Wednesday, September 11, 2019

BRAVO BERCOW!


John Bercow, Speaker of the House. Someone who is not afraid to tell it like it is.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

PLANT PROTEST?

I have a strong, healthy, tall, very old plant sitting in a pot at the top of the stairs to my attic studio. She has plenty of light, food and care and seems happy. But lately she has begun to do something very odd: she tosses soil around.

I am not joking. Only yesterday I vacuumed around the pot where handfuls of soil had yet again popped up and sprayed the surroundings. The pot is not overly full and the compost is well patted down around the plant's trunk.
Today she has somehow, all by herself, spat out dirt again. What's more, there's a sink hole in the compost. like a hollow space under the topsoil, even though the pot is full. There are no dogs, cats, birds, mice or insects in the house.

P.S.
Since writing the above, I've figured out that what's most likely happening is that the plant's roots have grown too big for the pot, they are squeezed and thus pushing the soil up. That's why it's spilling over the rim of the pot. I've got to re-pot the plant but it's such a heavy chore, I'll have to find someone to help.


Wednesday, September 04, 2019

BRIGHTNESS IN THE GLOOM

In my local cafe this afternoon reading the gloomy news I looked up and saw this bright vision.

THE END OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY?

Spent too much time yesterday watching the mesmerising chaos unfolding in Parliament and noticing how much better ITV and Channel 4 news broadcasting is compared to the BBC.

Quite fun in an appalling sort of way to watch Boris Johnson shooting himself in the foot simply by displaying the devious, pretentious, hypocritical, scheming and basically ineffective person he is, totally unfit to be leader of this country or anywhere else apart from Clownland.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

CLOUD AND SILVER LINING?

If there's one good thing about the Boris Johnson farce it's that Jeremy Corbyn may well be elected Prime Minister.

I know that some of you, even some of my best friends, would not be happy about this. All I can say is: wait and see.

 Good article here.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

NOT THE WORLD NEWS

Started a new portrait. Won't say anymore about it until it's done.

Also clearing space to get down to seriously finishing my graphic novel, Double Entendre.

Also received the walking stick I ordered: it's blue with shiny silver dots - at least it doesn't look like an oldie's stick. Or shtick.

Monday, August 26, 2019

POST-NINE OH

Post nine oh
Where do I stand?
On right hip gone wrong
On right leg in feeble protest?
Neon-blue stick
Is in the post
Your order can no longer
be changed.


Ah yes, your order!
That is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler
In the mind
To stand and struggle
Or to sit and watch teevee
Until the cows
The blind cows
Come home?

Nothing like a good cliché
To distract you
From the point
My point
This Monday morning
This freefrom carnival morning
Was where do I stand
After the big nine oh?

The answer my friends
The only proper answer
To a rhetorical question is
Beh.......

Thursday, August 15, 2019

MORE BIRTHDAY PARTY

Just to round off the birthday another photo then I'll move on.
If you can access Facebook there's an album of about 37 more taken by Habie Schwartz that night.

This is when we're all singing Je Ne Regrette Rien.



Saturday, August 10, 2019

BIG BIRTHDAY PARTY

Thank you so much dear friends far and near for your most welcome birthday wishes.

 My party at a local pub on the seventh of August was excellent. I forbade the most boring song ever invented (Happy Birthday) and instead conducted everyone to sing along with me (in French) the much more appropriate Je Ne Regrette Rien made famous by Edith Piaf.

Whatever age you reach on your next birthday, I suggest that you do likewise, sing JNRR, as a choir, with feeling, and you might find that any left-over regrets vanish like smoke.

I didn't take a single photo but others did and a whole album of terrific ones of the whole party, taken by my friend Habie Schwartz, have been posted of her Facebook page as well as mine. If you're not on FB or can't connect to it, I'll try to post at least some of the pics here later.

