Friday, 10 June 2016

Professor Pigment - Revealed!

As I said in an earlier post - I was invited to the premier of Pro Pig's documentary film: Trail and Error. It was held on Monday night (6th June) at the Film Theatre at Staffordshire University in Stoke.

We were on the list :-)
I was excited to have had an invitation from the artist himself - after I tweeted him a photo of one of his works which had suddenly appeared in Wolstanton. I'd never been to a premier before and Nathan and I weren't sure what the dress code would be. As Pro Pig was only ever seen secreted under  hoodies - we figured that casual - but smart - would be okay.


It was a sunny and sweltering evening and we got there around 7pm to be greeted with free drinks and nibbles. Many people were milling around in the foyer and we spotted Nello, Lou Macari and  The Hairy Potter  who had the back of his house turned into the Britannia Stadium by Pro Pig himself. Then the Mayor and Mayoress arrived and everyone was ushered into the hot theatre to see the film.

It was introduced by Mark Garner, art course leader at Staffs Uni who said that Trail and Error had been 22 years in the making. The lights dimmed and we all watched the story of Professor Pigment and his quest to spread positive messages around Stoke through his street art. I was really pleased to hear the story of the piece that is up the road from me.

Tattooed Lady

It turns out that Dain Maginnis  - the owner of Ink R Nation - had contacted Pro Pig to tell him the story of one of his customers. It was an older lady who'd had a scar all down her arm for most of her life. She'd never been able to wear short sleeved dresses because she always felt that she had to cover it up. Dain tattooed flowers over the scar - and a few weeks later she sent him a photo of herself, at the Chelsea Flower Show proudly wearing a short-sleeved dress showing her arms covered in flowers, among the flowers.

Such a lovely story, and Pro Pig must have thought so too because one morning as Dain arrived at work he saw this picture on his shop wall.

The film showed footage of a hooded figure (and accomplice) stencilling and spray painting this at 3am one night. It seems his is the preferred time for PP to do his art.

Pro Pig aka Andy Evans
The film was received with much applause and cheering - Pro Pig's art and very positive message and pride in Stoke-on-Trent has made him very popular with a wide range of local people. Mark Garner got up to address the audience once more, saying that Pro Pig had recorded a very special message just for us.

His voice was disguised and he was under the hoodie as he thanked us for supporting and encouraging him.

He also told us that this Trail and Error was the last thing he would be doing as Professor Pig as he was going to have a break, then change his name to Doddz (Defy the Odds) and spread his message further afield.

Then, his voice went back to normal and he took off his hood as the light came on. He then jumped up from a seat in the front row to reveal himself as Andy Evans, a 21 year old student, dressed in a vintage Stoke City shirt.

He said he'd be around for a little while to answer questions, but was mobbed by the press and the VIP guests. However, we thanks him for giving Stoke some of its pride back and for highlighting all that is good and fun about the place. We wish him well in the future - whatever he decides to do!

If you want to see the film yourself click TRAIL AND ERROR
To see the moment of the reveal - click this video from RADIO STOKE

Trail and Error - Part 2


Today was a little cooler and cloudy - so we resolved to continue our walk around the Trail and Error - looking for street art by Pro Pig (aka Professor Pigment)

We got up early and did some work in our office first - we don't want everyone to think we have a life of idleness and pleasure all the time. We are gearing up for our big re-launch of our award-wining game  Interference and Nathan is busy putting the finishing touches to that.

I was coming up with content for a future word game called BLUFFED - but more of that in a future blog. It's not easy running a small but awesome Indie Games Studio you know ;-)

But by lunchtime it was beginning to look dark and gloomy so we thought we'd better get a move on if we want to finish the trail before the rains came.

Stop 10 - Trial and Error
Behind bars!
We drove to College Road and continued where we left off yesterday - at Stop 10, where we found this text - behind a locked gate.
We couldn't get too close without risking arrest!

Stop 11 - Self Belief
Stop 11 took us down the canal path by Hanley Park and to another one we couldn't get close to - without getting wet! It looks like a cute kitten - but when you look at the reflection of it in the water - it is actually now a lion!
That's what it sees when it looks at its reflection.
There's a lesson there for all of us!

Stop 12 - Catapult Yourself to Confidence

We then came back up to road level to see this interactive art - with this chap just waiting to be catapulted into the street!

 It says "Pull to propel" I gave it a little twang :-)

We were nearing the end of the trail. The next one was a bit of a walk - to Staffordshire University's Film Theatre - where Pro Pig held his premier of his documentary - and surprised the audience to boot.
Stop 13 - Film Theatre

But more of that tomorrow!

We walked around the corner towards the railway bridge where we found the moving Stop 14 - which is a tribute to Lidice in the Czech Republic, which was almost wiped from the map by the Nazis on 10th June 1942. All the men and 52 women were massacred and many children sent to Germany.

Stop 14 - Lidice Shall Live

The massacre inspired Stoke city councillor Sir Barnett Stross and local miners to set up the Lidice Shall Live campaign in September 1942 to raise funds for the rebuilding of the village. There are still close ties between Stoke-on-Trent and Lidice to this day.

Stop 15 - If it's Good Enough for Rome, it's Good Enough for Home
So, on to the final stop - near the Spode site in Stoke. This is where Pro Pig's biggest painting is situated - covered over by a plastic panels to protect it.

It's his version of The Creation of Adam  by Michelangelo - love the fist bump :-)

We then went into Gallery One One Six where there is another exhibition of PP's work. We chatted to the lady in there and signed the guest book. She asked us which works were our favourites - we both said the Oatcake Duck!

