Social Disease

party
Opening Party

Andy Warhol had “social disease” — he’d go to the opening of a toilet seat.

Me too.

Still haven’t quite come down. Been busy making prints and renov­ating my fixer-upper website but still grooving on the amazing support and encour­agement from all our friends last week.

I’ve only just noticed that everyone kept their coats on — it was that cold? And people are reading?

Thanks N … it was lovely.

Life is too short

flatforms-redwing-3
Prints

But it isn’t … and if we don’t do this shit it will be even more impov­er­ished.

Finally forced my way through the shitty waves and made it out to sea, put up a perfunctory gallery of pics from my Redwing show last week.

It’s not as though there aren’t more important things that I should be doing: like doing what I can to help our PPC Alana Bates and the whole fucking Labour Party win a fucking election.

Like supporting NCB and doing something to keep our home in one piece.

But life goes on.

And if you couldn’t come, you can get a feel for what it was like.

I had visions of a bit of any easy time once this was over.
7 hours a day, 7 days a week for 7 months has a sort of biblical ring to it and I was looking forward to a secular sabbath. Ho hum.

Now I need to make the prints and try to get some decent archive pics of the paintings … and then set to again.

Enjoy.

What’s it all about …

The Adoration of the Golden Calf
The Adoration of the Golden Calf

Words, words, words.

Not comfortable with them. Don’t trust them.
That’s why I paint.
If you want to win an argument, if you want to change someone’s mind, if you want to change the world, you need words. I’m sure of that. And I stumble and forget and get confused but when I paint … it flows.

Art, music, a painting never changed anything. Never changed anyone’s mind.
The greatest paintings, individually, they’re 4 minute pop songs. With all the trivi­ality of that and, sometimes all the deep connec­tions and lingering emotional charge and potential of that. We hope.
But they can grab you for those 4 minutes. For those 4 minutes you’re not alone. We can commune. Us. Share. Dance together in our imagin­ation.

And at my opening on Friday people kept asking questions … derr … of course you did … I would.

And so …

Take my piece: The Adoration of the Golden Calf.

I started with the “civil” war in Syria.
Guilt and shame tearing at me.
And I look to Nicholas Poussin’s painting.

The Adoration of the Golden Calf
The Adoration of the Golden Calf

Because it’s embedded in my cultural world.
Because it’s in “the canon” — so it’s embedded in others’ worlds too.
Because it’s shared in our stories, the stories that still, almost, bind us together.
Because, when I started on it, we were “commem­or­ating” the end of the First World War.
And because it was Aaron what done it. Fucked up. But he still got to lead us to the promised land. How does that work? It was a little bit personal.

OK, so we need an altar, a plinth. And I take Edwin Lutyens’ cenotaph on Whitehall. An empty tomb (a kenotaphion).

And then I need Wilfred Owen’s poem, written during the first world war, quoting Horace: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (It is sweet and right to die for one’s country), yeah, right, whatever. English lessons at an English school. So it goes on the plinth.

And then we need a golden calf. And so I take Arturo Di Modica’s tacky and revolting Charging Bull from Wall Street as an appro­priate stand in. What drives this sort of inter­na­tional politics after all? Money … wars.

And we need a place for it all to be and so I steal the mountainous landscape from Poussin’s own painting.

And in the sky, tracer fire over Damascus.

And I put it all together and make a drawing. Lots of drawings.

And do you need to know this shit? No.
But does it help? Maybe. Maybe it always did. It did then, in the 17th century.
And maybe we shouldn’t forget the way our culture grew and consumed and subsumed new ones and can now welcome new stories and bind us all together in a shared dreaming.

Making it real

Sea Watch

Getting it right …

Hmmm … it’s just not good enough. Doesn’t come close.

Going to have to put some serious thought into how to properly photo­graph my paintings.
Their dynamic range, gamut, whatever it’s called, is too wide to grasp with my DSLR. We do have a big white gazebo‑y, tent‑y thing that might do as a giant lightbox in lieu of monster strobes. But that’s going to have to wait for the rain to stop so … who knows … it is entirely possible that there might be a dry day next year … some time.

I’ve tried to put up some pics on Facebook and Instagram as well but I’m not sure how well they work and as these things take anywhere between 2 and 6 weeks to paint, they’re not exactly going to be frequent posts.

It’s weird: social media totally baffles me. It’s not that I’m anti-social, don’t want to share … don’t get me wrong — after all: it’s what I do all day.

Maybe I’m just more comfortable monologuing like a psychopath in a third rate super hero movie. Or communing, wordlessly like a shaman.
Or that once I’m done, I’m done in. Nothing much left to say.

