Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I stayed near Crickhowell, a beautiful part of the Brecon Beacons, in a tiny, cozy two-room cottage, which was fine since I'm only four feet eleven inches high and not very wide but even so, the steep and narrow spiral staircase to the bedroom required some careful contortions. When I wasn't walking and sketching in the countryside or visiting nearby towns, I'd sit indoors and draw. 

The found-object frame around the mirror is one of the thoughtful touches around the cottage.

Even when - especially when - the sky is cloudy, at this time of year the greens are of almost neon brightness while the blackness of the hills is streaked with purples, browns, reds and patches of emerald. I was particularly spellbound by reflections in the river Usk and by the copper-coloured water of the Brecon canal. Narrow boats silently glide by as you walk along the tree-lined banks. Some of the boats are manned by amateur skippers, worriedly looking straight ahead, expecting trouble. 

And there were sheep of course. Plump and peaceful, eating and resting, resting and eating, dutifully taking care of their woolliness.

I spent a few hours in Abergavenny on a day packed with crowds for the Food Festival, which was fun. But what I liked best were the side-streets and the people at the bus queue going home.

Some teddies in this shop are very old, very rare and very expensive.

On my next to last day, I was privileged to be invited to tea at the home of friends of Clive Hicks-Jenkins: William Gibbs and his civil partner Sonthaya. By happy coincidence they live very near the village where I was staying and Clive suggested I look them up. Due to a stupid (my stupidity) dental mishap, I nearly cancelled the appointment but fortunately I was persuaded to ignore vanity and come anyway. It was a memorable afternoon with this most interesting and hospitable couple, a marvellous house and garden, and an art collection that so stunned and inspired me that I quite forgot to take photos. Besides the achievements mentioned at the above link, William is a patron of the arts, collector, critic, lecturer and chairman of various Arts Trusts. With all this activity he still manages to appear relaxed and at ease. Enthusiasm for life and art and a discerning sensibility is evident in every corner of the home that William and Sonthaya share and I'm so grateful that I didn't miss this opportunity to meet them. 

Still seeing the week in Wales in my mind's eye and long may it linger. I took a lot more photos and might post them on Flickr later on. A few more drawings also to come.


Sunday, September 23, 2012


Back from a beautiful week in the greenest of green places on this planet. Will just post some of my sketches tonight and add words and more pictures tomorow.


Friday, September 14, 2012


Time for blogging seems harder to find these days but that's just a lame excuse: truth is I've been reluctant to sit at the computer, don't know why. Anyway I have been busy working on a new project, of which more when the deadline is met, and I've also been playing around with more recycling of some of the stencils from the accordion book. 

As I'm off for a week in the countryside (computer-free) later today, here are some examples to try and keep you from giving up on me  altogether. Will post pictures of my away-days when I return.

First, here's the collagraph block made from left-over stencils. They are pasted over paper which is mounted on canvas. The metallic look is not metal but gold paint I applied over the pasted stencils.

The title of this collagraph is Unexplained Angelic Activity. Of course!

Here is a first intaglio print taken from the above. I inked up the block in the normal way you ink any intaglio plate, wiped it and printed it on damp paper in my etching press. Later I'll work on this print with hand colouring.

Below is a colour version of a second print of the above. I used soft pastels and other media for colouring.


Monday, September 03, 2012


A boat that does not touch water but looks down on the Thames from a great height. A boat designed to remain forever anchored in a famous work of literature. A boat temporarily moored on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Concert Hall. What is it? 

It's Le Roi des Belges, from Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness, AKA A Room for London. I was among a few of Teju Cole's friends privileged to visit the Boat last week during his short residency in this eccentric and beautifully crafted fantasy vessel with a panoramic view of London at its most dazzling. At the above link you can listen to Teju's illuminating podcast recorded on the boat. 

A wonderful time-lapse video of how the Room/Boat was built is here .

The London Review of Books bookshop near the British Museum was host to Teju Cole's reading from Open City, his acclaimed prizewinning novel, and the queue for his signature was long and animated.