Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Jackson's Art Supplies are da bomb

Jackson's Art Supplies - Half Banner

Just a blatant plug for the wonderful Jackson's Art Supplies. Excellent range of products, expert advice, friendly service....the lot. The best art supplies shop in the north london, possibly the country...hell why not - the best in the world! give em a go i say.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Abbey Art Centre Summer Exhibition Review

A conversation with myself, well, just because really

So, what did I think of this year's Abbey Art Show?

Well, I felt immensely proud to be part of the Abbey, I really thought the work was the strongest that I've seen in the time I have been working there. I particularly loved seeing Molly Hagan's paper stencils casting wonderful shadows on her studio wall, they reminded me of geometric patterns of the 1970s, as well as biological cells. I also really enjoyed seeing Sheila Selby's paintings of Camberwell, which I thought were very expressive and painted in gorgeous colours. Roy Rodger's painting of a pigeon was also a delight - the explosion of colour and brush marks really brought it to life! Julie Caves' books always make me smile, as does David Shillinglaw's wonderful outpourings of creativity. It was kinda all fab, I could go on all night, but I have a tax return to do...!

And what did I show this year?

I had full use of the Cabinet again this year, which I felt extremely lucky about. It's situated in what probably is and feels like an old Victorian arcade (I'm so terrible with knowing the *exact* history of the Abbey!) and it is literally an old cabinet with beautiful glass sliding doors. I hung 5 paintings in there, they were all paintings I had made during the time I live in the cottage at the Abbey, between 2008 - 2010. 3 of them included the image of a deer, which is an animal I find most beautiful. They're a great device for making a painting seem instantly magical, I find! Another was a painting of some sailing boats, which I made based on a found photograph, which I 'found' on a found photography course at Tate Modern. I've never said the word found 3 times in a coherent sentence before. Now the painting has found it's way back to the cottage and it feels like it is going home, that makes me feel all warm inside.

I also made full use of my studio, which kinda looked like a proper gallery-cum-shop. I was really pleased. I got to unveil my latest work to the public, 'An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', a framed work on paper made with gouache, felt pens, coloured pencil and watercolour. It is a painting of a landscape I walked through in Japan in 2006, it's a subject I've painted before and doubt I will ever tire of. I imagine I will paint another version of it before the year is out. I also showed another new work, 'Looking Toward the City from the Heath', my biggest oil on canvas yet at 120cm x 150cm. I was delighted to hear that many visitors to the studio were charmed by both.

What 3 things will you remember about the Abbey Art Centre Summer Exhibition 2011?

Kate's amazing Chocolate and Guinness cake being even better than last year's, all the kind things people said to me about my work, and just feeling so happy to see so many brilliant people and seeing some inspiring art work in one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. Smiley face.

Thanks to James Strutt for the photographs

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Abbey Art Centre Summer Exhibition

The Summer exhibition is this weekend and as ever I am feeling that pre-show stress... juggling the odds and sods that make up my everyday life and trying to squeeze in the time and effort that is required to put the show together.

The Abbey is looking particularly lovely and I hope the weather stays like it has been today; warm, tranquil, gentle breezes.... however it's forecast to piss down morning noon and night on both days. Still, we can live in hope. If you're at a loose end please stop by, I'd love to see you and will greet you with beer, wine and snacks. As ever there will be some amazing cakes - and art - in the barn....

Here's how it was looking today, the calm before the storm. Will endeavour to take some more interesting snaps in the next 48 hours...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

John Berger and a truism

Hi, just read this passage and I loved it so I wanted to put it here. He summed up how I have been feeling about painting for a good few years, and probably ever, in a charming dialogue between artist and subject matter. I hope you relate to this too. Thank you John Berger for being such an inspiration! This is dedicated to painters everywhere.

' How did you become what you visibly are? asks the painter.

I am as I am. I'm waiting, replies the mountain or the mouse or the child.

What for?

For you, if you abandon everything else.

For how long?

For as long as it takes.

There are other things in life.

Well, find them and be more normal.

And If I don't?

I'll give you what I've given nobody else, but it's worthless, it's simply the answer to your useless question.


I am as I am.

No promise more than that?

None. I can wait forever.

