Thursday, 24 January 2013


This blog is a chronological, anecdotal look-back at all 19 'talks' I gave as part of my residency & exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre during 2010/11.

Intended as a kind of public speaking boot-camp it was a willfully diverse inquiry into the many uses of the artists voice:

#19 The Planetarium Performance Lecture, again
#18 The Abstracted Artists Talk, again
#17 The Questionaire
#16 The Announcement in The Herald
The Planetarium Performance Lecture
#14 The Reading
#13 The Walkthrough
#12 The Resource Area
#11 The Radio Interview
#10 Introducing Films I've Never Seen
#9  The Screenings
#8 The Empty Gallery Interview
The Abstracted Artists Talk, again (10 yr olds)
#6 The Career Guidance
The Abstracted Artists Talk
#4 The Public Speaking Club
#3 The Poster
#2 The Keynote (Abstracted Artist Talk)
#1 The Dictaphone


Please also take a look at to see what events and artworks this lead onto afterwards and elsewhere.

#19 'A HERMIT'S MOVIE IV: IN TREES' British Art Show 7

-24th Nov 2011. Immersive Vision Theatre, Plymouth University

(Mirrored poster, designed for IVT lobby plasma screen.)

I was invited to redeliver my performance lecture 'A Hermit's Movie IV: In Trees', devised for the Immersive Vision Theatre planetarium at the centre of the University campus. This time as part of the Constellation series of events supporting the arrival of the British Art Show 7 to the city of Plymouth.

This event marked the end of the Keep Him Talking series.

I have now developed a new, absurdly scaled back version - a kind of talk about that talk - that can be delivered in any interior, using just a laptop, a data projector and a microphone, entitled 'Hermit Movie Rethink'.

#18 'WHAT JUST HAPPENED': Spike Island

-Tuesday 14th June 2011, Spike Island gallery, Bristol.

'What Just Happened?' listing, Spike Island brochure. Design: James Langdon.

I was invited to deliver another version of 'What Just Happened?', my abstracted artists talk, as part of the events programme at Spike Island. As usual, the audience dictated the content of the talk by choosing which works I discussed based only on their titles.

As usual, after a short introduction and explanation of the rules I ask for a show of hands and the first person picks a title. After I've spoken about that work I ask someone else to pick, then I speak about that one, and so it goes on, for about an hour.

This time the artworks selected were:

1: Step Test - With David Blandy, The Barefoot Lone Pilgrim (2004)
2: Raised Particles (2002)
3: The Dad Directives (2008)
4: Popular Problems (2010)
5: Magic Wands (2000)
6: The Least Most (The Most Least) (2009)
7: 90 Minutes Of Whittling (2005)
8: 1.234p (2008)
9: Relaunch Announcement Sculpture (2009)
10: Top Secret UK Airbase From Memory 2004-)
11: Doctor's Note (2005)

#17 'I THE GOD': Questionaire

-Weds, 16th March,

 (image courtesy 'I The God/ Hayden Kays)

I was invited to be the 104th participant in Hayden Kays' I The God creative person interview blog.

You can read my answers here.

#16 PLYMOUTH HERALD: Announcement

-Fri 25th February, 2011
I placed an announcement in The Plymouth Herald newspaper on the last Friday of the exhibition, amongst the usual birthdays, marriages, deaths and messages of good luck. A copy of the advert was also placed in the Resource Area for this last weekend of the exhibition.

#15 'A HERMIT'S MOVIE IV: IN TREES' The Immersive Vision Theatre

-Fri 18th February, 7.30pm. IVT, Plymouth University

(Image courtesy

This was an elaborate audio visual performance lecture written specifically for the small concrete planetarium in the middle of the Plymouth University campus. The title 'A Hermit's Movie IV: In Trees' (as well as a cryptically appropriate description of my approach) is an anagram of 'Immersive Vision Theatre. The project began with me knocking at the building's front door, curious to work out what that name meant.

The 'Immersive Vision Theatre'

Designed in the format of an hour long stand-up show (but with only one joke) with accompanying surround sound and 180° projections from a variety of sources: Live data of deep space; home movies; text animations; a virtual tornado; Google Art Project; fish-eye installation shots; and a new film of the elm tree next to the Planetarium.

The title screen

Delivered as a disembodied voice over the sound system to the setaed audience of 40 the talk describes the difficulty of writing a lecture for a such a place, involving karaoke, astronomy, astrology, the mirror room in the Palace of Versaille and a tour of the known universe and back.

