Thursday, 31 January 2008

Peter Beard

The Artist
When I first went to Kenya in August 1955, I could never have guessed what was going to happen. Kenya's population was roughly five million, with about 100 tribes scattered throughout the endless "wild—deer—ness" - it was authentic, unspoiled, teeming with big game — so enormous it appeared inexhaustible.
Everyone agreed it was too big to be destroyed. Now Kenya's population of over 30 million drains the country's limited and diminishing resources at an amazing rate: surrounding, isolating, and relentlessly pressuring the last pockets of wildlife in denatured Africa.
The beautiful play period has come to an end. Millions of years of evolutionary processes have been destroyed in the blink of an eye.
The Pleistocene is paved over, cannibalism is swallowed up by commercialism, arrows become AK- 47s, colonialism is replaced by the power, the prestige and the corruption of the international aid industry. This is The End Of The Game over and over.
What could possibly be next? Density and stress — aid and AIDS, deep blue computers and Nintendo robots, heart disease and cancer, liposuction and rhinoplasty, digital pets and Tamaguchi toys deliver us into the brave new world.
I can't mention Peter Beard without showing some of his work. All the more poignant as much of it originates from Kenya. I cannot believe how bad life has become in what I thought was such a beautiful tranquil country. Still waters run deep.

Bruce Kremer

A wonderful site, the montages are reminisent of Peter Beard.
I am currently lashed to my computer researching artists for the students GCSE exam paper, but I keep getting sidetracked, hence the discovery of this site.

Russian avantgard

Although the Royal Academy has From Russia on at the moment, what I would really like to see is an exhibition of Russian constructivism for some reason these collages are ticking all the right boxes for me.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

City of vice

This programme is a visual feast and this review is the perfect summing up.

Nancy Banks-Smith
The Guardian,
Tuesday January 29 2008

City of Vice (Channel 4) continues - powerful, beautiful, abstruse and very hard on the dentures. Dr Johnson defined a net as anything reticulated or decussated at equal distances with interstices between the intersections. Or, as we would put it, a lot of holes strung together. City of Vice is Johnsonian in its rolling periods, antique vocabulary and obfuscation. When Mr Anderson (Gary Lewis) said the roast pigeon was transmogrified, was he being pretentious or is my hearing going again? We have grown used to predigested television, and City of Vice comes in large lumps. You learn a lot along the way, though. I didn't know, for instance, that "the bill" refers to the warrant a Bow Street Runner carried.
Sumptuousness is suggested with hangings, candlelight and shadowy distances. It looks like a theatrical company, once feted, now fallen on hard times. The language is now lively, now stately. A gang of robbers is described as, "like a dose of lice. They are not to be shaken off." Henry Fielding says, "We will apprehend these men and see them hanged." "That is of absolutely no consequence or comfort," says their broken and heartbroken victim.
Television can hold its head up here. I am usually wary of mentioning my profession. People tend to say incredulously, "That's work?" Sometimes it is damned hard work but rewarding.

Simon Norfolk

Beirut; How did you come to smell of smoke and fire?
The first exhibition I saw of Simon Norfolk's work was entitled; For most of it I have no words. It was an incredibly moving exhibition. You can see the photographs from that exhibition and many others on his very comprehensive web site. The editorials are worth reading as well.
I think he is an immensely talented photographer, because he is able to convey the misery of conflict through such calm stillness.

Yes, I know its Childish but...

Trevor Sutton

I like the sparse nature of these landscapes.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Happiness is 45

People are most likely to become depressed in middle age, according to a worldwide study of happiness. The team of economists leading the work found that we are happiest towards the beginning and end of our lives, leaving us most miserable in middle years between 40 and 50.

If someone had asked me at what age I was at my most depressed I would have probably chosen 25, because to me the fun was over, I had qualified as a teacher and I realised that this was IT that life was a mundane struggle, a small flat, a large mortgage, a lot of planning for work , a lot of travelling to work and then not one but two critical illnesses both within 3 months of each other. By the age of 29 I was divorced and felt better and then became a mother, I did not look back. Not one year since has been easy, but then how do you quantify easy? I have it very easy compared to most other cultures and I believe stress sharpens the brain. It is no coincidence that many people become Ill once they retire, because we need the drive to keep us going and I know this is what my mother fears and why she is still working at 65. However her body is tired and she will finally call it a day this year but I know she fears the quiet days, but I suspect it will come easier than she thinks. So I am 45, half way through the so called misery years, but I don't agree. I feel more empowered than I did when I was 25, I feel in control of the way I look, the way I work. I have finally accepted that I will have to work until retirement because I believe I will live to a ripe old age, and so I want/need a good sized pension to live off, which means I finally get to enjoy painting in that "Room of my own." So for me happiness is middle age.


