- The story so far
- I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org (All work © Jan Patience)
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Eclectic Peel - published in The Herald arts supplement 4/12/10
Peel Portrait by Robbie Porter
Details of the Peel Tent by Michael Corr and Ben Rowe
Exhibition Profile: ECLECTIC PEEL
The Barras Centre
54 Calton Entry, Glasgow, G40 QSB
From tonight (launches with free live music event 7.30-11.30pm) until Dec 11
It seems almost unbelievable that six years have passed since the sudden death of the hugely influential DJ, John Peel. Peel, who died of a heart attack in October 2004 at the age of 65, never knowingly took the easy path when it came to giving exposure to musicians whom he deemed worthy of wider attention.
Peel’s warmth, honesty and self-deprecating humour were the cornerstones of his life’s work. He was never afraid to speak from the heard and once famously agonised in a televised interview about the fact his then teenage son William’s bedroom was a ‘pigsty’, while at the same time naming The Undertone’s Teenage Kicks as his all-time favourite record. The lyrics ‘teenage dreams so hard to beat’ are now inscribed on his tombstone, in keeping with his wishes.
Michael Corr was just 16 in 2004 when John Peel died. Dreaming dreams of being a professional artist, but knowing little about the man who spoke to and for maverick music lovers and musicians of all ages using the platform of his late night show on Radio One.
In August this year, this new graphic design graduate from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art started his day in his Dundee flat as he always does by scrolling through the list of ‘opportunities’ on Central Station, an online social networking resource for the creative community in Scotland.
“There was a posting by the Scottish music/arts website, Glasgow PodcART, which sounded mysterious,” he explains. “It mentioned an exhibition which would be held in the near future in which 20 artists from all disciplines would be paired up and asked for examples of work to be submitted. I sent some of my work off and later I heard I’d been successful. I was told that the theme was to be John Peel and his influence on generations of musicians and music fans.
“I was initially paired with a guy who was an animator, but he had to pull out, so I was next paired with a London-based illustrator called Ben Rowe. My original idea was to compose and make a tent. I’d produce graphics and we’d figure out a way to project them. Ben suggested we cover the tent with graphics with me focusing on the typography and him doing the graphics.”
Over the following weeks and months, Corr and Rowe – together with eighteen artists paired up by Halina Rafia and Sophie Stubbs of Glasgow PodcART – gathered their thoughts about John Peel and worked out ways to reflect his legacy.
In the mix of artists, there were musicians, photographers, animators, illustrators, a sculptor, dancers and a fashion designer.
According to PodcART founder Halina Rafia, the theme of John Peel’s lasting influence was chosen because he is ‘one of the main reasons PodcART is around’. “In 2008, I was writing about artists and musicians as a hobby,” she explains. “I started the website as a creative platform for unsigned artists and we put their work out via a podcast. It was then picked up by internet radio station, Radio Magnetic and last year, we held an hugely successful event called Sketchbook in and around Glasgow’s west end.”
Together with Sophie Stubbs, the woman Rafia describes as ‘my right hand art woman’, team PodcART came up with the idea to create an exhibition called Eclectic Peel. “Sophie came up with the idea of pairing artists and as John Peel is a hero of mine, we decided to pay tribute to him. This is all about the spirit of the man.”
In Dundee and London, for collaborators Michael Corr and Ben Rowe, the experience has been an entirely positive learning experience. “I was 16 when John Peel died and I’m 23 now,” says Corr. “I didn’t listen to his show and knowing what I know now about him, I could hit myself with a hammer for that! I’ve read a lot about him since August and I realise he was a fascinating guy who was straight as a die. I wanted our work to reflect his honest yet quirky nature and I think we have done this with our Peel Tent.”
The tent – a walk-in greenhouse which has been covered in customised PVC material graphically covered in references to Peel’s life and work, will be one of the highlights of this exhibition, which kicks off in true Peel fashion tonight, with a free event featuring music from 22-strong musical collective Blochestra and Esperi. John Peel favourites are promised among the line-up.
The exhibition continues at this new up-and-coming venue until next Saturday.