#14 SALON SOUTH WEST: 'The Smile'

- Thurs 17th February, 4:30pm, Wongles Tea Room, Plymouth

A live reading of 'The Smile' by J G Ballard from an original copy of issues 6 of Bananas, the short-lived literary newspaper where it was first published in 1976.

(All photos courtesy of Beth Richards)

'The Smile' is the first-person narrative of an unnamed man's growing attachment to a young woman he sees in an old antique shop. The story is in many ways untypical Ballard; domestic and romantic, sentimental even, albeit with a familiar sharp eye for the absurd and irrational and our creeping proximity to some kind of fatalistic collapse.

Wanting to choose an appropriate location for the reading we settled on somewhere on The Barbican, the historic cobbled marina area with it's faded popularity, overlooked back streets and idiosyncratic character.

(Above: Cover design of Issue #6 of Bananas)

This was my second public reading of 'The Smile'. The first was at Spike Island in Bristol, UK, as part of a 'White Out', a day of events around the exhibition 'Nanoq: Flat Out an Bluesome' by Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson where ten taxidermised polar bears from collections around the country were gathered into the exhibition space.


-Weds 19th Jan, 1pm, Plymouth Arts Centre. Free

(Image © PVAC)

At the invitation of PVAC (Plymouth Visual Arts Consortium) I gave a tour of my exhibition as the first event in 'Constallation', an events series leading up to the arrival of the British Art Show 7 in Plymouth in September 2011.

Leading a walk through discussion of the show I began by explaining how I had arrived in Plymouth, the nature of the residency and how the exhibition had come together. Spending about 30 mins in each gallery I described my ambitions and responses to each work and their position in the room, then we moved to the cafe for a complimentary afternoon tea and a relaxed conversation about each of our working practices.


-15th Jan 2011 - 27th Feb 2011, Plymouth Arts Centre

All photos courtesy Simon Keitch

Working closely with Education Officer Caroline Mawdsley and Education Assistant Scott Daniels I decided to develop my own version of a resource area for the exhibition.

Above, from left - right: Annotated list of every art work I've made; Full CV; Pending objects from studio that have yet to used in artwork; Source material for works in exhibition; Books related to my practice chosen by others; 'Barry's Family Funtime Quiz'; Anagrams of exhibition title. Foreground: Vitrine tables of book and pamphlet projects.

Above: Rather than select them myself, the books in the Resource Area were each chosen by someone I had encountered in Plymouth whilst on the residency, who now knew something about my practice. 

 Above: As the exhibition title 'Recreate A Nervy Pistol? (An Early Retrospective)' incorporates an anagram I displayed the rest of my shortlist, also giving the visitors a chance to come up with their own, writing down any they found - this taking pace of a comments book.

Left: I also sought the audience's input in 'Barry's Family Funtime Quiz - Or Visitor Experience Feedback Questionaire For Quantitive Analysis & Interpretation'.
Visitors could take them around the galleries, answering all my inquiries and providing sketches of their favourite piece.

Monday, 17 January 2011


-Monday 17th Jan, BBC Studios, Plymouth. 7.40am

(© BBC Radio Devon)
I was invited into the studios for a live interview with Sparksy, the presenter of the BBC Radio Devon breakfast show.

We spoke on air for ten minutes about the new works I'd made in Plymouth, in particular 'Professional Nice Guy' were I enacted the Free Hugs campaign around the city centre, and my work 'Impersonating A Part Time PCSO'. The conversation was light hearted and enthusiastic and I tried to get across how each work played out and encourage people down to Plymouth Arts Centre to see it.

On January 21st I was called up again by BBC Radio Devon as it was apparently 'National Hugging Day' so they wanted me to talk about my experience on the Shep and Jo' drivetime show.

#10 ARTIST FILM CHOICE: 'Rashomon' & 'The Aristocrats'

-Saturday 15th Jan, 2.30pm & 5.30pm PAC Cinema

Given the chance to programme films into the Arts Centre's 60 seat cinema I devised a double bill of two very different films concerned with a story repeated from multiple viewpoints.

Rashomon Kurosawa, 1950) famously unpicks the mechanics of cinema as three witnesses describe their conflicting viewpoints on a crime, The Aristocrats (Provensa, Jillette, 2005) is a documentary about a legendarily obscene old joke retold with elaborate variations by numerous american comedians.

