Frequently Asked Questions
or more accurately, occasionally asked questions

(On this page I've reworded, simplified or combined some of the issues raised, for the sake of clarity.)

All your own work?
Imagination / drugs?
Artistic development?
Artist's statement?
Critics; conceptual/performance/installation 'art'?
Process or outcome?
Art world?
Bellies of worms?
Head start?
Gas fitters and bin-men?
Feeling better?
Belief system?
Other Artists?
What Duchamp joke?
Sense of humour?
Whimsical and jokey titles?
So little time?
More meanings?
Even more meanings?
Siddall and Chaos?

  • OThere's a massive range of work on this site. Is it really all your own?
    OYes, it really is all my own work - except for the clearly labelled work on the
    Florence Biennale pages, and a very few other labelled items like the caricature below.
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  • OI haven't found anything about copyright on this site - are you not worried about people copying your work?.
    OAll the work on the site is of course copyright of its creators.

    I place all of my work on this site understanding that most people know and respect the concept of copyright, and as a matter of conscience wouldn't dream of copying it. I also understand that some people with poorly developed consciences do not respect copyright. However the issue resolves itself in this way; I believe in the original idea of the internet, i.e. that it should be free; I also believe that art should be freely available to view. (I do not approve of art galleries (or museums or libraries) that charge an entrance fee.); I'm unwilling to be coerced into plastering copyright notices across my images for fear of the unprincipled.

    For clarity:
    OOOOOAll the work on this site is copyright;
    OOOOOYou must not copy work from this site and pass it off as your own;
    OOOOOYou must not copy work from this site and use it for commercial purposes.
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  • OWow! what an amazing imagination - what drugs are you on?
    OIt has been suggested to me from time to time that the imagination displayed in my work must result from the taking of drugs. Not so.

    I have never taken drugs; although I attended art college when drug taking was rife any peer pressure directed at me was resisted.

    Without exception all the committed drug takers I have met have been unremitting bores - it seems to me that most drug takers tend to have rather limited imaginations, made more limited by taking drugs.

    For the record I have never taken any illegal substances. Apart from run of the mill prescribed medicines and over the counter remedies the only 'drugs' I have ever taken are -
    OOOOOtobacco (cigars & pipe tobacco, intermittently from 1971 to 1982, and not at all since),
    OOOOOalcohol (occasionally and in moderation),
    OOOOOcoffee (or more accurately mildly flavoured & discoloured hot water, almost constantly),
    OOOOOtea (seldom, except when visiting and then by the litre),
    OOOOOand Irn Bru.

    (Although, since they changed the Irn Bru recipe I'd probably go for the Dandelion and Burdock instead. As Master Duns Scotus once opined - quoted in Gargantua and Pantagruel - "When the classical authors tell of the heroes and demigods feasting upon ambrosia and nectar amidst the asphodel in the Elysian Fields, the nectar they speak of is undoubtedly Dandelion and Burdock." - and that is my opinion, too!)
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  • OYour work is all over the place - there's no clear line of development, and you keep doing different things. How can you expect to be taken seriously as an artist?
    OTwo answers to that -
    1) either you're an arty-farty, or you've paid too much attention to the arty-farties. I suggest you get out more often;
    2) the question is rather like saying to Chopin, for example, "How can we take you seriously? It's not as if you stick to one thing - nocturnes say, you're flitting around with etudes, mazurkas, polonaises and the rest. Sorry, can't take you seriously, pal!" (no apologies for the sarcasm - the idiot question merits it).
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  • OI can't find an 'artist's statement' on your site. How can you expect to be taken seriously as an artist without an 'artist's statement'?
    OTwo answers to that -
    1) either you're an arty-farty, or you've paid too much attention to the arty-farties. I suggest you get out more often;
    2) there are three absolute requirements when looking at art
    OOOOOUse your eyes;
    OOOOOUse your judgement;

    Visual art works visually.
    If it doesn't work visually then it is not art, and no quantity of words will change that.
    Adding soap opera circumstance, dubious claims of sincerity or intentions, pseudo-intellectual posturings, or swathes of pretentious jargon appeals only to the weak minded who can be conned into not using their eyes or their judgement.

    The so called 'artist's statement' is almost invariably an excuse for failure; it seeks to persuade you that only process matters (whether real or pretended), and that outcome does not matter at all.

    Some real artists are pressured into producing them, but generally it is the talentless chancers who adore the so called 'artist's statement' precisely because it allows them to con the weak minded.

    The so called 'artist's statement' serves as a bluffer's guide for the arty-farties.

    This is particularly true where so called art critics routinely - and obligingly (from the point of view of the pretend artist) - reword 'artist's statements' as an easy substitute for using their own judgement, of which they typically have none.

