Saturday, 29 March 2008


Weather cold, clear and painfully bright.

I drank too much, talked too loudly about Katie’s lucky pants and received a Bedford memorial mug. Later I stayed up until half past three talking to my friend in America, but that is another story.

I am packed up and waiting to make the journey back home it is more than 11 months until the show. It’s a pity, but I don’t think I should write any more.

Friday, 28 March 2008

One day to go


Cold and Wet.

Today has been dedicated to packing and making an inventory of works for the show. At this point I have more or less decided the pieces I will exhibit next April and I have been forced to reject a number of the videos because I’m not sure how they will fit in. The show inventory is as follows:

First Ice, dvd, 09’09 – displayed on a small screen
Cyclorama, dvd, 15’37 – back projected
Arrival, split screen dvd, 02’00 – tft monitor
Eva, dvd, 01’45 – tft monitor

Incidents at Sea
A selection of small scale sculptures shown in rotation on a small table and an upturned plastic cup.
Incident at sea – man menaced by penguin

Cyclorama machine
Float, fan, tissue paper, found illustration
Pitch and Roll, automaton
Circumnavigation, glitter ball motor, found illustration

Drawings/ Collage/ Photographs
Untitled, record sleeve & found illustration collages.
Untitled, collaged envelope.
Self Portrait, digital photograph

Journal, full colour paperback book
Tracings, limited edition book of drawings.

The time here has passed incredibly quickly; everyone has made me feel really welcome. I have had the time and encouragement to put together, what is for me, a very coherent body of work. Special memories for me are: Katie driving me to Wysing, Laura typing ever so quietly when I had a headache. Eva’s unstinting support throughout the residency and Sarah’s almost violent enthusiasm for the Black Flag Game. A strange thing did happen to me today. I took a break form packing, went out for a coffee and read the last few entries of Scott’s journal. After the last entry were a series of letters he wrote as he was dying. I was suddenly overcome with emotion, which may have disturbed a few of my fellow drinkers. To be honest this is not an unusual occurrence, I cried at the end of “Princess Diaries” but I did feel embarrassed for my lack artistic detachment – failed again.

Tonight we go drinking.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Two days to go


Wet weather soon cleared to warm sunshine.

I’m so aware of the end now that I am finding it difficult to write. I have spent time faffing about and thinking about packing things away. I did take a leap of faith this morning and took one of the twenty or so self-portraits I have photographed to be printed. I have developed a strange and unhealthy fascination with images of myself over the past few weeks constantly thumbing through the horrors captured over the last fifteen years. This photo is a conscious attempt to create the sort of image that in itself is nothing. But if I were to achieve something great, discover something wonderful, or die heroically, then it would stand as a record Alex Pearl, the man. I don’t intend to do any of the above. In the afternoon I had a very useful chat with Eva about how the exhibition might take shape, or not.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008


Today I made a brief foray to my studio in Rendlesham. It’s looking a bit disused so I spread stuff all over the floor. I’m beginning to put together some little scuttling machines for Airspace. I made two but one fell apart immediately, this is normal. I also started work on finishing a piece for Bedford. It’s a broken glass ice flow, which was originally laid out, on a piece of black velvet. I couldn’t see how this would work in a gallery so I decided to use the table I ‘accidentally’ bought from the Exchange Emporium. I’ve spilt some ink on it and added a small sixties lamp from Germany.

Monday, 24 March 2008

22/03/08 – 24/03/08

I have lost track of the exact dates of the following events. The journey north was hampered by strong wind and hail. On several occasions we were pushed sideways by prodigious gusts. Once we had finally arrived, tense and exhausted from the effort of keeping the car on the road my mother began the task of shovelling as much food into me as she could. Normally I wouldn’t mind, but the lack of exercise and prodigious amount of processed food I have consumed over the last few months has already made me a stone overweight. Then it snowed! I have been longing for snow since I began this journal back in January and it was everything I hoped for. I could even describe it as flocculent. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought any filming equipment with me so except for personal pleasure I was unable to take advantage of this late fillip. Undeterred I clambered to one of the highest points in the area and planted a small black flag.

Thursday, 20 March 2008


Heavy rain and strong northerly wind.

