Monday, February 26, 2007

Life's a Beach?

Well, its up and running at last. I spent most of today fixing it to the wall. Even that was not without a glitch. I got to the gallery with my tools, the pictures and the accompanying signage only to discover I had forgotten the fixing screws. Nothing for it but to go back home and get them. Luckily it was just across town and it being the midle of the day the buses were running. They all stop at 6-00pm except for the Morecambe to Lancaster University service. Fine if you live on that route, but I don't. Anyway, I digress.
So its back home, pick up said screws and back to the gallery. Three hours later and its all done.
Private view is set for tomorrow evening, it should be all right on the night.
I wonder why I feel tired now?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Its All Over.... bar the shouting

As the saying goes. The work for "Life's a Beach" is now ready. The publicity material has gone out, the press informed, the private view set up and the labels and statement sheets for display are in the computer waiting for me to press the "print" button. I have the screws and fixings to hand but I've just remembered I need some Blue tac to stick the labels and notices up.
So, I nail it to the wall on Monday. All done with a day to spare. Phew.
Tomorrow, an afternoon of zazen with Rev. Master Mugo plus several other lay trainees from Preston as well as Lancaster.
It all comes together in the end.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lancaster's Dark Past

This monument stands on St. George's Quay in Lancaster and commemorates the infamous slave trade in which Lancaster, as a principal port in its heyday, was a vital part. Further along the Quay is the Maritime Museum dedicated to the history of this city as a port. Indeed it was the major port; Liverpool had not even been thought of.
Downriver lies Sunderland Point and the small hamlet of Sunderland (not to be confused with the larger town near Newcastle upon Tyne). The old Luneside hamlet has changed little over the last couple of hundred years. Apart from the presence of a few cars you could be forgiven for thinking you had entered a time warp. According to records, slave were unloaded here then the ships would go upriver for more legitimate cargo before returning to collect its human one for shipment to America or the Carribean. The only remaining relics found there now are (1) a cottonwood tree growing by a riverside house and (2) "Sambo's" well preserved grave behind the village. Sunderland has only one tarmac road leading to it and is flooded by the tide twice a day.
Today the BBC radio ran a special programme marking the 200 th anniversary of the abolition of tyhe slave trade by William Wilberforce. Find out more about the Slave Trade Act here.

This is a close up of the base of the Slave Monument in Lancaster. A poignant reminder.
The other item of history that Lancaster is [in]famous for is the Pendle Witch Trials in 1612 but more on that another time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I meant to post this one yesterday but I spent all of the 36 hours of my 24 hour day mounting work onto frames and getting publicity material printed. It was just on the stroke of midnight when I flopped onto my bed. I slept through until ten o' clock this morning. There only remains a few more of the works to be mounted and given a final coat of white finish, post the publicity material then make a catalogoue list for the show. It is all coming together, but deadlines apply their own pressures. I spent this morning stuffing envelopes and will get them posted by tomorrow.

Rev. Mugo is running a half day retreat in Lancaster on Sunday. I think I'll need the break that this will provide.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Only a week to go...

Completed this, the last peice of this body of work only last night. Now it is Monday so in exactly a week's time I will hang this show of eleven works.

I visited the gallery this morning and handed over a press statement along with a CD showing a powerpoint of the proposed exhibition. The private view is set for Tuesday next. All that remains to get done is print the invites to the private view, post them, get posters printed, distribute them, mount the works onto frames, fit mirror plates to mount them on the gallery walls, print a catalogue sheet and finally on the Monday physically put the show up. So much to do, so little time. But its always the same. Everything has to come together all at once. As I've said before, I'll be glad when the whole thing is on the wall. Then I can relax.

I was stuck for a title for this piece, most are called Atlantic #1, #2 and so on or Cyprus #1 etc but in the end I settled on their precice locations from the sketchbooks. This one is "Limassol" and the other vertical piece, "Tintagel". I'll probably show "Tintagel" tomorrow. The drawing work for Tintagel can be seen on The Draughtsman posting for today

When mounting an exhibition I feel sure that making the art is the easy bit. But then you have to work at that too if its to be any good.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Beware of Hackers

Someone has managed to hack-in to this blogsite and the Draughtsman and changed the profile photo. The photo was host by Flickr. I tracked it back and found extensive damage had been done to my Flickr page. I have spent about half a day unravelling and deleting the obscenities that had been posted. Hopefully that's got it all sorted. I have also severed all connections between Flickr and the blogsites to keep things a bit more secure. Its obvious the low-life joker got in via Flickr. I wonder if I forgot to sign out before logging off? It just goes to show you can't be too careful. So, when you sign in to your sites, don't forget to sign out.
I still run the Flickr site and you can view it here.
To whoever the hacker was who managed to mess up my site: I hope it made you very happy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Shipyard and the Japanese Tea Ceremony

Way back in the mid 1950s I started my worlking life in the shipyards of Sunderland. My friend Iain reminded me in an unlikely way of the culture of the time. His blog entry says a bit about the Japanese Tea Ceremony and goes on to surmise the English equivalent may weel be a genteel afternoon tea with bone china cups. The shipyards of the North East of England and the Tea Houses of Japan may be a world apart in more ways than one but there was one thing that was absolutely sacrosanct in heavy industry: everything stops for tea. We would sit around the workplace, sometimes on the floor with our bait tins (sandwich boxes) on our laps and mugs of tea, enamel mugs in those days, or sometimes a large thermos of the stuff beside us. That quarter hour break was never curtailed. Not for anything. Production stopped.
That culture is now long gone with the manufacturing industry that disappeared with it. I can't see such practices being done today. The health and safety people wouldn't approve for a start. We all dine in canteens away from work now.
The practises of those of us that worked in heavy industry in those days was resistant to change. Looking back I think it probably contributed to its downfall. In the 1950s and 1960s we built super-tankers, around 100,000 tons dispalacement. Big ships. Then it all went into decline and disappeared seemingly overnight. Ironically it was the Japanese shipyards that thrived after that.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Roker Pier