    For a more entertaining exposition of the role of the so called 'artist's statement' read Hans Christian Andersen's
    'The Emperor's New Clothes' which is all about people being persuaded not to use their eyes or their judgement. If you remember this story from childhood, but haven't read it as an adult, then I urge you to read it again as an adult - you will never view the art world in the same way again.
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  • OPresumably you're not a fan of art critics, then.
    ONo, I'm not.

    However critics - real or pretend, are not the worst of the art-botherers. As a general rule the most noxious art-botherers hide under the affected categories 'conceptual artist', performance artist' or 'installation artist'. All three categories rely exclusively on the so called 'artist's statement' as a means of persuading you not to trust your own judgement. I know of only one piece of conceptual art that worked; and like any joke it only worked the first time. I know of no installation 'art' or performance 'art' that merited a second of my attention. So called 'conceptual art' invariably relies on a written or spoken explanation (the very fact that it requires explanation demonstrates its failure); oddly enough (real) poets are staggeringly good at encapsulating concepts in words. All the subject matter of so called 'conceptual artists' should be left with the poets - they know what they are doing. Similarly performance should be left to the actors and dancers - again, they know how to perform, and installation should be left to the architects, the interior designers, the film makers, etc.

    I suggest (with only the very vaguest outside chance of a hint towards tongue in cheek) that the existence of so called conceptual, performance and installation artists is an excellent argument for a return of publicly administered corporal punishment. If on platforms in the town square or on the village green there were to be held weekly floggings of the local intelligence insulting arty-farties - well now that's a concept I'd vote for, an installation I'd help erect, and a performance I'd turn out to see.

    When it comes to art-bothering these bull-in-a-china-shop empty kettles are infinitely worse than the critics, the historians, the dealers, etc - they deserve nothing but contempt.

    By contrast critics deserve less contempt, and some no contempt at all. Some critics (historians, dealers, etc) have the sense to recognise their limitations and confine themselves to what can be termed 'the old masters'. There is after all a minor nobility of spirit in endlessly retreading a well worn path. If you should happen upon such an individual it would be inappropriate to place a consoling hand on their shoulder while offering "Sincere condolences.", rather, it would be appropriate to offer a cup of camomile tea, a nice cucumber sandwich, and, for example, a spinning top or a butterfly net with which they can play later.

    On the other hand those (so called) critics, historians, dealers, etc of the wholly arty-farty persuasion, i.e. those who circulate in the sewage tank of pretend modern or contemporary art do deserve a degree of contempt. They are like a bunch of limp wristed chattering pansies in a harem - can't do it, can only pretend to understand it, and have far too much to say for themselves.

    While on the subject of supposed expertise amongst these wittering art-botherers, see the
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  • OWhat was that about process and outcome?
    OMozart was an outstandingly effective composer. He could, and often did, effortlessly churn out in a dilettante fashion superficial confections - works that have given a great deal of pleasure to many.

    The next time you find yourself enduring the din of a neighbour's toddler marching round the garden belabouring a tin drum, believing as he does so that he is bringing pleasure to others, reflect on this; under the process model the inept but sincere brat's cacophony would be valued more highly than some of Mozart's more frivolous and offhandedly produced melodies.

    In art the outcome is everything. The process is irrelevant. Only the arty-farties are dumb enough to be taken in by the soap opera of process.
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  • OYou keep making snide comments about arty-farties, are you not an arty-farty then? I thought all artists were arty-farties.
    OListen, pal, I'm built like a prop forward - its just as well that comment came in by e-mail, and not in person.

    Of course I'm not a bloody arty-farty!

    I've met a fair number of other artists. I wouldn't describe any of them as arty-farties. I went to art college and have had some dealings with the art world, consequently I've met far too many arty-farties, none of whom I'd describe as artists or as art lovers.

    Arty-farties are people who like playing at being arty but who have no real understanding of the nature of art.

    Needless to say, most people in positions of influence in the art world are fully paid-up, 24 carat, air-head arty-farties. They are the cuckoos in the nest who've bemerded the reputation of art and artists with their pea-brained nonsense.

    Arty-farties are also a commonplace in the media - particularly amongst the supposedly more intellectual end of the print and broadcast media. See Flanders & Swann's
    'P** P* B**** B** D******' or Woody Guthrie's version of 'Little Boxes' for a more humorous view.

    Most arty-farties are also trendies. Trendies are people who have no opinions, and yet are full of opinions; which is to say that they are always up to date with the current fashion - with all the emptiness of head that that implies.
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  • OSo let's see if I've got this right; you're saying the art world is run by arty-farties, and according to you arty-farties know nothing about art?

