Friday, 25 September 2009

The The at Shepherd's Bush

Here’s a little rarity. A quick thumbnail of brother Matt and his group onstage at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire 6/4/00. This was being used as a bookmark in a long abandoned novel and only fell out onto the carpet a couple of weeks ago - I vaguely remember jotting it down in situ as the set opened. But why, I don’t know - I have rarely ever drawn live bands. The only other time was a Television gig in the late seventies. Tom Verlaine and his band projected a slightly more cerebral experience than most punk groups at the time and it probably seemed (to my aspiring teenage mind) more appropriate to sit and sketch rather than just trash the seats and throw plastic lager glasses... sadly those drawings seem to have been lost for good. Perhaps just as well....

An East Anglian Alp

I love walking big hills and small mountains. Sadly, Suffolk only has a few... sometimes you just have to improvise.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Local Colour

... not all abstractions. A spread of local types from last week.

Vague Creatures

My work seems to be undergoing some sort of abstract shift lately. Sketchbooks are filling up with this sort of thing... don't know what it means yet but kindof like it...


Went to the Cambridge Film Festival to see my brother Gerard's first full length film 'Tony'. Very black and very enjoyable, it will be properly released early next year - more can be found out about it here. In the meantime, a little thumbnail sketch from ten years ago: Gerry engrossed in one of his favourite books - 'Halliwell's Film Guide' ....

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Rather like the word “cool”, skulls have become a terribly lazy cliche in the visual grammar of the modern world. They are so ubiquitous that they almost don’t register anymore. But sometimes you come across something in it’s original context and it is still powerful enough to make you look twice. Here's a handful of images from local churches.

The churches in East Anglia are it's real jewels. They are cool and dark and musty smelling but get to know them and each one has it’s own atmosphere, it’s own characteristics, and it’s own intriguing treasures. Some are overblown and pretentious, others touching in their artless simplicity. But all are wonderful places to quietly poke around or just to sit and contemplate matters of spiritual (or not) concern.

(The definitive guidebook is Mortlock's Guide to Suffolk Churches. But there is also a superb and comprehensive online guide to the churches of Suffolk and Norfolk here. But you can’t beat getting out on foot and visiting a few of them.)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Two Puddings

The 'Puddings' was my Mum and Dad's pub in Stratford E.15 and where we lived in the 1960's. The 'Devil's Kitchen' was a nightclub/dance hall above the pub and run by my Dad and his brothers and was decorated like a psychedelic ghost train with day-glo murals of ghouls and monsters all lit with ultra-violet light. It made a massive and indelible impression on my young mind and I loved playing in there during the day. Not too many pictures of it's interior remain but this old poster is very evocative...


No idea who this is. I often like to just sit and draw people as they come and go about their business. You soon learn to draw very fast. I try to pin down facial expressions, not always successfully. This girl looks a bit in distress but she was probably just laughing. But I like it.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

On and Off The Buses...

... in Forest Gate. From one of last year's sketchbooks.


Two dead blackbirds in the garden this week. Don’t know what that’s about but it prompted me to post this drawing of Boris. Boris was the resident cock blackbird a couple of years ago. He kept a weather eye over his patch from deep inside the laurel bush. He quite quickly became tame and would come just inside the the kitchen door and chirp for food. Soon he would take mealworms from my hand with no worries at all. He was a good father and husband, foraging tirelessly to provide for his family. At the end of one summer he just disappeared and I never saw him again...

His place has been taken by Bert - another hard-working patriarch. But Bert is altogether more wary and shows little curiosity about people - much more interested in fighting with a rival male blackbird from next door - they both frequently appear with feathers missing and looking generally roughed up.

(below is Boris on his favourite perch in my studio. I share my work space with all sorts of wildlife - it's both an amazing and comforting privilege).

Friday, 11 September 2009

Life Class

Once a week I try to meet up with a small group of fellow artists and a model and we draw 'from life' for a few hours. I believe the life class is as fundamental to an artist's practice as the gym is to an athlete. Sometimes the results can be artworks in themselves. But often it's simply the purest way of keeping your vision sharp - if you don't use it you'll lose it... and so forth. Here are a couple of quick sketchbook poses from this week's session... the model was heavily pregnant and made for some really beautiful shapes.

Another Green Man...

Trudging along an ancient green lane the other evening I came across this (click on the photo above for a bigger picture). I don’t know if it’s a work in progress or if it’s been abandoned, but I like it. It’s that hoary old pagan symbol the ‘green man’, carved neatly into the flank of a dead tree. It’s just something that you come upon and it delights you. It can be found a few miles outside Sudbury but I won't say exactly where - it’s for others to stumble across accidentally like I did.

I do like things like this. I once came across some wind-chimes made from animal bones strung high up in a tree many miles from the nearest road. Who placed them there and when I have no idea. You could hear them eerily click-clacking in the breeze above your head. I love this sort of stuff. Subtle little interventions that help re-invest a sense of mystery and surprise into the landscape around us.