Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stories about bombs

Stories about bombs have punctuated my life.
Born when the welfare state was also a baby;
I heard about my dad firewatching on the roof
Of an art school in blitzed London,
And composing an oil painting whilst he was up there.
I heard about the shrapnel,
Still embedded in an aunt’s leg.
And, every so often, a radio announcer might report
Unexploded ordinance, found buried on a building site.

One day, Cuba was in the news,
Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on a desk at the UN,
That was the first time that I saw my father scared.

Made to be a school boy cadet,
The worst bomb I heard was a thunderflash,
Just oversized fireworks,
Thrown about by boys in pretend wars;
Whilst half a world away,
Youths threw real grenades at each other
In Vietnam.

But London learned the hard way
That old wounds don’t always heal,
As propaganda of the deed reminded us,
Of an unjustly held colony,
Kept down by British army boots
Across a narrow sea.
A bandstand blew up,
A cast iron waste bin disintegrated in a high street, killing a child.
Sudden night blasts outside Territorial Army barracks;
And then, after a general election,
I heard a massive dull thud roll up from the Thames valley,
To my suburban hilltop,
As a debt was repaid in the City.
Not content with that,
The Fenians blew me out of bed,
Where I lay drunk, trying to forget
The start of four more Tory years,
As, three quarters of a mile away
A four-lane flyover was lifted off its foundations,
By an exploding van.

A truce came to London, until Jihad began
Old wounds don’t always heal,
Crusades and colonialism festered,
And oil was not a balm,
For those treacherous treaties, Sykes-Picot, Balfour
And all the other dodgy dealing,
Spooking and conniving,
To keep those motors running.
But the truth could be that
It doesn’t worry me more
Than the chance of dying in traffic accident.

Stupidity seems to breed Stupidity,
Just today the world’s prize-winning stupidest man
Addressed the UN to threaten a nation
With total destruction.

I wish, because it’s all I can do,
That he’d taken off his shoe,
Like Nikita Khrushchev did, but then
Beat himself with it,
Over his dyed blond head.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

earth lines


Friday, September 01, 2017

FREE by Free Painters and Sculptors A group exhibition exploring ideas of freedom in modern times

FREE by Free Painters and Sculptors
A group exhibition exploring ideas of freedom in modern times

Clerkenwell Gallery, 20 Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0DP

Tuesday 26th – Saturday 30th September 2017
Opening Hours: 12-7pm (except Thursday 12-5pm)

Private View: Thursday 28th September6-9pm
(please rsvp)
Capturing the essence of freedom and diversity, a new and exciting exhibition from Free Painters and Sculptors (FPS) opens to the public on Tuesday 26th September.

This exhibition explores the principles, reflected in the core beliefs of FPS, of free speech and artistic expression and features work from members of the group using a wide variety of materials and styles.
FPS, an artist-led organisation, was first established in 1952. Since its inception, the idea of freedom has been at the heart of its beliefs. In the aftermath of World War II, it was vital for the group to be able to protect the principles of artistic freedom, free speech and expression, and to challenge established notions and values.

Clearly, since that time, there have been significant, and positive changes in attitudes concerning class, gender, sexuality, race and religion. Despite this progress, there is still a great need to defend these values.

FPS is proud to be an artistic collective that champions and encompasses the essence of diversity. Many of the exhibiting artists will be present at the show at which you will be able to discuss and see their artistic representations of freedom and diversity.

FPS was originally associated with the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) and came to prominence by playing a significant part in the establishment of abstract art in the 1950's and 60's. Founding members featured many high profile and influential artists, including Roy Rasmussen, Lyall Watson and Maurice Jadot, who all feature in the permanent Tate Collection.

In 2017 FPS celebrates its 65th anniversary.

