Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Couple of Pieces of Work



Here are some of the sculptures I made in Cyprus. The standing figures are about 30 cm tall. This is how they were shown at the Cyprus College of Art's gallery.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mediterranean Dawn

As Homer would have put it,
Rosy fingered Dawn drove the darkness from the night as Selene's brilliance waned and Helios harnessed his bright steeds to his chariot to rise from the wine-dark sea into the brightness of a new day.

Or words to that effect.

One morning I decided to make the two-hundred metre journey down to the east facing beach to watch the dawn. At the edge of the beach stands an open air theatre. I sit on the steps of the stage and look out to sea.....

Pre-dawn darkness.
A crescent moon hangs over the eastern horizon.
The sea is as flat as a millpond.
Then the red flush of false dawn, it quickly fades to grey.
I wait.
Then finally, -
The bright orb of the sun peers over the offing
Rising verticall to clear the horizon in five short minutes,
Its strength perceptibly increasing.
Still low in the sky
The heat is in the day already.

All very Homeric. I get up and turn to leave. Time for a coffee.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Magnificat

Much of my time in Cyprus was spent in Larnaka, a small town about the size of Lancaster but with much narrower streets and just as much traffic.
However there were moments when I got out of town. People were kind enough to take me for car rides and visiting and one Cypriot sculptor in particular, Gigis Patsalis entertained me at his very rural studio in Vavla, high up in the hills near Lefkara, a place famous for its lacemaking. It was after one such day that I composed this little poem:

Magnificat Anima Mea

The song of my soul
Is the running of the deer,
The howl of the wolf,
The ocean's swell
And the whispering trees
When no wind stirs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Well, I'm back.

Spent a lot of time making sculpture. Many of the pieces have been left there and are being considered by a local gallery in Larnaka.
There are a number of ideas buzzing around in my head, ideas that have matured in the time I've been out there.
Apert from my own work I've been kept pretty busy in the School of Art itself organising workshops and tutorials. And in case some of you are wondering, I got to the beach about three times in the entire three-month stint. It was no holiday but admittedly it was work under very pleasant circumstances with all that lovely sunshine. Well it got more pleasant after mid September when things cooled off a bit to a bearable 35 degrees C.
Actually if anyone is ever thinking of going to Cyprus for a holiday, about now is probably the best time to go. Its about the same as an English high summer in June. There is the possibility of rain but otherwise pretty fine. Temps about 25 - 30 throught the day dropping to about 15-18 at night.
I haven't post much 'cos computer time was rather limited. But now I'm back, I may well post a few memories. I did take notes, write a few (bad) haiku and other poems summing up my feelings at the time.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Borrowed Bell

This last week end I stayed at a friend's farmhouse high up in the hills above Aphrodite's Rock, some 20 km from Pafos.

Sitting alone
Warm sun on my face
A Greek Angelus
Concludes meditation.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Eventide

The end of a hot day. I walk across town as the sun starts its rapid sunset. It inspired a poem.

Sunset
Low murmur
Of chanting
Heard across Lazaros Square.

Peace to all beings.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

It ain't 'alf 'ot Mum

Anybody remember the old TV series?
First full day in Cyprus and the temperature 42 deg. Celsius at mid-day. Had to take a siesta. Even the Cypriots find this a bit hot. Its now around five pm and its dropped a bit into the upper thirties. Strewth!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Short Break

Just got a few minutes before we go out for a meal.
Getting my stuff together. Not taking a magic sword but I do have the pencils.
Yes I'm in a silly mood.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Before the Quest

Getting ready for this Cyprus trip is not unlike preparing for the quests we read about in epic stories; - Lord of the rings, King Arthur and the Holy Grail, Eric Brighteyes, Siegfried.... the list goes on. Seeing its a trip to Cyprus, Perseus and the rescue of Andromeda came to mind.

All these quest stories (and the computer games they engender) have the same thing; namely collecting a number of vital items before setting off. They always have a magic sword and some other things like special mirrors, a goddess' blessing which usually involves armour or some level of invincibility oh, and of course, the magic sword. Mustn't forget that.