    Typically the arty-farties have all the jargon and none of the understanding.

    In relation to art the population can be divided into three groups; 1) the arty-farties who like playing at being arty, but who can't distinguish art from garbage - these are a comparatively small group; 2) another comparatively small group - those who have no interest in art at all and don't pretend to have, they might go as far as liking a painting of a bowl of flowers or a sailing boat, but even then can quite happily get by without; 3) the great majority of people.

    This last group can be subdivided into two; 1) a comparatively small group - real artists, and real art lovers; 2) the amenables.

    Typically, in regards to modern or contemporary art (MOCA) the amenables will say "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like...." by which they mean they don't like MOCA, or to be more precise they don't like the garbage served up as MOCA by the arty-farties. Generally many of the amenables are well disposed towards real MOCA when shown it.

    According to the arty-farties the amenables are philistines. On the contrary, it is the arty-farties who are the philistines.

    The amenables use their eyes and their judgement. True, they might not have the confidence to contradict the arty-farties directly, but they refuse to be conned. I sympathise with the stance of the amenables - having repeatedly given benefit of doubt and wasted countless hours looking for the needle of real MOCA in the immense haystacks of pretend MOCA cluttering up the art world, I too have found that I have better things to do with my time than to submit to having my intelligence insulted yet again by pretentious pea-brained arty-farties peddling the risible notion that they are intellectuals with something to say.

    Towards the end of his life Pablo Picasso admitted that from the time of Cubism onwards he did not consider himself to be an artist. Having realised that the more ridiculous and outrageous the work he produced was the more the dealers and buyers paid him, he settled for that.

    The real artists, real art lovers and the amenables knew long before Picasso put his hand up that the Picasso of the 'genius years' was a peddler of unmitigated trash.

    In spite of Picasso's confession there are still art experts, critics, pedagogues, commentators, pretend artists, and various other arty-farties displaying their truly astounding wisdom, knowledge and judgement by telling us what a great genius Picasso was. (On the subject of supposed expertise see the
    'GAECO', also see this extract from Mark Twain's 'Huckleberry Finn'.)

    Picasso clearly didn't agree with the pretend experts.

    Perhaps, the pretend experts might suggest, the genius Picasso didn't know what he was talking about.

    Or could there be another explanation?

    Well of course there is! Bear with me while I explain the background.

    The political idea of equality can be defined as a requirement that all people be treated equally before the law irrespective of wealth, status, position, education, influence, etc. (Clearly we're still a long way short of achieving this - far too often the concept of 'without fear or favour' is absent from a legal system in which its besuited apparatchiks are more devoted to time serving in expectation of honours than to the dispensing of justice.)

    Unfortunately the weak minded have reinterpreted the notion of equality as meaning that we are all intrinsically equal in ourselves - a patently ludicrous notion, and one that lies at the heart of what has come to be known as political correctness.

    Long before the phrase political correctness was invented one insidiously pernicious form of this nonsense was well established in the education system - namely the idea that everyone is good at something; if you're no good at science then you must be good at art. Utter twaddle.

    As a general rule the kids who are good at science also produce the best art, and make up the majority of the members of the sports teams and school orchestras. The simple truth is that ability - in the overwhelming majority of people - is possessed across a range of subjects and activities. Uncomfortable, no doubt, for the weak minded, but true.

    Bright kids who start to show a preference for art are firmly guided away and into the sciences. The ad hoc freemasonry of parents and teachers - operating in the best interests of the children, it should be said - will always conspire to persuade them that "You can aim higher than that.", with the "Art is only for dummies." usually unspoken.

    Science teachers also benefit; in demanding subject areas they want only the brightest. They have no intention of being burdened with the "....also rans, and anyway, they can't do any real harm in art."

    The art subjects, from school through to college, are sink subjects, routinely used as a dumping ground for those lacking the intellect, the work ethic, the good behaviour or any combination of the three necessary to study the more demanding subjects. The deepest, dingiest and most dismal of those sink subjects is Fine Art, and the most over used phrase in eduction, uttered since time immemorial to those desperate for a degree but utterly lacking the prerequisites:- "You could always do Fine Art."

    There is a phrase used in computing which describes admirably the great majority of what happens under the misnomer of Fine Art in art colleges - 'Rubbish in: rubbish out'.
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  • OHold on, hold on a minute.
    So according to you those lacking intellect, the work ethic, or good behaviour go into Fine Art.
    Doesn't say much for you, then, does it?

    ONot quite what I said. I was talking about the large numbers of ambitious but dumb and/or feckless folk dumped into Fine Art, specifically explaining how we come to have so many arty-farties in the art world. While most who go into Fine Art are dumpees, some are not.

