Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WHEN COMPLAINING IS A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH

I have a knack for efficient and stubborn complaining. Probably from the French half of my DNA. In my adult life I must have written hundreds of complaint letters, some for myself, some for family or friends who thought I'd do a better job of it than they would. In all fake humility I must admit that, in most cases, (maybe in all cases but I can't remember) my complaints got the desired result.

Thing is, I'm not afraid to rock the boat. Especially when a boat is demonstrably and outrageously leaking. Injustice, deceit, misleading advertising, shoddy goods, negligence, broken contracts, slander, exploitation etc. instantly light my fire and l'm ready for sharply worded battle, all evidence in hand. In my next life I might be a lawyer for human rights. If any humans are left on the earth by then.

Sometimes a local or global crisis starts the complaint wheel spinning in my head and I lie awake inventing stratagems. Admittedly some situations are too big, too complex, too stuffed with experts and deskperts and despots for my little knack to be of any use at all. But the Grenfell Tower tragedy has been in my thoughts and in my heart ever since it happened and now there's also the issue of all the other tower blocks which are at risk of a similar tragedy. Yes, 'authorities' are now thinking about it and there will be meetings, committees, proposals etc.

 But HOW LONG will it take before action? Months? Years? Not good enough!

Look at THIS
and THIS
and tell me if anger as well as despair is not justified. Constructive anger, anger which triggers and energises immediate constructive, effective action.  In a month, maybe less, the tragedy will slip under the carpet, that vast carpet which hides a mountain of wrongs. The issue will be postponed yet again.  Positive anger has a role to play, a vital role.

I had a thought this morning while walking in a cemetery:

Could the families of those affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster lodge a complaint with the Consumers' Association about inferior material used in the cladding? Residents of the building were, after all, consumers. They paid rent and taxes to the Council and therefore all of the building's appliances were products they bought. Could a case be made for them to sue the suppliers of the inferior, dangerous merchandise? As well as the Council, of course. Just as you could sue the makers/sellers of a sofa which burst into flames even though it was labelled fireproof.

 Astonishing clairvoyance in this 1993 House of Cards televison series.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

THINGS I THINK ABOUT IN THE SHOWER

Could the world be run on kindness?

Could a to-do list be made of all the things that need to change in human nature?

And then could we just do it, on ourselves?

And if we can't completely change, could we change on two days a week, like that fast diet?

And if we still need to be selfish, greedy, power-mad, corrupt, intolerant, indifferent, deceitful etc. could we be a bit less of all that on the other days of the week?


And if that works, what would be the increase of kindness in the world?


Any answers?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

STATISTICS ON GOOD AND EVIL?

In the balance sheet of good and evil, what's the score? I wonder if anyone's ever compiled statistics. My ignorant guess is that the good far outnumber the evil, but the evil that the evil do is so terrible that it wipes out vast numbers of those who were doing good, or would have done good had they not died as babies. So statistics are useless.

Look at this devastating tower block fire: even if it started accidentally, it is not an accident. It is a crime and those responsible for it happening cannot claim innocence - they're on the side of evil, active or passive. The heart-stopping evil of strangers.

And look at the good pouring into the neighbourhood, bringing help, support, shelter, food, clothes, sympathy. The heartbreaking kindness of strangers.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ARTIST TRAPPED GOING DOWN A WHITE CUBE!

Got stuck in a lift yesterday. A lift in a cube. A white cube. Have never been stuck in a lift before, ever, so it had to be in the White Cube Gallery in St.James, Piccadilly.

After looking at the few Wayne Thiebaud paintings parsimoniously spaced on the white cubish walls of the upper gallery and been disappointed (they're better in reproduction) I decided, foolishly, to take the lift rather than stairs to the rest of the show in the cube's basement.

Pushed the appropriate going-down buttons and waited. And waited. And waited and waited again and again but no doors opened. I'm not the panicky type and not particularly claustrophobic but this was beginning to worry me. 

A barely visible bell icon on one of the silver buttons indicated it was an alarm. I pressed it. It was a telephone. After several rings a languid voice spoke. Asked me to state the address I was speaking from. Whaddya mean the fucking address I didn't say. I said, sternly, that I was trapped in the lift at the White Cube Gallery and the fucking door wasn't opening. I didn't say fucking door, just door. The voice asked again for the address and this time I must admit I shouted. I shouted that all they had to do was talk to the receptionist on the other side of this fucking lift.

 Finally the door opened and the surprised receptionist, cubishly cool, calm and collected, said "I never heard you". She turned to a visitor and asked "Did you hear anything?" The visitor shrugged. I emerged from the lift and exited the Cube, fuming. Never saw the rest of Wayne Thiebaud's pies and ice cream cones. 