Well Perseus had to get the All Seeing Eye, a Mirror, the Head of Medusa, a Helmet to make himself invisible, a goddess' Blessing, I think it was Aphrodite, a pair of Special Flying Sandals borrowed from Hermes no less and of course he could not go without a MAGIC SWORD.
And off he went To a far off land to find Andromeda. Mind you, three thousand or so years ago when he did this, all he had to put up with was gorgons, dragons, harpies, the occasional man-eating sphinx, a big time god who didn't like him, not to mention sirens, Scylla and Charybdis. But he managed.
Imagine trying to go to a far off land today. Well, there's airport security for a start.
"Now Sir, you can carry your goddess' blessing and helmet and that mirror with your cabin luggage but not that eyeball thing, its' classified as a liquid container. And I'm afraid that big shiny knife (the magic sword?) must travel in the hold.
"Now if you would be so kind as to remove those sandals and put them through the scanner and while your waiting I want to see what you have in that box."
Well, Perseus being a law abiding chap did as the security guard asked and opened the box.
Security looked on, - stonily.

Now where's my Magic Sword gone?
Oh here it is, a mallet and set of chisels.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Clear the decks...

Clear the decks, not so much for action, but to make room for the artist who is going to use my space while I'm away in Cyprus. He'll have use of half my space once I've got the stuff shown here stashed on the other side . The space is a room 9 feet square so it'll have to be stacked in a pretty neat and compact way.
That's what I've spent a large part of today doing. The carving tools you can see on the table are coming to Cyprus with me along with a stock of paper and paints. Its all packed into a suitcase now so that's a big-ish job out the way.
The new incumbent is a glass ceramicist who tells me he doesn't need a particularly large space to work in and my half space will be perfect. His paying rent on half a space cuts down the amount I have to pay for it while I'm away.
I leave for Larnaka on Monday and won't be back in Blighty until mid-November.
I may get chance to post a little using the Larnaka studio computer but my slots will be a bit limited.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ongoing project

This project, started from "A Germ of an Idea" has developed quite a few little side avenues. I was thinking initially in terms of two semi-circular set ups; in one, the centre figure would be a leader and in the other, a rejected person. Both are the centre of the attention of the peripheral figures. A series of drawings has ensued thus far plus a couple of sculptures.
Here is one idea. I have set out some drawings in this diagrammatic form to give some idea of what I'm getting at. The central figure is at the receiving end of a judicial decision. The red figures are the judges or prosecutors, the yellow are intercessors on the subjects behalf and the one in blue, the indifferent bystanders. I haven't really arrived at the final form but it is the "germ of an idea".


This is one of the "side avenue" figures. Here she is looking up at the overhead light.
An overhead artificial light?
The Sun?
Divine inspiration?
I love presenting puzzles. You can decide for yourself. I haven't arrived at any conclusions yet.
One thing I can tell you, - I've got plenty to work on while in Cyprus. The whole thing has, after all, something a Hellenic feel about it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Starting Countdown...

Ten days to Cyprus. And counting. Got a phone call from Larnaka today confirming I am expected at the time I said I would arrive. It has been a busy few days making final arrangements.
Its not like pacage holidays. As this is a three month stay I have to make my own arrangements and set up my own contacts. Its cheaper that way anyway. It does help having been there several times before; I now have a reasonable network of contacts.
Now its all coming together at last. must admit I'm starting to get excited.
But its not a holiday. I am there to help out at the college. My main job is to take students on field trips. Open air painting/drawing sessions, mostly on the beach. Well, someone's gotta do it!!! Oh yes, and one lecture a week, mainly about my own work and to provide practical backup to the syllabus.
To be honest though, its a galaxy away from the British (art school) scene. Take a peek at the website.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting a new Roof

