So what do you do after you’ve taken back the gown, viagra approved order after you’ve drunken all the champagne, seek there after your parents have cried as much as physically possible and you’ve uploaded all the pictures of your friends throwing their hats in the air onto Facebook? When you leave the warm bosom of your university institution after doing a creative degree what’s most important, page even more so than talent, (although that helps) is to surround yourself with likeminded individuals. This is something David Angus, Rafael Farias and Andrew Sunderland have kept in mind during their first year of university free existence. They all met at the Maidstone Campus of the University of the Creative Arts and have been working together under the name Bumf since they graduated.
How Bumf Collective works is that one member of the group sets a time limit and a rule and everyone makes a piece of work which must be viewable on the internet and not discussed until the project hand in. Rafael studied graphic design, Andy video media arts and Dave photography and media arts which means the work they show on the website is an interesting mix of the conceptual rule framework (1. Must be edible) and just brilliantly clever and simple design responses (a brain made out of bread titled Food for Thought)
Food for Thought – Rafael Farias
“Basically we wanted to form a collective, but we have different ways of working. Raf is more graphic design based and I was more video and Dave is more photography so it wasn’t that we had a similar theme and we wanted to work together it’s that we wanted to make work separately almost against each other.” Andy tells me as we search for somewhere cheap (we are all struggling artists after all) to have a cup of tea in Bethnal Green where two out of three of them live.
They all admit to how hard they’ve found it since leaving full time education and with a big focus on photography and video for Dave and Andy lack of equipment is something they’ve struggled with.
“You instantly lose all facilities that you had, you lose your space to work in and it’s already harder. I was always in the dark room doing film and now most of the projects I do are digital and that’s annoying for me.”
“The one thing people say when you leave uni is to keep making work, you leave quite a structured environment. Coming out of university nobody cares about you.” It was from this realisation and the need to stop art from becoming “a kind of side project” because of the time demands of day-to-day life that Bumf was started.
The rules that govern the projects seem to have been implemented to make up for the loss of structure from leaving university. The rules can be anything from the fairly simple (the title must be Woman), to the more abstract (100 meters) and they increase every time. “We each start off doing a rule each and then we go onto two rules each and then three rules each and then we’re gonna keep going until we’re doing sixty rules each forever!” Andy tells me.
Type-lace Typeface (Uppercase)
However what’s interesting is how the rules have been manipulated by each artist to meet their own interests and to challenge each other.
“What I found interesting when I set that typeface challenge was to see what someone who doesn’t do graphic design would come up with. Like with the edible project, it was so that they couldn’t use a camera to see what would happen.”
For this project all the artists had to create a typeface with a single found object. Rafael having trained in graphic design obviously found the project easy, creating a visually pleasing yet fully working alphabet. Interestingly Dave still managed to gear his work to photography by using as his found object a camera flash. He also managed to use the photographic process by making a contact print out of food colouring for the ‘must be edible’ rule.
“I find that each of us manages to fight our own corner for our own discipline. These two are always slagging off graphic design so I’m always fighting my corner, so it’s interesting to see how we represent our own backgrounds.” Rafael tells me.
Portion #1 (Pink/Green)
5×4 contact on edible paper with food colouring
There are times though when the artists have been forced to completely change their practice, like the project in which the work couldn’t be anything manmade. With Andy and Dave relying heavily on video and stills cameras for their own practice they were forced to try something completely different. Dave turned guerrilla gardener with his East London turf work and Andy, in my favourite work from the website, documented bird pooh for the series Bird Made 1-6. It is in this way that the website becomes more than just a game and a way into making work and evolves into something that makes them challenge what ‘type’ of work they make and therefore what ‘type’ of artist they are.
“The thing that is almost annoying in art college is that there’s always this need to mould you into this polished artist. You get into a rut of making similar work and you have an idea but think if I do that it doesn’t look like any of my other work.”
Bird Made 1
Stone Fruit Family (Cherry, Plum, Peach, Apricot, Nectarine)
They started the website because they naturally wanted to index the projects, but it’s fast become a reason in itself for making work. Despite art often being a sensory and tactile experience with Charles Saatchi using his website as an ‘interactive art gallery’, and Amelia’s Magazine now showcasing new talent online, your computer is becoming an acceptable way of seeing art work. I ask them whether showing their work in this way effects the making of it.