Appropriately, for these two films about subjectivity and hearsay, I had never seem them. Only imaging for some time that they had a relevance to my work in the exhibition. Inbetween the two screenings I screened the only public viewing of the new 2010 segment of my 'The Ongoing Song ...' project. Made with Jeremy Millar - who I met in the galleries earlier in the year - we recorded it over Christmas and the resulting 5 second clip was shown immediately before 'The Aristicrats' title card appeared.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


-6pm, Weds 12th January 2011, Plymouth Arts Centre

An edition of the monthly film club after a screening of 'Catfish'(2010) focussing on the construction of illusions from found material, deliberatey scheduled during the installation week of my exhibition.

We discussed the impact of the film and it's emotive content, alngside how it might relate to what I was trying to do in the exhibition. I then presented a short selection of films collected from YouTube that I thought had a particular relevance to the idea of negotiating the internet to devise elaborate and engaging fictional narratives.

YouTube film selection:
'Hi Sally' - Tarantino's messages back to his editor filmed on the end of takes.
'Pardon Me' - Maxine Swaby's music video
'Re: Pardon Me' - A response to the original video
'Re:Re: Pardon Me' - 'The Tunnel of love goes on for ever''Re:Re:Re:Re: Pardon Me' - And on
'Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Pardon Me' - And on
'Press Conference' - Tom Waits announces his Glitter and Doom tour
'The Elephant's Self Portrait'


-6pm, Mon 5th January, 2011, Plymouth Arts Centre

The second of two 'Empty Gallery Interview' events during my residency. Devised by Claire Nichols, they are described as 'anticipatory dialogues' that foreground the artists relationship to the gallery space, before any work has been installed.

I chose to offer the hosting of the event to Plymouth artist run space Project Space 11, who led the conversation, asked the set EGI questions and invited responses from the audience as we roamed the three empty spaces and I tried to describe what I would be doing with them. As this was still by no means certain this was also an excercise for me to test out my ideas for the installation.

Recorded in stills and audio, both will be available here and on the EGI and PS11 websites soon.

Friday, 31 December 2010

#7 'WHAT JUST HAPPENED?' Explaining Myself to 10 Year Olds

-26th Nov 2010, 2pm, Chaddlewood Primary School, Plymouth

(All photos by Michelle Moss at Plymouth Arts Centre)

I wanted to attempt my 'What Just Happened?' talk (where I display the titles of all the 50+ artworks I've made over the last ten years and ask audience to pick which ones I talk about - a format designed specifically for this residency and retrospective exhibition) to a group of under tens, testing both my back-catalogue and the format of the talk.

Caroline Mawdsley, the PAC education officer organised a visit to Chaddlewood Primary School to talk to two groups of thirty Year 6 pupils. I arranged my titles in the corner of their sports hall, introduced myself and the rules of the game then asked who wanted to pick first. I had no idea how exciting they would find this...

The first group chose:
1: Top Secret UK Airbase From Memory (2004 -)
2: Hello Sebastian Did You Say A4? (2008)
3: Infinity Camera and Photograph of Infinity (2000)
4: Painted Nature (2006)
5: The Ongoing Song … (2008 - )
6: The Least Most (The Most Least?) (2009)
7: Escape From Your Estrange Wife And Family And Start Living In The Mountains (2005)

Then the second group chose:
1: Wall Painting (2004)
2: 0.001% (2009)
3: Brackets (2008)
4: Hello Sebastian Did You Say A4? (2008)
5: Top Secret UK Airbase From Memory (2004 - )
6: The Ongoing Song … (2008 - )
7: Business Card (2010)

As you can see, there were some duplication in their choices, and not necessarily titles I would have imagined they would be drawn too. It was also interesting to be regaling them with stories of petty theft, tattooing, graffiting nature etc. whilst their teacher looked on. I found myself unapologetically justifying them as tests on my own conscience, that I wasn't suggesting they try this behaviour themselves but that they should have the confidence to follow their ideas through and understand the responsibilities of their own decisions. Also that any of these activities can be legitimately thought of as artwork.

Not wanting to edit out any of my back-catalogue I was surprised how projects or approaches I might have though contentious or convoluted were accepted. Not only was it fascinating to see how the two groups reacted to the various ideas I have attempted, but also their keen interest, animated enjoyment and understanding, many of them keen to come up and chat afterwards.