We have the roofing men working overhead replacing the worn out slates. The roof was built when Queen Victoria was little more than a teenager. Our house is easy to spot right no, its the one with all the scaffolding.
I've got to give it to those roofing guys, they really get on with the job. We had a couple of really fine days and they took advantage of the dry weather and worked with hardly a break. Yesterday the gods were grossly incontinent, it rained all day, but undismayed the men turned up and did what they could between raindrops. Then a lorryload of new slates arrived and the lorry needed unloading and slates stacked up top. They worked through atrocious weather to complete that particular task. By lunchtime they were soaked through and once the stuff was stacked safely they called it a day.
But this morning, wall-to-wall blue skies and they were up aloft before I got out of bed, and I was up at 7-30!
These guys don't waste time.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

In Sculptor's Heaven

Yesterday I took a train ride 40 -odd miles to the north, to Penrith for the Cumbrian Potfest, an international gathering of ceramics artists. Not only were there many displays from all over the UK and Europe plus one from Australia, there were trade stands selling a wide variety of ceramic tools all reasonably priced. Some were just amazingly cheap.

This torso is an entry from Japan. I love that metallic glaze and the almost gossamer thickness of the actual ceramic. The exhibitor invited me to pick it up. After all, sculpture is a tactile medium. In my hands it felt so delicate and exquisite.

Figures from myth and legend, very much on my wavelength, faeries, goblins, wizards/witches, dragons etcetera ad infinitum.


..... and horses. This one made up of fragments held together with slip and glaze. This particular one is about 18 inches (45 cm) long.
There was plenty of opportunity to chat with other art-makers and learn from each other. I even had a go at throwing a pot, i.e., making a pot on a potter's wheel. Its the first time I've done it. I made three pots in all, and thereby hangs a tale...
For the first one I was guided stage by stage and made a reasonable though not perfect bowl. The second one I was left on my own to get on with it. To say it was total disaster would be an understatement. But I had ten minutes of my one hour slot left so was given another ball of clay. Time was not on my side so I just had to get on with it without thinking about it too much. Actually, it turned out to be my best effort. I threw the pot in three minutes flat. Not quite up to exhibition standard but better than I dared hope.
Mustn't forget the jazz quartet that provided music at lunch time. It consisted of saxophone, banjo, trombone and sousaphone. A bit of an eclectic mix but they were good.
The sun shone too. It has been a good day.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Despite the wind and rain

Our "yarden" isn't looking too bad. A bit saturated but its managed to make a show none-the-less. Mind you, its my other half who looks after it these days. She's much more green fingered.

One corner of the yarden

Some free standing plant pots

The kitchen window box from outside. The hanging basket on the left has tomato plants that don't like our Northern Climate one little bit.

Opposite wall.

From the kitchen window, a an abundance in the window-box.
Today the sun has shone all day. A rare event. But at least we don't have a water shortage.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another Image.

Another image of the same ilk. This time the light is coming from above and she leans back with her hands resting on her ankles.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not quite sure where this is going........

Gave myself a rest from carving today and produced this drawing on a sheet of paper, 50 x 35 cms. It is a layout of how the figures might be but the focus of the ideas seem to be undergoing a subtle change. The central figure is not so much a supplicant here as a centre of stillness. I didn't deliberately set out with this in mind. It seems to have simply gone that way.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More germinating

A drawing of the supplicant on her own. This too is the same size as the one posted yesterday. About 14 x 20 inches in English measure.

There are about another four planned. When I did the overall design, shown a couple of days back, I had made tracings of some of the images and projected them onto larger pieces of paper with the idea of developing the images to see how they might look. They are developing into works in their own right. From the projected image on the paper I draw the contour pieces and then work them up into full drawings or paintings.

The use of projectors or optics, at any rate has been around for centuries. If you would like to learn more, get hold of a copy of David Hockney's book, "Secret Knowledge".

