Flight Of Fantasy?

The Sunday papers were awash with ink about last week's latest political slur from Conservative politician, Howard Flight. As if Prime Minister Cameron doesn't have enough to worry about with rebels and drunks from society disguising themselves as students and throwing fire extinguishers from rooftops, Flight's thoughts on the government's restructuring of the child benefit policy could have waited - at least for a few more weeks when the festive season is in full swing and the country would be too drunk to know who he is and what he has to say. But when it comes to remarks on class any time is bad time, particularly when the face of said statement is a quintessential, class-ical Tory chap,
"We're going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it's jolly expensive but for those on benefit there is every incentive. Well that's not very sensible".
A furore would be putting it mildly to describe the media's reaction, making it a top story last week. For those of you who are regular visitors to my blog you will know I am fascinated with themes of class and I explore social difference through association in much of my artistic practice. What surprises me the most about Flight's comments are that they could and should have been a lot worse. 'Breeding' may not have been an intelligent choice of prose but in light of another story that hit the weekend headlines of an unemployed twenty-five year old male from Tyne and Wear who is to father his fifteenth child, I would have expected Flight - soon to be Lord Flight with his appointment into the House of Lords - to have used more jolly harsh words. The fact of the matter is, class expression is inherent in everyday British life: from the public school boarding house addicted to the rants of ranks on Jeremy Kyle to the Facebook status demanding the end of a 'freeloading Monarchy', the subject of class has always been contentious on both social and political landscapes. It is well documented that the Labour government under Gordon Brown and the aspiring Tony Blair divided the class gap even wider than Margaret Thatcher had in the Eighties under the Tories - Blair, as always, defies the record now finding himself Thatcher's neighbour in Eaton Square - a fine example of New Labour irony if ever there were one. Flight's remarks therefore are far from fantasy and more a reality that is on everyone's muted lips. What is more disconcerting is the fact that society is entering a climate that is so controlled and monitored, freedom of speech has become a risk rather than a right. Minette Marrin's Ugly words but true article from The Sunday Times (p.28 - 28.11.10) explores the merciless 'ears and eyes and bloggers everywhere' environment which Flight seems more than conscious of,
"... MPs feel they cannot say anything except the blandest nonsense".
It is unclear whether Flight's installation into the House of Lords may be sacrificed as a result of his remarks that have been condemned for poor taste rather than his own taste on the poor, rich or indifferent. Freedom of speech is not as tolerant in the world of politics as it is in the media, but it should not be down to the media to judge that freedom. The truth is known best to hurt but it will hurt more if truth is silenced in a world of fantasy and political correctness. What is certain is that the developing WikiLeaks disclosures will reprieve Howard Flight from next Sunday's papers. What jolly good news.

Queue in/appropriate Spectator advertisement I came across on the train...


Politics In Print: Back To The Archives

It's been a few months since I have posted anything about my summer commission for Devon County Council, so with news that the Politics in Print bandwagon has made a pit-stop at the Devon Record Office, I am delighted to be able to invite anyone who is thinking to be Devon-bound before the New Year to pay a visit and see my work, Semper Fidelis. As I reported in July of this year, the archives at the Record Office are extraordinary and it's very exciting to have my hand printed bandana back into the environment which it was inspired from. Located in Exeter, the Devon Record Office is open to the public and the team there are extremely helpful with saintly patience - especially after my tirade of questions during my first site visit!
For details about my commission click here and if you would like further information about visiting the Devon Record Office and its facilities click here for their official website.
Semper Fidelis, 2010
2011 will see the Politics in Print tour hit the Exeter Phoenix gallery in Exeter and Great Torrington thereafter - visit jonathanvelardi.blogspot.com for more updates - have a great weekend everyone!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Poultry... Pumpkin Pie... and Pantone 12-1-7 C

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Art Worship

Hello everyone! This has to be the longest pause from my blog I have ever had - my sincerest apologies to you all. Unfortunately the roller coaster that is Life just kept wanting to go on and on and on and I've been spun and twirled enough that I guess I've been finally allowed to get off the ride and put some words down in a new post, so I hope I won't disappoint.

