The-Lesson-1992

14 May 2017

HAT TRICK

A little while ago George Szirtes posted photos of his grandfather and of himself in a hat and I was reminded of my father in this hat - not the same one of course - the kind of hat that men used to wear all the time, everywhere. When did this change? Why? I loved that hat, the look it gave to men's faces, rakish, serious, a bit louche, melancholy.

My father, Sacha, seemed to have this hat on most of the time, either leaving or returning from a trip. Here he is at three stages: in his fifties in Florence, in his sixties in Switzerland, in his nineties in London.

Sacha hat, Florence    Sacha hat, Switzerland

Sacha hat, London

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01 May 2017

TAVIRA RETURN

My first short visit to Tavira in the Algarve, Portugal, was in 2009 after my brother moved there. The town and surroundings enchanted me and I applied for an artist residency, got it in due course, and went back for three months in 2010. Last week I was there again, spending time with my brother and becoming acquainted with the small art/craft shop which he helped a friend to open a few weeks ago.

Tavira is a small and unspoilt jewel in the Algarve which I'm reluctant to praise too much.  A festival was taking place during the few days I spent there this time featuring folk dancers in traditional costume and a long row of stands under peaked white tents selling regional produce and handmade goods.

river Gilão, Tavira

Tavira riverban

Tavira people, street corner

Folk dancers, Tavira

Folk dance in tavira

Kids in folk dance, Tavira

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20 April 2017

WALLS I HAVE KNOWN

Doing some website housework, I've added a page for murals I've done. San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, Asunciòn, Paraguay and London UK are the places where my murals came to life. Unfortunately the public ones are now dead, wiped out, but possibly a couple of private ones still exist.

Fresco study, San Miguel   left: Fresco study, Instituto Allende, Mexicoplaster bas-relief, Instituto Allende

Plaster bas-relief study, Instituto Allende

Hampden, early stages

Mural in progress, Hampden Community Centre, London 1983

Finished Hampden Community Centre mural 50' x 12'.

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16 April 2017

RESURRECTION

To everyone who passes by here,  a happy Easter and Passover and springtime and any other feast of rebirth and renewal that you care to celebrate today or other days.

The concept or belief in resurrection is as old as humanity as is its expression in smbols. If the traditional religious ones don't appeal, have a look at some of the others.

Phoenix, Aberdeen Bestiary

Benu bird, ancient Egypt

Ethiopian Ascension

trees outside my window

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15 April 2017

CAT MINDFULNESS

What I love about cats and some other animals and young children is that everything is always for the first time for them. I put some food in the plate for visiting cat Pushkin and he lights up as if the Messiah has just offered him eternal life. And every single time it's brand new, the excitment never dims, no routine is ever boring, everything is wonderful or frightening and invariably surprising. I like to think that I'm a little bit like that, most of the time.

Meanwhile nuclear war is in the air, Trump remembers chocolate cake and forgets which country he bombed.

Pushkin, mindful

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12 April 2017

HODGKIN'S ABSENT FRIENDS

If you're in London, it's definitely worth going to the National Portrait Gallery for the Howard Hodgkin show Absent Friends.

Absence certainly takes centre stage because those people whose portraits Hodgkin painted at various stages in his long career are not actually depicted. What he did was to invent a carefully constructed visual language to translate his memories and feelings about certain individuals or situations into pigment, colour and form. They're not abstractions, not abstract expressionism, and not merely 'mark making' (irritating art-speak!) The subject matter is always essential and Hodgkin is a narrator, telling the stories which remain alive in his memory. The exquisite Indian miniatures which Hodgkin loved and collected also tell stories - he borrowed from their intense colours and precise construction but deftly removed all illustration from his own tales. An acrobatic tour de force.

Unfortunately that vigor and inventiveness didn't persist into his late years and the final paintings in this and other recent exhibitions have an unconvincing, floppy bravado. You could say well, that's what old age does. I'd vehemently disagree (I would wouldn't I) and I don't know what took the vim out of Hodgkin but it surely wasn't old age even if he was 84 when he died in March this year.  Anyway, see the show if you can or if not, look up his work.

