Fig Leaf Wars


There were about 20 audience members who were slowly tempted out of the Blue Orange Theatre café in the Jewellery Quarter and into the theatre. On the night of the 2014 Brazilian World Cup Final they were doing pretty well for patrons. Although we were a small group it only increased the closeness between the audience and the man and lady dressed up as a giant penis and a giant vulva. The tagline was:

A human-sized walking Vagina and Penis are going to meet again for the first time. How will the meeting go? Will they meet each other’s expectations? What are they supposed to do and how will they know?

Dick timidly broke out of the shadows and came to chat to the audience about how excited (no pun intended) he was to be free. He’s usually attached to someone, and it was a while before Fanny came on-stage to tell us that they’d been having a fight for thousands of years.

Not only were Fanny (or the Vulva of Venus) and Dick representing individual lady parts and man parts, they were also representing those of everyone in the world. This created an easy bond, and slight uncomfortableness, (which I think we soon got over – through much giggling) with their audience.

Throughout the partly-improvised show the characters demonstrated the trials and tribulations, as well as the pleasures, of being human genitalia. This sincere and welcoming pair gave us a hilarious and open night out. They spoke with the audience about the relationship between genitalia, in the olden days, and wondered aloud why people turn the lights off to have sex. With tunes such as “Sexual Healing” and “Floating through Space” (it might be called that – I’m not really sure!) they took us on a sensitive journey around the most intimate regions of humanity. Fanny showed us how she felt about rape and Dick told us how many rapes go unreported.

Far from being an after-school special this was a very playful yet grown-up, real platform from which to discuss sexuality and how we are all going to afford to get up to Edinburgh to see them again.

Follow this Facebook link for more info:


I can’t find the link to a great Huffpost article about what our brave cast members, Dick and Fanny, get up to when they’re not on-stage! It involves a man in Glasgow attacking Dick (AKA Chris Murray, in costume) and Fanny (AKA Joanne Tremarco, also in costume) saving him! If you find it please post the link!

Richard Long Pre-Preview

Richard Long
Richard Long

I felt very special going to the Richard Long Pre-Preview at The New Art Gallery Walsall. The Exhibition Spaces and The Fourth Floor now have Richard Long installations and images which are really cool.

Africa Footprints 1986 by Richard Long born 1945 (Copyright Tate)
Africa Footprints 1986 by Richard Long born 1945 (Copyright Tate)

His big installation is very playful – The walls are painted black and white diagonal steps. The artist has basically taken mud (from his home) and brought it to the gallery and smeared it all over the black wall. The spatter from the mud skips down the white part of the wall. He mentioned how the painting is an autobiography of himself, his gestures and that was evident in the way the marks were very similar because the way he moves is the way he moves – his physical signature.

There is another mud painting which was, ‘made for a contemporary art exhibition and auction sale in aid of African famine victims. The project was called ‘New Art New World.’ This piece makes me imagine Richard Long physically getting his feet all muddy and making the shape of Africa on a piece of paper. The action of that is very playful.

I went to see an Tim Johnson exhibition at the IKON a few months back and a painting called ‘Walk On’ (see the Image below) includes the footprints of Tim Johnson’s children like they’ve just walked all over the canvas. I really want to do that – I may have to do that soon!

Tim Johnson and Nava Chapman, 'Walk On', 2009, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 150 x 180 cm
Tim Johnson and Nava Chapman, ‘Walk On’, 2009, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 150 x 180 cm


The main ideas behind Richard Long’s work are about wayfaring and being in the moment. He also said that, when his works are photographed the isolation of the place and the fact that it might be 20 years ago or thousands of miles away is interesting. His work is made in isolation and then, if it’s good enough, he shares it. And even after a thousand years have past, the rocks he uses in his Artwork might still be there, even if they are no longer considered to be Art.

In relation to his Textworks, Long mentioned that he goes on walks and there is some work he does which involves looking at things – for e.g. he notes down the first time he sees a fox or an owl. He has then returned to that place and seen how the walk is different than before. I will try and find the link for a journal I read called ‘Lines’ which discussed Wayfaring which I think might relate to this. He also mentions how he had always wanted to be an Artist. Even when he wanted to be an Ornithologist (when he was young) the way he communicated that was through pictures of birds.

One last thought is that I thought it was funny that he said that Tribesmen would come up to him and look at what he was doing but not be very interested because they might not realise he was “making Art.” I thought it was interesting, for lack of a better word, to think about what they would consider Art to be and why it would be attractive to them, from a different cultural perspective.

