Ninth Award: Black Secret Technology by A Guy Called Gerald

I listened to this album yesterday and it just about moved me to tears for all the wasted potential of my youth.

The music is very beautiful and it threw me strongly into involuntary reflection of my past. The sense of naive promise and ambition, along with all of what I don’t like to think about because it’s upsetting to recall.

The tears welled up, but they never grew large enough to roll down my face.

It’s twenty years since I heard this music. I used to own a copy on CD, but I lent it to someone back in 1997 or 98 and never got it back.

Listening to it now because I wanted to recommend to my nineteen year old nephew some of the electronic music which I used to like when I was his kind of age.

Black Secret Technology (1995) by A Guy Called Gerald


Eighth Award: Untitled Sculpture, by Hannah Levy

Went to Freize Art fair in London today.

I decided to give a B. S. Art Prize for my favourite thing, which was this sculpture by Hannah Levy, on display at the Casey Kaplan booth (F7 for anyone visiting the fair).

The work consists of a stainless steel framework with these very nice clawed hands which stretch the thick rubbery membrane tight. It looks to me like it wants to be sat on, but the central up-thrusting section of the framework makes this impractical. Anyway, I liked it a lot.


Seventh Award: Gestalt Award: Lawrence, The Man And His Works

Lawrence is someone who I’ve known for several years through my day-job in a public library. He is quite mindful of his privacy, so we’ve agreed to not use his full name here.

Lawrence writes poems and occasionally makes pictures and we often talk because we share some interests in common, especially in the area of science fiction, and general speculation, etc. I would also say that Lawrence in interested in art, although he’s not very keen on most of what he’s seen of the contemporary art scene.

We tend to disagree on certain points… spiritual matters, or whether it’s worth reading modern science fiction, etc.

I recently organised a community art exhibition at the library and Lawrence produced a picture especially.


Sixth Award: Liberty Rowley (and Anna Minchell), for The London Arts Board

The London Arts Board is a disused municipal notice board in Camberwell, South London, which has been re-purposed since 2012 as an exhibition space by the artist Liberty Rowley.

The London Arts Board has slightly obsessed me ever since I first heard of it. The name is humorous, and adds to the appeal, but the exhibition program is taken seriously and the independent spirit and no-nonsense approach of getting things done with no need for any budget or backing is inspiring.

Special recognition is also given here to Anna Minchell who has taken over the curating and running of the LAB since earlier this year.


Fifth Award: Dancing Lady, by Andrea Lo

This picture was submitted for an exhibition which I recently organised in a local public library.

If I were to try to describe why it appeals to me so much, I would have to say that it is something to do with combination of the bizzare/surreal and the girly/camp and kitsch qualities of the picture and the way in which they come together with this interesting technique of colouring in and outlining the shapes produced from marbling the paper.

Also, I like the slightly incongruous looking addition of the wine bottle, which kind of breaks the rigorous adherence to the system, and which could perhaps as easily be seen as naive, or as a sign of cynical sophistication…

And the dancing lady looks as though she’s having the time of her life!


Fourth Award: Climb, by Juliana Cerqueira Leite

In order to create this sculpture, Juliana Cerqueira Leite built a tall wooden column filled with nearly three tons of wet clay. Starting from the bottom of the structure, she then dug her way upwards using her hands – tunneling and climbing in the dark until she reached the top. Afterwards, a cast was made of the interior, and when solidified, the wet clay was excavated to reveal the positive form of her climb. It is a rough looking knobbly column, all over covered with protuberances which bear the forms of smeared fingers, toes, knees and elbows – a physical record of improvised handholds and footholds etc, used during it’s creation.

I am often quite partial to a really good process and this one of my favourite examples which I’ve come across. I think it’s really the physical immediacy of my imagination of that process which I like so much. I can so readily imagine the sensations of being wedged half-way up that dark chimney of wet clay slowly scraping away at the ceiling and I find these thoughts very appealing.

This work is currently on display (until June 2020) as part of Sculpture in the City, in the city of London.


Progress Report and Statement of Intent

The B. S. Art Prize has been getting off to a slow start. But now that the administrative side of things is pretty much in order and that I’ve got my retrospective awards out of the way I hope to be able to focus on the original concept of presenting on-the-spot prizes for new (or newly discovered) work.

I’ve not done very well so far at realizing the idea of on-the-spot prizes but I do still see it as a possible kind of ideal encounter to aspire to and it will be interesting to see how such encounters work out in reality. I hope to award some new prizes before too long, although I’ve been feeling too busy and too much behind schedule on my own work to be getting out and about much, but I hope to make some gradual changes in my habits, and then I may be more likely to be in the right position to make discoveries.

Another goal is to try to stop awarding prizes to anonymous persons. Sometimes it is necessary, but I really want to be able to hand the majority of awards to actual people.

Third Award: Andrew Broad, for Manic Miner: Neighbours – Allana Truman

This is another retrospective award which I have been meaning to do for some time!

Manic Miner: Neighbours – Allana Truman is a 2004 game for the obsolete but formerly very popular Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer.

It is a new version of Matthew Smith’s classic 1983 early platform game Manic Miner. In fact, more technically it is a re-definition of the rooms of Manic Miner – the original game is still underneath, but the graphics and level designs have been altered. This means that it is can still be played on original hardware, or (more likely) via an emulator. This is also absolutely fundamental to the nature of Andrew Broad’s practice. He has a special genius for designing extremely challenging and interesting rooms, which can sometimes only be completed by exploiting quirks and glitches of the original game engine – in fact, you are unlikely to get very far with any of his more challenging MM games unless you carefully read the tips and suggestions provided in his extensive README files. The README files also provide context for the level designs and gameplay and form an intrinsic part of the full experience – hints to aid your imagination in building the strange world of Ramsay Street as filtered through Manic Miner and Andrew Broad.


Second Award: Street Intervention By Anonymous Persons

There is a particular route which I commonly take to go home at night. It takes me through an underpass beneath a busy triple-carriageway, then past a bus stop on the other side of the road. At the bus stop there’s a shelter and a round black rubbish bin made of rugged plastic. As I said, this is a very busy, noisy road, and the pavement runs alongside a high brick embankment which form the back wall of a row of garages and a barrier to the housing blocks behind. The embankment is topped by wild looking shrubs and undergrowth which, along with the noise and wind and smells of the speeding vehicles, help to lend the place a certain feeling of desolation… or maybe that’s just my mood as I rush to catch the last bus, fretting about the amount of work which hasn’t been done yet.

First Award: Spoken Word Performance by an Anonymous Child

Having had four and a half years for reflection, I’m not so sure anymore that this award is in very good taste. However, I’ve decided to award it anyway because it was one of a combination of things which inspired the whole idea of the B. S. Art Prize in the first place. At the time I was deeply moved and affected by it, and if I had managed to get the prize up and running straight away I certainly would have awarded it.

Since the artist in this case is anonymous, the prize money will be re-invested into funding future B. S. Art Prize awards and the commemorative medal will be kept in the BSAP archive. (more…)