Beautiful World, Where Are You

…Fantastic Sex Scenes

Beautiful World Where Are You is Sally Rooney’ hot ticketed, successive, novel. After the grand-slam of Normal People, enacted into a BB3 series, then aired on BBC 1 amidst lockdown restrictions, her new novel was much anticipated. Book shops opened early for its UK release; September 7th, within five day it had sold over forty thousand copies, conquering the book charts with literary splendor.

Sally Rooney was in the news afresh last week, the highly ethical author refused publishing rights to the Israli publishing house which she had worked with previously. This was inline with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), a Palistinion led culture and economic sanction group tackling Israli companies at the helm of segregation and human rights violations.

Beautiful World Where are You, is well worth the wait!

Well worth the wait!

**Spoiler Alert**

We were presented with an expressly up-to-the-minute Ireland. We had: Tinder dates, lengthy discourse over intercourse email, bi-sexuality and casual narcotics. Sally Rooney attended the Liverpool Literary Festival in October 2018 to give a reading from Normal People which had just been long listed for the Man Booker Prize. The 2018 Biennial was running over that period and the title, Beautiful World Where Are You is said to have been taken from the arts festival. 

As with Normal People we are afforded an outcry of excellent, but vividly real sex scenes. The two central couples in the narrative, Alice and Felix, Eileen and Simon are rampant in the bedroom department. Graphic touching prevails, at a point of passion Felix refers to Alice’s genitalia as Cunt. However, this is not crude or off putting, it is aforementioned in a rather seductive manner. What overrules in both relationships is the intercourse revolves around the woman’s pleasure. Equally, both men are ardent to ensure the woman orgasms before they ultimately release. The author provides the femme characters with the essence of sexual devotees all women merit. 

The author provides the femme characters with the essence of sexual devotees all women merit 

Sexuality is elevated throughout the plot, a major theme in her initial novel: Conversations with Friends. The relationship between Alice and Felix appears to have been developed from a short story ‘Mr Salary’ which she had published at an earlier stage. Alice and Felix are mutually bi-sexual, they confer over this early on in their relationship, both are comfortable with the scenario. However, we are not bestowed with a radical view of sexuality through the novel, their carnality  is essentially normalised. In a mid way chapter, Felix phones Alice to say he can’t make their arrangement that evening. He proceeds to go out with his friends from the warehouse in which he works,  intoxication on beer and casual narcotics follows. Back of several text messages to Alice, she complies to him coming over, culminating in him virtually passing out when his head splurges over the pillow. Could we have a more straightforward synopsis than this? A writer who keeps it real and reminds of all the insane encounters archived  in our long term memory.

The satire of Alice finding porn exploring annal sex on his homepage

A first-rate third novel which jet-packs us to a contemporary Ireland. On a Global stage, Sally Rooney is certainly one of the strongest Millennial authors to have emerged in recent years. Questions have to surface over the relationship between herself, a greatly successful fiction writer and the character of Alice, a prosperous author. Is she utilizing the character of Alice to vent her frustrations over the publishing world and her individual exuberance? Concluding during the early stages of lockdown, Felix being dejectively affected through lack of employment and intense boredom. The last chapter of the novel appears to jump forward eighteen months, perhaps constructed after the other chapters had been edited, the gap appearing more extensive as a result of everyday life changing so much due to the pandemic. A novel with feminist pursuits throughout also appears to be questionable when it transpires that Eileen is pregnant with Simon’s baby. What was once an on/off non committal relationship becomes a happy-ever-after tale on automatic pilot.

And…fantastic sex scenes

125: Everton Library

Last Saturday saw a flurry of events to mark the 125th birthday of Everton library. There were skechers, scribblers, cake, bird making and John Lennon made an appearance on what would have been his 81st Birthday. 

Gem of Everton Brow

Everton library originally opened in 1886, one of the earliest public book hordes  in Liverpool. The once dubbed ‘Gem of Everton Brow’ also functioned as a technical college and remained open until 1999. Unlike the Millenium Bug it’s state of disrepair became a reality and dereliction prevailed. Emergency repairs were made after flooding and vandalism to ensure the grade II listed building didn’t fall further into disarray. Two previous funding bids to restore the library failed. ‘Open Everton Library’ campaign has acquired funds to complete remedial work commencing this very autumn. Further funding bids for restoration were approved, however with complications around the global pandemic and the central government take over of Liverpool City Council, funding is no longer a certainty. 

Green credentials will be pivotal to retrofitting the late Victorian edifice. Existing features will remain, choices made between historical importance and eco-efficiency to be conducted. Harrison Stringfellow Architects are looking to introduce natural materials: sheeps wool and hempcrete. Hempcrete is a modern material, the combination of substance of millenia old hemp with eco-friendly bio resin to produce a material which is used in a similar way to concrete. Materials and workforce to be sourced locally boosting the circular economy.