On my way home on the tube, a woman coughed in my face. 

It was one of those days.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

NdA IN BRITISH LIBRARY

On the British Library blog today, excellent post by Jerry Jenkins, Curator of Contemporary British Public Collections, about some of my artist's books recently acquired by the Library. My thanks to Jerry Jenkins, to Richard Price, Head of Contemporary British Collections, and to Ian Cooke, Head of Contemporary British Publications.

A few individual prints from those editions are available for sale here.
And a list of other public collections where some of my artist's books can be seen is here.

Here are the four bookworks acquired by the BL recently. Full details can be found at these links:

1. For A Song 1980  Seven poems & etchings by NdA
2. Fungus & Curmudgeonly 1980 Play by Simon Meyerson, images by NdA
3. The Creation from the Book of Enoch 1992 Extract from the Book of Enoch, etchings by NdA
4. The Word Accomplished 1974 Text by A.B. Christopher, etchings by NdA





Monday, June 12, 2017

IS THIS A POEM?


Sitting in Archway café
small Americano
milk on the side.
Young blonde mum
tête-a-tête with
young blond baby.
Baby's liitle face
turns to observe
the room
takes it all in
takes it all in.
Wahwah soundtrack blaring
blurring my eyes and ears.
Behind the counter
keep-fit manager explains
boxing moves to bored
Brazilian barista.
Baby takes it all in.


REAL FACTS VS FAKE "FACTS"

I posted this link to my Facebook page a few days ago in reply to someone's comment about Jeremy Corbyn's alleged anti-semitism. I want to post it again here for the sake of accuracy of information.

If anyone sees Corbyn as a messiah I'm definitely not among them. But every individual, whether public or private, deserves to be judged on the actual facts of their life and their actions rather than on smears, mis-representations and downright lies.

One doesn't have to agree with a person's political, social, religious or aesthetic stance but disagreement doesn't justify spreading or taking for granted certain assumed "facts" about them without bothering to investigate whether they are facts at all.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

TABLES TURNED

What is so wonderfully encouraging about the result of this election is that even a relentless campaign by all the powerful mainstream media as well as by individuals in all parties, including his own, to undermine Corbyn in every possible way did not succeed - on the contrary, it backfired and brought him new supporters.

What's more, it demonstrates that a politician doesn't have to insult opponents, flash charisma or spout robotic slogans in order to be a credible leader. No, Corbyn is not Prime Minister but even those who were scoffing, snorting, huffing and puffing at the very thought of it are now saying it's possible and filling column inches with reversals of what they were asserting so confidently only a little while ago.

 Here is a summing-up of this election with the inimitable humour of John Crace.

Friday, June 09, 2017

SLEEPLESS ELECTION NIGHT

Stayed up until 4:30am and am back up again now to check the latest. Have to say that there was some compassion in my heart for Mrs. May when I heard the break in her voice and guessed the tears behind her heavily made-up eyes.

I hope she leaves but I'll wave goodbye and give her a piece of my rye bread & butter pudding.

To Jeremy Corbyn, however, champagne, strawberries & cream and a hug.

More here.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

PUSH-BUTTON SOLUTIONS

Further to the Would you push the button? question:

Herewith  some facts for anyone who believes the Push-Button Principle makes sense, spending billions renewing Trident makes sense, and all other nuclear "deterrent" politics make sense.

And here.

And here.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

CRUCIAL QUESTION

In the history of stupid questions the most insanely stupid question of all must be:

Would you press the nuclear button?

If you answered YES to the above question, here's a quiz.
Are you:

a) Insane?
b) A criminal?
c) Ideally suited to be a world leader?

Friday, June 02, 2017

SAVE SPRING NOW!

Won't sling the mud
at Amber Rudd
mud-slinger I am not
and tho' Paul Nuttall
needs rebuttall
my wit is not so hot.
But when Spring is spoilt by one false May
on Spring's behalf I cry Nay! Nay!
Let Spring be sprung
and bells be rung
on the eighth of June
a whole new tune!


THE LADY'S NOT FOR TURNING UP

Mrs. May was doing something called "going up and down the country" instead of taking her place at the crucial election debate in Cambridge.

Watched on BBC every minute of the debate. My conclusion is that it is now very possible if not probable that the Conservatives will lose. Apart from Ukip's absurd Nuttall, the rest of them all did so much better than Amber Rudd (standing there in lieu of Mrs. May)  that a coalition of Green, Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Labour actually looks pretty good. In my view, Green Caroline Lucas was the most convincing of all but I'll still vote for Jeremy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MAY and CORBYN face PAXMAN

May and Corbyn in the ring with Paxman: who won?
No contest. Corbyn is the winner.
Who's unelectable now, eh?