Scout Camp Preparation Night


Game: Crab football

Exactly like normal football but their feet and hands must be on the floor at all times (bums will get dirty!). N.B. Pretty sure some of my Scouts don’t know what the “Offside Rule” is either – Guess that’s just a rite of passage 🙂

Images I found during a trawl of the internet about the offside rule.


Now, as a female Scout leader, this picture is a joke I really expect to hear at some point from the male Scout leaders – some form of BINGO is probably called for… Sure I give as good as I get 🙂



The Scouts are going on Scout Camp next weekend. Here are some ideas of ways you can prepare your newbie Scouts.

Any of these things can be done as a competition: Who is the fastest?

– Get the Scouts to put up tents in the Scout hut (in teams of 2/3).

– Get them to put down the tents

– Get them to open up a Trangia and put it back together again – then they can do it blindfolded.


– Get the Scouts to cook sausages (or anything else – they could do a full meal if they wanted) in the trangia (bring ketchup & plates & cutlery & oil & sausages)

– Get the older Scouts to tell the younger Scouts how to use and tidy up the trangia.

– Food health – When is a sausage cooked? Safety with cooking oil

– Health and Safety with meths – how to get it out of the bottle, how much to use, putting out the meths burner.

– Fire Safety – keeping neckies out of the way of the fire, lowering the heat, not leaving fire unattended

Conclusion: If they’re anything like my Scouts, your Scouts will learn how to teach the other Scouts how to do things, have great fun, get full on sausages, get a bit too overexcited, have to be told not to play Quidditch in the hall with the brooms during tidying up (one of them almost Stupefied Ben!) and fall about in fits of laughter when they’re being taught how to “get fell in” and stand at ease correctly (something about putting your left leg in and your left leg out). Sure we’ll have them eating out of the palms of our hands by the time they go up to Explorers. LOL.

Review and Reflection: How to let an artist rifle through your archive

From 2009-2012 New Art Gallery, Walsall, brought together Archive Curator Neil Lebeter, and Artist-Curator Bob&Roberta Smith to curate the Beth Lipkin Archive (or what the author generally calls the Epstein Archive)

Having been reading Neil Lebeter’s book (which logs this curation), ‘How to let an artist rifle through your archive,’[1] I am more certain that the space in which you work is important. Not only for me as a, I guess, Management-Researcher?, but also for Curator-researchers and Artist-researchers. To be an Artist-in-residence is to be part of an institution. The social element of that is motivating in itself. By putting Neil and Bob&Roberta together New Art Gallery Walsall (NAGW) gave them the platform to motivate each other and they have had a joint experience in which they observed ideas together and presented ideas to each other and an audience through the blog on the NAGW website. HYPERLINK TO MY REFLECTION ON SPACES 

Connecting with the Archive material

Although Lebeter had never done any curating before and was, ‘still very apprehensive about (his) first curatorial job,’ he was instantly grasped by the Archive because Epstein’s lifespan was set in a time which he knew well and had studied. That small lynchpin allowed him to access the Art from a way that fitted into his personal context.

I was looking through a box of family photographs in the Epstein Archive…Epstein at a graduation ceremony…a man I recognised instantly – Sir David Maxwell Fyfe. I had written my postgraduate dissertation on Maxwell Fyfe’s role as a prosecutor in The Nuremburg Trials….the sight of Maxwell Fyfe eased my nerves considerably as this put Epstein and the archive into a clear historical context[2]

Connecting the visitors with the Archive material

Lebeter says, ‘the Epstein Archive is, in essence, the history of a family.’[3] I think this is why, although the Garman-Ryan Collection is quite haphazard (in that it is not a collection of paintings of one Artist or one style), this curation of the family identifies the times, emotions and tastes of the family. It adds a context which is quite relatable for a visitor.

Everyone can connect to some element within this Epstein Archive be that abstractly or personally;

–         Family

–         Happy family times

–         Simple things like asking for another pot of jam when you’re away from home. (This is demonstrated in the exhibition ‘Theodore Garman demands…’ [4])

–         Having a mother/father – distant or close (physically or psychologically)

–         Friendship

–         Love

–         Not being able to have children

–         Jealousy

–         Not being able to connect with one’s family (Theodore Garman was not allowed to talk about Jacob Epstein being his father publically because he was illegitimate and Epstein was married to someone else)

–         Trying to gain Perfection (as Theo wanted as an Artist)

–         Anger

–         Having secrets

–         Family fractures causing mental illness

The Archive is a great source of stories and reasons for making Art. I imagine that, by looking at someone else’s work and life, the artist and researcher were driven to reflect on their own work and life. Bob&Roberta (AKA Patrick Bryll) reflects briefly on his own life (in the book) specifically in how he balances his work and his children.

