Thursday, October 18, 2018


The first version of the construction Entrance to the Temple was a painting in acrylic on paper.

Working in a non-objective manner - ie not depicting any familiar objects - is a process I've always found fascinating even if I never, unlike some artists I highly admire, took the radical decision to give up representation altogether. I might still do that, time permitting. What is representation anyway? All in the eye of.

The interesting thing I've noticed is that my mind goes into a completely different place when working in an abstract, as opposed to a figurative manner. Maybe a left brain/right brain shift but there is definitely a change in perception. Obviously every artist will have different experiences but for me, making an abstract work is more like digging in the earth or deep-sea diving to uncover some pre-existing thing than looking and interpreting what my eye sees.

Entrance to the temple, first version. Acrylic on paper (52 x 67 cms
Another abstract....though it has definite subject matter for me, music in this case. I had a studio in Belsham Street, Hackney, at the time and for some reason I can't remember, I cut off the left-hand section of this canvas. It was a stupid decision. A snapshot remains of it hanging in the studio before my auto-vandalism. I still like this painting as it is now (first photo).

Music of Love. 1994 Oil on canvas 50 x 60 cms

Belsham Street studio 1994. NdA with unfinished self-portrait and "Music of Love" before I cut off part of the left-hand side of the canvas.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


More to come shortly of ancient Egypt-inspired art. Meanwhile my friends Frances and Nicolas McDowall, who are the Old Stile Press (that's not a typo: it's Stile, not Style) have just been celebrated in an excellent article and a comprehensive video interview (click on the link) for the magazine Studio International. 

Through our mutual love for the art and craft of making books by hand the McDowalls and I became friends many years ago and embarked on collaborations several times, always exciting, challenging and hugely satisfying when the result finally emerges after months of sustained effort and lively discussions. 

If you look up my name on the OSP list of artists who have worked with them you'll find the other books I've done with the Press, the latest of which was in 2015, illustrating Dick Jones' English translation of Blaise Cendrars' TransSiberian Prosody and Little Jeanne from France. Pages from our book are on the Old Stile Press website at the above link.

Monday, October 08, 2018


More ancient Egyptian inspiration. This one came out of my love for angles within angles, as in the entrances and passageways of pyramids and temples. The painting is built in sections, some of which project from the surface.

Entrance to the Temple.1998 Mixed media construction. Acrylic, wood, cardboard, paper. 54 x 66 cms

Entance to the Temple - side view.


A few more examples of the ancient Egypt theme in some of my work. From a modern mind-set it's impossible to imagine with any degree of accuracy what it was really like to live at that time in that society. But what remains of its culture speaks to me in the language of architecture, art, artefacts, symbols, texts, colour, line, shape, intention. It's familiar, like family, like family albums.

My Egypt Room. January 2000. 33 x 25.5 x 8.5 cms
Mixed media. Wooden box with hinged glass lid.

My Egypt Room. With lid closed.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018


Nothing I can say hasn't already been said about the tragic, outrageous, infuriating events currently in the news and venting my own emotions about them on this page serves no purpose whatever.
So....lalalalala... I'm just going to post some more images of my own artworks, starting wih a few inspired by my fascination-connection with ancient Egypt (as mentioned on my birthday 7th August). These two works are from 1996, small and for sale either separately or together. If interested, please PM me.

The process for these was as follows: first I made a clay and paper mould then took a plaster cast from it. Using paper pulp I made the cast (Scribe No.2) and another cast on thin cloth (Scribe No.1), adding colour.
Scribe No.1 - 1996 Plaster and mixed media. 18 x13 cm (7 x 5 inches)caption

Scribe No.2 - 1996 Cast paper. 20 x 14 cm (8 x 5.5 inches)


He's gone, beautiful Charles Aznavour. Adieu mon cher Azna.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


My living room with portrait of Fionn Wilson and some of my other work. Nearly everything (except me) is for sale.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Speaking of cheekbones, how about jowls? I was, I must admit, rather obsessed with jowls and went so far as to make a video on the subject way back in 1997 when some of you weren't even born. I may have posted this video before - if so, apologies. My philosophy is that not taking one's self too seriously is the secret of...happiness? Wisdom?

