Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

Wim Mertens

March 19th, 2014

This morning our Agent in Leeds prompted me to re-listen to a bit of Wim Mertens. Continue reading “Wim Mertens” »

Post Deadline Post

March 18th, 2014


It’s a delight, the sky is blue, the sun is warm, flowers are out and our Arts Council Application has been committed to the ether. If you are in the privileged position of being one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organizations you are only required to submit a funding application every three years, but when that time comes, as it just has, the pressure is on. Continue reading “Post Deadline Post” »

BBC Archive

March 6th, 2014

On Thursday Craig and I visited the BBC Media Centre on Wood Lane to learn about the corporation’s archive. We had an great time. The archive boggled out minds and we didn’t see anything beyond photo copies of a few letters. Then the letters did include the pitch for Desert Island Discs (two paragraphs long); the pitch for The Archers, George Orwell’s appraisal and resignation, plus The Rolling Stones writing in the hope they may get a gig and someone tipping off a superior about a young girl with an excellent singing voice (Julie Andrews). Continue reading “BBC Archive” »

Walk On

March 5th, 2014

River Rea. Highgate 2013. HD Video Loop 7m 45s from David Rowan on Vimeo.

Yesterday I was over at mac birmingham offering a few shards of my ancient wisdom to the youth of the Cannon Hill Collective who are preparing a great four days of socially engaged arts activity at the venue 27th -30th March. It was another chance to dip into the great Walk On exhibition. Which, as the title suggests, collects art that springs from artists walking. Being a fan of maps, lists and walking I’m a sucker for all this stuff. I’m also a sucker for David Rowan’s set of beautiful video landscapes The Dark River, which also act as an outrider for this year’s Flatpack Festival

To be blunt, before its rebuild I can’t ever recall being particularly excited by mac’s exhibitions, they were constricted by their small exhibition spaces scattered through the building. Now, with a big gallery space in the centre of the building and more coherent public exhibition space down stairs it’s as if they’ve been let off the leash, I now actively look out to see what they’ve got coming in with the expectation it will be great.

So tomorrow you could treat yourself to a lovely evening at mac birmingham. Limber up with Walk On, dip into Untied Artist’s For Their Own Good and round things off with a delicious Purity Ale (other beers/exhibitions/art works are available, please drink/watch/contemplate responsibly – this blog post has not been paid for – I just like the work).

Burton In Action

March 2nd, 2014


This morning I read in the New Scientist book Nothing about the nocebo – “the placebo’s evil twin” and found myself in the world of Robert Burton.

Curses and Hexes can be classed as nocebos and the author illustrates their power by recounting the case of Vance Vanders, who in 1938 is cursed by a witch doctor in an Alabama cemetery. He is taken badly ill. initially Drayton Doherty his doctor can do nothing for him, but on learning that the cause of the malaise is a hex he comes up with a ruse which suggests he may well have read The Anatomy of Melancholy. He calls the family to Vanders’ bedside and explains that he has confronted the witch doctor and learned that the curse has cause a lizard to hatch in the patient’s stomach, it is the lizard eating his insides which is causing the illness. The cure is simple, Doherty administers a stronger purger, Vanders vomits wildly and with a slight of hand the doctor produces a live lizard as if from the vomit (in fact from his black medical bag) and pronounces the lizard removed from the body and the patient cured. Vanders falls into a deep sleep and wakes both hungry and cured.

The team spent Thursday and Friday rehearsing up (very) similar tales for your delight on the Spring tour of The Anatomy of Melancholy which starts in Aberystwyth on Tuesday. Good luck everyone.

David Lang Debt

February 24th, 2014


Today David Lang arrived in London for the UK Premiere of his Cello Concerto (World to Come) tonight at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, tomorrow he flies home to New York, this afternoon was a prime opportunity to meet him and quiz him about his new piece for 1000 voices Crowd Out, which has been commissioned by BCMG and receives its world Premiere at Millennium Point on 8th June. Continue reading “David Lang Debt” »

Billesley to Bausch

February 19th, 2014


Dance made my week last week. We spent five days with Year 5 in Billesley Primary School working on a big Space Project. This included recordings of astronaut interviews led by Craig, vast space maths led by me, building a grabber and a 1:1 scale model of the Apollo 11 command capsule with Johnny, design your own spaceship, research the planets and various other activities with their teachers. It was great to see the reaction the capsule got once a bit of lighting, landscape, music and smoke was added but for me the highlight of the week was their dance pieces. We claim no credit for these, the students devised them all before we arrived. They were brilliant, full of invention and wit, earnest attention and concentration, there was joy and charm and pride. My heart almost burst watching them. Continue reading “Billesley to Bausch” »


February 17th, 2014


Over the last couple of years I’ve read books about Bradley Wiggins’ triumph in the Tour De France, about Team Sky’s rise to dominance and about David Walsh’s dogged pursuit of the truth about Lance Armstrong. I’ve enjoyed them all – Walsh’s in particular was difficult to put down – but my new favourite is – Domestique by Charly Wegelius. Continue reading “Domestique” »

Behind Behind the Scenes

February 14th, 2014


Behind the scenes at Stan’s Cafe there’s a freezing cold office and behind the freezing cold office is the toasty warm meeting room at Elias Topping where our board of directors met on Wednesday. Our board get very little public recognition but are a key part of the company. They provide us advice and support. They are a bulwark and encouragement. Officially they meet four or five times each year and legally they employ all the staff. Continue reading “Behind Behind the Scenes” »

Provocation #1

February 14th, 2014

Last Tuesday (4th) we took one of our stepladders on a trip to the British Library Conference Centre to install a piece to coincide with The Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value. Continue reading “Provocation #1” »

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