A very beautiful morning lulling the unwary into thinking Spring is here…but March & April may yet have some nasty surprises in store. Nonetheless time to get out and about albeit within the very narrow confines of walking distances from the house. That took me to an old favourite, Stand 32, on the banks of the Soar just before the lane that leads back to Sutton Bonington and homeward. I’ve been photographing this very spot for over twenty years now – so much so that the Long Eaton Anglers have re-designated the competition numbers twice more in that time so that many of the originals have been obliterated…but the 32 survives (alongside a 61, though that too – I think – has been superseded by a newer set of yellow numbers). Still it was a glorious morning…and – a first – an actual angler just a few metres on, in all my previous shots the only people ever visible were one or two on a boat…
Work continues, and some things are completed. But it gets harder to find motivation during this – seemingly – everlasting lockdown. Not least as the prospects of work ever seeing the light of day seem ever more remote. However I had my first jab a couple days back so as more and more of us are inoculated we can only hope that some kind of partial resolution of our predicament is somewhere up ahead. Meanwhile I’ve polished off another Enid panel…
and I’m also delighted to be able to post the very first of the paintings that will comprise the third series of Leicestershire boroughs – Painting The Town Red – the Melton District series. This one is Welby. I doubt anyone knows the place so my take on it remains an enigma!
I made four of these little card pictures, along the lines of the Lunar Pulls series of the past year or so, that will be part of the above. Here’s one of the others…
These panels were carried over from Very Like Jazz…from a few years back. So I’ve dusted them off and worked them up dreaming my dreams of Marx and Nash in NYC – I don’t know if either of them ever visited but no matter…
And amongst them are one or two from other reveries…
And so I’ve 50 up in the black box series…A Confusion Of Clouds. In fact 50 seems the right number to fit tidily into the chosen receptacle. And there’s only one more box so a 100 will be it – in due course…and who knows how long it will be before that happens? In any event enjoy numbers 39 through 50 here below.
I like to start the year with a bit of a plan. It’s a ‘bit of’ because I’m a fiddler at heart and can’t help hopping around the studio dealing with this and that. And, as always, there are (as it is disputed that Harold Macmillan may have or not said) “events, (my) dear boy, events”. This year of course we have the on-going saga of COVID to contend with but equally smaller things come up from time to time including the possibility of invitations to participate in shows that may (or may not!) happen.
So it is that I’m currently rethinking my plan to start a series of large canvases immediately and focus instead on the third part of The Heart Of Rural England (Painting The Town Red) [scroll back to Dec 3rd and 15th entries and more] and another previously abandoned project…I arrived at Art School ‘proper’ (my Diploma course at Falmouth) in the autumn of 1970 so 71 was my first year of being a ‘proper’ tyro artist. Reaching 70 (as I shall do this summer) brings a full fifty years of practice around. Back in 2012 I began a series of 1 foot square canvases to represent each year of painting that – at that time – I intended to be a set of 45 to culminate on my ’official’ retirement date. Moving studio kyboshed that and those to date in 2013 remained boxed up in my studio back at the Chapel till now. However with the impending date of my 70th it seems a good time to push on – as Primo Levi said “if not now, when” – so the project – now titled Fifty Year Itch – is underway again with the ambition to post an image of each in turn from April 17th through to June 6th. I thought a short commentary would be an idea for each picture so that will be posted on my blog through the same two months. Watch this space as they say.
The sixth of this series, the first finished this year. Tricky customer this complexity in abstraction. Not as tricky as life nowadays though! Welcome to 2021…hopefully it will improve!
The year draws to a close. 2020 is getting a bit of a kicking it seems but that’s hardly fair…it never asked for the pandemic that has dominated it nor for the incompetent and dithering administration here in the UK that has made it even more damaging than it would have been otherwise (no need to worry just wash yer hands, crony track & trace/PPE fiascos, ‘eat out to spread out’ etc. etc.). However being restricted to barracks for the most part meant (for those of us lucky to have the requisite resources on hand) work continued. My current predominant series – the Lunar Pulls canvases and the Days Like These composite paper works are proceeding apace…and the last two completions of 2020 are here.
In the course of digging up material for a post to come in the New Year (you lucky people) I also came across an artist that has always intrigued me – Tony (Newton Haydn) Stubbing. He appears at the very end of my copy of Herbert Read’s book that I bought for 21 shillings in 1967 and that, dog eared, mouldy, and falling to bits, is still with me today. The marvellous blog entry above gave me more information and pointers on this artist and alerted me to the fact that the Tate own five works…I wonder when last any were on display?
You can see that he was in good company but unlike Sandra Blow, Hartung or Baziotes is pretty much forgotten today (I’m pretty sure Kotik and Gischia are also relatively unknown here in the UK by me at least…Schumacher I’ve seen very occasionally). The reason, I’d suggest, is much to do with his life being lived mainly outside the UK (in France/Italy and then the States). He shares this liminality with an artist I’ve previously researched and written about – the American Charles Houghton Howard – although their work is pretty much chalk and cheese. But both I’d suggest worth another look. In fact were I a curator with some clout I’d put the two of them together in a show – but that kind of interesting quality painting show is rarely evidenced in today’s UK art scene, not that currently we have much of one! It will get easier though and I wish you all the best for 2021.
Two more from the series A Confusion Of Clouds. This group likely to go on for some time…