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Germinating

Did this painting today in gouache on a sheet of 300gsm 35 cm wide by 50 cm tall. It is the goddess and supplicant juxtaposed. It went rather better than I hoped. I might make a canvas of this image.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Germ of an Idea

Fairfield Orchard is a public space developed at the turn of the Millennium. Some waste ground near the Fairfield private estate in one of the more salubrious parts of Lancaster was converted into a public park and orchard. It has developed well and the wonder of it is just how little vandalism has been inflicted on it. The people of this part of Lancaster are a pretty public spirited bunch and have made sure vandalism is swiftly dealt with. It is well policed.
I sometimes take a detour through this orchard on my daily walk to the studio. It is a bit of a long way round but it makes for a pleasant stroll along the Lancaster Canal then through fields and finally here before re-entering the built-up area.
In the middle of the orchard there is a quiet picnic area.

In the picnic area there is this semi-circular arrangement of tree stumps. I'm not sure if they are an installation or a novel form of picnic seating. A couple of days ago I sat on the centre stump. It struck me how the formation reminded me of either a set of seats for some imaginary guardians of the place or the setting for a gathering in the style of a crow court.

I have seen crow courts when I lived in the countryside back in Northumberland. The crows/rooks stand in a circle on the ground and one crow stands in the centre. Sometimes the central bird is quite clearly the flock leader and seems to be making some deliberations. At other times the central bird is one who has failed the flock in some way. On these occasions avian justice can be swift and final.

A germ of an idea formed.
Why not make a collection of sculptures to form two semi-circles, one to show a condemnation and the other to portray leadership?

When I got back to the studio I put a large sheet of paper on my main drawing board and made a series of drawings exploring the idea.

This is a layout of designs for the characters. The top row I have called "Supplicant." The central kneeling figure in grey is the supplicant being judged by her peers.

The bottom row I have called "Goddess". The standing central figure is the deity standing amidst her acolytes. The figures are coloured according to their roles. I'll explain in more detail in subsequent postings when I shall show some individual images.
It's becoming an interesting project. What started out as an idea for a woodland installation is becoming an exploration of the human condition, - social roles we all adopt at different stages of our lives.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More culture

Theatre in the Park last Tuesday, exhibition private views including one in which Luneside Studios participated, and then to round all off, a performance in the Cathedral of Monteverdi's Vespers. With my passion for sacred music this had to be the high point.
....and it was!
A baroque orchestra complete with authentic period instruments circa 1610, consisting two violins, cello, bass, chamber organ continuo, baroque cornet, crumhorn and three saxbuts(trombones sans valves); couple that with a first class choir and four soloists,(two sopranos and two tenors), it made for a really memorable performance to a capacity audience. The strains of it are still ringing in my ears.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Theatre in the Park

Despite the rain, we had a good evening at the Duke's presentation of the Greek play Jason and the Argonauts. The play was a blend of ancient Greek high drama and old fashioned British pantomime in that audience participation was encouraged. It was done in English of course.
To give an example; when it was time for the interval, Hera comes onto the stage and annouces that the the gods will return to high Olympus for their Nectar and ambrosia while we mortals go to the cafe for tea.
Or another, in the final act Jason returns to king Pelias with the golden fleece, Jason gives the "long voyage across the wine dark sea" speech. The king repies, "Like a cup of coffee then?"
We laughed, we were moved. Brilliant.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

More Hidden Lancaster

Still enjoying the lovely weather, between showers, and it seems such a waste to go straight to the studio. So I went via a circuitous route and discovered this little gem of a street behind the Castle. It is privately owned and still retains its mediaeval cobbles. The only snag, it is an exclusive address as the number of expensive cars parked there will testify. I had to do quite a bit of manoeuvring to get a shot of this street sans cars. Without the cars you feel as though you have stepped back in time. It hasn't been developed, it is off the tourist trail so it remains pretty much the way it always was. A little gem of street.

Mediaeval cobbles with puddle. Can't resist puddles. Photographing them, that is.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happiness is...


