Saturday, February 15, 2020

Notes on Brian Rice

Not to be confused with Brian Rice, the footballer.

From geometric patterns to archaeological and aboriginal influences, the abstract art of Brian Rice is a joy of shapes and colours. The retrospective at the Royal Albert Memorial Mueum in Exeter surveys Rice's art over the last sixty years.

Born in Somerset in 1936, Rice studied at Yeovil School of Art before moving to London in time for the swinging sixties, hanging out with the likes of the Rolling Stones and David Hockney. Eventually finding London not for him, he bought a farm in Dorset and became a farmer, all but abandoning art. Inspired by local archeology and the marks of prehistoric man, by the 1990s he had returned to painting and printmaking.

A lovely (and free) exhibition in a great little gallery and museum.

Brian Rice: 60 years of Paintings and Prints is on at the ramm (Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery) until 3 May.

Previously on Barnflakes
The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, Exeter

Friday, February 14, 2020

Letters of complaint

It's now something of a habit that whenever I meet up with my daughter, I manage to embarrass her by complaining to someone, usually a waitrer or waitress, about the quality of something in a cafe, restuarant or some other public place. Last time it was a breakfast menu which said "an array of pastries", which my daughter ordered, to be presented with a single pastry. I complained to the Italian/Russian waitress, who exclaimed, "Oh! No one has ever complained about that before!" Everyone in the room looked at us. Daughter looked down at her plate, embarrassed. I probably turned red too. Well, I said, it says an array, which implies many, and there's only one. It's not going to fill anyone up. She got two more pastries (she still wasn't full and had be bought another breakfast half an hour later – elsewhere). Life went on. It's good to complain. As the world gets worse, I'm doing it more. Well, we're asked for our feedback constantly nowadays. Here's three recent emails.

TO CORNWALL COUNCIL
Hi Planning and Forest for Cornwall

Let me introduce you to each other!

I live in the Redruth/Carn Brea area. Whenever I go for a walk around the mining trails, I see some more land has been fenced up, boarded up or destroyed. This time it was the trees. Along the mining path that runs roughly parallel between Dudnance Lane and Carn Brea (couldn't find its exact name, if it has one), I noticed hundreds of trees had been chopped down, the small woodlands I'd noticed before which were abundant with trees were now threadbare (some of this, which I've also noticed elsewhere in the county, was due to new telegraph poles being installed – but really, the area all around them looks like a ton of napalm has been dropped. Surely this much destruction is unwarranted, or how about putting the telegraph poles elsewhere?).

Your Forest for Cornwall project is deeply flawed. You can't go around chopping down mature trees, expecting newly planted ones to take their place. It takes 100 years for a woodland to reach maturity.

From the saplings I've seen (specifically, along Kerrier Way), they have not been cared for since being planted. They are being suffocated in their horrible plastic tubes. Most look battered or dead. Trees did fine for billions of years without plastic tubes. The so-called mycorrhizal networks will presumably not operate with your roadside saplings (without similar, more mature trees nearby).

Wanton destruction in the name of car parks has occurred opposite Heartlands next to a hideous new supermarket, where another small woodland was destroyed, on the college grounds. Was the local populace consulted on the supermarket, or with McDonald's, KFC, Subway and other horrible outlets I will never visit, you just want to send the already-obese locals into an even earlier grave? If even these kinds of companies supported the local economy, but did you know at least 60% of profit from places like this (Costa, McDonald's etc) immediately leave the local area? Aside from the fact that places like McDonald's are contributing to the destruction of the rain forests.

Anyway, I diverge (the above is for the Planning department, but one day you will realise IT IS ALL CONNECTED).

YOU ARE TURNING ALL THE NATURAL LAND INTO CAR PARKS, RETAIL PARKS, CAR SHOWROOMS AND HOUSING. EVERY DAY BIT BY BIT YOU ARE DESTROYING THE NATURAL HABITAT OF WILDLIFE. YOU ARE PREVENTING BIODIVERSITY. YOU ARE TRYING TO CONTROL NATURE AND IT DOESN'T NEED OR WANT CONTROLLING.

