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Thursday, 20 February 2014

On being bad, Barbara Brownskirt and knowing what's bad enough.

Three times I have tried to be rubbish on purpose:

The first time was on my Foundation of Fine Art which was at the old Art College in Chislehurst. 
The College where I deliberated over
whether I was a man or a woman

We were told to scribble for an hour, not making anything of the emergent shapes, resisting form and the need to order. It was to free us from being in control, keeping within the lines and get us used to a more automatic way of creating and an idea of anarchy. The quest for perfection can stop you from starting. The idea of not being good enough can snatch time away from you. When the idea of failure weighs heavily on your shoulder, perfection can be to an artist/writer what a drink is to the alcoholic. It will eventually send you round the bend. 
I managed it with the scribbling. I filled big pieces of paper with dark swirls of charcoal. The gaps of white paper became increasingly interesting. Some of the students couldn't do it, they couldn't see the point. Mess became a new way of unpicking my young trained 'A' Level brain.

The second time was on an Arvon Course in Yorkshire when Toby Litt asked us to write the worse dialogue we could imagine. I didn't quite understand what he meant by this so I just wrote 'arse' and 'bum-hole' over and over, across the page. When we came to read our pieces out, I slunk down in my seat. Compared to other people's dialogue which was full of dug out clichés and things that you shouldn't do like put overly descriptive things after verbs, I whispered to myself sincerely, 'I'm not cleverly rubbish enough'.

About a year ago at MOONA, the arty party where I am the hostess, I performed a new act under the name of 'Barbara Brownskirt'. 

She is a comedy character, a manifestation of bitterness, anger, lesbian cliché and rails against her lot through poetry. She is rubbish, but she does not know it and the audience loves her for it. The comedy springs out of the awfulness.The inspiration came from watching years of over-confident, un-self-conscious poets, un-edited writers and performance artists. They taught me: 
1. There is no way out of the theatre/performance space/front room until their show is over
2. They write rubbish and think it is great. Often the greater the confidence, the lesser the talent.
3. That these people often appear to have the thick skins of leather.

With Barbara, the very success of her will be her lack of success.

Poster for film
This is the new film poster. 
Today the film goes live on Youtube. Please watch it here:

The film is showing on Monday 17th March with Barbara performing poetry at Polari, Southbank.