On July 1st the Norwich Pride Portrait show opens at St Gregory’s Church of Art, Pottergate, Norwich. Inspired by this I’ve worked on a series of self-portraits, 3 done, another on the way. I’m not interested in what I look like, but what represents me. And then I thought I’d like to try and represent someone else – but who to choose?
I’ve chosen Peter Tatchell. I haven’t always admired him, to my shame. When I was a closeted younger man, I used to wish he would keep his big mouth shut and stop rocking the boat while he and others were demanding queer rights. But gradually, over the years, I’ve mended my ways. Nowadays, even when I don’t agree with him, I admire and respect him for his views and his courage in facing down bigotry and inequality.
Peter has spoken out on a host of topics, including AIDS, Animal Rights, Asylum, Civil Liberties, Disability Rights, Free Speech, LGBT Rights, Murder Music, Pornography, Religion, Sex Education, and Social Justice.
I have decided to auction off this painting in support of Peter Tatchell’s human rights work, with all the money going to Peter. The bidding will end at 5pm on July 30th 2011, the day of Norwich Pride itself. You can donate direct to Peter via his website. http://www.petertatchell.net/
Results of the Living Poem, devised by Vince Laws, Trudy Howson and the Out Write crew, held in St Margaret’s Church of Art, as part of Norwich Fringe Festival, 15-28 May 2011. In bold are the questions asked, followed by the public responses.
What have you been? I have been…
A bucket of broken glass. Crimson on a brilliant white sink. Overly affected by other people. Let down. Burnt, held underwater until I drowned, born many times, made breathless by love, strangled, fucked every which way. Lady Gaga’s egg. Worse. Younger. A guilt trip and a smile at the same time. Dirty underpants, burnt custard, lipstick on piano keys. Loved, hated, jealous, jealous of, disappointed, amazed. Blessed and happy. Loved. Laced up with acid in a green opal fruit… Here before. Alive and happy a long time ago… Other places and spaces. A life model, a crispy noodle extractor, a factory operative, a bus conductor, a student, a shelf filler, labourer, sheet metal worker, unemployed, agency worker. On the edge. Lost to myself. Loved. Lad. I have been without the dog today. To the edge and back (time after time…) I have been here!
What Did Earl Grey Say?
I use to make coffee. What happened to my face? Fuck I’m good! PG Tips taste better! Is 100 enough? I saved the emperor’s life and get a cup of tea!! I’ll be really pissed off if I end up advertising tea? Keep calm and drink tea! White or brown? Any cake? I love tea me. Hmm, personally I prefer coffee! I love coffee. Actually, I quite like it with a dash of milk. Two sugars with my tea please! Holla. “Ciao bella!” Racist. Stick it on the money. Cuppa? By jingo that’s good tea! Is the Queen coming? Lemon sucks. We do have to keep it clean don’t we? How on earth did I get here on the front of a box? I secretly wish I was Baron Beige. It’s not the entities in your sensory environment that are to blame. It’s your disingenuous response.
What do you believe in?
Phil Good equality The Lord Jesus Creativity God! In love (and cake) the Gods FHate Myself TRUST Karma Nufink Om The moment Love is art! Everlasting geometry. Equality. Cows. Honesty Friendship love Being the best I can be the past Football shopping cheese mouldy myself redistribution of wealth myself Honeycomb Hope Reincarnation creativity The Buddha Life A spirit and soul. In the forces of nature and mind. Happiness Food In nothing because the only thing I believe can’t be true! Me. My Nan and Grandad Only I can achieve my dreams farmyard sheep!!! Love. Makin’ Loove (sex) love and hateness and hart broken things because everyone has it TRUST! Cool you too. Cats are from another planet. Myself BAAAAAAA! The world of Spirits The Universe holding on smiling. Enjoy the little things. Small things make all the difference. I believe in Nature. Art No religion! A gift of G_O_D Divinity.
What Mistake Did You Make?
Not trying. I never make mistakes. Hard to say. My attitude problem. To think love was the answer to everything. Not loving myself. Pretending to be someone else.
“It is when you think you pass love
That is when you meet your last love
And you love them like you never did before.”
- I did and sometimes wish I hadn’t.
To steal. 2 trust the wrong person. Wasted too much time on people who really weren’t worthy of it! I poured orange juice in my tea (and then added milk!) I poured orange juice in my cereal. That Burger King was good for me. To change for another’s sake and take my castel wall down – to be misused. Saying No when I should have said Yes. To trust those who will inevitabley betray me,
Let me down and leave me. To hope that someone else could take responsibility for my own happiness. To forget to be joyful and trust (for a short while!) Going out with Edward – Sorry. I was going to eat a firecracker. Going out with Jordan. To slip out of my mother’s cunt breathing. I was so nervous on my driving test I got in the wrong car at the test centre (still passed). Have not fell in luve yet! Doing drugs. I didn’t become an artist straight from school. I’m now 46! I once put my cup of tea in the fridge and went off to drink the pint of milk. I got angry. That I did not take opportunity by the hand when it was there. I made the wrong choice and now I’m crying full time!!! I gave everything I had just to get my heart broken and my ass kicked. To not let love in. Believing Pepsi was better than Coke. My roots show up in pictures.
I fell in love with a rat who saw a gerbera as an exploding universe! There are no mistakes!! Too many mistakes to mention – the trick is learning from them. To let my head rule my heart. I fell in love. To endure a job which was making me ill for too long cos people (family) wanted me to. My mistake was to think your mistake was my mistake and to apologise for it. To love others more than myself. Rise above the emotional plane.
What makes you different?
Optimism and a belief in the good in people. Myself. My personality. My time and date of birth. If someone needed help I would help them! Nothing but my separating mind… I dream about haunted bathtubs. OCD about spelling and apostrophes! And I write stories about giraffes and cows. Me. My morals. I hate myself when I’m happy. My unique DNA. My genetic make up. My humour.
Personality. My ego. Who are “We”? My sometimes overwhelming desire to work out what someone needs and then try and give it to them. Vive la difference!
What makes you the same?
Drunk. My genetic make up. Just because I nod doesn’t mean I understand. In Norwich, I’m three steps. Love. I hurt. I love food. I’m not. Blood and guts. Human experience. The gift of life.
Choose your words. What are the cruellest? What are the kindest?
You are nothing to me. Your dead to me. You are utterly useless. When I see you I light up – you always make me happy! You are utterly useless. Will you marry me? I love and accept you exactly as you are now. Will you love me for a while? Aren’t we amazing?! ARRRR! I bleed thoughts if you cut me. I hate my father but I love my mother. That thing I hate about you is what I hate about me. Can I help you? Blossom is wonderful. I wish we never met. You are nothing. I forgive you. Popacatapetal. I want you but not your children.