JE NE REGRETTE RIEN  Lyrics by Michel Vaucaire (translated by moi).  Music by Charles Dumont

No, absolutely nothing
There's nothing I regret
Not the good
Or the bad
It's all the same to me.

No, absolutely nothing
There's nothing I regret
It's been paid
Swept away
Forgotten
Don't give a damn about the past.

With all my souvenirs
I lit a roaring bonfire
All my pains, my pleasures
Don't need them anymore

Swept away all my loves
With their tremolos
Swept away forever
I'm starting from scratch.

No, absolutely nothing
There's nothing I regret.
My life, my joys
From today
It all begins with you.



Wednesday, August 07, 2019

VERY LARGE BIRTH DAY

Big birth day today. Since I publicly confessed back in January the actual number of years I've been on this planet, no need to mention THAT number again, right?

Okay I will mention it again. Here's the full shocking confession, published in the Guardian in January. Ignore the photo, I look better than that in person.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

MORE NdA WORKS TO TEMPT YOU

Here's another small work for your (potential) NdA collection.

THE BAIT  NdA (circa 1970s)
Construction. Wood, wire, acrylic on board.
Framed. 12.4" x 10.5" x 1"inches.  (32 x 26.5 x 2 cms)


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

LATEST PORTRAIT FINISHED

Early this year Valerie commissioned me to paint a portrait of her late mother Ellen and sent me some photos to work from. Among these was one of Ellen as a young mother with baby Val. I finished the portrait recently and today the baby - now a beautiful and brilliant young lawyer in Vancouver - came over and saw the painting for the first time.
Ellen and baby Valerie. NdA 2019. Oil on canvas 14 x 18 inches.
Valerie and portrait of herself as baby with her young mother Ellen. Photo taken by Natalie  30th July 2019
 A significant thing is that Valerie and I are sort of related. Not blood-related, more a circumstantial kind of relationship: her late father Reg was married to me before his marriage to her Mum Ellen. It was and is all fine and what's interesting is that it feels as if Val and I are literally related, we get on so well. I also wish I looked more like her than like me but that's beside the point. 

I'm so happy that this portrait will soon be hanging in her home, next to the portrait of Reg I painted in Mexico long before she was born.

Portrait of Reg Dixon by NdA. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 1956. Duco on board.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

START AN NdA COLLECTION?

I'm going to gradually post photos of some of my small works from various periods which you might like to own. If so please private message me. I need to clear the decks.

These two are picturepoems.

WHO AM I? NdA 1971 Gouache on paper.
Image size: 17 x 24 cms unframed.
Framed (with mount, under glass) 35.5 x 27cms





AMAZING   NdA 1971 Gouache on paper.
Image size: 17 x 24 cms unframed.
Framed (with mount, under glass: 35.5 x 27cms

Thursday, July 25, 2019

KEEPING FIT?

Am supposed to go to the gym class right now and spend an hour riding various machines designed to oblige (as in force) parts of the anatomy to move in unaccustomed - or currently unaccustomed - ways. The object of this regime is to improve my hip ostheoarthriticktick situation.

I put on my gym gear: trainers, t-shirt (long sleeves) and leggings. Am I going to the gym? Probably not. Definitely maybe not. I don't know. Have to take a bus then walk a short distance to get there. It's insupportably hot today, as you know. Anyone going to a non-aircon gym in this heat must be crazy. I am a little bit crazy but also rational. 

Why would I wear a long-sleeved t-shirt in tropical heat? If that question didn't cross your mind I'm sorry but I'll answer it anyway.

Some of you will have noticed, perhaps even on your own persona, one of the many un-beautiful things which happen to the human body as it ages. Skin becomess thinner and looser. When I dry my hands on those machines in public loos the skin on the back of my hands and arms flaps around like sails in a hurricane. It's funny but it ain't beautiful. No it's not.

If you're one of those people who say it's all beautiful and whoopee, let it all hang out! I will bow to you and praise you, if you wish, but I won't join you. I will wear la ong sleeved t-shirt to the gym.
I've missed the class now.

