Saturday, August 29, 2009

The street as an event

"And then began the tour of that strange building situated in a street that looked forbidding, although it was distinguished and not gloomy. As seen from the street the building was reminiscent of a German Consulate in Melbourne. Its ground floor was entirely taken up with large stores. Although it was neither Sunday nor a holiday, the stores were closed, endowing this part of the street with an air of tedium and melancholy, a certain desolation, that particular atmosphere which pervades Anglo-Saxon towns on Sundays." Translated by Margaret Crosland, Peter Owen, London 1964

Thus begins Giorgio de Chirico's beautiful novel, "Hebdomeros".

I lost details of the passage in my memory, forgetting the "tedium" and only remembering the sense of tranquility, perhaps conflating de Chirico's text with his paintings which are often melancholy but never tediously so.

I used to detest Sundays in the UK: the sense of desolation depressed me no end, and caused me to resent the church. I believe nowadays the UK is more of a 24 hour culture so younger British readers of de Chirico will be unable to understand his reference.

By contrast, the centre of Florianopolis is dull at weekends, the shops closing early on Saturdays and remaining resolutely shut until Monday. There is not a strong work ethic here: there are restaurants which close between noon and 2pm so the staff can have their lunches. However, it is this dullness which makes for easy architectural photography, because such movement that there is assumes a special significance. I especially like the fellow fixing the pink roof at the left of the picture.



The street as stage set. In de Chirico, the street is a stage set: an idea also present in Balthus's The Street (1933):



What makes the street interesting, in contrast to the mall, is that it is a relatively uncontrolled environment. In the mall, even the climate is controlled, and the level of visual interest is in direct proportion to the lack of surprise. Sectors of the population are excluded in the mall because the shopping mall does not provide facilities to suit their pockets, or because security guards prevent their entry. And, of course, the mall excludes many functions that are offered on the street: churches, natural sights and historic monuments. This prevents the sort of chance encounters that make Balthus's picture amusing. Also, the speed and direction of movement in the mall is controlled too using escalators and lifts.

There is a revolt among the moneyed classes in Brazil against spontaneity because of the high crime rate in large cities. The street is a casualty of this revolt. Instead of reclaiming public space with improved security and reducing the massive disparity between themselves and poorer classes the bourgeoisie have retreated into their malls, condominiums and motor cars.

Blogger, Twitter and Flickr



This is a little review of what I've been doing online and why.

Flickr.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28509471@N05/collections/

This is where all my images are kept, and is a complete catalogue of almost everything worthwhile. I have about 200 followers here. Any image put there receives in first three days between 0 and 20 hits.

Blogger.

I 've been blogging fairly steadily for about 2 months now. I shall continue to use Blogger as I have been- that is, I shall be using it to comment on particular pieces and projects in Flicker, and my artwork in general. I also use it to publish short stories and asides about life and art in general.

I haven't used it to talk directly about my private life, primarily because I perceive an "invisible line" between the artist (blogger) and his personal life. There has been a considerable amount written about this sort of thing, where someone has written pieces based on their own family experiences and this has caused some sort of controversy or other: to me this is intrusive and an abuse of power. Even if people agree to be written about they are unlikely really to know the consequences. And if the pieces are in any way negative then they rarely have the literary skills or legal will to gain redress.

To me the artist necessarily adopts a persona for his work- art is artifice, after all- and the re-invention of self is simply part of this (that is why, for instance, attempts to uncover the "real" Bob Dylan or Pablo Picasso are so silly).

Twitter.

After four days, I have about 20 Followers on Twitter. I've been sending Twitter messages to ensure that when various subjects such as monoprinting or artists appear, so does a link to my work. Clearly, the results of this will take some time to show

I have been experimenting with individual links to specific blog entries and to individual images. if I post a link to an image I usually get between 10 and 20 hits. But I am not sure how many of these hits turn into sustained "loyal" followers. People seem much more reluctant to click on Blog entries, possibly because they know they will have to read something as opposed to simply digesting an image.

Also, when viewers access these linked images they seldom go on to look though other related images which are on the same Flickr page. Also, they rarely "favourite" work- so I can't help feeling that they are simply clicking as a sort of motor response to seeing a link and a keyword that appealed to them.

What's it all about?

The objective of all this is for me to pass my time in a way that I find reasonably amusing. For me, that means engaging in a dialogue with the public- the Internet is potentially a magnificent tool for this, combining the constrictions of diary, gallery space art review and discussion in one easily accessible location - specifically a dialogue where my artistic interests meet those of the wider public.

