Saturday, 27 July 2013

Chalk Figures

I find chalk figures really intriguing, and I came across this figure in the hillside near Weymouth, and took photos of it from a couple of places.  Chalk figures are giant drawings in the surface of the landscape, often made hundreds of years ago, which cut away the turf to reveal the white chalky soil underneath.

Apparently this one is of King George III, and is officially called the Osmington White Horse.  It reminded of the figures in the chalk in Sussex, such as the Long Man of Wilmington, the mysterious guardian of the South Downs.

Co-incidentaly, whilst in the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne later in the trip, I was delighted to come across this print  by local boy Eric Ravilious, painter par excellence of the Downs. 

Eric Ravilious, Chalk Figure near Weymouth, 1939

You can see he's exaggerated the shape of the hill-ridge, and the line of the hedge, which gives a more sensual sweep and rhythm to the landscape.  It's still pretty exciting to see the same lines of the fields as Ravilious was drawing, over seventy years later.

This is the Long Man of Wilmington, which you can see from the train near Polegate.  When you see it out of the train window on the right hand side, you know you're almost back in Eastbourne.

Ravilious also painted this scene in 1939, on his whistle-stop tour of chalk figures, before he went off to be official war artist (sadly he was killed in 1942).


Friday, 26 July 2013

Photos of Dorset

 Portland Bill.

Portland Bill is a narrow promontory (or bill) of Portland stone at the southern end of the Isle of Portland.  It's the southernmost point off Dorset.

This is Chesil Beach, stretching off into the distance.

It's one of Britain's unique natural wonders, a shingle ridge that runs for 17 miles from Portland to West Bay.  The pebbles are graded in size - the largest are at the Portland end.  Here's some Portland-seized ones.

You're not allowed to remove a single pebble.  I'm not sure how they can tell if you have or not - I didn't get frisked on the way off the beach.

This is the sunset over Lulworth Cove.

Now, fact fans, Lulworth Cove was used as a location for the 1989 Doctor Who serial The Curse of Fenric (that's Sylvester McCoy era), such is its mystical and other-worldy feel.  The rocks are very interesting geologically, with folds and layers like a stirred-up cake mixture.  They're also full of fossils, hence the name the Jurassic Coast.

Lulworth's the horshoe-shaped cove on the left.   Stair Hole is on the right.

And further up the coast is Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch.

It featured in Tear's for Fears' Shout video, and also on the artwork for Pink Floyd's The Division Bell. Scenes were also shot here for the 1967 film Far from the Madding Crowd with Julie Christie and Terence Stamp.

In the very distance, on the horizon, you can see the Isle of Portland.

This is Man o' War Cove.

It's a pity you can't walk along the coastal path linking Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, but unless it's the weekend or August, the path is out of bounds as it's on a firing range!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Sandy Murray

I think you'll agree that nothing says 'Weymouth' more than a figure of Andy Murray made out of sand.

He's the one on the right.

Or at least I think he is.  

If you dare, let's take a closer look.  Deep breath..


And look - that's not a chip on his shoulder - it's the whole potato!!!

The theme for this sand-based extravaganza on the Dorset seafront was apparently 'Space Aliens' - which doesn't really explain Andy's presence.  

Actually, no, let's look at the image again - yes it it does.  

Well, it's a touching tribute all the same.

If only I was there this week.   Andy may have been returned to his constituent parts and crafted into someone else.  Perhaps Tour de France winner Chris Froome.  Or Kate, Wills and George.  Who haven't won anything, but are jolly super and are making us feel lovely.

More Photos from my Travels...

This is Weston Super Mare, where I was taking photos of the pier.  The tide was out - I didn't realise just how far out though!

When people came back from a swim in the sea, they would have to wade back through the mud - so they ended up covered in glaur by the time they reached the actual beach.

Another pier to add to my collection!

This is Lyme Regis in Dorset.

It's The Cobb, made famous by the writings of Jane Austen and the film The French Lieutenant's Woman.

This is the seafront at dawn.

Lights on the Cobb as dawn breaks.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Close to the Edge

Just back from taking a few photos round the south coast - weather scorchio!  

Here's Beachy Head.

Slightly squint photo, but when you're hanging over the edge, there's only so much you can do!!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Edinburgh Festival Paintings

Tomorrow I'm taking work to the Morningside Gallery in Edinburgh, which will be on show during their Festival exhibition in August.

The Edinburgh Festival, is of course world-renowned, with hundreds of shows, performances and exhibitions from comedians, actors and musicians from all over the world.  It's a spectacle which completely takes over the capital.

My humble contribution is a selection of eight paintings, including this east-coast scene of North Berwick.

Blue Sea with Bass Rock (Oil on linen, 24 x 26)

The only way I could work in the delivery of the paintings during the school holidays was to promise a trip to see the Giant Pandas afterwards!

For more about the gallery, click here.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Palpable Relief...

History is made!!!  Seventh day of seventh month, after 77 years...

In the heart-stopping final game, which lasted 12 minutes, but seemed like 12 hours, there must have been people in Scotland who actually died during the course of it through sheer stress.  I know I nearly did.

Getty Images

And when you consider the superhuman amount of dedication and effort that he's put in

Andy Murray's appliance of science

he SO deserves it.
So proud!!