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS


The brilliant Irish journalist Fintan O'Toole saying it exactly as it is on Channel 4 News yesterday.

Why can't there be people like this as leaders of countries instead of that weird species known as politicians?

Here is the link to that interview.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

NEW LEADER OF THE UK

I've cooked up/mashed up this image, inspired by this poem,  to mark this day.

OZYMANDIIAS

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley  1818

Sunday, July 21, 2019

NUMBER MAGIC

Every four months or so I have lowlights done (opposite of highlights) so as to regain or retain some semblance of youthful-ish appearance. One must keep up appearances, especially with a big, gigantic, Methuselah-size birthday looming over the horizon.

Pleased with the result at a local salon I asked the woman who dresses my hair to guess how old I am.
She thought for a while then said this word:

FIFTY

She wasn't being polite or sarcastic or joking.
She really meant fifty. 50

Before leaving I embraced her.

Is there an Oscar for compliments that are intended as facts?
I want to give her that Oscar.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

A TOAST TO THE OLDIE

Now for something completely different.

Do toasters have emotions?
Of course not.
However.

My elderly toaster, about 30 years old, recently stopped functioning. The plunger thing wouldn't stay down. Being a DIY person I looked up the tech info. It said that a thorough crumb-cleaning might solve the problem. I did that. Problem not solved. I accepted that old toaster has reached retirement age.

I surfed the web for a new toaster, inexpensive but above £3.99. Found one for about £20 which seemed fine. Took it home, undid the massive wrappings, put in on the counter in place of the old one. It was fat, shiny, with a snazzy red front, self-confident.

I started packing the old toaster to put outside for some passer-by to befriend. Then I thought I'd try it one more time, just in case. I put in two slices of my bakery-bought-sliced-by-me bread. The plunger stayed down. The bread toasted perfectly.

I took the new toaster back to the shop and got a refund. The oldie is behaving beautifully.

What's the moral of this story?
Well, obviously, oldie was upset and jealous that it was about to be replaced and when it saw the actual replacement it went haywire, repaired its own wires or whatever and came back to life.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

FAKE NEWS MASTER CLASS

It doesn't take rocket science or extra-sensory perception to work out what's going on here. The farcical, chaotic shenanigans taking place in the Tory party are surely causing frenzied nail-biting and tooth-grinding in the corridors of power, wherever these corridors may be and whoever is pacing the floor therein. The merest soupçon of possibility that Jeremy Corbyn could enter No.10 because people MIGHT lose faith in Tory shenanigans must be prevented at all costs and by all means, foul or fair. but foul always works better. 

So prime the media, spread the smears, use evil-looking photoshopped photos, sinister music, make sure the message is repeated: Labour Party+ Jeremy Corbyn= Anti-Semitiic. And if that isn't enough, he's also too old and frail to be Prime Minister (headline in the Times recently).

If you watched Panorama tonight "Is the Labour Party Anti-Semitic?" (loaded question like "when did you stop beating your wife?") did it remind you of a propaganda film, all the tricks that they use?

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

MULTI-MEDIA BABY

Sunday evening at the Horse Hospital (not a hospital, no horses) in Bloomsbury, Chiara Ambrosio and Mikey Kirkpatrick celebrated the first birthday of their daughter with a light-the-night party graced with music, poetry, animation, cake, friends and, of course, one year-old Alma Luz Esperanza herself. I sang Malagueña Salerosa for her, since her names are in Spanish and she is indeed linda y hechicera (beautiful and bewitching).

Chiara Ambrosio singing her song.