Gaining individual hits is good for an ego buzz, but in the long term is neither here nor there if I do not thereby create more "followers" (ghastly term) because it's the dialogue with these followers that I find enjoyable. Postings tend to have either a wide and shallow or narrow and deep base. For instance, images of girls have a wide general appeal and will receive a good number of hits, but they are too ubiquitous and superficial to create lasting followers.

Contrariwise, monotypes on Kafkaesque themes will have a much narrow but deeper following and are much more likely to create the loyal blog following that I desire.

I shall come back to this in about three months time for another review.

Image above is from "The Universal Alphabet"
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28509471@N05/sets/72157608815122656/

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Secret Friends





Back when I lived in London some 15 years ago, I began producing a series of pictures called "The Next Generation of Poets" in watercolour and ink. I love toy theatres, and had the idea of using these characters in a series of scentarios. But the project never quite got off the ground- perhaps it was too ill-defined.

But the idea of creating imaginary portraits remained - ergo this recent collection of paintings.

They are all the size of a conventional playing card.

The rest of the series can be found here-
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28509471@N05/sets/72157610575984189/

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Before the Party



Before the Party was painted back in 1993, when I was living in Maude Road, in Camberwell, London.

It shows four men- three are dressed to go out, while one remains in bed. He is ill, or sleeping. A putto urinates in one corner; there is an elephant, a fantastical bird and a giant snail in the room too. A demon lurks behind the bed.

It was a breakthrough painting for me, bringing to a close several years of doubt about what sort of creative art I should be doing. I had graduated unhappily, knowing somehow that the art I'd made for my graduation show did not do what I knew in my gut art should do, which is, in Hamsun's words, to reveal the "unconscious life of the mind".

I'd been oscillating uncomfortably between art that was essentially impressionist and art that was very directly autobiographical and illustrational for some years. I'd wanted to incorporate elements I'd gained from the sort of literature I like - (fables, fairy tales, Kafka, Bulgakov and Waugh) - into my work but hadn't been able to find a format. I think I'd felt embarassed about how close my work was to children's book illustration, as if that wasn't sophisiticated enough.

The themes of the painting are friendship and strangeness and death, but I do not understand it entirely myself. I made it very instinctively, following no sketch. I think sometimes art is made like sleepwalking, following deeply set patterns of movement and consciousness. Perhaps it's a false idea that art can be "understood", anyway? No-one would talk about "understanding" a game of football or a plate of asparagus, other sensory experiences.

Artistic breakthroughs are solutions, but the solutions they bring bring problems, -artists often get stuck repeating the same solutions for their entire lives (the worst case being Chagall, I think, whose work turned into a a series of catch-phrases with the same forms, colours, settings, faces and hands used over and over again from 1930 until his death in 1985. Miro likewise, alas). For me the risk was that I would do "room" paintings forever, and I baulked against that, going on to produce a lot of architectural pictures in a sort of realist style, while continuing to work on these more idiosyncratic images.

It was painted at an odd, lonely juncture in my life, but after I painted it things improved for me, at least temporarily.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Social Gathering (sketch for an unpainted painting)


Various people meet at a party, their intention being to consume alcohol and debase themselve in different ways.

It's significant where they meet. It has to be a very large room, grand and gloomy and sparsely furnished. Such furniture that there is is Empire Style, so heavy it is almost immovable. A fireplace scarcely warms the freezing room.

All the people at this party are male, but sometimes women with loose morals attend. They are all High Tories: utterly reactionary. They declare themselves to be patriots, but they despise their fellow nationals as peasants. They enjoy ceremony: the parties always have a ritualistic feel, with patriotic speeches and toasts. They dress to suit the solemnity of the occasion, in dinner suits.

Alcohol, preferable deep red in colour, is served by waiters whose obsequiousness knows no bounds.

As is often the case with such people, they are surprisingly liberal in terms of private conduct. And although the former part of their meeting is formal, later this liberalism dominates, as the gathering transforms into a bacchanal: not only do they become copiously drunk but they allow their latent homosexual urges and sado-masochistic desires to manifest themselves.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yard



A choice between two images. The former (black and white) is too relentless, as if a specific interpretation of the scene -that it is a depressing place- is the necessary response to it.

