Tuesday, 25 October 2016
I've just returned from a smashing holiday on the island of Elba and in Italy's Cinque Terre. The area is a revelation - a true delight for artists of any persuasion, botanists, mountain bikers, walkers, foragers, gourmands (if you ever catch me using the term 'foodie', shoot me), bird lovers, animal lovers, door lovers, lovers and friends. I came away with the fullest sketchbooks I've kept whilst travelling for a very long time (see subsequent post), and probably the most photos as well (mostly of doors). I also kept up my daily haikus, which more than ever acted as a handy kind of short, snappy diary - carefully concise descriptions of things I'm seeing or doing. Elba is beautifully tranquil, rugged yet densely vegetated (many of the steeply terraced wine vineyards that covered the island's hills were replaced with trees in the last century so I found it unexpectedly lush and verdant) with all manner of fascinating plants, many of which are wild herbs that fill the air with delicious fragrance. I had the most splendid time on a mountain bike, in the sea and on foot, and there was some pretty crazy weather as well as very welcome sunshine - all in all, a good bit of everything and I'd highly recommend visiting both places, but perhaps waiting a little while till the pound's calmed down a bit if you're a Brit!
Whilst away I read Barbara Kingsolver's fantastic epic The Poisonwood Bible - the third book about/set in Congo that I've read in the last few years (the others being Heart of Darkness and the interesting but somewhat distasteful Blood River) and an absolute cracker: characters, plot, history, description - rich and compelling in all aspects. Two passages about voting really struck a chord in these Brexit nonsensetimes, this one in particular: "To the Congolese, it seems odd that if one man gets fifty votes and the other gets forty-nine, the first one wins altogether and the second one plum loses. That means almost half the people will be unhappy and, according to Anatole, in a village that's halfway unhappy you haven't heard the end of it. There is sure to be trouble somewhere down the line". Another vote happens a little later in the book, where "some of them that voted for Leah were put out with [the village chief] and some were put out with [an unpopular outsider], so everybody ended up getting what they didn't want, and now had to go along with it".
Friday, 7 October 2016
I overheard a fellow in the pub saying this. I don't know the context, but I thought to myself, is there a more concise, more solid indication of an excellent situation and all being well? I think not. Dancing is the best, and if everyone is doing it, that's clearly a very very good thing. Indeed, two activities beginning with the letter 'd' - dancing and drawing, are, I feel, the two number one ways to respond to and interact with your surroundings, to heighten your senses and awareness, to focus, meditate, relax and stay healthy, not to mention nourish the spirit. It has also recently been found that, out of a range of activities, drawing and dancing are the most effective at staving off the effects of ageing, both mental and physical. A good dancefloor is also a cracking example of human unity and positive energy, with everyone adding to the whole and everyone benefitting. With regard to drawing, it seems life drawing sessions these days are often sold on their therapeutic and meditative qualities as much as their creative ones, which can only be a good thing - the world would, without question, be a much much better place if everyone drew and danced as often as possible.
Thursday, 6 October 2016
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
So, once again a seasonal post. As everyone knows, Autumn is the best season, and indeed for many people and in many aspects it's the start of the yearly cycle. Hooray for Autumn. I produced this image a few years ago but was looking over some old work and decided it could do with improving, so I did so, and here it is.
Wednesday, 22 June 2016
a printer that not only makes square postcards but can print multiple designs in the same run (yes mate) I also wanted to make a bespoke image for my next postal campaign. It's also quite a good example of something that I occasionally try and incorporate into my work - a dub influence. Dub music is quite a big presence in my life - I make it, spin it and listen and dance to quite a lot of it. It's a unique genre in many ways; indeed, it originated not as an actual genre at all but more as a mixing technique and for a while there was no purpose-built dub - the only dub records were reworkings of existing (reggae) tunes. It's also the only music style (alongside reggae) I can think of that encompasses such a wide gamut of transmission or dispersal - you could go and hear a dub DJ (whose set could comfortably span forty years of music), and an MC or a singer or you could see a fully live dub band or an entirely digital/electronic solo producer or band, or you could hear (and most crucially, feel!) dub in its most natural and archetypal setting, the soundsystem (if you've never gone to a proper, heavyweight dub/roots soundsystem dance you really should! An experience like no other, but not for everyone...!). And part of the beauty of dub is that, whilst strongly established as a stylistic form in its own right, it is, in essence, a process - something that is 'done' rather than something that 'is'. Therefore you can apply dub techniques to any style of music and combine it with anything. And I thought, why not art? Why not dub things up visually? So I often like to strip things back, cut things up and add 'effects', chop and edit, whilst leaving traces, snatches, echos and impressions alongside little pockets of detail. And the best dub is always a little bit rough and unrefined - grit, gnarl and texture always feature in my work, alongside pattern and repetition in the manner of a spaced-out delay. One of the key aspects of dub is also creating space (and thereby emphasising the underlying structure) - I'd love to do this more but it doesn't always work out that way (especially in commissioned work). And, in Jamaica, where it originated, there is a strong culture of re-using, recycling and re-purposing, which is something I also like to do (both in my work and life generally - waste is a terrible thing and "if it's nice, do it twice"). As a wee aside on repurposing, my friend Mairead once suggested doing a Google images search for the term "gambiarra" - if you're unfamiliar with the term do check it out.
