Saturday, November 30, 2019


Coffee, cake and great conversation with Steven Appleby this afternoon and he took home his portrait. So delighted the real Steven and the painted-by-me one will be living happily together ever after.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


I met the Hungarian photographer George Cserna in New York City in the early fifties. I can't remember the circumstances but he asked if he could take some photos of me in the studio I had way downtown in 4th Street.

Then in 1956 he turned up again in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I was a student at the Instituto Allende. Cserna took some more photos there on a day when Reg Dixon (who was teaching ceramics) was posing for the class and I was painting him.

Natalie d'Arbeloff in her studio, NewYork City 1953. Photo by George Cserna.

Getting serious.
Reg Dixon and I got married in 1957.

The portrait I painted in San Miguel de Allende now hangs in the Vancouver home of Valerie Dixon, Reg's youngest daughter, my very dear friend.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Monday, November 25, 2019

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Watched the Corbyn/Johnson debate on ITV last night and it was obvious (to me) that Corbyn won hands down. He was dignified, concise, relevant, whereas Boris was only Boris and nothing else. His bumbling, stumbling, childish attempts to evade answering questions by turning everything into attacks on Corbyn were transparently pathetic and his boring repetition of the mantra GET-BREXIT-DONE was an insult to everybody's intelligence.

There was a lot of laughter from the audience at times, which cheered me up no end.

Saturday, November 16, 2019


Strange clouds yesterday.
Do you see what I saw in them?

What if nothing is ever random?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


Do you ever think about this?

All the complicated processes which keep us alive function WITHOUT OUR HAVING TO THINK ABOUT THEM.

Heart beats in perfect rhythm, lungs breathe in and out, blood flows exactly where it's supposed to flow, nerves, cells, etc. etc. all carry out their duties without a word of instruction from us. Therefore what I want to know is:

Given that the essential functions on which the body's existence depends generally operate with admirable efficiency without conscious thought, why then does consciousness behave so unreliably?

All by themselves, fingernails and toenails grow with what seems to me astonishing speed. Why doesn't wisdom grow inside consciousness with similar speed? Why does the body UNCONSCIOUSLY function harmoniously whereas consciousness has to strive, struggle, suffer and sweat to achieve just a small portion of harmony?

Monday, November 11, 2019


"It takes quite a while for there to be created in the brain a hierarchy of what's most important in one's life and when finally it is made, and in the auditorium the lights are switched on one by one, the result is, as with all good theatre, true bordering on false. Our biographies are, give or take a little, what we choose."
Marius Kociejowski

Trying to psych myself back into the spirit of Double Entendre, my autobio-graphic-novel-in-very-slow-progress, this absolutely relevant quote from the wonderful God's Zoo - Artists, Exiles, Londoners (Carcanet 2014) spurs me on. 

Sometimes, if there's a welcoming silence around you, voices appear out of nowhere with exactly the right words you need to hear.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

I'm Voting Labour

Monday, November 04, 2019


Cold, grey, blah day in London. The only remedy is making faces.

Saturday, November 02, 2019


It's one of those days when I want to clear up, make space. If I were a farmer I would plow a field or if I were John Bercow I could shout ORDER OORRDERR!

My studio is too small for all the stuff, all the past accumulated, saved, roughly stored.

In an old portfolio I found this portrait of my sister Annie which I painted in Paris when I was eighteen and she was twenty-two. I like it. I also like this abstract around 1956 in Vermont, during my drawing-with-string period which didn't last very long.

ANNIE AT 22. NdA 1947. Oil on hessian (burlap) 38 x 46 cms (15 x 18 inches)  

CONNECTIONS. NdA circa 1956. Oil and string on board. 35 x 50 cms (14 x 20 inches)

Friday, November 01, 2019


Extremely sad news that Frances McDowall died las week. She was the other half of Nicolas McDowall and of The Old Stile Press, their unique and marvellous creation, lovingly nurtured by both of them since 1979.

My friendship and collaboration with Frances and Nicolas over many years has been a joy and inspiration and it is impossible to think of The Old Stile Press without Frances' calm, strong, positive presence. My heartfelt condolences to Nicolas and his family. I can't find the words at present.

Watch this video of an interview with the McDowalls by Studio International in 2018.

Frances and Nicolas McDowall
Linocut of Frances and Nicolas by NdA. Haiku by Nicolas McDowall, part of a suite of fourteen relief prints by seven artists at the invitation of Bill Garnett in response to "BE STILL" twelve haiku from the valley of the Wye by Nicolas McDowall, published by The Old Stile Press.