Above…my drawing of Amy.
From my window 4…….Amy speaks.
Of course I was against it from the start…but apparently my opinion counts for nothing these days. THEY said it was an honour, THEY said the time was right, THEY said that women should have a rightful place in history. Well all I can say is that THEY don’t have to stand out here all through the winter with not a soul in sight. D’you know there can be days when I hardly see anyone except maybe the odd dog walker.
On the darkest nights when the gales howl and the rain is coming down like stair rods and THEY are all tucked up in their beds, I still stand here. Come the spring tides I’m showered in salty spray, peppered with sand and pebbles. You might have thought that THEY would have had the decency to at the very least put me on a plinth, then I could have maintained some dignity…but no…I am at ground level with the hoi polloi. You know what that means…every Tom, Dick and Harry feels free to slap my bottom…they think it’s funny. Children come up and hold my hand…well that’s OK I suppose…in fact I quite like it. I can’t count the number of times when an arm goes round my shoulder and a leering face appears right next to mine for a …what do they call it? Selfie.
I wonder if they ever think what it feels like to have a perpetually smiling face…oh God what would I give for a good scream. Have I mentioned dogs? Well maybe I’ll leave that one to your imagination. There’s another thing…my foot, perpetually stuck behind me, I just long to move forwards but there’s no way: I’m rooted to the ground, you have no idea how painful that can be. Can you smell that curry?
The positives? Let me think there must be some surely. Aah, yes, there is one thing to be thankful for, d’you know no seagull has ever sat on my head or shat on me! I suppose I should be thankful for small mercies.
And what do I have to look at so intently day after day? The spot where I died, a bit ironic don’t you think, Here’s something, d’you know why they didn’t consult me in the beginning? I’ll tell you…it’s because I’m now on a different plane.
Resuming my blog after my change to Windows 10.
The change to Windows 10 was made so easy because of my friends at Poorly PC’s. They just transferred everything seamlessly so that it looks just like the old format (but quicker hurray) I am taking the opportunity to change the way I post. I started the blog trying to do one post a day but that is sometimes pretty difficult…this time it will be more random and probably not so regular, largely depending on the photographs and illustrations that I have. Since I mainly do this for my own satisfaction and interest it shouldn’t make much difference. It will also appear at different times during the day. Here goes post Windows 10!
Ever since I was quite small I have been interested in journeys and maps. Like a lot of children I made imaginary maps, sometimes of lands of my own making and sometimes of places that I knew very well. These would occasionally be like a traditional map but more often things that I saw or experienced along the way. I have continued to make them in one way or another through my life. As I got older I wanted somehow to express the passage of time as well. I have already shared some of the images but I may repeat them in this different context.
I have already written about this one in an earlier post. The Magic Grove…why do some places remain so firmly entrenched in memory and feeling when other locations disappear almost without trace? I have thought about it often and come to a few conclusions, a) there was something numinous about them and they stimulated the imagination (and still do), b) they encapsulated a feeling of love and warmth, c) they were about the thrill of fear from a position of safety or d) there was a sense of adventure setting off for something new. I’m sure there are others that I haven’t pin pointed yet.
The Magic Grove (above) definitely comes into category a) with touches of c).
‘Going to the Downs’ *below) This one comes into categories a) and d) I think.
There was always a big imaginative boost in going to the Downs (the Berkshire Downs, as they were then, with the Ridgeway path traversing the uplands.) especially for a bookish child like me. My father had filled my head with the local legends. I could feel the presence of the ancient peoples, think about the encampments, the shields, the horse chariots, the fires, the bloodshed. This image was made for an exhibition called Songlines after Bruce Chatwin, these are some of my song lines, cycling to and being on, the Downs. I think the place where you spent most of your childhood has a big hold on your heart. On the very few occasions when I have been back, I have met friends that I was at school with that have never moved. They have remained close to their roots, most of us have moved to different places during our life time. I suppose both situations have their pluses and minuses. I have been happy here in Kent but a huge part of me still gets a lift when I am in chalk land. One of my treasured books is The Land by Jacquetta Hawkes, she tries to delve in to this sense of place that most of us have.
