More installations/videos

 

Father’s Grave installed at Croxteth Hall, Liverpool

Father’s Grave

Stereo sound work with single screen video, 4 mins, 2017.

A reworking of an Edwardian variety song about a worker’s grave that has to be moved so that new drains can be laid for a rich gent’s new residence. The worker, the song goes, will haunt the toilet of the city chap in revenge ‘and only let him go’ when the worker allows him. The video uses found drain-inspection footage that could almost be depicting the journey of the worker’s lost, wretched soul back up to the surface of the world for his frightening, riotous vengeance.

The work appears on the Paul Rooney album Futile Exorcise on Owd Scrat Records.

Tessa Jackson (Constructing Connections art project newspaper). 2017 essay referencing the work.

Jessica Holtaway (Constructing Connections art project newspaper). 2017 essay referencing the work.

Bryan Biggs (Bido Lito magazine). September 2017 article referencing the work.

 


HOMER ­–– HEPHAESTUS

Vinyl text work for corridor space at Storey Institute, Lancaster, dimensions variable, 2011.

This work was commissioned by an art gallery and a literary festival (Lancaster’s Storey Gallery and Litfest) for the corridor space that links the two organisations. The text work has for its starting point the idea of ekphrasis ­– or the translation of visual art into literature. The two large words in vinyl text, ‘HOMER ­–– HEPHAESTUS’,  are an ‘art work’ by a fictional artist, the late Alec Masterson Forbes, and this art work is ‘explained’ by an equally fictional ‘gallery text’ next to it. This institutional text is in turn ‘notated’ by a disturbing figure called Derek Wilkinson, the fictional vinyl lettering technician who has installed the work on the corridor walls. Wilkinson seems to be using his notes to re-write the legacy of Masterson Forbes in order to aggrandise Wilkinson himself – he may even have had a role in the artist’s death. It is probable that Wilkinson has entirely invented the Masterson Forbes art work and its gallery text, and killed the artist to boot, to secure himself a place in the cultural spotlight if only for a moment. Wilkinson’s notes overrun the space, spiralling up and around the classical architecture of the Storey Institute corridor, turning the discrete conceptualism of Masterson Forbes into a display of expanded confabulation gone entirely round the bend.

Transcription of the full text is here.

The Storey G2 website. 2013 article about the work.

Suzanne Heath (Public Art Network blog). 13/4/2011 article about the work.

 


Bellevue

Single screen video with stereo sound, 22 mins, 2009.

The film’s main character, ‘Bill’ (played by Paul Hilton), is taking part in an advertising company’s focus group meeting, which is using the conference facilities of an English stately home. But Bill also appears to be acting out or imagining scenarios set in a 1930s New York psychiatric institution, in which he takes on the character of a failed jazz musician recovering from alcohol abuse. Eventually, this 1930s world, and the shadow it casts over the present, entirely disrupts the proceedings. The film draws on the English writer Malcolm Lowry’s time in a psychiatric ward at New York’s Bellevue Hospital in 1935, which informed his novella Lunar Caustic. Lowry’s voluntary attendance at Bellevue (he could check out when he liked), parallels the often privileged position that art occupies in relation to real life.

Originally co-commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella with the Bluecoat, in association with Harewood House, Leeds and Spacex, Exeter.

Watch the piece on the FVU watch player.

Steven Bode (Film and Video Umbrella website). April 2021 article about the work.

Sophie Haydock (The Leeds Guide). 28/4/2010 review of the work.

Robert Clark (The Guardian). 26/9/2009 preview of the work.

 


The Futurist installed at Durham Art Gallery
The Futurist production still
The Futurist production still

The Futurist

Single screen video with stereo sound, 25 mins, 2008.

In a dark, apparently derelict Liverpool cinema, Tony, an amateur comedian and gumshoe detective, chats with other comics in the ticket queue and the bar. He talks of his recent visits to his past life regression therapist, and tells some of the jokes he has written about it. At various points the other male and female comics in the cinema relay messages to Tony from an unknown and unseen man who is trying to contact him. There is clearly something unpleasant that Tony has stumbled on at some time in his past, something that he is impelled to uncover further, despite the risks. Will Tony’s past catch up with him before he does? Thanks to MUCK collective, Tony Schumacher, Alexandra Jones and Kai-Oi Jay Yung. Commissioned by Tate Liverpool.

Purchased in 2012 by the Victoria Gallery and Museum with funds from The Contemporary Art Society.

Tony Schumacher (The Futurist Cinema website). 2013 essay about filming the work.

Laura Davis (Metro). 12/10/2012 review of the work.

Alex Hetherington (A-N website). 4/2/2009 review of the work.

Sue Hubbard (The Independent). 6/1/2009 review of the work.

Robert Clark (The Guardian). 13/12/2008 preview of the work.

 


There Are Two Paths documentation still

There Are Two Paths

Two-part performance installation work for purpose built stage and two five piece bands, 40 mins each performance, 2003.

Two groups of musicians alternating two verses from ‘Stairway to Heaven’. The verses are played by one band, then repeated by the other band but played and sung backwards. Then the verses are played forwards again … and so on. The ‘Satanic’ phonetic accidents of the reversed song make lines such as “there is power in Satan” audible. Following the initial performance of the piece in the Shropshire countryside, the work was next performed in a Birmingham city centre square (this video cuts between the two performances). The popular myths of guitarists selling their souls to the devil in order to play the blues like no-one else. The English need to obsess about a rural ideal to pretend that the selling of their souls to the ‘dark satanic mills’ of industrialisation never happened. Thanks to Nowhere Near the Garden, Sarah Wilson, John Smith, Mark Goodchild, Malcolm Garrett, Freddie Thomas, and Dave Lee. Commissioned by Meadow Gallery/Ikon Gallery.

 


Flat 23 installed at Site Gallery
Flat 23 installed at The Walker Art Gallery

Flat 23

Six channel sound installation for three monitors, 2 mins looped, 2002.

A former resident of a Liverpool block of flats, which was about to be demolished, was asked to list the objects that filled three rooms in her former flat. This list was set to music and spoken and sung by a female voice, layered and harmonised with itself, which forms the soundtrack to static video shots of the same, now empty, rooms. The description of the hand made furniture made by the resident’s husband, who died just as they left the flat, forms the lyrics for the lead vocal harmony in the piece. The lead vocal could be both a lament for a human relationship and for the failure of art to do justice to it. Thanks to Doreen Hughes and Marie Therese Escritt. Commissioned by Further Up in the Air.

Purchased in 2015 by The Arts Council Collection.

Jessica Greenall (Art in Liverpool website). 9/11/2016 review of the work.

Steve Lee (The Big Issue magazine). 21/3/2016 interview about the work.

Interview With Dr Helen Pheby (Aesthetica magazine). 15/3/2016 interview referencing the work.

John Schofield (Journal of the Arts in Society). 2007 essay referencing the work.

“By listing the objects – like a probate inventory – [Flat 23 is] able to evoke the way in which highly intimate and personal worlds can be constructed through things – even against the modernist architecture of a tower block.” Dan Hicks (Situations website). 15/2/2006 interview referencing the work.

Colin Serjent (Nerve magazine). Summer 2004 interview referencing the work.

“What begins to happen through the repetition of melody and lyric is the conjuring up of the home and the lives of Doreen and Bernie Hughes. This is Paul Rooney’s archaeology.” Claire Doherty (Firstsite Gallery book). 2006 essay referencing the work.

Come Ca Art Prize North Winner Announced (Art Daily website). Oct. 2003 article referencing the work.

Art Prize Winner Announced (Manchester Evening News). 11/8/2003 article referencing the work.