Failure, history, and the Brick-a-brac Emporium

Here is the poster for the Rude Mechanicals next full band London Gig, I might make a limited number of A3 linocuts posters for it, perhaps

The book on tidying has failed.

It was too harsh.

I was brought up not to throw things away. My family were very poor when I was a kid, everything could be “made use of”. This book on tidying has had an odd effect on me, rather than throwing things away I am making things out of the old throwaways even more. All rubbish has a history.

My artwork usually involves recycling old things, and this book has made this more so. I cannot throw a piece of cardboard away now, because it could make a good paint book cover, box, altar. Glue two pieces together and it makes a good paint board. Other rubbish inspires curiosity: What was it? Was it useful? Had it emotional connection for someone?Was it once loved?

On the good side it does mean I am making more stuff out of some of the rubbish I had stored in cupboards, on the bad side my house is still a cluttered tip and I can’t walk past a bin without thinking “ooh that would be useful”.

I’m very pleased with the sketchbook l’ve made entirely with rubbish, cardboard boxes and thrown out paper. It is Coptic stitched so easy to leave open on a particular page. It is blank but has my occasional doodles throughout.

Thought I might try selling some Coptic stitched sketchbooks from waste products in my Bric-brac Emporium , for yes I now have a small emporium ( that is intentionally contradictory) on this website. As you’ll see from the buttons at the top. I call it Bric-a-brac because it sells art and objects made from recycled and reused materials. Not that there is much for sale in it at the moment, but with time…

I might even take my Bric-a-brac emporium along to the gig with me on the 21st.

It will fit in the suitcase.

The Cockroach God is very angry

Cockroach illustration on handmade paper

Cockroaches are a highly disrespected group, that is very true, and this could be why when I let the cockroach god enter my head and possess me there was so much anger there I had to stop. I was very surprised, hadn’t expected so much aggression to suddenly enter me, it scared me and I had to end the ritual before something dangerous happened, before I lost control of myself and hurt someone. Instead I lite candles on fairy cakes and gave them to the audience to give as offerings to the god, along with the moulding mushrooms and banana skin brought by participants earlier ( thanks to Dr Cos for the cockroach like sound track). I’m told cockroaches are particularly fond of slightly rotting sweet foods.

Cockroach’s are exceeding useful creatures in the wild. They are scavengers that eat almost anything. They are the dustbin men of the Forest cleaning up everything’s waste, transforming it so it can go back into the ecological system. Like dustbin men they are unappreciated. We all like to turn away from our own dirt and what happens to our waste, which is possibly why it is now causing such severe environmental problems.

I admit to killing cockroaches myself. I’d moved into a new flat which had concrete floors and no carpet. I couldn’t afford to buy carpet at the time, so a friend said he was clearing out his old shed and there was an old carpet in there I could have. Great, I thought, but I had not appreciated the wildlife that came with it. The cockroaches were huge! And it seemed they just wouldn’t die no matter what I did. I remember trying to wash them down the sink and flush them down the toilet, but they just kept climbing back out.

It is thought that cockroaches would survive a holocaust they are so tough. In tests they’ve been found capable of surviving far more radiation than a human ever can.

They have been around for millennia, they are well evolved into their job. But humans are very talented at laying waste to whole species and insects are dying off.

We all rave on about the bee now, and how she must be saved, but what about the humble cockroach? Without ’em to clean up the forests are in big trouble, and without the forests we are in big trouble. Yet I don’t want cockroaches wondering around my flat. Even though tests have shown they don’t carry all the disease popular culture bestows upon them, I still don’t want them crawling across my kitchen. Somewhat of a dilemma.

I remember reading once the writings of an anthropologist who stayed with a family in a remote part of the world. Every morning the family would leave food outside in a particular spot as an offering to a god, by the next day the food would have disappeared. Curious about this the anthropologist stayed up one night and watched what happened to the food. He discovered that ants were meticulously taking the food away. On further inspection he realised that the family home was in fact on top of an ant colony and that leaving the food out every day made sure the ants did not come into the family home and take the family food. Cunning.

Perhaps a similar solution could be found for creatures like the cockroach by giving them more forest to inhabit?

Yet as we all know this is an old request, more local woodlands would help solve many problems, but seeing as my council seems to particularly enjoy chopping down trees, even in parks ( to stop homeless people from sleeping there apparently, though me thinks finding them somewhere to sleep in, say, those very many empty buildings, might be a better plan) I can’t see this happening fast.

Last night I dreamt I was riding through a forest on the back of a giant flying cockroach. It was very good fun. Here is a poem/riddle that an anonymous blog reader sent me, in a further attempt to placate the Cockroach God:

In my kingship I like gold, in my kingship I am armoured

little forest lord, 


drunk on cochineal.

Like the wafer I am each and I am all


In my kingship I like it here, to defile your homes with my russet.


From the bulb a golden rain,

and a black one.

Altar to the Cockroach God

Sunday Gods

The colour black absorbs all.

It is hungry.

It is the god of darkness and death, but it is not bad or good, it is just itself

and it has a dark sense of humour.

( yes I’m getting a lot of seizures at moment)

It is in the carpet and the wallpaper, in my mouth and under the bed.

I think the colour white reflects all and is the god of life.

(I’m talking as a painter, don’t ask me about physics!)

Everything I see is given from it

Life rejoices in its presence

It is not good of bad, it just is itself

It is in the wallpaper and the carpet

In the emulsion paint covering my bathroom walls

And the white of your eyes

It has a very innocent sense of humour

(My head hurts)