I'm happier with the coloured one. Such places are not classically beautiful (classicism = the beauty of order) but they aren't without aesthetic interest or curiosity. I guess they show the private lives of cities. I did not enter the yard and explore it because I saw a policeman there and I didn't want to have to explain myself (actually, the police here are rather laid back and pleasant -at least, in my experience- but nonetheless...).

And I suppose such photos are part of a tradition through Bernd and Hilla Becher and Stephen Shore, to Sickert to Eugene Atget, going back to the Dutch painters of the 17th century. They remain incredibly unpopular with viewers, however, receiving very few "hits".

Two points about the photo:

1. To the right of the white police car is a flatbed truck. Behind the truck is a grey building. This is connected to the fawn building by means of a funny little sloping corridor.

2.If the tree beside the telegraph post is not cut soon, the telegraph post will fall.

3. The picture was taken on a Sunday, which probably explains its peacefulness.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

House, Itacorubi



This sort of weather- rapidly changing, dramatic- makes for marvellous photos, with a late van Gogh / Vlamink feel to them.

Sometimes photography seems too easy to be considered an art form. Or have I just got a selp-punitive instinct, to believe that something worthwhile must necesarily be difficult?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Self-portraiture

Some thoughts about taking self-portrait photos.

1. The process makes me feel embarrassed. I am wary of the charge of narcissism that can be held against me when I'm taking the photos. I'm wary of the charge because it's true: I do like looking at my own reflection.

2. The best images are when I'm fairly relaxed. The best way to get more relaxed images is to use the multiple-shutter function.

3. I feel wary about breaking my facial anonymity on the Internet. Is it a good thing to show my face? Maybe it is bad, because the face of an author or artist can have such a strong influence on how their work is interpreted. I don't really want this site to be about me, but about my work. But perhaps the distinction is artificial in art, which at some point is based on individual subjectivity. And perhaps it will bring in new readers who find my current facelessness impersonal.

4. Looking through the Flicker self portrait group:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/selfportraits_jenn/pool/page10/
the photographers are too often trying too hard often.

5. It's been years since I did any self-portraits, maybe as many as 20 years.

6. What about a background? I seem to favour plain, maybe because it will be so hard to integrate a more complex background with my image. Also, I like stillness and quiet.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Abandoned Place






There was once a filling station here. Some tramps perhaps slept here sometimes too. I walked about taking pictures. The place had an appalling atmosphere, not in the least romantic. Pieces of old clothes and broken tiles had a harsh feel. Nature didn't intercede in a gentle way, it couldn't overcome the concrete. I found the remains of a dog there- perhaps the dog had been hit by a car for just the legs were there on the ground. I felt desperate to leave.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Species of Spaces




Images from Florianopolis- the title of this entry comes from Georges Perec's book,which have used for my collection of photos of buildings in Florianopolis.

Here are two excepts from the Forward to "Species of Spaces and Other Pieces", which was published in France in 1974. I quote from John Sturrock's English translation (Penguin Books, 1997).

"We live in space, in these spaces, these owns, this countryside, these corridors, these parks. That seems obvious to us. Perhaps indeed it should be obvious. But it isn't obvious, not just a matter of course. It's real, obviously, and as a consequence most likely rational. We can touch. We can even allow ourselves to dream. There's nothing, for instance, to stop us from imagining things that are neither towns nor countryside (nor suburbs), or Metro corridors that are at the same time public parks. Nor anything to forbid us imagining a Metro in the heart of the countryside (campagne) (I've even now seen an advertisement to that effect, but it was - how shall I put it? - a publicity campaign (campagne))."

Another excerpt-

"...Spaces have multiplied, been broken up and have diversified. There are spaces today of every kind and every size, for every use and every function. To live is to pass from one space to another, while doing your very best not to bump yourself."

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Bloody Sock and Other Tales




I had decided to commit suicide. I had decided that some times before, but always something had come in my way: a telephone call, the chance encounter of a friend. It was so hard to find the peace to do anything. This time, I decided to gas myself in my car. I had seen an actor do it on television: it didn't look that hard. I remember the day well, balmy, a speckle of rain touched the windscreen as I sat in the car, ready to drive off.

Then I was on the highway, then I was at the filling station. I felt hungry so I bought myself a star bar. Normally these give me flatulence so I don't eat them, but I figured that I wouldn't be around to suffer. Let the coroner hold his nose!

I found a b-road off the highway. The road dipped and I could make out a stone farmhouse. I thought for a moment of using the drive, but it seemed too close to the farm. I didn't want the farmer to disturb me. I felt that would be very embarrassing.

