an artists' view

an artists' view

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Ari Up

Not an 'art' blog this time, but a music blog.

Heard the news on Radio 4's Woman's Hour this week that Ari Up formerly of the Slits, had died of a long illness. Word is it's cancer, but one never really knows.
It's not really how she died though, it's how she lived.

I was one of those few (?) people who bought 'CUT', the first Slits vinyl in those days. Had to travel to Leeds to get it from Jumbo records. And Jumbo records, like me, still exists!
I couldn't get it in Wakefield, as we only had 3 independant record shops. They've all gone now; we now have one HMV which increasingly sells DVD's and games rather than cd's and music.

The Slits did a tour, and I went to see them at Bradford. Still have the ticket somewhere! I used to save all my tickets and things in those days. Before the days when I was up to my eyes in 'stuff'.
I was at art college in Wakefield, doing my Foundation course; 1979/1980.
Went straight to Bradford from Wakefield. It was a sparsely attended gig, it has to be said. Not a sell-out. But I loved them; the space in the sound, the loping reggae rythyms. I danced around to the beat. A couple of my friends were there, and afterwards we talked about what we'd thought of the Slits. I was enthusiastic; thought they were great! My two friends hated it! Hated the ramshackle-ness of them! Wanted more 'musician-ness' from them.
But how cool was it to see those 3 women on stage doing just what they wanted; playing with stereotypes of what women 'should' be. I was inspired. I didn't go and start a band; couldn't play an instrument (well it never stopped the punks, did it?) and I never knew many people who were interested in starting a band. Funny that; we all loved the punk ethos of D-I-Y, but never did the music ourselves.

But I did go and D-I-Y the art; I went off to University to do my art degree.
'Cos art colleges were where much of the music of the 1960's, and the Situationist-inspired London punk scene emerged from.
By the time I went to art college, it had changed slightly. Not very revolutionary or Situationist up here in the provinces.
But I continue with my D-I-Y ethics; in my art, my creativity. Re-using and re-cycling; planting parsnip spirals; planting Morning Glory plants to make into give-away books.
And at this time in the world, where we have a government hell-bent on finishing off the job that Mrs Thatcher started, and cut-backs in public services, the D-I-Y ethic is going to become more and more important.

Ari Up and the Slits inspired me to be a woman as I wanted to be. I may not be a screeching musical banshee; not even a screeching artist. But I make the noise I want to make, the sound of brush on canvas; the sound of pen and pencil on paper. The sound, to mis-quote Seamus Heaney, of a 'hunter-gatherer of meaning'.

I'll dig out my old Slits badge from that Bradford gig, and wear it in honour of Ari, and all the inspiration they streamed out to us women who saw, and listened, and went out....inspired.

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