...glorious sunshine, a heatwave that feels more Cypriot than British, making a lump of clay into a sculptural form while listening to a Bach cantata blasting in my ears via the headphones of my MP3 player, oh, and a bottomless pot of tea.
Making sculpture, whether it is as a carving or modelled from clay, involves the whole spectrum of activity. At the beginning it is quite brutal and aggressive. The rough form is made. When I've made large pieces in the past it has not been unknown to start by taking an axe to the piece of wood. Then there is the carving out of the rough shape, done with a 2kg mallet and large gouge and sending schrapnel flying in all directions. That then gives way to more detailed carving with a lighter touch, then to delicate tap-tapping and finally hand chiseling, just shaving away fine flakes. Then the sanding and polishing and little adjustments here and there.
Modelling in clay has a similar pattern; first the clay is thumped and squeezed to expel air pockets, then roughly moulded into a semblance of shape, then cut and modelled with tools using a technique not dis-similar to carving then smooth with fingers, brush, shaper and a little slip applied here and there. Slip is sloppy clay, rather like slurry which is used either as a sort of glue for to put two pieces of clay together or to smooth the finished surface.
The whole process can be quite absorbing and exciting as the piece finally comes into being. Such is the joy of making art. The picture shows a piece I did today. It stands about 20 cm (8") tall. It now needs to dry out, - slowly. In this heat, no mean task. It has been sprayed with a fine mist of water and covered in a plastic bag to slow the evaporation/drying. If it dries to quickly the whole thing will start to crack. It may be some time before it gets cast. Ideally as a bronze but more likely finish up as a plaster cast. Its much cheaper as plaster, I can probably do it myself whereas bronze casting will involve taking it to a foundry and I could end up paying the wrong side of £200 to have it done.
But... if someone out there would like a bronze of it then let me know.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cowled Head - completed


Finished at last. I beeswaxed the sculpture yesterday evening and gave it a final polish today.
Voila!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Self Portrait

Making a self-portrait is something that most artists do from time to time. I have usually done one every year or so by drawing "from the life" with the aid of a mirror. This time I worked from a recent photo.
As you may have noticed, I have included it in my profile. It's time I updated it anyway. That last one was done in Larnaka three years ago. Doesn't time fly?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Not just sculpture

I have been drawing/painting as well. It is a sculptural concept but 2D work none-the-less. These are two separate works each on 300 gsm. paper and 35 x 50 cm., slightly bigger than A3. I did the one one the left first. It is primarily a graphite drawing but with a little colour added. On completion I wasn't entirely satisfied with it so re-did it as a monochrome drawing. In both cases I aimed to have the centre of the picture in sharp focus and fusing out towards the periphery. It is a style I have developed of late; I do this to focus the viewer on the central theme of the subject.
The work is titled "Libation". Of course there is Cypriot influence here. On the one hand the quasi-Hellenic figures and the other the reference to an ancient culture.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Latest Project

Cowled Head is the name I've given to this piece of sculpture that I've been working on over the last three weeks or so. It stands about 14" (35 cm) high, not counting the base. I should point out the rough looking plank it sits on in the picture is not the intended base but simply an anchor piece to hold it on to the bench. The carving stage is pretty well completed here. Some filing has been done. There only remains some sanding to do then more sanding, then polishing and so on. It looks a bit white and stone-like at the moment after rough sanding. The grain will show more when it is finished.

Today has been a lovely warm one so I spent most of the day sitting on the studio steps sanding this sculpture. Just like in Cyprus. I noticed in the bathroom mirror this evening I have darkened my tan a bit.


Here's a close-up detail of Cowled Head. The eyes need some fine carving but not yet. The main sculpture needs more work doing on it first. If you look closely you will see either a dividing line or the abrupt change in grain running down the face. This is because I have not carved from a solid piece of wood but built up a block by laminating lengths of 44 mm square timber, rather in the way pine furniture is made. Hopefully, by this method I have avoided shrinkage cracks forming in the years to come.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ginormous Moth