Now, let me explain about your so-called Climate Emergency:
TREES ARE PART OF THE EQUATION; CHOPPING THEM DOWN ISN'T.
CARS AND CAR PARKS AREN'T.
A SPACE STATION ISN'T.
A HELIPORT ISN'T.
I'm not sure how to make it clearer. But you are managing to get planning completely wrong on a daily basis – or can't see how your decisions impact on wildlife. We don't need more car parks. We don't need new retail parks (with high streets simultaneously being decimated). We don't need new houses (the shortage is a myth – look at all the empty houses, buildings, offices, factories in the UK), we certainly don't need junk food outlets in deprived areas. Litter and fly tipping is everywhere in the area. On verges, in fields, in hedgerows. Plastic bottles, cans, nothing seems to get ever picked up.

This was only about the trees but I'm on a roll now.

My last complaint is concerning the St Austell 'eco village', whose name has changed to 'garden village', someone at the Eden Project informed me; presumably because there is nothing remotely 'eco' about it. I realise these are countrywide schemes requested by the government. However, choosing a site with abundant trees, foliage and wildlife, a haven for birds and a popular location for dog walkers is crazy. I had often climbed over the fence and enjoyed tranquil times watching birds flying over the lakes. I felt like I was in another world, all alone. Now when I pass by I see hundreds of trees and bushes destroyed.

The thing about humans, and small-minded, small-sighted councils in particular, is a compulsion TO DO STUFF. ALL THE TIME. In the case of nature, IT DOES IT ON ITS OWN. It wants to be left alone, it doesn't want you interfering. Or culling badgers or building roads or car parks or crappy houses or unhealthy supermarkets or destroying hedgerows – all these things prevent the growth of biodiversity and destroy what little natural habitat they have left.

TO FIRST BUS, CORNWALL
The price of bus journeys in Cornwall is EXTORTIONATE* (you know it's so when the bus driver apologises for a five mile journey costing almost a tenner). Let's take one of the poorest counties in EUROPE and have the buses three times more expensive than its wealthier neightbour, Devon (where an hour long journey has cost me £4), and five times more expensive than London (all journeys £1.50). Then let's have the buses turn up LATE once an hour, stop at every stop for five minutes, presumably to even out the journey but leading to frustration for all on board. Let's have the rail fares at least half the price of the buses. Let's also say cycling is always quicker than the bus, and walking is sometimes quicker. Let's have a climate crisis as well, and a half baked attempt to get people to use public transport more – not with the service or prices you provide. To cap it all, shall we only have one set of doors on the buses.

*I'm talking single or return fares, I realise the weekly/monthly pass works out good value if you use the service every day.

TO THE EDEN PROJECT
My first letter of complaint had been hand-written on the complaint form at the Eden Project, mainly about the food being wasted there. Someone replied via email. I wrote back to them.

Perhaps try giving away the fruit and veg to the deprived of St Austell. Charity begins at home and all that. I've also seen staff throw leftover sandwiches in the compost bin at the end of the day. Better than recycling or composting is reusing and eating.

I see St Austell's "eco" village, presumably inspired by yourselves, is well underway. I can tell because they've destroyed hundreds of trees, foliage and habitats for animals and birds. Progress, huh?

I feel bad criticising a charity when there are so many other evil organisations to target, but there's something deeply unfulfilling about the place, and a golden opportunity missed in these terrible times. And it's insane that your car parks are bigger than the actual Eden Project!

Previously on Barnflakes 
Bus pass
Success and failures of the Eden Project
Abandoned Halloween Pumpkins
The China Clay pits around St Austell
Reviving Reduth (and environs)

Running rings around me

I had a huge, pretty embarrassing, argument in the office with a woman I used to work with many years ago. She wore a ring every day that her previous boyfriend, who had died horrifically in a motorbike accident, had given her. I had nude black and white photos – tasteful and arty – taken years ago of an ex-girlfriend. I had no idea where these photos were and hadn't looked at them for years (this is pre-digital era so they were actual physical prints). My argument was that her ring had a lot more significance than my photos: she wore the ring every day, it had emotional and sentimental resonance. Her argument was that the ring meant nothing to her, and me still having nude photos of an ex-girlfriend was outrageous. She was married, I was with someone. I told her if I was her husband, I wouldn't like her wearing that ring. You know what it is, she hasn't actually told her husband the significance of it. She was a loud Aussie and the argument got very heated, I don't know why. Jesus, you know what it is, I actually gave her a spare box of chocolates I had (long story) for her to give to her husband on Valentine's Day. Come to think of it, I designed a card for another female friend to give to her boyfriend for Valentine's Day. What am I, Cupid and stupid?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Inside St Day Old Church

When we were inside the church, we were both inside and outside at the same time, for the church has no roof. The Church of Holy Trinity, now known as St Day Old Church, was built in 1826-8 but by the 1950s had fallen into disrepair and was shut in 1956. After decades of neglect, part of the roof collapsed in 1988 and the rest of the roof was, excitingly, blown up with dynamite.