I can’t travel to Bedford this week, Easter has fallen and family duties call. Despite this I have been working hard on the sorts of things I do better at home. I have been working on finished edits of the various films that I hope to show next April. I’ve changed “Arrival” into a split screen video and added titles to “First Ice”, which I want to be understood as a sort of failed narrative film. I nipped to my studio in Rendlesham on the same disused airbase where BBC3’s Dog Borstal was filmed. I tried “First Ice” on a small domestic TV in a darkened room and I actually liked it for the first time in weeks. Tomorrow, I will travel north to Macclesfield to visit my parents, snow is forecast.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

I had a bit of a meltdown today as I tried to work out the logistics for: removing all my work from BCA; making and transporting automata to and making a film at Airspace in Stoke on Trent; and transporting my Little Death show to the Salt Gallery in Cornwall. The only way I could calm myself was by making a very long list and having a hot bath. I have nearly finished Scott’s Antarctic diary. His writing is getting shorter and more repetetive as he approaches the end. I am in step now and only reading one entry per day. In true spoiling fashion though I have already skipped to the last page and realised something I had not noticed before. His final entry coincides with the last day of my residency, 29th March.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Day Twenty Six


Last night I managed to set James and Christina’s toaster on fire filling the kitchen with toast smoke. I had finished work at about nine and I was in the front room deciding whether to watch “Aliens” or “Dawn of the Dead”. Little did I know the timer on the toaster had jammed and was determinedly incinerating the toast. I tried to air the house but I am afraid the smell will linger until their return on Monday. Hoping that lightning would not strike twice I set of for a bike ride this morning attempting to cover a similar route to our fateful ride of the 22nd. I started well but soon found myself on unfamiliar roads. The surface was just as greasy as before so I approached all corners at a toad’s pace with a nervous wobble. Two hours later I was back, sweaty and tired but miraculously ungrazed. Later in the market I tried to use a passing Sikh parade to cover a bit of covert flag planting. While everyone was distracted I tried to push a flag into a box topping a large pile. Unfortunately the box was too tough and the stick snapped. As I turned round I met one of the stall holders who was staring at me. I smiled and hurried away.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Day Twenty Five


Yesterday I received some interesting news; apparently my application not to go to the Antarctic has passed onto the second round. Now I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t get it.

After a good night’s rest I returned to the studio this morning ready to sort out my problems with “First Ice”. I tried everything; projecting it large and small, back projecting it through every material in the studio, through circular masks, into boxes and onto strange objects. I even looked at it through a long cardboard tube. Eventually I found it worked best if I didn’t look at it at all. I think the only answer will be to put it on a small TV and not even a flat screen one, but rather a crappy little portable. I fancy doing this and placing it in a darkened space with either an armchair or cinema seats facing it. After everyone had gone I cheered myself up with a raid on the gallery space putting some of the sculptures out to see how they look.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Day Twenty Four


Bright and Sunny

Its getting closer to the end now, time seems to be running rapidly and lots of things are happening but I don’t feel like I’m moving forward. The following is really just a list of things that seem to be happening to me. The first draft of “Journal” arrived from the printers two days ago and I have spent a while going through it pencilling in corrections and adjusting the pictures. Otherwise I am reasonably happy with it. Although I have noticed that I use the same sentence construction over and over which is very annoying. My other book of tracings was also delivered, slightly crumpled by our overzealous postman, but otherwise quite satisfactory. The “Black Flag Game” goes on, there are now 85 players although some are more active than others. I have produced two photocopied newsletters available online and as a limited edition in BCA gallery (both free). I have also been invited to make an automatic film at Airspace in Stoke on Trent in a few weeks time. I got a lovely email from David saying “can’t wait to see your robots”. My immediate thought was "neither can I, where are they?”

Today was mainly spent playing with projectors in the gallery with Jane Edden (the other resident artist) and Eva. There was a certain amount of projector envy going around the room as we tried various things out. My most important discovery was that “First Ice”, the supposed main film of the residency looks awful projected and only slightly better back projected, I felt like stepping out of the front door and not looking back. Luckily the line drawn scrolling animation (which I’ve decided to call Cyclorama) looked ok. Jane’s video, of course, was fabulous especially when back projected.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