Monday, 20 June 2016
Thursday, 16 June 2016
I suddenly found myself with a bit of bonus time on my hands after a big-ish project fell through earlier this year, which conveniently coincided with the timing of this year's Secret 7" competition. So I picked two songs (not my usual cup of tea at all but good songs) and did two routes for each (one I posted previously). Yet NONE got selected for the exhibition (bah)... clearly there was some kind of mix up at HQ or something. Still, it's a laugh eh. Always enjoyable getting a bit more experimental and responding to specific music, in this case Tame Impala's The Less I Know the Better and Clearest Blue by Chvrches (still not sure what that v's doing there). Trivia fans will no doubt be thrilled to learn that those windows are in Essaouira in Morocco and that's a finest South Cornwall sea.
Thursday, 31 March 2016
Monday, 11 January 2016
Happy New Year! I hope a fine time was had over Christmas and that the year's got off to a fine start for you. Time to look back at what I enjoyed in 2015 - always great fun - and tell you my favourites, just in case you're interested. What a year it was, for music especially! So much great stuff being put out; people who moan that they don't make 'em like they used to are clearly not paying enough attention!
Great to see Paradise Lost, Koxbox and Kangaroo Moon return with stunning new albums (after years of nonsense/absense), and Vibronics and Sam Lee delivered the goods in their own unique style. However I was most impressed by the offerings from the Outsiders, Plasmotek, Dirty Saffi (great times for trance!), and the ferocious Cattle Decapitation. Cripes!
Two longhaul flights were the usual great excuse to catch up on recent films; Inherent Vice seemed really good but I couldn't hear it so gave up (shame), but I especially enjoyed Slow West (a real breath of fresh air with a pleasingly crooked yet humourous tone) and also Mad Max and Inside Out. I think all were just about pipped in the closing days of the year by Star Wars, though.
I didn't see enough exhibitions last year but my favourite was definitely the EH Shepard one at Illustration House (it's on till the 24th of January so I urge you to visit if you've not been) - not big but one of those ones where you want to look closely at every last little bit and read all of every caption - great stuff.
As far as books go, looking back over the new ones I enjoyed last year, it seems I'm a year behind and they all came out in 2014. Still, it was a good crop so I may as well duly enthuse and recommend - balls to time! Fiction-wise I enjoyed We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler but I was blown away by Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North - an absolutely outstanding book that was great in just about every way a novel can be. A very deserving winner of the Booker and well worth the hype. Very much looking forward to getting stuck in to this year's winner, A Brief Hitory of Seven Killings, which I got for Christmas. I'd also recommend Show Your Work by Austin Kleon if you're anything like me, likewise Drawing Type by Alex Fowkes - best example of this kind of book that I've seen, whilst I'm still enjoying slowly making my way through The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts and The Ecologist Guide to Food for a good dose of knowledge!
2015 was also, sadly, the year that my favourite singer, for my favourite band, died. It was out of the blue, after a show, and left me and thousands of others very shocked and upset. Always quite hard to deal with when someone who you don't know but has given so much and enriched your life in a massive way for many years suddenly ceases to be around any more! David Masondo, you will be seriously missed! Maximum respect for all the great works. Here's the man in action (he's the lead singer on the left).
Posted above are a few sketchbook pages from our recent trip to Thailand.
Friday, 11 December 2015
Been a little quiet on here of late, as I've just returned from a lovely month away in sunny Thailand. Here are a few snaps. For those interested, we stayed in Chiang Mai, Pai and Koh Chang, with not nearly enough time in Bangkok (flew in, flew out). Although we did go to a fine photography gallery there, which had this exhibition by Welsh photographer Andrew McNeil. Powerful stuff. And the definite highlight of the trip was a day spent riding the mountain bike trails of the Doi Suthep National Park - absolutely superb. Will be returning to Thailand at the earliest opportunity - what a fantastic country.