1. London by light

Another Painting, 7 March 2016

Some of the paintings to be hung in my show next May will be quite small. This one, “Inherent Gaze”, for instance, is only 640 mm by 538mm.

Inherent Gaze mk4

If you think in terms of inches that is only 25 inches tall.

The show “Darkening Garden” will have about 15 paintings and over 50 framed limited edition etchings at the Camden Image Gallery, 13-18 May 2016.

Latest painting, 27 Nov 2015

The Mysteries aaa

This painting, The Mysteries, has elements I can’t quite explain. It could be that I’m delving into the world of complex relationships revolving around the mannequin as used by artists. When is the image we look at a stand-in for a real person? That’s a tricky question. Certainly I very much enjoyed the exhibition last year at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge: Silent Partners – Artist and Mannequin from Function to Fetish.

Two paintings linked through time, 4 November 2015

Several years ago I painted Bone Scan. Cheryl Morgan used it for one of her Salon Futura covers. Now I’ve taken from it, the skull imagery, and adjusted it to be just what I needed as the final accent in my latest painting: Bone Clocks. Incidentally the skull is that of a little shrew.

Bone Scan

Bone Scan

Bone Clocks

Bone Clocks

New dark etching, 19 July 2015

There are to be a number of new dark etchings. Here is one, “Ferryman”, 18 x 14 cm.


New Stuff, 7 July 2015

Today Alison Eldred has me featured on her home page. She is my new agent. “All Flesh is Grass” is the chosen painting. http://www.alisoneldred.com/

And maybe that might be the title for my next show? This will happen next year at the Camden Image Gallery, 174 Royal College Street, Camden, NW1 0SP on the Thursday, 12th of May 2016. But there will probably be many working titles before we come up with the right one. We have time in hand.

McQueen Strut, 25 April 2015

Another finished painting: McQueen Strut, 60 by 44 cm.

McQueen Strut

All Flesh is Grass, 23 Feb 2015

Another painting, finished and titled. It is called “All Flesh is Grass” and is 60 by 43 cms framed.

All Flesh is Grass bb

Fourth Sally, 28 January 2015

At last another painting, finished and titled.
It is called ” Fourth Sally” and is 1045 x 792 mm.

Forth Sally

Gate of Horn, 28 November 2014

Here is another painting using Hieronymus Bosch. The same bird from “Parley”. The chaps in their starched dress shirt fronts, partly obscured by the bird, are Franz Schreker, Austrian opera composer, and Bertrand Russell, philosopher and political activist. Both images were taken from photos in 1911 before the horrors of the twentieth century World Wars came to change their lives: Schreker, because he was Jewish; Bertrand Russell, because he was imprisoned for being a pacifist. Note the CND symbol: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Bertrand Russell marched on the 18th of February, 1961, to protest to the Ministry of Defence. This is a small painting, 53 x 63 cm, framed.

Gate of Horn bb

Parley, 20 July 2014

Another painting using a green-man profile. It relates to “Voiced” 8 October, 2013. The strange profile in this case is laid across something from the Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch, late 15th century. And there’s also a letter “a” in two manifestations.

Parley aa

Newly editioned print, 10 September 2014

After the distractions of this very special August (friends from disparate parts of the globe came to London for the World Science Fiction con) I finally got back to the workshop and worked on – Coming through. The salient thing in this composition is the barbed wire. So it’s a variation on my war pictures. (plate size: 165 x 250 mm)

Coming Through

And it is also a reworking of an earlier plate. Actually I wish I had pulled a few prints because the enclosed is the only one in existence.

The Wheel

Etchings and Paintings at Loncon3, August 2014

Here is the price list for my work to be shown at Loncon3, from Thursday, the 14th of August, to Sunday, the 16th of August. It’s mainly for the titles. (If you click on it for size, then to get back – go to return arrow upper left.)

Darkening Garden Art Works mk2 flat

The Fire Next Time, 19 June 2014

Another painting finished: The Fire Next Time.
970 mm by 670 mm.

If you click on the thumbnail to get the large size, then, when leaving you have to go the upper left back arrow. It takes you to the beginning of the section. I really don’t know why WordPress saw fit to change when they had a good thing before: you could just click on the full picture and it would bring you back to where you were. But now you click on the picture and it just makes it larger. And larger. You tend to get angry and therefore leave the premises. Please don’t.

