Sep 10

Epitaph for the badger. A new poem.

Epitaph for the Badger

 A snarling dark shape in the depths of night,
Blundering full into whilst sharing paths,
Reduces careless ignorance to fright.
While in others produces mirthless laughs.

There are very few to be had today,
Farmers and ministers have seen to that.

While hunts sabs and patrols, try as they may,

... read more

Sep 4

A new exhibition

The exhibition with ceramicist Eilean Eland is currently on at the RHS Gardens, Rosemoor through September until October 7th. I'm showing some of my flower paintings; Eilean has her exciting organic inspired ceramics. We hope to see some of you there.


Aug 14

Bucks Mills Pebbles exhibition; Tricky private commission; New Poetry section; Literature about children; the 'thrill' of public speaking

I listened to advice (surprise, as it may be, I do sometimes) and Phil my excellent framer gave one of the pebble studies a bigger 'more generous' mount; I'd been told my original ones were "too mean". The two different versions are currently on show at the Burton at Bideford Gallery. Pop along if you can, admission free. Lots of really good art there (and I never say that lightly).

Both are available at a measly £145 despite difference in framing, but it's the art work that's important, isn't it?  I feel pleased with this series and also that I've broken new ground.  The remainder of the series will go in Recent Work soon - I'll send a note when that is done (a few test ones are actually up there now, have a look).



I've been occupied since May with a personal very difficult commission.  In fact it's a painting for a friend which I was most anxious to get 'right'.  It was difficult in the sense that it is small (A5), a nude figure and I needed to please both my friend and of course myself.  It turned out to be one of the hardest paintings I've ever done but I won't be able to show it  because it is private. 

It's not just this that has been weighing heavily on my mind it is my writing and conservation work too. I've published a few recent poems here and I'm finding a great release in poetry these days: enabling me to convey observations and reflections in a succinct form which is I hope both exciting and original.

I'm also finishing my third novel revelling in the fertile imagination of children.  Although stigmatised as 'children's books' they are actually novels about children.  So-called 'children's books' are the only books categorised by perceived readership not by content: a source of irritation and mystification.  I ask you, are 'Lord of the Flies', 'Picnic at Hanging Rock', 'His Dark Materials', 'Lord of the Rings', 'David Copperfield', 'A High Wind in Jamaica', to name just a few, 'children's books'?   I would say not; they are literature which feature children - not the same thing at all.  Maybe you could add your own titles here, and we could explore this subject again more fully.

On Saturday 18th I was in Exeter taking part in a very noisy public meeting and march through Exeter city centre.  You won't be surprised to know it was about the appalling Badger cull.  I've never before stood on a soapbox (in fact a public bench in a sort of 'Speakers' Corner) and addressed a crowd through a PA system.  I had 15 mins to summarise nearly 50 years of history) and think I did OK - but certainly no better; not sure that soapbox oratory is my thing.



Jul 4

Recent paintings by Chris Thomas

New Chris Thomas Exhibition



We took the bike down to the Camelford Gallery for an exhibition preview of Chris Thomas's impressive exhibition Documenting the New Build. The exhibition is exactly that, being new paintings recording a housing development adjacent to his studio in North Cornwall. From very understandable initial resentment, he decided to attempt a virtue out of the process and became part of it, even being accepted on site by the builders as a kind of hard-hatted, hi-viz 'artist-in-residence'. From my perspective, this took some guts.


During the course of building 21 'affordable homes' Chris produced a tumultuous body of work: starring large oil paintings (some 2-3 metres wide), mainly on board. It is not hard to imagine how, to a casual passer-by, Chris lumping these around the site would have looked exactly like one of the builders. There are also intense smaller studies exhibited and a portfolio of large charcoal drawings. My favourite of all is Study from the studio executed in February this year. - I wish I could afford it. 


Also produced is a comprehensive illustrated catalogue with a fascinating text produced to a very high standard. Something I could afford, and it seems mine was the very first to be sold at the Preview, which Chris was kind enough to sign for me: something I will treasure.


Gratitude is also due to gallery owner and artist John Blight for putting on the show at this gallery which, for me, exemplifies precisely what a gallery should be: something Rembrandt would have recognised as a real working artist-gallery with little concession to commercialism; in other words, not a 'picture shop' which so many so-called galleries actually are.


I'll stop there lest another rant begins!

May 14

Henry Israel (painter) - a huge loss.

Henry Israel 22nd January 1933 - 24th December 2017

Henry was a truly great artist and teacher. We shared the same birthday but not the same year. He was strong and forceful but enormously kind - and very patient, if he thought you were serious. For over 30 years I regarded him as my mentor: he jostled on my shoulder, as I worked (and still does), with my brother John Martin and Cezanne - stern but wise mentors all.

He was classically trained at the Slade but not well known beyond a small circle of collectors and students in North Cornwall because he hated attention and fuss. I remember him once saying that he didn't paint in public because he wasn't a performer. This makes him sound a curmudgeon but he wasn't, he had a dark and mischievous East London sense of humour, which I think comes across in the photo above.

Our painting techniques, from widely different starting points, seemed to converge at the end; I felt that he came to me, but he would say the opposite of course. We had one exhibition together in Camelford in 2005: Henry's B&W photography and drawings, and my own very un-B&W paintings.

I miss him tremendously. His wife Caeria - also a fine painter - is missing him much more of course.