Tuesday, 20 December 2016

BRISTOL 1992/ 2006/ 2009/ 2016/ 207/ 2018/ 2022

MN Electrical. Ashley road. BRISTOL-- 1992/ 2006/ 2009/ 2016 / 2022

The shop had closed years ago and you pushed sheets of plywood to get up to the flat. There were six of us in there, me shacked up in someone's room. I suppose I should say my boyfriend's room but that's not how I saw him really. Bryn. It never felt like a relationship , more an intermission, somewhere to stay while I worked out where to go next.
In the winter the parameters of my world were confined to that freezing flat. Time was etched out between monitors and mixing desks. I watched the weeks unravel from a black and white portable, stretches of daytime tv subsumed in the amethyst light of the room.
He was always there, a heavy morphean presence, sighing with his back to me in a broken office chair . Hours would melt into the noodling labyrinths of Cubase, the bland dogmatism of drum and bass messageboards. Over the winter he'd got kind of bulky, all that weed, all those nights playing x box with bowls of doritos. When the spring came, casting its brutal light on that dusty hallway, I started going out without him.


Day three of a heatwave, must be 30 degrees out there-
It's all kicking off , they're not letting some Somali bloke sign on .
Twitchy attention across the open plan office sucked into a writhing circle of G4s uniforms.

Onlookers emerging from Black Swan opposite .
other blokes mobilizing--
I'm sitting on a soft green chair watching Nigerian security guards push him around. Can hear the sirens, the noise outside and i'm thinking this is going to take time.

I'm hot after the run down here, sheen of make up slipping off my face. They won’t sign you if you’re a minute late.
I'm waiting for an emergency payout, my personal issue.
I forgot to bring something to read. I look at my phone, scroll through texts--
look across the street to the pub, blokes outside with pints of cider, bottles of lager-- red faced and jeering as the bloke gets thrown in the back of the van--

My turn. Usual moronic hassle. What have you been doing to look for work. Wrote jobseekers diary with five different pens at the kitchen table before . All this pointless stuff , what i'm available for- warehouse work, call centres. They want me to go to some logistics depot in Swindon, threatening to stop my money if I don't.
I draw on a composite of fictions and convince them i'm pliable.

Neroli, Magnolia, Rose
those scents, pulling me out of that seething hive, across the car park-
Black swan, them lot, usual crew, watching me in the yard, heat intense and my legs and arms bare, burning now-
push through Blackthorn stinking leers to the violet cool of the bar.

-subsonic ,big screens, adverts ricocheting across the walls--
it's the tramadol, maybe it's too much, making everything tremble, ceilings shimmer, indigo blur round the door-
Sit in a burgundy corner, ripped wallpaper, low mahogany table, vodka glass outlined with a neon glow. It was Adam that gave me the tramadol , told me he scored a batch from a hospital porter. Before that I was just getting by with the diazepam.

Adam. Should never have got involved with him. I mean he's alright looking, mohawk, thick black hair in gluey crests , but the way he acts, so manic all the time, i can’t handle it.

Gold piercings in jagged eyebrows-
Fruit machine
drugs taped under snooker tables.

This is a ritual coming in here after signing on, when i've escaped from the dole office I come in and have a vodka to celebrate--
They don’t own me. They can cut off my giro. I’m still here. That's how I think sometimes, I can just take off - hidden tracks, a helix of boltholes. If it gets too much I can just leave. And i'm thinking maybe it's time, Bryn at home on Cubase, Adam liking me too much--

Black Uhuru on the juke box, juke box wired up to juggernaut soundsystem-
room reverberates, blokes at opposite table skinning up. I know some of them from when I was living in that squat in Stokes Croft. Wiry one comes over, blond pony tail and grey adidas tracksuit –asks me if I want to order any shopping from Broadmead…
I tell him, Chanel Chance and that YSL nail varnish, irridescent black, shining blue like a magpie feather, he says yeah, should be able to bring it all back for twenty.-

look across at the dole office, red brick fortress casting doubt over the pub--
security guards talking to the police , screw faces broken now with sycophantic smiles-