The church – referred to by Sir John Betjeman as “an ecclesiastical toy fort” and apparently his favoutite church in England – has now been saved by the St Day Old Church Community Interest Company, who have turned it into a community space for the arts. When I was there recently, to sketch, electricity had just been added and beautiful new carved window frames put in (I know, it sounds an extravagance in a building without a roof, but it was worth every penny). It's a wonderful space, where you can be simultaneously inside and outside, protected yet amongst the elements.

Upcoming event: DiaspAURA, a light festival with laser projections, illuminated artwork and lanterns runs from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd February.

Previously on Barnflakes
Reviving Redruth (and envirions) 
Kresen Kernow now open

Friday, February 07, 2020

I’m confused here

I’m New Here is the final studio album by the late, great Gil Scott-Heron, released in 2010. We’re New Here is a remix of the album by the xx’s Jamie xx, released in 2011. Nothing New is a posthumous album of songs recorded during the I’m New Here sessions, released in 2014 on Record Store Day on vinyl only. We’re New Again is a ‘Reimagaining’ of I’m New Here by Makaya McCraven, released in February 2020.

Gil Scott-Heron died in 2011, so what’s going on?  It seems to me to be a case of the Johnny Cash Cow, as I’ve mentioned previously. Seven Johnny Cash albums plus a box set have so far been released from the Rick Rubin-produced 'American sessions' with, according to Cash's son in 2014, 'four or five albums in the works'. Seems a bit excessive to me.

With I'm New Here there seems to be four separate albums associated with it (hold on, actually five altogether with the I'm New Here (10th Anniversary Expanded Edition) just released). I loved the original album, though it felt quite thin on the ground, only 28 minutes long including half a dozen spoken interludes, produced by XL Recordings owner Richard Russell. Like Rubin's Cash sessions, there are cover versions and a sparse sound. Sometimes just a beat over Gil's haggard spoken voice. In fact, as Uncut magazine's review (awarded two stars, whereas in most other publications it got four or five) at the time suggested, the "finished article assembled, Bowfinger-style, without [Scott-Heron's] knowledge". Indeed, I don't think Scott-Heron was entirely happy with the result, calling it "Richard's [Russell] CD". Russell added all the music to the vocal tracks, including Gil's chattering that went on between takes.

We're New Here has Jamie xx use his skills as a dj to recontextualise the album in the style of his debut album with the band The xx, using snatches of Gil's voice with dubstep and garage styles. Nothing New contains more songs recorded at the original sessions, this time extremely sparse versions of his own songs, with just voice and piano. Now we have We're New Again, the album reimagined again a decade later, this time by Chicago producer and drummer Makaya McCraven who takes it back to Gil-Scott's mileu of free jazz and blues. The just-released 10th year anniversary version of I'm Not Here contains the original album as well as a bonus disc of even more songs recorded at the original sessions – with even more extended spoken interludes (this bonus disc actually came out first in 2010 as a limited edition with the original album).

You have to hand it to Richard Russell and Jamie xx, though, middle class white boys from south London, obviously huge fans of Gil Scott-Heron, who helped bring him to a new generation of listeners; it had been sixteen years since he had released an album before I'm New Here. It's just they had in mind a sound they wanted to hear and that was their sound, not Gil's.

I remember listening to Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis, 1969-1974 when it first came out in 1998. Bill Laswell remixes In A Silent Way and On the Corner, Miles' electric jazz and funk period to create a surprisingly cohesive, unified, ambient soundscape (though when the remix got remixed a few years later, the results were awful). This was nothing new in Miles' music – producer Teo Macero edited and spliced together elements from hours of Davis' improvised sessions in the studio to create the masterpieces In a Silent Way, Jack Johnson and Bitches Brew.

