Ken & Richard…


It has been my privilege to have known some great artists, some recognised and others less so, and I’ve worked with many on a variety of projects.  No I didn’t know Ken Dodd who sadly died recently but I do know the wonderful photographer Richard Sadler (known to many as ‘the man who shot Weegee’).  Some years back I put together a book of Richard’s b&w photos that featured a selection of images of ‘Doddy’ and, given the mischievous characters of both the sitter and the photographer, it’s no surprise that they are amongst the best representations of the comedian.  So much so that one is represented in the National Portrait Gallery.

The book we made is available from Blurb.



Still getting that feeling…


Sometimes it just gets going…and what a good thing too, or I doubt I’d bother.  But just occasionally I get started on some new pieces and everything seems to jog along pretty well.  So it is with the Rock pieces, third part of the Landscape & Memory project.


Of course tomorrow morning it may all turn to dust, that happens just as regularly!


Still as the light fades (and today was proper Spring until four this afternoon) I’ve these three plus five others that have seemingly got something I can work with.  Tomorrow I’m out and about but it will be interesting to return to the studio first thing just to see how I feel about them…



I’m back working with some serious intent after a dose of ill health – and focussed on completing three bodies of work.  The first of these is getting into the third and final part of the Landscape And Memory project, following on from the wood & water sections its onto rock.  And an opportunity to review the working process.  For the first part I pushed  collaged elements about with pva and acrylic paint across the whole selection of papers (some 21 in total) and then began working up each one, selecting text components as I went.  With the water work I’ve treated them piecemeal, with far fewer collaged elements, and it has been a far tougher ask.  So back to the first way of working in this section.


It has me thinking over how much process impacts on the making of non-figurative work, something that maybe has a more profound influence on how paintings work out than might be imagined.  How and why we choose elements, especially using collage, is fascinating to me. I try not to analyse it too much though in case I find myself shifting stuff around to ‘fit’ certain kinds of imagery….though hang on don’t these look mountainous!  Just as I’m re-reading material focussed on the peaks of ranges, in the west and the east…and good grief now Schama is talking dragons…obviously I need to exercise caution now…


Knocked sideways…


I’ve had quite a time of it recently…several bouts of mystery illness culminating in a nasty flu that still has something of a grip after a week…picked up ironically at our local A&E whilst I was waiting on a family member who was ill at the time!  Best to stay away from hospitals if you can it seems.  Today I’m feeling just a little more human, enough to review progress on the various projects I have on the go (regulars will know I keep far too many differing things in play than is sensible).  Here is the second batch of the L’Histoire De L’Eau pictures – part two of the Landscape & Memory trilogy based very loosely on Schama’s book.  Working with these is a curious process…whilst I have already chosen my eighteen texts some of the individual panels immediately suggest which one should accompany it but others much less so, to the point where some have to undergo drastic reworking to make them applicable.  And of course as each text is taken this gets harder so that eventually (at least with part one, Waldgeschitchen ) I am forced to write out each remaining one and shift them around the panels till I can make it work (or in one or two extreme cases replace them altogether).  I guess some might say – quite reasonably – this seems a cock-a-mamey way of going about things but its my way for better or worse.



You know how it is…what with one thing and another pictures can hang around in your studio for ages.  Making one’s mind up about what needs to happen next is a dickens of a job and procrastination is second nature to most of us – or at least it is to me.  Structures are straightforward enough until you start putting colour about and then it gets really antsy for me.  Do I start shifting elements about or reconsider the colour ways? Whats the ground here…and does it need changing or worse…starting over?

Decisions need to be made!

Deft and Joyful


We’ve all experienced those times when making the effort to get to a show is tough.  After a round trip to Grimsby (210 miles) another hike down to Coventry as the evening drew in wasn’t favourite.  But I really wanted to see Visual Stream, a solo show by the painter Jeff Dellow.  And it was a real pleasure.  Over recent years I can count on the fingers of two hands (and I see a lot of shows) outings of abstraction by individual artists (they tend to be as rare as hen’s teeth given the predilections of our current curatorships) and fewer still that give one the rarer still feeling of complete satisfaction and – joy – an extremely precious commodity in the contemporary art world.

It’s the first thing that comes at you in this well selected (by fellow painter Matthew Macaulay) show that presents a small selection of Jeff’s little panel paintings and a goodly number of the larger canvases is a joyfulness and playfulness in the opportunities that abstraction offers.  And the colour palette is as joyful, vibrant, diverse and equally as exuberant as the handling.


There are a range of tropes at work of course, but these are varied and diverse…just sufficiently repeated to bring the stylistic consistency to the whole but never dull or lazy. Every so often you spot another, different and original painterly handle, a flick of the wrist, a smear, another kind of grid played off against a box or a plane, and so on.  An endless variation of the painters thinking, an expansive repertoire based on quite a few decades of concentrated looking and absorbing what paint can do and how it can be deployed without resorting to mimesis.  There is deep time locked into these pictures, that despite their alarming freshness, also embed a lifetime of intensity in the consideration of abstraction.  The show runs in the Lanchester Research Gallery, in the Graham Sutherland building on Cox Street, Coventry until 2nd February 2018 – if you care about abstract painting in the present you need to get along there!



IMG_0105in the past comprised a lot more activity and required a good deal more energy.  Nowadays the spaces I have over the festive season allow for greater reflection and the opportunity to catch up on the production of work – in this case Osiris Hailed from what is now – fanfare – L’Histoire de L’Eau – well I gave section one of Landscape and Memory a title in German so now why not French? So I’m now 7 into this second of three sections with 7 or 8 more on the go.  A big push post this holiday season & part two may be cracked.  But of course that leaves an awful lot of other bodies of work up in the air…so I guess I need to get back to full fitness and, crucially, get my work plan back in place…but that sounds ‘orribly like New Year resolutions – and I hate them!