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Friday, November 26, 2004

Hooray For The Big Wood Louse

[Ramblin' Rant Alert] Winding me up today has been the prestige opening of the lottery funded Wales Millennium Centre, or the WMC as its also known. All that's hackneyed and bad about the arts in Wales has been dragged out to signify the importance of this event and the cultural significance for Wales. All the old faces are there, Michael Ball, Bryn Terfel, Max Boyce et all. The building embodies the clichés of the Welsh landscape and art world and the same old slate grey shit that quite frankly grew tired a long time ago. It’s a big and ridiculous looking mausoleum for dead arts and elitist snobbery.

The WMC is an apt abbreviation, as I'm sure that we will be calling it the Wasn't Many Customers a few years down the line. Once the usual waste and inbred cronyism that comes with arts in Wales has managed to alienate the majority of the people who paid for its construction, it will no doubt stand as a big irrelevance to the vast majority of Welsh people. Don't be surprised to see it needing to be bailed out with more tax payers money - like most of the recent ill considered and ill managed prestige arts/millennium projects here in Wales. Like them it will no doubt fail to appeal to a mass audience.

Already looking at the line up for the first few months, we see nothing but old highbrow entertainment. Now, this is what really gets on my goat. Lets break it down. Lottery funding. Who mainly plays the lottery here in Wales?

Is it the cultured middle-class who will make up the vast bulk of people that use the centre? No, it isn't - it’s the masses who need the hope of a big win and buy the tickets religiously. Its people like my grandparents and my parents.

I always use them as a great bullshit filter, I always have done. If I want to see if something floats I bring to mind what would interest them and get them off the sofa and out to enjoy some culture. Its not that my family are something special, from my experience of friend's families and people I've worked with they are really quite typical of your average working class family here in Wales.

Quite frankly, there's nothing on that list that would get them there. Yet we hear that the millennium centre will be inclusive, with low ticket prices and what-not. Now, here's where this always falls down. It’s the old middle-class conceit that lesser people and poorer people are just waiting to be rescued from their impoverished cultural lives and enriched with impenetrable and high-brow forms of entertainment such as classical concerts and cheap-seated operettas.

I hear this all the time - I tend to move in both worlds and get to see both sides of the equation. This is a luxury the majority of arts planners and cultural engineers here in Wales have never been afforded. The question is always - 'How can we enrich these poor hapless folk's lives with the culture and values we hold dear?'

Let me answer this for you in plain language. You can't. You know why? Because it bores the pants off us and quite frankly we got more entertaining and cheaper things to do with our time. The question you need to ask is this. 'If we can't force these oiks to appreciate the art of minimalism and the operas of Verdi, how can we enrich the things that are important to them?'

Myself, like many of the people I grew up with lived in houses were the only books were Haynes manuals and 40 year old family encyclopaedia. Music was the top 40 and we'd never dream of spending 40p on a family trip to the theatre (unless it was a panto) let alone £40 on a 300 year old opera. Culture meant bingo, drinking, family tales, TV (and I don't mean BBC 2) and the cinema - simple pleasures.

Not only that, but any attempt we make to be a part of that world that these people would like us to be in are met with condescension, resistance and hostility, despite whatever good intentions are meant. Then if we do work on things which are important to us, no matter how bad the content may be, or how trite and pointless the lesson learned, these same people stand rubbing their hands with an over inflated sense of self worth and achievement. This I know from personal experience and from watching people who have this mission to enrich the life's of poor people with culture.

I'm not claiming to know the wider answers (or really care if I was brutally frank.) I do know that if you want my family there, where they may through subterfuge and unintentional exposure find themselves enriched by the art and poetry of the centre, its not by putting on La Traviata, its by putting on someone like Jethro or Billy Connolly. Whilst they may turn their noses up at Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, an evening with The Shadows would be an entirely different affair. I mean come on, they've been paying for this every week for the past 10 years with their lottery tickets and dreams of a future not worrying about the next bill or the next redundancy.

But no, proper highbrow is the order of the day. As a struggling artist I know how difficult it is to get support to help you fulfil your talent or ambitions here in Wales. Unless of course you are lucky enough to have enough money behind you that living a life pleasing your artistic whims is financially viable, or, you know enough of the people in power here to make sure those grants swing the right way. Funnily enough, you never seem to see many lads from the poor side of town get the help, it always seems to be the same old middle class, well healed faces peddling the same old post Dylan Thomas drabness and uninspiring art.

I'm really getting sick of Wales these days. You have to empathise for the poor people up north and in the middle and down west - as usual they get nothing of worth. Its no wonder they hate us so much. We should just change the name to the Inbred Cardiff Arts Scene Millennium Centre, which lets face it, would be closer to the truth. I can't see anyone rushing the 5 hour journey down the A470 for an evening's show here.

Still, the same old faces are no doubt happy tonight, because once again their dreams have been fullfiled on the backs of a nation of people who frankly couldn't give two hoots about them. [/rant]

Posted by Dio Bach at 23:25 | 0 comments | links to this post
Thursday, November 25, 2004

Hopper Update

He's pretty much OK thankfully, but its been an expensive run (about £150) to get him there. Looks like he had a very bad bite and deep seated infection, but it looks like everything else is fine. Tidy. :)

Posted by Dio Bach at 13:35 | 0 comments | links to this post
Thursday, November 18, 2004

Quick Update

Thankfully Hopper's blood tests came back negative on Cat Lekumia and HIV - but we are now awaiting tests for the biopsy they did on the lump on his neck. They suspected a cyst but its not - should have more info by the end of the week.

