Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lost in Fog - Lost in Time

A dense white bank of fog rolled in across the Lune estuary shrouding Lancaster in its clammy embrace.

The buildings on St. George's Quay down by the banks of the River Lune have changed little over the last couple of hundred years. The housing development completed nearly ten years ago tastefully mimics the established architecture. Now wreathed in fog, and with cars absent it doesn't take too much imagination to expect a square rigged sailing ship to loom out of the murk as it glides up the River. Lancaster was the major port in the North-West before Liverpool got started during the 1700s.

John o' Gaunt's Gateway

This evening I emerged from the studio and the fog had thickened still further. It was evening and dark. The street lights in this part of the city have retained their pre-20th century form, though now they are electric instead if the original gas. I walked up towards John o' Gaunt's Gateway at Lancaster Castle before descending Castle Hill and its narrow alleyways. Again there were no cars about. Everybody had gone home. I would not have been in the least surprised if I met a man in a frock coat and tricorn hat.

But the the illusion is quickly shattered as, after passing Covells Cross I arrive back in the 21st. century at the pelican crossing on China Street and wait for the manic rush of motor traffic to stop briefly and allow me to cross the road.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


At the moment I am making a concerted effort to learn a bit more Greek.
What Greek I have is what I've picked up during my times in Cyprus. This is mainly the "gettting by" stuff. I can order a meal, book a taxi, get a bus, shop and ask for directions. Oh and the polite conversation stuff as well.

But I can't really string a sentence together, - yet.

So, I spend a half-hour driving my long-suffering wife crazy by reciting things in Greek. Usually I write them down in Greek then read them out loud. This could be interesting as I have been told by the Cypriots I have managed to master the Cyprus inflection of the language and many of the words I've learnt are Cypriot dialect and not pure Athenian Greek. A bit like a Greek learning Glaswegian for English if you see what I mean. But hopefully, by the time I go to Cyprus again next spring I might be able to converse a little better. Ελά! Καλω!

After today's little session I set off into the grey rain under a leaden sky. I stopped to talk to a builder waiting across the road for the rain to stop. We spoke in the Lancastro-Cumbrian dialect we use up here. I was more acutely aware of this as I had already been using three languages this morning. English, then on the phone to a friend in Stuttgart and speaking German, then as I said earlier, practising my Greek. The conversation with the builder went something like this:

ME: S' thy fault's raiannnen. Thou's tekken 't' slates of't' reeaf.
HIM: Aye. Oppen invitation. Sodz laar.
ME: S'way it gars ah reckon. Waet till s' sunny an' s'ower caad te dee owt and when its warmer s' ower wet.
HIM: Thou's reet thur a'll tell tha!

After that we went our separate ways. Looking at that lot written down it looks like anything but English. But English it is, albeit a dialect whose origins probably date back to Saxon times.
Read it out loud and it might make more sense.
Now I'm just waiting for someone to ask for a translation.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Complete Triptych

If you've been following this blog for the last few days you will have been watching this project grow. Today I completed the Electra image so now the triptych is complete, - in its water-colour form. This is a preparatory work on paper, though in its way is complete in itself. The plan is to develop this into a larger painting. I had originally intended the panels to be six feet tall; pretty well life-size. But now I wonder, perhaps they would be better at four feet tall (that's 120 cm in European). What is shown here is 24" ( 60 cm tall). I have done it this size so that scaling up shouldn't be too complicated.
Anyone out there got any thoughts? 48" ? 72" ?
There is another triptych planned to go with this one, the three protagonists; Clytemnestra, Aegisthus and Cassandra. Watch this space. I may be a week or two working on it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I've used the English spelling this time, mainly to stop my spell-checker going bananas every time I use the Greek version. But just for devilment I'll put "Ηλέκτρα" in. That'll set it screamin' at me!
Seriously though, if you take a look in The Draughtsman you can see a more detailed update. As a side avenue of this project I did a head and shoulders drawing of Electra. The idea came to me yesterday while doing the layout. The drawing looked complete in itself so here is a development of that.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Agamemnon and Orestes