Alma Luz Esperanza and her Dad Mikey Kirkpatrick

Mikey Kirkpatrick and his daughter Alma Luz Esperanza.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

HOW TO BE TOP DOG

REQUIREMENTS FOR BEING PRIME MINISTER, PRESIDENT, TOP DOG, BIG CHEESE, GANG LEADER:

1. Know how to lie confidently, fluently, boldly, shamelessly.

2. Lie about lying, as above.

3. Be a role model: let them learn how to win via all the above.

4. Be a boor, a bore, a buffoon, a bastard, a betrayer. They will call it charisma.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

BODY REBUILDING

Here's me back from the gym, feeling virtuously achy. They have state of the art equipment, acres of it, full of people in various states of uber-fitness, uber-decay and simple normal what-the-hellness. All good.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

ITALIAN THINKING

My old friend from Rome, Gaetano Trusso, architect-poet-translator of Persian poetry but not fitting any pigeonholes, as is the case with all my close friends and family, was here last week and of course we spoke Italian, with the odd French or English phrase inserted now and then.

I noticed that my ongoing inner monologue changes languages whenever I spend time with someone whose native tongue is different from mine, if I happen to know that tongue. I start to think in Italian, for instance, and my thinking takes on an Italianate character. I don't mean pasta adverts and lots of hand gestures but another range of thoughts, other vibrations, other colours. Finding links between apparently disparate things, a collage kind of thinking, more like flying than driving.



Sunday, June 02, 2019

Dear Christine exhibition opens in Newcastle

I've never been to Newcastle. Newcastle is amazing. Those up and down streets, wonderful buildings, the river, the bridges, one of them glowing rainbowly at night, and the people, the people! Unbelievably friendly, all of them, at least the five ot six I accosted in the street to ask for directions. They instantly stopped what they were doing, talking on their phones or whatever, and accompanied me on my search. Where else would you find such friendliness? Eventually I got to the Vane, somewhat late at the Private View. 

I intended to take photos of everything and everyone but forgot that communicating with people and taking pictures at the same time doesn't really work. I did manage a few shots and no doubt lots more photos will be posted by others. There is an excellent hardback catalogue, fully illustrated.
 
I'm so glad I was there, the launching of the Dear Christine exhibition, and Fionn Wilson deserves more than one standing ovation for the persistence, dedication, attention and affection she has poured into this project since she conceived it. Christine Keeler would surely have been moved by this reframing and reclaiming of herself as an individual rather than a mere player in the he tragi-comedy that was the Profumo Affair.











Saturday, May 25, 2019

NEW PORTRAIT FINISHED

Among the insanely nerve-wracking things that we humans choose to do, painting a portrait ranks up there with walking a tightrope between skyscrapers. If that seems wildly exaggerated then you have never sat in front of a live person, brush and palette in hand, staring at them while they stare back, your mind and senses on a roller coaster between order and chaos, confidence and despair. Never mind that you've been through this process innumerable times in your artist life and that, in principle, you know what you're doing. Because every single time it's different and every single time that tightrope is wobbling and there's no safety net and you are about to fall. Yep, that's how it is.

Here's the finished portrait, carried away today, and allelulia, my subject loves it. He asked me not to give his name as the painting is a surprise gift for someone, to be presented on a special occasion. It's been about 6 weeks since I started this commission, he sat for me twice, I also took some photos.
Now to continue another portrait which is in progress. That one is entirely from photos, of necessity.

Portrait of (temporarily)Anonymous.  NdA 2019. Oil on canvas 50 x 60 cms

Saturday, May 11, 2019

TOO LITTLE TIME

Busy painting two portrait commissions. And the Christine Keeler exhibition, Dear Christine, opens at The Vane in Newcastle very soon: Private View 31 May (am going of course), public opening 1st June.

Why is time speedng up so much? What can be done to slow it down? Come on, some gadget is just waiting to be invented.

Just to prove I haven't disappeared:



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

WHERE IS COMPASSION?

Why aren't huge crowds marching in the streets about this?
Why isn't it headline news in all the press?
How is 'urgency' decided?

And Donald Trump is officially invited on a state visit over here in the UK!