Gil's original version of New York is Killing Me, from I'm New Here, contains a hypnotic handclapping riff, which reminds me of a song on Leonard Cohen's posthumous studio album released last year, Thanks for the Dance (an album two minutes longer than I'm New Here), called Night in Santiago. The album was taken from vocal tracks recorded at the sessions for Cohen's previous album, 2016's You Want it Darker. The producer, Cohen's son Adam, added music to the bare vocals, employing various singers and musicians, including Beck on Jew's harp and Daniel Lanois on piano. I would love to hear Makaya McCraven's take on the album, New Thanks for the Dance?

Previously on Barnflakes
Top 30 of the year
The top 100 albums
where new here
Rubinise me
Top 10 record producers 
More Ex-Ex Elliott
Elliott School of Rock

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Notes on Samuel Palmer

Samuel Palmer's (1805-1881) early works suggest a prodigious and precocious talent – he exhibited at the Royal Academy, aged fourteen – but little more. It wasn't until meeting William Blake in 1824, when Palmer was an impressionable teenager, that his work takes on the 'visionary' aspect that he is famous for (Tom Luddock in his book English Graphic gives a witty exploration of that difficult, vague and often unhelpful term 'visionary').

by his early twenties Palmer had moved to Shoreham, ostensibly for his poor health, and there produced the most imaginative art of his career, his so-called visionary pictures, inspired by Blake, the Bible and the countryside around him. He lived in a run-down house nicknamed Rat Abbey and hung out with a bunch of like-minded artists called The Ancients, a brotherhood all believing in an idealised rural past and worshipping their seer, William Blake.

Look at the riot of springtime, above, painted in 1829 in Shoreham, Kent. Visionary or kitsch (for visionary I might say hallucinatory)? A gloopy, bubbling candy floss tree found in Willie Wonker's Chocolate factory, maybe. Palmer's intense, impressionistic landscapes have often been compared to Van Gogh's (1853-1890).


I've never been that moved by the epic quality of Turner's landscapes or the chocolate box countrysides of Constable. But Palmer's landscapes draw the viewer in, partly due to their small, intimate size. Palmer's pastoral paintings and in particular his pen and ink drawings of either moonlit, early evening or morning scenes (above, 1825) hum with a magic realism imbued with a mystical feeling. All the elements of nature feel interconnected and alive. Contrasts are deep and shadows are long.

When Palmer returned to live in London in 1835, after a decade in Shoreham, his paintings lost a lot of their unique 'visionary' quality and became rather conventional. Only a few late works, such as 1879's etching titled The Lonely Tower, managed to recapture that paradisal mysticism of the Shoreham years.

Previously on Barnflakes
William Blake's vision of angels in Peckham 
Notes on Kent
Edward Burra, 20th century man
Christopher Wood, English painter

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Top ten Studio Ghibli films

I have a confession to make – I’ve only watched ten (of 22), so here they are, in order. Luckily, Netflix are releasing all of Studio Ghibli’s films (with the exception of Grave of the Fireflies) in batches of seven over the next three months. The first batch has just been released. This is literally the best thing to happen in the world this decade. Though I've criticised Netflix in the past, I can only thank them for releasing The Other Side of the Wind, Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story, a new(ish) David Lynch black and white short film, What Did Jack Do?,  as well as the excellent Uncut Gems and now the Studio Ghibli output.

10. Porco Rosso (1992)
9. Arrietty
(2010)
8. Grave of the Fireflies
(1988)
7. Howl’s Moving Castle
(2004)
6. Kiki’s Delivery Service
(1989)
5. Laputa: Castle in the Sky
(1986)
4. Ponyo
(2008)
3. My Neighbour Totoro
(1988)
2. Spirited Away
(2001)
1. Princess Mononoke
(1997)

