Thursday, 1 November 2012

Something I did a while back for Seven Streets and never put up on here...


Lesley Taker visits a new collaborative exhibition inspired by legendary naturalist artist John James Audubon

Before entering the new exhibition at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, The Spectacle of the Lost, you pass through a small room, almost a Victorian parlour, filled with a recording reading of Audubon’s writings and some of his paintings, including one of an otter caught in a trap, which he gifted to a member of the Rathbone family, who were his patrons and offered him a place to stay during his time in Liverpool. The recipient of this particular piece, the aunt of the young Rathbone girl with whom he had fallen in love with (and apparently gotten pregnant) was suitably horrified with this “gift” and she hung the picture until she could no longer bear to look at the snarling creature it depicted. Other than this, most of the works in this room are life-size paintings of various American birds, some of which are contorted into ridiculous poses which lend them a cartoon-ish, unreal air and in some ways highlight the deadness of those creatures whilst simultaneously being bright, vibrant pictures.
Moving through this introduction to the inspiration and catalyst for this collaborative exhibition, curated by Laura Robertson, further works by Audubon are placed directly alongside the artists whose work is the focus of the show. Liverpool based Jon Barraclough, Alexandra Wolkowicz (New York) and Rob Perterson (New York) make up the main contingent, and are part of Birds’ Ear View Collective, an experimental, collaborative project based in New York whose primary concern is the life and death of birds in “the vertical city” and the ways in which to discuss, recognise and document this. Audubon’s rarely seen lithograph prints are taken from the archives of the VG&M and these bright, almost encyclopaedic pieces act as a counterfoil to the darker, slightly more conflicted, contemporary ornithological representations. Jon Barraclough’s drawings are first seen here, and include two messy, chaotic graphite pieces entitled “Impact” which are inspired by the markings created by birds when they violently collide with windows. These furious and motion-filled abstract drawings, which somehow retain some softness, perfectly capture the simultaneously violent yet delicate moment of birds’ fatal collision with modern architecture and the immediately identifiable imprint which is left behind.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Humble Market at FACT

I did this little piece about the new performative, immersive exhibition at FACT Liverpool- The Humble Market: Trade Secrets which has now been posted on the FACT website as a blog post, and on the Bluecoat website HERE.

There has not been as much interest in this as we are used to for these sort of exhibitions, which seems a real shame, because it is a complex and incredibly innovative format which basically relies on the visitors to create the show, with a little help from their tour guide. So spread the word folks, it's only here until the end of August!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

For the sake of having pieces in one place...

Here's a gig review I did at the tail-end of last year for local promoters Behind the Wall of Sleep of a beautiful gig by Sarabeth Tucek put on by Harvest Sun:

The crumbling, neo-classical St Brides is the perfect rainy-evening venue for a tiny Sarabeth Tucek, accompanied on guitar by the producer of her most recent album, Get Well Soon, Luther Russell. Most of her set is taken from this album with the odd tone change as she picks pieces from her first record, which display how much her song writing and her confidence in her own exquisite voice has come in the last five years. Opening on a heavier note, unlike the album, Tucek and Russell, launch straight into what has been one of the most commented on tracks from the album, “Wooden”:  an epic, consuming song which loses none of its Fleetwood Mac-esque power having been stripped of drum and synths live, but builds even better than on the record. Thankfully, live, her song choices play to the surprising strengths of this set up, making the most not only of her ability but also that of her accompanying guitarist.

These tracks, with the exception of quite a dull first encore taken from the first album, showcase not only the strength and range of a voice which on record, occasionally skirts the line of being “same-y” but also destroy any potential for Tucek’s new material to be shrugged off as middle-of-the road catharsis. Heavily influenced by the death of her father, one anticipates something a little more difficult to listen to with this album, but Tucek’s cool, almost dispassionate demeanour throughout her performance only adds to the genuine, brooding undercurrent flowing throughout the subtle, philosophical poetry of her songs. She remains completely impassive and unruffled as her voice swells, cracks and breaks around the walls of the imposing church on the impossibly beautiful, elegiac “Get Well Soon” and growls through the lower, more sombre phases in songs such as “The Fireman”. It is in this last song that the comparisons to Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Karen Carpenter are most evident, especially given that when watching both women live you are made to feel there is, vocally, a lot more hiding beneath the surface, effortless lilt.

On her more pared down (but never placid) laments such as, “Things Left Behind” and “A View”, Tucek’s voice brings to mind Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star, Warm Inventions) but the reverberating guitar work found elsewhere on near-rockers such as personal favourite “State I Am In” and the amazingly powerful “Exit Ghost” drags her new material from shoe-gazing, dream-pop and more into strong, guitar-striking, Neil Young-inspired grunge folk. Tonight, I realised that it is her ability to balance these two elements of her voice and her music, at once vulnerable and huskily striking, that makes Sarabeth Tucek such an impressive vocalist and carries a sentiment which could be considered trite into something much more unaffectedly emotive, engaging and ethereal.

Lesley Ann Taker

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Poetry lolz

Also, wrote these two poems: "Original Feminism" and "Mistress". They sort of act as companion pieces to one another. One lighthearted, the other incredibly, unthinkably emo... The latter is a bit rough but I mainly like the sounds, and the images which are there already. 

Screen Printing at the Bluecoat

I just wrote THIS for The Double Negative about local music and the Screen Print studios at the Bluecoat, and their connection with the local music scene. I also took loads of pictures last week of the Print Room, and a couple of Mike Bennett and Ashley Hopkins doing some work in there. Here they are...

Sunday, 1 January 2012