Monday, July 31, 2017

bright green caterpillar

I am an aged and disabled pillock,
And I was dragging a loaded shopping trolley,
Up an urban hillock,
When a bright green caterpillar appeared before me,
It was just there,
Level with my eyes
In mid-air.
I stopped, glad for a chance to catch my breath,
As my puzzled brain computed,
How could the caterpillar just be there,
Defying gravity as far as I could see?
But the laws of physics were not dead,
It was hanging by a thread,
Writhing and wriggling,
Struggling and striving,
To climb up its thin thin lifeline,
To regain its footing and food,
From the laburnum bush above.
A green heaven it loved so much,
That it never gave up
Its aim to return from airborne exile.
I watched it win,
Then dragged my shopping home,
With renewed determination,
And wondered if the caterpillar would now,
Stay in the bush
And save the silk
That it used to make its own rescue rope,
To later encase itself in a chrysalis.
Soon I too may enter a rigid container,
But, sadly, I won’t burst from coffin,
To fly away on brilliant wings,

Surprising those at the graveside.

Friday, June 02, 2017

'A Free Moment' is a summer pop-up exhibition from art group the Free Painters and Sculptors (FPS).




'A Free Moment' is a summer pop-up exhibition from
  Free Painters and Sculptors (FPS). 
 Celebrating its 65th year,
 FPS is delighted to be exhibiting for the first time in 
the gallery@oxo 
in the iconic Oxo Tower building
Exhibition dates: June 7 - 11 
Open daily 11am-7pm 
Free admission 

 Private View: Friday June 9 Open 6.30-8.30pm 
rsvp: info@freepaintersandsculptors.co.uk 
 gallery@oxo | Oxo Tower Wharf |
 Bargehouse Street | London | SE1 9PH

p.murry invigilating 10/7 11.00 – 14.30

Monday, May 22, 2017

ART EXHIBITION at the Trafalgar Rowing Centre

ART EXHIBITION at the Trafalgar Rowing Centre 11-13 Crane Street SE10 9NP 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY CAROL KENNA PAINTINGS BY STEVE LOBB 
also open on JUNE 11th, 17th & 18th june FROM 2 TO 6PM 
on SATURDAY JUNE 17 2017 FROM 6 TO 9 PM 
at the Trafalgar Rowing Centre 11-13 Crane Street SE10 9NP 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY CAROL KENNA PAINTINGS BY STEVE LOBB also open on JUNE 11th, 17th & 18th june FROM 2 TO 6PM



PHOTOGRAPHS BY CAROL KENNA 



PAINTINGS BY STEVE LOBB

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

LONDON SMOGS, OLD AND NEW


Once a riverran
Like cord of grey churning muscle,
Through a valley
And a city.
Current rolling, pulsing and twisting muddy waters
To the sea and back again at the same time
Running with and against the tide,
Like the city, it never ceased,
On cold winter nights, it sweated mist;
But, if the night was still,
The mist could not rise.

Every house in the city burnt a coal fire,
Nearly every adult who lived there smoked,
And then there was a time
When all the cars, buses and lorries
Smoked too.
Smog was born
And the mist and smog embraced each other
And lay down like satisfied lovers
In a sleeping yellow embrace
Above the city,
Smothering breath and life in a poisonous blanket
So every still night when the smog laid down
Hundreds died beneath.

“Give us clean air!”, the people cried
“Stop the coalfires!,
And clean the car exhausts!
Stop smoking! Cut carbon monoxide!”
Then the old smog, made illegal died,
And fewer people did.

But death was just resting for a decade or two,
Then it smiled and said:
“I’ll find a way to return,
And choke the life from your lungs and heads;
 I’ll make a finer blanket now
Than the smog of old
And when the sun is bright
And the air is still,
I’ll weave a cloth of car fumes,
And light
And lay it over the city
So that they’ll gasp for breath and cough in vain,
Again and again,
Just like they did when my smog was thick
My clear killing veil
Will hang invisible above the city
So they’ll still die for me
As the river rolls on and on
And passes the poisoned people by.