Saw this moth as I went into the studio. There it was, sleeping at the bottom of the ground floor window. When I first saw it I thought it was a pipstrele bat it was so big but when I took a closer look I could see it was clearly a moth.
I've never seen one quite like it outside of nature books. All of us at the studio had a look but none of us could identify it. Is it a rare British visitor? Is it from the south brought here by fabled global warming? None of knew but I said I know someone who might.
One of my three daughters is interested in this sort of thing. She told me it is a Poplar Hawk
Moth and is usually found in broadleaf wodland and is fairly common.
Well the broadleaf woodland is easily located. Lancaster Castle, across the road from the studio, is surrounded by broadleaf trees., so much so that in summer only John o' Gaunt's Gateway is visible through the foliage.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Lazy Summer Day

Glasson Dock is a small seaport village some five miles or so south of Lancaster. On Sundays it is a regular venue for bikers, - motor cyclists to the un-initiated. It used to be a regular spot for me in my biking days.

The weather these last few days has been a bit more summer-like and this morning I thought it might be a good idea to have a day away from the studio. We are in the throes of decorating and generally preparing the studios for its official open/open day so we are rather busy with that as well as trying to make art. So a day away sounds a good idea, - while this nice weather lasts.
So, taking advantage of my bus pass I took the bus to Glasson Dock. I sat on benches being something of a sleepy old man, I walked round the marina eating a huge ice-cream. I sat at the biking venue drinking tea, having a chip butty and viewing the machinery.
I haven't ridden a [motor] bike for eight years now but the bike scene never really leaves you. You are part of that subculture for life. It is a bit like having been to sea, as any old sea-dog will tell tell you, it never really leaves you either.
Then it was high tide and the waiting boats and ships could now enter the docks. These docks retain their water at low tide by means of a canal lock system. The road through the village passes over one of the lock gates into the marina. For a good half hour or so the swing bridge was set to one side and all motor traffic ceased. Only marine traffic moved, and at a more sedate pace too. It was a very leisurely wait for the bus back to Lancaster, it wasn't going anywhere just yet.
After a bus ride through little lanes surrounding the city I was back home. The sun still shone brightly. I sat in the back yard drawing until the sun went down.
A lovely day. Sitting quietly, doing nothing. Should do it more often methinks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Like a Turner painting


The view from my bedroom window looks out across the rooftops of Lancaster and out across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland hills. More often than not the good Lancashire climate prevents this. But there are times when it has its compensations. The setting sun dips out from the raincloud to flood the sodden landscape with light.
Just like a painting by J.M.W.Turner.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Not so silent...

At the bottom of my street there stands the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lancaster. Three times a day the Angelus rings out to the faithful. Three groups of three chimes followed by nine chimes, all done on the large bell. It is rung at eight in the morning, at mid-day and at six in the evening. It is quite a peaceful sound. One those "Sounds of Silence".

But we live in a noisy world, do we not? There have been times when I have walked right past the belfry and not been able to hear the Angelus because of traffic noise. Several cars pulling away simultaneously from the traffic lights can make quite a racket.
And yet, this traffic noise registers as little more than background.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Silent Thoughts



I'm back in the Northlands.
The bride's house during the final countdown to her wedding is not the most conducive place for quiet contemplation, but Wales has it's compensations. It has mountains where you can quickly find somewhere (relatively) quiet, even in an urbanised valley containing Bargoed. So my mornings were spent in such a place.
There is a disused railway which has been made into a cycle path as part of the Parc Cwm Daran, a thin stretch of National Park extending northwards from the town of Bargoed towards Brecon. It was along this stretch that I would sit on one of the park benches provided.


Sitting in the Eternal moment
Where time is "no-time".
No beginning;
No end.

Yet this body ages a little more with time's passage.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Down in Welsh Wales bach.

I'll be off-line for the next few days. I'll be at a wedding in Wales.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Devon Rex


While I was dahn Sahf in London, one of my Cypriot friends there got herself a couple of Devon Rex kittens. Thought I'd post a piccy of them. All together now....
Aaaaw!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Restoration Job

Our Meditation Group statue has been showing signs of wear and tear lately; the odd chip here the hairline crack there, scratches in the gilding and so on. It had been mooted for some time about getting some restoration work done on it. I was asked if I could do it.

