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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Who's that moustachioed Mexican with his arm around a totem pole..?

Bushy MushI hope he's being paid to look that stupid.

Anyhoo, my Mummy came down to Brighton yesterday to visit me and laugh at my moustache, so I got my own back by insisting she go out with me in public. That soon wiped the smile off her face. Having read yesterday's report about Big Sis rising from the ashes of Phoenix, I decided to take my Mum to the Phoenix Gallery, which is slightly nearer than Arizona, situated as it is in the centre of Brighton.

They've got two exhibitions on at the moment, one a collection of totem poles, the other a load of felt tip pen drawings. No, really.

It actually turned out to be very good. I didn't understand a lot of it, but hey, you can't let your own ignorance get in the way of your enjoyment of art. Jim Sanders' totem poles (or "totemic figures" if you read the programme) consisted of eight-foot bits of wood to which had been nailed numerous bits of junk. Or as the guide so eloquently put it, "found materials". That included thousands of bottle tops, can tops, sardine tins, animal bones, rusty chisels, a jelly mould and a sachet of vinegar. Not to mention some items that only ever get thrown away, such as empty cigarette packets and a leaflet from the Jehovah's Witnesses. One totem even included a passport and a page from a Tintin book. I'm not sure why.

WoodTwo of the figures represented Jesus and the Virgin Mary, but as the photo above proves, I chose to cuddle up to Satan instead. He looked a lot warmer. I particularly liked the totem pole with breasts, and the one on the right had a penis made out of a table leg. Or possibly it's a bedknob.

Anyway, it was all quite inspiring. Particularly for someone like me who doesn't recycle. But ironically, the forest of totem poles wasn't really the main reason I went. I actually wanted to see these...

Phelt Tip Phil
Ten-foot wide pictures drawn entirely in felt tip. It's enough to make a six-year-old froth at the mouth. I have to say, I loved these. There's something surprisingly entertaining about staring at a felt tip pen mural for ten minutes and spotting Ainsley Harriott, Darth Vader and Mr Potato Head. My Mum and I spent a good half hour trying to work out the connection between the hundreds of items in each ten-foot picture, before finally accepting that if Bagpuss is nestled between a kettle, a Cabbage Patch Kid and a picture of Theseus slaying the Minotaur, then that's just the way it is.

Super, Smashing, Great.Here's me with Arthur Scargill and Jim Bowen. You can't beat a bit o' bully. And Arthur was quite a major one.

As a lifelong fan of colouring in, the artist Martin Symons is now a major hero of mine, so I plan to return to the gallery on October 13th when he's creating a giant collaborative 'felt-tip medley' with the help of members of the public. I asked Lisa last night if she wants to come with me, and she replied "But I can't draw". She clearly knows nothing about modern art.