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


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.