There is nothing more beautiful than January light on a crisp sunny morning. The most mundane of objects can be transformed into something deep and rich.

Jo Gorner

Just before Christmas I went to Flowers East Gallery on Cork street. They had a wonderful exhibition of small pieces of work, from all their artists most of which had been completed in 2007. There was well over a hundred pieces ranging from a couple of hundred pounds to over a thousand pounds. One of my favourite pieces was by Jo Gorner. These etchings are very light and delicate and covetable, but when it come to spending money I tend to use it for travel and books and clothes. Maybe when the children are older I can have it all!

Monday, 28 January 2008

50 today

Lego is king in our house, all three girls have loved it, but none more so than Kitty who can quite happily build, and role play all day. When I first met their father he bought me the pirate ship complete with cannons, canon balls, parrots, monkeys..which I managed to keep intact for 5 years until we moved. Then sadly I gave up, broke it down and added it to the girls enormous stash. A few weeks later my sister phoned to say she had seen one for sale on eBay going for a small fortune, I think she wept real tears when I told her what I had done!

But I did buy..

This. Finally it was pay day and his work has been on my wish list for ages, I suspect it will be the first of many. He describes himself as a painter of clutter and I am surrounded by clutter, but some how he makes it appear so ordered.
I have been trying to paint with my oils for the last two months but nothing feels right, I am so anal the minute two colours slip into each other I cringe. I blame one person for this, a lecturer named Pat Albeck. Whilst at Camberwell she tightened my style up so much I have never really unwound since. So I have decided to paint swatches and return to my comfort zone, the wonderful world of collage.

( visit this blog for more paintings)

On my wish list today

I am really bad at remembering birthdays so imagine whipping out this for a sing song instead.

Leyla loves balloons so this cunning device could give her hours of fun, I am not sure why the balloons don't melt though they must be very tough.

A delightful eloquent diatribe sadly sold out, otherwise this would be right up Daisy's street.

Finally one for me its just sooo pretty
All from

Friday, 25 January 2008

The view from here

Is fading fast.
I have no plans for half term as Daisy and Kitty will be skiing with their father so I will mooch up town and maybe settle into the loft, so much painting and so little time its painful. Sweet nugget of the day comes from Kitty, who when I went to put my coat on said "Oh mum you look nice, its a shame you're only going to work" so a big mwah to her, although I am in her good books for buying her a lovely pair of burnished silver ballet flats last Monday. We popped into Whistles where she coveted the same silver grey hoodie that I did, so the apple has not fallen very far from the tree there. Sadly at £90 neither of us will get it. Having said that I reflected that I have impulse bought not one but three books this month totalling you guessed it £90, so that has got to stop. The Sally Mann book arrived and it is not for the feint hearted. The first half is devoted to photographs taken at a body farm, the second half has some utterly sublime close up portraits, all the photos are exquisite despite the nature of their content.
Daisy did not get to move in with her nan as I suggested she might before Christmas. This was a major blow to her self esteem since she thought it was a done deal, I have to constantly remind her that she is not yet 16 despite the way she swans around. Last week she asked to go and see Lincoln Park at the O2 arena which cost an eye watering £32, then she asked for an extra £5 to cover the booking fee! and then said " I suppose a T shirt is out of the question?" Well since she'd had the shirt off my back Its me that needs one, not her I think...
Finally the joke of the week came from a girl in my History class (they are 12)
Me "So lets recap girls who was the mother of James 1st?"
Student " Elizabeth miss."
Me " How? the immaculate bloody conception?"
I then go on to rant about how is it possible to spend 6 weeks banging on about Elizabeth being called the Virgin Queen and explaining how she didn't get married etc etc and all I get is that.
Student " was it her sister then?"
And so it goes on and on and if you think this is hard I then have to go home and teach Leyla how to use similes in her essay about Snow White ! ( I had to ask Daisy what a simile was!!!)I have come to really admire anyone who can teach English, since I struggle with it myself, I struggle even more when I try and teach it and that's to a 6 year old.

Robert Polidori
That such beauty can come from such misery does not sit easily on my shoulders, these beautiful photographs are reminiscent of those taken of the great depression in the 30s by Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange. So calm yet so disturbing.

