How to describe Matt Whistler? We could play it really straight and say he’s an artist. Or a performance artist. We could say he’s a comedian. When I asked him he said “Say I’m a modern day Charlie Chaplin. An eco clown. A walking artwork.” It might just be easier to say “all of the above”. A mischievious comedian with a creative free spirit. But if you scratch the surface there’s a serious message about the environment and waste.
“It pains me to walk past things that have been discarded. I just look at them and thing “What can we do with that?” (We met Matt outside Objet D’ials during the last / worst days of the bin strike and someone had left a huge pile of flattened cardboard boxes next to the throbbing pile of bin bags.
During our chat, he’d created a gallery exhibition of them, a sculpture, there was an idea to line the pavement with the cardboard and slogans and… Did any of it happen? Some of it, maybe all of it, maybe none. It doesn’t matter. There’ll be another idea along in a second. Talking to Matt is like talking to the little silver ball inside a pinball machine.
Matt’s recent projects have ranged from painting an old locomotive near Glastonbury, an exhibition of his dot-based work (“I don’t know what happened but I broke through to the other side and I haven’t stopped doing dots since”), a cafe in the Marina (“I went for a coffee there and just thought ‘Hold on a minute, there’s a canvas here. There’s a cafe in a really nice area next to the sea’…”) and a project involving painting – breathing new life into – the covers of hundreds of albums he found in a skip.
But it’s as his latest creation Artist Dotty that there’s most fun. An oversize character in a whose looks nod in the direction of Leigh Bowery but who, like so much of Matt’s work, treads the line between absurdist and message. Dotty has a habit of appearing where you least expect him. Right now you’ll find him on the back of a series of jackets in “Objet D’ials”.
Is Dotty a classic absurdist device to created to highlight the madness of our society – in this case, waste and the environment – or a very strange bloke in a green screen onesie? “Let’s say an eco clown whose job it is to make people look, laugh and maybe think.”
There are few things we here at Whistler Towers like more than a bit of jazz in the evening. And maybe some really really good food. And maybe some splendid drinks. So imagine our delight when we tripped all the way over there in Kemp Town (or Kemptown – you choose) to The Bronze, where on the first Thursday of every month, they feature live jazz. The nght we went down we saw the very fine One Hat Trio (pictured) – Eddie Myer, Lol Thomas and Luke Rattenbury – who “play classic guitar trio hard bop with echoes of Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Pat Martino, with added Afro-Cuban rhythm”. (nicked that from their Facebook page – you might have guessed). And I guess that’s probably true. They’re very good and very cool. They’ve got a residency at The Brunswick, too.
Your Gull About Town has written about the food at The Bronze before and I’m not surprised. The “slow and low smokehouse” serves up locally sourced smoked food at its finest. Chef David has the best smile and greeting and… Oh, come on. Good food, fine drink and kicking jazz. What’s not to like?
81-82 St James’s St, Kemptown BN2 1PA
01273 679 220
One of the things we’ve missed most this past year has been going out and seeing people do extraordinary things, things that we couldn’t imagine doing ourselves. Whether that’s playing an instrument, performing some act of athletic wonder or somesuch. If what you’ve most missed has been virtuoso acrobatics – vaulting somersaults, breath-taking trapeze and daredevil balances on the highwire, well, are you in luck.
Passagers is “an intoxicating mix of dance, physical theatre, acrobatics, circus skills and original music” performed by Canadian troupe The 7 Fingers that sounds just extraordinary.
Trapeze is a fantastic motif for our times – taking a leap off into the air, a leap from holding on to something into space and on to something new. “Passagers was originally designed as an ode to travel – departure versus arrival, chance versus choice, familiar versus foreign, confinement versus border-crossing” says 7 Fingers co-founder Shana Carroll. “Those themes have taken on a new meaning for all of us recently, with the very idea of departing or arriving feeling like a distant dream.” Themes that, in our strange new world, have taken on very new and very real meanings.
It’s on at The Dome on 30 September and 1 October.
Tickets range from £10 (restricted view) to £23.50. Family tickets and concessions available.
T: 01273 709709 Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm