Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAPPY 2010

 A happy New Year to all and may light pour in through all the cracks.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Here's one of those unbelievable-but-true stories that internet communication occasionally, or maybe frequently (what do I know?) engenders. 

Out of the blue cybersphere I got an email the other day from someone whose name I recognised though I had only met him once in 1981 for an hour or so while I was painting his portrait at the house of a friend. In his email (he found me via my website) he reminded me of the portrait and wondered if I'd ever finished it.
Of course I remembered and I replied, confessing that not only did I not finish the portrait but when I ran out of canvas some years later, painted over it. I also remembered that I had taken a snapshot of both sitter and work in progress. 

Immediately I found the rather blurred and discoloured photo, scanned it, enlarged it, and kicked myself repeatedly: the painting had been a good start, a promising portrait, and it was a stupid fool idiot thing to destroy it in order to recycle the canvas. Economy and indigence are no excuse.

I apologised to Rennie Walker (he was the sitter) and in a sudden burst of contrite energy, assisted by Photoshop, I extracted his portrait from the snapshot and started working on it with virtual brushes on my graphic tablet. When in the wee hours of the morning (as is my wont) I was satisfied with the result, I sent it to Rennie along with a scan of the original photo. Below you can see both.

My thanks to that giant multi-faceted internettish god who makes such unexpected serendipitousness possible to have re-introduced me to the extremely talented Rennie, whose websites, poetic and professional, you must definitely visit.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Since these holidays are about family, however you celebrate, alone or apart, here's a fantasy family for you, perhaps an ideal one, perhaps just an ordinary one, a little bit strange in a good way.

With warmest wishes to every single person who passes this way, I hope you'll stay a while. May the New Year be kind to all of us on this troubled planet. 

(This is actually a black and white photo of an old, highly textured painting of mine which I've scanned and coloured digitally).


Friday, December 18, 2009



In Tavira I noticed that there is an artists' association and gallery called Casa 5 and when I got back home I looked it up on the internet and found that they have an artists' residency programme. After a friendly exchange of emails, I sent in my application. 

Obviously I was just obeying orders from that cunning life-coach in the sky who thinks I need a kick up the cosmic derrière to propel me out of my little swivel chair in front of my little screen in my little London routine. Obviously my application was accepted. I'm all shook up!

So, around the middle or end of January I'll be going back for about five or six weeks, staying in Casa 5 and working on paintings, drawings, collage, video etc. based on Tavira - the town, the people, the ambiance, whatever inspiration strikes while I'm there - with an exhibition in the gallery at the end of my residency. I'll have my laptop and WIFI so blogging will continue, if perhaps intermittently (as usual). 

Here's an appropriate graffiti I discovered on a wall in Tavira - I didn't know when I took the picture that it would be so appropriate.



Thursday, December 10, 2009


(I've desaturated the above Guardian newspaper colour photo of Richard Wright's Turner Prizewinning gold-leaf mural, thus revealing only its black pattern.) 

You've seen Rorschach ink blots haven't you? Some of you will have tried spattering black ink on a sheet of paper by flicking a brush, folding the paper in half, carefully smoothing it down and then opening it to reveal...taraaaa! A map of your unconscious? A Turner prizewinning work?

Here is a little demonstration of how you could create your own Turner prizework in approximately fifteen minutes, or less if you leave out making Photoshopped versions. Adding drops of water and oil to your ink spattering  can add more textures. Transferring your masterpiece to a wall, cupboard, curtain or tee-shirt and applying gold leaf to it will take a bit longer but is perfectly feasible. 


Wednesday, December 09, 2009



Yes, the lion you saw in the slideshow is my cherished lion - or rather his sun-bleached and rain-battered twin. I was walking along the banks of the Gilao river in Tavira when I suddenly saw him, tied to the top of a brilliantly coloured fishing boat, looking around with a bemused expression. Call it coincidence, chance or destiny, but I find it thrilling that the twin of a stuffed lion I bought from an Asian shop in Camden Town should turn up to greet me on my very first day in a small town in Portugal. How likely is that?

