Tag Archives: Tipping points

2011 ➤ Oo-er, Metamodernists say: Go forth and oscillate

Annunciations,installations, Luke Turner, photography,Metamodernism,manifesto, fine art

Annunciations (installation view), 2011 © by Luke Turner: The Annunciations series revolves around the experience of art, the visual realm, and the ghosts of art history

❚ YOU READ IT HERE FIRST. As the V&A’s exhibition on Postmodernism lays bare the cultural malaise of recent decades, a bright new dawn is announced  “with emphatic optimism (and a pragmatic romanticism)” by the publication of “The Metamodernist manifesto”…

  1. We recognise oscillation to be the natural order of the world.
  2. We must liberate ourselves from the inertia resulting from a century of modernist ideological naivety and the cynical insincerity of its antonymous bastard child.
  3. Movement shall henceforth be enabled by way of an oscillation between positions, with diametrically opposed ideas operating like the pulsating polarities of some colossal electric machine, propelling the world into action…

➢ Continue reading The Metamodernist manifesto

➢ Luke Turner’s Annunciations 2011 reviewed by Siobhan Wall — “Each photograph in Annunciations is named after a famous Renaissance painting, and it’s apparent that these largely abstract images are a carefully considered distillation of what lies beyond the figurative and literal in the well-known masterpieces…”

➢ Notes on metamodernism is the webzine that documents current developments in politics and aesthetics that can no longer be explained in terms of the postmodern, proposing instead “a sensibility that oscillates between modern positions and postmodern strategies; between construction and deconstruction (indeed, reconstruction); a desire for sens and a doubt about the sense of it all; between sincerity and irony; hope and melancholy”.

Peter Doig, Figure in Mountain Landscape, New Romanticism,Death of Painting,

Peter Doig, Figure in Mountain Landscape, 1997-8

➢ The new New Romanticism — “the act of presenting the commonplace with significance, the ordinary with the mysterious, etc, and this undertaking’s inevitable and necessary failure… But why now? … To express a dissatisfaction about a present that is increasingly uninhabitable, and a desire for a future whose blueprint has yet to be drawn”.

➢ Peter Doig and the “Death of Painting”  — “His work explores a tension between the designs of humanity and the wild, natural world it has to reckon with… He seems to paint about painting, each canvas becomes an allegory of the strangely beautiful problems, inadequacies and imperfections of creative vision.”

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2011 ➤ England’s dotty Simpson who inspired the Pythons

playwright, N F Simpson, obituary, One Way Pendulum , Resounding Tinkle ,theatre,

Playwright N F Simpson: a very English absurdist. Photographed © by Luca Sage

❚ N F SIMPSON, THE DRAMATIST, died this week aged 92. The Observer critic Kenneth Tynan dubbed Simpson “the most gifted comic writer the English stage has discovered since the war” after seeing the double bill of A Resounding Tinkle and The Hole  in 1958. And after One Way Pendulum (1959), he suspected Simpson of possessing “the subtlest mind ever devoted by an Englishman to the writing of farce”…

➢ The Daily Telegraph obituary continues…

… His focus on the surreal was influenced by The Goon Show and in turn influenced Monty Python and Peter Cook… Simpson was one of the four principal writers to establish the English Stage Company’s influential regime at the Royal Court Theatre in the late 1950s. The others in that first batch were John Osborne, John Arden and Ann Jellicoe. But in a movement whose central work was Osborne’s Look Back In Anger, Simpson was spiritually an outsider.

➢ Michael Coveney says in today’s Guardian obituary:

The playwright NF Simpson, was generally identified with the Theatre of the Absurd movement alongside Eugène Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. But Simpson was peculiarly and singularly English in his absurdism. He turned suburban characters into weird chatterboxes and language into highly imaginative chop logic, and mixed a comic brew that derived more recognisably from the worlds of Lewis Carroll, W S Gilbert and the Goons, without the puerile edge that came along with Monty Python…

➢ Michael Billington calls Simpson a blissfully funny and deeply English dramatist — in The Guardian today

The plays of N F ‘Wally’ Simpson, were hilariously subversive, yet masked a deeply philosophical mind … He was often compared with Eugène Ionesco. But I always thought he belonged to a deeply English tradition of word-spinning, logic-twisting absurdity. Simpson’s real ancestors were Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and the Goons. His legatees were Peter Cook, the Monty Python gang and the Goodies…

One Way Pendulum ,N F Simpson , Woodfall Films, John Cleese ,Jonathan Miller ,Dick Lester,
➢ VIEW A CLIP from One Way Pendulum as Jonathan Miller conducts his choir of weighing machines

❏ This short clip from the 1964 Woodfall film of One Way Pendulum only hints at the Simpson universe. John Cleese saw the film in a cinema in Weston Supermare and called it a true classic of surrealist comedy. It is directed by Peter Yates with Jonathan Miller as the dotty Kirby, the son of a dotty father (Eric Sykes) in a dottily obsessive suburban household. Kirby retunes a choir of Speak-Your-Weight machines and trains them to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. All except one obey his bidding.