Friday, January 31, 2020

The top 100 books

Warning – includes photography and art books! Comics! A dictionary (of sorts)! And no Austen or Dickens or Middlemarch! In alphabetical order.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle
The Adventures of Tintin Herge
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
The Americans Robert Frank
Atomised Michel Houellebecq
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Frank Miller 
A Biographical Dictionary of Film David Thomson
Birdsong Sebastian Faulks
Bound for Glory Woody Guthrie 
Brave New World Aldous Huxley
The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer
Catch-22 Joseph Heller
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
The Cheese Monkeys Chipp Kidd
Chronicles Volume One Bob Dylan
A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess
Cloud Atlas David Mitchell
Collected Stories Tennessee Williams
Collected Short Stories W. Somerset Maugham
A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
The Corrections Jonathan Franzen
Cryptonomicon Neal Stephenson 
The Day of the Triffids John Wyndham
Death and the Penguin Andrey Kurkov
Designed by Peter Saville Emily King
Dracula Bram Stoker
Eric Gill Fiona McCarthy
Factory Records: The Complete 
Graphic Album Matthew Robertson
Factotum Charles Bukowski
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Fictions Jorge Luis Borges
The French Lieutenant’s Woman John Fowles 
Fungus the Bogeyman Raymond Briggs
The Ginger Man JP Donleavy 
Going East: Two Decades of Asian Photography Max Pam
Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift  
Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond 
Herzog Saul Bellow
The Hills Were Joyful Together Roger Mais
Hitchcock Francois Truffaut
The House of the Spirits Isabel Allende
In Cold Blood Truman Capote
In the Eye of the Sun Ahdaf Soueif
Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
The Journey is the Destination: 
The Journals of Dan Eldon Dan Eldon 
Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine
Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
Letters Francois Truffaut
London Fields Martin Amis
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
The Lorax Dr Seuss
Lost Horizon James Hilton
Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
Maus Art Spiegelman
Max Ernst Collages Werner Spies
The Metamorphosis Franz Kafka
Midnight's Children Salmon Rushdie
Miles: The Autobiography Miles Davis
Moonfleet J. Meade Falkner
Nico, Songs They Never Play on the Radio James Webb Young
Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
No Logo Naomi Klein
On the Road Jack Kerouac
Oryx and Crake Margaret Atwood
Perfume Patrick Süskind
Pigeon's Luck Vladimir Tretchikoff
The Plague Albert Camus
Riddley Walker Russell Hoban
Ringolevio, A Life Played for Keeps Emmett Grogan
The Rings of Saturn W. G. Sebald
Rip It Up and Start Again Simon Reynolds
Robinson Chris Petit
Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design Jennifer Bass
A Scanner Darkly Philip K Dick
Scorsese on Scorsese Ian Christie (Ed.)
A Season in Hell Arthur Rimbaud
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ Sue Townsend
Short Stories Paul Bowles
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
The Songlines Bruce Chatwin
The Story of Art EH Gombrich
The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
The Tiger Who Came to Tea Judith Kerr
Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky Patrick Hamilton
Under the Volcano Malcolm Lowry
Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell Deborah Solomon
The War of the Worlds HG Wells
Watchmen Alan Moore
Ways of Seeing John Berger
We Need To Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver
Where I'm Calling From: The Selected Stories Raymond Carver
Where the Wild Things are Maurice Sendak
Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys
William Eggleston's Guide William Eggleston
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami
Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
Yoga for People Who Can't be Bothered to Do it Geoff Dyer

I really need a parallel life just for reading. I own about fifty books that I've never read but slowing getting through, plus I've a list of about a hundred I want to read (The Master and Margarita,  Steppenwolf, etc) then after that (so in about a decade), all the books I should read – Middlemarch, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Moby-Dick, Tristram Shandy, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky. Then recent novels which I hardly ever read, something by someone like Sally Rooney or Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (which'll be about twenty years old by the time I get around to reading them).

Previously on Barnflakes 
The top 100 films
The top 100 albums
Books I've read this year, 2019 
Top ten most difficult fiction books to read 
Notes on not reading anymore, etc
Books of the year 2011
Illustrated children's books (for parents)
Alice and Arthur

Monday, January 27, 2020

The pebbles on Budleigh Salterton beach

We came across Budleigh Salterton beach from Exeter via Exmouth. Approaching the pebble beach, it didn't look anything special, but once we were walking on the pebbles it was a different matter. In fact, I don't think either of us looked up once, until suddenly we realised we'd walked to the end of the beach, transfixed by the patterns on the pebbles.

The beach is famous for its pebbles. Some can be split open and contain fossils. The pebbles have unique patterns. Walking along the beach felt like a history lesson in 20th century abstract art, encompassing abstract expressionism to minimalism. There were Pollock, Riley, Kline and Rothko pebbles. Some were striped, some were blobby, some were birthmarks, some were geological maps. They were all smooth as if polished. Many were so perfectly oval-shaped and smooth they could be sold in crystal shops as semi-precious stone eggs.

The beach has a local bylaw prohibiting the removal of any pebbles; the area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The fine is £2000 per pebble. It's going to take my daughter a while to save up and pay the £8k fines.

