BLOG | DIARY OF VARIOUS ITEMS OF NEWS FOR THE WEARY 2017





FRIDAY 21 APRIL 2017ADD A COMMENT



SONIC-SCAPES

I have added to the web-site a new portfolio of sound experiences that I have recorded over the last two years. These have been edited to construct mini-narratives - sonicscapes - audio images - comprising the sounds of people, trains and planes from of Paris, New York and Farnborough, UK.

Transport / The Paris Metro and the New York Subway

The items in the sonic/sound collection presented in the folder can be read as individual essays at this stage.

Transport / Not Transport

I have added a collection of recordings made at the Farnborough Air Show 2016. The recording of the display of military aircraft separates the true experience from the so-called entertainment. The fun is removed and the military monsters suggested.

See/click: [sonic-scapes] or on the 'homepage'.



TUESDAY 11 APRIL 2017ADD A COMMENT



Breen/Muñoz Poster on the cover of
Penguin Classics: Why Are We 'Artists?' 100 World Art Manifestos


'Why Are We Artists?' 100 World Art Manifestos
Selected by Jessica Lack

Penguin Press, London, March 2017.

Cover image from an original poster by Len Breen & Juan Muñoz, designed and produced in London in 1978.

From the publication:

Cover: The Culture of Fear © Juan Muñoz and Len Breen (1978). Reproduced by kind permission of Len Breen, the Estate of Juan Muñoz anf Marian Goodman Gallery.

See more information below.


Original Breen/Muñoz Poster, 1978

The Culture of Fear

Len Breen & Juan Muñoz

Everything that can be used to resist the culture of fear is a sign of out living culture.

Screen-print, Gouache and Letraset,
830mm x 600mm,
London, UK, 1978

The basic collage (finished as a serigraph) of a typewriter and 'a revolutionary', from the 1968 student demonstrations in Paris, was compiled by Juan from the refuse/pile of discarded images at the Central School of Art annex - and elsewhere. In the final design I switched the handing in a hand-drawn version into the design.

The quote and slogan, reproduced with 'Letraset', was chosen from popular texts/slogans of the time. I produced the final design which was finished in gouache.

We later entered the poster for the Baghdad International Poster Competition/Exhibition 1979.

Although the work was originally a cooperative collaboration and so entered into the competition in both our names, it was, for 'political reasons', and since another of my posters had already been given a 'Special Award', and in a begging request from the press officer of the Iraqi Cultural Centre (ICC), Kate Aldridge, to widen the international profile, credited solely to Juan. It was awarded a distinction and printed in a 10000 (estimated) offset run and as a postcard by the ICC in London. I (well) represented Juan on the trip to Baghdad!

It was exhibited in London, Baghdad and touring in Europe and the Middle East. The original poster was later presented by me to the Iraq Museum of Modern Art through the Iraqi Cultural Centre in London.

As I have discussed elsewhere, the 'imperialist invasion' destroyed much of the contents of the museum, probably all our posters included - in a major statement of irony. See:

The Iraq Museum of Modern Art


FROM MY ARCHIVE

Juan Muñoz (1952-2001)



Juan at the Central School of Art Studios, London (1977). Photo by Len.
Juan Muñoz who tragically died at the end of August 2001 was a friend and colleague. We met at the Central School of Art and Design in the late 70's and worked together through the early 80's. We partied somewhat in those days but more significantly collaborated on some important political poster productions of the times.

This work included the design and production for Latin American Solidarity, Chilean Solidarity and various issues focusing on the Chilean struggles around Salvadore Allende. With David Dahlson we also created all the visual propaganda for the Central School Occupations - part of the protests by art colleges against fee increases for foreign students.

Juan was a gregarious person, always good fun to be with, but he had a great sense of purpose in his art and an infectious intellectual spirit. He went on to make a significant impact. See:

BBC News    and    The Juan Muñoz Estate


COLLABORATIONS:

To see the a collection of posters that were designed and produced by myself and Juan during the period in London, go to (click):

Collaborations: Len Breen & Juan Muñoz

WEDNESDAY 30 MARCH 2016ADD A COMMENT



(DOCUMENT SUBMITTED FOR) THE ARCHITECTS' 1993 REUNION - 2013

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STUDYING ARCHITECTURE (MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY, AUSTRALIA) 1963-1967

For me, the architecture course was both a wonderful experience and without question, as Saul Steinberg said, "...a marvellous training for anything...". It certainly was my passport for travelling the globe and discovering and engaging in the creative world.

