Degenerate Superheroes. Now their story can be told.
These prints come in two sizes: 30x40cms and 38x51cms. They’re sharply printed in black and celebrate the nonsense of modern job titles.
I tried to make them up, to give all their roles an edge of surreal daftness, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find the Logistical Optimisation Enabler (main picture) actually existed in some corner of a digitalised workspace in Reading or Felixstowe.
I’m doing paintings of them to elaborate the point a bit, to make what started out as celebrations of Polynesian sculptures a little more complicated. I’m giving them really messy textures and mysterious bits of hand lettering in a frantic bid for job satisfaction.
This is a glorious, sunny, summery print. You can almost hear the shrieks,
It looks especially rich and vibrant; you can make out the tiles (just) which I stuck in as a feeble but heartfelt tribute to David Hockney.
Someone, unlike me, who’s never really been out of his depth.
I originally called this print Sagrada Familiar because it is, according to Wikipedia, the most prominent Roman Catholic church on the planet, and the most visited site in Barcelona. It was started in 1882 and will be finished, maybe in 2025. It is beautiful though; and there are lots of examples of Antonî Gaudi’s swirly and unclassifiable work. He is credited with being the founder of Catalan modernism.
I made several variations of this joyfully apocalyptic image of Hanover Square, photographed one morning in February. The trees were bare and and made a great complicated umbrella of shapes underneath which our locals go about the business of the day. Well, not exactly; those on their Nokias (pre Samrtphone era – 2007) were immune to the charms of this little Mayfair garden.
There are a few meanings thrown up in Wikipedia of Djemaa El Fna, and my favourite is ‘the mosque at the end of the world’. It might also mean ‘assembly of the dead”, which is pretty cool but maybe not the stuff for the post-watershed family dinner. “Darlings, there’s a fabulous place to eat at the – oh”
It is pretty wonderful though, and by the evening, the orange juice stalls, the dancers and the snake charmers give way to the cooking fires, the storytellers, magicians and apothecaries. This is the medina, the old part of the city, and as darkness descends, the noise increases, the smoke thickens and the magic really starts to work.
Some time in 1953 or 4, I was sitting with my mother on a bus looking down at the vast empty beach of Ryde. When the tide’s out there’s a good half mile of sand; I could see a tiny figure at the water’s edge who was probably digging for bait but I didn’t understand what Mum and her friends were saying. I was about 3 years old and what I found disturbing was the sight of this huge red-funnelled ship, luminous in the thundery light, going so close to this oblivious, industrious figure – bending, digging and probably smoking…
I think somewhere on board, lighting a cigarette with the last black coffee of the day cooling on the teak rail, squinting at the shore, is a very famous Hollywood actor, coming back after an absence so long he feels apprehensive and tense, not only from too many piano bar martinis, but at the thought of setting foot ashore in England once again, the place of his birth.
This print of Studland Bay, on the Isle of Purbeck, was photographed about twelve years ago, and has echoes of the pre-war prints that sold these destinations to us so nicely from the walls of the carriage, below the stickered suitcase thrown on the netted luggage rack. You get the picture.
I really liked Istanbul and wish I’d seen more of it. I remember falling into conversation about film with the barman at the hotel. Unbelievably we’d both seen a Michael Haneke film just before (Hidden) and then he told me about the the rest of his films which sounded weird and unsettling, and I couldn’t wait to see them. But I wish I had.
I visited the beautiful Blue Mosque as the sun was coming up and photographed it and the people who were wandering into its huge courtyard.
You’ll find all these prints to order in the shop. They’re 30cms square canvases and mounted on a stretcher. They’re very light and easily hung on the kitchen wall, or any wall come to that, but they do look more than fair under my mate Laurence’s kitchen clock.
This is what I wrote at the time; “I love ’em, those French and their cheeky shops. The chocolatier Joël Durand has a shop that just reeks of class and, er, chocolate; you’d think he was part of a huge chain with all his specially printed boxes and tissue paper. There’s a universe of difference in attitude between us when it comes to service; don’t ask me why, it’s a bit more of a vocation with them. I’d feel quite happy going to work at the Folie Du Pain… How couldn’t anyone?”
Above: Irritating Christmas card in the “See what I did there?” school of non-thought.
These are supposed to resemble notebook covers. The text is all filched from my notebooks, appointments, colour specs etc. I loved Basquiat’s early Warhol collaborations. But what did Andy think when he saw a nice logo he’d drawn covered in hip street language? “Er, very nice…you’ve actually drawn over everything… But. That’s. Fine.”
They look nice as T-shirts as well. What’s the point of wearing a T-shirt everybody understands? I remember Leon Russell, the white-haired musician famous for the Mad Dogs and Englishman project in 1970 being asked about a t-shirt with the legend Gil’s Barbershop. He wasn’t forthcoming.
Anyway, some of these are available in my Zazzle Store; a fine print-on-demand (POD) company that is very high quality and pretty firm in price. But now kids are paying £500 for a pair of blooming shoes. Wtf dudes?
I was scribbling at home and watching an old film of the Titanic’s sister ship entering New York harbour. Tugs and harbour craft were beeping and hollering like excited puppies. The liner answered with a blast that should have flattened Manhattan. Maritime metal. Totally badass.
I sketched Sun Ra on the iPad and then put him in a burning desert landscape. It suits him very well. He used to wear a lot of remarkable headgear as a signifier of his special status as an other-wordly being. Naturally the best of all these was this pharoanic number. He’s surrounded by scribbles that look like nonsense but are genuine bits of salvage from my work diaries.
I love that acceleration of ideas that embodied Miles and the fantastic band that led up to In A Silent Way in 69. The outtakes reveal a band totally at home with their super-confident and already legendary leader. It’s a bit lazy to call him the Picasso of jazz: he was the Miles of jazz, but his fame even by his early thirties was sufficient to make Davis redundant.
Most of the scribble is my friend Chris Howe’s transcription from a programme that dwelt on the hell of posh Mustique and the excitable babbling of an intimate friend of the late Princess Margaret. Frightfully. What a word. Like beastly. They’re only handed down to a blessed few. Thank Gawd.
The late and indisputably great Lester Young. From a drawing I did in 1990 and a mixture of poetry and the usual notebook stuff. What was tense fabric? Not another one of those mythical bands that populate my dreams and nightmares? Or was it just a note about, er, tense fabric. No. Come on.
A montaged peoplescape from pictures taken at the war cemetery at Tilly-sur-Seuilles in Normandy. Keith Douglas is buried there. It struck me, looking at the gravestones, some with inscriptions from parents, that are heartbreaking in their simple grief, that wars are fought by children. They are all kids, killing each other. So, amongst the subdued knot of onlookers, the ghosts look on, enjoying the sun, having a bit of a laugh.
The line “How easy it is to make a ghost”, comes from the poem How To Kill by Keith Douglas: Now in my dial of glass appears the soldier who is going to die. He smiles, and moves about in ways his mother knows, habits of his. The wires touch his face: I cry NOW…