The past few weeks have been anything but fun and I've found myself in new situations - and locations - that I never thought I'd be confronted with. But I guess you never know what's coming around the corner and if I told you I now find myself in the City of London trawling through the streets of suits in a sea of money makers and shakers, even I wouldn't believe it. But through the darkness of the early morning wake ups and the maze of concrete office blocks shines a spark of creativity in otherwise an uncreative environment. Should you derail from the automated following of businessmen marching to and fro between station and office, you will be richly rewarded. In the chaos that is London Wall, near Liverpool Street Station sits the church of All Hallows on the Wall - a sanctuary for reflection and worship as well as a space for contemporary art. Launched in 2006 with a series of commissions to date, Wallspace at All Hallows on the Wall provides a spiritual home for visual arts in London. Unlike many other church-meets-gallery efforts I have visited throughout the country before, if you are lucky enough to notice the small poster on the church noticeboard in the City's chaos, this is an incredibly unique and well executed display within ecclesiastic architecture from the eighteenth-century. In association with Art+ChristianityEnquiry, Wallspace has worked on numerous projects with artists such as Damien Hirst and Angela Wright that inject permanent works of art in religious spaces in Britain. Currently on view is the exhibit, Commission, which looks at fourteen artists and their commissions. Preliminary sketches, maquettes and documentation of the works from Henry Moore to Stephen Walbrook provide an insight to the challenges and process that Wallspace are so strongly committed to. Tracey Emin's neon artwork that was originally produced for Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, infuses the intimate space of All Hallows on the Wall with a calm, pink hue that is absorbed by the ornate, white plaster walls. Spirituality has no label and whether you worship a God or Art, Wallspace provides the perfect balance and an escape from the torment of the outside world. Just don't be surprised if you come across a businessman taking some time out in a pew... he's on a conference call of his own.

Commission runs until the 3rd December 2010
All Hallows on the Wall
83 London Wall


Timeless Memory

Another year, another mid-November Sunday and another moving Remembrance Day in London, throughout the United Kingdom and around the world. Traditionally the first Sunday that follows the official Remembrance Day on the 11th November that marks the end of World War I in 1918, red paper poppy flowers resemble the poppies that bloomed across the worst areas of trench warfare across the battlefields of Flanders that is also recalled in Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae's notorious poem, "In Flanders Fields" from 1915. First introduced in 1921 after a YMCA Overseas War Secretaries' Conference - American humanitarian Moina Michael conceived the use of artificial silk poppies - the idea was adopted by Field Marshall Douglas Haig who founded the Royal British Legion, which has sold the timeless red paper poppy with green leaf and black plastic bud ever since. Simple in design, yet complex in the memories that it embodies, today we must never forget the sacrifice of life ninety-two years ago as well as the ultimate sacrifices that are being taken everyday by young men and women in the armed forces in the Middle East. Visit the Royal British Legion for information about the Poppy Appeal 2010 and more details on the charitable support and service the Legion provides to ex-Service personnel and their families.


American Dream In 4D

The Christmas run-up got a lot more competitive in London yesterday night. Ralph Lauren, the Polo set emporium that pioneered aspirational lifestyle advertising, literally introduced a new dimension to the American Dream with a four-dimensional light, sound and sensory display (the label's new Big Pony fragrance was infused in the air) projected onto the fashion house's New Bond Street House Flagship store. Ralph's son, David, has been given the reigns of the brand's digital arm with the launch of an international website and virtual store that turns aspiration into a reality and will see the world of 4D gallop pass the awkward 3D revival. Find out more about the 4D project here and if you missed yesterday's night spectacle check it out below - fragrance not included... yet.


Baby It's Cold Outside

I like nothing more than a Lady in fur and with the bitter threats of an Arctic effect forecast on our English Roses, art photographer Nienke Klunder shows how the ladies of Treviso, Italy work it in winter. Klunder uses the presentation of series throughout her practice to create enticing cinematic portraiture around themes of feminine identity and transformation. Visit the artist's official website here and warm up with these images appropriately titled Fur Series...


Hot Wheels

Recently my subconscious must be craving for the ecstasy that is Pop Art - maybe it's the weather here in England (as it always is) or the fact my life has taken a bit of curveball these past couple weeks - either way I figure I might as well go with the flow and show you these cruise-worthy wheel covers by spin maestro Damien Hirst. Ironically the term 'spinner' already exists in the customised automobile world made popular over the last seven years by American rappers and celebrities. Hirst offers his own take on the spinner with a bespoke wheel cover wrapped with his famous spin painting design that now features on everything from jeans to skulls that probably caters for precisely those rappers and celebrities. It's guaranteed you won't find these on the long list of added extras from the accessories list at your car dealership so if you're thinking of injecting your Range Rover with a splash of colour or have your Rolls portray your art world bravado as you rock up to a private view, then contact Other Criteria for enquires about these bespoke beauties.