese mega-band Thalija, I highly recommend the album “Thalija II” on Pumpkin records. Franziska also makes music under the name “eloui” find out more about her prolific output here. Guitarist Thomas Geldmacher is a researcher with the Austrian Green Party, oenophile and has played with more bands that I’ve had hot dinners. Trumpeter David Quigley not only has the tone of a young Lee Morgan he is, amongst other things, an expert on Carl Einstein. Take a look at David’s book here.

David very kindly wrote the text that accompanies Stephen’s show, I’ll post that in the coming days.

NEXT POST – CHILDREN’S WORKSHOP

Stephen Mathewson with Brain Managerz performing at the Fishmarket.

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Preparations – Part 1.

The art is up on the walls, the shows have finally opened and we’re all collectively reeling from the exertion.

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks. We’ve had a magnificent time and made friends with some great people. A huge thank you to everyone involved, your input has been greatly appreciated.

The organisation and installation of the two current exhibitions has been a long process. In an attempt to avoid being tedious I’ll be dividing my account of the past few weeks into four posts which I intend to add over the next few days.

It all started a fortnight ago with Stephen Mathewson’s arrival from Vienna.

To our relief, Steve had brought some large-scale works on canvas along with a huge selection of drawings stuffed into his suitcase. After our problems with the shipping of the larger paintings we weren’t certain whether the work would arrive in time for the opening…

Unpacking the paintings.

After a weekend of settling in with Paul and Sophie Williams (who have both been invaluable help over the past fortnight) Steve and I met at the gallery to decide on the hang of the show. Worryingly, the work had still not turned up from Austria so we had to map out the show on paper.

Normally I would set aside a few days for myself and the artist to move work about the gallery to help decide how the exhibition best fits together. Unfortunately that wasn’t a luxury available to us. Steve needed to start making work directly on the walls, but without the work in the gallery it ws impossible to know which wall would be available. Time was not on our side.

When the package from Austria finally arrived at the gallery our worries transformed into unbridled excitement.

Stephen Mathewson reunited with his art.

The fact that we’d made the best of our time without the work in the gallery turned out to have been an advantage. We knew exactly where everything needed to go. Once the work arrived we had the paintings on the walls within the day.

As with all show hangs there were extended white-knuckle rides in the rafters of the gallery! Steve is a braver man than I.

White knuckle picture hanging.

Luckily the bulk of the show was up in time for the arrival of the rest of Steve’s band “Brain Managerz” who were more than willing to help with the preparations for the show. You can find out more about them here.

Below you can see three of the five band members painting TV’s on the wall of our cinema. This was in preparation for the children’s workshop we hosted on the Saturday after the opening. They are as an impressive and charming bunch of people as you’d ever hope to meet – more about them in the next post!

Dieter Preisl, Franziska Abgottsponn and David Quigley paint televisions.

Alan Fentiman, the man we have charged with interviewing the artists and documenting the shows arrived shortly after the band to witness an artistic epiphany. The results of which can be seen below.

The Magic Flute by Stephen Mathewson from Alan Fentiman on Vimeo.

Teasers from his film about our exhibition “Feast of Fools can be seen here and here.

In the midst of all of this mayhem, I made the time to prepare the title wall for Mark ‘s show in gallery two and hang his exhibition of exquisite Abstructavist drawings. Pictures of how that turned out in my next post!

NEXT POST – FINAL PREPARATIONS & THE OPENING NIGHT!

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John Dankworth

I was saddened to hear that jazz musician and composer John Dankworth died over the weekend.

I first heard John Dankworth’s music as a teenager whilst working in a second-hand record shop. The music in question appeared on a sampler of 60’s TV Themes, the particular piece being the classic theme to the British technology show “Tomorrow’s World”. I though it was phenomenal.

My ears were beginning to open to jazz at the time so I snooped around for more Dankworth compositions. The fantastic scores to “Saturday Night and Sunday morning” and “The Servant” are both well worth looking out for.

There is much more to John Dankworth than his film and television work, find out more about his life and music here.

Obituaries can be found here and here. He will be sorely missed.

This fantastic footage features a young John Dankworth and his wife and life long collaborator Cleo Laine speaking out against the “cranky organisation” that is the White Defence League.

And finally, music –

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Stephen Malkmus, Jessica Jackson Hutchins and Coldcut

Last week, all round good-egg Paul Williams did me the honour of introducing me to Jeremy Lemos and his lovely wife Gwen. Jeremy does too many interesting things to list here so I suggest you go to his website to find out more about him. Jeremy was in the country to do the sound engineering for Sonic Youth (one of my favourite bands) at this years All Tomorrow’s Parties (A.T.P.) festival in Minehead. Find out about All Tomorrow’s Parties here and Sonic Youth here.

Jeremy was kind enough to invite me along to see Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks play the Electric Ballroom in Camden last Wednesday. Find out more about him here. You might also recall that Stephen Malkmus was the force behind 90’s American underground heroes Pavement – more here.

After the excellent show Jeremy kindly introduced me to the band and I’m delighted to report that they were all thoroughly charming people. Paul and I spent a while chatting to Stephen Malkmus, taking the opportunity to tell him about the good work we’re doing at the Fishmarket. I was impressed by his exhaustive knowledge of art and artists, but I shouldn’t have been surprised as it transpires that his wife is the artist Jessica Jackson Hutchins. You can find out more about her work here.

I’ve not yet had the chance to see her work first hand but I like what I’ve seen of it so far.

COLDCUT

In the mid 1990’s I was the kind of youth that spent my spare time hanging about in record shops. If you happened to spend your time doing much the same you will perhaps remember the emergence of Ninja Tune. For the uninitiated, Ninja Tune is an independent record label leaning towards electronic music. The label was set up by DJs Matt Black and Jonathan More, better known as Coldcut. You can find out more about them here.

As a teenager, Coldcut were heroes of mine. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that they played one of my tracks during a recent Dj set. Listen out for “The Creeper” by The Institute of Ape Culture (that’s me) – you can hear their set in full here.

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