Last week we posted a wee film by John Wallace about his attempts to discover what Bill Drummond said in Dumfries when he performed his lecture ‘Why Andy Warhol is Shite’ at Greyfriars Church on November 8th as part of The Stove’s Inbetween:Dumfries event. Bill Drummond is notoriously camera shy (as John found out) – but today The Commonty received an anonymous package containing film footage of Bill Drummond apparently on the Auld Brig in Dumfries…..there is no explanation with the footage and we can only assume that either Bill was practicing for his performance, or that this was one of his legendary acts of contrariness to give a filmed interview to a stranger (or even one of the things a previous audience had voted that he should do?)
Either which way, we are truly grateful to our anonymous film-maker and present for your pleasure – exclusive footage of Mr Bill Drummond telling us why he believes Andy Warhol is Shite:
World renowned contemporary artist Bill Drummond was in Dumfries last week where he presented a performance lecture called ‘Why Andy Warhol is Shite’. Eaglesfield film maker John Wallace was there that evening, but was ejected from the venue on Mr Drummond’s insistence that his work not be recorded in any way.
Here is Wallace’s film about his attempts to discover what truths Bill Drummond was bestowing upon Doonhamers last Thursday night:
My childhood was spent in Galloway. Its hills, rivers, tidal flats formed my understanding and love of the natural world. The Biblical stories I learnt before I could read mixed freely with the tales and legends learnt about the land around me to the point that Galilee and Galloway were one and the same. Was it the Boy David who confronted Goliath at Loch Trool or was it Robert the Bruce who faced the Philistines on the banks of the Jordan? When I learnt about Saint Ninian landing at the Isle of Whithorn bringing Christianity to our heathen forefathers, I assumed he was one of the Apostles and that he had just sailed across that Sea of Galilee. As for Tam o’Shanter, was he Old or New Testament?
At the age of 11 my family moved away. But that heady brew of wild landscape, Biblical stories, poetry, a sense that one was put on earth to do the right thing and the temptations of the flesh were always at hand has infiltrated and informed everything that I have done or attempted to do since. And then of course there was the work ethic.
And on the subject of work, everything I have done since the late 1990s has been framed within the context of The Penkiln Burn. This in one sense is an old fashioned publishing house and in another an online brand as artwork. The Penkiln Burn is also a small river that rises in the Galloway Hills and flows down into the River Cree at Minnigaff. It was on the banks of the Penkiln Burn that many of my boyhood adventures took place, a place that still fires my imagination to this day.
I am aware that if had spent my teenage years in Galloway my sense of it would be totally different, and that I would have probably viewed it as a cultural backwater that I could not wait to escape. But that was not the case.
As for Dumfries, that was another country altogether.
Bill Drummond, 3 October 2012.
A truly memorable film of Parton to Kirkcowan by way of Newtown Stewart aboard a steam train way back in 1965 – accopanied but the track Madruga Eterna by The KLF.
In 1973 Bill Drummond was coming to the end of his first academic year at Liverpool School of Art. He was studying painting. He loved painting. He wanted to spend the rest of his life painting. But something was troubling him. He thought even if he became a successful painter, even a great painter, all it would mean that his paintings would hang on the walls of a rich man apartment in New York.
The young and idealistic Drummond instinctively felt that this is not what art should be about. He put down his paint brush, walked away from the easel and out into the streets of Liverpool, in the hope that he could discover a way of making art that… The rest of his professional life to date has been about trying to work out what the “that” might be.
Some months before he laid down his paintbrush, he had visited the first Andy Warhol retrospective in the UK. It was at The Tate (Britain). The exhibition had blown him away. But over the next twelve months what had initially done the blowing, began to trouble him. The troubling progressed to the point that he thought what Andy Warhol represented was everything that was wrong with Art in the world at that time.
All the first year fine art students were expected to write a 4,000 word history of art essay on a topic of their choice. This essay was to be handed in by the end of the first academic year. Although he had a title for the essay he was unable to put any more than a few unconnected words on the page.
Most of the several hundred thousand words that Drummond has written and published since the summer of ’73 have been a continuation of this uncompleted essay. What he hopes to present in Dumfries will be 45 minute performance lecture based on where he is at with the essay at the moment. The working title is, as it was then, the now rather naïve: “Why Andy Warhol is Shite.”
You can be part of the audience for Bill’s lecture ‘Why Andy Warhol is Shite’ by coming to Greyfriars Church at 6pm on Thursday 8th November (free).
Artist-collective The Stove has put together a week-long programme that celebrates Dumfries and offers folk the chance to be part of the future of their town. Six specially commissioned art projects will be presented in public spaces along with public performances and talks by leading thinkers + film screenings and concerts.
‘Why Andy Warhol is Shite’ – Performance lecture by International Artist Bill Drummond
Street Shrines – New work around Dumfries by one of Scotland’s leading street/public artists, Mike Inglis
Greyfriars 1 – World Premiere of Suzanne Parry-John’s song cycle about the Nith and the launch of artist Lisa Gallacher’s bespoke clothing collection.
Nithscoping – Environmental Artist Hannah Brackston invites investigation of Dumfries’ river
Also look out for Marion Preez’s blue ‘Frames’ around the town and whatever you do – don’t miss ‘The Lost Supper’ a simultaneous voyage back in time and into the future + great food!