November 25, 2004


If you want to know what this is about, you'll have to read the comments below my previous post. This image is for Karen, elck and jonah and for everyone else who comes here and speaks to me in comments.


November 22, 2004


My kitchenI had every intention of doing the Sketchcrawl yesterday all day, covering dozens of sheets of paper with beautiful impressions of everything in sight, especially London sights, since I'm the only one (?) in London to have signed up for this drawing marathon. However, the best laid plans of mice end up with cheese in mousetraps.

I got up late, tired and achy from having been frozen the day before and decided to do my first sketch from a hot bath. Took pen and watercolours and got into the pine green Radoxified tub. It was going pretty well when the fingers of my right hand holding the brush went numb. And number. Rubbing and shaking the hand did not help so I got out of the bath and went to get the camera. Held it carefully above the suds and tried to shoot the picture of my foot under water and the taps with shower coiled around them. The camera would not work. Batteries probably dead. Abandoned the bathtub plan.

Ate breakfast (afternoon of a grey rainy cold day getting darker by the minute). Looked out the window and rejected idea of drawing the buildings across the street. I don't really like drawing buildings, too many windows and fiddly bits. Decided to sketch the kitchen because of the nice black diamond pattern on the floor. This took far longer than I wanted to spend on it and when it was done I was not well pleased. An efficient but boring drawing, revealing my lack of enthusiasm for the subject. By that time night had fallen and the day was kaputt. So I decided to cheat and present my one sketch as if I had done more than one. I might crawl back into the tub now.



kitchen close-up 1

kitchen floor

LATER: OK here's the one I did earlier. Plus photo of the tub, minus my foot. I think the photo is interesting.




November 18, 2004



November 16, 2004


I don't know many Baptist preachers - allright I don't know any Baptist preachers - and I don't know much about Baptists in general. But I do know this: if I lived in East Texas I would go and find the little church where Real Live Preacher (aka Gordon Atkinson) preaches and I would join his congregation. I would take off my I'm a Christian but of course not a conventional one pretentions like an old coat and I'd sit down and eat humble pie with Gordon and his little flock. Why? Because this man is the real McCoy. He sounds and acts like an American version of what it must have been like to be an early Christian, a very early Christian, before the rot started eating away at the foundations built by God's chosen carpenter. It doesn't mean that RLP is a guru or miracle worker or anything of the sort. This is his self-description:

I'm just a guy with a bad haircut bouncing a ball around the sanctuary and talking to himself.

Book cover, RealLivePreacher.comThat's on p.118 of his new book which I bought recently. Some of his true-life stories are sweet and tender but when he really hits home for me is when he is alone talking to himself or lashing out passionately at hypocrisy, arrogance, falsity and materialism. Here is an extract from the chapter I have no title for this. Read the whole book - whether you are a believer, unbeliever or anything in between, this real live preacher will move you.

Sit down, Christian. Sit down and be you silent.
How long has it been since you forgot that we were called to walk on earth as pilgrims? Do you not remember when he told us to give our coats to those in need and sell our possessions to help the poor? Did you forget how the first church had all things in common so that none would lack? Did you forget the day he told us that whatever we did for the oppressed we did for him, and whatever we withheld from them was kept from him as well?
Sit down, Christian. You have not earned the right to speak to this generation. The right to speak is earned with love.


November 13, 2004


I've gone and done it. Booked a trip to Luxor. Last night, all fired up with rekindled Egyptomania I googled for a cheap flight/hotel deal and found one: January 5th, seven nights in Luxor. I'll start the new year on my old home ground. That's not me below, btw. It's an ancient Egyptian thinking of a future life in London, 2004.

past/future dreaming


November 12, 2004


When I say me in this instance I mean we, me and Natalie and....allright, this is going to stretch your credibility. So what's wrong with a credibility stretch? Dyed-in-the-wool scientists can now leave the room, followed by dyed-in-the-wool New Agers, crystal gazers and practitioners of past life regression.

In my early teens I was back in Paris after spending most of my childhood in South America and the USA. One day I walked into the Egyptian Antiquities rooms in the Louvre for the first time. I don't remember if anyone was with me, all I know is that I felt at home. Everything I saw was déja vu even though I had never before been aware of ancient Egypt. The thrill I felt was not exactly an aesthetic one. I wasn't responding to the artistry of these statues, objects and inscriptions. I just knew them.They were part of me. I had been there, done that. I knew with absolute certainty that I had lived before in that time and place.

Then I discovered Hatshepsut. Yes yes I know - everybody who gets hooked on reincarnation remembers they were some big celebrity. There are probably hundreds of people who believe they were Hatshepsut in their past lives. Tina Turner for one. I read that she is sure as sure can be that she was Hatshepsut because a psychic told her so.Well I'm not going to fight her for the title. I like Tina Turner a lot. Maybe she was my daughter or my mother. But I was Hatshepsut. Natalie and me were Hatshepsut and that's that.

NATSHEPSUT (geddit? Nat, not Hat, Shepsut) is the title of an artwork that I made in 1992. Inside a "sarcophagus" (made from a drawer) painted with Egyptian symbols lies a kind of book with wood covers. It is wrapped in a linen cloth stained to look ancient. On one side of the cloth are transfers of photos and newspaper cuttings and on the reverse I wrote this poem:

Whether she believed
that she would live again
or whether I believe
that I have lived before
makes no difference to the truth
whatever it may be
but the spaces and the places
where I have lived
in my mind
and in my life
are joined in time
by some strange

Wrapper of Natshepsut


As a child I lived in Paraguay in a place where the landscape looked much like Egypt and the river much like the Nile. I loved this place and on the pages of Natshepsut I painted a remembered Paraguay on one side and a bit of Deir El-Bahri on the other.