At one time or another, over the years, I have had the privilege of being something of: an architect, engineer, archaeologist, artist, printmaker, photographer, designer, graphic artist, lecturer, computer programmer, computer artist, publisher, editor, etc, etc, all with much production and some success - as in the spirit of Steinberg's maxim. He never mentioned, however, that one could ever make much of a real fortune though!

GRATUITOUS ANECDOTE: ‘GREAT ART’ FROM FIRST YEAR

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Len Breen, The Donkey. Welded Steel, 1963

On our first year excursion to her foundry/studio, Inge King invited us to try out her welding apparatus/machine and I was the only one, very willingly too, to accept. The result, later titled, “The Donkey” by my niece, was displayed for about 40 years on roof of my mum's backyard shed in West Preston. Mum passed away in 2002 and this ‘much loved’ sculpture was inherited by my sister. It is now used to cover the 'spare house keys' in her front garden in [location withheld!].

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Inge King's, “Shearwater” (1995), which can be seen on Melbourne’s Southbank.

Quite a statement, much as my 'donkey', I like to imagine.

(Inge King passed away in April 2016 at the great age of 100 years. I am honoured to have my tiny link to her and her art - and to my archi days.)


BIT OF HISTORY

I met Indy (Gunaratna) in first year, we married in the fourth.

After working in Melbourne for a year or so after I had graduated, we travelled, lived and worked in Asia and Europe. I worked on some very exciting, sometimes exotic, architectural projects, in Colombo (with Justin Samarasakera Associates), Rome (with Rader Mileto - Interplan) and London (BDP and Rock Townsend). I also was encouraged (by one Garry Martin) to be the Site Architect on two archaeological digs in Iran (1976) and Afghanistan (1977). These all proved to be just extraordinary and enlightening experiences.

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UN Convention Against Torture (2000), for Amnesty International.


On returning to London, I made another discovery that changed everything for me - it was the Central School of Art & Design (just next door to Rock Townsend’s office). Taking a sabbatical from architecture, I became a post-graduate art student and fervently studied everything I could about fine art and design practice.

My first London studio in Shepherds Bush, followed, as well as a large volume of work and exhibitions. It was an intense and exciting time, in the ten or so years we lived in the heart of Soho, where we met, mixed with and entertained a host of creative friends and colleagues.

My graphic art led me to working with a number of international organizations, art groups and personalities on projects mainly addressing political and humanitarian issues. The most prestigious of these commissions were for Amnesty International, Chile Solidarity, War on Want, CND and London Against Racism.

And some work was exhibited internationally, winning a number of awards and prizes, and can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery of Australia and public museums in Lahti, Moscow and Paris, Germany, Poland, and Iraq (although this museum, I understand, was bombed to bits - my work included I assume - probably by the Aussies, Yanks, Poms and others!).

Also around this time, Indy eventually gave up on London (and the poor struggling artist in a garret of his own idealism') and returned to her mother in Australia.

From this point I was invited to teach full-time, and became a lecturer in visual communication at Kingston University. There I learnt as much as I contributed - a key to teaching - and soon discovered the emerging computer graphics in the Computer Science Department. This I enthusiastically studied and eventually wrote and produced a wide range of programs for computer visualization. My architectural partiality led initially to the creation of the original multiple interactive perspective drawing and animation applications.

It has always been really a great joy to see the computer code I wrote transform into amazing and awesome images - drawing by magic - or numbers - and which could move too!

I then met the lovely and brilliant artist and teacher Sarabjit, and we moved first to Pimlico, then to Bloomsbury. We had a son, Kesar ('Kes'). (He later graduated with a Master’s in Information Engineering from Cambridge University in 2012, I am very, very proud to say. Among his many talents, he's also a multi-instrumental musician! Wembley awaits! (See also his ‘startup’ at: ellative.com)

Around 1986 I was invited to join Middlesex University, then emerging as one of the world's leading institutions for computer art and graphics. I became the leader of a specialist centre of excellence – now the Centre for Computer Arts. Our Master’s students were extraordinary, producing amazing computer graphics, animation and art. Some went on to great success in Hollywood and elsewhere, even scoring an Academy Award or two.

But in 1996 I joined the (Industrial) Design Department at Brunel University, became the head of visual communications, and moved with my family to the Gatehouse on the beautiful Runnymede campus - beside the golf course too! The department's great strength was, at that time, a combination of its unique multi-disciplinary mix of applied engineering, design and art and its extraordinary teaching team, of which I was very proud to be a member. Interestingly, the programmes we taught had much in common, in breadth and depth, as our own architecture course. And again, the students achieved remarkable quality of creative design, and success. Unbelievably, the bureaucrats sold the site and forced, first the depletion, then closure, of the Department.

