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Oli Brown Band breathe fresh air into the blues

A new generation of blues musicians are bringing a breath of fresh air to the scene. And firmly at the front of the pack is young Oli Brown, playing a hard, dirty electric blues influenced by artists like Hendrix, BB King, Buddy Guy and John Mayall.

For tonight's gig in Worthing's cavernous Assembly Hall he's brought along the powerful Oli Brown Band - Freddy Hollis on six string bass and absolutely ace drummer Simon Dring. They're an incredibly loud three piece, although Dring's drums are sometimes a little lost, and they're at their best when playing a fat and frantic rocking blues.

Played by the Devil (with a little bit of the Flintstones thrown in) and Open Road are good time rock 'n' rollers, and  Stone Cold (Roxanne) is raw and dirty. It's a highlight of the set - especially when Oli takes the band down low and sings (well, screams) sans microphone. Filling a venue the size of the Assembly Hall with an unamplified voice is quite some trick.

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Turner Prize artist evokes spirit of JG Ballard in South London

Tucked away in a derelict block of flats in less-than-glamorous Elephant & Castle is a work of art which might just win its creator this year's Turner Prize.

In a one-bedroom flat in low-rise modernist development which is scheduled for demolition bright blue copper sulphate crystals have covered the walls, ceilings, floor and bath. It's like something from a JG Ballard book, a weird and twisted future where a poisonous pollutant has run wild. It's also stunning, strange and hauntingly beautiful. You can't help but look at the rooms in your own home in a different way, half expecting to find the starts of some crystal growth in the corners.

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Ian Anderson, Worthing Pavilion, 29th September 2009

The image of Ian Anderson standing on one leg playing his flute is as powerful a rock icon as Hendrix burning his guitar of Jagger and Richards sharing the same microphone. How is it that it is still trendy to dismiss him when he has shown greater musical integrity than other stars of his genre?
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Pop art re-examined at Tate Modern

Tate Modern's autumn blockbuster Pop Life is an eclectic exhibition that looks at multiples and MTV, screenprints and shops, collaboration and commercialism. Starting with Warhol's idea that 'good business is the best art' this exhibition brings together a diverse group of artists, from the original pop art of Warhol, through classic examples of Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas, to new work by Takashi Murakami.

Of course, money and art have always been bedfellows, even if it's a rocky relationship. And staging an exhibition that explores these themes at the depths of a recession is at once a provocation - and a chance for some pure escapism.

From Warhol's Studio 54 screenprints to Hirst's gold plate and diamonds, and Pruitt Early's paintings exhibited in a golden gallery to Cosey Fanni Tutti's soft porn pictures in a seedy x-rated corridor, there's a lot of glamour, fantasy, sex and showbiz here. And that's without a photo of a photo of a nude 10 year old Brooke Shields in a heavy gilt frame, shown in a dark red room in the installation Spiritual America by Richard Prince. Of course, Pop Art has always been interested in the kitsch and trashy, in soft porn and romantic schlock. A room of works by the master of kitsch Jeff Koons proves the point.

What's more interesting is the way that artists engage with commercialism on their own terms, and start exploring art's need to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Of course, Warhol's mass production was an obvious (indeed, the defining) example of this. Here are double portraits, multiple images, mass produced artwork, discounts for bulk-buying.

But another theme of the work here in this exhibition is very relevant - artists using empty shops and commercial spaces to take their work to a wider audience. Of course Warhol inhabited an empty industrial unit. But here is an archive of Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas' Bethnal Green 'Shop' and Keith Haring's New York 'Pop Shop'.
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Anish Kapoor at the Royal Academy - big art, big impact

Royal Academy of Arts: Anish Kapoor (Exhibition 26 September - 11 December, 10am-6pm, Fridays 9.30pm)

Wandering around the press preview of this major solo exhibition by 1991 Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor, I couldn't help but be struck by the sheer sense of fun this influential sculptor encapsulates in his work.