Anyway, I fell in love with Tavira. Bits of it had a nostalgic familiarity, flashbacks of Paraguay or Brazil or Mexico. Other parts entirely different, Moorish, blue-tiled, whiter-than-white rough plaster walls, intricate baroque woodwork, latticed windows, and doors, doors! Amazing doors of every colour and texture, works of art in their own right. Short, human-size palm trees and very tall phallic ones, shaved so that only an ecstatic green tuft emerges from the crown, the rest of the bulbous trunk naked and scaly.

At this time of year the streets are quiet and the unpretentious cafés are frequented mainly by locals, a few polite tourists and expat residents. I sat there at ease, drinking café con leite, my forgotten Portuguese coming back in fragments, spattered with Spanish and Italian, and I thought: I could spend some time here, get back into painting, live the small-town life. The more I caressed this thought, the more exciting it felt so I got up, walked into a nearby estate agent's office and asked the dapper white-bearded man at the desk if he had any apartments to rent in the centre of town. He was Swedish, spoke perfect English, and said there were no rentals on his list at present but his colleague down the street might have some. He put a "Back Soon" sign on the door and walked out with me.

Just round the corner he pointed to the top floor of a balconied house, looking out towards the river and the Roman bridge. "There's an apartment for rent up there", he said. "Oh!" I said, "When could I see it?" "Right now," he said, "I have the keys". We walked up two or three flights and entered a delightful living room, marred only by an after-thought, a dangerously vertical wooden stairway in the middle, leading to a low-ceilinged loft bedroom with its own bathroom. Downstairs was another bedroom and bathroom and a modern kitchen. In a moment of madness I thought, yes, this is it! Fortunately the price was too high and that loft stairway too lethal.

Then we went into another agent's office across the street and the young Portuguese colleague said there were a couple of places he could show me. So my new Swedish friend and my new Portuguese friend together walked me around town and showed me two apartments, both affordable, with magnificent terraces. I said I was interested in renting for a couple of months, probably January-February, but the owner of the flat I liked best wanted a twelve-month tenancy and the other place seemed too big for me. I left my address with both agents and they said they'd let me know of anything that might come up.

When I met my brother for dinner later he was flabbergasted by my unexpected coup de foudre for Tavira and the speed of my action-on-impulse. Well, I said, if it happens it will only be for a couple of months and if it doesn't happen, that's okay. He was an excellent guide, though he only moved to Tavira in July (excruciatingly hot then and in August) and we went to his favourite spot, reached in about fifteen minutes by motorboat, the Ilha de Tavira - an idyllic island, endless expanse of pristine golden sands, deserted in winter, a nature reserve where batallions of gulls stand at attention, concentrating intensely on the waves crashing against the shore. What an error to say that birds are flighty! They are probably the most focused creatures I know of. I wish I was as focused as a bird.

Now I must focus on tasks back here at home, finish La Vie en Rosé and other unfinished things, and if there's a sequel to the Tavira adventure, of course I'll blog it. I might post some more snippets of video but there's far too much and it needs drastic editing. Strangely enough I didn't do any drawing, probably because it was too drawable and I didn't feel like adding to the vast heaving storehouse of picturesque postcardy scenes of picturesque postcardy locations all around the world.

If I ever do paint in Tavira, I would try to find a different way of communicating, filtering, translating my experience of the place into a visual language. That's what I find so fantastic in Van Gogh's paintings of Arles: they have become as popular and commercial as postcardy postcards, but the actual works are never merely picturesque. He focuses on the landscape or the chair or the sunflower with the same kind of attention that the gulls give to the waves, a hungry attention, purposeful, passionate, a desire to assimilate the object. Not at all the same as cool observation or skilful representation.


Monday, December 07, 2009


Will write about it later today. Meanwhile here's a slideshow.


