Thursday 21 February 2019

Stella Tripp - Love Tokens and Bad Pennies

Stella Tripp - Choose Love
Does love endure forever? Does a bad penny always turn up? During this Valentine month the artists and writers from CollectConnect explore this flip-sided theme with an exhibition of 32 miniature sculptures. These objects are placed in public places (#unsettledgallery), helping us to remember those who we hold dear - or cast off those who we would rather forget. Every day throughout February we will be featuring one of these tokens/pennies on this website. A writer will also use the art as inspiration to create something new and fresh.

Art - Stella Tripp / Words - Chopsticks Nelson
Choose Love?

One of the first songs I ever recorded was called 'Choose Love'. Twenty-three people bought a copy. I wrote it in a rickety, cold, optimistic shack up in a forest outside Asheboro, NC, back in the days when the hippies sometimes seemed to have the answer, back before the rips and anguishes of 'Nam and the insanities of Altamont and the 'we fucking knew its' of Watergate. I had nothing up there, nothing except a guitar I could never keep in tune, memories of Carla and San Francisco and what might have been, a couple of bottles of Eagle Rare, and a few cans of tuna. I lasted three days - three days! - but I got the song out of it and (as you probably know) I got Nina out of it. Win some, lose some.

‘Choose Love’ is a four-chorder: Gmaj7 - Bb13 - Ebmaj9 - Ab13. It didn't start that way, but that guitar had a mind of its own and those chords keep the thing pretty much mine, keeps it well away from anyone else.

Choose Love

I watch the long-hairs dance
Watch them prance, baby,
I watch them play at opposing
And supposing
And proposing
We should choose love.

I watch the rich kids play
Watch them lay, baby
Watch them trying to fuck
And trying to suck
And trying their luck and telling us all
We should choose love

Ain't going to choose love, darling,
Not when there's fights to fight
Ain't going to choose love, honey,
Not when there's still wrong and right

I watch the flowing skirts spin
Watch them try to win, baby
Watch them twirl and laugh
Trying to change our path
And trying to make us all
Choose a new kind of love

I watch the kids shout at cops, baby,
Watch them wonder why
The Man can't listen
The Man won't listen
To flowers and pot and dreams and hope
Or choose a new kind of love.

Ain't going to choose love, darling,
Not when there's fights to fight
Ain't going to choose love, honey,
Not when there's still wrong and right

Introduction: Chopsticks Nelson, in a letter to the author (1978).

Lyrics and music reproduced by kind permission of Sandra Nelson.
Stella Tripp

You can find Stella Trip's artwork outside Colvins in Walthamstow. Colvins is a DIY, ironmonger, wood cutting, paint mixing shop with some of the most knowledgeable staff in the business. In 1949 Colvins Ltd in Wood Street, Walthamstow was set up by an eponymously named businessman but now the popular hardware store is shutting its doors for a final time as numerous high street pressures becomes to much. Here at CollectConnect have always enjoyed exhibiting in urban public places, the high street and the shopping centres. They are evolving and fluid sites that benefitfrom the vibrancy of art and people to make them come alive.

Born in Somerset, Stella Tripp trained locally before attending Camberwell school of Arts and Crafts where she went on to lecture part-time. At the beginning of the eighties Stella travelled to America, Illinois where she developed much of her over arching themes and work practices, such as the decision to stop using rectangular stretched canvases and instead building makeshift constructions to paint on. These better reflected her situation and state of mind. She wrote a thesis exploring the nature of art by comparing art from different cultures and was excited by the possibilities that surface when exploring the nature of art in the light of cultural and societal conditioning: "things don’t have to be as they are; anything goes; anything is possible". Stella is a regular contributor to Collect Connect projects and first exhibited with us at the Lite Bite exhibition in 2011.

John 'Chopsticks' Nelson 
John 'Chopsticks' Nelson (February 14th, 1926 – July 13th, 1979) was an American blues singer, guitarist, actor and composer. Notoriously reclusive and hostile to both media and fans alike, Nelson remained a little-known but passionately-followed figure in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia for much of his life, before becoming more widely known with the release of 'They Call Me Chopsticks' in 1976. 
Originally a backing singer and session guitarist, he contributed to many albums by other musicians, including Sonny Boy Williamson, The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters.
Over the course of his career, Nelson's music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension, culminating in the controversial 1974 triple album, 'God, Allah and Yahweh' and live shows that became a focus for attacks by the Ku Klux Klan. 
Nelson remains one of the most influential - if least understood - bluesmen in music history. He died in a hunting accident in West Virginia the day after his fourth album entered the Billboard charts at Number Two in July, 1979.

Don't forget to submit to our next exhibition. The Art of Caring is accepting submission until the 7th April 2019. More at

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