    For the record; I have an IQ that places me well inside the top 1% of the population. I was entirely on the science side until I found myself spending more time producing art than working on the science. During my Art Foundation year I had an attendance record of 133%. That's not a typographical error - the 133% included logged studio time during weekends and holidays. During my art degree only one fellow student came anywhere near producing the same quantity of work as I did. As I said above, I'm an artist, not an arty-farty.

    Anyway, to continue; the sciences recruit for ability, and science and technology tread a steady upward spiral of progress. The phrase 'standing on the shoulders of giants' doesn't seem inappropriate. Perforce, Fine Art has been obliged to recruit for inability, and hence the rapid downward spiral as generations of over loquacious 'Artless masters of Art' (to borrow Rabelais' phrase) blindly lead the blind into the contrived idiocy of pretend MOCA. Culminating in the smugly vacuous crawling under the bellies of worms.

    To repeat, there is a phrase used in computing which describes admirably the great majority of what happens under the misnomer of Fine Art in art colleges - 'Rubbish in: rubbish out'; the half-wits and humbugs who imbibed the idiot dross fed to them in 'my day' are the senior lecturers and heads of faculty of today.
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  • OHold on again, hold on.
    If they're so useless and you're so good, then doesn't that give you a massive head start in the art world?

    ONice question! Read H G wells'
    'The country of the blind'. Its not an exact parallel; in the story the blind have some compensatory abilities - in the art world the arty-farties are simply useless, but nevertheless the story gives a good idea of the issues. Anyway, let me get on.

    In art colleges you will find a small number of earnest triers, a smaller number with some ability, and a clueless majority. That's the staff dealt with, but the same is true of the students - the clueless majority sitting in for a cheap degree.

    For anyone in doubt on the issue of a degree in Fine Art, it amounts to no more than an attendance certificate. I have a CSE (Certificate of Secondary Education) in Woodwork. (For younger or non UK readers a CSE - circa 1970 - was the lowest possible 'academic' qualification then open to schoolchildren, and would be gained two full years before the usual age for commencing degree level studies.) That Woodwork CSE required higher standards of work and greater intellectual engagement than does a degree in Fine Art.

    Just in case the full impact of that statement hasn't registered, or you think I'm simply being flippant I'm going to repeat it - that Woodwork CSE required higher standards of work and greater intellectual engagement than does a degree in Fine Art. To get a CSE in Woodwork you had to know what you were doing; to get a degree in Fine Art you only need to attend, occasionally prat about with a bit of aimless painting or sculpture, and be reasonably pleasant to the staff. Repeat their nonsense back to them and they'll give you a 1st.

    Many of those who enrol in Fine Art use their cheap degree to get into the kind of job that 1) has no connection with art, and 2) does not require degree level ability, but uses the possession of a degree as a means of reducing the number of job applicants. In relation to art these folk are essentially blameless, their contact with 'art' has been brief and only a matter of convenience; most importantly they do not go on to a life of art-bothering.

    However for some, going to art college opens their eyes to one great truth; The two most certain guarantees of success in the art world are arselicking and bullshitting.

    For those with an excess of personal ambition and a lack of talent this beguiling option is irresistible, particularly when linked to the following piece of arty-farty idiocy.

    Because it is not possible to have a comprehensive definition of art, the definition of what is or is not art must rest with the artist.

    "Who is an artist?" you might ask, well, anyone who declares themself to be an artist, apparently (presumably in much in the same way that one might declare oneself to be a nuclear physicist, or a brain surgeon, perhaps*).

    (* For any arty-farty who has managed to read this far, or more likely stumbled upon it by accident, the sentence above in brackets is SARCASM. Sarcasm is saying something ridiculously untrue for comic effect and to highlight a contrast. For any non arty-farty who thinks I'm being over the top with this note, trust me! I've been to art college; I really have met individuals - students and staff - dumb enough to read the sarcastic line and take it entirely at face value.)

    For generations now art colleges have been churning out clueless arty-farties who've got up on their hind legs and declared themselves to be artists. Whatever it is they find easiest to do - or pretend to do, they declare to be art, and as long as rich idiots and a compliant media continue to indulge them they continue to besmirch the reputation of art.

    (For a more entertaining and less angry insight into this form of idiocy read Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Emperor's New Clothes' - if you remember this story from childhood, but haven't read it as an adult, then I urge you to read it again as an adult - you will never view the art world in the same way again.)