So I drove on. I saw a lay by. The road was quiet and I felt at ease, so I stopped there. I got the hose from the boot and drew it through the back window from the exhaust. Then I sat back in the driver's seat. I unwrapped the star bar and began to munch it, thinking of nothing in particular, just enjoying the chocolate cocoa powder substitute and treacle flavourings. I wanted to have that pleasure before turning the ignition.

But, as my luck would have it, another car drove up to halt behind mine, a red Ford Fiesta. In it was an elderly couple. I could see them in my mirror begin to eat sandwiches from a plastic box. How long would they be? They seemed to chew very slowly. They did not talk much however. I calculated perhaps ten minutes. Boredom.

Then I saw the man nod towards my car, and the woman adjust her glasses to see better. Oh no! They had spotted the hose. With doddering steps the man came towards my car. He rapped on my window. I felt myself turning crimson with embarrassment.

I tried to ignore him, gazing straight ahead intently, but I could sense his face peering through the glass at the side of the door at my profile, and hear his rapping again. His wife came up too. I could hear her voice.

-Is he all right? Open the door. See if he's all right.

The man opened the door. What a fool I was, I should have locked it!

-All you all right, said the man.

-Oh yes, yes, I am fine, I said

-There's a hose going from the exhaust into your car, said the man

-That's dangerous, said the woman

-You could kill yourself like that, said the man

I stared ahead, trying to ignore them. Then I felt a sudden burst of flatulence come on from the star bar, I could not, to my embarrassment, contain it, and with a fearsome raspberry I had to release myself- the car filled with a repulsive gust of Cadbury's.

After my flatulent outburst, the couple concluded that I was beyond reason. They called the police- I must say I resented that, after all, I was harming no-one other than myself: I loathe busy-bodies- and I spent the best part of the following six months discussing the human condition with a gentle Pakistani Doctor and an earnest PhD student. I liked the doctor and I liked the student, and I sincerely hope that the stories I told him about my childhood experiences of bestiality helped him write an amusing thesis.

A few months later I found myself with a little money in my pocket and an abnormally cheerful mood: the day full of sunshine, standing on the rise of Upper Street looking down to London wondering quite what to do.

Then it occurred to me: I should buy myself a parrot. If I had a parrot, then I would not want for company: why, the bird would be kept in a cage, it could not escape me if it wished to. And it would be sure to talk nothing but sense, for I would teach him aphorisms by la Rochefoucauld and it might even learn one or two of my own sage pronouncements!

At the pet shop. I asked the girl for a parrot.

-There is this one, she said.

-I see, I said. The parrot was huge, its iridescent plumage dazzling, an aristocrat of the parrot world.

-How much is it? I asked

-It is 780 pounds.

-That seems dear, I said

-He speaks French as well as English, she said.

-I see, I said.

The conversation went on like that, quite conventionally, but I found myself falling into a daze, and I wandered out the shop without the parrot.

The day had turned sallow. Thoughts began to trouble my mind. Such thoughts! That the world was inside out: you might encounter a couple who had for years wished to have children, then had given birth to a handicapped child. You might have thought to pity that child with its slow mind and clumsy gait facing exclusion from childhood games, which so often required rapid co-ordination. Or in the trials of adolescence, how the sexual favours that came with grace and beauty would be held back from her, and copulation would remain a weird, purely theoretical possibility. But that girl might then develop a skill to compensate for her handicaps, becoming a fine player of winsome melodies on a golden harp, or cultivating yellow roses, investing patience and love in study, nurturing talents to glorify herself and the experience of others.

Then you yourself might become the victim of a misfortune, or a depression, or your own pusillanimity, and that self-same girl whom you had pitied, and, in her youth, regarded so woefully, now offered her music to give you consolation or her yellow roses to bring you cheer.

Oh yes, indeed, the world was full of strange events like that.

Why, I had even encountered a couple living in my block and who had arrived home to find a sock, bloody in the middle of their living room floor. What purpose was there in that discovery? And inside the sock five severed digits! Why, it quite consternated them, they talked about it for days afterwards, they even mentioned it to the neighbors. And the cleaning that had to be done to remove the blood from the Persian carpet, it was so unfair! All that trouble because of a bloody sock!

I met them on the stairs: they stood close together; the trauma had served to unite them in horror. They stood there in a dim silence -their earlier loquaciousness overtaken by a sullen mood- resenting a world that could so dishonour their living room floor. I asked them if they had reported the incident to the concierge but they did not, I think, want to talk about it. "Ah well!" I sighed, in what I thought was a sympathetic manner.