Could I? I wasn't entirely sure. I rather suspected it had been finished in gold leaf. The whole statue is actually a plaster cast, hand made and when we acquired it several years ago it wasn't exactly cheap. It was purpose made for the group. But could I do it? I took a deep breath and said "Yes."

Actually I took the statue to the studio and next day some of our more expert studio members gave the job a look-over. Tests soon revealed it was not covered in gold leaf but gilded. That is painted with gold paint. Much relieved, gold leaf is very expensive I set about repairs. The plasterwork was made good before going to London for a week. On my return I set about applying the gilding and several days later, today in fact, the job was completed. The seal coating applied and now the statue is in a protective coat of polythene ready for transfer back to the Lancaster Group Meditation Hall.


The Lancaster Buddha

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Almost like Japan.

Lancaster's answer to the Japanese "Blossom Wave" that sweeps from Okinawa in the south to Hokkaido in the north. Note t' wondrous town 'all clock.
Ee by 'eck, s' just like Tokyo (not).
Actually the Japanese wave comes in early April, in North-West England, a bit later, if at all. Still, it is nice to look at. The warm weather can't be too far away.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Out of circulation

I'll be off the blogosphere for a week while I'm in London with some of my Cypriot friends. Καλό! Yeah!

Friday, April 24, 2009




I've written a few quick notes in my sketchbook. They look a bit like a haiku but there the similarity ends. It rather sums up what I'm doing artistically right now. I have written in more detail in The Draughtsman.

Ghosts from a distant past
Civilisations long gone
Speak to us today.
Ancient forms
Emerging from darkness
Emerging from light;
Forms and colours
Distorted by time.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not such a big drawing

This is the torso, all that remains of the statue of a running girl in the Parthenon. The British Museaum inform me it is of a lesser deity called Iris.

Today I did a drawing working from the photo I'd taken at the British Museum. I was impressed by the way her chiton flows to accenuate the running action.
Pencil drawing on paper, 25 x 35 cm.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Big Drawings (2)


Just finished this one today, one metre tall by one metre fifty wide. That's a tad bigger than A0.
It is a drawing of a relief of pantheatic figures in Parthenon. The original is no longer in Athens, its in the Louvre. The Parthenon in Athens has a faithful copy made of concrete.
Many of the Greek sculptures have been extensively damaged which at first is hardly surprising seeing that the Parthenon was built around 1000 BCE. However, it survived the Persian Wars, The Peloponesian Wars, Roman invasion, Christian Iconoclasm and mediaeval Islamic incursion. According to what I learned at the British Museum, the destruction took place under the Ottoman Turks and was the result of an accident. The Parthenon building was used as an ammunition store. Sooner or later it would blow up. It did, and nearly three thousand years of intact archeology went with it.
But from an artist point of view, this mutilated sculpture presents an interesting perspective. The line used to delineate the form is now incomplete leaving the eye to contemplate what remains. In trying to see what it may have looked like we need to let our imagination do the rest. It is as with line drawing, some absent lines can be "read" as if already there.
It has taken the best part of a week to do. I don't know if it is finished but it seems to have reached a point where there isn't anything more to add.
Now to put another large sheet of paper on the wall....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big Drawings

At the moment I am giving my carving tools a little rest for a week or so.
Luneside Studios can be a strange place at times. Let me explain.
When a prospective artist comes to us applying for space to work in we explain that we don't have an "in-house" style. Well we don't. Each one of us is different But...
When we were at St. George's Quay, we each did our own thing and that was that. Everyone was on with something different. But now we are at the new place up by the Castle, we seem to be all doing the same thing at the same time. Not the same subject matter but the same things.
A few weeks ago I was doing small work; small drawings/paintings not much bigger than A4. Some were even postcard size. Lo and behold, so was everybody else. It all happened spontaneously. Now, I am doing very large scale drawings, partly to work out sculptural ideas. Four more of us are doing very big six feet by four feet drawings. They aren't following my lead, there was one other who has been doing big stuff for a while now. But it is really curious that a number of us end up doing similar things.
The exception to the rule is that I am the only sculptor, (for now). There is one other that makes 3D work from time to time but not at the moment. He's doing big drawings too, on huge sheets of brown paper.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Me and my Bicycle

