Monday, 13 November 2017

Word Gets Around -Celebrating five years of A Spanner in the Workz

This November marks the fifth anniversary of sticking a Spanner in the Workz of the art world as Natalie Parsley reviews and analyses contemporary art and exhibitions throughout the UK and across the globe!

Thank you to anyone who reads these posts! The blog has been posting regularly since 2012 and has covered 150 exhibitions and art projects including the Liverpool Biennial and Venice Biennale. A third of those are either national or local with another thirteen being international. I began blogging in 2010 during an internship with Somerset Art Works when the idea was first mentioned that I create a blog that provided an anecdotal reflection but also critical writing platform to report and analyse art events that may be of interest to SAW members and the public. I established and wrote for the SAW blog for two years slowly gaining the confidence and passion for venturing into writing for myself. The SAW blog continues to this day with Davina Jelley posting on SAW related projects and events. 

The purpose for creating a Spanner in the Workz is to provide a context for my writing and link to my visual art practice and artist CV. In it I reflect on visual art exhibitions, talks, projects and events that I have either visited in person or am in some way directly participating in. The writing motivates me to see more exhibitions and the more exhibitions I see, the more I want to write about them!

The blog’s title taken from my Fine art degree critical commentary, is a reference to both my own work which features tools (including spanners) and the process of analysing something by way of unsettling or questioning something. In other words, putting a spanner in the works. I was obsessed then with double-meanings of things, the treachery and illusion of representation; how something can be and not be a pipe all at the same time [Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe]! To some extent I still am, as both an Artist, Blogger and Bookseller (not always necessarily in that order) I, like many people I know, live a life with multiple roles but all of which share common interests. This too is reflected in my writing as I write to both understand something better and (hopefully) make it sound appealing or of interest to others. The bigger ambition that art writing and reading can lead to a greater sense of art appreciation is something I am very passionate in. Perhaps also, but more subtly it also acts to criticise and question the art world and establishment; by being independent I am free to write my thoughts and opinions more unedited so I hope that in some way, if they take the time to read it, my comments may make artists, art venues and organisations think and scrutinise what they are doing. With all that in mind here’s to many more posts in the coming years about art, here’s to throwing more spanners in the workz!

To commemorate my interest in puns, wordplay and double-meanings of things I have collated a list of blog posts whose titles are taken or reference songs, books or films. Not a lot of people know that! Simply click on the title to reveal what each one is about. 



Everything to Everyone – Everclear

Viva Venezia -Viva Las Vegas, Elvis

Everything You’ve Come To Expect – The Last Shadow Puppets

Anything but Ordinary -Ordinary, Train

Can’t You Hear it in the Silence? – Red Earth and Pouring Rain, Bear’s Den

We Can Work It Out – The Beatles

Hollow Talk – Choir of Young Believers

You Could Be Lifted – Lifted, Lighthouse Family

These Streets -Paolo Nutini

I Always Believed in Futures -Futures, Jimmy Eat World

In the Middle -The Middle by Jimmy Eat World

Playing Videogames -Videogames, Lana Del Rey

What’s the Word? – We Are Scientisits

Another Brick in the Bookcase -Another Brick in the Wall, Pink Floyd

Livin’ for the Weekend -Living for the Weekend, Hard-Fi

I’m Lost For Words – Redundant, Green Day

On a Magic Carpet Ride – A Whole New World, Disney’s Aladdin

The answer is blowin’ in the wind -Blowin in the Wind, Bob Dylan

I’m Looking In -Outside, Staind

Can the Can! -Suzi Quatro 


Into the Wild -Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

The Unbelievable Weightiness of Air -The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Of Mutability- Of Mutability by Jo Shapcott

Fantastic Artists and Where to Find Them – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J K Rowling

Dust Interrupted -Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

You’re in For a Big Surprise -The Teddy Bears’ Picnic

Let the Light One In -Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindvqvist

The City and the City -The City and The City by China Mieville

Silver Linings Sketch Book – Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Something(s) Wicked This Way Comes -Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Here are my Bees -The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

Look if you like but you will have to leap -Leap Before you Look by Auden

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad -Animal Farm by George Orwell

Easy Glider – Easy Rider

Jurassic World – Jurassic World

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