Ah, wait. You can just click outside the pic and it brings you back.

The Fire Next Time bb

This painting had an earlier manifestation several years back. I started with thoughts of notation, musical modes. They haven’t survived through the various changes. In due course variations on the letter “a” came to reside in this painting. Also a Peruvian mummy cloth design, an Inuit shaman, and a young girl caught in this strangeness. What kind of world am I trying to occupy here? Is the child projecting all this stuff around her? The idea of projection is interesting. Building blocks of the psyche? Machine codes of the mind? We carve up our emotional experiences in ways that are just below our radar.

Punctuated Equilibrium, 7 June 2014

Here’s Punctuated Equilibrium. This painting has taken me a long, long time to finish. It bears a relationship to Quorem which also took a long time to finish, back in 2010. So I’ll include it at the bottom. (Some of the seemingly simple paintings take longer. Strange. I don’t know why.) Dimensions:
Punctuated Equilibrium is 1030 by 730 mm.
Quorem is 1045 by 792 mm

Punctuated Equilibrium aa

Punctuated Equilibrium is a theory in evolutionary biology. There is phyletic gradualism, which states that evolution generally occurs by a steady and gradual set of transformations. But in 1972 Niles Eldridge and Stephen Jay Gould published a paper developing the notion that gradual evolution was seldom seen in fossil records, and that actually, and more interestingly, there were in the records to be studied, a sort of “stasis” and then “sudden jumps”. Gould coined the phrase – punctuated equilibrium.
Some biologists have applied punctuated equilibrium to non-sexual species including the evolution of viruses.
And perhaps in a Science Fiction context, Punctuated Equilibrium might bring us to recall a certain moment in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is when the mysterious alien artefact, a black monolith, triggers prehistoric ape people to start making tools. The first tool was, of course, a weapon.

Quorum cc

Rod Heyes at Tate Britain, 8 March 2014

Today was a beautiful early spring day and so John and I went to Tate Britain. The portico was built in 1897 by Sidney R.J. Smith.

Tate Britain 1

Sydney Smith's Portico Sydney Smith’s Portico[/caption]

Smith also designed the dome inside. There is a joy in walking through the renovations underneath this dome: Rod Heyes and Caruso St John Architects have created a sensitive set of relationships.

Tate Britain 4

Tate Britain 5.

Tate Britain 11

Tate Britain 3.

Of course we wandered around doing our usual things, including going to the members’ room.

Tate Britain 6.

Tate Britain 9.

Tate Britain 10

And we enjoyed the exhibition on ruins.

Tate Britain 12

Surprise at the Electric Ballroom, 7 February 2014

Wednesday afternoon, 5th of February, we noticed the queue outside the Electric Ballroom was huge. It went around the corner at Buck Street and into Kentish Town Road. I googled and figured it was Prince because he had done a “secret” gig there the night before. Then the rains came. I felt sorry for the people standing in the rain, some without umbrellas. But not for long. Next time I looked out there was a pretty display of appropriately – purple umbrellas. I guess the online property website, Zoopla, was alert to this.

Queue in the rain for Prince.  aa

Queue in the rain for Prince. aa

Queue for Prince in Camden High Street.

Queue for Prince in Camden High Street.

George Monbiot nailed it, 15 January 2014

My tree witch is screaming.

The Tree Witch

This etching borrows its title from Peter Viereck’s 1961 play/poem – The Tree Witch. She is a Dryad and has been captured and tortured by a collective contemporary man. This poem/play works for present day Britain where we have the nature of flooding completely misunderstood by the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, “the worst environment secretary Britain has ever suffered.” See George Monbiot’s brilliant article in the Guardian, 14 January 2014: Drowning in Money: The Pig-headed policies that make flooding inevitable.

Owen Paterson boasts that hill farmers on the least productive land “will now receive the same direct payment rate on their upland farmlands as their lowland counterparts.” The farmers will be paid, yes paid, to remove trees and scrubs that absorb much of the water falling from the hills. And they will no longer be given subsidies for further tree planting.

And this, with no reference to all the good work done by the British government for other countries. For decades Britain has been funding scientists throughout the world in the study of hydrology: helping other countries to protect their upland forests as a means for preventing communities downstream from being flooded away. And also helping them organise the engineering to return curves and bends into straightened, scoured rivers.