Friday, November 20, 2009


Haven't got back into my stride yet but have to stride again as I am going away tomorrow, for a week, to Portugal, to see my brother, who recently moved to Tavira in the Algarve. Will bring back movie and photos and who knows what else. See y'all soon. La Vie en Rosé is not forgotten!

Here's another poem-like doodle thing to fill this blank space.


Sunday, November 15, 2009


Am adding this to the POEMPICTURES page. Does it need explanation?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


One-track-minded people are those who achieve things - sometimes great things, sometimes terrible things. They are the ones you hear about because they'll have discovered something momentous or solved a problem nobody's ever solved or gone spectacularly insane or committed some particularly atrocious crime. Their locomotive brain drives them relentlessly along that one track they've chosen and doesn't stop at all the little stations along the way to have a coffee and a look around.

I am not one-track-minded, as my record shows. But I've always thought I should/would/could be if only to one track. Oh yes, for short periods of time I can enter that zone where it's always four in the morning and breakfast is at nine pm and the outside world is really really outside and the mind is totally focused on the idea, the task, the problem. It's a marvellous zone to be in, exciting, challenging, even if it's totally obsessive and egocentric, shutting out anything and anyone who is a distraction. But I can't stay there, distractions rush in like noisy children, new tracks appear out of the blue - which one to follow? It's a fairground out there, irresistible and irrelevant distractions all over the place.

Know what I mean?

Anyway, I'll get back to La Vie en Rosé very shortly as soon as the deck is cleared of other unfinished business. Meanwhile my non-winning comic strip, along with other non-winners, is at Forbidden Planet, and there's a plan afoot to collectively publish a book of the non-winning graphic entries, a kind of Salon des Refusés. You can see some of the other entries on flickr here. Any Londoners interested in comics (ie sequential art: more sophisticated title) are very welcome to attend the next forum of Laydeez Do Comics on Monday 30th November, 6:30pm, details on their website. I'll be doing a short (10 minute) visual presentation there.

I've made a new section to post my POEMPICTURES . I was inspired by this new site.


Sunday, November 01, 2009



I knew my entry had no chance but I'm glad I took up the challenge. I agree that Vivien McDermid's story Paint with her lovely illustrations (published today in the Observer magazine section) deserved the prize but I haven't seen the other submissions.
Anyway, so as not to let it go to waste, herewith for your entertainment is the full strip I submitted to this competition. (CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LARGER VERSION)

Friday, October 30, 2009


Chuffed to discover that Sarah McIntyre has posted some of my sketches on her blog . She was one of the speakers at this conference which I was very glad to have been able to attend on my return from France. I am not at all qualified to review such a comics-erudite event since my relationship to comics is intermittent and I'm an outsider in the vast family of comics creators who work in this medium full time and have made their mark in it. The sequential format does interest me very much indeed and I want to explore it much further (in my always-to-be-continued graphic novel) but there's a great deal of activity and information related to comics culture that I tend to pass by, probably to my detriment.

Having been an artists' book-maker for a long time, the creators I respond to most are those whose approach and ideas are in that vein and who use sequential images as part of their visual/verbal art practice rather than as comics per se. Pages filled with small frames, each loaded with tiny text and drawings, no matter how appealing the story or concept irritate my eyes and brain. I prefer layouts which spread over the available space, flowing in and out of consciousness as time itself does. Such an artist is Dominique Goblet whose work I was excited to discover at the conference. I saw some of her books on the tables and bought one immediately: Souvenir D'Une Journée Parfaite - atmospheric, quirky, melancholy and moving on different levels of time, space, memory and emotion, beautifully expressed in monochrome drawings and an evocative, scratchily handwritten text. Hearing her later in conversation with Paul Gravett (top right in the photos below) confirmed the impression that my concerns and aims were very much in tune with hers. We will keep in touch and I hope to visit her studio in Brussels some time.

