Flew to London on Monday to attend the Private View of the 199th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters In Watercolours at The Mall Galleries. I was thrilled to be this year's recipient of the St Cuthbert's Mill Award.
St Cuthberts Mill has been making watercolour and printing papers since the 1700’s, and I look forward to working with their Waterford papers. I've been a saunch Arches man for 20 years but it might be time for a change.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The design team has been very specific about sizes, proportions, and subject matter, so I've had the unusual challenge of formatting my work according to specifications.
An uncharacteristic uncertainty.
First night nerves, as it were.
Friday, March 11, 2011
The original brief was to go to Maine to paint the family home, but as I spent time with the grandson of the carpenter who built the house for his family, and a whole bunch of other houses in the area, I saw it more as a painting about the builder than about the building. I had the old workshop unpadlocked and I sat in there one afternoon and painted the view from the grandfather's workbench.
The painting is 26 x 11.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Well, here is a list that could have been so very different. I could have configured this in a dozen ways or made it a list of 100 instead of 10 but I'm pretty pleased with it as it stands. Interestingly enough, some of my favourite punk bands never made it onto the list, nor some of my favourite music over the last ten years. What this represents isn't necessarily my favourite songs of all time, or even my favourite artists but these are songs that typify what I love about music and how it relates to the ever-changing shape of my life. Over the last few years I have loved lots of stuff, but I'm less formed by it these days. Maybe I'm less shapable.
Click here to hear the list, in chronological order:
1. Frank Sinatra
The Tender Trap
From the 1955 Motion Picture of the same name
An all time favourite in our household. I grew up listening to Big band jazz, swing and a liberal selection of vocalists from both sides of the Atlantic. Frank and Ella were and remain in my heart. This was the first Sinatra song that I learned to sing start to finish and my mum and I sang it often. When I was given a place on the Masters program at the Royal College of Art in the late 80s I rewarded myself by going out to buy 20 Frank Sinatra Albums.
2. Barbara Streisand
One Less Bell To Answer / A House is Not a Home Medley
From the Album Barbara Joan Streisand, no date on the artwork or label but some time in 1971
Hal David, Burt Bacharach and Barbara; it doesn't get much better than that. Fantastic orchestration by Peter Mats. This sends shivers down my spine every time. The key change, the layering and what a fantastic voice. Since my mother died I can no longer bear to listen to Barbara Streisand.
The Yes Album 1971 Yessongs live version 1973
I have always listened to whatever my older brother listened to, in fact I still do and we were in a band together for much of the nineties. Until punk changed everything he and his friends listened to Emerson Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Jethro Tull and of course Yes. I loved Roger Dean's fantasy artwork, and for a young teenager reading Tolkein it was easy to escape into the imaginative world of Jon Anderson's lyrics. Incredible complex landscapes, amazing musicianship, and an unashamed ability to indulge themselves in endless excercises in pomposity and pretension. Even twenty years on we used to sit down and listen to this stuff and marvel at the complexity. How did they manage to write this stuff?
4. Siouxsie and The Banshees
Join Hands 1979
Not from their first album which I adored but which my brother owned but from their devastating follow up. I bought it the day it was released and remember clearly the hideous empty feeling when I first listened to it and disliked every song on it. I rang my brother almost in tears because I wanted to love it so badly. He told me to try it again and to consider that there might be something to it. This album grew and grew and grew and perhaps never stopped growing on me so that it is now almost too painfull to listen to. I could have chosen any track from Join Hands. Saw them I don't know how many times between 78 and 88 by which time I found them to have run out of things to say and I could no longer persuade myself to like what they were doing. Last time I saw Steve Severin was at our wedding in1990. That's like a trophy for me.
5. Killing Joke
What's This For 1981
The second wave of punk was in full flow during my University years, exemplified by The Birthday Party, Bauhaus, The Southern Death Cult and Killing Joke who brought an electronic dance groove into the equation. The bass player, Youth went on to engineer a good deal of dance music in the eighties and nineties. Very musically able and with political leanings to the extreme left, Killing Joke have always been close to my heart from the very first time I heard them in session on the radio on the John Peel show late one school night, listening with the headphones on and the lights off. They are the only group who have ever brought me to tears during a live set.
6. David Sylvian
Brilliant Trees 1984
My brother introduced me to glam rockers Japan in 1979. We followed them through their metamorphosis into romantic songsmiths and electro pop stars. Sylvian's musical ability is truly awe-inspiring. My brother and I sat on a bed in our flat North London in 1984 and he told me he missed his fiancée and wanted to have this played at their wedding. It was a rare talk about his feelings and I shall remember it always. He didn't have it at his wedding but Sherry and I did at ours 5 years later.
7. Nick Cave
The Mercy Seat
The Tender Prey 1988 Live version from Live Seeds 1993
The Birthday Party were a vast powerhouse of anger and aggression. Their song King Ink gave me my moniker for the eighties which I wore on my leather jacket everywhere I went. After they split I wanted Cave's solo career to be a continuation which it wasn't but I tried hard to enjoy him as much. Over the years however he has created a rich world of horror folk lore, storytelling, tearing at his tormented soul, wrestling with the bonds of guilt and suppression of his catholic upbringing. The band has been like a who's who of punk and independent music greats.who's live shows seem like a greasy lounge act, all cigarette smoke, whiskey and the nastiest badass songs. He has managed to live with integrity and consistency because he is truly great at what he does and a creative genius.
8. The Wonderstuff
40 Years in the Bathroom
I left England for a year after my masters and returned to London to find my friends listening to bands I didn't know. A new thing seemed to have happened in my absence and I remember being at Jon Taylor's house getting a crash course in who's who. I could have chosen The Stone Roses' "I am The Resurrection" to represent the new batch but instead I chose the Wonderstuff because they were the band that we saw the most in the next few years. Hup was their second album and its all this good.
Get the Message
I loved Joy Division and New Order and could have included a song by either. This however represents a period of change in my life marking the end of bachelor ways for me and many of my friends. I married in 1990 and my group of close friends all did the same over the next three or four years so that less and less were we all together out at clubs or gigs. For Jon Taylor's stag event we traveled up to Manchester in a van for a weekend festival at the height of Madchester, a time when The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, The Charlatans and Electronic were changing the sound of British pop. Barney Sumner and Johnny Marr, the best part of the Smiths combine to create a dance anthem. Ecstasy
10. The Foo Fighters
All My Life
One By One 2002
For me Nirvana and Ministry and Nine Inch Nails and the Lemonheads and the Pixies best represent the American strain of the development of music in the post punk world.
Sherry and I were depressed but hugely interested by Kurt Cobain's sad end but his sound lives on in so many other bands. The Foo Fighters leave me in no doubt that Nirvana were a rare combination of talents, a sum much bigger than their parts. The raw energy and formidable musicianship of the Foo Fighters embodies what I love most about music now and always.