Invite boredom: Invigilator at PKN Coventry

Paul Conneally recently presented Invigilator at the Pecha Kucha Night Coventry Global Cities event.

Watashitachi ha kono basho de iroiro na koto ni kizuiteimasu.
As for us, by means of this place, various things are being noticed.

Sonar Goggles and The Blind Fiddler

Paul Conneally has been using his cultural foraging technique to bring together (cf ‘curate’) an exhibition at the Snibston Discovery Museum exploring home entertainment between the years 1806 and 2012.

Paul Conneally, transform’s Cultural Forager, discovered that The Blind Fiddler was painted in the kitchen of Coleorton Hall Farm in 1806 – the same farm that the great poet William Wordsworth lived in with his family. The picture was commissioned by Sir George Beaumont and given by him to the nation and now forms part of the TATE collection.

The exhibition will feature artefacts held by Leicestershire County Council’s Museums Service, new works by Conneally, other artists and local communities where the picture was originally painted.

The exhibition’s starting point is the painting The Blind Fiddler by David Wilkie 1806 painted in Coleorton Hall Farm Kitchen North West Leicestershire.

Starting at The Blind Fiddler, Conneally has linked and shifted to an eclectic range of artefacts and references – one of which gets him to my sonar goggles!

Experimenting with the sonar goggles

A pair of sonar goggles being experimented with at the Hide&Seek Weekender at the National Theatre, 2010

The Blind Fiddler – Home Entertainment 1806 – 2012 opens at Snibston tomorrow (Saturday the 14th of January) and runs until Sunday the 4th of March). Pop along for some Happy Families and maybe a bit of SingStar.


A year ago Paul Conneally contacted me voicing his dislike of our recent work being labelled as “psychogeography” and “situationist”; for these are terms that are left-overs from the 70s.

He invited me to join him in Splacism: “a new movement a new set of ideologies […] with manifestos and the like – all still to be written including the definitions describing the movement”.


Last Tuesday I gathered people from different disciplines around me to give feedback on a newly-started project. After bemoaning the perceived lack of a peer group to one group of guests, the response was that I should celebrate my unique position between disciplines and become my own movement.

Later conversation rather suggested that one Hannah Nicklin identified with that too.


It wasn’t until later that evening that I remembered I already had my own movement – technosplacism as a subset of splacism.

24 hours later Hannah and I were brainstorming a manifesto.



We will own this city.
We will take it back.
We will link and shift.
We will affect and be affected.
We will look, and be seen.
We will expose and re-see.
We will glory in the moment, the collage, the marking and then passing on.
We reject the beginning, middle and end.
We reject your shopping centre, your pavement, your cultural quarter.
We will build our own constructs.
We will build our own bridges.
We will find the edges and push them.
We will fail spectacularly, vitally, elegantly.
We will span.
We will look up, down, under and behind.
We will leap.
We will invite others to do these things too.
We will make exchanges.
We will make adventures.
We will make beautiful moments.
We will reveal the ugly.
We will hold your hand.
We will whisper in your ear ‘let go’.
We will run, skip and jump.
We will be motionless.
We might dance.
We will dream.
We will be generous, but we may subtle about it, too.
We will reclaim the city, not for you, but with you.
We are you.


We will learn how to use the tools that make the things we want to happen happen.
We will help others learn wherever we can.
We will construct our manifesto – collaboratively – online, because the Internet is also a space :)
We will shift between space, online and off, taking on the form and the arena that suits us best.
We will bodily augment the layers of virtual space, story, marketing, capitalism, that exist in the city, with our own stories.
We will hold the data-harvesting done in the city in the name of ‘games’ (foursquare, loyalty cards) accountable.
We will find our own energy sources.
We will learn how to flex the central nervous system of the city – the data streams in its weather detectors, CCTV, red light cameras – for our own aims.
We will release all that we can via creative commons, so that they can be reclaimed, remixed, re-purposed.
We will cut, and we will paste.
“Plagiarism is necessary, progress demands it.”
We will pervade.
We will not be technosplacist when being splacist will suffice.
We will never underestimate the power of gaffa/electrical/masking tape
We will be artful. We will be skillful. We will fail usefully.


I don’t know if this is the Splacism Paul had in mind all that time ago – I’m not even 100% sure if this is the Splacism I have in mind now – but it’s a mighty fine start and writing the manifesto was a very interesting process.

We’ll let them sit for a while and see what they evolve into. As Paul said: “let [the words] become themselves and more…”

MECA 2009 book now available

In October of last year, Paul Conneally and myself were commissioned by Nathaniel Pitt and Malvern Exhibition of Contemporary Art (MECA) to conduct Invigilator: Malvern, 6th in the Invigilator series.

Invigilators prepare for Invigilator: Malvern

Invigilators prepare for Invigilator: Malvern

Invigilator: Malvern formed part of a programme of events taking place in and around empty shops in the centre of Malvern and a publication documenting the project is now available.

You can see a preview of the book below (Invigilator: Malvern is on pages 36-39).

Invigilator: Malvern

6th in the Invigilator series with Paul Conneally.

Emotion Grid

Paul Conneally and I were commissioned by Nathaniel Pitt and MECA to conduct one of our Invigilator pieces in Great Malvern yesterday.

Two pairs of invigilators started from Great Malvern railway station and followed the directions that used to take me from Birmingham’s New Street station to my job at a gallery in Digbeth:

Right, Left, Left, Right, Left, Right, Straight over, Straight over, Straight over, Straight over, Left, Left.


After arriving at our different destinations we commenced watching over our respective spaces. Mine and Jean Baynham‘s journey took us to the entrance to the carpark of Malvern Library. As we were filling in emotion grids for Paul’s research, a man who had approached from behind us and obviously read “invigilator” on the back of our t-shirts asked us what we were going to invigilate. We told him we weren’t sure yet and asked him what he thought we should invigilate and he responded by saying “the car park”. So that’s what we did.


I took my lead from past employment in libraries and started recording visitor statistics: number of people entering and exiting the library; number of people who only walked through the grounds in front of the library; and number of people who walked past us on the pavement without entering into the library grounds at all.

Jean found herself repeatedly approached by passers-by enquiring what it was we were doing and what it was that we were watching over. Magic vests – you gotta love ’em.


Paul and I are now processing various artefacts from the journey and from the invigilation. The results will be displayed in one of the MECA shop window spaces in Great Malvern town centre until the end of the month.

Twenty Jaffa Cakes

A 6 stanza themed renga form collaboratively written with Paul Conneally.

Form devised by poet Gary Gay.

Twenty Jaffa Cakes

a rengay

twenty jaffa cakes
a mistake to try and take
in her hand luggage

a slow and silent pat down
from the woman on gate one

stilettoes x-rayed
but her carbon footprint is
not for scrutiny

a hugely fat man
asks for the front port aisle seat
to rest his bad leg

smile and permanent jetlag
slept in uniform again

deep into morning
i finish my book somewhere
over africa

paul conneally and nikki pugh
July 12th 2007

My plane leaves at 8.30 tomorrow morning. I arrive at Narita on Saturday morning and from there I have to negotiate my way to Yokosuka. After a week or so in various locations around Kanagawa-ken I dive into Tokyo for about a fortnight.

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