    To return to the definition of art, it is worth stating that although it really is not possible to have a comprehensive definition of art, it is not at all difficult to have a nearly comprehensive definition. Real artists, real art lovers, and the amenables know with considerable accuracy what is or is not art. While there may be a borderland of doubt between the definitions, it is a narrow borderland, and very little falls near it.

    A Rembrandt self-portrait is art, an unmade bed is not; A Norman Rockwell front cover is art, a Pollock drip painting is not; A Vermeer interior is art, an arrangement of bricks is not; A Rodin bronze is art, a collection of toy soldiers is not; A Magritte visual pun is art, an infantile daubing uglified with elephant dung is not. A set of athletes sprinting through an art gallery is not art, nor yet is a pot inexpertly decorated by an attention seeking frock wearing man, nor is a subnormal divvy spending three days lying in a bath of excrement. None of these contrasts come near the borderland. A one-off Duchamp joke might be art, but only once. In fact that is the only borderland candidate I can think of.
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  • OLet me break in for a moment.
    If we got rid of art colleges would that sort the problem?


    The effect of art colleges is to pour petrol on the flames, but the flames arise from the process of conning rich idiots. The media, like art colleges enthusiastically pour petrol on the flames.

    Pretend MOCA would not exist without the competitive
    ambition of rich idiots to appear more cultured than they are. This misguided tail is then allowed to wag the dog of weak minded administrators of private and public art funding.

    It is blindingly obvious to all but the arty-farties that meaningless crap sold for enormous amounts of money remains meaningless crap; it is not magically transformed into art - there is no mysterious alchemical intervention in the exchange - just rich idiots being conned and weak minded arty-farties being dazzled by the number of zeros.

    To return to what I was saying, most people who go to art college (and go on to become pretend artists, teachers, lecturers, administrators, critics, etc) do so not because of any real interest or ability in art but rather because they are useless at pretty much everything but want a degree and a career, and the easiest of degrees is in Fine Art and the careers that tolerate the highest levels of incompetence are in the arts and the media.

    As a direct consequence the 'art world' is thoroughly dominated by fools and charlatans.

    An example; I would imagine that in a random group of say 100 people well over half would identify, say, Jackson Pollock as a so called 'great artist' (although most would regard his work as trash), but it is unlikely that any would identify, say, Dorothea Tanning, or Pierre Roy at all (although most would probably find their work worthwhile and intriguing). Dorothea Tanning and Pierre Roy - both accomplished artists and 'unknown', Jackson Pollock - a talentless chancer and world renowned on the back of years of incessant touting on his behalf by weak minded, impressionable arty-farties incapable of discriminating between art and garbage, aided in this by a compliant media rich in lazy journalism.

    However nothing that happens in the 'art world' matters much.

    If a fool or a charlatan puts, say, a dead shark in a tank and pretends that it is art, it doesn't really matter.

    If a gullible or slippery gallery owner or manager puts it on display and calls it art, it doesn't really matter.

    If a collector or curator with more money than sense buys it and calls it art, it doesn't really matter.

    If a dumb or supine critic or art historian calls it art, it doesn't really matter.

    If a foolish or spineless pedagogue misleads, it doesn't really matter that much.

    None of these things will make a dead shark in a tank art, and the filter of time will flush out this and much of the rest of the ineffable crap that is so often offered up to us by vacuous trendies as art.

    What really matters in the here and now is, for example, that the gas fitter knows how to make an airtight seal, that the pilot knows how to fly, that the bin-men collect our household refuse. (In passing, how many of the arty-farties could you trust to collect the refuse or sweep the streets and get it right?)

    From the point of view of society the antics of the 'art world' are a minor and occasional diversion, and the amount of public money made available for the support of art and artists through grants and tax concessions is comparatively small.

    (Even so, it should be going into the pockets of artists rather than into the pockets of the fools and the charlatans.)
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  • OWhew! What a diatribe!
    Are you feeling better now you've got that off your chest?

    OYes, thanks.

    But as you can see I'm not a politician or a diplomat, and I could go on about the cesspit the arty-farties have made of the art world for hours and hours.*
    (" '.... counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor...' Death's too good for them." to quote Douglas Adams, from The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy.)
    So here instead, and more entertainingly is
    Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Emperor's New Clothes',
    An extract from Mark Twain's 'Huckleberry Finn',
    Flanders & Swann's 'P** P* B**** B** D******',
    Woody Guthrie's version of 'Little Boxes',
    an article from The Guardian (surprisingly),
    a Peter Brookes cartoon,
    Jake Thackray's 'The Bull',
    H G Wells' 'The country of the blind',
    and, by way of an antidote,
    a selection of artwork00by other exhibitors at the Florence Biennale.

    *(Post script) Notwithstanding the above I have gone on about this in the cover story of June 2005's Mensa Magazine.