Monday, May 29, 2017

COMIN' THROUGH THE RYE...

You may well ask: what is that mess pictured below? It is a mess intended to be bread and butter pudding....RYE bread & butter pud with real rye bread, black and solid and made by hand in a small real bakery around the corner. A heavy rye loaf that weighs as much as a brick and if you had a shed-load of those rye bricks you could build a shed that would keep you warm through a nuclear winter and hot through a nuclear summer and if you got hungry you could chisel off a few slices and the walls would remain as thick as thieves trapped in an English lift or an American elevator

I didn't want to waste the left-over half loaf of this indigestible rye bread so I googled recipes and landed on one that seemed plausible though vague about quantities. What, for example, is 3550 of whole milk? So I vaguely followed instructions, reduced the milk, increased the alcohol (vodka-soaked raisins, splashes of vodka, splashes of sherry), added condensed milk, maple syrup, demerara sugar, more raisins, and 4 beaten eggs. Four eggs! I've never added four eggs to anything! Shoved the whole thing in the oven for an hour and this is what came out.

What does it taste like? Like sweet solid soggy rye soaked in alcohol. It's not entirely bad but not actually good. Ice cream on top helps. I can't give it to cats or dogs or birds for fear of turning them into alcoholics.

Friday, May 26, 2017

DIY REPORT

(This has nothing to do with the cat. He was just there.)

Sometimes I am amazed at my own ingenuity. I was repairing the latch on downstairs neighbour's front garden gate which was no longer closing as it should due to...well, probably due to the ground moving because of traffic or tree roots or something. Anyway I noticed that the gap could be filled with a block of wood. Easy to find among all the bits and pieces I save for my own constructions. Sawed and glued two blocks together, drilled some holes, but then, problem: 

Couldn't see where a hole should go on the lower half (too complicated to explain this). Scratched head for a while. Ingenius answer popped up: lipstick! Of course! Ran upstairs to fetch item, slathered red goo on face of old hole, pushed the wood tight against it and presto! imprint of hole marked clearly on wood showing where to drill. Job done.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

HAT TRICK

A little while ago George Szirtes posted photos of his grandfather and of himself in a hat and I was reminded of my father in this hat - not the same one of course - the kind of hat that men used to wear all the time, everywhere. When did this change? Why? I loved that hat, the look it gave to men's faces, rakish, serious, a bit louche, melancholy.

My father, Sacha, seemed to have this hat on most of the time, either leaving or returning from a trip. Here he is at three stages: in his fifties in Florence, in his sixties in Switzerland, in his nineties in London.




MATCHMAKER?

Hypothetical question:

If you have a dear friend, mature and single and wonderful, who is searching for someone (as yet un-met) who is also searching for a committed relationship with a mature and single wonderful person of the opposite sex, would you feel it was okay for you to play the role of...Matchmaker? Is such a go-between role legitimate, acceptable in the 21st century?

Monday, May 01, 2017

TAVIRA RETURN

My first short visit to Tavira in the Algarve, Portugal, was in 2009 after my brother moved there. The town and surroundings enchanted me and I applied for an artist residency, got it in due course, and went back for three months in 2010 (photos and blog posts of that time duly archived). Last week I was there again, spending time with my brother and becoming acquainted with the small and beautiful art/craft shop which he, with a friend, opened a few weeks ago.

Tavira is a small and unspoilt jewel in the Algarve which I'm reluctant to praise too much.  A festival was taking place during the few days I spent there this time featuring folk dancers in traditional costume and a long row of stands under peaked white tents selling regional produce and handmade goods.











Sunday, April 23, 2017

MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND

THIS
is the best summing up I've seen so far concerning Jeremy Corbyn's actual policies.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

ELECTIONEERING AND SNEERING

I know that my posting of the link below will annoy some who visit here but hey, can't please everybody nor do I aim to. 

This space is for things I care about, think about, notice, or am working on. Outrage comes into it too sometimes because sometimes, letting out rage is all you can do. Donald Trump, Brexit, Theresa May and the impending election ....I could go on. The list of things to worry about and rage about gets longer every day. 