Please share widely.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

RESURRECTION TIME

Plant life dies and resurrects on a regular basis with a minimum of fuss. Why don't we? The winters of our discontent more often lead to disillusion and dissolution rather than spring-like resurrection.
Speaking metaphorically of course.

The weight of the past, personally or historically, chains us to the ground, pulls us gradually deeper into immobility. Physically there's only so much we can do to regain flexibility but mentally and supra-mentally, can we resurrect every Spring, like a tree does?

I look around the room where I'm sitting. Almost every object I see is a reminder of something I need to do or have done before. Where is the explosion of flowers? The new growth on my old branches? H'm. Gotta think about this and try to resurrect tomorrow.

Happy Easter, Passover, Springtime, resurrection-time my dear friends everywhere, flowers to you all.


Resurrection. Ink drawing by NdA from Scenes from the Life Of Jesus. Old Stile Press 2011

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

NOTRE DAME BURNS

It will be rebuilt but something is gone forever.
Je pleure pour toi, Notre Dame. et pour nous tous.

Yes yes yes. the Big Money should have been there immediately for Grenfell Tower survivors and yes it should be there for all the other urgent needs and crucial causes everywhere, yes yes YES! But that doesn't mean we can't also mourn this loss. It's not 'just' a buildimg, not 'only' a historical artefact. Feelings don't have to be rationed, doled out parsimoniously as if there won't be enough to go round.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

LAST PHOTO OF AWARD WINNERS

Okay one last plug for this event: the group photo on Sunday 31 March at Free Word Cenre. You can always tell which one is me because I'm the shortest person.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

MORE ABOUT LAYDEEZ DO COMICS AWARD WEEKEND


In my everyday life silence is the default modus vivendi and it's not unusual for me not to speak with anyone, apart from local shopkeepers, for many days. So the Laydeez do Comics Festival weekend was like going on a talking/listening holiday and all the more fun for that reason.
There were so many stories to tell and hear and look at on the long table where all of the 50 or so graphic entries to the competition were displayed and, because each one's subject matter was autobiographical, it was illuminating to realise how infinitely varied we all are in our self-image, experiences and styles of presenting ourselves to the world via words and images.

One of the bonuses of being shortlisted was to be gifted an hour's review session with a prestigious graphic novelist and my one-to-one was with Rachael Ball whose moving 541-page opus The Inflatable Woman (Bloomsbury) I had bought and admired when it was published in 2015, not knowing then that we'd be sitting together at the Free Word Centre discussing my embryonic Double Entendre. Rachael gave me constructive, practical and imaginative suggestions which will spur and cheer me on the long winding road of completing my gnovel.

On Sunday at the Awards presentation, the shortlisted sat in a row facing the audience and we were each given the mic to say a few words. I didn't expect this and probably talked too much but I have no idea what I said. A lovely surprise was to hear Rosalind Penfold (pseudonym), originator of that prize, speaking with me via Skype from Canada (voice only, no video).

Altogether a memorable, invigorating, encouraging weekend filled with creative, positive, open-hearted people doing their best to support each other and make life enjoyable. What's not to love? 
Thank you to all the marvellous LDC team, to the people I had long or short conversations with, and to all those I didn't have a chance to talk with but hope to meet again.

 Shortlisters lined up on stage (I'm the short one on the end). Andy Oliver, Editor of Broken Frontier, speaking.
 
A Twitter post about the Skyped conversation with Roz Pnfold.


All the writing on the Free Word Centre walls and the props around the rooms are a current installation by Travis Alabanza and Denny Kaulbach.

My video was playing on a loop on Saturday but unfortunately without the soundtrack and the room was too brightly lit to see it clearly.


Graphic novel publishers' tables on Sunday.

Rachael Ball in Renoir and/or Manet mode behind the cake bar.

A mini-comics fan.

Nicola Streeten and Lucinda Sieger taking a break on pink satin bed, part of the installation.


More writing on the walls, more props.