Simpson’s vision directly inspired a whole generation of comedy in the UK from Dick Lester’s Beatles movies (1964-5) to the Monty Python TV series (1969-74) and beyond. It was One Way Pendulum that took Simpson from the Royal Court theatre into the West End and in 1988 Jonathan Miller revived it at the Old Vic. Simpson’s final play, If So, Then Yes, was staged only last year.

➢ Reality is an Illusion Caused by Lack of N F Simpson was a documentary broadcast in April 2007 on Radio 4

If So Then Yes, N F Simpson,Jermyn Street theatre,David Quantick❏ David Quantick appraised playwright N F ‘Wally’ Simpson as one of the foremost absurdists of the 20th century. The documentary featured material recorded at a workshop for a new play, If So, Then Yes, his first full-length piece in 30 years. It charts a day in the life of octogenarian writer Geoffrey Wythenshaw, who sits down to dictate his autobiography from the comfort of a retirement home for the upper crust. After its Royal Court reading it then played at the Jermyn Street theatre during September 2010.


➤ Does chart-topper Adele really need to be on the Mercury shortlist?

Mercury Music Prize 2011, shortlist,

Mercury Music Prize 2011 shortlist: 12 contenders for album of the year

Bring Me The Horizon, Mercury Prize, shortlist 2011, Guardian poll,music❚ BRING ME THE HORIZON (pictured), a British metalcore band from Sheffield, topped a Guardian reader poll (now closed) to predict contenders for this year’s Mercury Prize 2011 shortlist for albums of the year. Announced today, girls include Adele, Katy B and P J Harvey, with Elbow and Tinie Tempah among the boys, but not many bands. Amazingly the Guardianistas’ favourite metal band does not get a mention. Two months to wait for the awards themselves.

➢ View Guardian video verdicts on the
Mercury Music Prize nominees

Is the Mercury Prize there to reward commercial success? Guardian music supremo Caspar Llewellyn Smith says the shortlist calls into question what the prize is for: “If Adele’s on the Mercury shortlist, why don’t you have Take That as well?” — Caroline Sullivan, Tim Jonze and Smith review the runners for 2011.

➢ In the Telegraph, chief rock critic Neil McCormick believes this shortlist is the start of a new sound in pop

It is an interesting Mercury Prize list this year, that suggests to me a nation of adventurous musical talent, stirring a bubbling cauldron of musical possibilities, and starting to forge something new. This is the sound of pop at a crossroads, looking out towards new horizons. It’s interesting how well all these albums actually sit together, from the mainstream pop successes of Adele, Katy B and Tinie Tempah to the dreamy underground experimentation of James Blake and Ghostpoet; the intelligent, emotional songcraft of Elbow, PJ Harvey, Anna Calvi and King Creosote & Jon Hopkins to the multifarious genre adventures of Everything Everything and Metronomy…

❏ FOOTNOTE Tell the Guardian how good or otherwise you thought their seven-day survey A History of Modern Music — in the course of which there isn’t one, NOT ONE direct reference to J-a-a-a-a-ames Brown, the father of funk.


1981 ➤ “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals” — the world is alerted to the Aids epidemic

❚ 30 YEARS AGO TODAY, a report in The New York Times brought first confirmation to the public of the sudden and puzzling appearance of a fatal form of cancer which one year later would be termed AIDS (for acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

In May 1981, two Los Angeles doctors submitted a brief account of five of their patients to the US Centers for Disease Control’s newsletter, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Dated June 4, this was the first clinical description of the disorder. The Los Angeles Times reported under the headline, Outbreaks of Pneumonia Among Gay Males Studied: “Researchers are investigating mysterious outbreaks of pneumonia that have occurred among male homosexuals in Los Angeles and several other cities.”

A month later, the CDC ran another bulletin [linked below]. Doctors from New York and California were seeing another rare disease in gay men. “During the past 30 months, Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS), an uncommonly reported malignancy in the United States, has been diagnosed in 26 homosexual men.”

The New York Times received an advance copy of the report and ran its first article on the syndrome on July 3. It mixed together deaths from Pneumocystis pneumonia and KS and was headlined: Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals…

New York Times, Aids, first report

By Lawrence K. Altman
Published: July 3, 1981

Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer. Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made.

The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion. But the doctors who have made the diagnoses, mostly in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area, are alerting other physicians who treat large numbers of homosexual men to the problem in an effort to help identify more cases and to reduce the delay in offering chemotherapy treatment.