“I think about it a lot, that’s graphic design for you, it’s all about presentation. There are a lot of things we don’t do because it wouldn’t look good on the internet. No one’s done anything really sculptural because it wouldn’t translate well.” Rafael tells me.
“Well the internet is the whole reason for doing it and it’s quite interesting that we put in a rule at the end which is that if you make anything physical, like an object then the work is the image of it. If you make a sculpture obviously you can’t put it on the internet. We make these things but all of them are very temporary. The one that I did with the skittles in the end we ate them.” Says Andy.
The group don’t see Bumf as their main focus, the name itself meaning “waste and all these little things that you either pick up or you don’t”. Not that the projects are throwaway, just that with all the artists heavily into process, the outcome isn’t their main concern.
“I don’t think the projects are there to make an amazing piece of work, they’re good but it’s more something to keep your mind in a creative flow.” Says Dave.
”I see it as a creative bookmark so it’s something that might not be finished, but I’ll bookmark the idea for another project.” Rafael adds.
Red, Green, Blue
The Grass Is Always Greener (On The Other Side)
With our drinks empty and the boys needing to drop off work for an exhibition at BASH Studios I ask them if they have any advice for new graduates.
“Yeah keep making work!” Exclaims Andy. “Even if it’s bumf keep making it because it means keeping up that creative process. If you don’t make anything for a year it can be really hard to get that back. Follow the Bumf rules and send it us!”
A website and some friends is all you need to avoid falling into a black hole of obscurity, you heard it here first! To look at all Bumf projects past and future or to view the individual artist’s work, click the links to their websites.
Thumbnail: David Angus – East London Turf
Having emerged from the Farm, symptoms picking straw out of my hair and ears still ringing, my first thought was – well, to have a bath – and then, to tell everyone I know how amazing Lounge was this year, and how I wish I was still sat beneath the stars, listening to Gong with my cup of tea.
Lounge is very much a local festival, for local people, and local bands were very well represented in every tent. Our weekend kicked off with The Psychotic Reaction, who hail from Whitstable and make a sound like no other…part Joy Division, part librarian rock, they sing of the cupboard under the stairs, hand-me-downs and the trials and tribulations of living in a small town. The Boxing Octopus, all from Herne Bay, brought in the funk on Saturday morning, and had the whole Furthur Tent dancing before noon – quite an achievement! Syd Arthur put on an absolutely amazing show, their haunting psychedlia filling the Furthur Field.
So often their songs deceive you, starting off laid-back and mellow and becoming all encompassing tidal waves of sound to sweep you off into the stars and beyond…Dancing to their soul-filling songs in a field full of hippies is certainly an experience I won’t forget for a while! Current torch-holders for the Canterbury sound, they’ve moved on from Wilde Flowers and Soft Machine (well, it’s been forty years) but not without using their influence for good and emerging with mellow yet powerful tunes to sway to, dance to or completely lose yourself in. These guys are also part responsible for the Furthur Tent and creating the atmosphere which makes the Furthur field so unique. Back in the Sheep Dip, The Ukelele Gangstas rocked their pimp hats and tiny guitars, while Hotrods and Dragsters brought out the hula girls.
Oh, the music? We shimmied and jived to the upbeat blues they were rocking, as did the rest of the tent and shame on the fools who missed out. Dropping the beats in the Bar tent was Mr. Wolfe, a young Canterburian with beat-boxing skill that begged the question ‘Why only an interlude?!’ Hopefully, next year, a longer set for Mr. Wolfe, preferably in the Hoedown. (Oh, if I ruled the festival world…) The coup, for me, in terms of Canterbury bands though, was Gong. Nothing prepares one for the rambling, overwhelming psychedelic journey that the progenitors of the Canterbury sound produce, short of a cup of mushy tea.