So I returned in 2006 to my studio/home on 'the edge of the Farnborough Moors', set up my publishing 'empire' in the ‘garden shed’ and focused on my graphic art and web development. From there I now fill large, fat sketchbooks with surrealistic jokes and aphorisms (and rubbish), build vast web sites and splash ink and paint around - and make books about it all.

If you have the energy you can see all my work at: www.lenbreen.com If you are reading this you are in fact here - or there!

http://www.lenbreen.com/

REFLECTIONS

There is a lovely word in the Welsh language, ‘hiraeth’ - there is no direct equivalent in English apparently, but it (sort of) means ‘homesickness tinged with grief or sadness, a longing or yearning, a nostalgia for a home that’s hard to get to’.

I do miss Australia (home) a lot, feel something of an émigré, and I express this in my art. While I have changed course somewhat, I am very aware that architecture has always informed my work and, so from time to time, I am prompted by it to reflect upon the 'Archi School’ and my friends, colleagues and contemporaries - pleasant memories, coloured by a touch of sadness.

Remembering, Branco Pancic, Margaret Scott (McGrath), Bill Mitchell and John Peck, who were good friends - and I have sadly lost touch with some others from those wonderful Architecture School days - some enjoyably renewed at the '2013 Reunion' though.

Fine regards,

Len Breen (First Year Rep in ’63 - you may recall with great excitement??!!!)



TUESDAY 8 APRIL 2014ADD A COMMENT



FACEBOOK v LEN

While consolidating my archive I came across this page (23) in my Sketchbook #33 from 1995.

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Sketchbook / Journal #33 Page 23 (1995)

Yes, interesting. Facebook was founded in 2004 ... nine or so years after my clever sketch - such foresight! - to be submitted to 'the archaeology of missed opportunities'!

'Prophetic!' - contributed by the artist's assistant in the other room.



TUESDAY 1 APRIL 2014ADD A COMMENT



PROVENANCE OF THE LAST POST(ER)

I was checking the details attached to the last poster: "Capitalism Attacks Education" (by Len Breen, Juan Muñoz & David Dahlson, ) which was produced at the Central School of Art and Design in 1977. Because of time, I was concerned that the David Dahlson might/should be perhaps, David 'Dalson'.

I found a reference to a David Dahlson in 'England's Dreaming: The "Sex Pistols" and Punk Rock' by Jon Savage. 'He was working with a group of artists, Al McDowell’s Rocking Russian Designs (set up by 'Malcolm McLaren and the Rich Kids') which produced graphic art for the puck rock scene - Barney Bubbles, Al McDowell, David Dahlson of 'Don Flex', Clint Hodder and Neville Brody', were all part of the group'.

From there I found a chain of connections to one, 'Dave Limey' and a punk-rock group in LA, called 'Tupelo Chain Sex'. I checked further and found a collection of video clips on 'YouTube' and sure enough, there he was, albeit young, David Dahlson. His history from there at least starts with a very influential LA band, likened to the Specials and Zappa and others. (See: YouTube Link). With a touch of the political, radical and anarchy!

Alex McDowell, I remember him well from the Central days, went on to become quite a success too. (Reference also a story by: Graham & Mo Henderson.)

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Dave 'Limey' Dahlson in 'Tupelo Chain Sex' - (YouTube Still - 1985)

Yes, interesting.



MONDAY 17 MARCH 2014ADD A COMMENT



PUBLISHED POSTER

It is but a very old poster, and not only that, this notice is somewhat out of date too.

The publication is Catherine Flood's, "British Posters - Advertizing, Art and Activism"", published in 2012 by V&A Publishing (ISBN 9781 85117676 4). The poster is "Capitalism Attacks Education" by Breen, Muñoz & Dahlson, (LB: #770304a, V&A: E.929-1977). See page 67.

I just thought that you might be impressed that I still get work out there, albeit, the old stuff.


book cover


Catherine Flood. British Posters -
Advertizing, Art and Activism (2012)

poster


Capitalism Attacks Education (1977)
Catalogue: #770403a



To see the context in which the poster was made, go to:


WEDNESDAY 5 MARCH 2014ADD A COMMENT



SOME CURRENT PROJECTS

Among the many projects: I am currently working on developing this drawing from 1996.