Strangely, in the past couple of weeks I have heard two singers talking about how important it is to take your instruc­tions from the outside.
One of whom was a shaman from the Amazon talking about the importance of performing the ritual absolutely correctly or the gods would be displeased and punish him.
And the other was a great Sufi singer who said that, when you get it right, you do not sing, you are sung. I loved that: by the song, by god, the universe, whatever.

And I’ve always been very uncom­fortable about tradi­tional crafts being shown as “Art”. Masks and statues and fetishes. Their making so often absolutely precludes self-expression of any sort — the god cannot come and inhabit the form if it is not exactly right. It is almost the opposite of what we usually mean by “Art”.

The weird thing that happens when I’m painting, so close I can’t see the image, often upside down, so I can’t see what I’m doing, is that the line seems to draw the brush, not the other way round.
It’s not when you step back and see that it’s right, it feels right as it moves, as it heads off wherever it wants to go. And the fear goes and the doubt and you trust … believe. Or not.
And I love to paint them so much because vectors and Bézier curves on the computer, rock and flex and rotate so elegantly but they have no intention, no destin­ation, no purpose, no reason, no meaning.

The feeling of being sung is beautiful indeed.

Show Time

Mackerel on a Plate
Mackerel on a Plate

Back in the saddle after quite some time …

Showing my new work, Flatforms, at the Redwing Gallery in Penzance.

Hero
Hero

Had a wonderful Opening on Friday … lovely to see so many people.

Ray Gun and Sphinx
It all began with Raygun and Sphinx

Must partic­u­larly thank Harry and Irene, Simon and Gillian, Steve and, of course, Nicole for so much help and support. Could not have done it at all without you all.

Prints
Prints

Show’s on till Thursday.

If you can make it, do pop in.

And it’s all for sale.

Copper and Pink Car Crash
Copper and Pink Car Crash

A new exper­ience for me to see it all up together.

And to answer questions and hear what people think.

New Stakhanov and The Annunciation
New Stakhanov and The Annun­ci­ation

So my studio’s empty … house isn’t big enough … and I’m almost as good as I hoped … and I just said that out loud.

A gallery full of “bobby dazzlers” as my Dad used to call them.

Sea Watch
Sea Watch

Sheesh … that’s a lot of work.

And still so much to do.

So … watch this space

No More Heroes

Anymore …

Whatever happened to all of our heroes … ?

All our Shakespearoes?

Buggered if I know.

We required them to be too pure perhaps, we grew up a bit too much perhaps … but then, perhaps, wisdom is not all it’s cracked up to be?

My tribe tell me that it matters who the the next “leader” is, Prime Minister is — this sclerotic absurd farce of an election for a tory leader … Rory’s our sort of toff shit.

I’m sorry. Seriously. Like I should give a shit?

I know I risk sounding like an old fart who doesn’t appre­ciate contem­porary pop music or something, and I don’t much it’s true, but … seriously …

Nye Bevan

These people built our world.

Problematic … well, derr … but they had vision … and they got shit done.

Compromised and very not PC and not terribly pro Europe either for that matter  but practical and focussed and hard-working and brave and unima­ginably strong … heroes basically

… sorry.

An arsehole and shitholes

Trulk

A syncretic little troll-like fetish standing in for a real human being — appar­ently artic­u­lating fears and frustra­tions but actually a tacky bit of posable plastic shit pedalled as a panacea, masquer­ading as myth — all impotent roar and fury signi­fying, doing, nothing … to change anything.
It’s there to prop up and perpetuate the staus quo — a silent but deadly war on the rest of us, robbing us, poisoning our dreams and our world … actually killing us.

Fuck off back to whatever shithole you came from — I don’t mean the US, more the imaginary aryan nation of daddy’s German American Bund — you aren’t welcome here.
After all, I hail from, officially, the mental health shithole of this country — let’s hear it for Stockport and shitholes every­where!

The sad and fright­ening thing is that this crappy Trulk might just as well be the raging Id of our own national psyche too.

Beltane Fire

dinner fire

Just the second BBQ of the year but on a very special evening as Spring turns to Summer. Clearing away a shed load of the detritus from the old year.

Spring lamb Kebabs to die for … a glorious feast culturally appro­priated from the wide fertile crescent and cooked on an American BBQ in a Cornish field … whatever … it was nommy.

fire

With the stars above our heads, in a beautiful clear sky, and the earth beneath our feet, faces burning in the heat of the flames and the wind in our hair … and, very much, life bursting, bustling, snuffling all around us.

We even carefully, hurriedly, anxiously, carried the burning embers inside to rekindle our home fire … and it caught.

Moving on.