Headscarf (Mississippi Goddam)
What started out as a tribute to the immortal majesty of Nina Simone, became a more graphically rendered picture, so it’s a nod to Grace Jones as well, as she was art directed by Jean-Paul Goude in the golden age of disco. The hardened contours of her face made her an angry but beautiful diva.
Done pre-lockdown, but specifically for an exhibition (postponed) at the fantastic delicatessen and cheese library that is Compton McCrae.
This is a West Country goats’ cheese you won’t be startled to find out. I’ve put it as a megalith sitting under the star sign of Capricorn.
Done pre-lockdown, but specifically for an exhibition (postponed) at the fantastic delicatessen and cheese library that is Compton McCrae. I thought a cheese on its own looked a bit bland, so I scaled it up a bit.
Taken from a screenshot of The Nest one Sunday earlier this year. It struck me as somewhere pretty cool to be self isolated. On the Rosneath peninsula apparently, and to rent but without the gratuitous shrubbery.
And the pretty snake.
On the shore, she dances, without much of a care. There’s nobody watching, only the moon and us, and she twirls joyously and madly in front of the slowly disintegrating hut of the Blackgang nudists as it slowly slides downhill to take its place, eventually, in the endless dark sea.
Up And Away (PS I Love You)
Nearly finished. I wrote to a mate about this as I was thinking about it: “I’ve started working on another lockdown painting. I’m trying to make them personal; real and imagined little waypoints in a life that you have to magnify in order to make the images a bit more surprising than usual. I remember a few years back seeing a couple of 80-somethings at a scruffy marina in the middle of the Isle of Wight, both drinking pints of Fosters and doing rollups. They were talking quietly, but intently.
Nearby was the rusting wreck of a beautiful paddle steamer that used to work the Solent, did some time at Dunkirk, then minesweeping in the war, then became a cheesy night club and, as faltering finances dictate, an abandoned hulk.
I asked one of them what he did and he said he was a retired sign writer. I shook his hand, I was quite overjoyed to meet someone who had that skill. I said what a shame it was a dying trade in the age of Persp*x, and he said they liked coming to this place to be near this beautiful vessel.
“When beauty was a necessity”, he said, and after letting that sink in, I asked him is that what engaged them in their intense conversation. He said no, not all. “We were trying to decide on the best Miles Davis rhythm section.”
So I’ve imagined the power of their nostalgia weaving enough rope to save this beautiful ship which like their art was designed to look beautiful.
That’s what designers did.
Why not create beauty?
Why do anything else?
A Day In The Life.
2020 Acrylic 50x50cm
Walking home for an afternoon break in 1967. Working a holiday job as a waiter at Spencer’s Hotel. Brutally lousy pay and virtually no tips for 99 hour week.
This was the moment I finally heard the track on Sgt Pepper that everyone had heard apart from me. It was coming from a black Triumph TR3 parked outside Westfield Park, a Victorian hotel now changed into flats. I stood by this car as the song unraveled and I looked at the dashboard at a metal plate which said that the car had taken part in the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race.
Looking up at the gate, at the stag that was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1857, I wondered if there really was the body of a girl who’d been thrown from her horse contained there. But I only just realised the inscription (not yet painted) underneath, Qui Si Sana, means “Here one heals.”
No room at Club Miró
Secluded beach road property in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, which took its name from the great painter. Pure fantasy, but the house is absolutely suited to a bit of personal elaboration.
So my club is famous among the arty crowd who will come to see Miles Davis talk about his forthcoming gig at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival which he won’t call In A Solent Way, but in this parallel universe, he will of course.
Hut (If You’re Fond Of Sand Dunes and Salty Air dept.)
Fictional seascapade with Ashey seamark from the Isle of Wight looking over a bit of Jurassic coast. The beach hut with the seagull are painted from a model, which gives it a slightly exaggerated fantasy look.
Ventnor 1970 (Town On The Edge)
I know and love Ventnor; it’s very pretty and civilised. It’s survived a spell of neglect to claim its place as a truly enchanting British seaside resort. It’s got a beautiful arts centre, as well as the tropical gardens that I’ve illustrated with extreme artistic licence, but they seemed to catch the mood. But years ago when I was a student bus conductor, the last number 16 return to Ventnor on a Saturday was a shift I was told to look out for.
This was the bus that picked up the over-refreshed leather boys and took them back to Shanklin where I was stationed. I wasn’t a particularly gifted Southern Vectis employee; I once forgot my ticket roll and had to write every single one out. This being performed sometimes sitting on somebody’s lap as my driver Chris liked to see how those buses could take a sharp corner… and balance, like accountancy, was never a strong point. I was the worst. This particular night Chris was off, and my replacement driver was somebody called Reg who was the quietest person I ever knew. When there was a break he’d sit in his cab looking dreamily into the distance. When I mentioned the last shift and my feeling of terror, he popped a Nutall’s Minto into his mouth and said, “They’re as good as gold.”
He was right. The trip was one of the quietest and friendliest ever. Every passenger that night, although part of a noisy crowd at the bus stop, suddenly became quite subdued and nervous, even. I felt tempted to start a sing-song or something… I ididn’t obviously, but it wasn’t until the next day that Chris, back on duty, explained. Reg was quiet, he said, but enjoyed the odd bout of extreme violence. He once stopped his bus to sort out a fight that he could see in a Ventnor pub. This he did with brutal and terrifying ease. His ham-sized fists making short work of any trouble. He hopped back onto the bus and made up the time comfortably. He was whistling, they say.
Try telling that to the kids today.#