It’s so simply wrong, what the present British government is doing. Their philosophy seems to be that land exists only to support landowners. See the problem of grouse shooting estates with drained and burnt moors of the Peak District National Park. And, yes, the present government sees waterways as existing only to “get rid of water.”

It all makes you want to scream. Last word to the Dryad:
Hail man-the-improver,
For his is the end of the world. In technicolor.

Aftermath Rag, Mk2, 6 January 2014

Someone used the phrase – a violin in a void. Yeah. I like that. Or – marching out of Eden. Whatever, this painting is not a barrel of laughs. It was started with the CND movement in mind and all the rest followed. Not forgetting, of course, the soldiers borrowed from Sargent’s famous painting, “The Gassed”. So here we are with the absolutely last version:

Aftermath Rag

Charles Chilton, The Long Long Trail, 5 January 2014

I’m thinking about the BBC radio 4 programme last night on Charles Chilton. It dealt with The Long Long Trail, a documentary in 1961 about the First World War. Chilton’s brilliance in this new technique, which he in fact invented – making a documentary illustrated with popular songs – caused one of the commentators last night to say that he was perhaps the best, most original person, that the BBC had working for them in the 20th century. Wow.

He certainly demonstrated an overflowing creativity in everything he did. But in this WW1 context he also had a mission. His father had died aged 19 in WW1 and Chilton wanted to understand something of the ordinary men in the trenches. His father and the others who had died.

Statistics. 9 million soldiers had been killed. And another 21 million wounded. And to look, for instance, at the infamous Battle of the Somme alone, over a million soldiers were killed, including about 30,000 in just one day. There was a tendency for this horrendous period of our history to be conveyed historically with a one toned slant: the grand human tragedy, the horror, the horror.

But Chilton wanted to do it differently, in a way that would directly hit the listener. He wanted many voices. In fact he wanted, as mentioned above, the soldiers’s songs. He went to the London Library in St James’s Square to research song book collections. He researched everywhere and delighted in the anarchy that he found. He noted that, of course there were songs about missing their old world back home, but the majority of their songs were grumbles about sergeants and officers and the awful conditions. There was irony and wit and even joy in combination with despair. Very British.

Interesting to note that Joan Littlewood worked with him, or he with her, on – “Oh, What a Lovely War!” She had not really wanted the songs, just a story line. But that was his contribution. He used the structure of his Long Long Trail and the songs therein. To show that Littlewood was distancing herself from the way the production had developed, the poster advertising the premier in 1963, did not have her name on it.

The audience was ecstatic, however. Littlewood immediately had the poster reprinted with her name on it. It became her baby from that point on.

Charles Chilton is one of my heroes. I took some photos of him on the 19th of May, 2011, when the British Library had its opening party for “OUT OF THIS WORLD: Science Fiction but not as you know it.” (You can glance to the left and click on May 2011.)

And the close-up photo of him here is from that time when fans came surging up to meet him. He was responsive as you can see. Penny was, of course, at his elbow. I’m only sorry that my photo is out of focus, but I treasure it because of Chilton’s expression.

Charles Chilton

Charles Chilton

This event featured A JOURNEY INTO SPACE, his Science Fiction trilogy, with all three volumes displayed, A Journey into Space, The Red Planet and The World in Peril. Also there was his original manuscript for the first part.

It should be noted in conclusion, that Chilton gave the British Library his original manuscript of A Long Long Trail and this made possible the present BBC production to be broadcast later today on BBC Radio 4 extra at 14.00.

End Violence Against Women, 23rd Dec 2013

On the 12th of December Amanda Palmer’s Blog was about how the United Nations devoted a day (the 25th of November) to highlight violence against women. The Italian playwright Serena Dandini presented a set of monologues she’d written called “Ferite a Morte”. Wounded to Death. It was streamed live from the UN with a cast of 16 women reading the frightening set pieces. Amanda’s was the last and it was like like a coda. “Men in Uniforms get away with things all over the world.. It’s nothing personal.. You’re part of the spoils of war..”

And so I did an etching. It’s titled, “Coming through” and it’s 25cm by 16.5cm.

Coming through