In truth, however, I felt ill at ease with my neighbours from then on and I am sure that the atmosphere that prevailed in our block became taut, uneasy, a callow silence in the stairwell, as if we were all guilty, but unsure quite of what. The ladies who lived on the first floor landing were forever gossiping in mumbles over their mops and brooms and watching the, now notorious, front door.

And after an event like that your life might end, you might simply explode at a street corner while waiting for the green man, or expire quietly in the middle of a dream about geraniums or chocolate éclairs or a childhood game such as hopscotch. There were some took their lives in despair: that seemed romantic but normally the lives of the suicides were merely bedeviled by petty wickednesses; debts, chronic illnesses, the abuse of schoolchildren, the malign effects of drugs. Truly, there was no glamour to their wretchedness.

I awoke from my thought to the rustling of leaves, of birdsong. An angel with a broken cross gazed plaintively; from some evergreens a cherub peeped.

I had wondered into a cemetery. I was seated on a bench.

What about the parrot? I walked back and got it.


This story was published in Tales of the Decongested, and anthology of short fiction from London (Apis Books, 2006)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Work in progress


Some pictures are like pzzles, and after I begin them I wonder where they are going to go.

These are my thoughts about this one-

1. The picture should dry before being worked on mor because otherwise I'll just muddy the surface
2. The shapes should be more abstract. They shouldn't immediately suggest the possibility that they represent things.
3. I like the more oval shapes to the upper righthand side.
4. I like the pink shape with grey markings.
5. I would like to write a word in the painting - perhaps the title?- but I am not yet sure what.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Painting in the digital age




Essentially my expressive tool is the Internet. I spent yesterday working on some new paintings, aware that it wasn't the painting itself that mattered so much as the digitalised image online.

There are really six steps-

1. painting
2. photographing the painting
3. editing the photo
4. sticking the photo online
5. adding a commentary
6. interacting with any commentators

Knowing how to photograph art is absolutely crucial. Steps 4, 5 and 6 are analogous to exhibiting a painting in an art show.

*

Paint itself is such an excellent expressive medium that its hard to find anything to replace it, though I have tried, because paint is messy and paintings take a lot of space. I don't sell enough work so the paintings pile up and after 20 years take up considerable space.

Painting over old canvases is one solution but there always comes a point where the painting you've got is so good ti shouldn't be painted over- it's too painful

I have been experimenting with wires and paper cutouts to make art that has an inbuilt impermanence, to avoid the pain of having to destroy something you love. But, as yet, they have proven unsatisfactory. The wire sculptures remain wore, the cutouts are too obviously paper- these media don't transport me in the way paint does.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We have nothing to fear - painting


The pinkish tone of this picture makes me thing of toothpaste. Is that a bad thing?

My idea is to produce unfussy paintings, paintings that have a freshness and lightness about them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Island of the Dead




When I took this photo I thought it reminded me of Bocklin's famous painting. Of course it doesn't. Even in terms of general mood, the Bocklin is much darker and more sinister. In fact the comparasion is almost comical: my "island" is indeed really a promentory with the silver car replacing Bocklin's small rowboat, and the palms his cypress trees.

A hut, Catholicism



The development of the island is so intensive that it would be possible to believe that in only a few years all traces of the idiosyncratic culture of the original Azorean inhabitants will have disappeared completely, replaced by faceless concrete condominiums populated by outsiders.

The local culture is not that easily penetrable, it is often said that the people keep to themselves, that they are reserved, even unfriendly, though that is not my own experience.

I see that many of the houses along this stretch of coast from Santo Antonio to Sambaqui are for sale and suspect that it will be developed soon unless the locals take some action to prevent this- which seems extremely unlikely judging by other parts of the island.

Fishing


Some parts of the island are incredibly photogenic, as if specifically designed for postcard manufacturers.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Doodle


Not working for anyone else means I am considerably less bored, and consequently spend less time doodling.

But sometimes during the English lessons I give, or when I am waiting for students I have moments of enforced idleness which I can spend doodling.

Mentally, doodling involves reproducing something from inside my head - I never draw things I see in front of me. Doodles are made on a tiny scale and are highly concentrated like postage stamps or an engravings and are very intimate creations, not intended to be seen by others.