The blatant bias of the media over here is obvious to anybody who's got eyes and ears but since it benefits those whose bias it supports, well, eyes and ears can close down when it suits them.  Anyway have a look at this and see if it grabs you.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

WALLS I HAVE KNOWN


Doing some website housework, I've added a page for murals I've done. I think I already posted some of these here quite a while ago but if you want to have a look, here's the link:

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Asunciòn, Paraguay and London, UK are the places where my murals came to life. Unfortunately the public ones are now dead, wiped out, but possibly a couple of private ones still exist.

Fresco study, Instituto Allende, San Miguel

Cement relief abstract mural by NdA for Hotel Guarani, Asuncion, Paraguay




Hotel Guarani, Asuncion
Detail of mural at Godwin Court Health Clinic, Camden, London 1982-83

Preparatory drawing, Hampden Community Centre mural, London 1983-84


Sunday, April 16, 2017

RESURRECTION

To everyone who passes by here,  a happy Easter and Passover and springtime and any other feast of rebirth and renewal that you care to celebrate today or other days.

The concept or belief in resurrection is as old as humanity as is its expression in symbols. If the traditional religious ones don't appeal, have a look at some of the others.

Phoenix from Aberdeen Bestiary, 12th Century


The Ascension from Four Gospels, Northern Ethiopia, c 14th Century

 The view from my back window today, Easter Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

CAT MINDFULNESS

What I love about cats and some other animals and young children is that everything is always for the first time for them. I put some food in the plate for visiting cat Pushkin and he lights up as if the Messiah has just offered him eternal life. And every single time it's brand new, the excitment never dims, no routine is ever boring, everything is wonderful or frightening and invariably surprising. I like to think that I'm a little bit like that, most of the time.

Meanwhile nuclear war is in the air, Trump remembers chocolate cake and forgets which country he bombed.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

HODGKIN'S ABSENT FRIENDS

If you're in London, it's definitely worth going to the National Portrait Gallery for the Howard Hodgkin show Absent Friends.

Absence certainly takes centre stage because those people whose portraits Hodgkin painted at various stages in his long career are not actually depicted. What he did was to invent a carefully constructed visual language to translate his memories and feelings about certain individuals or situations into pigment, colour and form. They're not abstractions, not abstract expressionism, and not merely "mark making" (irritating art-speak!) The subject matter is always essential and Hodgkin is a narrator, telling stories which remain alive in his memory. The exquisite Indian miniatures which Hodgkin loved and collected also tell stories - he borrowed from their intense colours and precise construction  but deftly removed all illustration from his own tales. An acrobatic tour de force.

Unfortunately that vigor and inventiveness didn't persist into his late years and the final paintings in this and other recent exhibitions have an unconvincing, floppy bravado. You could say, well, that's what old age does. I'd vehemently disagree (I would wouldn't I?) and I don't know what took the vim out of Howard Hodgkin but it surely wasn't old age, even if he was 84 when he died in March this year.  Anyway, see the show if you can or if not, look up his work.

 Howard Hodgkin  Rain 1984-9

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WORKS IN PROGRESS

A couple of things slowly taking shape and I'm not pushing too hard. Artworks are like children, you can give them directions but there's no guarantee they'll obey and even if they do, it will be their way. I like to listen to where a particular work wants to go and that requires a lot of sitting and staring and waiting.

The box-things I make (recently named Pableaux) sometimes turn out as instigations/inspirations for paintings and vice-versa. The latest one is specifically a maquette, a 3-dimensional rough model for a painting. The painting will take quite a while to do but here's the miniature maquette for it, made of wood, cardboard, wire etc. The title is: The Cosmic Sadness of a Teen Age Girl Crying in the Shower.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

I HEART THE NHS

Had the echocardiogram today, done at hospital by excellent Portuguese doctor (yes, the blessed NHS is as grateful as we are to have so many 'foreigners' among its staff) and he said he was very happy with what he saw and heard on the machine. I was facing the other way from the screen so I couldn't see anything but I did hear occasional rumors of pumping blood.

So my heart is perfect - or as perfect as these things ever can be - in spite of my rather advanced years. I've been debating whether to come out of the closet where I hide exactly the number of that advancement but have decided against it. Maybe on my next birthday. Maybe not.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

HAPPY ENDING

Unbelievable but absolutely true sequel to my last post:

A few minutes ago I got a phone call from the hospital where I was due to have an echocardiogram yesterday morning (which I missed) offering me a new appointment this Saturday11th March, rather than on 27th April as they said yesterday. Of course I accepted very gratefully.

Even more amazing is the fact that the lady I spoke to had been trying to phone me, unsuccessfully, since yesterday. The reason she couldn't reach me was because my landline phone number was changed, against my wishes, when I changed telephone provider recently. (Don't get me started on that infernal story!) However the  lady did not give up: she took the trouble to get in touch with my local GP's practice to verify my phone number and fortunately, I had told them just a couple of days ago about the new number. So the saintly NHS lady found me and all's well.

