I prefer to keep old things running by making small repairs rather than replace the whole thing at the first sign of wear. I also hate bullshit sales patter and prefer a down-to-earth talker. This is why I was so happy with THE BUNKER in Bristol. It's a small red brick building on the north bank of the river, right next to the pedestrian bridge by the Create centre. With just a chalk board for a sign and an outdoor workshop that ceases to exist when it rains, the proprietor, Harvey (seen here replacing a headset), has unwavering dedication to recycling and good bike maintenance.
I bought a second-hand pannier rack for £15 and 2 sets of brake pads for £5 each. He lent me his tools and let me fit it all there and then. Exactly the price and level of service I was after. I couldn't be happier. Go there next time you need a fix.
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Reducing domestic waste experiment #1
Thesis: It is possible to buy meat without creating any domestic plastic waste? Result: PROVEN.
Method: Take the plastic box with the sealable lid, that you have in your cupboard from that recent take-away meal, to your butchers of choice and ask them to package your products in it. Carry the box in the strong reusable bag that is in your cupboard or drawer. This burdens you with no single-use plastic and reduces your personal contribution to landfill waste. This is not recycling, this is better than recycling.
Test environment: Over the past two weeks I have achieved this in three local butchers and the meat counter in my favourite supermarket. All of whom were happy to oblige and one even complimented me on my efforts. This has not cost me any extra money, it simply required a little forethought.
P.S. This is not an original idea, I saw people doing this when I was a kid. I often find myself in disbelief that single-use plastic bags are used to package so many things.
Beginning on Sunday 24 June 2012, artists both amateur and professional are gathering every 2 weeks in Southville for a refreshing new style of life drawing. 'Real Life Drawing, Bristol' is held in a private function room at the Hen & Chicken, Southville, and the models don't look like you'd expect.
We invite participants to bring their sketch books and illustrate exceptional anatomy. Artists are provided the opportunity to study the human form in circumstances rarely represented. You can expect to see unnatural posture, gravity defying bits, expressive faces, stretched parts, angular parts and swinging parts.
First session is Sun 24 June from 7pm to 9pm and costs £5 per person. For details of all the session visit http://reallifedrawing.co.uk
I have recently started doing some work with PRSC (People's Republic of Stokes Croft) in Bristol. The community art centre is a good place for me to be. My hands-on creative art practice is am important release and simultaneous support to the heavy logical world of computer coding. Pictured above is me driving steel rods down the centre of the smashed head. I felt it was important to restore the missing sculpture, which has been absent from Turbo Island since it was vandalised 12 months ago, because they were an important point of navigation for me when I first started visiting Bristol and I am sure they are for others. As a local it is easy to become blind to everyday sights but it's important to remember to think like a visitor.
I am proud to announce that Open Mic Finder have launched their new mobile-friendly version of the site at openmicfinder.co.uk. The new design offers all the functionality and great user interface of the desktop version but optimised for small screens. Search for open mics by typing in an address or using your device's current GPS location.
Do you want to take part in a live art battle in this little old town of Taunton? I am planning this trial event with view to taking it on tour around the South West in the future. The rules are simple, 2 artists (or teams) going head to head in a 90 minute art battle, armed only with black markers, white walls and a head full of imagination! Winners will be determined by a combination of guest judges and crowd noise.
WHAT I NEED: 2 artists able to draw in the cartoon/realist style, a couple of funky DJs and a venue to do it in (pub, club, bar, empty shop).
If the structure of this event sounds familiar it's because it's lifted from the globally successful Secret Walls (previously Secret Wars) who have held over 1000 battles, witnessed by more than 200,000 people. Please check out videos of their events to know what to expect http://www.youtube.com/secretwalls If this trial event is a success it could mean regular battles in Plymouth, Exeter, Bournemouth and other locations around the South West.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Contact me. Add or message me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/martin.joiner or drop me a comment on here. I will set up a meeting for artists, DJs and venue owners in a local pub to give anyone interested a chance to ask questions and get a feel for the event before committing themselves.
Please spread the word and share this blog post with anyone who may be interested.
I am teaching a diabolo skills workshop at the 1610 Sports centre in Minehead on Wednesday. Both the under 9s morning session and the 9+ afternoon sessions are fully booked.
It's early days for my residency at Plymouth University. The students are still only just getting to realise that I am there and why the course even has an artist in residence. I moved into my large blank-walled studio space a couple of weeks ago and starting breaking up the visual silence with some quick, large-scale charcoal+chalk drawings. This was a great way to let the students come and find me at their own pace and start talking art. From the few I have met so far, they are a good bunch... this is going to be an exciting year!
* WARNING: SELF INDULGENT AND SENTIMENTAL BLOG POST *
The most meditative thing I know how to do is spend an afternoon tidying my studio and cleaning my tools. This rare biannual occurrence feels like a free shopping spree as I refamiliarise myself with things I forgot I had. I found spray caps, pieces of wood and drawing materials that I had no idea I owned! I sorted waste into the recycling and put receipts in date order. It is a time of reflection as I wipe away smears of grease and pigment, left on rubberised handles by art projects. In my mind I am revisiting moments from recent events, triggering memories and galvanising my understanding of technique. Simultaneously committing to memory the results of past experiments and preparing my tools for future projects.
Now that I am one of four artists in residence down at Plymouth University my studio practice is split into two spaces with an 80 mile gap in between. I get incredibly frustrated if I can't lay my hand on a tool when I need it so risking travelling down to South Devon for a few days and leaving my trusty staple gun in Taunton is not an option. I'm going to be writing check lists that would make a military officer feel ill-prepared.
The most satisfying moment of today was when I was sorting through a box of charcoal sticks and chalk that had got mixed up. In the mix were a few rubbers, completely blackened. So I took a piece of plywood and rubbed them clean. I thoroughly rcommend it.