I know that for many people Bury sounds anything but exciting. If you live in a big city there is always a danger to start believing that all truly great things are located, planted, and happening in your vicinity. Bury is being scorned so often, it is almost hard to imagine that it is also inhabited by people.
If you read this and feel for Bury, then you will be pleased to know that there is a lovely art gallery there. Admittedly, it is small. It is located in a quiet street, in an 18th c. building, and when you enter it you will be impressed by the staircase. Once you are on the staircase, however, you should be even more impressed by one of the 19th c. representations of Dante’s story of Paolo and Francesca; the painting hangs just above the stairs. Venture further into the collection, and you will find one of Turner’s seascapes, a selection of works by local painters, as well as a massive Chinese chimney. How good is that for a local art gallery that lies forgotten somewhere in the north of Greater Manchester?
Bury Art Gallery has strong links with the MET, and 2009 has seen the gallery hosting exhibitions by contemporary artists who work to fuse words and images, as part of Text Festival. So, if you are wondering about what to do this coming weekend, take a tram to Bury and see the art gallery for yourself. You will love it.
I noticed that Flickr link in my Lijit widget wasn’t working. I corrected it but I thought I’d use the opportunity to give you a peek at my “private” Flickr life.
I started using the site in 2007, partly because of Robin Hamman‘s paeans. I’ve loved photography already but as with blogging it took overcoming a certain inner hurdle to start putting the photos up for all to see.
I love Flickr; in May, during Futuresonic Festival, I even delivered a talk on Online Photography; and before then in January I wrote a lengthy article on how (not) to use Flickr. Working as a Social Media Manager, I notice, of course, that nobody uses Flickr as they “should”, myself including. But it’s good to strive to use it better.
Flickr is an ocean, deep, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous. They upped security and safety levels, and you can always ask to take you “to kittens” but chances are, you will keep looking. I don’t think it will be totally bad if a young person stumbles upon the imagery of sexual kind. My concern is whether or not there will be a sensible adult with them to explain things.
As for me, I was amazed when last year I got followed by the multitudes of leather fans. I love leather clothes, so this season I don’t even have to try to be fashionable. But to have your own self-portrait in leather pants and hand-made sweater accumulating views and comments was something different.
My experience of Flickr has been great, all the more so because for the second time a photo I took was included in Schmap City Guide. In 2007, one photo was featured in Schmap Liverpool Guide. In 2009, another photo (which you will not find in my personal photostream) got included in Schmap Manchester Guide. It was made at one of the events where I went as my company’s employee, and it is credited to the company.
So, by way of giving a few pointers to what you’re going to find if you visit my Flickr:
First of all, I have a fair bit of Scorpio in me, astrologically speaking, and so this year I have been creating “Freudian” or otherwise weirdly coincidental situations for my Piscean friends. In one of these, I saw myself presenting a postcard with two birds to a friend who is soon to get married – totally forgetting, as a matter of fact, that his surname was Bird. And just yesterday I was meeting my friend Adrian to go to the poetry readings at the Bury Met, a part of Text Festival – and we both turned up wearing something green. Maybe there is nothing strange about these coincidents at all. Maybe. Or maybe not.
I am certainly grateful to Adrian for inviting me: Bury, like Heaton Park, is among the places in Greater Manchester that I never visited, in spite of living nearby for a long time. I considered going back and taking some pictures today, but after a walk in Bury streets and a short journey through Manchester’s Northern Quarter, also meeting Kate The Machizzle and Carol Batton (see the image above), I, to paraphrase Ringo Starr, had blisters on my toes.
What will never stop surprising me about these lovely provincial towns is the fact that you are sometimes almost advised against going there, let alone staying to live. Bury has always been described to me as a “hole”, and a lady I studied with at the University of Manchester finally left Bury for Altrincham a couple of years ago, to her great delight. But just for the record, this is the latte I was served yesterday at the Automatic cafe, next to the Bury MET, and upon my word this was the first instance of latte art in my nearly 6 years in Greater Manchester. And I do love and very often drink latte, so it isn’t like I’m much behind the latte art developments. Here you go.
Adrian took to prosaically and very cleverly reflect on the readings in his post The Tale of Two Carols (which title is a play on words by itself, as you may notice). Indeed, in a magic twist (it must have something to do with all this water signs thing), in the matter of days we were greeted, first, by the news of Carol Ann Duffy being appointed the new poet laureate; and then by the reading by Carol Watts. Adrian uttered what we both agreed upon while sipping on beverages at Manchester’s Centro, having come back from Bury. The problem is always about the genres and movements that often collide but never reconcile. Even if totally devoid of any political content, poetry – or literature, or art as a whole – often turns into a battleground of ideologies, in the broadest sense of the word, and thus falls prey to demagogy and factional politics. This segregation and sequestration come at the expense of progressive movement, but who needs progress, anyway? Modern “traditionalist” poetry denies the avant-garde poetry; the avant-garde poetry will denounce the traditional; the funny thing will be, of course, that both to one extent or another will be drawing inspiration from Dadaist or Surrealist legacy, maybe Rimbaud, and invariably using the same language, as the other. The dispute boils down to the form and the content, but very rarely does it take the language further in its development. When I hear someone Russian exulting that we write and speak the language of Pushkin and Dostoevsky, I cringe: both authors died in the 19th c. It should rather be a matter of great sadness that two centuries later we haven’t moved forward much. We should by all means seek to reproduce the impact of their writings for our age, but we should be doing so by reinventing the language, which is precisely what Pushkin did in his lifetime.
As for me, I narrated my thoughts in the fashion that most became the occasion, and here is yet another Bury Poem (uncommissioned, of course).
Centaur with a sting
I travel through
People and places
Leaving my mark
As my verses
So versatile is this life
That it would be sad
To always be sat
In one place
With nowhere to go
So with ingenious help
From one Latin rule
“Versatile” becomes “vertical”
And every stanza you write
Plunges deeper below the fold
Descends to the page’s bottom
Poets and artists sometimes
Live in Ramsbottom
Salford and Bury
Rather than London or Rome
In places like these
Poetry died and is buried
Under the sun in the marketplace
On the tram in the playground
On the spot where someone said
What – ever is so poetic becomes
Also tragic and doomed
And stanzas stretch into prose
Covering burial grounds
It’s not long before
Poetry goes back to Chaos
Where language abandons the tongue
Whoever they are
Poets are Scorpio Rising
Buried below the fold
Cherished for all the wrong reasons
Marking their way with the leaves
Of chrome yellow paper
And notebooks with the scribbles
Vertical or horizontal
Rising forever in verses…