About Paul Gravett, no praise can ever be too high: he is responsible for stimulating interest in comics, encouraging innumerable comics artists in the UK and elsewhere and writing about comics critically, perceptively and knowledgeably. Back in the 1980's when I was producing and self-publishing my mini-series The Augustine Adventures (Small Packages) Paul was one of the first to review them in his magazine Escape and he has always been supportive. I think he has a pair of wings tucked away behind his shoulder blades, enabling him to appear wherever and whenever comics creators are assembled, lighting up the place with his good will and open-minded attention.

Sarah Lightman (who organised the conference along with Dr. Laurence Grove of the University of Glasgow) is another artist I've recently met whose work resonates with me. An exhibition of her diary drawings, In Memoriam, is currently in New Hall, focusing on ordinary objects (packets of biscuits, lace, toothbrush etc.) sensitively drawn in pencil, as conduits for autobiographical reflection. Each image has a pithy caption which leads you out of the object represented and into the artist's mind as she was drawing it. Sarah, along with illustrator Nicola Streeten, recently founded Laydeez Do Comics , a forum focusing on comic works based on life narrative, meeting once a month. I went along to one meeting and will be back for more.

I could write more about the conference but I'm going to stop here as I want to post this and get on with where I left off before I disappeared to France.


Thursday, October 29, 2009


My hotel room balcony, Clamart.

I am back home but still floating in a nomadic space where 'home' is just the last bed you slept in and the last place you ate your breakfast. And despite the insecurity, strangeness and discomforts of that floating world, I must say it has its charm and its usefulness. For one thing it liberates you, temporarily, from the force of habit. Your time, your attention, your surroundings all undergo a transformation which may or may not be to your liking but it certainly kicks you in the inertia-zone and wakes up at least some of your somnolent neurons. I walked more, ate less, got up earlier, went to sleep earlier and thought less about myself than I have in a long time. Things which needed to be done got done and although a feeling of being a remotely-controlled robot occasionally surfaced, there were moments of zen-like discovery and intense engagement for which I am grateful.

My sister, continuing her astonishingly quick recovery, is going back to Rome with her daughter this week. They are together in Paris at the moment where Annie is enjoying her release from the prison, as she calls it, of hospital. I don't believe my presence was a factor in her speedy rehabilitation, she's got her own indomitable will for that. But maybe the old familiar rusty pattern of sisterly irritation takes on movement and meaning when seen out of an unfamiliar window.

Back a little later with report of the Cambridge Women in Comics Event which I attended on Sunday.


Thursday, October 15, 2009


I was born in France, my mother, her mother and father and everyone up and down that family tree were French, therefore something in me must be French, part of my bloodstream must taste of vin rouge and some of my brain cells must be tuned to the sound of the French voice. But non, ce n'est pas comme ça. I do not feel French, vin rouge gives me a headache and the sound of French voices speaking all at once sounds to me like chickens trapped in a cattle truck. The voices of Jacques Brel or Leo Ferré or Edith Piaf, that's another kettle of bouillabaise entirely. I can relate to those, absolument, and the same goes for Matisse and several others in the domains of art, literature or philosophy. I have a penchant for French intellectuals' bushy eyebrows and flowing hair (the men) and the women are beautiful, if too professionally made up. But in front of any French television programme, even those intelligent ones in which luminaries from various fields intelligently discuss serious issues, in five minutes I want to run screaming from the room. Or sitting in a café, listening to men standing at the bar talking in highly excited, combative tones about something or other, I feel like a visitor from another planet.

Complaining I can understand. Maybe that's the French gene in me. I am argumentative and a good complainer. Not for me the Anglo-Saxon embarassment about sending badly cooked food back to the kitchen, letting sleeping dogs lie and not rocking the boat. Those dogs had better wake up when I'm around and the boat rocks and rolls.

