Manchester – Richard Goodall Gallery

Recently we visited the Richard Goodall Gallery in the Northern Quarter, Manchester. I used to work in the area and loved popping in to peruse the latest contemporary pieces of art they had to offer.

They have a wide variety on show, paintings, prints, drawings, photos, vinyl toys, and some designer homeware. So here are few things that caught my eye.

Artist: Nicolas Bannister










Artist: Ray Caesar



Artist: Jay Ryan







Vinyl Figures: Dunny & Mechtorians





My Biggest Creativity Killer

I’ve finally booked some time away next week to do two things: rest, and write some music.

About bloomin’ time!! … So I’ve been thinking about creativity this past week, and just wanted to share ONE thing I know killed it for me many times in the past.

What I love about being creative is that there are no rules.. This isn’t a blog about the right or wrong way to ‘do’ creativity. True creativity is free and limitless.. But with anything that is free in this world, there are always things to try to blind, gag and suppress it’s freedom.

Last year (far too long ago) I went away, like I am next week. Generally, for me, I feel I have to go away and give myself a good chunk of time to write, as my output can be pretty poor when squashed in the middle of a busy, daily routine. Not a rule. Not for everyone – but works well for me. That time, some of Speak, Brother’s best and most passionate songs (so far) were born. Each song I wrote, tells a story I care deeply about. But my time away certainly didn’t start off like that.

I remember sitting down, at this beautiful house on a hill in the Cotwolds, listening to music I love, lyrics that move me, beautiful stories of love, self sacrifice and hope.

You’d think I’d be beaming with inspiration.. For a short time I was. But that inspiration shortly turned into something toxic. A poison that quickly choked every ounce of creativity, passion and honesty out of my very being until it was empty. I now see the effects of this poison everywhere, in every genre of music, in all levels of popularity and all over YouTube and the radio.

It’s called ‘Imitation‘.

I just wanted to write music that sounded like the music I liked listening to. Sounds innocent enough? But with that mind-set, I stopped anything NEW happening. I wanted what they had. I just subconsciously regurgitated their stories and melodies until I was left with a song that sounded ok, but felt wrong. It reaked of a souless, counterfeit, fake, bogus, stinky smell that lingered around the whole thing. There was no ‘me’ in any of it.

I set out to write a song, for the sake of getting a song to sell, forgetting the purpose of it. I guess, If you think about it, anything creative has a purpose of some sort. And if a purpose of a song, is simply to be bought, no matter what it’s about, it will come across pretty shallow and lifeless, and will most likely be a rip off of something. There’s probably an argument for the effect of the commercialization of music and the difference between a hobby and a job. But money should be no reason to sacrifice authenticity. You see it all the time, the bigger the world makes an organisation, artist or whatever, the more distant and fake it seems. That’s probably why I think the local music scene is always important. Anyways, I’m getting sidetracked……

On that long weekend last year, I ended up writing a song about a girl (someone I know and love) who continually devalued herself, giving herself away to any lad that gave her attention. Another about my passed grandparents and their lives together.

With whatever creative thing you do, painting, poetry, music, writing, cooking, designing etc:

Use your own stories, struggles, successes, revelations, pains, hopes and no one else’s. Let your songs, stories, poems etc come from you for true creativity to flow. That’s when the good stuff comes out.

Of course it’s good to have inspiration, but let inspiration be just inspiration, and let the essence of the song be from you.

This article was originally published on the Speak Brother blog in March 2014

See our review of Speak, Brother’s new EP here.

Speak, Brother

One of the nicest things about running Creative Kingdom is that from time to time we get to hear previews of songs before anyone else does. It makes us feel very special!

Especially when the music involved causes involuntary head bobbing, goosebumps and even a couple moments of tears-welling-up. Which is exactly what happened when I got to listen to the preview of the self-titled EP by Speak, Brother.

Speak, Brother, is an indie folk trio made up of James, Matt and Nath, and before I tie myself in knots trying to explain to you exactly what their music sounds like, why don’t you checkout the video of their single; Dry Bones here and see for yourself.

Speak, Brother


OK have you recovered from that beauty?

I have no idea how these three guys create such a full sound but it is incredible!

I have been playing their upcoming EP on a loop for the last few days. I know music appeals to people for different reason; some are looking for a certain sound, others like songs that link them to memories, but for me, I love songs that tell me a story.

This might be the reason why I have fallen for Speak, Brother. Their music is full of stories told with passion, authenticity and catchy melodies that you find yourself humming throughout the day.

Whilst Dry Bones is undoubtedly the showstopper, (and is available to download now!) my personal favourite track on the EP is ‘Two Bands of Gold’, it is a beautiful piece; romantic, timeless and triumphant.

I will stop gushing shortly and give you the more practical details of how you can get your hands on this EP but before I do I must just say that vocals here are incredible; full of harmonies, soothing calm one minute, rousing you to get up and do a little dance the next!!

I have a strong suspicion that this will be a band worth seeing live and if after hearing their single, you agree, you can see details of upcoming gigs here.

The Speak, Brother EP is launching on Monday 3rd November and will be available to download on itunes, amazon mp3 and the Speak, Brother website.

Speak Brother Happy Street

Starlord: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy has become one of my top films to watch, and after seeing it, I was inspired to create this piece. I spent the next weekend glued to my chair in front of Illustrator with a wacom tablet. In the process of it all I ended up creating some colour variations, the first one was quite jarring on the eyes, but would probably work well as a screen print. Perhaps one day I will get all the gear and learn how to do that, but for now a 20×30 inch photo print will be more than adequate.

Starlord/Peter Quill is the first member of the guardians I have completed. Hopefully I will continue to create the rest of the team. I’ve also added a sneak peek of the next one I’m working on.




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