I'd like a normal life.

Live it and don't count on me.

And if I do count on you?

Forget everything and in me you'll find - me!

The collaboration which sometimes follows is seldom based on good will: more usually on desire, rage, fear, pity or longing. The modern illusion concerning painting (which post-modernism has done nothing to correct) is that the artist is a creator. Rather he is a receiver. What seems like creation is the act of giving form to what he has received.'

taken from

'Steps Towards a small theory of the visible (for Yves)' by John Berger, 2001

Sunday, 1 November 2009

St. Vincent and Grizzly Bear with the London Symphony Orchestra at The Barbican, 31st October, 2009.

Tonight’s gig was an event I had been looking forward to for quite some time. Naturally there were complications with London transport, and naturally I found myself doing that business commuter-esque half-run-half-walk mode of travelling down City Road, index finger wedged into page 39 of my mini A-Z, navigating my way from Old Street tube to the Barbican. Once I had treated myself to an overpriced dark rum and coke (the price of which I forgave because the lady who served me was so pleasant) I found myself walking into the auditorium of the Barbican theatre, a beautiful example of 1960s architecture with its jigsaw of wooden panels providing the most breathtaking and tear jerking acoustics when the music is at its most sublime, and my God, tonight’s musicians certainly did the building justice and fitted hand in glove into the atmosphere created by an autumnal Halloween in London.

St Vincent, aka Annie Clark, is a most beautiful specimen of the female species with a voice so fragile in places and soaring in others. Tonight her tiny frame is presented in an elegant black cocktail dress, and her hair a mass of black curls frames a delicate pale face complimented by a sumptuous mouth painted in shock red. She stands in the middle of a stage surrounded by patient and silent instruments with what looks like her best friend on guitar. The scene is reminiscent of a private rehearsal that we should not be witnessing, and her personal confessions and private thoughts in song are impressive, intertwined with an obvious passion for exploring the capabilities of her sampler, guitar and drum machine. Layering and harmonising with her own vocals on such tracks as ‘Party’ is something one hears often from singer songwriters, but one cannot help but be seduced by the sounds that she creates and the sweetness of such lyrics as ‘I stare transfixed at a hole in your t-shirt’. A common theme with what St Vincent do and what Grizzly Bear do this evening is maximise on the filmic, the poignant, the romantic and the sublime, and when Annie says towards the end of her set that we should prepare to have our jaws dropped, I want to let her know that we already have.

After a short recovery period the lights dim and on walk the 4 understated guys known as Grizzly Bear, with their new friends, the mass of folk known as the London Symphony Orchestra. The strains of strings tuning up are soon followed with a familiar melancholic sound that is the trademark of the band. The printed material that accompanied tonight’s performance stated that Grizzly Bear were keen to avoid the ‘band with added strings’ type outcome that is all too common with such collaborations, and instead re arrange the songs in a way that allows the orchestra to actually collaborate, not just compliment. Did they achieve this? Well, mostly. The magic of the twinkly sounds created by pianos and flutes and strings that reminded me of Disney’s Fantasia worked wonders at the beginning of ‘Fine for Now’, and the sweeping strings and drama that the orchestra produced was moving and impressive. But ultimately it was the vocals of Ed Droste that really twisted and knotted the heart, almost operatic in parts and so beautiful that to hear it on CD truly does not do the music justice. And how refreshing to hear harmonies that are in tune live, and so moving. I closed my eyes to listen to ‘All We Ask’, in my view the highlight of their album Veckatimest, a wonderful arrangement of harmonies and strings, with the closing repeating refrain of ‘I can’t get out of what I’m into with you’, and it almost makes me cry. Other highlights obviously include the band’s most famous song Two Weeks and their rendition of the Crystal’s He hit me (and it felt like a kiss).

The performance came to an end and a standing ovation eschewed. I left the auditorium and walked among the mass of high rise flats and concrete in the dark and cold, alone. The reflections of golden streetlights staining the concrete roads, and only the sound of distant traffic to keep me company. I love how the senses are heightened when you are alone. Warm, fuzzy and inspired inside, it was only when I found the bright lights of Old Street and its mass of fake blood adorning drunkards that I woke up to reality and headed for the nearest Burger King, before catching the last train back to suburbia.