Sunderland, the town of my birth. We attended the funeral of my wife's aunt who had passed away at the tender age of 89 after a very full life. After the funeral some of us took a walk along the sea front for some fresh air. With the wind blowing in of the sea we got plenty of it. A grey seas under a grey sky. Roker Pier and its lighthouse forming the northern half of Wearmouth Harbour. The town's shipping and shipbuilding past are long gone now but the granite pier stands as a defiant meorial to the town's former glory.
All very evocative and the walk along the the shore, a walk I have taken many times throughout my childhood and early teenage years, brought back memories of a time long gone. A lifetime ago. It was good to do, - it reminded me of who I once was.
But having done that, it is time to walk on. Return to Lancaster and pick up where I left off.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Along the Margin

A triptych made up of three canvasses, 20 x 20 cm each, painted in acrylics. The sea's edge which likes to play with you as you walk along the beach. With each breaker it tries to catch you unawares and soak your shoes. Really, if you're going to walk this close to the sea its best do it barefoot. This is a piece of Cornish shoreline whose waters can give you a bit of a shock. Its cold, even in summer.

I will be heading north to Sunderland tomorrow to attend a funeral on Monday morning so next posting will probably be Monday or more likely Tuesday. Lancaster Zen Group meets on a Monday evening.

Friday, February 09, 2007

New Work - Sands

Normally I can complete these five-part paintings in a day or so. But this one.... took best part of a week! I must have put in over twenty hours on it. It wasn't the finicky detail, though that can be time consuming, it was catching the change of tone in each frame. But I got there in the end. This is the latest addition to the body of work for the upcoming show. If you click on the image you should get an enlarged picture. Take a look at the left hand (b&w) frame. You should be able to detect the underpainting necessary to get the black and white image to fuse in properly.
Its a zen thing really, this harmonious flow. We need to show that. All things change harmoniously, even abrupt ones. Look at the comment from yesterday re: Atlantic #6. That sudden wave arose from the pent up energy of the apparently calm sea.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Other Three "Atlantics"

"Atlantic #4" mixed media
"Atlantic #5" Mixed media, pencil and watercolour wash
"Atlantic #6" Mixed media, randomly applied blue watercolour wash,
soft graphite and black ink.

These are all [Atlantics #1 through #6] on Porthmeor Beach at St. Ives in Cornwall. The surf is very high at times. I have been told that surfers from all over the world visit this beach at certain times of the year. I bet its a lot colder than Bondi or Waikiki beaches. I have noticed the surfers usually wear wet suits instead of the baggy shorts that is the usual fashion. I did some on-site sketches but worked mainly from photographs for these images. A December gale is not conducive to leisurely drawing trips. The Eastern Mediterranean this is not!

"Atlantic #6" is particularly memorable. The sea had gone flat calm after a roiling session of repetitive breakers racing each other to the shore and crashing onto the beach at seemingly random intervals. Then it went flat calm for a few minutes before this huge wave rose out of the sea. It was bigger than all the others. It came rolling in, gathering momentum like a runaway train. Awesome.

The sea always commands respect, whether it is the mighty Atlantic or the Lune estuary in Morecambe Bay.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Not on Show

"Atlantic #3. Mixed media
"Atlantic #2. Mixed media
"Atlantic #1. Pencil drawing
These three groups of five images 10 x 10 cm were done on paper and would need to be framed behind glass before showing. There are another three in this series also on paper, making six in all. I would need six frames, 20 x 60 cm making. The cost is a bit expensive at the moment at £15 per frame, they need to be specially made and time is running against me. With twenty days to go I cannot include these works. Pity really. They were the start of the current series and I have got to rather like them. I could make the frames myself but at the moment, we at Luneside are a bit stuck for premises though we have got a place lined up in the City centre but the necessary paperwork is proving a bit slow. Such is life, huh?
I shall post the other three images tomorrow. Meanwhile, enjoy these. If you click on the image you should get a larger view in another frame.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Life is a Beach

The forthcoming exhibition is starting to come together at last. The above image is called "Shingle" which indeed is what it is, the stoney beach beneath your feet. As is usual with this series of works, including the recent "Forest" series, I try to show the transition from monochrome to colour. This progression is not only the change of light and form, it also serves to illustrate the changes in the physical environment we move in.
Each square is 10 x 10 cms all mounted on a single 60 x 20 cms board and painted in acrylic on gesso.
The exhibition runs from Feb 26 to April 2. The date of the private view to be announced later.

Monday, February 05, 2007

All in a Bright Clear Sky

Went up to Throssel on Saturday to attend a memorial service for a monk who had recently died. It was a short, simple service. The sun shone brightly all day and the clear skies persisted on into the evening.
Sitting in the back seat of the car as we sped down the M6 back to Lancaster I could watch the light change as the sun set behind the clearly etched Lakeland fells. The blue of the sky gave way to sublte coppery colours as the Sun's light faded. Then out came the evening star, - Venus, - as clear and bright as any moon.
Rev. Mugo has written about this clarity over these last few days. You can read this here. "Looking up and looking out."