Adam texts and says he's coming down. I've been meeting up with him in here, nothing serious- just having a drink, getting stoned in the afternoon.
Out in the yard, concrete is warping in the heat, splitting into zones--

exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke and that scent , Lemon Haze reminding me of last summer-

Collapsing buildings beneath the motorway flyover. Biggas carwash, men hanging round in vests and bomber jackets.
Hoardings ,luminous poster shreds.
Shah Jalal mosque.

A load of lads in off the street, baggy jeans, fluoro vests, Adam's crew wheeling massive speaker cabs . Yard becomes a spindly convolution of tarpauline and scaffolding poles. He comes over in that bouyant, arrogant way he has, spike under his lip , vexed Egyptian eyes.

I knew from the start I shouldn't get involved with him .
When he asked me to go round to his I always made excuses , but then there was that party, that solstice one in the orange factory--
me in that stretchy pink dress, bleached hair backcombed, first blazing heat of the year.
We'd been drinking in the Coach house, that pub under the railway bridge. Place was full of Trowbridge punks, rough cider, Amebix patches hanging off denim jackets. There was something disorientating about that pub, like stepping into a mirror, all the rooms seemed to double - two bars, two snooker tables, twin corridors of yellow light. -
I remember the banners draped behind a burgundy stage- text becoming invocations-- Class War A.L.F the conjuring of Swing risings.

There was a yard at the back, plastic chairs and sullen brick walls..
Sabs in combat trousers, black vests, baseball caps
plotting rural revolt

I remember how we stepped out on to the street to face a crescent of filth with telephoto lenses.
We gathered in the stark , mathematical shadows of an iron railway bridge and faded into lanes of conifers . The track brought us to the M32 and the concrete inclines of an unsteady footbridge. Lines of vehicles were waiting on Gatton road, a convoy going to this party.

It was in a red brick factory on an industrial estate hemmed in by a span of railway tracks and the elevated section of the A434. The convoy trailed into a desolate lane of corrugated iron and breezeblock walls.
We slinked in under a metal shutter, place still had the stink of UHT orange -
I remember heavy chains and fluorescent strip lights, long corridors crawling with glyphs and sigils--
then a vast hall-- all the rigs were in there, doors thrown open to a scratchy meadow of broom and gorse-

bashment, jungle, breakcore -

big crew in there , time distorted, circles moving.
I wanted to be outside—there was a bonfire and a few people I knew from the Swan .
Adam with his mohawk, his intense eyes.
Wasn't really my type, bit young, early 20s maybe. I wasn't really feeling it-- there was something not right about him, maybe the accent, a kind of public school smoothness beneath the slangy narco speak-- there was a swagger about him but even through the veils of MDMA I knew it was fake.
We talked for hours, strange unspooling conversations about hospitals, hostels, the network of institutions he'd inhabited. He told me about his walks around Bristol—he called them circuits, told me they were all mapped. He made notes on every place he scoped, routes in and out of the city centre, Broadmead Shopping centre, the new Harbourside Development, the abandoned sorting office behind Temple Meads.

melancholic dub , stacker PA's

kick drum
scratchy breakbeats

crew swarming around us, absorbing us into a strident, fleshy band-
that ALF lot from the Coach House going on about the Beaufort Hunt and that Life Sciences place in Cambridge-
the monotone credence of their talk, the tramadol, the residues of those pills- I just remember the motorway slip road buckling, bending like plasticine as anxiety rose in icy beads on my arms.