#6 'EMPLOYEE EXPECTATIONS' Professional Practice Talk

-22nd Jan 2010, 2.30pm, PCAD, Tavistock Place, Plymouth

I was invited to give a talk in at Plymouth College of Art and Design as part of their 'Employee Expectations' series.

I based my talk around the self-initiated projects I had made when there was no other demand for my work, candidly discussing how I had found each opportunity and what benefit had been.

The talk was framed with a declaration of complete honesty, offering the audience of soon-to-be Arts graduates the chance to ask me anything about how I keep going, professionally, emotionall, fiancially and otherwise. Rather than using the usual PowerPoint I illustrated the talk using the various locations of my work on the internet.

#5 'WHAT JUST HAPPENED?' Plymouth College of Art and Design

-18th Nov 2010, 4pm, Studio Theatre, PCAD, Plymouth

(Image: Rachel Dobbs)

I was invited to perform my 'What Just Happened?' talk (where I display the titles of all the 50+ artworks I've made over the last ten years and ask audience to pick which ones I talk about - a format designed specifically for this residency and retrospective exhibition) at Plymouth College of Art and Design.

Over the course of an hour we got through nine works, creating another new set list and route through my practice:

1: Popular Problems (2010)
2: Whittling Station Featuring Wetherspoons Complimentary Condiments (2004)
3: Painted Nature (2006)
4: Hello Sebastian Did You Say A4? (2008)
5: Untitled (Questioning Adults)
6: The Least Most (The Most Least?) (2009)
7: Infinity Camera and Photograph of Infinity (2000)
8: The Ongoing Song … (2008 - )
9: Kitemark and Candles (2005)

I've done a variation of this talk five or six times now; to various gallery audiences, art school students and even some small children.

#4 'TOASTMASTERS' Public Speaking Club

-16th Nov 2010, 7pm, Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Plymouth

(© Toastmasters International)

Toastmasters international are a global network of public speaking clubs. I found out that the Plymouth chapter had a meeting during one of my visits so was keen to attend.

(The venue; Meeting room, Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Plymouth)
Run in a ordered but relaxed manner each evening begins with formal welcome and a short introductory game where members and guests are invited to give a quick improvised comment. Next are a series of scripted short talks by members which are in turn evaluated by individual selected members based on certain criteria depending on their experience; perhaps their style, format or ability to improvise. In a neat twist, these evaluations are deliverd to the group and the evaluation itself is then evaluated; for fairness, observation, succinctness etc...

There are all manner of interesting formal habits to the format of the event. each time someone takes the floor the welcome the Toast Master, the members and guest in order. Each speaker is also applauded from the end of their speech until they take their seat.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


-11th - 28th Aug 2010, Project Space 11, Plymouth

(Composite image of grayscale, full colour and photocopied
reproductions of the 'A Fist Font?' poster, Click to enlarge)

My contribution to 'AGITPROP!' an exhibition organised by Project Space 11, a new artist run space based in Plymouth City Market. Artists were invited to design a contemporary agitprop style poster to be photocopied as an unlimited edition and pasted up all around the city.

As you may have worked out, the Fist Font was made by simply drawing around my own fist with a red marker pen then adding certain details onto the outlines to create the letter forms.

The 'AGITPROP!' Press Release:

‘Agitprop’ – noun,
Political (originally communist) propaganda, esp. in art or literature:
[as adj.] agitprop painters.
ORIGIN: 1930s, Russian, blend of agitatsiya ‘agitation’ and propaganda ‘propaganda.’

In these most political of times, Agitprop! strives to examine the future of contemporary art in society and invites artists to make work in response to this question. Referencing the saturation of the manufactured propaganda image, constantly produced and ubiquitous, Project Space 11 will present a rolling exhibition of black and white posters (both in the Project Space, and throughout the city) created by regional, national and international artists.

(Above: 'Agitprop' propaganda office. Courtesy Project Space 11. Click to enlarge)

(Above: 'Agitprop' campaign wall. Courtesy Project Space 11. Click to enlarge)

Project Space 11 will act as a temporary campaign office for the duration of the show: manufacturing propaganda multiples that visitors can distribute as they see fit.

While the aesthetic responses may refer to the design canon of Soviet and Maoist propaganda images, the connotations of the work refer to a broad range of pertinent issues. Some may be a reaction to institutional agendas, or artists’ responses to hierarchies within the visual arts ecology, others explore what art-propaganda is, or could be.

Agitprop! intends to examine censorship: something that is inherent in the selection and curation process of exhibitions and awards, in a wider sense, and essentially in the curatorial process of this project.

