Thursday, 6 December 2012

First Snow of Winter

Just five days after the official meteorological start to Winter. We awoke this morning with a bit of a shiver and were greeted with the first snow of the winter, this was the scene at 7.30am along our street. The tartist and I were at work for 8.00 to do the breakfast shift  after which we got our heads together to finalise our plans for the new Artcafé menu, the winter theme was helped considerably by the view from table 6 of a snowy churchyard. For my part I've been flirting with the idea of some sort of drawing or painting-a-day for year type project for 2013. Now this been nagging away for some time at the back of my mind and is a scary thought but tantalising at the same time. Painting a day type blogs and projects are nothing new and there are ever so many across the virtual world including some extremely good ones like this one by American artist Duane Keiser I discovered the other day. If I choose to do it I have to be sure it's going to bring something to my work and not just massage my ego, well, I've still a couple of weeks to make up my mind and then work out what form it might take... watch this chilly space, as they say.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Almost Mid-Winter on the Island

 'Strood Channel' ~ Pastel on Paper

Having just returned from a bracing walk along the Coast Road and with the feeling beginning to return to my fingertips I thought I'd put pen to paper again (or curser to pixel) on what has become a somewhat sporadic blog. The days are almost at their shortest now and although unlike yesterday the temparature has not been minus, the easterly wind coming up the river Blackwater had an eyewatering bite to it. By 4pm it was almost dark, but minutes earlier the setting sun had peeked through the cloud over Tollesbury and set the sky alight for a few fleeting minutes. With the light fading as I turned into the High Street I saw a cloud of Starlings doing that spectacular swirling around they like to do before going off to roost. The Brent Geese are well and truly encamped around the saltmarshes now and I'm pleased to say we can hear their familiar honking sounds down on the Strood from our bedroom at night. And so it's almost mid winter and the island is as cold as it should be, dark about 4.30 and thoughts inevitably are turning towards Christmas, my thoughts have also turned towards producing some winter paintings after my chilly afternoon walk along the waterfront.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Yobs From The Bank

Yesterday I took the train up to London to visit the Affordable Art Fair, which was a very interesting trip but that's not what I'm going to tell you about today. I've written a little on banking before on theartistandthetartist alluding to the Quaker capitalists and their principled approach to banking. In contrast I'd like to share a very loud and aggressive mobile phone conversation I overheard on the train yesterday from the seat behind me. Here a large, suited gent. was sitting, yelling at a colleague (back at the office I assume) in expletive riddled tones for the whole carriage to hear. The poor chap on the receiving end obviously had not acted fast enough on some 'deal' or other.

"Craig, I don't think you've even read the f#**#ng e-mail, go back and read the f#**#ng e-mail, then call the client and tell him he can draw down on the money, do it, now. Craig, you're not f#**#ng listening to me, if you do it now, it don't actually matter if it's 'arf a percent or one percent, call 'im now, tell 'im he can draw down an' we're lookin' at sixty grand each in our f#**#ng account before Christmas."

Mmm nice. I don't know whether Craig got his finger out or not, and don't much care but the point about this conversation is the overtly greedy tone of the whole transaction. I don't know whether our friend and his colleague Craig were pimping draw down mortgages or loans or whatever, but the point that struck me was, neither did they.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Going for gold in Bexhill-on-Sea

I have to confess that the run up to the 2012 London Olympics has me pretty nonplussed really, especially the bewildering greed and opportunism of the sponsors that have hitched themselves on the back of the whole event. That said one or two things have actually managed to capture my imagination, like this piece/installation by sculptor Richard Wilson that is part of the cultural olympiad, a series of artyfarty events running in tandem to the sporting one. Perched on the roof of the De La Warr Pavillion in Bexhill-on-Sea is his piece "Hang On A Minute Lads, I've Got A Great Idea..." a brilliant tongue in cheek balancing act.
Eddie Izzard who helped fund the piece says "By the end of 2012 I would hope that the word goes out from our country that not only do we run excellent world events, but also we balance coaches on the edges of buildings like no one else ever could.” Well said Eddie, at the end of this expensive, frenzied Olympic fortnight when all the golds, silvers and bronzes are counted we will indeed boast that we can balance a coach on the edge of a building like no one else.

Friday, 8 June 2012

TBTE 08.06.2012

Evening Sunshine On The Oyster Pits

We've had a very windswept couple of days here on Mersea and whilst out walking the dog we were treated to a break in the clouds and rain to reveal some evening sunshine. In the foreground all the paraphernalia of the oyster trade and in the background the sailing barge 'Dawn', a scene unchanged for centuries. With more unseasonal high winds and rain forecast my walk along the waterfront in the evening sun was a welcome break from the hectic menu design and planning going on at the Artcafé this week.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Our Perspective on Tymperleys

Yesterday we gave a statement to James Calnan of The Daily Gazette here in Colchester, only a small portion was used so here you can read it in full.

"Our dispute is not with Wilkin and Sons, they are an ethical company with an enviable reputation, we have been using Tiptree products in our café for almost 10 years. They are not the cheapest but they are the best. Our dispute is with Colchester Borough Council because who in their right mind would allow another business to cross their land to open up next door in competition without a protest….we would never win The Apprentice that’s for sure.
This is not fundamentally about competition, we have been in business long enough to know that competition can be a very good thing and we have confidence in our ‘homemade brand’ its about certain principles ie: the fact that Colchester Borough Council must have known that they didn’t own the archway and probably assumed that we would say nothing. We are not so naïve as to not realise we risk being portrayed as the bad guys in all of this but who wouldn’t stand up for themselves in a similar position? We owe it to our business, our hard working staff and loyal customers. The dispute has gone to adjudication with the Land Registry so we have no influence over what happens next, realistically we don’t expect to win this but we had to make a stand.