I wanted to trace his circuits through the city centre, back to Easton-

back to Stapleton road, a load of us, a collision of his crew and mine. 5 am, sky a dazzling salvo of
Freesia, Litchi, Peony.
scents coming in waves--

Spiralling tracks round Brandon hill, site of insurrectionary gatherings, mass gatecrashing.
He showed me nests of intricate symbols on walls and windows, he told me he'd been communing with the revenants of the city, channelling them into oppositional currents-

He spraypainted burn down sigils over the new developments with a practiced elegance, dancing runes marking the hoardings, the new vestibules-

He took me through Harbourside, the rebranded docks, showed me the heritage symbols , the psychtropic theme park, the parched tangle of trees in aluminium tubs.

Toxic stink of the aerosol -
Ox-eye daisies, red campion , knapweed-

Cascading down Bridewell street, the ruby fracturing of morning-
buildings opening up , neon interiors, glowing amusement arcades .

Saint Jude's

Saint Agnes

Stapleton Road

Shutters down, the haze of morning rain burning off in the heat-- iridescent vapours and saplings of ash in breezeblock yards--
TSB, luminous signs replicating , detaching from the front of the building , glowing circles of jade-
two storey houses, flaking paint, grey with exhaust fumes
all sloping towards us.
Attic conversions heaving off rooftops, cracking and breaking--

He reaches for my hand, a cool act of possession-- I feel nothing but pale, narcissitic attraction- the glimmer that comes from being wanted-
had hoped for another taste of last summer, those incendiary days of Yorkshire, -
but as we traipse through overgrown gardens, expanses of scorched ivy, it's not even an echo.

breezeblock walls, exquisite scent of damask , forgotten tangle of roses.

When I first turned up in Bristol last Autumn it was about getting away, being off the map. What I was looking for never appeared. It wasn't enough, me and Bryn, one of those dull, drifting relationships, neither of us really bothered, shacked up for convenience and comfort . It started when he was coming down off a three day bender. He came round to our squat in Stokes Croft and asked us for temazepam, or codeine, or anything to take the edge off. He was hallucinating catastrophes, walls swarming with black. I'd managed to straighten him out, nursed him through the next few days. He'd triggered something in me, a protective, nurturing side and we started hanging out in the flat at Ashley road. It was less hectic than the squat in Stokes Croft and I thought maybe it could be ok staying there a while, I could cook dinner and have everyone in for a few beers, seemed more like a family than that big office block before.

Transit vans parked skewed angles on the pavement,
Adam smiling , holding my hand,
a greedy, monopolising smile.

Iqbal textiles and sari house,,
Narwaz Kurdish
Flat to let , window held together with parcel tape.
mattresses and bed frames.
heavy plastic sheets behind smashed windows.

There are three of us now, me Adam and some bloke picking up coke cans in search of a lost stash. The way he trudges, seems like he's blind to us. Adam said he'd met him sleeping rough in the Bear Pit, that brutalist hollow between Stokes Croft and town.

Shah Jalal mosque, under the motorway flyover. It was them that was first onto him, Adam, much later, long after i'd gone-
Peach walls, ,flow charts, redacted words.
I mean i'd seen it, I knew that he wasn't right, that's why i'd ended up avoiding his calls, why I bailed out of Bristol altogether— he was too hectic, all those weird drugs he was getting from the hospital but still the ban on alcohol--

squeezing through green railings, beneath the sweep of the motorway-
round the back of the dole fortress,, 90s architecture harshing my buzz.
He puts his arm around me, speaks softly to me, presses a valium into my hand-

Row of derelict houses, windows sitexed.
Buddleia sprouting, bin bags hurled on pavement – a network of itinerants following codes-
they are there if you can read them--- marker pen letters sliding off walls, shoes hanging from telegraph wires, sigils spraypainted on plywood windows-

Under the railway bridge- that stone they have in Bristol, crumbling red like Mars-
their house ,
three satellite dishes, barred windows, yellow newspapers taped inside-
and pale green plaster like sugared almonds.
He opens a metal door,,
a front room you walk into off the street -
70s wallpaper, orange geometries unfolding across damp walls-
mottled olive green carpet.
place stripped of furniture--