Artists include:

Rebecca Griffiths, Alex Higlett, Simon Bedwell, An Endless Supply, Ellie Harrison, Daryl Waller, Cordelia Cembrowicz, Ella Golt, Laurence Payot, David Sherry, Steven Paige, Jonathan Baron, Eva and Franco Mattes aka 0100101110101101.ORG, Abigail Reynolds, Mark Pearson, Georgina Hounsome, James&Jones, S Mark Gubb, Low Profile, CMS Research Project, Guy Oliver, Shafiq Dad, Oliver Sutherland, Bruce Asbestos….and more to be confirmed.

Monday, 2 August 2010


-16th July 2010, 6.30pm, Education Room, Plymouth Arts Centre

(click to enlarge)

The first in a series of public talks at Plymouth Arts Centre, 'Imagine Being Here Now (What Just Happened?)' was the Artist's Talk as cryptic participatory game. As an introduction to my working methods I collected together every finished artwork I had made over the last decade since the end of my Masters degree (52 it turns out) and devolved the selection process to the audience who had only the titles to go by.

(click to enlarge)

As each artwork was chosen by a different member of the audience - from the grid of titles set out on the wall on coloured cards - I would then call up the appropriate sequence of images in my 260 slide PowerPoint presentation. In the hour duration of the talk we managed to fit in nine different artworks, creating a unique setlist or route through my practice:

1: 'Step Test (with David Blandy - The Barefoot Lone Pilgrim' (2004)
2: 'Infinity Camera & Photograph of Infinity' (2000)
3: 'Blindfolded Sculpting' (2006)
4: 'Whittling Station featuring Wetherspoons Complimentary Condiments' (2004)
5: 'The Charter or Terms of Engagement' (2006)
6: 'Doctor's Note' (2005)
7: 'Billy Joel as Teaching Resource' (2005)
8: 'Escape From Your Estranged Wife and Start Living in the Mountains' (2005)
9: 'The Dad Directives' (2008)

The title 'Imagine Being Here Now' was a direct lift from a recent lecture by Lucy Lippard given at The Falmouth Convention , a four day conference focussing on time and place in art making. She began her keynote speech with the admission "'Imagine Being Here Now' is a title I offer up for advance publication when I have no idea yet what I’ll talk about". I enjoyed how this candid confession detached itself from whatever followed and became a riddle or motto for simultaneous engagement and detachment, mixed with a bit of professional resourcefulness. -->

As far as I can ascertain she has used the title at least three times in recent years, each time adding a more explanatory subtitle. For example ‘Imagine Being Here Now: Towards a Multicentred Exhibition Process” as the Falmouth lecture became, or “
Imagine Being Here Now: Stories in the Landscape” at the Santa Fe Art institute in 2006, amongst others.

Likewise, my talk generated it's own subtitle: 'Imagine Being Here Now (What Just Happened?)', pointing at the retrospective nature of the contents and the sleight of hand involved in its coming into being.


-21st April 2010, 6pm, Gallery 1,2,&3, Plymouth Arts Centre

(Click to enlarge)

I had recently heard about a project called 'The Empty Gallery Interviews' and was immediately taken with the idea. this is how they describe themselves:

"THE EMPTY GALLERY INTERVIEWS is a series of live conversations staged with exhibitors ahead of their exhibitions. Set inside empty galleries across London, art writers Claire Nichols and Altair Roelants stage informal interviews that make public the anticipatory dialogue that exists between the exhibitor and the exhibition space.
Talking with each artist about their upcoming show, the Interviews offer an insight into the methodology that informs the artist’s response to the gallery space; tracing their evolving relationship to the space in the lead up to installing the work. Putting into practice a vocal ordering of the visual, the Interviews consider what it might mean to perform or translate the artist’s response to the gallery site."
After attending one of the interviews I asked them if they would be interested in following the progression of my residency at Plymouth Arts Centre. Now working alone - as Altair has left the country - Claire agreed to stretch the format of the interviews over the course of my residency, giving me her list of usual questions to take to Plymouth for my first tour of the galleries.

The Empty Gallery Interviews questions:


Having not read them before I answered them with my initial reactions into an old tape dictaphone whilst meandering alone through the galleries on a quiet Wednesday evening.

We will follow this stage with our first public face to face interview in September as my ideas have progressed, possibly in London, then a final public interview in the empty galleries of Plymouth Arts Centre just prior to installation.