It’s difficult to become motivated and inspired during this madness when culture has been closed down and the colour rinsed out of our days but try we must. I try to be mindful of the moment in my shrunken world. I have been moved by small things; a crow landing on the beach, frost glitter, the stark skeleton trees and the changing light as the sun sets on another winter day.
With no exhibitions and galleries closed, my inspiration comes largely from books and less so the Internet. However, I am lucky to be still working in a gallery and to see such wonders as Vincent Van Gogh’s Olive Trees, Rembrandt’s Self-portrait (1655) and John Singer Sargent’s Lady Agnew of Lochnaw when the gallery is empty is a privilege.
Cy Twombly by Jonas Storsve is a beautiful book (a birthday gift in January) that I cannot stop looking at.
All my amazing Basquiat books but especially Jean-Michel Basquiat by Dieter Buchhart.
In 2018 the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, held exhibitions on two of the greatest artists of the 20th century - Egon Schiele, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. This was the last trip I made overseas before the madness.
Paul McCartney Paintings - Little, Brown and Company. I bought this book in Dublin in 2001 and recently picked it up to thumb through. I love Big Mountain Face, Dark Faces and Bowie Spewing.
Derek Jarman's Garden by Derek Jarman and Howard Sooley. I have to see Prospect Cottage one of these days.
Anton Corbijn interview Gagosian Quarterly An interesting interview especially for lovers of Bowie and Joy Division.
John & Yoko / Plastic Ono Band (Christmas Gift) is the definitive exploration of John Lennon’s first major solo album after the break-up of the Beatles, Yoko’s accompanying album and the three singles that preceded it (‘Give Peace A Chance’, ‘Cold Turkey’ and ‘Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)’).
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Corvus: A Life With Birds - Esther Woolfson
The Book of Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way – Francesc Miralles and Héctor García
Mojo Collectors The Beatles Red & Blue 1962-1970
Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings – Yoko Ono
David Bowie – Look At The Moon! (Live Phoenix Festival 97)
Idiot Prayer – Nick Cave
Archaeology – The Rutles
Double Fantasy Stripped Down – John Lennon / Yoko Ono
Life's Too Good - The Sugarcubes
Low – David Bowie
Lost In Translation Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack
Catalpa – Jolie Holland
Happy Songs For Happy People - Mogwai
Gimme Some Truth – John Lennon
Miles In Berlin – Miles Davis
Luxa – Harold Budd (now sadly, no longer with us)
Withered Crown/Ember Months/Flowerts Will Come – My latest homemade compilation painting CD.
Lost In Translation (again!)
Museum Hours (again!)
A Hard Day’s Night
The White Crow
Life Is Beautiful (Roberto Benigni)
The Affair (Season 1 & 2)
Spiral (Series 1)
BBC iPlayer – Age Of The Image (James Fox), Keith Haring: Street Art Boy, Monitor: Pop Goes The Easel (Ken Russell), The Romantics and Us with Simon Schama, Civilisations (Mary Beard, David Olusoga & Simon Schama), Maggi Hambling: Making Love with the Paint, Emin/Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, Fierce Women – Yoko (Yoko Ono).
The fact that this can’t go on forever! Frosty walks. Wardie Bay. The thought of Ripon & North Yorkshire in June. My new Denon D-M41DAB Micro Hi-Fi system. Tanka poetry.
When I run after what I think I want,
My days are a furnace of distress and anxiety;
If I sit in my own place of patience,
What I need flows to me,
And without any pain.
From this I understand that
What I want also wants me,
Is looking for me
And attracting me;
When it cannot attract me
Any more to go to it,
It has to come to me.
There is a great secret
In this for anyone
Who can grasp it. – Rumi
Christmas is almost here and the year, thankfully is almost over! Not that I’m wishing my life away but like countless others I’ll be glad to see the back of 2020. We have high hopes for you 2021 - be radiant and golden, deliver beautiful things!
Ok, I decided to make some Christmas cards this year – nothing clever or over designed, just something simple and unique with heartfelt words to accompany them. I made 36 monoprints and then added oilstick and fluorescent crayon to each one in different combinations. They were then glued to blank cards. Simple!
I have just returned from Liverpool, my third visit in just over a year. The love affair continues. I find the city so inspiring . . .
Albert Dock (the Buddha on the long boat and the beautiful Pumphouse chimney)
Clouds dancing over the Mersey (to the beat! And the beat goes on . . .)
The Beatles statue, Pier Head (I could not see L8!)
The acorns in John’s hand (cast from ones that were picked up outside the Dakota building in New York)
The Three Graces (simply majestic, poetry in stone)
Baltic Fleet (ale paradise and the conversation flows too)
Rum Porter (King of Ale)
Duke Street Market (Lamb Croquettes!)
Wassily Kandinsky’s Cossacks
L.S. Lowry’s The Pond
Mark Rothko’s Light Red Over Black
Walker Art Gallery
Rose Wylie’s PV Windows and Floorboards
Dancing clouds over Lime Street
Eleonor Rigby gravestone (Joe from Maryland says “Hello”)
Think like rice, act like a cloud at Strawberry Field
Walking the labyrinth
Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue
Dreaming beneath a blue suburban sky
Baltic Triangle murals (especially Yellow Submarine & Klopp “We are Liverpool / This means more”)
Hobo Kiosk (sadly closed but one day . . .)
Tracey Emin, I Felt You And I Knew You Loved Me
Bluecoat (worth it for the posters alone, Yoko Ono 1967 especially & the little garden)
Probe Records (Wild Billy Childish & The Buff Medways - The Xfm Sessions and Michael Rother – Fernwärme cds)
Bold Street (watching the people)
The “bombed out church” (All Together Now - Christmas Truce Memorial . . . and all the little creative bombs that exploded in my mind . . .)