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Made In Worthing's 'Pool (No Water)' reminds us why we need theatre

It's a perennial question - is theatre relevant today? Do we need actors and greasepaint in today's wi-fi world?

Tonight's performance by Theatre Akimbo, as part of the new festival Made In Worthing, proved that you don't need an interactive, multimedia experience or a middle-of-the-road Disney stageshow to make good theatre. Just good actors, a strong script and an interested audience.
 
'Pool (No Water)' is a play whch explores the tensions created when one person from a group of friends becomes more successful than the others. In this case, it's a group of artists who are forced to explore not only friendship, but the very ethics and morals of the contemporary art world, where shock value is everything.
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John-Paul Flintoff's road to heaven

The trouble is, we believe, that if you pull on a loose thread on a woolly jumper, the whole thing starts to unravel.

In Through The Eye Of The Needle, journalist John-Paul Flintoff starts with a nagging doubt about a laser-measured, tailor-made suit he buys in New York while researching a story about the city’s sweatshops. Buying the suit is the start of a long journey and along the way the author decides that he should make his own clothes instead – down to the pair of crocheted pants he ends the book wearing. He learns the skills to knit and sew, acquires a vintage treadle-powered Singer sewing machine, and experiments with weaving with nettles.

Learning the crochet skills to make his own pants is part of a long and reasoned process that looks at the ‘Transition Towns’ movement and the end of our oil-based culture; Christianity, The Quakers and Buddhism; and the costs and ethics of international trade.

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Itís a social thing... artmaking, identity and context at The Collage Party in the Context Gallery in Derry

The social side of arts practice, the ephemeral what-ifs tossed around help give context to one's ideas. It's as important as art making itself as it helps form one's social identity. When you're around other artists, your art-making makes-sense.

At a recent artists' meet-up with members of Practice.ie (an online and offline artists community for artists who work with kids) I heard from a few artists who've graduated in the last few years suffering from loss-of-context: working outside the art world; lacking space & time; around family or friends who can' speak their same language. They feeling like they';re losing their identity. One woman developing an arts facilitation practice specifically asked me for advice on what to put on her business card, because she didn' feel she could claim the title ‘artist' anymore.

Paul Butler's The Collage Party, a touring performance/exhibition has been travelling around Canada, the US and Europe since 1998. Recently, the party was held at the Context Gallery in Derry. (The new director, Theo Sims, previously worked at aceartinc in Winnepeg where The Collage Party originated.) You walk into the gallery space and see a mock-up living room marked by wallpaper, a comfy sofa, and a large group of tables strewn with cut paper, stacks of magazines, piles of scissors and glue sticks. You're invited to sit down and get to work amongst the resident artists: Rodney LaTourelle, Louise Witthöft, Ruth Van Beek, Benjamin De Burca and Erica Eyres.

 

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The Maybelles in Brighton

Songs about incest, alien gospel, the audience making farm animal noises - it could only be country & western, couldn't it?

In fact, it's a blend of Appalachian music from all-girl trio The Maybelles. They use double bass, guitar and fiddle with three voices that - while each being distinct - come together perfectly. And it makes a great sound, a loose old-time country reminiscent of The Carter Family, Gillian Welch or The Be-Good Tanyas (both of whom they cover).

There are some great dance tunes, where Melissa's hard-driven double bass thumps out a promitive rock 'n' roll rhythm for Katie-Rose's fiddle to scratch, jump and leap around.

And there are some songs tackling traditional themes played with a straight face, like the touching 'Leaving Town' about a mother abandoning her young son to escape the law. Jan, on guitar and lead vocals, is a Yorkshire lass and it's easy to make the connection between tunes like this and the kind of songs Kate Rusby or Ruth Notman would sing.

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Imagine: David Hockney, BBC TV

I feel the need to comment on this amazing documentary in which the 69 year old painter from Bradford returned to Yorkshire and filled umpteen canvasses with stunning images depicting the landscape of his youth.