Today I visited The Exchange Emporium, a shop on the Woodbridge road in Ipswich. The place is so full of stuff that entry is impossible. An enormous spoil pile of tools presses against one window and all manner of objects are stacked to an improbable height throughout. Luckily the brown overalled man who devotes his life to the shop is willing to climb out into the street and fulfil your every wish. I was looking for a high kitchen stool, a desk lamp, and some pictures of boats. He quickly found me a low table, a super-8 film editor, four aeroplane magazines and some wooden toys. Happy and twenty pounds poorer I said goodbye promising to return next week to look at his collection of trucking magazines. I was left thinking about my powerless in the face of an expert salesman and that maybe I should hire him as my agent.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Day Twenty Three


Making slow progress homeward. As planned I broke my journey in London by going to see Artfutures at the Bloomberg space. I met up with Lawrence and Anna without whom I would have been nervous entering the forbidding corporate space. Typically Lawrence immediately struck up a conversation with one of the Contemporary art society people while I wandered off feeling shy and inadequate. Things were literally being sold off the walls. Technicians were removing one piece and screwing a new one up as I walked through the first room. Although the emphasis was on the art object as commodity, not something I have anything against, there was still a range of rather unsaleable objects. What looked like a big stuffed Morris dancing suit by Juneau projects was nailed to the wall in one room and in another was a large carved twiggy thing screwed to a bit of chipboard. Apart from a few odd people: Michael Craig Martin, Julian Opie, art futures? I thought the selection was really interesting, all artists I have been staring jealously at over the last year or so and others I have shown with, though I fear I was the poor country cousin. Ruth Claxton, Rachel Goodyear, Sara Mckillop, Darren Banks, Marcus Coates. It was a shame I didn’t have longer or £1000 knocking round in my pocket. Later with Lawrence and Anna’s help we found Store in Hoxton. I was relieved to find it was behind an unmarked steel door with ‘store’ written in 1cm high letters at the bottom of a row of buzzers. To be honest the Bedwyr Williams show was a bit disappointing after all that effort. There was a cool distancing of the works from the wonderful ideas and stories that surrounded them.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Day Twenty two

Nothing is working. Last night I set my flag-planting machine loose in the gallery. The first film was totally black as I had failed to set the cameras’ exposure back to automatic then the mechanical arm fell off and when I returned to my studio to fix it I managed to stand in my dinner. This was a microwave chicken curry, which exploded under my foot covering one camera in korma sauce. I scraped the remains up and stopped to eat what was left (I was hungry). Afterwards I filmed the machine again as it totally failed to plant any flags.

Today I sailed the Eva. She had a new keel and advanced waterproofing but after last night I was not confident. Happily she did not sink. However, neither did she glide gracefully downstream. In fact at one point she managed to sail upstream and against the wind. I’m thinking of patenting my physics defying boat design as I feel it must have some useful application. I will try again next week.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Day Twenty one

All week I have been suffering the tyranny of people, so much so that as I arrived at Bedford station I took a deep breath and relaxed. I came by train this time because I am planning to go to London on Saturday to see the Artfutures at the Bloomberg space with Lawrence and Anna. David Kefford, who I’ve shown with in the past, will be exhibiting there with other rising art glitterati. It is a sort of black flag moment but it will be nice to see him. Lawrence & Anna have also promised to act as guides to the Bedwyr Williams show I couldn’t find on my last visit to London. Once in Bedford I dived straight into
the charity shops in search of a suitable bit of furniture to mount a mechanical pitching and rolling ship, I wanted something domestic and kitcheny and eventually found some sort of convertible child’s play table, which seems ideal. I’ve also just received an email from the Artists and Writers Fellowship saying they are considering my proposal not to go to the Antarctic. While I recognise that it doesn’t matter at all if they say yes or no the email has brought my competitive instinct to the fore, I find that I really want to win the prize.

On Tuesday Tess invited me on board one of the challenger yachts which was anchored in Ipswich marina, I got seasick.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Flag

The last two days have been spent doing Internet things and sitting on a tree stump, thinking. The Black Flag Game is fully up and running with forty-eight members who have between them invited another two hundred. Images have started to pop up on the website and I have made the first newsletter imaginatively titled “The Flag”. So far claims have been made in places as varied as New York and an alleged dogging site in Mardley Heath. I have also begun to publicise the residency by sending off information packs to any gallery that has shown even a vague interest in the past. I’ve found out that the show at Bedford is programmed for early 2009, which seems a long way away but it does take the pressure off. I’ve finished tracing images from “Antarctica- Exploring a Fragile Eden” and put them together into a small book.