A fraught trip back to the hospital yesterday and a painful procedure for my sister to endure (is there anything worse then having tubes and instruments poked up your nostrils?) but things are calmer today. The weather has turned very cold and I didn't bring my winter coat.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The tables and chairs in the breakfast room at my hotel are wearing skirts, long golden yellow brocaded skirts. It looks like a gathering of headless bishops, an ecclesiastical convention imagined by the Surrealists. Surveying the scene from above is the always open eye of a television, pouring out old Disney cartoons dubbed in French, which makes the quacking and barking and squealing even more hysterical than in the native version. Plastic flowers and candles adorn the skirted tables. Breakfast is good: crusty baguette, croissant, butter, jam, orange juice, coffee.

Taking a shower is a daunting tour de force: if you make the fatal mistake of turning the hot tap on first, boiling water sprays you and the room from cracks in the long black rubber hose attached to the bath. Today the cold water tap fell off. There are no hooks to hang anything. Maybe the French have not yet discovered hooks. But I saw some of those suction ones in the Super U yesterday and if I were staying longer I'd buy a sackful and stick them everywhere.

I love this hotel. The friendly Moroccans who appear to be running it are philosophical about Things That Don't Work As They Should (c'est la vie) and will fix them almost as soon as possible.

My sister is definitely better. Yesterday we went for a walk in the streets around the clinic and today we'll do a longer walk. Mood has improved along with la santé. Please may it continue to be so.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Some photos of Clamart, a small town in the region called the Hauts- de- Seine where my sister is sitting, bored and fed up in a convalescence clinic and where I like my hotel room.

Friday, October 09, 2009


This morning my sister and I travelled by ambulance out of the big Roussy hospital to a convalescent clinic further out of the Paris periphery, near a small provincial town. The doctor wants her to stay two or three weeks but Annie has never been one to do what she's told or to accept that she is not Superwoman. Her recovery from the operation, thanks to the brilliant skill of the surgeon, has been astonishing but she is still not fit enough to go back to 'normal' life. Arriving at the clinic, there was a bit of a kerfuffle - to use a gentle British euphemism for one hell of a drama - because the lady was not well pleased with the place or with anything, really.

Never mind. Things have calmed down now and I am installed in a cozy room in a small hotel in the town centre, with a WIFI connection that actually works. I like this area much better than where I was before, at least there's human life out there, not just cars. There are shops and restaurants, boulangeries and boucheries and coiffeurs (more coiffeurs than anything else, for some reason - maybe the ladies of the town are particularly hair-conscious). My hotel is one of those typically French romantic petits hotels where things that don't work (like the missing top of the hot water tap) are quite charming and attended to with casual good humour by the proprietor. I much prefer this to mass-produced anonymously efficient tourist-oriented establishments. My room is the kind where one could probably write a book, should one be so inclined. One is not, pour le moment, so inclined.

Pictures of some sort will be forthcoming, soon I hope.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Water towers near hospital parking.

The hospital, Institut Gustave Roussy.

Internet connection in my room is unreliable but it seems I may have to move very soon, maybe this week, maybe next. My sister, who is doing extremely well, is going to be transferred to a convalescence clinic which we hope will be in central Paris but all depends on a complicated admin system over which we have no control. I have to find somewhere else to live which will be near her but I can't even start looking until the hospital tells me when and where she's going. Because I'm too tense to write anything interesting, I'll post some photos I took of my current surroundings. Back soon, hopefully with better visuals and verbals.

The self-catering room where I'm living.

Friday, October 02, 2009

From Paris

Well, not really Paris. More like the back of beyond, a sub-urb, a soulless banlieu where cars, presumably driven by humans, have taken over what used to be landscape and little shops, cafes, people-ish things. Instead there are motorways, roundabouts, traffic lights, bridges under which hapless pedestrians (people actually walking) risk life and limb to cross to yet another traffic island and thence make their weary way to....the Super Market! The only place for miles where something for supper may be found though it is fairly sure to consist mainly of additives. I'm only slightly exaggerating.