Records and cds splintered across the floor, prismatic reflections on the ceiling.
photocopied maps in a heap,
miniature lightbulbs, circuit boards-

And upstairs, two little rooms. That biscuity smell of old bedding.-

sloping ceilings, dorma windows , light filtered through sitex sheets-

We sit talking, he says he wants a total reordering of the UK, wants to see the entire system dismantled-
I say I understand that--
He says Britain is a cesspit, says the shopping centres, the clubs in town are immoral hives -

feel like i've been here before-

those words, echoes of another time-

the sleeping bag , the scorch marks, , marker pen circles-

Spike under lip.. two rings through eyebrow-
he's staring at me, demanding something.
I say i'm going downstairs to the bathroom

hexamethylene triperoxide diamine,
spooked electronics

video on loop.
everything falling into place.

Creep through the front room-- bloke shuffling about near the door —I'm not even sure if he can see me.
Into the kitchen , missing mdf units, gouge marks in the wall-
I try the door but it's jammed behind a case of steel.
Bathroom at the back. Wasp carapaces on a dusty window sill. Peroxide bottles, mould creeping across the ceiling. I try the frosted window, feels stuck, frame resisted by a chlorophyl bank, a yard of nettles neck high. I clamber onto the ledge , shove through and fall into the stinging tangle , blisters of pain erupt across my body, the pleasure of them rising in the rush--

By 2009 I was back living in Yorkshire, i'd never bothered keeping in touch with him or any of that crew. I'd never been able to connect with Bristol and didn't miss it.
I read they'd given him 11 years. Must have converted the year after I left.
Broadmead shopping centre was the target.

Home made vests.
Air gun pellets, batteries , electric bulb filaments, ball bearings, tubs of screws.
12 bottles of peroxide.
They said he kept the explosives in the fridge in a Family Circle biscuit tin.

Monday, 20 June 2016



 The Life Beneath Our Feet: Trump, Don DeLillo, and the Nihilistic Impulse Real Life Rock Top 10: 

10 JUNE 16 2016

 Ford, born in West Yorkshire in 1973, who from 2005 to 2009 published the zine Savage Messiah, a street walking excavation of the ruins of present-day London—it was collected in 2011 by Verso—has never accepted stable time. The past is always present, but it isn’t history: it’s a promise just over the horizon, or a hand in a horror movie pulling you down. In this 36-minute soundwork, she’s traversing Birmingham, looking for “the psychic contours of a city,” speaking quietly into a tape recorder, traffic humming around her, sometimes the noise of crowds or small groups of people, pop songs occasionally mixed in, and you are following the trail of a woman who seems to remember 1974 as if she were her own aunt, the one the rest of the family never talked about, so that when she says 2016 it barely feels real. “You keep finding the embers,” she says, with previous allusions to IRA bombings and urban riots as a rolling backdrop: “Places you must have seen from car windows 23 years ago.” 

There is the building that once housed the Birmingham Press Club: “They used to have the upstairs, a litany of names, they’ve all been here, Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher, Enoch Powell, Barbara Cartland, Earl Spencer, Cliff Richard—it’s all too much,” she says of the specter of bland power, of seeing herself on the same stairs, in their footsteps. “This is where it was all concocted”—a conspiracy of government officials, pop stars, romance novelists—“in those rooms upstairs.” 
She looks at graffiti on a pub: “A refusal to accept what England has become, they hover above the walls as a negative ambiance,” a gateway “into those undercurrents of excess, violence, destruction for its own sake.  You’ve tuned into the undercurrent that speaks of refusal, a hatred of doing the right thing.” It’s a civil war of the dead, people turning into specters as she passes them, as she does to them. At the very end you hear Rod Stewart, with “You Wear It Well,” from 1972, the sound rickety and distant, as if you’re listening not to a record but to the woman you’ve been listening to remembering what it was to hear him sing it at a show she attended before she was born, and it’s never sounded more true.