NL: (to B&RS) with a family yourself, can you sympathise with that obsession about making things all the time, your work, your latest project?

B&RS: that’s what really drew me to the project. Art is both a generous activity – you know, [laughs] giving these visions to the world…But the downside of it is personal and how you operate with your family, especially as a bloke. Although we are all meant to be New Men, actually the reality of it is in families is that the women do the lion’s share of childcare, even if the bloke is meant to be doing that. The thing is with Epstein, you can’t really imagine how he carried on with his kids because he was very distant….So, he was a bit of a rogue and that sort of horrifies me really.[5]

QUICK EPSTEIN HISTORY: Epstein married Margaret Epstein. He had a 20-year affair with Kathleen Garman. He had one kid with a model, one kid with another model, no kids with Margaret and 3 illegitimate children with Kathleen. He had a strange relationship with his son Theo (born 1924) who could never call him “father” in public (as he was illegitimate) and eventually Theo killed himself aged 27 (on 23/1/1954). He then married Kathleen Garman in 1955. 

Writing this blog post has made me wonder, why did I connect with this book? I saw the Archive exhibition at NAGW and I did connect with some of the work in the exhibition but, through reading about it, and discovering what the artist thought and developed from the Archive, I feel like I have understood more about the family and can put the Archive items, and the ideas that go with them, into context. I drew a mindmap of the family and I can finally understand who’s who and what’s what. It just took some time to let myself sit, have a Starbuck’s and think. Going back to NAGW at the weekend for Peregrine Watch 2014 for a secondary reading of the pieces will let me assimilate the information better I think. Although I understood the emotion of the wooden piece[6] when I saw it first – to me it said emotion and hardness and aggression. I thought it was misogynistic and I didn’t really “get it.” I wonder if my feelings will be different on a second viewing. It might open up more questions and more contextualised thoughts.

In this time of Postmodernism and Constructivism and there being no right answers, if I like to have context does that make my second answer more right than my first reflections on those pieces? I don’t know…

I always have to write down this word to remember what it involves theoretically.

Hein: ‘What is meant Constructivism? The term refers to the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves —each learner individually (and socially) constructs meaning —as he or she learns. Constructing meaning is learning; there is no other kind.’ The consequences are that learning becomes learner-centric and it is suggested that there can be no knowledge outside the learner’s experience.[7]

What about context? What about the importance of a teacher scaffolding a kid’s learning (Thank you Mr. Vygotsky) through their prior experience and research? But that’s another topic for another essay. Yay, I’m writing it! Oh this link is just for revision fun on Vygotsky and Piaget

The Vygotskian Classroom: A Vygotskian classroom emphasizes creating one’s own concepts and making knowledge one’s property; this requires that school learning takes place in a meaningful context, alongside the learning that occurs in the real world. As seen earlier in the Piagetian classroom, this model also promotes the active participation and collaboration of distinctive learners.

The Vygotskian classroom stresses assisted discovery through teacher-student and student-student interaction. Some of the cognitive strategies that group members bring into the classroom are questioning, predicting, summarizing, and clarifying. In a Vygotskian classroom, dynamic support and considerate guidance are provided based on the learner’s needs, but no will or force is dictated. Students are exposed to discussions, research collaborations, electronic information resources, and project groups that work on problem analysis.[8]


[1] Lebeter, Neil, How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013)

[2] Lebeter, Neil, How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 8

[3] Lebeter, Neil; How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 8

[4] Lebeter, Neil; How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 8

[5] Lebeter, Neil; How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 22

[6] Lebeter, Neil; How to let an artist rifle through your archive, (Walsall, New Art Gallery Walsall,2013) 42

[7] Hein, George E. Constructivist learning theory: the museum and the needs of the people CECA (the international committee of museum educators) conference (Jerusalem, Israel, 15-22 October 1991)  [electronic version] (accessed 18/3/14)

[8] website, “Constructivism in Piaget and Vygotsky” (accessed 4/4/14)