The-Lesson-1992

20 June 2017

HEAT

Wiped out, no energy whatsoever, limbs ache. Everything is suspended in a heat haze. Can't get out of my head the image of all those people trapped, struggling to escape the flames, incinerated on the spot. Here in the city where I live. The despair of those who lost them. The faces of all of them, their beautiful faces.

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19 June 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!

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.

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17 June 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?

To comment please go to my Mirror Blog

15 June 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.

fire at tower block

kindness of strangers

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14 June 2017

ARTIST TRAPPED IN 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.

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13 June 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.

A list of other public collections where some of my artist's books can be seen is here. The four books acquired this year by the British Library are as follows (full details at links below):

1. For A Song 1980  Seven poems & etchings by NdA

2. The Creation from the Book of Enoch 1992 Extract from the Book of Enoch, etchings by NdA

3. Fungus & Curmudgeonly 1980 Play by Simon Meyerson, images by NdA

4. The Word Accomplished 1974 Text by A.B. Christopher, etchings by NdA

For A Song -3

The Creation, from the Book of Enoch

Fungus & Curmudgeonly, box

"Alone" from The Word Accomplished

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12 June 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 to bored barista.
Baby takes it all in.

Archway cafe

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12 June 2017

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 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.

To comment please go to my Mirror Blog

10 June 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 via the inimitable style of John Crace.

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09 June 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.

To comment please go to my Mirror Blog

03 June 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, a09re you:

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

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.

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02 June 2017

SAVE SPRING NOW!

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.

Won't sling the mud
at Amber Rudd
mud-slinger I am not
and tho' Paul Nuttall
needs rebuttal
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!

Don't Let May Wreck June

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30 May 2017

CORBYN & MAY FACE PAXMAN

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

Corbyn the winner

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29 May 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-something 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 anythingin my life! Shoved the whole thing in the oven for an hour and this is what came out.

rye pudding

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.

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26 May 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.

gate latch repair

gate latch

gate and cat

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14 May 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.

Sacha hat, Florence    Sacha hat, Switzerland

Sacha hat, London

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01 May 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. Last week I was there again, spending time with my brother and becoming acquainted with the small art/craft shop which he helped a friend to open 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.

river Gilão, Tavira

Tavira riverban

Tavira people, street corner

Folk dancers, Tavira

Folk dance in tavira

Kids in folk dance, Tavira

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20 April 2017

WALLS I HAVE KNOWN

Doing some website housework, I've added a page for murals I've done. San Miguel de Allende in 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, San Miguel   left: Fresco study, Instituto Allende, Mexicoplaster bas-relief, Instituto Allende

Plaster bas-relief study, Instituto Allende

Hampden, early stages

Mural in progress, Hampden Community Centre, London 1983

Finished Hampden Community Centre mural 50' x 12'.

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16 April 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 smbols. If the traditional religious ones don't appeal, have a look at some of the others.

Phoenix, Aberdeen Bestiary

Benu bird, ancient Egypt

Ethiopian Ascension

trees outside my window

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15 April 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.

Pushkin, mindful

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12 April 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 the 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 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.

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28 March 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.

Cosmic Sadness maquette

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11 March 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.

echo cardiogram diagram

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9 March 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.

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8 March 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.

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7 March 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 them to friends but the annoying thing is that they use this as a means to advertise their products. So the first thing you see 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. 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.

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

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