As for me - I'm just about coming down with a cold. Typical. Elis is a lot better now though, and back to sleeping.

Posted by Dio Bach at 13:57 | 0 comments | links to this post
Sunday, November 14, 2004

Day Trip To The Island

We all had a nice run out yesterday afternoon to Barry Island. We got there just as the sun was beginning to set and was treated to some lovely golden hour light. I took plenty of magic hour snaps, some nice stuff here to show off the beautiful golden light. It was somewhat marred by the fact I stood on a carrier bag half buried in the sand which squirted a mixture of fetid sea water and liquid shit (dog or baby) up the back of one leg.

Its been a bit like that to be honest, this weekend. Lots of little niggly bad things have been happening. But in fairness there has been some good stuff as well though.

Whilst we are on a shit theme, Elis did his first potty job yesterday. All the more remarkable was, just as I was about to change his nappy, he pulled the potty out from under the bed and tried sitting on it. I made him wait until I got his nappy off and he sat down and did the business with a big smile on his face. What made it remarkable was that he knew what to do himself - we had never showed him pulling the potty out or nothing. Clever boy!

But I digress - back to the photos. So yeah, light glorious light - here are some nice shots all about it.

And I missed the tail end of the sunset as I rushed off to clean the crap off me leg. Once it had set though, I took a few photos with Elis and the fill-in flash - they worked out quite well. You have to expose for the lighter sky areas when you take them and lock on to one area and the move the camera to the dark area. As its locked on the sky exposure it can't try resetting to expose for the land area, but the fill in flash then gives foreground items some light - I quite like the effect, it gives a better impression of the light at that time. One day they'll invent a camera that smart enough to equalize the exposure and keep the sky and the ground in balance.

And Pinhead the Shadow Man returned for a father and son shot in anticipation of my next painting…

Today's already off to a bad start, Piri spilt milk and water everywhere making an impossible jump, Elis (carrying on the crap theme) had a nappy burst and we just spotted Hopper has a big lump on the side of his neck (no doubt an infected battle wound) and is very under the weather - just two weeks after he last went to the vet for being under the weather. It never ends.

Posted by Dio Bach at 11:47 | 0 comments | links to this post
Friday, November 12, 2004

More Nostalgia

More geeky Spectrum fun from B3ta. I mus admit to having routinely taken part in such puerile behaviour as a child. It was the first thing you did with a new text adventure - type in swear words to see what happens. Monkeon'S Swear Adventure updates it for the internet age. Nice one.

Posted by Dio Bach at 13:42 | 0 comments | links to this post
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Shadows And Dying Light

Phew, not really been up to much too shout about, really. Unfortunately Elis is suffering from Hand, Foot and Mouth so we've not been getting much sleep at night as he wakes up a lot with it and the hunger of not being able to eat much as it's painful (poor dab). I had to go out lunchtime to send a parcel so I dropped down and spent twenty minutes or so taking some snaps.

Bit of a mixed bag really, I wasn't really with it or into it today as I've been knackered all week, but the light (when it came out from behind a cloud) was too nice to miss. Really, it’s the sort of light that make's rubbish photos look half decent. I'm too tired to talk much, so I'll just spurge them out here. With no real theme or order, the result's are here for you.

Posted by Dio Bach at 23:18 | 0 comments | links to this post
Sunday, November 07, 2004


First I spotted Red Writer had signed up for it, then for the last few weeks Andrew Wong has been raving about it. What am I on about? Photo storage/community site Flickr.com

It's very addictive - I've already set up a few sets and being the kind who's happy to spam and fill gaps in the stroke of a web monkey's tail, I've also set up some public groups in area's which were not yet catered for. Already they have picked up members and other posters. The groups are : Cardiff, Graveyards, Tombs And Cemeteries and Gargoyles, Grotesques and Angels.

Flickr is nice and easy to use and as I've already said, very addictive. Its a useful tool for spreading your pictures on a willing public or sharing them with friends. I'm tempted to join up for the pro service as its so cheap at present - but I fear it's just a bit too clunky to use as an all round web image hosting service. But as a bit of image based fun, its fascinating clicking around all the different tags, links and groups. Lots of good stuff and lots of crud, but that's ta'web for you.

Posted by Dio Bach at 23:03 | 0 comments | links to this post
Thursday, November 04, 2004

At This Rate

I will be needing to sell my paintings for around the £5,000 mark to make a living! Anyway, just to prove 2004 isn't a wash-out, here's my 4th painting this year.

The fourth of my mixed media excursions has left me wanting to get back to figurative work. I like these pieces close up, from a few inches, the textures and layers hold the eye. However, I feel they are less successful from a distance. For my mind there isn't enough of me in them either.

So, lessons learned, it will be back to the Pinheads very soon. I have three little photo canvases I want to turn a quick buck on then I'll be into it.

Posted by Dio Bach at 23:11 | 0 comments | links to this post
Wednesday, November 03, 2004

4 More Years!

Which means loads more comedy gold and a wave of new flash animations and George W. Bush cut-ups/comedy sites [hey - I'm clutching at straws here for some good side of the result] This is my favourite so far... You forgot Poland!

Posted by Dio Bach at 13:17 | 0 comments | links to this post
Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Future Of The World

Well, the elections are in full swing in the states - I won't bore you with that. Meanwhile though, here in Wales important news is breaking...
Posted by Dio Bach at 23:44 | 0 comments | links to this post

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