Monday, 8 August 2011


At the end of the last couple of years I have created secular cards to send good wishes to friends and acquaintances (see a much earlier post for the last one from late 2010). Here's the first one - and both tip the hat to the late songsmith Ian Dury, naturally.


In these six fragments of the bigger piece you can see me testing possibilities. . . of interesting tensions between the elements of text and image – the relationships between content and empty space – the cropping of larger images – creation of material that teases a reader, rather than just handing over the goods clearly in terms of what links to what in the scheme of things.
Also here, the hand-written text that has remained throughout my editions, and proven popular with readers it seems.
All these factors have been – I'd like to think – refined in the editions I made from 2004 onwards.







Here is the very first visual experiment I made that tips the hat towards the entire ongoing
'bio auto graphic'
style of telling my own story.
In the good company of my oldest pal Michael Cumming (Westmorland-born two days after me and my neighbour in the maternity ward in the autumn of 1962 – now a director of televisual comedy for some years) I made a road trip in an open-top Landrover, up and across to Lincolnshire. We headed there to attend a grand weekend gathering of old pals at the home of David & Fiona Carruthers.
In this strange, flat, largely unknown land – unsettling when you're from land of hills and verticality – our storylines converged once again, laughs were laughed and the geographical distances that usually separated us forgotten. . .

After the fact – and using a spare line style that had surfaced in my work as a storyboard artist in recent years – I made this one-sheet impression of the experience.
I can't even clearly remember why I sat down and did it, though it certainly forms a foundation stone for an entire – enjoyable – working methodology with which I still tinker.

It was that tentative first step, and – as has often been the case – it was friends that somehow inspired me to take it.

My next few posts will show details of the above which, as here, you can click on to enlarge. . .
NB - If you read back through the next six posts in reverse order you'll get the original flow of the narrative as intended.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Walking with The Dane Pt.2: Soul-food

The performance of the Marlowe play proved a real treat.
We had long wanted to visit the theatre. What a setting and atmosphere.
We had sought the solace of a seat – and even additional cushion voucher – rather than the cheaper – and undoubtedly vivid – option of standing throughout.
From this placing, stage left, we relished a performance by Paul Hilton (Faust) and Arthur Darvill (Mephistopheles) and a superb cast. The setting and flavour were very much in the style of the play's period (including some haunting sleight-of-hand special effects) but the themes – as we've all sold our souls on occasion – are no less relevant today.
I cannot recommend it – both play and venue – highly enough.

"When all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall be purified,
All places shall be hell that are not heaven."

Leaving the theatre under the deep night sky and walking back across the Millenium Bridge, the feeling of connection to the city, and the lives of past inhabitants, was vivid.
Thanks to Mette for the photos.

Walking with The Dane Pt.1: River's edge

My dear Mette and I have once again been treading the streets of the metropolis during her recent visit.
A particular delight was to head towards the river and - before attending the Globe Theatre for their current production of Marlowe's 'Doctor Faustus' that evening - wet our feet in the sands and silt of the shore at Bankside. Twenty feet below the tourist yackety- yack outside the Tate, the noise drops away and there's the whiff of age, the uneasy creaking of decay and the mutter of the water.
Warmth under frowning clouds.

Meanwhile, at Guildford Cathedral. . .

In the parallel universe of my lecturing job for University for the Creative Arts in Epsom there was the annual ceremony and celebration for the students as they graduated recently.
It's always good to meet parents and partners as the ex-3rd Year prepare to make The Great Leap Forwards and bid a fond farewell.
Here I am with Louisa Brooks (left) and Michelle Siddall (right) on the day. I'm the old crock in the middle.
Thanks for the photo, girls.

The Rochester Castle Pt.8: Nigel Burch (detail)

The Rochester Castle Pt.7 - Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here etc.

The Rochester Castle Pt.6 - Darwin's Proof

The Rochester Castle Pt.5 - Not a Dry Seat In The House

The Rochester Castle Pt.4 - High Noonan

The Rochester Castle Pt.3 - House of Lost Souls

The Rochester Castle Pt. 2: The Army of the Dissolution

The Rochester Castle: The Hieronymous Bosch Casting Agency Pt. 1

There is a public house called The Rochester Castle, in Stoke Newington, London N16. Therein it is my wont to take beers with my friend Nigel Burch (of whom elsewhere).
To try and capture the mix and match of the place, the veering moods and swinging that goes on, I have lately taken to stealing the images of the drinkers that frequent it.
Here - and in other imminent posts - I lodge some of the sketchbook material as record of this.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

How others see me - Number 1

Occasionally I receive images that friends and acquaintances have done of me.
While this blog revolves particularly around my autobiographical pictures of myself I thought it might add a strand to the mix to include some of those others, here and there.
This first one was slipped on the back of a letter by my old teaching colleague Ian Hay - a sure hand with pastels but here lowering his standards to walk the ink line with me.
In case you're curious, I've Googled him, and apparently Mister Arthur Helliwell was a Fleet Street reporter with a seedy Soho beat back in the black and white days.
It's not not a compliment. . .

Friday, 5 August 2011

Who drew Who?

A marvellous exhibition at the splendid Cartoon Museum, with flyer illustration by Paul Grist and James Offredi.

For those Whoheads out there there's a chance to see exquisite original artwork from the eleven incarnations of the Time Lord, and learn about this parallel universe through which he's moved – beyond our TV screens – for almost 50 years.

Timey-wimey gorgeousness.
Vworp vworp!


As BBC 4 comes to the close of the re-run of Krister Henrikkson's second series as detective Kurt Wallander (created by Swedish author Henning Mankell), I can only say that, if you have a taste for this kind of stuff, you should perhaps consider the investment of the series on DVD?
Available in the last few months, beginning with the initial seven 90 - minute episodes of Henrikksen's first series (from production company Yellow Bird), this is - beyond the confines of genre - exemplary drama; intelligent script and direction, subtle tones of performance and theme.
All human life is there, I swear.
So - treat yourself.
Henrikkson's performance is truly captivating.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


As a start to a new slew of posts to grace these digital spaces – before the Dog Days of August hit good and proper – here is a page I completed for a book called 'Preoccupations: Things Artists Do Anyway', edited by Cordelia Erdmann and Michael Lee Hong Hwee, published in Hong Kong back in 2008.
It speaks of my fatal weakness for the recreational revolution that have been the DVD boxed set.
As with all images here, if you click upon't it will enlarge for your reading pleasure. . .