Part 5, working with words

That task here was to use the cut/mix/randomly use method that appears to have originated with Dadaist poetry but was certainly used by David Bowie in his leaner years. I gave it a go, cutting up small sections of a short story I had to hand. But while some serendipitous arrangements might have proved interesting in another time or place, I had other things on my mind that refused to be subjugated.

I have also used text earlier in the course; here Part 5, exercise 5.4 – rubbish – Conboyhillpaintingmedia ( for example in a piece featuring the crumpled printout of a newspaper front page to which I took exception; also here Assignment 5: final images and animations – Conboyhillpaintingmedia (, and here Assignment 5 – revised submission content – Conboyhillpaintingmedia ( where I based text drawn from the I Ching and Tao Te Ching on Chinese verticality of text.

The image below has been with me for some while although I don’t know who to credit.

Swan and Shadow by John Hollander | Poetry Magazine (

This image is widely available and I can find no source from which to get permission. I am using it here in the spirit of Fair Use in an educational context. I first saw it as a black on black image, then as white on black so I also have no notion as to which came first.

So the use of text in painting is not a new idea and I think I wanted to move it along from the brief about instructions, warnings, poetry and so forth while still making word art in a form that could address the rumbling disquiet I had regarding a recent public event.

This was the Trafalgar square rally held by conspiracy theorists protesting vaccination, masks, and the actual existence of a pandemic. A friend’s son, in his 20s, was in ITU for a week with this non-existent virus and has permanent heart and lung damage.

I began though with the idea of lies as this had been in the news too; MP Dawn Butler being required to leave the House because she accused the Prime Minister of lying and would not retract. Playing on the words, Tissue of Lies, I came up with the not terribly original Liars of Tissue, and made a collage of layers (<– see?) of tissue with hand written text referring to Butler’s eviction.

This is on one half of an A1 sheet of cartridge and it wasn’t long before it became a book in the manner of grand wizardry where significant tomes are always enormous. I wasn’t so sure about the magic though.

The next two pieces are a primary and a print based on the popularised term Freedom Day determined by the government to be on the same day as Butler’s parliamentary stance. Many people did not feel free as a result. Those with vulnerabilities who had perhaps been shielding up until then were suddenly exposed to other people’s freedom without those people necessarily recognising that it ended at a vulnerable person’s life chances. The print is necessarily a negative of the primary which in itself turns the word freedom into free-doom. Banksy’s Dismaland was in my mind.

The next double spread is the one that occupied my thoughts such that the original task felt irrelevant, even though it wasn’t.

This is a painted collage showing the near universal red cross placed in a context which, by its colours, reflects the Nazi flag. Next to it is a selection of clips from social media and newsprint describing events on the 24th of July, many made by protesters themselves. One speaker likened NHS doctors and nurses to Nazis and called for trials in the manner of Nuremberg, which, she noted, led to people being hung (sic). Where the clips are those of public figures, I have not anonymised them; where they are private individuals, I have. All the material is in the public domain.

The final page in the book is a single reference to the Cochrane Institute which houses copies of all relevant medical and biomedical research evaluated by systematic review. It is publicly accessible. The text is smeared red in reflection of the protestors’ contempt for science.

On a lighter note, it needs a good iron once it’s all dry, and ‘better out then in’ works just as well for impotent incandescence as for a dodgy curry.

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