Tuesday, 30 December 2014


Interrupting my top ten for a quick cartoon interval - this is a true story inspired by my friend Will, and happened as I was sitting next to him in the theatre. (Panto at Stratford, if you're interested).

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Hockney, Printmaker

at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

I must confess, I like his early work the best.   He didn't get on with the Royal College of Art establishment and they threatened to throw him out - one of the prints here is a mock graduation certificate he made himself - you have to admire that cheek and confidence. If you don't like my work, I will award my own degree, up yours...

He started to use the print room because it was empty, and you could use as much free paper as you like.

(This makes me envious - in recent years there has been an explosion of interest in printmaking and open access sessions usually mean queuing up to use the press. I dream of a lovely empty print studio where you can take your time.)

Then when he left he visited New York and made a picaresque series of etchings of his adventures based on Hogarth's the Rakes Progress. These are great, and technically brilliant.

Dulwich Picture Gallery has good shows, but is a pain in the arse to get to. Unless you are a toff that lives in Dulwich, 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Who are you?

This was the year I came around to Grayson Perry. Mostly because I watched the programmes, and he was so charming, interesting, non-judgemental and engaged in his portrait subjects.

 He bases his work on himself, but it doesn't preclude his interest in other people and the world around him.

I loved the idea of his creating individual portraits which were also a portrait of 21st century society. He was so sensitive in the way he talked to people, and so imaginative in the way he conceived the portraits - the ones that stood out-

the large women as modern Venus de Willendorf,

Alex, a young female to male transexual as a statue of Peter Pan combined with a Benin bronze

 and the Northern Irish Loyalists on a banner in a kind of camp, retro, pantomime style.

I like art which puts ordinary people in the foreground. Fair play to Grayson Perry, and to the National Portrait Gallery, this is exactly what they should be doing to counteract those rooms and rooms of Royalty and MPs.

Saturday, 20 December 2014


Numbers 4 and 3 in the countdown are Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude at the Courtauld, and Facing the Modern -  the Portrait in Vienna at the National.

(I know, nothing I've posted so far is very cutting edge, but I'm not really, I've come to realise. I like a nice painting over something conceptual any day. I can turn my own lights on and off, thanks anyway)

The Schiele show was small but powerful. It's fairly impressive to have invented your own genre by the age of 28, to have a style so distinctive your work is recognisable anywhere, to have revolutionised figure drawing and painting.   They still look shocking and modern, god knows what they made of them at the time.

Though they were really strange times they lived in, and a fairly overwrought society. The Vienna exhibition was wider and interesting, but it convinced you that the Viennese were fairly barking There was a great vogue of teenagers killing themselves, for example. . No wonder they came up with psychoanalysis. Some people are still taking this hysterical pseudo science seriously... 

Fantastic also to see Klimt's great portraits live and direct. You forget that he's so popular not just because his work is attractive, but also because it's really, really good.

Slow handclap for the National Gallery's shop though. They took Schiele's agonising, touching portrait of his young wife on her deathbed, dying of Spanish flu... and put it on the bags in the gift shop.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Late Turner

Late Turner - Painting Set Free at the Tate Britain

This was Turner year wasn't it? After seeing Mr Turner, I thought how much he would have loved the show at the Tate Britain. All his work together, all the crowds worshipping.

After having a little go at oil painting, it gives you a new found respect too.  But a lifetime wouldn't ever teach me to paint like him, he was just one of those natural born genius.

I didn't like his work as a teenager, or more accurately, I didn't really ever look at it. I thought it was wishy washy and vague. I preferred a pretty pre-Raphaelite picture of pretty people, back then. I want to slap my teenage self sometimes. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

2014 top ten countdown

Hello little blog. I haven't forgotten you really.

And to make it seem like it's still going, I will separate my top ten into separate posts.

This year started out quite innocuous but has been an absolute shocker, but the art has still been splendid.

In no particular order, then...

 Comics Unmasked - Art and Anarchy in the UK at the British Library.

This was a really beautiful show, lovingly curated by someone (Paul Gravett) who it was very clear knew his stuff and wanted to communicate it to the public. It went into the history of how comics and graphic novels evolved and explored different themes. Lots of writer and artist heroes included here,  and it was especially fascinating to see Alan Moore's page proofs for me as an aspiring comic/fanzine writer.

(I saw Paul Gravett with artist hero Dave McKean give a talk at Westminster Library this year, another high point. )

The best bit of the Comics Unmasked show was discovering a new amazingly talented, inspiring and funny writer and artist, Gareth Brookes.

In one of the displays was a page from his graphic novel The Black Project, it caught my attention because it was made from linocuts (cough) and embroidery.

It also caught my attention because it was about a lonely young boy who decides to construct himself a girlfriend. " I made her vagina out of a red sock. I sprinkled it with glitter to make it more special'.

I MUST READ THIS IMMEDIATELY, I thought. I bet they don't have it in the shop, though.

It made my day when I came out of the exhibition through the shop and saw a lovely big pile of The Black Project on display.  It had won a first graphic novel prize.

I recommend it very much. Very funny, quite twisted, beautiful art.

Friday, 5 December 2014


Looking for a less poncey synonym for progression, or evolution here... so this is what's been unrolling...



Saturday, 15 November 2014


Researching how to represent surfaces, I got obsessed with this puddle

  charcoal and ink on cartridge paper

linocut - oil paint on tracing paper
oil paint on paper
linocut, oil paint on newsprint

Sunday, 12 October 2014


We went on an Art road trip to Leeds, to see this inspirational artist's work. If I drop out of the  course, I am still going to carry on making. It's all good.

Also, I've been to the 4D model shop in Whitechapel, and stocked up on metal. Now a bona fide geek.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

ELP Summer Show


And if you're on Facebook... 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Greenwich & Docklands International Festival

Bit out of blogging inspiration. Here is a picture post, a nice performance from the Greenwich & Docklands International Festival.  This is a wonder and a marvel, I've managed to miss most of it. Live street theatre, all free, from all over all the world, all over Greenwich, Tower Hamlets and the City.

(these are from my cameraphone. My little digital camera has given up the ghost. Time for a proper digital SLR?)

Sunday, 1 June 2014


I went on an East London art tour, starting off at Bow Arts' exhibition of the East London Group in the Nunnery Gallery, walking up the canal along the River Lea to Hackney Wick, through the newly open Olympic Park and finally onto the inaugural East London Painting Prize exhibition, in an old warehouse space off Stratford High Street.

It was a beautiful, gloriously sunny day but I was feeling lazy and antisocial and wishing I hadn't signed up for it, so I could stay in bed rewatching Buffy episodes on my laptop.

The tour leader was someone who'd worked in regeneration projects in East London for years, and gave us a little history and political background along the way. Some of the artists in the exhibition came along too.

The tour leader introduced two girls in hi-vis jackets, he said they were tour leaders he'd met at a drinks reception, setting up their own architectural tour in London. He'd invited them to check out his tour. They were Australian and Canadian, and kept talking to people, asking them questions and making pronouncements along the way.  I just put this down to non-English people being less uptight and having greater social skills.

They were friendly but after 90 minutes of walking I was doing my best to put distance between us.  I just wanted to enjoy taking photos on the canal, checking out the Olympic park (somewhat bleak and weird) and the final show (oil painting, lots of good work.)

When we arrived in the final exhibition, the tour leader confessed that these two girls were in character - they were actors,their tour leader personas were part of an 'immersive performance' they were planning for the London Architecture festival.  

If you are going to see some theatre, you might be up for an immersive performance, but having someone be immersive all over you without your consent makes you feel a bit conned.