Alvin E. Friedman-Kien,New York University, Medical Center

Friedman-Kien: “rather devastating”

The sudden appearance of the cancer, called Kaposi’s Sarcoma, has prompted a medical investigation that experts say could have as much scientific as public health importance because of what it may teach about determining the causes of more common types of cancer.

In a letter alerting other physicians to the problem, Dr Alvin E. Friedman-Kien of New York University Medical Center, one of the investigators, described the appearance of the outbreak as ‘rather devastating’.

➢ Read the full “Rare Cancer” report in The New York Times, July 3, 1981

➢ Pneumocystis Pneumonia — Los Angeles: MMWR 1981, June 5; 30 (21); 1-3
➢ Kaposi’s sarcoma and Pneumocystis pneumonia among homosexual men — New York City and California: Friedman-Kien A; Laubenstein L; Marmor M; et al. MMWR 1981, July 4; 30: 305 (#J0005787)
➢ Aids timeline at AVERT, an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK: “In the United Kingdom it is estimated that 1 in 4 people who are living with HIV do not know they are infected as they have not been diagnosed”


➤ The Blitz Kids WATN? No 28, Stephen Linard

drakes-london,Stephen Linard,British tailoring, haberdashery,Drake’s,Michael Hill,luxury shops, Clifford Street , London

Former Blitz Kid and St Martin’s fashion graduate Stephen Linard: today he is a designer with Drake’s, the gentlemen’s haberdasher, seen here at a staff preview for the opening of its first shop just off Savile Row. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

❚ WACKIEST AMONG THE 80s BLITZ KID RACERS was Stephen Linard, the Essex boy who nevertheless graduated from St Martin’s art school with a first-class degree in menswear 30 years ago this summer. Modelled by six of his hunky clubland pals, his collection titled Reluctant Emigrés featured swishy draped greatcoats, pinstripe trousers and city shirts that all evinced an Edwardian air of immaculate tailoring while declaring edgy details with organza and contrast patches. Amid the women’s outfits shown by most of the other fashion graduates, Linard’s chic street-savvy lads had a gasp-out-loud impact, as commentator Suzy Menkes noted after the show. The influential South Molton Street shop Browns immediately wanted to develop the range, but Stephen decided instead to sell his original garments to a short-lived synthpop band called Animal Magnet. “I needed the money,” he says now in a shocking confession of short-termism.

A hugely original and resourceful talent, Stephen was feted by the fashion press upon graduation. His high-visibility fashion leads were key among the 15 sharpest Blitz Kids who shaped the New Romantics silhouette from Covent Garden’s Blitz club — Stephen Jones, Kim Bowen, Lee Sheldrick, Helen Robinson, Melissa Caplan, Fiona Dealey, Judi Frankland, Michele Clapton, David Holah, Stevie Stewart, Julia Fodor, Dinny Hall, Simon Withers and über-wag Chris Sullivan were the others. Most significantly, Linard advertised his bizarre imagination by changing his appearance on an almost daily basis, from his foppish Fauntleroy dandy, to the Endangered Species outfit made from animal skins, to the Bonnie Prince Charlie tartans copied for his character in Worried About the Boy, last year’s TV biodrama on Boy George, who became a soulmate the moment Stephen walked into Billy’s club, where the Swinging 80s were hatched in 1978.

So… where is he now, the dignified Stephen Linard pictured this month sporting a three-button, three-piece linen suit in a faded shade of indigo, and handmade in Venice? Well, since 1989 Stephen has been on the design team at Drake’s, the respected men’s haberdasher which has just opened its first shop at No 3 Clifford Street, just off Savile Row, the global epicentre of serious tailoring. Those with fond memories of Bowring Arundel & Co — for whom Stephen’s late father once supplied handmade leather goods — have welcomed the arrival of the new shop.  Though Drake’s was founded in 1977, the firm has never had its own retail outlet.

Michael Drake, a former head of design at Aquascutum, was its co-founder (and incidentally, “my grandmother’s nephew,” Stephen said). He began making the finest accessories, from cashmere scarves and printed silk handkerchiefs to knitwear, shirts and the elegant neckwear that has made Drake’s the largest independent producer of handmade ties in England. It enjoys a prodigious export market, by designing collections for international luxury shops and collaborating with such style-leaders as the Japanese fashion label Commes des Garçons.

drakes-london,British tailoring, Clifford Street,London, Michael Drake, handmade ties, haberdashery,Adam Dant

The young Linard by artist Adam Dant: lining this antique vitrine at Drake’s new shop is a busy tableau of life at the firm’s Clerkenwell factory. At lower left we see a youthful portrait of the designer alongside some of the handmade ties in fine Shantung silk Drake’s is renowned for. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

Today the creative director Michael Hill encourages his designers to refresh the seasonal ranges with new textiles, both for readymade production and for bespoke handcrafting at Drake’s workrooms in the artisan quarter of Georgian Clerkenwell. A revival of bespoke suit-making has seen a new appetite for accessories in raw shantung and Indian tussah silk — its slubbed texture playing well with both formal suits and casual jackets — as well as traditional madder silk from Macclesfield in Cheshire, where Stephen is a frequent visitor ensuring that exacting standards are met.