Friday, 17 June 2016



17 June – 5 August 2016
Opening Friday 17 June

Grand Union is delighted to present a solo exhibition of new work by Laura Oldfield Ford, Chthonic Reverb.
Ford spent six weeks in residence in 2015 investigating Digbeth, the area where the Grand Union gallery space is situated. Having lived in Birmingham in early 1990s, she is reconnecting with the city through a series of ‘dérives’. These extensive walks and conversations unlock memories and narratives embedded in the architecture.
For her show at Grand Union, Ford will transform the gallery space by creating billboards constructed from plywood and sitex (perforated steel), the types of materials used to board up abandoned buildings and disused factories. The process of building installations allows Ford to scrutinise the psychic affects of space and architecture. These materials represent the precarious and provisional architecture of the liminal. Her own experience of living in squatted housing and the narratives surrounding precarity are distilled in these materials.
These pieces also create a surface upon which she will paste A0 photocopies of drawings from her walks in Birmingham. She uses cut up as a method, a way of simultaneously inhabiting different temporal zones; the jarring, uncanny nature of these collages is an attempt to articulate moments of historical rupture and conflate this with an intimate, very personal relationship with the city.
The space will be permeated by a series of sound pieces, field recordings and conversations, a new way of working for Ford. She records, writes and draws as a way of mapping the psychic contours of the city. Her work spans moments of historical intensity, for example a recurring point in the show is the 1972 Battle of Saltley Gate. She drifts among the area’s liminal, transient and spectral populations- the Italian community on Fazeley Street, residents of Birmingham’s Rowton House, Irish pubs round the coach station, post-punk, traveller and rave scenes- as a way of gauging the mood of the contemporary city, of a particular moment within a conflation of temporalities.
She is returning to the towpaths and backstreets of Digbeth, the industrial estates and regenerated vistas of Eastside and examining them through the prism of the ‘Big City Plan’ and impending arrival of HS2. She is interrogating the impact of urban regeneration in Birmingham and looking at the role of artists and the ‘creative industries’ in this process.
Grand Union and The Showroom are working in partnership on the commissioning of Laura Oldfield Ford’s work in 2016-2017. This project will be developed later in the year at Edgware Road, where The Showroom is situated, and will culminate in a solo exhibition in 2017.
Laura Oldfield Ford b.1973 ( Halifax, West Yorkshire) is an artist working and living in London. She completed a BA at the Slade in 2001, an MA in Painting at the RCA in 2007, and is curently a researcher in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art . Recent exhibitions include Itinerant Code, Tensta Konsthall, 2015; Ruin Lust, Tate Britain 2014; Recording Britain, V&A 2012; Anarchy Unmasked, British Library 2014; Soft Estate, Bluecoat Liverpool 2013 and Spacex 2013; Desire Lines, Caja Madrid, Barcelona 2012; There is a Place New Art gallery Walsall 2012; Orbitecture Focal Point Gallery, Southend 2011 and Poster Sites Arnolfini, Bristol 2010.
In 2013 she was awarded a Stanley Picker Fellowship at Kingston University where she undertook new research on the phenomenon of suburbanisation. This culminated in a show—Seroxat, Smirnoff, THC— in 2014.
She lectures and teaches across the UK and internationally on issues surrounding urbanism, architecture, protest and memory. This has included institutions such as Royal College of Art, Chelsea, Central St Martins and Goldsmiths. She regularly give talks and lectures on similar themes; recent examples are Tate Britain, Goethe Institute Amsterdam, British Library, LSE, Tensta Konsthall.
Writing is an integral part of her practice, and in 2011 Verso published a collection of her zine Savage Messiah. She is a contributing writer/artist to Art Review, Guardian, Granta Magazine, Building Design, Mute magazine and Verso Blog.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Jam City- Dream a Garden

-- first published http://k-punk.org/jam-city-dream-a-garden-a-derive-london-may-1st-2015/

Jam City – Dream a Garden – a dérive – LONDON – May 1st 2015

Aldgate- spectral zone colonised by international finance. Towering enclaves, marble clad lobbies, burnished monuments to global capitalism. In 2012 these glacial geometries conjured the sound of Classical Curves, a record steeped in hostile seduction, the archisemiotics of power. Now, in 2015 with a creeping imminence, Dream a Garden is a reminder of the saplings of elder, tangles of wild roses, tendrils of bindweed waiting to push through minute cracks in the walls. The impervious citadel is poised to revert to a dreaming arcadia.