Two distinctly different styles. One emerges from the shadows and the other from the light.
Elektra will be added to these and will stand between the two. For more details see The Draughtsman.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sea Jewels

A piece of driftwood lies washed up on Morecambe Bay. The sky is grey with the certain promise of windswept icy rain. The tide is out, - far out. The Bay is little more than a monotone wilderness,
And yet....
And yet, nestled in a hole in this nondescript driftwood a group of small stones cuddle each other. Do stones need comforting? Well, they are part of creation and like the rest of us could probably use a bit of company.
They don't sparkle like jewelery but ensconced like this they are precious. They delight the eye.
I take the photo then get back to the studio before the rain carries out its threat.

Just thought I'd make a change from posting art. But then photography is an art form.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Project

Four Figures
Caryatid - Artemis #1 - Artemis #2 - Afrodite

"At the moment I have a large body of work assembled of the "Sea Pictures" so there is not so much pressure to produce new work in that direction. This leaves me free to concentrate on my Hellenic project(s) which hark back to the times I spend in Cyprus.
Not surprisingly the mythological material coupled with the modern Cypriot Art scene has exerted something of an influence here. Many years ago when I was in my late teens/early twenties I avidly read the Greek classics. My trips to Cyprus have re-awakened this interest. I have done a lot of random drawings of Hellenic style figures, mainly female, but there has been no real cohesive plan. It was rather like looking around a new environment and just taking everything at face value."

The above is a quote from my other blog The Draughtsman which I have just revived. It has lain dormant since September.

It is in the preparation of the above composite that a plan emerged where I intend to produce a body of work of these mythological characters. A start has been made. I am working on the Agamemnon/Elektra/Orestes trilogy. More details on The Draughtsman.

The four panels above are 42 cm tall, gouache on paper. The four make up a complete work.

Phil Bird

Phil Bird is a British painter permanently based in Cyprus and is a full-time tutor at CyCA.
While in Britain much of his work explored the imagery of pre-Chistian Britain harking back to pre-Roman times. He lived not far from the Avebury Ring and the Vale of the White Horse.

Now working in Cyprus his work looks at some of the imagery of the Eastern Mediterranean and embraces Hellenic, Egyptian and other ancient Middle-Eastern cultures.

He has made not only paintings but small sculptures of the figures that feature in his work.
Phil is also a folk musician whose compositions are also evocative of these (almost) lost cultures.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Anna Georghiou

Anna Georghiou is a Cypriot painter whose late work comprises groups of women usually attired in the early Cypriot national style. The wearing of national dress as everyday wear only ceased within living memory. Certainly European nation costume was the norm in more rural countries in the early 1960's. I can personally vouch for that.
Anna tells me there is no deliberate message in her work though one may emerge as it develops. Indeed some of the best art is produced when the artist doesn't think about it too much.
I like this enigmatic quality Anna brings to her work. This piece is about four feet square, pastel and other wet media on thick tinted paper. See more of her work on her website.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Student Work at CyCA

Setareh Aliahmadi is a first year BA student from Iran and studying at CyCA in Larnaka. This is a portrait she painted of a Greek Orthodox Priest up in the Trodos Hills. What struck me is the standard of this work. I think she could go far. The work is about four feet tall so is just about life-size.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


The breakers here have formed an amphitheatre around a slightly raised sandbank. I painted this just before I left for Cyprus last September. This picture has a Cyprus connection; it is of a small stretch of beach midway between Pafos and Coral Bay. This is an area of coastline made up of low lying cliffs and several small coves. The cliffs are never more than say, 3 metres or ten feet high so this is no Cornwall. What is interesting though, is how rough the sea is on this western tip of the Island compared to Larnaca where is can be as flat as a millpond.
This painting is A3 (30 x 42 cm) size, gouache on 300 gsm cartridge.
These postings have been a bit infrequent of late but I'll try to rectify this even if its just to show some art. I intend to show the work of one or two Cypriot artists.