It been such lovely weather this last couple of days I've got back on my bike and cycled to the studio. Usually by a fairly circuitous route. Yesterday I went down to the Lune Estuary and today rode out to the nearby village of Halton. First time in ages I've ridden beyond the city limits.
At my age I have become very much a fair weather cyclist so lets hope this nice weather continues. If it does, who knows? I might even get to ride a bit further.
How times change. It doesn't seem all that long ago when I would have considered a ride to Kirkby Lonsdale or Slaidburn, villages about twenty miles from Lancaster, to be a fairly moderate affair. Now I content myself with rides much closer to home or alternatively taking the bike on the train up into the Dales.
Now that's an idea.....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hooverbird


Among the visitors to our bird-table is this cheeky chappie, a solitary feral pigeon. It was not entirely welcome at first, partly as a consequence of local by-laws outlawing feral pigeons as vermin and feeding them to be discouraged.
However, after having at the beginning tried to get to the bird-table before the others and clearing it of everything put out for the birds, it now takes its place in the pecking order. He got mobbed by Zeus and his friends so now it waits. Actually it seems that scavenging is in a feral pigeon's nature because I'll grant he/she/it cleans up very efficiently. That pigeon diligently pecks away until the table is absolutely clear. That's why we've re-named him/her, "Hooverbird" the avian vacuum cleaner.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

I have never been quite sure as to why the Christians, - those in the Western Catholic tradition at any rate, - refer to the commemoration day of their Saviours crucfixion and subsequent death as Good Friday. I tend to think the Greek Orthodox naming of this day as Μεγάλη Παρασκέυη, or Great Friday more appropriate. There is little doubt this is a major part of the Christian calendar. Incidentally, the Greeks won't be commemorating theirs for another week yet.
However, as I walked into town, there, at Dalton Square, Lancaster's City centre, all traffic had been brought to a stop while the local combined churches held their "Way of the Cross" march which stopped at various key places in the city. At each point a part of the crucifixion story was relayed and a hymn sung. Pictured here is the final hymn "station".


The procession now ended, the crowd dispersed and it is left to two people to carry the cross back to Priory Church up by the Castle. In the story, a certain Simon of Cyrene was called upon to help Jesus carry His cross. Er, surely that Cyrenian is a woman? Well why not?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

After a Weekend at Throssel

Spent this last week-end up at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey. It was a non-retreat week-end which meant only the normal monastic schedule was going on. It was just what I needed. Simply the space to be quiet in the quiet. There were no set "things" or events that were set to happen except the Smanthabhadra Ceremony on Sunday morning. The room I was allocated was a haven of deep peace in an already peaceful place.
Not that I am particularly stressed out. Rather the opposite at the moment. It was just I needed a bit bit of space to reflect. We did a lot of meditation and much of the work period was spent in the kitchen. Not even there was it anything like frenetic. I was given a task, dicing vegetables into half centimetre cubes, and just left to get on with it. Wonderful. No deadline. No rush. No fuss. Just do it. It has been a good week-end.
Now back in Lancaster and back in the world. My studio space is starting to fill up with quite a few sculptures.
None of them particularly big but they do take a bit of room. Actually, last week much of the work was on the shelf on the right while the shelf with the ghetto-blaster on it had pictures stacked there as well. So there has been a bit of re-organising.
The latest piece,


stands about 25 cms tall and modelled (as opposed to carved) in green clay. I've been working on this for the last couple of days. The Hellenic influence is still there but I have given it a more modern slant.Side view of the same piece. The plan is to make two more versions of this. I'd like to make another clay about three times the size of this one. I've also identified a piece of wood, - pitch pine, - 75 mm square section with which to make a carving that will stand around 35 cm tall.