Previously on Barnflakes
On the beach at Lyme Regis
Sea urchin shells

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wheal Maid Tailings lagoons

The area around Wheal Maid Tailings lagoons, taking in the complex of Poldice mine, active since the 17th century, and the Poldice valley, is a great place for walking and cycling. Situated about three miles east of Redruth, it's a fascinating area full of the remains of mine workings and steep paths littered with quartz and other minerals.

The lagoons themselves revealed themselves to us completely by chance one day, when we'd accidentally walked a different route to our usual Poldice mine walk. It was as if we'd entered a parallel universe; we couldn't figure out how we'd never spotted the lagoons, and several engine houses nearby, before. We spotted the lagoons from the top of the hill, looking down at them at the bottom of the valley. It was an alien landscape of greys, yellows and reds. The amazing colours of the lagoons occur due to the water evaporating, leaving the waste remains of the various mined minerals including copper, tin, pyrite, zinc and arsenic. Needless to say, though the area is safe for walking around, the earth and water is toxic.

Wheal Maid was used as recently as the 1970s and 80s to dispose of waste from two nearby mines, Mount Wellington and Wheal Jane. It was sold to Gwennap Parish Council in 2002 for £1 (presumably so the owners, Carnon Enterprises, wouldn't have to clean up their mess).

The area forms part of the Minerals Tramways Coast to Coast cycle route from Portreath to Devoran, a 14 mile ride mostly along tracks and paths, so hardly any traffic is encountered. There are cafes along the way, including several places for hiring bikes too. At Twelveheads (a 15 minute walk from the lagoons) there is a fine, and brilliantly placed (all the hundreds of times we've said at the end of a tiring walk: 'If only there was a cafe here!' Well here there actually is) outdoors cafe called Bon Appetit.

Never being lost for words

I often Google words for their meaning or spelling – recently I checked on verdant, for example. What I thought meant 'green with vegetation' is actually a brewing company in Falmouth – Verdant Brewing Co. Oblivion – a state of being unaware of things happening around you? Nope, first place is a post-apocalyptic adventure film starring Tom Cruise. Wayfinder is not 'a traveller on foot', but a type of Ray-Ban sunglasses. Dawn is a Pakistani newspaper. Supreme is a skateboard brand. Ripe is either an insurance company or a Network Coordination Centre. Quartz is a business-focused English-language international news organisation. Catastrophe is a TV series. Believe is a song by Shawn Mendes.

You get the idea. Any word I look up is something else. More and more words are becoming brands, products, bars, restaurants, films, songs. I think it belittles words. And we're now running out of them. Any word is up for grabs for crappy companies and pointless films.

And words don't have anyone to perform SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for them. The humble spelling and meaning of a word now takes second place to commerce, or worse still, a film (usually starring aforementioned Cruise in a movie such as Collateral or Magnolia).

It took a while to realise that to find the definition of a word, I need to Google the word followed by 'definition', 'meaning' or 'synonym'.

Loss of the senses

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Empty skateparks

Skateboarding photography is usually about capturing the skater in action, but not always. Californian photographer Amir Zaki has recently published a book of empty skateparks in his home state. Titled California Concrete: A Landscape of Skateparks, the book is a beautiful brutalist monument to the board, his highly detailed photos taken at dawn (one of them, top), each one consisting of dozens of high resolution photos stitched together in post-production.

Irish photographer Richard Gilligan spent four years tracking down and photographing homemade or DIY skateparks all over the world. Mostly being built illegally, this was no mean task, with the skateparks being in hidden, abandoned locations. The image, above middle, is from Hamburg, Germany.

Teenage Scottish photographer Andrew Bulloch has only owned a camera for a few years and already won a handful of awards. I love his picture from north Scotland of an empty half pipe with the northern lights behind it (picture above).

With skateboarding appearing as a sport for the first time at this year's Toyko Olympics and Sotheby's last year selling a complete set of 248 Supreme boards for $800,000, its rebellious attitude is perhaps not as it was. Nevertheless, I still love skating culture, from the sense of community and fun, to the graphics, videos and photography. Skateparks are appearing in most cities all over the world, and more popular than ever (so seeing an empty one, like the pictures above, is pretty rare).

Previously on Barnflakes
Record cover of the day: Babes Forever
Powell Peralta Paraphemalia
Transworld Skateboarding Magazine Covers

Elsewhere on the web
The Search for Animal Chin is the most quotable and best skateboarding film ever, dude!