Friday, 30 September 2011


This morning in our little bedroom in Rye a single beam of light shone through a gap in the curtains lighting up all the tiny pieces of dust.

When I was very young I used to be entranced by this kind of magic that sometimes used to happen in our front room, especially on days when the curtains would be drawn on a bright afternoon so we could watch an old film on tv and my parents would have what they called 'a little nap'.

Watching these little dots float around on the air I realised that without the light shining on them they didnt disappear but would still be there all of the rest of the time, only just not seen. But I would still be moving around amongst them and I would still be breathing them into my body but I just wouldn't be seeing them again... until the next time when their beauty shone once more.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Taking Raphael lying down!

Yesterday I went to the V and A (what again !!! Ok it's near to where I live) to see the post modernism exhibition which just totally depressed me .... But the big empty room that holds the giant cartoons by Raphael was filled with one big giant soft furnishing and that totally cheered me up again !

People of all ages and types were lying around taking it easy. I've been saying this for years though, trudging around museums, though spiritually uplifting, is bloody knackering ! We need more beds in galleries ! We need more beds ....Everywhere ! It's never a bad time for a little kip.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A day off in Swindon is good for you.

A couple of weeks ago I took a day off from the studio and drove across to Swindon to see an exhibition that my friend Ray was curating at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.
When I got there Ray was installing into a glass cabinet (see below) a LOT of limescale on behalf of a local artist that had made it her job to collect. (...Don't ask !!)

The ancient study of Alchemy was obsessed with the quest to turn base metals into precious ones, ridiculous as this sounds to us now I think that a similar kind of strange magic happens today in the world of modern art, in which valueless scrap can be turned miraculously into fantastic treasure merely by its proximity to an art gallery's wall or floor.

Looking at this collection of limescale in all its variation of shade and the subtle differences in color and shade I did become transfixed by its beauty. It did very much become beautiful and precious but mainly because Ray's enthusiasm for art is so cheerfully contagious, real alchemy is at work in Old Town Swindon in 2011 as provided by curator/alchemist Ray ward.

The rest of the day went by in a continuous sequence of wandering around and chat.
The highlights of which were....

Going to Christchurch and seeing a nice stained glass detail of a GWR Train.
Having lunch in a Cafe and Ray overreacting in quite a theatrical way when a lady almost put some milk in his Tea.
Meeting a guy in a Ramones T-shirt complaining there were no pop up books in the pop up exhibition (fair enough) but then accusing ray of being in the pay of Damian Hirst.
Talking about Swindons Fascist (tho not rascist) manager !
Having Ice Cream in a cafe named after RAY and discussing it's future chances of survival in Swindon.

Walking past Don Rogers sports shop. (Don was a great hero of mine in the early seventies when he played for Swindon Town FC).

Walking through Queen's Park and remembering the long gone hot house.

All in all a great day.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Watching the watchers....

On Monday I went to a screening of 'Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy' as a guest of Paul Smith.

I remember my parents watching the Alec Guinness version on tv in the late seventies, not very long after the period in which it was set, 1973.

This version is then very much a period piece, London still looking and holding onto its postwar grubbiness which lasted until the early eighties, the predominant colors in this film are grey, brown and misery - like its characters. But it is worth watching. Spying isn't remotely glamourous but tedious and boring and nasty and all the cheap thrills associated with knowing other people's secrets are here.

There is one great scene where an ex-agent, now a school teacher, says to a fat, bespectacled, lonely and bullied boy 'You notice things, lonely people like us are good at watching', and loneliness is everywhere - washed down as usual with big glasses of alcohol, mistrust of friends, mistrust of enemies, mistrust of entire countries and so it goes on. The despairing lesson here is 'Don't trust anyone'.

You yearn for a politician from either side to have the nerve to say 'some of your ideas are good and some of ours are bad, can't we take the best from each other and scrap the bad ones', but instead it's the usual we're right and you're wrong. Today it is ten years exactly after 9/11 and it might as well be the day after.

Friday, 2 September 2011

A day off...

Today I had a day away from the studio, feeling a bit on the cusp of getting a cold, and spent the morning at the V & A. It doesn't take much wandering away from the beaten tracks of the ground floor to find yourself completely alone (except for the odd drowsing guard) in huge rooms and long beautiful corridors.

I don't know what it is, but being alone in this type of place somehow helps me to think more clearly about my work. I just think maybe it's as simple as it being nice being alone. Of course I have a look at a few things here and there and feel inspired, seeing excellence always fires me up creatively and when I leave I always have pages and pages of thoughts added to my notebook. I think the trick is to just

wander around aimlessly until you see something that captures your fancy and then have a really good long look at it, at least 10 minutes - it's all about the quality not the quantity!

One of the really nice things that they do at the V & A is to put sculptures on free standing plinths and not against walls as if they were like paintings, standing alone in the centre of the room you can walk all the way around them and see and work out how they were constructed, you really get the feeling from it's rear that this amazing carved wooden sculpture was for many many years before it was cut down, a small part of a giant living tree.

Seen from behind this pieta is just a bunch of crude rough shapes thrown together,

But on closer inspection you can see the thumb sized impressions in the clay where the artist roughly formed the shape he

needed not bothering to smooth over what he thought would never be seen by me hundreds of years later.
I met my daughter Barbara for lunch in the garden. Of course the best thing about any kind of gallery or museum visiting
is watching the other people, even the most amazing Canova sculpture is no match for the real living, breathing thing.

And being alive and feeling the sun on your face in the open air.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The season for . . . .

Now that September is here it all starts coming back to me, this is what you do in autumn. You cycle home from work in the wind and the rain looking forward to the stew that you made yesterday that tastes better every day. You get into your pyjamas and drink tea and watch telly and go to bed early to read your book, something you've been looking forward to doing all day. You go for drinks in warm, cosy pubs that make your glasses steam up as soon as you walk in the door. You start going to the cinema again on week day evenings and you go and see bands play like last night when I went to see Pulp at the Brixton Academy to hear Jarvis sing 'Mis-shapes' .... "Brothers, sisters can't you see the futures owned by you and me. There won't be fighting in the street. They think that they've got us beat but revenge is going to be so sweet. We won't use guns, we won't use bombs, we'll use the one thing we've got more of and that's our minds."

And you know that everything's going to be alright....... Alright!