‘Lost tribe’, the 140 thousand scattered across the city

The day started with a divide, a creative one in this case. Gathered in the historic St George’s Church, opposite the Birthday Building, two camps were formed: the artists and the writers. North End sketchers made up the majority of the drawers. They picked up their stools, papers, clip boards, trusted pencils and made haste to visually document the once great Victorian structure. The writers were briefed to consider the past, present and the future of the grade II listed home of learning. Biros to lined jotters, some wrote of memories of when the library had functioned, others identified with its current state of disrepair. The two bodies were then to reunite, the urbanscapes were viewed and readings were prevalent. A first rate start to a creative celebration.

Homebaked, the popular Anfield based CIC brought in the pies for lunch, nighlighting the potential for the use of local supply chains from the onset.

Adorning a paper chain of corsages, the aloofness of the sculptural representation was apparent as he stared, off-focus, into the endless heavens.

The celebrations then moved to the marquee sited in the quadrangle in the rear of the library. This gave the children a chance to shine, flapping bird creations in the formation. Mid afternoon all actions were to cease. As ‘Imagine all the people’ took over the sound waves, John Lennon made an appearance. On what would have been the Beatles legends 81st Birthday, he literally got off his trolley. An oversized bronze statue of Lennon was wheeled into the marquee, then resting centrally. Smart phones on hand, the crowds endeavoured to capture images of the immortalised icon of Beatlemania. Adorning a paper chain of corsages, the aloofness of the sculptural representation was apparent as he stared, off-focus, into the endless heavens.

The singing of Happy Birthday was followed by cake. The Poets took the stage and the event was to finish with a projection onto the side elevation of the library.

Open Everton Library is the campaign to reopen the now dishevelled Victorian learning space. They need funding and spreading awareness of the project within the local community. 

A great project, to restore the heritage of the past and to provide the environmentally sustainable future we require.

Flatland: Tate Liverpool

In 2018, Emily Speed flourished with her application for the pioneering North-West based artists award to mount a full scale exhibition based at Tate Liverpool. With the pandemic delayed manifestation she astounds us with Flatland.

Speed, based in Liverpool, succeeding studying fine art in Edinburgh and the Capital: London, she resituated within the region. Over the last decade her practice has converged upon costume production and performance art. Works relate directly to the afflictions between persons and architectural structures. Through this she identifies with how dwellings configure their inhabitants, but equally, how an individual occupies the physiological confines of their prescribed arena.

Flatland was primarily the title for a late Victorian satirical novella written by a school master: Edwin Abbott Abbott, in which the exhibition pertains. In this he creates a fictional two dimensional world: Flatlands, all its inhabitants only exist in two dimensions. The narration is given through the eyes of  Square: representing the professional classes. The lowest class order are that of women, who are portrayed as simple straight lines. Workmen and Soldiers are isosceles triangles, equilaterals representing craftsmen. Hexagons are the lowest level of the nobility, increasing to the many sided polygons, almost circles, which serve as Priests. Male offspring are allowed to gain a side; Squares children are pentagons, accrediting them to ascend the class ladder. The isosceles triangles of the soldiers and workmen are only permitted to attain several degrees by generation, ensuring reaching the the craftsmen level of equilateral triangle, is a generation-lengthy process. There are restrictions to the number of children higher level polygons can produce, limiting potential leadership challenges.

Square is introduced to the world of three dimensions by Sphere. After initial reluctance, he is able to see the world in 3D. However, Square takes analytics to the next level, realising the potential for the fourth dimension: time, thus leading to him being mocked in disbelief by Sphere. Although the book was not a phenomenal success when published it became more widely acknowledged in the 1920’s after Einstein’s theory of Relativity determined a fourth dimension. Abbott Abbott is often seen as a revolutionary in terms of insight, the novella has inspired many further works on every level conceivable. An episode of the teenage animation ‘Futurama’ draws on the manuscript when two space vessels collide and become one flat sphere. 

Emily Speed’ Flatlands centers around feminist agendas within the novella. Women being of the lowest caste level, minimal individual lines which don’t pertain to geometric shapes.  They are necessitated, by Flatlands law, to make a peace cry as they walk, pandering to the patriarchal notion of hysterical women. Equally, females are required to use more diminished alternative entrances to males. This is due to them being deemed deadly as they can transfix men, their frontal points harpoon-like. This notion is opposed to other feminist concepts within the novella, the potential to scare and maim men. This could be considered empowering, however it could equally relate to the earlier period of whitchcraftery where women were systematically held accountable of acts of depravity which they did not commit.