These songs delineate the fracturing of melancholy chambers, the suffocating sadness of the atomised. They evoke the dissociative climb through walkways and landings but like a subterranean river the possibility of escape is always there.

The mesmerising atmosphere lets you melt into walls, push through fences; it ushers the flight from Barratt developments, Redrow bastions and guides you through a whorl of narrow lanes- satellite dishes, corrugated iron, mosques nestled in dilapidated terraces.
Sounds spill from car windows- Commercial Road, Cable street- languid grime pitch shifting in the traffic, traces of ’80s New Wave, glimmers of Prince-

to Swedenborg Gardens and Fortress Wapping, miltancy echoing in the ruins,coming up from the rubble –
1981/ 1984/ 1985/ 1994/ 1999/ 2000/ 2011/ 2015
time compresses– becomes prismatic,
voice, almost buried, filtered through lost temporalities-
Print Strike, Poll Tax, J18-

the dry scents of a heat wave, 2011 uprisings, losing signal-shifting in and out of consciousness-
Meshes, knots, labyrinthine paths. Abandoned pubs, abandoned yards- a spectral archeaology directing us through different rooms,into the foundations of buildings.
Mist burning off in the heat, iridescent vapours; archaic scents of cinnamon, tobacco and coffee unlocked in the bricks of abandoned warehouses.

Crackles- muffled sounds– overlaid skeins, overlaid maps– routes plotted, routes navigated. Mossy brick walls, ferns erupting in the cracks.
Bombsites, derelict wharves, climbing through fences into forgotten gardens.

We are propelled, the beat of the walk, a blazing conduit- through arcadian groves of broken paving stones, arches of jasmine and lilac.

The mercurial span of the Thames, Wapping to Limehouse. Possibilities emerging, sublime sequences.
In these tidal territories space is reordered, we move beyond the tropes of consumerism. We escape the hoardings, shop fronts, the endless online hectoring. We remember how we connected in the realm of the sublime, the celestial. Songs opening apertures to a brooding magic, articulating diffuse moments of bonding, elevating the city by reclaiming it.
Amidst the merchants houses, the cobbled lanes, Foxtons and Savils on Wapping High Street, arrogant totems glowing fluorescent yellow, electric pink. In these sacred sites their presence is a malign vexation. And so it is with capitalism, when it sneaks into your subconscious, when it contaminates precious bonds.

Capitalism has taken our desires and distorted them, reassembled them in a machinic parade of parts, a Hans Bellmer kaleidoscope. The encroachment into subjective spaces, like the city’s enchanted lacunae, are violations, they threaten us at the deepest level . Without cherished connections, without the budleia and the briar, we dissoicate, feel oursleves splintering.
A brass carillon, we recognise it, a call, an exhortation to act- voice sweeping in layers- radiant cascades of guitar, moments of anticipation emerging under machinic attack, a critical intoxication, the regaining of signal- cherry blossom and magnolia suddenly here– This is us winning– moving through the city- Foxtons wrecked, Aylesbury occupied, Aldgate erupting- the triumph of the swarm, the collective on its way somewhere better–a dark psycedelia, an ominous presence.

Dream a Garden gauges the mood of the UK in 2015 – SSRIs, austerity, housing crisis- and reminds us that moments of transcendence can be reached by tuning into the current situation , by sharpening our critical capacity. It takes us through submerged vistas, the ephemeral beaches of the Thames, to a shoreline of exquisite assembly.