What do you hate most about where you live?

I really envy people who have a home town to be proud of. New York for example; who can blame Woody Allen for banging on about how wonderful it is in every film he makes? I come from Halton which is an amalgamation of two towns, Runcorn and Widnes, each one located on opposite sides of the River Mersey in North West England. I was born and raised in Runcorn but have also lived in Widnes. There are some really nice parts of Halton of course but one feature which you notice the moment you enter this borough is the one shown on the photo above.

It is a huge, vast, monumental,  scrap yard made up from bits of old cars, corrugated iron, and just about every other kind of scrap metal you can think of. It is the biggest eyesore you could possibly imagine. Its breath-taking size beggars belief. The stuff at the centre of this thing must have been put there in about 1953! There could be entire subterranean tribes living inside it!

And what possible use could it be? Evidently there’s no use that the scrap can be put to because the pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Apparently the local council have repeatedly tried to force the owner to remove this gigantic monstrosity but he stubbornly refuses. So this thing remains the first impression all visitors get of my home. Because Halton isn’t that big of a place, this enormous mountain dominates the landscape in every direction. How the hell they ever manage to put any new scrap on top of it is beyond me because no-one can reach the summit! The slogan that the local authority has attached to the borough in its marketing is ‘It’s all happening in Halton’ but I think this should be changed to ‘Halton – the biggest pile of crap you’ll ever see’.

Do you feel proud of your home town? If not, what do you hate most about it? Your answers might help make me feel better about the place where I live. Leave a comment in the box below or email me at jonkenna69@gmail.com

There is one redeeming feature of this whopping great carbuncle… its just about visible on my photo if you look carefully. In a bold move, someone has managed to scale the North face of Crap Mountain and stuck a little England flag into the highest peak. Makes you proud doesn’t it? No.


Give Peace and Picasso a Chance: Why Trying to Understand Modern Art is Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Someone from Liverpool was once quite famous for singing about peace and freedom. An exhibition of art by the legendary Picasso is running at the Tate in that same city and Peace and Freedom is its title. Me and my better half went to see it today. The first thing that strikes you when you go in is how revolutionary it seems even today. Anyone expecting realistic depictions of recognisable places, people or objects will be feeling like a stiff drink and a little sit down after five minutes. Creating visually accurate or ‘photographic’ representations is certainly not what the man was about.

My pic of the interior of the Tate Liverpool exhibition

This is a major exhibition bringing together over 150 works by Picasso from across the world at Tate Liverpool from 21 May to 30 August 2010 (it’s nearly over!) It aims to give an insight into the artist’s life as a tireless political activist and campaigner for peace and examine in-depth the artist’s engagement with politics and the Peace Movement. There’s also a nice line in novelty Picasso pencils, mugs, bookmarks, postcards, jewelry, T-shirts and badges available from the shop.

Peace and Freedom the Picasso way

I’m no expert on modern art but I like to think I approach it with an open mind. I did get that uneasy feeling, though, the one that most non-experts get when they look at work which, at first sight, might seem confusing, ridiculous or meaningless. ‘That looks like something my five-year old kid could do,’ is a common response. ‘I just don’t get it!’ is another (and one that I came out with a couple of times today).

Things not to say in an art gallery number 157: 'I just don't get it!'

I really wanted to understand why an artist with such obvious talent would choose to paint in this bizarre and confusing way. Why not communicate with people in a way they can understand? Surely you could reach people, touch them more effectively that way. Here is a response to those questions from someone who is pretty well qualified to have a view; Picasso himself…

“Everyone wants to understand art. Why don’t we try to understand the song of a bird? Why do we love the night, the flowers, everything around us, without trying to understand them? But in the case of a painting, people think they have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works of necessity, that he himself is only an insignificant part of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of other things which please us in the world though we can’t explain them; people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”

Now and Then

We recently visited Dyserth Waterfall in North Wales. Its a place we’d driven past probably twenty times but never bothered to stop and look at. It is stunning. Here are some shots of the place, firstly one taken by me in 2010, then a picture taken of exactly the same place at various points in history from 1890 onwards. All those years passing by and all that water. Thanks to the following for photos of the past…