Enough. I'll write less robotically in a couple of days. I've finally managed to get an internet connection. My sister is more or less okay: the operation was a success in removing the malignant intruder but has left her like a boxer after a particularly brutal fight where the other guy won. Still her wondrous fighting spirit remains undaunted. Praise the Lord and the surgeon and Annie.

Images are some I've been mousing as a kind of journal while practicing being without my beloved graphic tablet.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Have been struggling for the past few days to make my new MacBook behave exactly the same way as my familiar and friendly desktop iMac but this is beyond the realm of possibility. The new baby has its own personality and refuses to be a clone. There's also my ignorance of all things laptoppish and WIFI-ish. To make a very long boring story short, it looks like the only way I'll be able to blog from Paris will be on my my mirror blog (assuming I'll succeed in getting a connection) and not here in your familiar Blaugustine page. No problem if you're already reading me on Blogger. Anyhow, wish me technical success and many thanks for all kind messages regarding my sister's op.

A bientôt.


Thursday, September 24, 2009



Friends, I'm very sorry for my long absence from internetting. I have been slaving, struggling, doing-my-usual-procrastinating, over a task with a deadline of tomorrow. Well, I finished and delivered it yesterday, all out of breath, and what do you know? The deadline's been pushed forward nearly a month. So I could have procrastinated even longer. Never mind, at least I can gloat about achieving something ahead of time.

I'm afraid there may be another gap because I have to go away on Sept.28th for about three weeks. I'll have internet access so maybe I'll be able to add more installments to La Vie en Rosé while I'm away. My sister is having a serious operation in Paris and will have to stay in hospital for about 15 days afterwards and I want to be near her during that time.

I am moving the Vie en Rosé to its own section so that I can carry on blogging about other things over here and so that anyone who hasn't kept up with the story can start from the beginning. I've put the chapters in consecutive order so I'm afraid you have to scroll down to the bottom in order to see the latest.

Hang in there, I'll be back soon. When I get to grips with WIFI which, believe it or not, I haven't used before, I will report on what's happening in and around me and maybe even manage to upload some pictures.Gotta go and do some techy stuff now, transferring files to laptop. See you in Paris.


Thursday, August 06, 2009


(We temporarily interrupt La Vie en Rosé to bring you Natalie's birthday, one day in advance.)

August 7, 2009 - BIRTHDAY BOOK

If I were to write one page
for every year of my life (UPDATE: I meant to say year in the video too)
that would be a very short book
even if I live to be a hundred.

A hundred pages! That's not a novel.
Maybe a novella
a long short story
or a slim volume of poetry.
Not enough for me.

To make a proper heavy book
a door-stopper
I'd need a lot of illustrations
even for those pages I can't remember
and those which must remain
silent, unwritten.

And where are all the people?
All those who took the pictures?
Who made me smile
or frown
or cry?

Those who shaped me.
Without them
who am I?


Friday, June 26, 2009

COMING SOON: Pin-ups continued

The reason I've been procrastinating about blogging lately is because of major procrastinatitis about finishing a project I began a while back. All my projects seem to have begun 'a while back' - some time in the Neanderthal period.

Anyway this particular one is to make a video thingy to further explore those faces, my pin-ups, first posted on 23 March . I'm in the middle of working (euphemism for playing around) on it and it should be up soon.

It's a fascinating subject. What subject? Hard to describe exactly. Something to do with a specific arrangement of facial features (male, in this case) which certain individuals have in common, along with astonishingly similar psychological characteristics. It's as if they are from the same tribe, even though in reality they are not related. The other puzzle is what makes this type - or, as I prefer to think of it: this particular assemblage of features - so damned attractive?


Monday, June 15, 2009


Ay ay ay!