In doodling, I have become very conscious of the sort of marks each type of pen can make and their direction. My favourite pens are Bics, especially those with larger size ball-points (I tried using a fountain pen, but it was too heavy- you can't use a fountain pen faintly, which means you end up having to "dive right in" into the drawing knowing for sure what result you want. This brings a feeling of risk which is inimical to doodling). A ball pen can be used to make a variety of weights of marks so you can gradually work towards your final image. You don't want to have to know what you want the end result to be when you first start doodling.

This quality is essential, because doodling is formostly a process led art form. The end results are relatively unimportant.

The best doodles have an unforced quality. This cannot be contrived. The scribble has to flow freely, un-self consciously- it's a bit like talking to oneself or chatting to a close friend late at night, and you have to feel at ease with yourself to doodle comfortably.

I often draw letters, usually serifed- it's very pleasurable to trace the curve on an "S". Other common subjects for me are faces (usually of women or children), horses, vaginas, cats, flowers, ellipses, eggs and hands. I like cross-hatching, and I like serpentine lines. I rarely use staccato marks.

I daresay there are deep psychological explanations for this choice of subjects (Freud wrote some very silly essays laboriously "explaining" the thoughts behind da Vinci's famous doodles), but some things are simply more suitable subjects of such tiny drawings than others- with such a tiny amount of space the subject cannot require too much elaboration to be recognisable. This is one of the appeals of letters, in particular.

*

Knowing that one might later show the doodle online has a negative effect on me, making me feel inhibited. I know the drawings will be judged, first by myself as I photograph and edit them, and then by those who look at my work on Flickr.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Photographing Florianopolis




Things I like to bring out when photographing in the city.

1. Silence
2. No cars
3. Bright colours.
4. Emptiness
5. Different levels, hills slopes etc.
6. Shop fronts (best if not chains or franchises as the design of these is too heavily mediated) and businesses.
7. People working, or minding their own business.
8. Sunshine and strong shadows to bring out architectural detailing.
9. Repetition of architectural themes, windows etc.
10. Penetration and entrance- being able to see into and through spaces.

I am not really trying to represent Florianopolis at all. I'm trying to produce my own, more satisfactory version. There's a residential area of the centre behind Pizza Hut that seems particularly good at for these qualities.

More images here-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28509471@N05/sets/72157616633654064/

Friday, August 7, 2009

White Wall



The incidental scratching is very nice, and impossible to happily create as a painter- it's the casualness, the randomness of the marks.

I was always too heavy, too deliberate as a painter, which is why less immediately controlled media such as monotype or photography, suit me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Arrangement and comparasion



Art here which is about arrrangement and the comparasion of forms across a flat plane. It's called "Anglo-Saxon attitudes".

It was difficult to photograph this, and I apologise for the quality. It is a painting that readily refects diffrences in light, and appears different wherever you place it.

It wasn't hard to paint, and his makes me think how funny it is how easy it is to paint sometimes. The work just flows, and you produce good stuff. The things that are hard work usually aren't much good, in my experience. But I grew up in Scotland where hard work is a value in itself and it's hard to shake the mindset that tells you that an easy thing can't have more value than a difficult one.

The picture is 92 x 71 cm, oil on canvas. I want to work larger.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A bicyclist and his friend



These photos give an impression of the vastness of Brazil.

Because houses are built along the sides of roads, close togther, or packed tightly on hillsides, you can get the false notion from the street of a crowded country.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

In Canada, Collaboration and Wire Sculptures


I've abandoned a collaboration with a Canadian, where she was supposed to provide me with photos, which I'd use as a basis of stories. She wasn't really pulling her weight and her photos weren't really good enough. I'd entertained a sort of fantasy that I might be able show her rapidly how to produce better images, but that notion turned out to be false. Ergo, it was futile to continue.

There are a couple of the stories here- there were supposed to be eight.

This is often the way with collaborations- people enter them without really thinking about whether they are really committed or not, and it turns out to be a waste of time.

I think the appeal of collaborations is that it offers a relief from the fairly lonely business of making things, and you can believe that one person at least- your collaborator- is eager to see what you come up with. There is also the idea that the collaborator brings skills that you don't have to the table.

But in fact it is rarely like that- often one or other party doesn't deliver the goods, or is only really interested in the collaboration as a vanity project. And in my case, I am a much better photographer, so depending on her was a waste of energy,.

In that respect the experience was good, in that it has helped me see that I know an awful lot more than I realised.

*

It is great fun making these little desk-top sculptures, balancing the bits of wire and photographing them. The act of balancing things is enormously pleasurable. I wonder why?