Monday, 18 May 2015

Bath exhibition of canal art

June is Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month, and Bath-based charity Julian House is organising  some events in the Bath and North East Somerset area; one will be an exhibition of art, craft and photography by members of the gypsy, Roma, traveller and boater communities, at Walcot Chapel Gallery in Bath.

Some of my pictures will be included- I'm busily working on a series of paintings showing people and life on the cut (as we call the canal).

The Grey Hares

There will also be work displayed by Chris and Jinny, the wonderful Skyravenwolf team; also sculpture and photography (I shall add more details as I learn them!)

The exhibition will run from 22-28 June.

Here is the Facebook page for events in B&NES.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Every Mole Is Thunderbird 2 In Its Dreams

It would have been ungrateful to ask for a better morning. The sun was taking its time about clearing up the early mist and the light ground frost, because it had all day ahead of it.

I was out with the camera looking for the hares I'd seen dancing in the field next to the lock, the day before. I mentioned it to a hire boater; he put on that voice that Middle Class Men Of A Certain Type adopt when talking to someone they think is a loony or a member of the working class, and said "Oh! I must keep an eye out for them..." His loss.

No hares, but a dead mole lying on the bridge. I wondered how it had come to an end there; but it was saying nothing. I perched it on the bridge parapet and photographed it. I'd have taken it home to draw it but there were some tiny insects crawling on it, and I wondered if they might be mole ticks or something similar. After my deer tick experience some years ago, I was being cautious. 

I went back later, and the mole was gone.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

holding up a slightly dodgy mirror to nature

Sarah's Lister

My second picture in the new series; Sarah with her shiny Lister, newly-rebuilt and painted red. I was quite pleased with this pic, because it looks like Sarah; the trouble with drawing real people is that you feel a bit of a failure if the picture ends up looking nothing like them. Which happened with the next picture, Craig and Kane. Craig's on the left...

Craig and Kane

Funny business; I dumped the first version, and worked and reworked this one before thinking "Sod it, I'll be here all year at this rate" and just finishing the damn picture. It looks like someone, but it just doesn't look like Craig. 

It's like when I did the pictures for The Bristol Downs; a natural history year. Having taken the job on, I suddenly realised that it wasn't enough to do nice pictures; I had to do accurate ones. 


...which isn't really the case with the current project. But it would be nice if they were. 

Maybe I'll come back to Craig.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

woruld onetteð

On board Nettie

The pace of the year is speeding up day by day, and it's time to get on with all sorts of projects- right now, I'm collecting sketches and photos for a series of pictures of Life On The Cut. Here's the first of them; Chris and Jinny, on nb Nettie, working away with an industry and quality of artistry that quite puts me to shame. Here's their website where you can see what they do; it's called Skyravenwolf

The title of this post comes from the anglo-saxon poem The Seafarer:

Bearwas blostmum nimað, byrig fægriað, wongas wlitigað, woruld onetteð...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

let's hear it for the sparrow

robin in the garden

On Voting For A National Bird 
Though there’s a case to choose the robin-
Gaudy-coated, territorial,
Thuggish, pushy, rival-mobbing,
Here-we, here-we, here-we-gorial,
Argumentative and narrow-
Give me, instead, the humbler sparrow
Whose virtues are too long to list
And from the poll is sadly missed.

Britain needs a national bird, apparently. Here's where you can vote. The sparrow's not the only bird missing from the list; the Kentucky Fried Chicken is absent, too, its remains probably scattered around some distant lay-by. I particularly like lapwings and curlews, but I prefer to leave them well alone, just as I'm sure they'd prefer to be left alone. Can't really see either of them stepping happily into the limelight, winning contestants on Britain's Got Talon. Which bird, gentle reader, would you go for?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

March hare

Uffington hare in autumn

...this particular March hare was started in autumn, hence the seasonal fruits. But I finished it today after it had been sitting around for months. And it's the first day of March. So happy St David's Day!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

We cannot allow censorship and silencing of individuals- working men's clubs have a particular responsibility to resist this kind of bullying

There is a worrying pattern of failure to respect some of the older and greater comedians on the working men's club circuit. When Bluey Drongo ("an eff, a blind, a merry quip") appeared at the Cambridge Bittern Stuffers' club recently, a rival event took place for those folk who object to Bluey's often-stated belief that people who've retrained during their careers can never be true working men; you're born a working man, he says, and that is that; these newcomers don't know what it smells like when you've lined the pockets of the rich with the sweat of your brow, and it ain't roses, he says, let me tell ya. Strewth. Obviously, the fate of this minority isn't important or relevant to the rest of us true working men, so it is ungrateful of them to make a fuss when they could be enjoying Bluey's off-colour anecdotes instead.

It's also troubling that Bernard Waning has not been getting any bookings lately. Bernard's been touring with his one joke ("hear the one about the Englishman, the Irishman and the transsexual Scot?") for over ten years now, but what the heck, it's an important joke, and it is shameful that he should be denied the platform to tell it. Yet again. Some jokes just improve with the retelling, after all. If things carry on like this he won't even get a chance to publish his joke in the Guardian one more time, and then where will we be?

a piece on censorship in the Guardian

...and a response from Sarah Brown