Reading Lucy and Tom's vivid and idiosyncratic impressions of their recent trip to the Netherlands I was motivated to look for some sketches I'd done during a trip to Amsterdam in the 1980s. In the same sketchbook there were also many quick drawings of poets, artists and other talking heads at various events I attended during those years.The ideal ambiance for sketching people is at a conference or concert where speakers/performers stay relatively still for long periods and you can be sitting quietly drawing, unobserved and undisturbed while still being part of the scene.
Amsterdam 1986: it was raining, the hotel was cheap and the mattress had lived, as they say.
Wet raincoat, Amsterdam hotel room.
Of course Van Gogh was on my mind. He shared my room and I angled the mirror so as to echo one of his subjects.
Dick Higgins was one of the speakers at a Bookworks conference I attended in Philadelphia in 1982.
Leon Cych and Peter Baines
at the National Poetry Centre, London 1982. Peter Baines (AKA Street
Talkin' Pete) was a friend and together with Marilyn, his wife at the
time, we went on protest marches, including to the Greenham Common women's peace camp in 1983.
was a friend but there must be hundreds of people around the world who
can claim that privilege, certainly many in my part of North London
where he and his partner Susan Johns ran the Torriano Meeting House.
Shortly before he died in 2010 I bumped into him (literally) in Camden
Town and he said, let's do a comic strip, I'll provide the text, you draw
the cartoons. He was like that, as if life was an ongoing conversation
with time an irrelevant interruption. I said fine, let's do it. We were
going to meet and work it out. Then he died. Everyone in the above
sketches is dead, apart from me. And Leon Cych who I drew but never
met (I've just Googled him and am glad to see he's alive and doing well).
John Rety and Gilbert Adair at a poetry event in London 1986.