I have accidentally deleted almost all my images from older Blogger posts.
Not my fault.
It's because Google stores them all on Picasia and I was browsing my albums over there and noticed some I hadn't uploaded so I just deleted them.
Only later did I see the warning that this would mean they'd disappear from my Blogger posts too.
Why do they do this sneaky thing?
Anyway, now I either have to re-insert everything or, if you happen to be browsing my older posts and see blanks where images should be, then please do this:
go to my REAL Blaugustine blog (of which this Blogger one is merely a partial mirror)
and see the corresponding dates where all images will be in their rightful places.

Thank you.


This is the sixth post in an online game of Consequences. Each successive entry begins with the closing lines of its predecessor. Entries are 250 words long and are linked thematically. The series started with Hydragenic and was followed by Patteran Pages , Porous Borders, The Middle Westerner , Feathers of Hope and herewith, moi, Blaugustine. The series will continue in a day or two at Small Change.

Expats, or: La Vie En Rosé

“We gulp what is here and ours and nobody’s and nothing’s” George said, handing her his glass of rosé.
That’s how he talked. She couldn’t understand him half the time but he was a poet so she had learned not to ask for explanations.
“Guard it with your life,” he added, “I’ll be right back.”

Nothing he says ever means what it sounds like, Susan thought. 'Right back' could mean ten minutes, three hours or even three months. She surveyed the drinks table: two bottles of the local wine, two Perriers, two Evians and fourteen cans of sugary fizzy kid stuff. Their hosts were strictly teetotal and stingy to boot but the isolated expat community never turned down an opportunity to socialise so the room was buzzing with familiar talking heads. Through the window to the garden Susan could see the teetotal host’s teetotally blonde wife in intimate tête a tête with George.

Susan leaned back and tipped the wine down her throat. Three years on the wagon and five years of compliance suddenly vanished as she poured the remains of the first bottle into her husband's glass, drank it, then dispensing with formalities, expertly guided the rosy stream into her mouth straight from the neck of the second bottle .

Oblivious to the guests' shocked stares, Susan stumbled out of the house and down the village street just as Père Lafitte was passing by. She grabbed his arm, shouting:

“ Portez-moi à une nunnery! “

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Yesterday I walked from London Bridge Station and joined the hungry crowds milling around the market in Green Dragon Court overflowing with delectable Jamaican, Turkish, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, German, English delicacies then along Bankside in the warm sunshine, past the Globe Theatre and down to Taste Modern where surprisingly no one at all was queuing for tickets to the Futurism exhibition. Ended up making my own humble Futurist-ish speedy little movie which you can see below. The soundtrack is mine, made up from loops in Garage Band.

The Futurists themselves did not impress me, apart from their typography, Balla and a few others who were more Cubist than Futurist. So much more attractive when reproduced in coffee-table-size art books, the actual Futurist paintings are mostly dull and formulaic, never achieving the grandiose aims of the infamous Futurist Manifesto of 1909. Leaving aside the manifesto's glorification of war and militarism, its vilification of all art, literature, women and pasta, the paintings completely fail to convey the Futurists' declared exhilaration about modern life. What's the big deal about breaking shapes up into kaleidoscopic jigsaws? Hardly breathtaking or revolutionary. Even Severini's huge Dance of the 'Pan-Pan' at the Monico left me indifferent. Yes, it's clever and pretty and looks like an advert. I'm hard to please, sorry.


A Futurist Day

A walk through Borough Market and along the Thames to Tate Modern to see the Futurism exhibition on June 13, 2009. Assembling my snippets of video, speeding them up, adding special effects and a soundtrack I composed in Garage Band, here's my own Futurist-ish creation.
Formats available: MPEG4 Video (.mp4)

Friday, June 12, 2009


I worked on these with acrylics after the initial fast line drawing with felt pens and added metallic colours, green and gold, but the shine doesn't really scan well. I've also done some digital reworking on them so they probably don't qualify as doodles, lucid or otherwise.


Friday, June 05, 2009


The felt pens encourage spontaneity and a nicely flowing line. Very enjoyable. The washable felts made for kids are no good. They dry up after about five minutes of heavy use, but the permanent markers are fine as long as you can stand the smell. Here are some more of my recent fishing expeditions in the stream of consciousness.