Judith Katz

This work is very reminiscent of the Glassworks series by Fay Godwin, both possess a very painterly feel in the way that they use light with unusual viewpoints. This and the last two posts originated from the Association of Photographers Gallery which is currently closed for refurbishment. I used to go quite a lot, but not recently as it is deep in the East side of London and always requires a special trip. These awards take place every year and they are a rich seam to mine in terms of discovering some very beautiful photographs as well as finding talented photographers.

Charlie Crane Beautiful ethereal images from North Korea there is a lot more on his web site as well as the story behind them.

Chris Turner

What a fantastic new take on advertising jewellery. There is plenty more to enjoy on his web site.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

It must be underwater love

What a beautiful narrative from Jean Paul Gaultier Couture
images via

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Corrections and amendments

I recently withdrew a post because the owner of the drawings featured complained that I had not sought her permission before publishing the post. I had emailed for the permission, but in my eagerness to clear my in tray I did not wait for the reply. I was clearly in the wrong and It does make you nervous about what you can or cannot feature. Since the blogs inception I have received many really lovely emails from artists and designers thanking me for putting their images on line, as most artists are keen to have as many visual outlets as possible and I always put the image with a link. However, It became apparent that it was not the placing of the drawing on the blog that was irritating to the author, but that I had placed it with an irreverent dialogue about my future plans, thus turning the drawings into an illustration for my own end. I do have a tendency to bunk up images with text that is not entirely relevant, but good art will always speak for itself and I felt that this was the case with these drawings, however, if the cap fits.

The Russians are here

Phillipp Malyarin
One to see this Spring, as is the new exhibition A Decade of Discovery, now on at the Estorick gallery, featuring a decade of Italian art.
Black Monday is so over and I am looking forward to seeing some paintings at half term. I also have an invitation to a private view at the Bankside gallery which is celebrating 10 years of the Watercolour Open And finally congratulations to the Sartorialist for his successful opening last night at Danziger

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Corrections and amendments

Large slice of humble pie coming my way then!


Today's double page spread in the Guardian. Do you think Galliano ever wakes up and thinks "heavy boiled wool" like Balenciaga? Or even " lets give black a whirl" No, I don't think so either.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Random abundance

"It's funny when you get to know someone who has a blog because you learn a whole new side of that person that might take years to bring up in normal conversation."
A quote from The Satorialist and spot on. I think this blog defiantly brings out the slightly nicer version of me. I know in real life I am viewed as a hard boiled, mean, moody, miserable specimen whereas here I can be slightly less so! I have noticed and been quite surprised by some quite cruel/ negative comments that are flying around cyberspace recently which seems churlish and unnecessary when we are all just a happy band of amateurs having fun are we not?
Finally this from Materfamiliasknits
"Reading Laurie Ricou's Salal: Listening for the Northwest Understory, I find this quotation from poet and essayist Kim Stafford's book The Muses Among Us: "coherence is born of random abundance" (31).Random abundance! I love this term. Dare I claim that this is what's happening here on my blog, random abundance, and dare I hope that among it all, coherence may be gestating?"
Well I don't think blogs get much more random than mine, so hopefully I too will be getting a small piece of coherence!

Paul Greenleaf
The beauty of photography is the ability to creative a narrative such as this project. From an idea so random comes a brilliant outcome.
Visit the web site for more.

Rose Hilton

Despite the painting I managed to read a few articles this weekend, two of which really depressed me. The first is a quote from an article in Issue 12 of Tate etc (the magazine for Tate members)
Rose Hilton was married to Roger Hilton a very talented and successful painter from my favourite seaside town, St Ives. She says "When Roger and I got together I did a lot less painting. The reason for this was that Roger had said "If you are going to be with me , then I'm going to be the painter" I guess she should be grateful that he was so upfront! The second depressing article comes from London Orbital which found records from various Victorian asylums detailing some of the unbelievably cruel reasons for incarcerating women in the 19th Century, one woman was certified insane by her husband for "trying to publish a book of poetry" The shocking ease with which men were able to rid themselves of any woman with spirit or a personality was brilliantly written about in a book by Maggie O'Farrell The vanishing act of Esme Lennox
But back to Rose Hilton, her comment could apply to so many female artists who appear to end up playing second fiddle to the man. Lee Krasner, Dora Maar, Francoise Gilot, Frida Khalo, Gwen John, Dora Carrington to name but a few. Many gained greater recognition later in life, but you wonder how much living in the shadow of their partner hampered their ability to flourish. The good news appears to be that If you can outlive or leave the the man that hamstrings your creative out pourings, then you too can flourish like Rose Hilton. Interestingly her work appears to owe far more to Patrick Heron than Roger Hilton.