Monday, 16 January 2012

Busking brilliance on Columbia Road

Perhaps the best thing about the perfectly imperfect artform we call music is its ability to occasionally catch you in exactly the right mood at the right time and place. Like a rogue dolphin chomping on a beach ball in front of a Butlins audience, an improbable surprise is more pleasing than the best laid plans. 
As such the incidental set of The Good Time Family offered up some tasty blues on a crisp, sunny afternoon on Columbia Road flower market. For anyone who hasn't been, it's one of those places that justifies the gigantic rent and crushed commute of living in our capital. 
The market is full of great indie shops and classic flower traders (quote: "these daffodils [yet to bloom] are as tight as a nun") creating a great atmosphere. The band themselves, busking by the churos stand, play a classic strand of blues standards - earnest yet lively, skillful yet slightly off kilter. 
There's banjos, slide guitar, spoons and even a strange incident I've never seen outside films about the deep south, essentially a tin bath upended with a thick string providing the bass. 
Set against the low sun and freezing temperatures, the music is warming and cheerful, like your nan entering the room with the secret Jammy Dodgers. I often sniff at the irritating, Beatles-playing buskers near the central line platform at Oxford Circus but sometimes it's just nice to act like a tourist and spare some change. 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The Clean Art of Reverse Graffiti

Always ones to accidentally end up looking backwards at the start of a new year, ShadowPlay stumbled across this excellent lecture from Paul 'Moose' Curtis addressing the agIdeas Conference in Melbourne.
Curtis' skill is in, effectively, cleaning. Instead of using paint to mark walls and signs, he uses cleaning products to remove the dirt and grime and create images.
He describes his work as 're-facing' not 'defacing' in an attempt to highlight how polluted the world really is. Amusingly Curtis has worked both and with firstly the police and secondly commercial client. That the latter have cottoned on to his talent is no surprise - guerilla marketing and graffiti have become big business since Banksy hit the mainstream - but the fact the police have harnessed the idea shows a level of intuition and invention for which they are rarely credited. Of course, the police are often confused and down right idiotic in their approach to graffiti art and how serious a crime it really is but in this instance it's pleasing to see some creative thinking.
Curtis' idea is not new naturally, there have been white vans with 'clean me' written on the back since Ronnie Corbett was in (even shorter) trouser. But it's interesting to see the credit given to it and his eloquence on the subject. Can you think of a cheaper, more amusing way to leave your mark on a town? Watch out, Mr Muscle might just be the new spray paint.