A stylish touch to Drake’s new strategy has been to recruit the impish graphic artist Adam Dant, whose witty drawings adorn the shop and the stylishly written Drake’s website. In particular it commissioned him to create one of the Hogarthian “mockuments” which won him the Jerwood Prize. Rather like flowcharts, these reveal the inner workings of an institution and its people, and Dant’s depiction of Drake’s Clerkenwell factory provides the lining to one antique vitrine, formerly property of the Victoria and Albert museum and now in Clifford Street, displaying shantung ties and enormously long (in the Italian style) knee-socks.

Included among Dant’s portraits of colleagues who are said to have influenced Michael Drake is Stephen Linard’s and it echoes an emblematic photograph published in i-D magazine in which he wears a Yohji jacket and jaunty Confederate Army leather cap, “bought in Anchorage airport in the days when I was rich — bathtubs filled with champagne”. This is a reminder of the period 1983–86 when he lived in Tokyo designing for Jun Co, the fashion giant, on a salary which, he liked to boast, exceeded the prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s. In the mid-80s, to be an English designer brought you popstar status in Japan, as those fellow Blitz Kids Stephen Jones and Lee Sheldrick also discovered.

drakes-london,British tailoring, Clifford Street,London, Michael Drake, handmade ties, haberdashery,Adam Dant

Close-up of the portrait: Linard is one of many talents associated with Drake’s who have been captured by the artist Adam Dant. His reference was a photograph dating from 1983 — note the ornamental bath tap. Courtesy of Adam Dant and Drake’s

The 1983 look that inspired the portrait: Stephen Linard sports a leather Confederate Army cap $15 from Alaska, and Yohji Yamamoto jacket £250, over giant-collared Yohji shirt £120. Artfully placed on his left lapel is a silvered bathroom tap £60 and faucet brooch £40, both from a jewellery collection for Chloe, Paris. Seen here with Lee Sheldrick (rear) and Steve Strange at the Worlds End fashion show in Paris that October. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

Long before he joined the “Japanese invasion” effected by Britain’s emergent new wave of streetwise fashionistas, Stephen had gained the admiration of the international fashion glossies. With 1983 came his collection Angels With Dirty Faces, inspired by the Bogart-Cagney gangster movie set in the 30s depression. It was both pretty and poignant and it sold worldwide. That year, the snappiest magazine of the day, New York, headlined a special fashion section The British Are Here, and selected as the UK’s five leading lights Jean Muir, Zandra Rhodes, Katharine Hamnett, Vivienne Westwood — and Stephen Linard, “one of the most creative of the young designers”.

Linard designs from his heyday: bias-cut tea dress, $100 in Bloomingdale’s, from his 1983 Angels With Dirty Faces collection, here photographed by Tony McGee for New York magazine. Right, Neil Tennant wears a Reluctant Emigrés topcoat by Linard in the Pet Shop Boys video for West End Girls (Parlophone 1984)

Stephen’s clothes had always been sought after by his popstar contemporaries from Spandau Ballet, Boy George and The Slits, to U2, Womack & Womack, even Cliff Richard and Johnny Mathis, and ultimately to the great god David Bowie himself. (Stephen had to turn down the invitation to go on location to appear in the Ashes to Ashes video in 1980 “because I was on a disciplinary warning at St Martin’s over attendance”!) His Reluctant Emigrés collection enjoyed a curiously long life and in 1984 we see Neil Tennant lording it in one of the black linen topcoats in the Pet Shop Boys video for West End Girls, their first single which went to No 1 in the UK and US.

Many Linard looks have been coveted by the fashionistas but, as with so many gifted designers, let’s say a head for business came second to his eye for fashion. The timing of funds hit the rocks in more than one of Stephen’s creatively successful ventures, and decades ago he complained loudly that the St Martin’s fashion department didn’t do enough to equip graduates with basic business skills. (This, we are assured, has since been addressed by the college.) In the end it wasn’t surprising that he accepted the offer to join the Drake’s family, which seems to have dealt him a lucky hand.

One tip for wearing the perfect handmade tie? “Never tuck the smaller blade through the ‘keeper’— the loop on the back of the large blade. Much more stylish to let it flap free. Like undoing the button-cuff on your jacket, to show you don’t care.”

drakes-london,British tailoring, Clifford Street,London,Augustin Vidor, Michael Drake, handmade ties, haberdashery,Stephen Linard

The new shop in Clifford Street: Linard joined the Drake’s design team in 1989 whereas sales assistant Augustin Vidor is currently an intern. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s