West Sussex Saturday

A month after my birthday and my present was to wake up under a new sky. We’d come away for the weekend and the bright morning window offered a fresh perspective, the fast-moving clouds seemed to suggest anything was possible. I’m writing this a month later, on the eve of a new dawn. Yesterday the General Election voted for a hung parliament, a brave new world where even Kensington seemed to be turning red. But here in Chichester the sky is perpetually blue. Read more

Frames of reference

Patience (After Sebald)

This modest, immensely enjoyable documentary is about one of my favourite books, The Rings of Saturn by the German poet and critic WG Sebald, who was born in 1944, taught for much of his adult life in this country, mainly at the University of East Anglia, and was killed in a motor accident in 2001. It was first published in German in 1995, translated into English three years later and is an account of a walking tour of Suffolk, the people he meets, the places he visits, and the historical and literary reflections prompted by what he sees and senses, taking his mind around the world. Suffolk becomes a sort of palimpsest for his eloquent, precise, lugubrious, often drily witty meditations about war, death, destruction and decay, about memories and continuities and the feeling that nothing entirely disappears. Read more

Frames of reference

At White House Farm

White House Farm at Great Glemham in Suffolk has 120 acres of historic watermeadows, arable land and woodland, home to a fine collection of ancient oak trees set in parkland grazed by the farm’s flock of Alde Valley sheep. The farm also hosts a continuing succession of residencies for artists, writers, makers and musicians, and each year the Alde Valley Spring Festival shows off their work. This year the festival theme was Quercus & Co, a celebration of the English oak, and featured an exhibition of paintings and drawings of veteran trees and woodland by Jelly Green. It was not difficult to find. Posters of her Puzzlewood painting led me from the A12 down the country lanes to the farm. Read more

Frames of reference

Here & Now

Twig Circle
Construction with found twigs

I attempt to make intense, individual objects
objects whose power is not dependent on where or when they are seen. Read more

Frames of reference

Garden & Countryside

Sometimes a garden can be the best room in the house, a great place to spend time with friends and family, to walk together and share its beauty, to be diverted and distracted, to pass the time and forget ourselves. We can wander off and make discoveries, tell tales, find reflections and common ground. Read more

Frames of reference

Two Days In Epping Forest

I suppose that’s a bit of an exaggeration, we didn’t stay overnight, but it sounds better than two visits or two day trips to Epping Forest. The first was a week after Easter, on St George’s Day, inspired by blogposts and tweets about holloways, I wondered what’s the closest thing to a holloway in Epping Forest? And so we went up to Jack’s Hill and walked to the western edge of Ambresbury Banks. Read more

Frames of reference

Six From Anne Davies

We just hung six new paintings by Anne Davies, though since we had one of them already, strictly speaking I suppose only five are new. But it’s a new sextet. Here’s what Anne said about them –

I spent time walking the Bermondsey Wall to Rotherhithe and then, on the other side, Wapping, Shadwell and Limehouse. Canary Wharf was less inspiring but still interesting in a different way! I was also inspired by the lovely Ewan MacColl song ‘Sweet Thames Flow Softly’. I don’t know if you know it but it tells the tale of two people falling in love along the banks of the river, and then one of them thinks better of it in the end. I recommend the Rufus and Martha Wainwright version! Read more

Frames of reference

Table Work

In my Scottish studio, I work on a table. Constructed in pine, it is rather battered but stable and came from a farmhouse in Gloucestershire. It was given to me by Lily Messenger, who had lived in Rodmarton before moving to Amberley, the village where we lived at that time. As our next-door neighbour, Mrs Messenger also lent me an attic room in which I worked for several years until we moved to Scotland in 1990. Before marriage, she had been Lily Bucknell, from a family of blacksmiths and wood-workers and who belonged to the Guild of Gloucestershire Craftsmen. This is only significant because my own Guild membership led to meeting highly skilled artists and craftsmen from whom I learned much concerning materials and ways of making things. Read more

Frames of reference

Wood On The Downs

At the gate we met a man with a camera, overloaded with telephoto lenses, overexposed to the sun, returning to the shelter of his car. He’d taken up photography in retirement, pursuing butterflies over the Downs, but today there were too many people and too few photo opportunities. He’d seen Green Hairstreaks and Orange-tips but didn’t think he had any good photos. As we spoke, bright yellow Brimstones danced around his head, but too quick to photograph. “It’s the story of my life,” he said. Read more

Frames of reference

Anish Kapoor At Lisson Gallery

An exhibition of painting, sculpture and three great amorphous lumps of whatever. If earth was flesh these might be rocks, torn from their sockets, wrapped like joints of meat in butcher’s muslin and displayed in bloodied gallery-size bites. Look closer and they’re dripping with glistening fingerprints, evidence of man’s inhumanity to the planet. I’m almost inclined to become vegetarian. Read more

Frames of reference