In the 2D realm of Flatlands, women do scant above staying home and adhering to the instructions put to them by their husbands. Alternatively, in the 3D world they are presented in an entirely new manner. They are colourful, curvacious and even quarrelsome. Although they follow male directions they display intuitiveness, they are not subservient in the way of their 2D counterparts. To some degree, Matilda, of the 3D world, almost goes as far as demancicating Square through her talk of cuteness. Potentially advanced introspective, Abbott Abbott was to relinquish life in the mid 1920’s, a period when women were granted the right to vote.

In Flatland, the novella, having irregular sides is viewed as deformity and harshly frowned upon. Speed offers a contrasting view of disability by championing a deaf performer in the secondary video installation. In this she displays a woman using sign language as a primal and suggestive of, only means of communication. The screen is encompassed by the set used in the  main film. Based on Japanese Kabuki sets it is portable and protracts and retracts depending on the requirements of the performance. Reminiscent of primary sports hall structures, opening into new dimensions as lessons dictate. A second section of the set displays the costumes adorned by the performers.

The exhibition also displays ‘The Corridor’ from Maria Maria Helena Vieira da Silva. A 1920’s cubist painting subjecting one point visions to various planes of angled relations. Although looking to promote a source of inspiration for Speed’ practice it appears somewhat out of place as a single painting in a contemporary Art installation. 

The main focus point of the exhibition is around the video of a compelling performance piece. Commencing with a performer opening out her apron to unfold a series of architectural structures from what appears to transcend from the internal of her body. The all female cast are bestowed in garments for housework in colourless browns and dusky pinks of the Victorian era. The pallid actresses start, in common with Speed’ earlier performance work, zombie-like and alien to one another. They move around the geometric set, facing either straight on or directly behind, grid-like through position. The almost tent-like set is moved around, sections unzipped then re-zipped. A prominent hand motion sequence is accentuated, oblate hands oscillating below, then above on another on linear planes. Dancing takes place, but the women are restricted to confined motions, positioned in a row as they fluctuate their hips, machine-like, from one side to the opposite. 

As the performance progresses the women initiate eye contact and work with one another. House-work-like chores, similar to that of folding sheets and pegging up clothing, are conducted in factions. The music becomes livelier, moving toward the drum and bass tunes of our modern day dance venues. The women begin to shift into new costumes, one a modern synthetic lime-like fabric. Wadding is exploited to make a cube-like skirt and jacket. Developing into a contemporary night venue dancing scene. The women move freely in dancing motions, transcending the stage in illustrious free flow passage.

This is subdigated by a somewhat conflicting, pithy, pole dancing specticle. Despite being clothed to dancer is evidently portrayed within an errotic, as opposed to fitness realm. Through this we endeavor to determine what directive is being portrayed. Does the pole relate to the two dimensions of Flatland, the dancing portraying women as flat sex objects as opposed to intelligent, highly functional individuals? Alternatively, are we being presented with a woman who is allowed the modern day freedom to dance in a sexual way which was denied to females during the Victorian era?

An exhibition which broaches, but does not always resolve, so many questions. Undeniably, significant feminist work which bridges the overlay between performance and fine arts practice. An artist to take notice of as she accelerates within the realms of creativity and the feminist pursuit of gender equality.

A must set aside an hour exhibition, to examine Flatlands with the depth it sanctions. 

Exhibition continues to June 5th 2002, booking essential.

Assemblage Art

Assemblage Art is the combination of images and discarded items to form new artwork.

The art form dates back to the curiosity cabinets of the fifteen hundreds which became popular again during the Victorian era. Picasso brought the artform into the mainstream in the early twentieth century, developed further by the Italian Arte Povera (Pour Art) movement. Today it is a commonplace process within contemporary art practice. Tracey Emin, a leading modern master, exploits the process through her installation works, MY BED in particular.

Hither, I have taken some customary objects and magazine images to create a representation of FEAR. The F is from a burned out car number plate, suggesting a potentially fatal car accident. The female image of a pirate is unusual in terms of gender, but potentially a more potent threat. To her right we have an image of a woman torn, implying that she has lost her head. Womens safety when walking alone has become a very concerning issue within the UK. This week we have seen a full life sentence with no opportunity for release given out to Wayne Couzens, the serving Police Officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in March of this year. Secondly, an arrest of a food delivery  worker has been made for the Murder of primary school teacher  Sabina Nessa  earlier in the month. Both women were innocent victims walking alone, unknown to their predators. 

The image of the mountains, high reaching and glacial, combined with the plastic spiders draw attention to the dangers of the natural world. Finally, a depiction of a woman with her face wiped out with paint. Representing the current Taliban regime in Afghanistan where women and girls are being denied education and employment, effectively being wiped out of society.

Assemblage Art: 



Allows everyone to be an artist!

Give it a go!