May blessings and cash rain down upon the blessed NHS.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

MAXIMA CULPA

Sometimes there's a good reason to hate yourself. Missed an important medical appointment this morning because I overslept because I didn't get to bed until 4am because I was looking at something on the internet, can't even remember what, and I did set the alarm clock and it did go off at the proper time but I turned it off to just lie there and think for a minute and then when I woke up again it was an hour past my appointment and when I phoned to explain why I missed it they kept me waiting on the phone and then I was told I couldn't have another appointment until the end of April and I said no no no my GP said I need to have the echocardiogram and I know it's my fault but can I come later today and they said no you cannot so I had to accept the new appointment and I can't blame the NHS because it's all my fault mea culpa mea maxima maximosa culpa and I hate myself, yes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

NEW NdA CATALOGUE

There are quite a few print companies listed on the internet which tempt you with Special Offers to make a photobook with your own pictures, laid out in any way you wish, including text, all beautifully printed under hard covers, very reasonably priced and usually delivered in a week or less.

I've taken advantage of these offers on several occasions from two of these companies, sometimes for family birthday gifts (putting together a relative's pictorial life story) but mainly to gather together photos of some of my paintings, drawings, prints and bookworks in a series of catalogues. I've only ordered one print copy of each book for my own use - it would be ludicrously expensive to use this method for copies to sell and distribute in larger quantities. For that purpose, print-on-demand companies are much more economical and do a very good job as well.

I've previously posted slideshows which the photobook companies give you a link to, so that you can show your 'creation' to friends, but the annoying thing is that they use this as a means to advertise their products. So the first thing you see before looking at my slideshow is the company's sales-pitch as if it's me talking (it's not) asking if you want to buy my catalogue at £65....Are you kidding? No way! But that's what a 60-page book would have cost, had it been been printed without their Special Offer which costs me £30 plus postage.

Now you understand why I'm asking you to ignore the salestalk on the opening page of the slideshow You can set the viewing speed to slow, medium or fast and, if possible, I suggest you watch it on full screen, preferably on a computer or tablet rather than on a phone.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

UKED

Sorted.

Loveable new soprano ukulele bought in Denmark Street music shop yesterday and they even fitted my strap and metal strap button to it. So now all I have to do is learn to play it. One year? Two? We'll see.

That thing sticking out of my head is not a horn. It's the top of an easel.




Monday, February 20, 2017

UPDATE ON THE UKULELE STORY

The classes in the pub were fun and instructive. I learned that pressing down firmly on the strings, fingers and wrist of left hand bent into required positions, then moving to different positions with new bends and stretches of every hand bone whilst simultaneously strumming down/down or up/down/up/ down in a carefree, rhythmical manner with the right hand, all the while hugging the uke flat against the body yet also managing to bend my neck forward to see where my fingers are on the instrument's neck... .

Well. I learned that it is not a walk in the park for a short-necked, short-arsed, short-fingered person with rather stiff hands. The teacher was good-humoured, patient, competent and, seeing my struggles, he kindly gave me the last lesson one-to-one. I now know what to do. It's only a matter of training my bones to obey my brain.

I decided that some improvements to the instrument itself were needed if I was to make any progress. A shoulder strap, so that I could forget about holding the uke, would also allow me to tilt it so that I might see where to place my fingers. To remember basic chord shapes I stuck coloured dots on the uke's neck and diagrams on its body. I bought a strap but, as my uke didn't have the posts to attach it, I cut and glued bits of wood for the screws to fit into. Then I got a set of good Aquila nylgut strings to replace the cheap nylon ones on my cheap little soprano uke, googled instruction videos on how to re-string the thing and proceeded to undertake this apparently simple task.

Not simple. More like fiendishly heart-stoppingly difficult. It's a long story but to summarise: the bridge broke when I was tightening a string. I thought I could save it it by gluing a new piece of wood over the broken section. I used Araldite, the strongest glue in the universe, everything looked perfect, I managed to restring the uke. I practiced. I was getting a tiny bit better at moving from one chord to another.

Then yesterday, without warning, suddenly, there was a loud bang or snap or bing or whatever sound four strings make when they've had enough and the entire bridge broke away, strings attached, from the ukulele's body. You can see the miserable wrecked little Aradilted bugger in the photos below as well as my now stringless and bridgeless ukulele. The strings are saved. I'm not giving up. I will buy another, slightly better uke and I will master a few chords, just enough to sing a few songs. I will.