Have a look at JOWLS and tell me what you think.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Finished my main piece for the Christine Keeler exhibition and a smaller one is nearly done. Won't post photos until the show opens next year but Fionn Wilson came over last night and she loves the work so I'm happy she's happy and we had a great time drinking too much (for me) wine and talking. Am very foggy headed and more stiff-jointed than usual today but Alka Seltzer has been taken.

A selfie shot yesterday in the bathroom mirror. I never use my phone to take photos as everyone else seems to do and I'm told there are apps to make one's self look more cheek-bony etc. I still use a regular camera and my cheek bones are still invisible.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


Every September there's a street party organised by the people who live in my neighbourhood. It's a great example of how community spirit can make something enjoyable for everyone happen effectively, smoothly, without friction and with unstinting cooperation, all tasks voluntarily undertaken. Good food cooked and served, children's activities. raffles, dog show, magic, film show, dancing, and always music, one or more bands always invited to perform.

This year my friend, the fabulosa Brazilian/English singer Nina Miranda and her two marvellous musicians: Antony Elvin (guitar & voice) Oli Savill (percussion) performed in the afternoon and evening on the blue-canopied stage. It was pure joy to be there.

Some small animals were brought for children to get to know and to hold.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018


About to dry my face on bathroom towel I notice a small black spot on the towel. Within a split second the following things happen:

The spot moves.
It's a spider.
I panic.
Shake the towel over the basin.
Exterminate innocent spider down the plug hole with hot water.
Feel guilty and relieved.
Philosophise for a few moments.

Within that black spot everything was working, that little engine perfectly tuned. Life!
I can't make life, can't make anything as perfectly functioning as a spider.
Bang! In that spider's life I was Death.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

THOUGHTS project

Just to keep you entertained, here's something I did pre-Facebook. I was going to publish it as some kind of little booklet but didn't get round to it. Should I do it? It's called Thoughts: the Kinds We Have.

Here's the first part. And the second part. And the third part.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Concentrating flat out on my work for the Christine Keeler exhibition curated by Fionn Wilson. Has to be finished by next month. Am an expert procrastinator but when I actually get down to something, the candle burns at both ends and in the middle. All or nothing, c'est moi.

Even Pushkin the visiting cat can't distract me and he doesn't like that one bit. He's expressed disapproval in no uncertain terms.

Gotta stop now, going back to my upstairs garret to work.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018


It is now officially my birthday and I am about to reveal a number that you, my tiny, cherished audience, have been waiting for.

Here it is: my actual, factual, chronological age is 3524.

Just do the maths:
from the 7th August 1507 BC to the 7th August 2018 AD is precisely 3524 years, 42,288 months, 1 million 287 thousand 128 days. Fact! Let me explain.

In my previous life, the one just before this one, I was born as Hatshepsut in Egypt,18th dynasty, in the year 1507 BC. If you studied ancient history you will have heard of me. If you haven't, you can Google me. Yes yes I know! When people believe in past lives they always think they were celebrities. But that's not my case because I actually WAS Hatshepsut. Tina Turner also says she was Hatshepsut. We were probably friends back then and Tina is terrific but she was not Hatshepsut, obviously, because I was. I have loads of proof.

As Hatshepsut, I died in 1458 BC but my mummy was only discovered in 2007 AD. In 1992 I made a bookwork called NATSHEPSUT (get it?)

Now you can wish me happy re-birth day.

NATSHEPSUT 1992. One-of-a-kind bookwork. Mixed media.
Book: 40 x 15cm. Box: 25 X 50.5 X 9.5cm.

