No such thing as a Greek postcode?

I’ve had a break from blogging as we took a trip to Spetses in Greece to visit a long standing friend and fine printmaker/artist. It’s a long trip that’s worth it. Flight to Athens and a night at Piraeus, the nearby port, before departure the next morning on the ferry. The joy of dropping in on a couple of other islands on the way including Hydra, where Leonard Cohen found himslef in the 60’s. What was he so bloody miserable about? I was in Manchester where one had the rain to be miserable about, and his bloody records did not help.

I was apparently studying art and design, though this was not always apparent to anyone else,  Ros was there too and already showed talent. I remember being very impressed with her stylish haircut, an odd east London accent, and the fact that she’d been on “Ready Steady Go”, one of the orginal pop programmes that was on ITV in those days, as well has her artistic abilities of course!

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Are artists like jackdaws? Can’t resist collectiong bits and bobs, this is the wall outside Ros’s place, you’ll never find it, there’s no postcode, but at least you get to see it. For the real deal go to her website: Ros’s site  It’s well worth a click. 


We were on our way to see her and her hubby, as well as to get in some walking. It was February when we set off and I’d packed nice warm clothes. Some never came out of the suitcase. Or accommodation was in sniffing distance of the bakery and in the old town, recommend staying there, though take a sense of direction with you, only a couple of streets have names. Apparently you find places by knowing the names of who lives there.I was looking forward to seeing a postman with a look of total confusion, but it appears that Ros’s post is just delivered to a bar in town where they know she and hubby pop into regularly.

What we found on Spetses was wondefuly scenery, very friendly people and weather to match their sunny dispositions, we were lucky in some respects that we’d caught a good week. I shall blog some more about the place over the coming week with tales of dogs on bikes ( really ) and some unusual community singing, but for the time being take a look at this little video, the result of a walk to the top of the island. No road noise, there are no cars apart from the odd taxi on Spetses. In the distance the Peloponese mountains of the mainline with a dusting of snow on the peaks and a bird in the background. Anyone know what it is?

You may also hear a bee landing on me at the finale to the video. It too was friendly.

 

 

 

What is it about masons?

 


A trip to the Mason’s yard at Gloucester Cathedral. I have a friend at the Cathedral who said she would help me out getting a small sculpture repaired for me. I wanted to match the stone and make the repair myself and asked if I could have a little stone dust to match the colour when I make the repair. She was happy to oblige and off I went with the wingtip in my bag. The sculpture was of a bird and it’s wing the victim of the gust of wind.

I’ve been to this place before and it fascinates me. There’s something very calm about the place and the masons themselves exude this calm too. Perhaps it’s a result of working to reasonable deadlines, after all you can’t re-craft the pinnacle of a Cathedral in a weekend. Ollie, the guy giving me the advice there on how to repair my modest piece went through everything in details about the glue and the hardener, then paused, looked me straight in the eye and detected that I would not be approaching this repair with the calm and expertise that he has, and offered to do it for me. Brilliant chap. They also let me take a few photographs in the place, and here I came across these bits and bobs.

Everything, but everything is covered in stone dust, mason’s included.If you ever get the chance , they do have ‘Open Days” every now and again, don’t miss it. I’m in awe of the skills that these guys possess in bucket loads.

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This chap is a clay model of a gargoyle at Gloucester Cathedral which is now in situ on the edge of the roof. Go and take a look at it, but take a pair of binoculars as it is up very high.

Don’t look up in the rain as you’ll get an eyeful from his mouth


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In the background it looks like a photo of previous masons and their apprentices,
they seem to be working in a tin shed! They don’t now.


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Another quite small plaster model which was attached to the wall,
I think these guys have a bit of a sense of humour.

For more information take a look here:
Gloucester Cathedral

There’s no such things an original, is there?

They say that there are only six jokes in the world, and that those are just recycled and remade. I have no idea what the original six were.

It would seem to me that in what I do there are now no such things as originals, or perhaps I’m wrong. All my drawings these days start with a line drawing that is essentially unfinished. The drawing is then scanned and put into photoshop and digitally worked up to get the final. Which is the original? Possibly the initial line drawing can be described as the original, but it is not what I’d call finished. In the time before digital work I’d finish and faff with it until I was relatively happy and then that final flat piece of paper can rightly be described as the original. So perhaps that discounts this first drawing. May be those pixels in the mac are the original.

Anyhow here’s a first line drawing without any messing, apart from the scanning. It’s for a series I’m working on the British, although the boat could be a metaphor for the country ready to set off on its round the world trip, apres Brexit.

Please note the adventurer’s website address on the banner above his leaking boat. I wonder if that domain is taken?old-boat-finalsf

Where’s the joke?

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I got into this by accident. I always wanted to be an advertising art director as it sounded glamorous and there might be lots of travel. Photo shoots in glamorous places with glamorous people go with. I had a brief period in the business before I got the order of the golden boot, not fired, just not wanted.I never went anywhere glamorous, but met some lovely people.

The agency that I then worked for: S.H. Bensons was one of those grand old men of advertising where famous novelists started as copywriters and Mr Benson himself was famous for being the original ‘marketing man’ when they had not existed before. He was responsible for marketing Bovril ( that’s a meat extract drink for those not familiar, yes they drank meat extract, had to be better than coca cola ) and made a great success of it in the First World War. He’d long departed this life by the time I was there in the early seventies.

Located in Holborn right across the road from the tube station, the agency boasted a large artwork studio in addition to the many offices with art directors and copywriters. There must have been at least 15 people working in that artwork studio. They also had 2 or 3 full time illustrators working there who had their own room! It was said they could work in any style you required, a Van Gogh type drawing would probably be turned around in a day or so. Full colour Vermeer would take a couple of weeks. One of the illustrators there was responsible for a large imitation of the Bayeux Tapestry for a poster campaign for Guinness, he didn’t weave it, he drew it!

So when I went freelance after they ‘let me go’ I considered myself to be a ‘commercial artist’ and would attempt, like the guys at Bensons, to do almost any style required and was happy to have a go at anything. Apart from airbrush stuff which was beyond me. All that spraying and masking gave you coloured teeth, no matter how careful you were.

When I came into my own, so to speak, doing cartoons, and developing my own cartoon work, much of the other stuff got left behind.

So recently I’ve turned back to experiment with some drawing like I used to. I’m working on a series of ‘silkscreen’ type prints taken from places I know. I’m not a printmaker in the traditional sense, and these are drawn in line first then scanned. Colour added digitally. Actually anyone can add the colour and might be able to do it better than me.

So there’s no punchline here, no joke. Nevertheless I hope it lifts your day.

The image above is one of the valleys coming out of Stroud in Gloucestershire towards Frampton Mansell from Chalford. It’s a magical place. The one below is the simple line work before ‘faffing’ of a view towards Sheffield.Shutsheffiledblog