We were really disappointed when Colchester Borough Council closed Tymperleys it is a genuine heritage site of real importance to Colchester and should be open to the people of the town to enjoy as Bernard Mason intended. The sad thing is that with so much money allocated across town towards Firstsite/VAF it had to be closed at all."

We didn't ask for any of this, it's been dumped on our doorstep by Colchester Borough Council who decided that they didn't need to check who owned what before proceeding with offering a lease. We could have done without all this quite frankly.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Easter Paradox

Here in the middle of the Easter weekend I find myself compelled to put a little time aside to post something here and paradoxically lost for what it should be. So what I have settled on is a painting and just a few thoughts. Easter has always seemed loaded with paradox the more I think about it, not least for the fact that the most pivotal and important event in the christian narrative has somehow got itself strangely entangled into what was a pagan celebration and hence its moving timetable around the lunar cycle. I've been drawn to one painting in particular this time 'Crucified Tree Form - the agony'
by Theyre Lee-Elliott (1903-1988)
from the Methodist art collection and I thank my mate banksyboy for introducing me to this wonderful collection. The painting as the title suggests very directly conveys the agony of the crucifixion with none of the often bolted on distractions of iconography that often clutter pieces about this subject, instead we find a string of barbed wire, rotting flesh on a rather jaundice yellow background.

The artist Theyre Lee Elliott I have discovered to my surprise (after the ubiquitous google search) was a quite brilliant graphic artist too. Brought up as a Christian, but his sister says that he was '..definitely not a practising Christian, Lee Elliot seemed to occupy a space similar to the one I find myself in at the moment, which also resonates with me when I look at this painting.

I can't end this post without confessing that for some unknown reason this Easter I've been thinking about Judas' part in the whole narrative. Perhaps a psycho analyst could shed a bit of light on that! But I seem to keep coming back to his role in this whole story, in fact, how this deeply flawed and tragic person, the ultimate 'bad guy' alters the course of events, of history even, then remorseful he's still unable to live with what he's done.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Woodcut Print For St Valentines'

Here's a very simple two colour design woodblock print I made a couple of years ago for the tartist for St. Valentines' Day. It's actually an MDF print to be precise which I find quite easy to carve but unfortunately MDF being a really soft material doesn't tolerate too many impressions before it breaks up. I used a block for each colour with this one, rather than my preferred reduction method and was kind of taken with the loose registration between the two colours.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow Comes To Mersea Island

So the snow arrived just as the forecasters had predicted, it must have been snowing most of the night because we had a covering of about six inches when we awoke this morning. After a cup of tea from the warm confines of our duvet the tartist and I decided the best course of action was to get outside in it (not innit!).

So we decided to go for a bracing walk down to the Artcafé, where else? for a coffee and a bacon sandwich.

The snow was quite deep and powdery

When we arrived at the Artcafé there was already an improvised sled park as quite a lot of people had obviously had the same idea as us and were warming themselves inside.

As we left the café to continue our walk someone came skidding along in a plastic fish box being towed along on a rope by a Landrover. Please believe me when I tell you this is not at all unusual when it snows here on our island, and is often indulged in after the pub when the bruising effects of such a ride can be dulled by one or two 'tinctures'.

The houseboats on Coast Road

We continued our walk along the coast past the sailing barge 'Dawn' who has become something of a fixture these days on our waterfront as she over-winters beside the oyster pits.

Just beyond in the distance can be seen packing marsh island with the iconic Packing Shed standing on its' stilts amidst the ice.

And the sea really has been freezing this past week when temperatures have barely clawed their way over freezing point during the day, and during the night have been well below.

On past the Company Shed just opening up for business as we continued past and on up The Lane.

When we arrived home tingling from the cold the stove was still well alight to dry us and our boots out, we love our stove, especially in weather like this.

And the tartist cooked us a 'cockle' warming chilli con carne, very seventies, but was just what we needed to complete the day.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Etta James, January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012

Quite a few years back now, I had the good fortune to be introduced to the wonderful voice of Etta James, by my great friend and fellow musician and singer 'Grip'. Back then we'd listen to all kinds of random stuff, making up mix-tapes (remember them?) just searching for inspiration or songs to sing.

Etta James it seems was an enormous influence upon ever so many singers and musicians down the years, so, sadly we learned of her death a couple of days ago. In the spirit of giving thanks for her and her singing I thought I'd post a little something up here. In the unlikely event you've never heard her voice here's a couple of her songs for you to enjoy. RIP. Etta.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Sound Of 2012

So a new year lurches forward already one week old, as the old one recedes rapidly in my rearview mirror. Many questions and some resolutions too, for both me and thetartist. Who will be the sound of 2012? that's a good question, well according to the BBC it's soul singer Michael Kiwanuka who tops their Sound of 2012 list, he really reminds me of Bill Withers. My hope is that perhaps this young man may be in the vanguard of a bunch of emerging songwriters, singers & music makers who will be making music for us that is not 'pasteurised' or 'X-Factored' into a bland stodge.

He's in good company, previous winners include Jessie J, Adele, Mika, Ellie Goulding, Corinne Bailey Rae and Keane.