The title combines Natalie with Hatshepsut, the XVIII dynasty female Pharaoh, with whom I have a special affinity. A 'sarcophagus'made from a mahogany drawer is painted with Egyptian and personal symbols and contains the book, wrapped in stained linen cloth, on one side of which I wrote a poem (see below) which is repeated on the pages. On the reverse of the wrapper are transfers of newspaper cuttings about the discovery of Hatshepsut's tomb and extracts from an old passport of mine. The book has wooden covers, carved and decorated with sand and sequins. It is attached to concertina-folded Arches pages and supported by a central wooden pillar. The images, printed on both sides of the paper from stencils, are a mixture of Egyptian and personal scenes including part of a landscape near the Rio Paraguay where I once lived, resembling the Nile.

Sunday, August 05, 2018


I forgot that I actually did some sit-down comedy, all by myself, in 2008. That's ten years ago! Ten.

I may have already posted this video here some time ago but even so, nobody will remember it so here goes .

I think it's hilarious but you might not agree. Should I allow Hank to perform again?


Careers I'd choose if it wasn't too late to start again:

1. Sit-down comic.
(I could be funny sitting down)

2. Singer-songwriter.
(I could sing and make up songs)

3. Plumber.
(I'd be making more money than I've ever had)

Thursday, August 02, 2018


A significant matter looms on the horizon. Five days from now, the 7th of August, will be my birth day. Why this matter should be significant is a mystery equivalent to the mystery of why there is matter at all and whether we exist.

The more digits are added to the number of years I've been on this planet, the more questions I have. The question I have at this precise moment is:

Should I reveal the exact number my day of birth signifies? If I do reveal this secret I have closely guarded, will I get the tilt of the head, the indulgent expression reserved for babies, kittens and the very old, accompanied by exclamations of "Awww!" "Amazing!" "Well done!" and so on?

 Because that possibility looms on the horizon, here is an advance warning.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


I'm thinking of getting Giclee prints done from some of my self-portraits and other paintings to sell at very reasonable prices. Below are some of the self-portraits from a series I digitally painted in 2006. Others are shown on this page:

And here is a video I made in 2007 wth some of those portraits and a sound track of me singing over  Just the Way You Look Tonight.

Me and Vincent. 2006 Digital painting.

Me and Rembrandt. 2006. Digital painting.     

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Who's going to write the play What Donald and Vladimir Said Privately in Helsinki?

Anybody want to have a go?


A doodle from me to clear the mind and lift the spirit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


I really really really want to be part of this protest but with my currently dodgy hip, I could get stuck in a crowd with no way to get back home except via a long walk and all public transport diverted or full up. Looks like I'm just going to be watching it on telly and friends' internet eyewitness reports.


I'm starting to repair a semi-rotten windowsill. The rot is in the wood and has eaten two bloody great holes in both corners. The middle of the sill is not too bad. I've scraped off most of the cracked paint and removed loads of crumbled wood, dust etc. from the holes. I know that the best solution would be to replace the sill entirely but that's not going to happen so I'm doing my usual patch-it-up-and-hope-for-the-best.

I've bought wood-filler and wood hardener but considering the depth of the holes, I'll apply the hardener and when dry, insert some filler, squish in pieces of wood cut to fit approximately then more wood filler in the gaps. Finally sand and repaint.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


He was gently amused by leaves.
Woke up today with that sentence in my head. Sometimes I get cryptic telegrams like this on waking, no clue of who what where they're from. Poets get them all the time, don't you? Most of the time I forget them. Decided to run with this one.

He was gently amused by leaves
The height of things was an interesting question
To leap or not to leap?
His eyes did not see
So much as foresee
Not a bad life
On the whole.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


In prehistoric days before computers, before the internet, we never had this strange sense of being cut adrift into outer space, lost, abandoned, rudderless, when something in the system breaks down for no apparent reason and our home, our online home, which sometimes seems more real than our actual physical home, is suddenly Not. There..