For our office wall - for inspiration!
We made it to the end!

We bought one of the works - we wanted to put it in our office to inspire us to Defy the Odds.

So, we say thanks to Pro Pig for taking us around areas of our city that we have never seen before and for giving us much-needed motivation and inspiration.

We promise to Defy the Odds!

Trail and Error - the search for Professor Pigment

Today we went on a Trail around Stoke-on-Trent - in search of art!

Our interest started when we saw a cool picture of Peppa Pig in the car park where we park in Hanley when we go to Painty at Portofino. She had a moustache and her surname had been lengthened to PigMENT. We had no idea what it meant - but we enjoyed seeing it each month.

Lady with flower tattoo
Then stories started appearing in our local paper The Sentinel about a mysterious street artist called Professor Pigment who was leaving art work all over the city.

The graffiti was related to Stoke-on-Trent culture and its personalities and heroes, Gordon Banks, Captain Smith (who went down with the Titanic) and even a duck up 'Anley asking about oatcakes :-)

Everyone was speculating who it could be and what he would do next. Then last month I was thrilled to discover one when I went up the road opposite our house. There on the side of a tattoo parlour was a Pro Pig original!
I was so excited I found Pro Pig on twitter and tweeted a photo of it to let him know it was appreciated.

I thought nothing more of it - then one day at the beginning of June I had a message from Pro Pig asking if I would like to attend the premier of his new movie, Trail and Error, on 6th June at the Film Theatre. I replied to say I'd love to - and he put me (and a plus one!) on the guest list. How exciting - I'd never been to a film premier before!

Before that, on 28th May - Pro Pig launched the Trail and Error - a guided walk around Stoke-on-Trent that took you to 12 of his art works - and three exhibitions of his work along the way.

You could pick up a map at his studio above the Entrepreneur shop in Piccadilly and follow it around the city. We didn't get chance to do it before we saw the film - but after the premier we couldn't wait to try it

The film of Trail and Error explained the story behind our local Pro Pig work - which was very touching. Check out this clip of the film here
Cool t-shirts and hats :-)

So, today we slapped on the factor 50 sun cream and headed out into the heat to do the fist part of the Trail and Error. Although it isn't officially part of it - we started in the car park with Peppa Pigment - just because it as the first one that we saw and we love it!

The beginning of the Trail and Error - ENTREPRENEURS

The actual trail starts inside this cool clothing shop called Entrepreneurs. Upstairs from the shop is the space where Pro Pig has been living, making his awesome art and even sleeping!

Sign half-way up the stairs

In fact there was a sleeping bag on top of an inflatable bed with a sign telling you to touch his shoulder. I'm not sure if it was really him - or a dummy. I didn't have the heart to try to wake him. he's been very busy recently!

Stop 1
The studio was full of his used stencils, photos, clothing, guest books and even toothpaste - as well as some examples of his work on the walls. Love the blue clock one - it's where everyone meets in Hanley as it is so distinctive.
He deserves a nap :-)

We'll meet at the blue clock
The Trail then took us out of the shop and round the dusty and hot back streets of Hanley. There behind clubs, next to bins and on car park walls we found the wonderfully inspirational works he had left the city. He is very much interested in trying to inspire and motivate people to rise up and fulfil their potential and not let anyone hold them back.  "Defy the Odds" is his mantra.

Stop 2 - Edward Smith
Stop 3 -Yes We Can Can

The first outdoor work we were lead to was this of Captain Smith of the Titanic. Even though he commanded the disaster-prone ship he did go down with it to save others...

Then around the corner came Bob the Builder saying "Yes we can can." I love this one :-) A fun way to get the Pro Pig message over - you can do anything you want!

We found Cupid round the side of a nightclub, just by the bins. The speech bubble coming out of the bin says "Go home Cupid, we're drunk!"

Stop 4 - Cupid

Stop 5 - I Need a Slash
The map then took us to the public toilets in Hanley where we fund this relevant portrait - Stop number 5.
Slash has always been a local hero round here. Welcome to the Jungle indeed! We sidestepped the local gathering of afternoon drinkers to move on to Stop 6.

Stop 6 - Anyone for an Oatcake?

 This one is my favourite - so Stokie to ask if you want an oatcake - they're not available anywhere else. Plus, everyone round here will call you "duck" - whether you are male or female! He's fab :-)

Stop 7 - with Kiln Kong
The next stop was at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery Thee was an exhibition of Pro Pig's work - one of our favourites here was Kiln Kong . There were lots of other paintings - many for sale too.

Is to Grow Up to Give Up?


We then moved on to the Mitchell Arts Centre where we found Stop 8 - where this inspiring art was placed.

If anyone tells you that you can't do anything - you should reply "Just watch me!" Fantastic!

Stop 9 - Defy the Odds
The afternoon as really heating up by now and we were unbelievably hot! We popped into a handy Greggs for a bottle of water and soldiered on.. to Stop 9 - in another city car park.
This is where we saw this lady and her shopping trolley. Pole dancing or what? Such fun!

However, we were pretty tired and even hotter by now so we decided to go and get an ice cream and call it a day. We will do the rest of the trail tomorrow - so we can really do it justice.

We saw a cool view on the way back to the car - a field of wild flowers planted in front of the brand new multi-coloured Smithfield Building and there in the background a bottle oven from Stoke's proud past. What a great city.

Part 2 next...