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...