PLATFORM & PLATFORM PLUS

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PLANET A Poster - see PLATFORM PLUS below

THE BEATLES, THE STONES - & THE WHO!

What has got into Paul McCartney and Roger Daltrey? Recently, it has been reported that they have both, separately, been having a dig at the musicality of The Rolling Stones, McCartney claiming that they are no more than a blues cover band and Daltrey calling them a mediocre pub band. That word mediocre gets me – I mean how could you ever describe The Rolling Stones as MEDIOCRE?? These three bands, The Beatles, The Who and The Stones are amazing in their own ways, I don’t understand this need to suddenly start putting each other down – or is it the media asking these questions and pitting them off one against the other?

Anyway, it does not endear one to either McCartney or Daltrey when they come out with such stuff, mainly because it is not true. Have they listened to The Stones recently? I would suggest that they explore their back catalogue where they  will find a variety of musical genres all rendered superbly as is the hallmark of the band. For example, they will find tracks in the style of county music (e.g. Dead Flowers on the album Sticky Fingers), the psychedelia of We Love You and She’s a Rainbow and the folksiness of Factory Girl (Beggars Banquet) and the orchestral style of Moonlight Mile (Sticky Fingers).

So, enough of this nonsense, The Stones just like The Beatles and The Who are brilliant and they have nothing to prove – It’s Only Rock and Roll after all.  

MAY CONTAIN MILK = NOT VEGAN

Having been a vegetarian for 25 years – my partner is vegan – I have for a long time been a reader of ingredients on food packaging. Let me begin by saying that the main reason for my vegetarianism is health grounds. I know that meat eaters can still have a healthy diet but for me it just so happened that the meat products that I really liked were the saturated fat loaded ones and so I decided the best course of action was to stop eating meat altogether. I have to say, that now, 25 years on, the thought of eating meat is not a pleasant one and I have now got to the point where I can’t actually remember what it tastes like. So, returning to ingredients on food packaging here is my issue. I have found, for example, when shopping for vegan food – our Christmas dinner was vegan, gluten free and delicious – that, to save time, it is best to look underneath the list of ingredients and instead look at the allergy advice or disclaimer. Why? Because this is where you are advised that your ‘so-called’ vegan food may contain other ingredients such as milk or eggs. For me then, this not vegan food. How can it be when it may have milk, eggs, cream and a whole host of other animal related products in it? The reality is that all of the large supermarkets do this; they all have food somewhere on their shelves that says ‘due to manufacturing processes, may contain milk.’ And vegetarian food is not exempt either. I recently bought what was advertised as ‘vegan spring rolls’ only to find the disclaimer ‘may contain crustacean.’ So my message to all shops that sell vegan or vegetarian food is this: if it MAY contain milk, eggs, cream, crustacean, IT IS NOT VEGAN / VEGETARIAN SO PLEASE CHANGE YOUR LABELS THAT SAY IT IS. And finally, would most people even consider that something advertised as ‘vegan’ may have crab in it – probably not. So let’s just hope that no one who buys this particular vegan delicacy suffers from an allergy to shellfish. Rant over, I’ve made my point!’

CLIMATE CHANGE ANXIETY

A short story by the science fiction writer Philip K Dick “Foster, You’re Dead” written in 1955 seems to have resonance today. Mike Foster is a young schoolboy living under the threat of the H Bomb, he is a child blighted by the condition of Cold War Anxiety. His troubles are compounded because his father refuses to comply with the rules, for example, as a family they do not have access to any kind of fall-out shelter should the need arise. Foster is constantly being reminded that death is imminent – if precautions are not put in place.

Today Cold War Anxiety in children has been replaced by a fairly new phenomenon: that is Climate Change Anxiety. Children are constantly exposed to the news that Planet Earth is in danger and, of course, it is. There is no doubt that challenges lay ahead in tackling climate change but this is a massive undertaking and one that is, for the most part, unwittingly relayed to children who are not always equipped to deal with these particular kinds of complex issues. In the world we live in now many children are extremely aware about the dangers facing the environment , this can be seen by the way they come out and protest. This is commendable but – and it is a big but – it needs to be remembered that they are still CHILDREN. I am not being patronising when I say this, just stating a fact. Philip K Dick’s story makes it clear that, in his view back in the 1950’s , this child is not equipped to deal with this particular kind of anxiety. Towards the end of the tale we find poor Foster huddled up in the foetal position inside the underground shelter he covets so much and which has become obsessively part of his coping mechanism. Adults should be aware that what they are able to cope with is possibly having a different effect on children. It is irresponsible of some adults who should know better (Barak Obama) to tell children to “stay angry”. Children certainly have a right to be engaged in discussions about their future but anger is not always a helpful emotion, surely it would be more constructive to advise children to stay focused, determined and alert?

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Above - PLANET A exhibition showing New Curios film

PLATFORM PLUS

NEW YEAR - NEW GALLERY

This year 2022 is a special year for Livingston since it is the 60th anniversary of the town. Inaugurated in 1962, Livingston has seen many changes since it became Scotland’s fifth new town. As a resident for around about half the time it has been in existence, I have witnessed these changes. However, one aspect that has been slow to develop is the town’s ability to embrace a contemporary visual arts presence. The main aspect of this endeavour has historically been the excessive commissioning of public art sculpture, first by the LDC (Livingston Development Corporation) and later by the WLC (West Lothian Council). Although this is not a bad thing, a healthy visual environment needs a wider arena in which to present a more comprehensive approach to visual art culture.

That is why for many years I have worked as a freelance, voluntary curator putting on contemporary exhibitions in the town. Over the years I have begged and borrowed temporary spaces such as whole empty shops in the indoor shopping centre and also have been able to acquire permanent spaces inside shops and cafes.

This has been welcome; however, these spaces are not always ideal so I have always looked forward to having a proper exhibition space. The good news is that in September 2021 we were able to move into a space where we can hold a programme of exhibitions. There is also a studio space and art reference library and much of this magazine is produced in this space.

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Above and Below - Views of PLANET A exhibition

At the end of January, we plan to open our first exhibition entitled PLANET A to the public. The artwork is by myself and two guests, contemporary film by David Hutchison and sculpture by Pip Denham (who is another resident in the building). All of this would not be possible without the wonderful work done by Edinburgh Printmaker Spaces (EP Spaces). They are making life for artists and creatives so much easier with the work they do sourcing empty properties all over Scotland. These spaces provide the many individuals and groups with affordable space in which to pursue their many and varied projects.

We look forward to welcoming visitors to our first exhibition of the programme which starts on Monday 24th January and runs until Saturday 5th February (closed on Sunday). We can be found at Barbara Ritchie House, Almondvale Business Park, Livingston (next to Pure Gym).    

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