‘Going to Gran’s’
This one comes into b) and c). I am going to my granny, whom I loved dearly, to borrow a vacuum cleaner. I used to skip along the first part of the journey, it was safe my Aunty Marge lived there, then past the tree and the place where the mushrooms and the cow parsley grew, (for some reason I thought there were little people living there,) finally down East Street where there were frightening people including Old Bowsher, that all the children were scared of. This was my memory of the feeling of going on the errand drawn years later. I often make these little journey drawings, doodles from my mind of times past. The things you leave out are probably just as interesting as the bits you put in. On the way I passed the police station but that has never appeared in any of my memory drawings, it obviously didn’t impinge on my imagination.
In hind sight I feel sad about people like Old Bowsher, so feared and shunned by his neighbours. He was just ‘different’ and lived alone. He was English but had lived a life in China, (doing some sort of service) he had obviously had to come back in his old age. A big man, unkempt and wearing the sort of work clothes that probably a Chinese peasant would wear, baggy dark loose trousers and a mandarin collared tunic. He had no wife, his house looked dark and the curtains usually closed. I only knew one ‘FOREIGNER’ the father of my friend Florence, he was Swiss but still a bit suspect!
More on Journeys next time.
My v. Ancient PC is finally giving up the ghost. It won’t pick up images from my files. Keeps closing down in mid flow. Will have to stop this blog till I get a new one. The dreaded Windows 10. Normal service (!) will resume as soon as I get a new set up. Happy Christmas. I can still pick up messages on my iPad.
Doodles and the subconscious.
I am interested in the way the subconscious mind works and how it interacts with the conscious mind. I am an inveterate doodler. When I start I’m still listening to the words of the meeting but maybe a word or an oblique thought starts me off. Afterwards I am sometimes surprised at what I have drawn. I enjoy the strange accidental juxtaposition of the words and the images, it seem to add an extra strange dimension. On the one above, I like the way I made the glass and the spiral come away from the main body of the drawing on threads…I wonder why I did that?
I often seem to draw structures, as above and below. I like the chunky solidity that I drew in the top one. The lower one seems more peitentiary like, then there are little pencil drawings round the edge.
I think it could be a good idea to have an exhibition of peoples doodles!
I have no idea why a pony and a bowler hatted man appeared; They just materialised
I have been thinking a lot about drawing today. A friend sent me an article on Facebook from the Guardian about drawing in art colleges. Someone was bewailing the fact that it wasn’t considered important any more, in many art schools it is not part of the curriculum. In the past drawing was an important part of becoming an artist. Could you call yourself an artist if you couldn’t draw? It was also part of your training. In many art schools especially the more traditional ones, if you were studying the figure you started on plaster casts then graduated to life drawing. I would have left out the casts and gone straight on to the model. It did teach you to observe and surely that is useful in anything that you do.
I read a lot of the messages expressing different points of view. There was one very detailed one. He was suggesting that there were now two different forms of art, fine art, which included drawing but which he obviously thought was old fashioned and Contemporary Art where drawing was largely irrelevant. He was suggesting that it only had a place in the foundation courses.
I have loved to draw all my life, but has it made me a better artist? Maybe not. That’s why I don’t call myself an artist. It has made me a more observant person and given me a sense of wonder about the diversity of the world around me. It has enhanced my imagination (back to empathy again the reason I started the blog in the first place) It has been a useful way of exploring ideas, and developing them. I have been able to study movement, light, composition. It has compelled me to make further works.