It is entirely drawn using coloured pencil (for the coloured fill) and 'Indian ink' black line. The smooth finish gives the impression of being in gouache, but it was very solidly and intensely crafted using 'Berol' pencils - notable for their soft texture and very rich pigment.

I am using a collage approach, 'repairing' a section at a time with a patch of colour and line and then pasting it in place. The final job is to refresh the work with new ink-line over the whole piece.

And it is a large drawing too, measuring 150cm (height) by 120cm (width) - that's 4'10" by 3'11' for 'imperialists'. Incidentally, I do 'enjoy' creating large works - bigger the better, but no space for it, unfortunately.

'Steinberg's Bridge' was drawn on heavy grade watercolour paper. It hung in the staff room on the Runnymede Campus of Brunel University for many years (1996-2004), until the place was sacked by academic visigoths. There it was much loved by the few who ever noticed it.


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Steinberg's Bridge (1996) Catalogue: #961046

Saul Steinberg was a great artist, cartoonist and illustrator. His work, for me, was/is profound and inspiring. When I was teaching at Kingston Polytechnic (1978-87), my colleague, John Marsh, gave me a wonderful book of Steinberg's work. It was "Saul Steinberg" (1979) and it was a fantastic introduction to his work.

My drawing is a sort of homage to Steinberg.

Interestingly, Steinberg studied architecture (in Milan, graduating in 1940) - a background something in common with me I guess.

He once thoughtfully observed:
    "The study of architecture is a marvellous training for anything but architecture. The frightening thought that what you draw may become a building makes for reasoned lines."


SATURDAY 4 JANUARY 2014ADD A COMMENT



Who says, 'I just don't get out much!'? This is my contribution to the 'Fancy Dress Party', held by my agent, Dawn, in 2011, to celebrate the letter 'D'. I, of course as you can see, came as a 'D for Drawer' (from a Filing Cabinet like!). It was a very lovely party and although I looked a bit morose, I was in a very happy mood. Yes, unfortunately it was 2011. I have tried to get out more since then but it's very difficult making people happy you know! And waiting in for invitations too!

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TUESDAY 17 DECEMBER 2013ADD A COMMENT



These are the images considered for the family 'Season's Greetings' card for 2013-2014.


The first below (selected) is a composite of the traffic lights on Ship Lane, Farnborough, near Ringwood Road, located there for the recent 'Gas Works' which, although failing to function as expected, were not really as bad as this.

Added to a photograph of a winter scene (from 2012) taken from the same spot. Titled, "Fairy Lights"! From an old 'Italian' joke which goes, "Traffic lights in Milan are 'Instructions', in Rome, they are 'Recommendations', and in Naples they are 'Fairy Lights'."

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The second is from a recent poster about 'the economy', with new copy/comment for 2014.


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The third is based upon a drawing made many years ago which featured parallel bars as an abstraction of perspective.

This was first converted into a 'Xmas Tree' with a star.

But then a different story emerged: 'the xmas tree becomes a pedestrian crossing and the star becomes the 'splatt' as Santa was hit as he nearly got across it, by a speeding raindeer, with the fortuitous name of Mr Blitzen!

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THURSDAY 17 OCTOBER 2013ADD A COMMENT



I found this photograph by Don McCullin while researching images at the Sunday Times Photo Library in September 1977. It is from his photographic portfolio from Lebanon from 1975-77.

I used it for my recent poster, "Come and See the Blood in the Streets." (#131079) (which also includes a line from a poem by Pablo Neruda, "Explico algunas cosas"), but the photo was originally used by me in one of my early screen prints, "Solidarity with the People of Palestine" (#770101).

While at the library, I was also able to look through the vast collection of original colour (Kodak Ektachrome) photographs of McCullin's awesome work deposited there. An extraordinary experience and quite an amazing privilege too. Not so accessible these days.


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Coincidentally, Don McCullin receives, on Friday 18 October, a 'Lifetime Achievement' honour at the 2013 Photographic Awards in London.
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TUESDAY 25 JUNE 2013ADD A COMMENT



Here is a selection of photos from my recent trip home to Australia. On the theme: SIGNS.


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Seen in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield (March 2013).
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On the cliffs looking over Dee Why beach, North Sydney (March 2013).
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Melbourne City. Traffic jam! (April 2013).
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Seen in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield (March 2013).
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Street sign in West Preston where I 'grew up' (never actually 'grew up' really). Named after my Uncle Vin apparently (April 2013).
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