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  • OBefore I forget, are all arty-farties ex Fine Art students?
    OBy no means; there are a plethora of sink subjects with negligible standards and drippy students - any of whom may gravitate towards their natural level.

    It is just that Fine Art represents the ultimate nadir which the others can only aspire to. But in any event Arty-fartyism is a truly democratic belief system wherein the only qualifications are a complete lack of intellectual muscle and an addiction to talking arty.
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  • OI've read all the critical comments you've made about the art world, and broadly agree with them, however I'm puzzled by the fact that few other 'real' artists - if any, have made the kind of comments you have. Doesn't their apparent reticence tend to undermine what you say?
    OFirstly, I can't speak on behalf of others, but I'm inclined to believe that one or more of the following reasons probably explains it;
    1/ generally speaking most real artists have a poorer opinion of their own work than their work merits. A people in glass houses syndrome then operates - they don't want to be openly critical of others for fear that their own work may be put under too intense scrutiny;
    2/ a lot of real artists get discouraged, give up early, and turn their back on art. Most of those who don't give up continue because they are deriving some sort of benefit from the art world. For those who are getting on in the art world rocking the boat doesn't seem a good move - they know which side their bread is buttered on;
    3/ some are simply good hearted individuals, giving benefit of doubt way beyond the point at which benefit of doubt can be justified.
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  • ODo you think explaining the mechanisms behind the nonsense masquerading as 'modern art' will change anything?

    I imagine that everything I have said on this page has been said elsewhere by others before. This has produced no change - I don't imagine my broadside will either. The fact is that the number of arty-farties has gone way beyond the point of critical mass and they are now effectively self-sustaining - except of course in financial terms, where they rely on conning rich idiots and accessing private and public art funding administered by other arty-farties or by those too willing to jettison their own judgement.
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  • OWhat was that reference to a Duchamp joke about?
    OArty-farties, i.e. those who by definition have never understood that the Duchamp joke was a joke, have been known to describe the exhibiting of the urinal as 'art' as 'liberating'.


    LIBERATING? - The arty-farties' misinterpretation of Duchamp's joke has resulted in one massive liberation - the liberation of talentless dummies from failure.

    Poor old Duchamp, and poor old Dali! The psychiatrist Jung and the philosopher Nietzsche had their reputations dragged through the mire when their works were adopted and misinterpreted by the Nazis, in a similar way the arty-farties have adopted and misused Duchamp and Dali - although in Dali's case he must shoulder some of the blame.

    Duchamp came up with the idea of putting an everday object on display as if it were a piece of art as a joke. In the manner of a music hall comedian before the days of electronic mass communication he repeated the joke a number of times with minor variation. It wasn't a particularly funny joke; a wry smile at best, the bottle rack, the bicycle wheel and so on. But he got the punchline perfect with the urinal - that's a good belly laugh, and for the slow he painted a ridiculously inept false signature 'R. Mutt' - that's the "Geddit?" dig in the ribs which the dim and unimaginatively solemn never got.

    The urinal isn't and never was art. It might be argued the idea itself, the joke, is art, but that's debatable. If the joke is allowed as art then it is unique - a punchline only works the first time.

    An acorn in a glass of water, an unmade bed, a dead sheep in a tank, a stack of bricks - none of these dreary catalogings are art, they have no relationship to art, they are pointless minor witticisms by plagiarists who confuse buffoonery with art, and inane posturings by confused buffoons.

    Duchamp was a key figure in the Dada movement. This movement arose during the First World War and was dedicated to 'destroying art'. Most of those involved had been traumatised by their experiences in WW1 - some had fought, many had relatives and friends who had been killed or maimed.

    It was a particularly senseless war; little more than squabbles between ruling families, resulting in 10 million deaths, with another 20 million wounded. In the first large scale mechanised war soldiers were mown down by the thousand in futile assaults (mis)planned by effete incompetents, civilians were deliberately targeted, and poison gas was used.

    Before WW1 Europe considered itself to be not just highly cultured, but as highly cultured as it was possible to be. That this highly self regarding culture should so eagerly plunge itself into the bloodbath of WW1 is the key to understanding the nonsense of Dada.

    One of the most common sentiments to emerge from WW1 was 'never again'. To the Dadaists the culture that preceded WW1 was in some way responsible for the conflict, and in order to prevent a reoccurrence they must destroy that part of the culture which fell within their orbit - hence their determination to destroy art.

    It is of course reasonable to have sympathy for the traumatised, and to understand their desperate but addled logic, but no one with an ounce of wit should be taken in by the nonsense - not this long after the event.