Natshepsut, front.

The evidence.In August 1992 an exhibition of many of my bookworks was held at the Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum in The Hague. When I arrived to install the work, the Director saw Natshepsut and asked if I knew that the Museum had in its collection the only known remaining shabti (servant statuettes placed in tombs) of Hatshepsut. Of course I did not know and you could have knocked me over with a feather. I asked to see the small relic and the Director brought it down. And then he gave permission for it to be shown in the glass case alongside Natshepsut. There it is, our shabti, lying on its little black velvet cushion, reunited with its owner. I took this poor snapshot at the exhibition, hampered by the reflections in the glass and a lousy camera.

Returning to the Egyptian rooms in the Louvre reminded me of all this. But I'm not interested in theories of reincarnation or stories of past lives nor would I join any of those "Mysteries of Ancient Egypt" crazy cults. So what's the point of this certainty about a past life? I don't know. I just know I was there. But I'm here now and here is where I want to be. One day I'll go and visit present day Luxor and take some pictures and do some drawings of my old old old old stamping ground. But you can't go home again.


November 10, 2004


Wander through all my Paris photos and then come back here to comment. What can be said about Paris that hasn't already been said? Everyone associates four things with my birthplace: food, sex, art and the guillotine. Let me give you my angle.

Paris pastries

1. Food: yesss! There is nothing in Parisian displays of food that I don't want to eat immediately and in large quantities, even foods I don't eat and don't like. The street markets redolent of colour, scent, taste, touch. The boulangeries and patisseries which are what God created wheat for. The restaurants - overpriced and not-like-the-good-old-days though they may be, I still want to sit in every single one I pass and order everything on the menu, every day, all day. I don't of course but I wish. The cafés - I want to be sitting in each and every one of them simultaneously, drinking red wine and hot grog and cognac and pernod and coffee, coffee, coffee, talking of Michelangelo (no no, not him) with Picasso and Apollinaire and Braque and Matisse and Piaf and Aznavour and Greco and Brel and Brassens and Ferré and - well, you get my drift.

Espace X

2. Sex: h'm. One can only speak from experience but as I am not about to engage in intimate revelations, I will only say that my Parisexe has not been the Paris of Henry Miller. Non, more like, miserable (but not Les Misèrables). French women's sexy reputation? I agree that they look great, dress well and have a certain smile. However, imho, they lack the je ne sais quoi, especially if they are TV presenters, executives and such. The make-up is too made up, the demeanor too....what's the word? Contrived? Humourless? I'm generalising but I don't think the French, in general, are sexy. So there.

Inverted pyramid, Louvre

The inverted glass pyramid in the Louvre's entrance hall .

3. Art: yes indeed! Art is sexy and essential in Paris, like the food. Sensual, tactile, handmade, necessary. I'm not talking about any particular artists or styles or periods of art. Just art as an activity and a product. Some small galleries around the rue de Seine give me the same kind of frisson that I get in front of a boulangerie, as do the ateliers where etchings are hand-printed or sculpture is made or tapestries woven or paintings painted. And of course the museums, though the crowds and the entrance fees have made them a less enjoyable experience.
You get the sense in Paris that to be an artist matters. It's not a substitute for real job or an optional extra. It really really matters in the grand scheme of things. I feel that I'm an artist when I'm in Paris.

4. The guillotine: let's leave politics out of this. Here's a picture of the decorated mirror in the same café where I shot the red-shirted waiter. Maybe it illustrates La Revolution?

Cafe reflection


November 8, 2004


On Saturday I was visited by frizzy logic who came to buy a wheel of fortune. Does that sound like a riddle? I'd be surprised if anyone doesn't know that fl is also qb whose long-established, inimitable blog is a joy for the mind, body (especially eyes) and soul. In real life, we got on like a house on fire - I've never understood that expression but it seems apt for spontaneous companionable combustion. qb is one of those rare people in whose presence you feel appreciated, grateful to be yourself, while wholly absorbed in discovering the other. With her uniquely frizzical vision, she sees things that most people pass by and in my crowded attic studio, she instantly saw the beauty hiding in the gears of my old etching press.

Things Parisian tomorrow


November 6, 2004


Lots of nice pictures of Paris coming up after this.


November 4, 2004


I'm back, appalled at the election result. A victory for fear, deceit and ignorance, the message preached from Bush's pulpit. Kerry wasn't strong enough to counter it. But there is something to be glad about - the huge number of people who turned up to vote for change, their depth of feeling and committment. Those feelings won't go away and it's quite possible that a tide of change will rise from the deep still waters and not from posturing prancing preening gun-totin' Bible-thumpin' cowboys taking the name of God as a vain excuse to commit whatever crimes they declare to be their God-given right to commit.

Paris was lovely, as always. I did no drawing but took lots of photos. Here are a few, I'll post others later.

Les Feuilles Mortes- that's the song by Jacques Brel, translated as Autumn Leaves. It's also the pièce de résistance in my repertoire when I do (not often) my Edith Piaf thing.

A lucky shot in a café. The waiter in red is asking if he's in the picture.

The headless lady hasn't fallen, she's intended to be reclining provocatively. This small local lingerie shop either has a sense of humour or means it seriously.