The advent of the camera, film, computers and video have given another way of exploring; a way that is more characteristic of the age we live in. The concept has become almost more important than the outcome. The advent of Dadaism, Abstract Expressionism, Post Modernism could all survive without drawing. I have to concede that you can still be an artist without being able to draw but it makes me feel unutterably sad. The mark left by the human hand holding a pencil or pen can come directly from the heart. Why did I cry when I saw the humanity in the drawings of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, because the marks that they had made distilled their feeling and it came straight throughout all the intervening the years to me from them. Empathy.
There could be hope, the study of art history shows that the current contemporary pre-occupations are often superceded. Pre Raphaelism and Impressionism come to mind, ran counter to the current orthodoxies. Painting and drawing could be rediscovered in a different form…I hope so. Bring on freedom to follow your own path in art school wherever it may lead you, as long as you do it sincerely and well. Bring on unorthodoxy.
Banners and marching.
Carrying on where I left off yesterday with the image of the banners. Finding that photograph reminded me of all the occasions on which I have marched with a banner. When I started I didn’t have a proper camera but I always had my sketch book, Sadly in the early days I didn’t put the dates, it took me a long time to realise how important that can be.
The end of the march in Hyde Park where people rested and waited for friends. When you are marching along you are not always aware of the scale of the whole thing. In Hyde Park you could see banners from all over the country and from abroad.
Friends from Waltrop marching with Herne Bay. Interesting for me to see the curly haired guy with the tie walking in front of the banner, he is Brian, once one of my students who is probably a grandfather by now!
My first march was in 1961, a CND Aldermaston March on Easter Monday. I didn’t march the whole way, just for the last day. I went on several more after that. I do remember being impressed by the mixture of people of all ages, from babies being pushed in prams through to old people with sticks.The government were issuing ridiculous surrealist type booklets giving you advice about how to survive a nuclear attack! I later visited the women at Greenham Common for the Surround the Base day. I have written a five minute radio play about the experience. It was recorded for the International Radio play Festival.
Later I went on a demonstration and march at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire. The Americans had a missile base there. It was pouring with rain and part of the way was around fields outside the perimeter fence. There was so much mud that everyone was caked with it, of course the objective was a serious one but that didn’t mean people couldn’t laugh and sing. By a strange serendipity I have the radio on in the background as I write this…and what have I just heard ‘Ubi Caritas’ which is one of the chants that the marchers sang.
In those days I was just as worried about chemical and biological weapons (how right I was) and I remember one all night march around the perimeter of Portion Down with stops for silent vigils. I think that one is still fresh in my mind because of the dogs and soldiers… always about thirty yards from us inside the facility. It now seems that chemical weapons and cyber war are the danger zone of our age.
I usually marched with the Quakers but I knew lots of people in the Herne Bay CND. and sometimes joined them. I took some iconic shots in London, I wish I had taken the time to get the right exposure, not easy against the huge light of the sky, my focus was ropey too!
It must have been a hot Easter that year. People had begun to straggle by this time.
Banners, there were always banners and posters, some home made and some professional.
My friends Ken and Rose carrying a nuclear winter banner.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation with a striking transparent example.
Now this really is a professional historic banner belonging to the Kent Miners Union.
I made this banner recently to be carried in procession in the Cathedral service for Peace and Reconciliation.
Herne Bay CND had the best on foot entries in the Herne Bay Carnival. Here is a very stylish offering but I also remember a really imaginative and well made chess set.
There have been issues closer to home, the Americans were going to use Manston runway for their bombers.
I don’t think we posed much of a threat to public security but we had to give our names.
I went to the march against the war in Iraq. It was pretty plain that my marching days were nearly over as I was already using a stick. I had intended to just go to Trafalgar Square, stand on the steps of St. Martins and cheer them on but I got swept up in the crowd and found myself in a kind of pen on the Embankment There were so many people that they were not letting too many people start marching at one time, probably sensible to avoid a crush. We waited so long to start moving that the front walkers had already got to Hyde Park before we could even begin.I only managed it to Trafalgar Square but I am glad I went to make my last on foot protest.