    The vast majority of 'work' produced by the Dadaists was intentionally rubbish - to regard the worthless dross generated by these understandably off kilter folk as art is to invoke the
    Aww Factor.

    The original Dadaist had an excuse - they were traumatised; latter day Dadaists have no excuse - beyond lack of talent and vacant minds.

    Love his work or hate it, Salvador Dali was a great technician who produced a wealth of fascinating paintings - that is the art.

    Dali was also a shameless attention seeker who would do, or more usually say anything in order to be the centre of attention - that is not the art, it is the deficient personality.

    Dali is an absolute gift to the talentless arty-farty - his attention seeking tactics are the templates by which they prosper.

    There is no harm in harmless buffoonery - good luck to the buffoons, time and place for everything.....

    From the perspective of art harmless buffoonery only ceases to be harmless when it is allowed to displace art, when pretentious and dimwitted arty-farty buffoons seek to insult the intelligence of the rest of us by supplanting art with Dada, Fluxus, Conceptual 'art', Performance 'art', Installation 'art', Abstract Expressionism, 'Britart', and the rest of the dismal misrepresentations.
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  • OYou've made some passing comments about the media, what's that about?
    O'Joe Bloggs of Ashby-de-la-Zouch has painted a really beautiful picture. Everybody who has seen it says it is truly gorgeous.' doesn't get in the news; 'Performance artist Burk Kretin whoops and yells as he dances round one of the 250 buckets of pigswill he has arranged on the pavement outside the local bus garage. Controversial frock wearing Turner Prize nominee Kretin of Hoxton says "I am challenging the outmoded concept of...." ....of something or other' does get in the news.

    (For non UK visitors to this site who may not be familiar with the word 'burk' or 'berk', it is a shortened form of the phrase Berkshire Hunt, whose final syllable is rhyming slang. However its meaning is more nearly 'prat' or 'idiot'.)

    Journalists will be the first to tell you that there is a tremendous tradition of investigative journalism. They will not so readily volunteer that there is a far greater tradition of lazy journalism.

    In the way that an alcoholic cannot do without their alcohol, or a drug addict cannot do without their fix, so the lazy journalist cannot function without the word 'controversial'.

    With too many column inches or too much air time to fill, lazy journalists (and let's not forget that this includes critics) cannot resist real or pretend controversy.

    Surprise, surprise; a veritable army of ever willing attention seeking arty-farties are constantly rushing to supply the lazy journalists with their fix.

    Meanwhile 'Jo Bloggs of Kirkcudbright has painted a really beautiful picture. Everybody who has seen it says it is truly gorgeous.' - not controversial, not newsworthy.

    In our brave new world where every empty-headed chatterer has a newspaper column, a chat show, an arts programme or a radio phone-in dumbing down proceeds apace; in a misapplication of the concept of 'egalitarianism' all are encouraged to consider themselves expert (incidentally - going off at a tangent, have you noticed how those keenest on assertiveness training are those least in need of it? Or how those who prosper on the back of
    ambition automatically assume the mask of ability?).

    Specialists only in superficial verbiage, misrepresenters by ignorance or design, the media chatterati adore two art stories which they repeat ad nauseam:-

    'The Artist As Soap Opera Character'
    In which an attention seeker with nothing of merit to offer in exchange for the attention they crave is accorded the status of artist on the back of a proclaimed desire to be an artist and a sad, and frequently unpleasant life. This story has been around for decades - the only thing new about 'celebrity culture' is its prevalence. (See the Aww Factor.)

    'Let's See What These Wacky Artists Are Up To Now'
    in which the most laughable piece of currently trendy nonsense is held up for gentle ridicule, but in which the bubbly presenter lacking the knowledge, the understanding or the confidence - or any combination of the three, manages no more than a half raised eyebrow and a would be wry delivery. The sum total being little other than free publicity, and the consequent effective endorsement of the nonsense as art. (See Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Emperor's New Clothes'.)

    Far too often art programming is used simply as a promotional vehicle for egregious presenters. When was the last time you saw an 'art programme' where the presenter kept quiet?

    Visual art is all about looking.

    When was the last time you saw an 'art programme' where the presenter kept out of shot

    Visual art is all about looking at the Art (if such be present) - not at an oleaginous windbag.

    For that matter, when was the last time you saw an 'art programme' that did not include at least one usage of the word 'controversial'? And how seldom is that usage genuinely warranted?
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  • OThere's a lot of heavy duty ranting on this page of yours.
    You haven't got much of a sense of humour, have you?