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28 March 2017

WORKS IN PROGRESS

A couple of things slowly taking shape and I'm not pushing too hard. Artworks are like children, you can give them directions but there's no guarantee they'll obey and even if they do, it will be their way. I like to listen to where a particular work wants to go and that requires a lot of sitting and staring and waiting.

The box-things I make (recently named Pableaux) sometimes turn out as instigations/inspirations for paintings and vice-versa. The latest one is specifically a maquette, a 3-dimensional rough model for a painting. The painting will take quite a while to do but here's the miniature maquette for it, made of wood, cardboard, wire etc. The title is: The Cosmic Sadness of a Teen Age Girl Crying in the Shower.

Cosmic Sadness maquette

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11 March 2017

I HEART THE NHS

Had the echocardiogram today, done at hospital by excellent Portuguese doctor (yes, the blessed NHS is as grateful as we are to have so many 'foreigners' among its staff) and he said he was very happy with what he saw and heard on the machine. I was facing the other way from the screen so I couldn't see anything but I did hear occasional rumors of pumping blood.

So my heart is perfect - or as perfect as these things ever can be - in spite of my rather advanced years. I've been debating whether to come out of the closet where I hide exactly the number of that advancement but have decided against it. Maybe on my next birthday. Maybe not.

echo cardiogram diagram

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9 March 2017

HAPPY ENDING

Unbelievable but absolutely true sequel to my last post:

A few minutes ago I got a phone call from the hospital where I was due to have an echocardiogram yesterday morning (which I missed) offering me a new appointment this Saturday11th March, rather than on 27th April as they said yesterday. Of course I accepted very gratefully.

Even more amazing is the fact that the lady I spoke to had been trying to phone me, unsuccessfully, since yesterday. The reason she couldn't reach me was because my landline phone number was changed, against my wishes, when I changed telephone provider recently. (Don't get me started on that infernal story!) However the  lady did not give up: she took the trouble to get in touch with my local GP's practice to verify my phone number and fortunately, I had told them just a couple of days ago about the new number. So the saintly NHS lady found me and all's well.

May blessings and cash rain down upon the blessed NHS.

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8 March 2017

MAXIMA CULPA

Sometimes there's a good reason to hate yourself. Missed an important medical appointment this morning because I overslept because I didn't get to bed until 4am because I was looking at something on the internet, can't even remember what, and I did set the alarm clock and it did go off at the proper time but I turned it off to just lie there and think for a minute and then when I woke up again it was an hour past my appointment and when I phoned to explain why I missed it they kept me waiting on the phone and then I was told I couldn't have another appointment until the end of April and I said no no no my GP said I need to have the echocardiogram and I know it's my fault but can I come later today and they said no you cannot so I had to accept the new appointment and I can't blame the NHS because it's all my fault mea culpa mea maxima maximosa culpa and I hate myself, yes.

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7 March 2017

NEW NdA CATALOGUE

There are quite a few print companies listed on the internet which tempt you with Special Offers to make a photobook with your own pictures, laid out in any way you wish, including text, all beautifully printed under hard covers, very reasonably priced and usually delivered in a week or less. I've taken advantage of these offers on several occasions from two of these companies, sometimes for family birthday gifts (putting together a relative's pictorial life story) but mainly to gather together photos of some of my paintings, drawings, prints and bookworks in a series of catalogues. I've only ordered one print copy of each book for my own use - it would be ludicrously expensive to use this method for copies to sell and distribute in larger quantities. For that purpose, print-on-demand companies are much more economical and do a very good job as well.

I've previously posted slideshows which the photobook companies give you a link to so that you can show them to friends but the annoying thing is that they use this as a means to advertise their products. So the first thing you see is the company's sales-pitch as if it's me talking (it's not) asking if you want to buy my catalogue at £65. No way! But that's what a 60-page book would have cost, had it been been printed without their Special Offer which costs me £30 plus postage.

That's why I'm asking you to ignore the salestalk on the opening page of this slideshow You can set the viewing speed to slow, medium or fast and, if possible, watch it on full screen, preferably on a computer or tablet rather than a phone.

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