Now I'm just waiting for the first newspaper tomorrow which comes up with the headline of 'Hip Hip Mur-ray'.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Nerves of Steel

Ah, Andy, Andy, Andy....

Yes, it took nerves of steel to watch the television today.  But eventually, Andy Murray overcame the dashing helmet-haired Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 4-6 3-6 6-1 6-4 7-5 after nineteen hours on court.  Well, that's what it felt like.

Murray wears his heart on his sleeve (although he manages to pull himself together and address the challenges in hand so much better than he used to), but Verdasco seemed totally unmoveable and unflappable.  Like his hair.  Just exactly how much hairspray was used to weld his coiffure into place...?  It only seemed to go Andy's way in the last 4 points, and even then you could hardly believe he'd won.

But no matter, Andy lives!!!! 

As for the Tour de France, bronchitis boy Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma Quick-Step won his 24th Stage, leaving the rest of the field literally in a pile.  Just what sort of super-amazing antibiotics did he take??


Huge kudos also to Geraint Thomas of Team Sky, who continues to cycle with a fractured pelvis, after a terrible crash on day one. Now that is painful.  I've had a split pelvis and it doesn't bear thinking about. He had to be lifted back onto his bike because he couldn't lift his legs up - every turn of the pedals must be excrutiating.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Water Water

Now that it's the school holidays (and Wimbledon, and the Tour de France,), I've cut down to just 8 hours work a day* so I can spend some time with my son.

At the moment I'm getting ready for a couple of summer shows, and one at the Lime Tree Gallery in Bristol in September called Water Water.

Here's one of the paintings, a little loose acrylic picture of one of the boats on the shore at Aldeburgh.  The shore is shingle with no harbour, so they have to pull the boats up on the beach.

Fishing Boat Under Dark Sky, Aldeburgh (Acrylic, 10 x 10)

They recently had an outdoor performance of Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes on the beach.  The opera tells the story of a Suffolk fishing community, and Britten was inspired by the sounds of the sea at Aldeburgh which he incorporated into the music, so it was wonderfully appropriate.  They used the boats on the beach (many of which I've painted) as the setting for the stage.


It must have been amazing to see with the sun setting behind.

Felixtowe Star

This next painting is of the Isambard Kingdom Brunel's ship the SS Great Britain, which is docked at Bristol, just opposite the gallery.  It's a great setting for a gallery, overlooking the harbour, so a show about water is very appropriate.

SS Great Britain with Yachts, Bristol (Oil on linen, 12 x 12)

*well, not far off

Monday, 1 July 2013

What Do you Fancy Doing on Your 68th Birthday?

How about donning a neon mini skirt and a camoflauge net, grabbing a mike, and belting out a few new-wave anthems whilst throwing some punk curves with attitude?

Yes, it's Third Age Goddess Debbie Harry, playing in Glasgow tonight with Blondie, and laying waste to the grateful masses with a playful grin and a flash of her cheekbones, clearly visible even from Row M.  

She came, she saw, she flirted.  And everyone flirted back.

News and Star

"We've been playing a lot of forests lately - hence the foliage", she explained. 

As the night wore on, the leaves fell, and the back-catalogue of our youth was raided.  One Way or Another, Heart of Glass, Atomic, Call Me, Relax (I've no idea why), and a rather beautiful A Rose by Any Name.  Not in that order.

It was all effortless.  Oh, that I am a fraction as mesmeric and, let's face it, flexible, as Ms Harry when I am 68.

While we're at it, let's also big up another rock stage High Priestess, Gilli Smyth, who co-founded the psychadelic space-prog outfit Gong with Daevid Allen in 1968.  She's 80.  80!!

Amir E Aharoni

 Amir E Aharoni

I saw Gong a couple of years ago (and Gong Maison a while back), and Gilli treated us to her unique spoken-word song style. It was quite a trip.  Yes, there's a woman who gives even Debbie Harry a run for her money.

So it's perfectly possible to be creative and vital even in your ninth decade.   Some musicians (and artists) burn brightly, producing astonishing work in their teens or twenties because they are utterly fearless.  Sometimes that's something they never recapture.  Or sometimes creative people burn out, become complacent, or disillusioned.  

But for others, experience and the passage through life can also give a richness and depth to their work, a special sort of vitality, an exhilaration of experience.

Not so long ago, if you were a woman, it was pretty much bye-ee at 40.  That's when middle-age hit, and it was all downhill from there, disappearing into an apologetic beige twilight zone.  As an artist, I certainly don't expect to retire, and its great to see these women up there, on stage, giving it their all.

Dog Disaster (Almost)

Still in Corsica, where the dogs are a bit too playful...


I couldn't watch.  It was an epic Tour de France horror unfolding before your very eyes.  It was so, so close, that hairs from the dog's tail were caught in the spokes of Peter Sagan's front wheel as he swerved. Ay, yay yay indeed.

The pelaton had to adjust its speed to avoid puppy contact, possibly by as much as one second.  Which is the margin by which the race was won by Markel Irizar.  

What an amazing win!  What an amazing guy, he's come through so much, it's truly astounding...

Oh hang on, it's not Irizar, it's fellow RadioShack rider Jan Bakelants.  

Yes, on Saturday we didn't know where the finishing line was, on Sunday we'd got that sorted out, just didn't know who'd crossed it.

And it's only day two...