I've also added more bookworks so please go and click on the links you haven't seen before in the blue and red sidebars here .


Wednesday, June 03, 2009


You're looking at a blank sheet of paper with no thought in mind, no desire to draw anything you see or anything you remember, and then you pick up a pen and start drawing. Lines and shapes emerge as your hand moves across the paper and pretty soon there is an image: something that didn't exist before, something that you didn't plan or intend and perhaps don't even understand. What's that all about? Is it like dreaming? Is it lucid dreaming? Lucid doodling?

Whatever you call it, isn't it wonderful and amazing that there really is another way of thinking which is not thinking at all but a kind of blanking? A sort of meditation which squeezes pictures out of you like toothpaste from a tube?

I've been drawing like that recently with felt pens on A3 sheets of paper. Here are two of them. The only digital alterations I've done are to add a black background to the bird of paradise drawing; the original is on white.

Bird 0f paradise, black background.


Friday, May 29, 2009


Cover of ABRACADABRA one of a kind bookwork. Natalie d'Arbeloff 1993

As some of you may know, making books by hand - ie artist's books - was my main occupation for many years. I say was but I haven't ruled out going back to this particular art form some time. I loved making them, gave them my all and - if I say so myself - was quite successful at it. Anyway, I've been adding a lot more pictures and descriptions to the artist's books pages of my website and more to come in the next few days.

Why not have a browse over there - follow the links which are titles in the right and left-hand sidebars and tell me what you think, which works you like, don't like, whatever. I'd be happy to answer any questions, technical or otherwise.


Friday, May 22, 2009



Enough already. I'm putting this dear old journal back on the shelf. But here's my commentary on what was going on in the world around the time I was writing it. I never did take the idea beyond this first rough sketch.

Does anyone remember the Falklands war? Plus ça change, eh?


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Well........"most sentences can be cut up at random and reassembled without too much loss of meaning or music..." Excuse me? Will you please step outside and repeat that? Help! I am being beaten up by an army of poets and other wordsmiths. Please! Look at the date: it was 1983. This is 2009 and I no longer agree with the rash statement I wrote then. I apologise. But the rest is okay, innit?


Friday, May 15, 2009



Since in my meme list I confessed to a clandestine habit of solo dancing to vintage 45s, I think I should also reveal some of the 45s which provoke such unseemly behaviour in a person of my seriousness (?) standing (?) and advanced (?) maturity (?) Some of you may consider my choices uncool but if they don't get your body moving, too bad! MP3s of two of them are at the main BLAUGUSTINE

Blue Monday Fats Domino

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Being tagged by esteemed poet and friend Dick Jones of Patteran Pages is not something that can be brushed off and when it even includes an award, my reprehensible but unabashed need for attention spurs me to accept graciously. So, here's the award (thank you, Dick):

Kreativ Blogger award

The rules: I must list seven things I love. Too few for me but here's a selection, in constantly changing order:

My family.

Being alone with a special person.

Food and conversation with close friends.

Dancing wildly by myself to groovy old 45rpm records.

Drawing or painting from life, anywhere.

Sitting in cafés writing or observing.

Making and editing a video on my Mac.

And I must now choose seven of my favourite blogs and pass on the award. If they accept, they must in turn repeat the whole process and link to me when doing so. It's very hard to limit myself since I have a blogroll and that's already my favourites. Here goes, but remember, anyone not included, I love you and award you too:

cassandra pages

via negativa


never neutral

dem stimson

(Dem, maybe this will spur you to blog more often?)

porous borders

linda severn

(a brand new creative blogger I want to encourage and whom you should visit)

Over to you now.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Talking to myself, so if it sounds like a lecture, that's probably what it is. The speaker in my head is often standing on a soap-box and has a pencil at the ready. For underlining. Just in case I miss the point.