I'm exaggerating a little bit but I have indeed been pacing the floor, climbing the walls and tearing what's left of my already sparse hair simply because my website, for a few days, vanished from the internet as if it had never existed. Yes I know this is not a bona fide catastrophe but only a vanitas vanitas type of thing. Nevertheless, panic. 

I'm pretty good with computer stuff and can solve problems by myself most of the time, but this one struck too close to home, literally my home page which reassures me I'm still alive, digitally speaking, each time I log into the worldwideweb: NOT THERE!

I phoned my broadband provider. Surprisingly quick to act they sent me an engineer today, Abdullah, lovely guy who admired my art on the walls. We chatted about art, life etc. while he efficiently installed a new modem and concluded that the problem had nothing to do with broadband connection but only with my website host.

Long story shortened: I phoned mine Host. Polite guy with slight French accent answered. I asked would he rather speak French than English? We continued in my native langue de chat. The problem, quickly discovered, was their fault, not mine. My website was blocked by mistake because they were slow in confirming its renewal. Website restored. Two friendly guys in two different corporations in two different countries doing their job cheerfully and well. One foolishly panicked, vain customer satisfied. Tout est bien qui finit bien.

Sunday, July 01, 2018


Just because you can do something doesn't mean you need to do it or that you must do it. In making art and in teaching art one of my guiding principles is that less is more. Being too obedient to what your eyes tell you can mean producing something that is competent but banal, pedestrian. What you must obey is the truth of your intuition and this often means having the courage to reject information, too much information.

I knew that the last version I posted of my portrair of Fionn Wilson with the more detailed. lighter hair, was wrong. Wrong in terms of my portrait of Fionn, never mind anything else. The added information about hair detracted and distracted from the character of the face. I knew this while I was in the act of 'improving' the hair and yet I carried on, going against my intuition. 

So I've now made the hair darker, removed some of my needless tweaking, and I think it's much better. I'm stopping now.

Finished portrait of Fionn Wilson. 1 July 2018

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


I think I may have perhaps possibly nearly finished Fionn's portrait. Maybe? I don't want to add more detail but I still haven't had that inner click which says Leave it!

Portrait-in-progress of Fionn Wilson by Natalie d'Arbeloff. Oil on canvas 55cm x 65cm (20" x 24")
27 June 2018

Sunday, June 24, 2018


Last night Fionn Wilson sat in the chair opposite me while I started on her portrait. Below are the first two stages plus a shot she snapped of me at work on it. I'm using only black and white oil on canvas - there's something strong and free about this limitation which matches both her direct personality and my perception of it. Will post further stages.

As I mentioned a while ago, Fionn invited me to participate in the exhibition 'Dear Christine' (Christine Keeler) which Fionn thought up, is curating, taking part in, and will inaugurate next year at the Vane Centre in Newcastle. I've been working on sketches of my ideas for this and it was wonderful to show them to her last night and receive the blessing of her enthusiasm. Our conversations flow like jazz.

Beginning a portrait of Fionn Wilson, 23 June 2018.. Oil on canvas

Saturday, June 23, 2018


Why? It's an unpredictable urge. Maybe it has something to do with time. Or let's be honest, age. It's a kind of check up: am I still okay? Do I pass? Whatever passing means.

So here I am today at approximately 5:15pm, London time.

Monday, June 18, 2018


Saturday at the London Wetland Centre on the banks of the Thames, Rachel Rawlings and Dave Bonta orchestrated an inspirational and original event to celebrate with friends and family their recent wedding in Pennsylvania.

It was a greyish and coldish day but warmth and conviviality were generated by the many guests in this magnificent natural setting. Specially composed poems were read, spontaneous, sincere speeches were spoken, specially deejayed music was played, comforting food and drink were consumed, old and new friendships were refreshed. I was happy to be there.

Rachel, the bride

Dave, the groom

Jean Morris reading her poem

Dick Jones reading his poem

Some of the guests. Teju Cole stands  by the column.