1. Is this your first TOAF ?
The second, I visited the very first TOAF at the Bargehouse.
2. Can you tell us more about your performance and what are the main ideas behind it ? ‘Urizen & Los Eternal Scribe’ derives from a series of sandpaper drawings made for ‘Illuminations’ at the Dragon Café last November.
It was organised by Helen Elwes & Stephen Micalef for the Blake Congregation and coincided with the 255 year anniversary of William Blake’s death. I wanted to make a performance that looked directly at the creative impulse, and touch on some of the mythical figures in Blake’s work. ‘Urizen’ is Blake’s figure of absolute reason and law; through participation I wanted visitors to become his opposite ‘Los’, the eternal artist representing pure imagination. To do this people can etch drawings and text into his sandpaper hair and shackles, Urizen is represented as in Blake as an ancient bearded man.
3. How do you start the process of ‘creating’ a performance piece ?
On this occasion it came from the sandpaper drawings and a deeper interest in the mythology, but more generally the starting point comes from the qualities found in a place or point in time, its layers and histories. It is not often I would be inspired by a ‘white cube’ environment, the character of a place an important inspiration for my performances. As TOAF is an event where artists are to the fore I thought Urizen could be a counterpoint, how will the artists react to him?
4. Do you consider the viewer, when making your work ?
With ‘Urizen and Los’ viewers can become physically involved, so are implicit in the process of making. The sandpaper was chosen so that people can scratch into it easily, but not too easily. Whatever the aural, physical or visual aspects of an artwork it is those that experience it that take it to unexpected places, the intention is just the beginning.
5. What will people see if they come to your performance ?
They will see the mighty but aged Urizen bound by the eternal chains of reason. They will also see a man dressed head-to-toe in sandpaper. The drawings made on Urizen become more layered each performance so it depends when they arrive as to what exactly they will see.
6. Will you be producing any work for TOAF ?
I will also be showing a set of my scalpel drawings on different thicknesses of sandpaper between P80 (roughest) to P180 (smoothest). Each drawing is created by scratching into the sandpaper for exactly 1 hour. Inspired particularly by William Blake’s ‘Auguries of Innocence’ they mix remembrance of his vision with contemporary tropes.
“To see a world in a grain of sand / And a heaven in a wild flower / Hold infinity in the palm of your hand / And eternity in an hour.” William Blake, ‘Auguries of Innocence’, 1803
7. Final Question what else do you have coming up ?
I am making a small wooden carving, an imagined likeness of ‘Mausollos of Halicarnassus’ from inside which you can listen to a specially mixed soundtrack of sins. This is at the Stearne Mausoleum in Nunhead Cemetery, for ‘Seven Deadly Virtues’ on every weekend in May, 11am-5pm – www.fonc.org.uk/seven-deadly-virtuesl
Later in May I am doing a mini-residency in Marseille/Provence, France with Miyuki Kasahara; to find out more go to decentrederspace.org/artists
Also in other more musical personas I will be appearing with Lonesome Cowboys from Hell on 5th May at Red Gallery – www.lonesomecowboysfromhell.com and continuing to travel interdimensionally with Flange Zoo – www.soundcloud.com/flangezoo
You can see Calum perform Urizen & Los Eternal Scribe at The Other Art Fair Thursday 25th April
From 6pm to 9pm www.theotherartfair.com