Wednesday, 15 December 2010


We have just got our photos developed from New York. We went there to do some research for our 'Spark Plugs' project a few weeks back. Spark Plugs is a curator's research grant, awarded by the Crafts Council. You never know what you are going to find when you start doing research.
Our subject is Clothes as Spiritual Support Structure. We looked at the odd gallery and museum, but the really interesting discovery came, when we were standing outside a pub, and in one of the flats opposite, there appeared to be some bare chested men in tight pants. We laughed at them for a while and then we noticed the door was open so we gate crashed, what seemed to be a party.
What we discovered was a men's only superhero gathering, fueled by baby oil, lycra, hairspray and a drug which we chose to ignore. The superheros were most welcoming, giving us beer and full filling our request for 'Prince'. The most serious superheros we had ever met, didn't talk or dance, but beet their chests and growled like Tarzan. Lycra and baby oil represented something powerful for this group of men. Collective dressing formed a secure structure for these men to enjoy flexing their muscles and forget all their worries, including the two giggling girls dancing to their stereo.


Raincoats, protect us from uncomfortable weather, and Gina Birch, singer songwriter from the Raincoats, has taught us how to protect ourselves from adverse conditions of any kind, through her wonderful work now showing at Prick Your Finger.

Gina, whilst touring with the Raincoats, making films, teaching and being a mum, has knitted and felted Raincoats merchandise, with a series of bags about '57 ways to end it all'. The bags hang in our window, surrounded by stitched banners.
Each bag is different, with a pallette of black, white, grey, pink and red. Bags snap shut with sturdy poppers and are very cosy. Decorated with poison bottles, guns, and tower block jumping suicides, they also remind us that 'cups of tea are a clock', and you are 'no ones little girl'.
There is a wide selection and a lot of detail in each one.
Gina explained that the bags were so warm inside that last summer a lady in the supermarket said 'Isn't your bag rather hot for this time of year?'Band merchandise, doesn't get deeper than this. The bags are £250, and made for you by the lady singing the songs. Band merchandise, rarely brings you close to the artist, and is usually a system for raising extra cash on a tour. Expensive though they are, the price barely matches the love that Gina has put into making them, or the value she puts on making sure her fans look and feel good sporting her wears.

Gina has been making banners since the late seventies. These thoughts, explained to us by Gina and her friends as we were growing up, gave us the gusto to start this shop in the first place.
Heading towards mid winter, and feeling a bit nesty, living with the banners and bags is as comfortable as wearing a pair of jeans which have fitted you perfectly for years.

On Thursday we had a private view and party to celebrate Gina's work and Christmas. We cheekily asked if she would sing us some songs, and she did! She had a fuzzy guitar and microphone which sounded wonderful with the fuzz of the wool. She sang 'Sorry doesn't mean a thing' and 'Don't be mean' and 'Baby dog' and we were listening so intently, I can't remember what else, but the message was 'Why the hell wouldn't I be happy?" and lets be as loving as is infinatly possible.It was very special and there were listening ears inside and outside, with kids dancing and everything.

Outside on the pavement, Energy Cafe, the brain child of our friends Ella and Amy, was stoking it's wood burning stove to make us hot drinks and mince pies. Energy Cafe is an off grid catering experience built in and around an old horse box.

Our party was it's first outing, and we had so much fun bagging it a parking space, and buying it organic booze from Pittfield Brewery!
The inside is mostly built from scrap wood, just like Prick Your Finger is.
Tables and benches fold out of the back, and there was quite a toasty gathering inside on a chilly night.
Back inside the shop a disco was brewing, instigated by our favourite velvet elf Rocky. At this point the battery ran out on the camera, so we have no evidence of the hot sweaty bodies that flew their arms in the air to a rare seven inch of Led Zeppelin Rock and Roll or the krumping to Girls on Top.The party went on until 4am, and Zarah had the right idea, putting her pyjamas on right at the beginning.
Check out energy cafe at
And Gina Birch at