We sat in the Furthur field watching the stars, lights and pixies in their teapot taxies fly past – definitely the perfect way to experience a band whose music often seems to lose its train of thought and ends up at quite a different station to the one you bought a ticket for…
There were a few bands who travelled further than five miles to perform at Lounge, and while nothing beats home-grown talent, they did pretty well. I did drop in on Mr. Scruff who played a six hour set, perfect for dipping in and out of like a hobnob in early grey. He began the afternoon with laid-back beats, working up to a dirtier evening set which got the crowd moving. He doesn’t look quite as cartoon-esque in person, either. Upon hearing the cry ‘The Aliens are in the Cowshed’, it didn’t take me long to head there for a good look, and well worth it too. Comprised of three members of The Beta Band, they mix psychedelia and rock with a smattering of cheery choruses (chori?) into a sound which creeps up behind you and pokes you ‘til you dance. Jouis surprised us at the Further tent, starting off with some spoken word, creepy fairground-esque songs, then switching singers and moving into a more sixties groove – perfectly complemented by the guttural, earthy tones of ‘the hipipe’ as I dubbed him.
After chatting to the sax player, we were directed towards Jonquil – two lads, a keyboard and trumpet – whose music reminded us of Patrick Wolf, but less whiny. They generate a mellow, organic ambience wherein you can almost see the layers of sound filling the tent (or equivalent!). Far and away the best set of the weekend though (closely followed by Mr. Wolf) were Alessi’s Ark. One girl, her guitar, an incredible voice, and the Ark. Her melody-led lyrical stylings are whimsical and sweet, but never sugary, and she was hardly phased when someone with trousers on their head and shoes on their hands wandered in, telling them the next song Dancing Feet was perfect for them. Talking of libraries and similes, her lyrics were ideal for cleansing my mind of all that psychedelia… I spent my last pennies on her album, which came in a cd sized knitted bag!, and only just had enough left for dinner.
Talking of food, Lounge on the Farm cannot be faulted in that department. Almost all the food is locally sourced by local people. Merton Farm had their own barbecue stall, – ‘Less than a mile from gate to plate!’ – which we bypassed on the way to Al’s Hogroast. Does the fact I was vegetarian for a month prior to the festival say more about the deliciousness of the soft white bap, filled with freshly roasted pork, smearings of apple sauce and dollops of stuffing…Sorry, where was I? Food! Yes. Wonderful stuff. Vegetarians were equally well catered for with the Good Food Café on hand providing soups, sandwiches and beetroot brownies. I had a very filling cous-cous sald with chickpeas and pitta from some lovely ladies who admitted to never having done anything like that before, in between belting out eighties classics…Tasty food though. For breakfast we went to Strumpets with Crumpets, delightful women serving baked goods in corsets – Eggy-fried crumpets with cinnamon and icing sugar?! My favourite. And they did tea too. Tea, and caffeine lovers, were not forgotten – The Tea Temple gave good brew, though no homemade flapjacks this year. Luckily, the Mole Hole Café, an eco-sustainable café up in the Furthur Field, had biscuits for ten pence as well as chocolate brownies and squishy strawberry cheesecake. Enzo’s Bakery provided us with gorgeous pastries, chocolate filled lobster tails and pain au chocolate, while Ana’s Sweets served Portuguese style desert, and the most divine cheesecake ever, according to my thorough researchers. And, as always, the Groovy Movie Picture Tent could be relied upon for chocolate fudge cake, infinitely strange films, and yet more tea, well past everyone else’s bedtimes.
The Groovy Movie Picture Tent is the only solar powered cinema in the UK and makes it aim to play independent films, animations and documentaries. This year’s top GMPT picks have to be Nina Paley’s Sita sings the Blues, which switches between a heartbroken New Yorker, gossiping Hindu gods, and Sita, singing the blues. The film is available for free at Ninapaley.com and is well worth the perusal. On Friday night, after Gong, the GMPT held an exclusive airing the BBC South East documentary about the Canterbury Sound; featuring interviews with Daevid Allen, Kevin Ayers and Steve Hillage as well as Joel and Liam Magill or Syd Arthur- passed to the tent only an hour before the showing. Highly informative and worth a watch, especially if you have no idea about the Sound to which I keep referring!
This year’s Lounge was definitely the best so far, and between running around from bands to burlesque, burlesque to fire shows, fire shows to portaloos, we also managed a lot of lounging- although I never did find the petting zoo. Still, Lounge on the Farm is only getting better and if I could get a lifetime ticket, I would. In the meantime, The Farmhouse will just have to tide us over until next year.
Photos by Amelia Wells
- Lounge on the Farm: The Festival Preview Series
- Lounge on the Farm 2013: Festival Review
- Festival Preview: Field Day
- CÃ©ilidh Dancing at Climate Camp
- Festival Review: Field Day 2010