    OQuite right. I have no sense of humour at all.
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  • OHow do you expect to be taken seriously as an artist when some of your titles are so obviously ridiculous?
    OI've never come across a joke in Shakespeare, or a flighty irreverence in classical music; research has shown that Rembrandt, Constable, Michelangelo, Degas, Raphael, Goya, Vermeer and Magritte were all entirely humourless, and of course Leonardo Da Vinci had his sense of humour surgically removed at the age of fourteen. (Once again, no apologies for the sarcasm - the idiot question merits it.)
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  • OSeriously, do you not think some of your jokey, whimsical titles undermine your credibility?
    OIf you prefer po faced idiots bringing you worthless dross presented with a facade of unfounded portentousness, you are a undoubtedly an arty-farty and this site is not for you.
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  • OWill you tell us what your pictures and titles mean?

    Or to be less unhelpful; some have no 'meaning', they are just visual images; for those that do have meaning (and that meaning is not obvious) they are best approached in the manner of a clue in a cryptic crossword or in, for example, Round Britain Quiz.
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  • OSome people do crosswords in minutes, and Round Britain Quiz is quick too - I've spent ages on one or two of your pictures and can't work them out; just tell us what they mean, why not?

    If you read a book you spend time with it, if you watch a film you spend time with it, if you go to a play you spend time with it - why should you expect to spend less time with a picture? If you listen to a symphony you spend time with it; I've listened to Beethoven's Ninth, for example, many times - I still hear new sounds in it.
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  • OOh, go on, just tell us what they mean - PLEASE!
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  • OPretty please.
    OI said 'no'.

    And put your clothes back on, young lady.....
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  • OOn your thumb index page there's a picture re. the death of Salvador Dali.
    The neighbouring two pictures are re. Chaos the cat and Siddall the dog. Who or what are they?

    OSome of my titles are intentionally misleading, but Siddall was a dog (a Border Collie cross), and Chaos was a cat (a black domestic short hair).

    Some years ago scientists produced a piece of research showing that after human beings (apparently) the next most intelligent creatures were dolphins, chimpanzees and Border Collie dogs, in that order.

    It has long been my contention that the average Border Collie dog is more intelligent than the average Sun reader. (If you find yourself disagreeing with that contention it is likely to be because of one of two reasons; either 1) you don't understand the meaning and importance of the word 'average', or 2) you are a Sun reader.)

    Needless to say, having spent a significant amount of time in the company of a delightfully bright Border Collie dog, as well as a significant amount of time in the company of drippy arty-farties, I can state as fact - rather than contention - that the average Border Collie dog has a better memory and is more alert, self-aware, genuinely reflective, and intelligent than the average lecturer in Fine Art, Fine Art student, art critic, art administrator, art reviewer, or media trendy.

    On the other hand the average Border Collie lets itself down badly when it comes to producing 'artist's statements' or using meaningless arty jargon.

    (Oil sketch by Tom Caley.)

    Click here to see0
    Siddall and Chaos
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  • 0Back to 'Notes'

    Caricature by John Knight, Derby, 1974

    (John - a dab hand at cartoons - was a fellow student on the Foundation Course in Derby,
    before going on to study Graphics.

    As visitors to this site will readily surmise from the above caricature
    John has failed utterly and totally, not to mention miserably and typically
    to capture any part of my deeply sympathetic and sensitive nature.

    No surprise to learn then that John subsequently became
    a significantly large portion of vegetables
    (under the guise of 'ViolentVeg').

    John is currently in rehab and thus safely out of the way at

    Secure in that knowledge, the rest of us can now sleep easy.)

    Doing a long overdue check of links recently (spring 2017) I found a fair few had evaporated into the ether or metamorphosed into things distinctly other. In the case of the Firebrand link (as was) above I discovered that John had metamorphosed into some fancy packing material.

    (Now you - being you, probably think that the last sentence should have ended with an exclamation mark, but that's you, I on the other hand am nowhere near as free and easy with other people's punctuation as you appear to be.

    I invite you to compare and contrast; 'Multicoloured paper carrier bag claims to be ex-graphics student - occult influences suspected, authorities deny involvement of extra-terrestrials', it is prosaic, quotidian, workaday, full stop and nothing more.

    However I recall being approached by said carrier bag before he became an ex-graphics student and being asked if I would pretend to be climbing a mountain while lying on the grass verge near the college car park and to be thus photographed. Somewhat puzzled by this request to help with a piece of project work I enquired whether the future carrier bag (albeit some forty odd years in the future) had thought to ask any of my far more amenable fellow students for this help.

    "No," said he and then offered the opinion that I was the only one daft enough to agree to do it, and that - "You're the only one daft enough to do it." - that, my exclaiming, hyphenating, bracketeering spendthrift is worth an exclamation mark in anybody's money!

    And another one, too!)

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