St. Vincent's Setlist:

Marry Me




Save Me



What Me Worry

Grizzly Bear Setlist:

  1. Easier
  2. Cheerleader
  3. Southern Point
  4. Central and Remote
  5. All We Ask
  6. Knife
  7. Fine For Now
  8. Two Weeks
  9. Dory
  10. Ready Able
  11. While You Wait For the Others
  12. He Hit Me
  13. I Live With You
  14. Foreground

Encore 1

  1. Colorado

relevant links below.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Imperial Leisure - The Flowerpot, September 5th 2009

“MORE ME!!! MORE ME!!” Imperial Leisure’s Denis bellows into the mic, preparing to grab the attention of every crammed sardine in this tin of a venue, the Flowerpot. Pushing, shoving, skanking, jumping; the crowd are soon warmed up with the band’s chaotic fusion of ska, rock, punk and hip-hop, all blended together with a soulful latino-esque trumpet. The band play the tunes their fans love to hear: favourite ‘In A Letter’ kicks the set off comparatively dark and moody to the cheeky lyrical banter of later tracks such as Beer Belly (“Your Beer Belly’s looking like a baby but that’s fine we’re OK,”) which with its pulsating rhythm a perfect design for crowd and 7 piece band alike to lift their knees to chin level and skank like it was 1979. Frontman Denis is a charming soul, something of a children’s party entertainer with clownlike hair, and with this particular party opting for cider and lager over jelly and ice cream, he’s able to get a largely too cool for school crowd to get all sweaty in their skin tight jeans and jump around like fools, shouting ‘Hey’ and ‘Oi’ (depending on which side of the room they are on) and revel in the joys of a man in his underpants crowd surfing (mmm, nice). With half an hour gone, Denis is heard to warn his band mates that they’re set will soon be over, so they rush into the final 2 songs much to the pleasure of the fans, ‘Landlord’s Daughter’ and ‘Untouchable’. At this point I glance over at the band’s keyboardist Stu, who is now sweat –drenched, drops flying out of his mop of hair, and is looking more and more like Animal from the Muppets. He lunges at his keyboard and sings like his life depends on it. The kids all sing along too and it is at this point that you realize that you don’t really want this party to end.
In A Letter
Dead Model
Sitting in the Middle
The Beast
1st Past the Pump
Beer Belly
Great British Summertime
Man on the Street
Dance Floor
Landlord’s Daughter

More info on the band:

Sunday, 8 March 2009

the rose by cy twombly

Latest show 'The Rose' by Cy Twombly at the Gagosian treats us to 5 monumental new paintings by the king of high romance and painterly decadence.  Each panel measures 252 x 740cm and brings to mind billboard advertisements as well as previous admissions of raw emotion as expressed by Cy and many of his abstract expressionist predecessors.

On entering the space, these explosions of colour and lust scream at your senses, demanding that you bow down in awe.  It leads you to suspect that this is the artist urging you to feel as much for these works as he does for the subject matter.

The lurid colours Twombly uses, and the flatness of the turquoise background in each of the works is so immediate and adolescent, you almost forget that this is the work of an 80 year old man.  This is the work of a love stricken teenager, so hungry to express his burning desires of the rose, that he whacks paint on so fresh and watery with no room for contemplation.  Admittedly the first impression of this is that these are 5 very crude depictions, but with the clever simplicity of a limited palette in each panel, and the seductive drips, spills, gestures and transparent layers, these works show their fragile complexity and parallels with the human psyche when viewed close up.

The key juxtapositions of commercialism and self expression, of nature versus man and of flaws against perfection within these paintings are informed further through the choice of stanzas by Rilke.  In lines such as "flower of all flowers, petal over petal, do you feel our own palettes, pleasures, dreams," and "...deep inside, wet as me who weeps, you lean against the dawn," Twombly has selected lines that reflect a yearning for an emotional connection with the rose to be reciprocated.  The tension brought about by the hunger and passion in the poetry makes for a perfect match for Twombly's emotionally charged touch.

The rose is a show of high drama, of tension and passion.  It reminds us that you are never too old to feel, love and live.