Thursday, 16 July 2015

Lily Ponds at Kew

Down in a muggy London for the preview of the Barbara Hepworth exhibition at the Tate, I took the opportunity to go to Kew to photograph the lily ponds there as further material for my London show next year.

Here's some of the photos from a swelteringly hot Waterlily House, and the Princess of Wales Conservatory.  The waterlilies are only viewable during the summer months when they flower, the plants being cleared away completely during the winter.

I liked the reflections of the panes of glass from the roof upon the surface of the water, which gave a lovely contrast of the geometric lines, the soft organic circles of the plant leaves, and the delicate stems and curving tendrils.  It's a very sensual environment.

Beautifully subtle and unusual colours, and a certain mysterious quality to the plants as they appear through the surface of the water or float on the top.  With the interplay of reflections of the plants and the sky, there are many different complex layers and depths.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Lily Ponds, Edinburgh

Out again to take some more photos for work for my solo show next year in London.

I've been to the glasshouses in the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh to look at the theme of lilies. I like the geometric reflections of the panes of glass in amongst the organic shapes of the water plants.

They have a giant amazonian lily flowering at the moment, with huge lily pads with cabbage-red edges.

Lovely subtle metallic colours...

And a few cheeky wee goldfish...

Of course, Edinburgh Botanic Gardens is host to the spectacular Amorphophallus Titanum, the world's largest and smelliest flower.  

Wow! here it is in its natural habitat, looking truly magnificent...

Taken by a photographer in Rejang Land, south west Sumatra highland, Indonesia.
published by kind permission of Tun Jang.


What a pity it was slightly past its best when I saw it...

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A Painting in its New Home

It's always good to find out what happens to my paintings after I sell them.

So here's a photo of a painting in situ which I was very kindly sent by its new owner (thank you Hayley!).

It was bought as a special present for someone who works in the shipyards - the painting is 'Shipbuilding on the Clyde', and shows HMS Duncan, the last type 45 destroyer built on the Clyde, under construction.

Here it is in its new home, fitting in perfectly.

She tells me how thrilled they are to have it.  I'm thrilled too, as it gives me a lot of pleasure to know that.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


Hours and hours of cycling...

The Manx Missile gives up and coasts in fourth at the sprint over the finish line on the Tour de France Day 2 Utrecht stage.  Sagan to win tomorrow on the last 1km up to Huy.  Bring on the cobbles!

Hours and hours of tennis...

 Uber-relaxed Germaican Dustin Brown playing at Wimbledon and knocking out Nadal with 89 post-serve volleys, drop shots to die for, and second serves of over 125mph. Not long ago, he was travelling around Europe to tournaments in a campervan. Photograph: London Evening Standard


Friday, 3 July 2015

Final Day

Yes, it's already Friday, and all our sculptures have to be finished today.

I am still adding areas of plaster to make the form less figurative and more abstract, and painting the inside with acrylic to give a pinky glow like the edge of an abalone shell.

When the plaster is dry, I'll paint it with shellac to strengthen it, then varnish.  The piece will have a creamy colour with the texture markings brought out, so it will look like a piece of bone with a glowing, warm centre.

Here's how everyone else did...

My sculpture on the left, Ewan's world with minitaure sculptures of marble and aluminium inside, and Victoria's sculpture of Marco in clay.

Mary chipping the last of the plaster jacket off the jesmonite cast.

Mies's pieces.  She was making a linear wall-mounted three dimensional assemblage out of various textiles, woods, aluminium, copper, glass, perspex, mirror and paper.  It was all done to a very careful drawing and measured accurately.

Another view of Marco, Ewanworld and my sculpture.

Mies demonstrates how her design fits together.

The biggest puzzle of the day was how to get my sculpture back to the per usual, it took five people to lift it!

So to recap, here's the starting point at the beginning of the week (which I hasten to add, I didn't refer to again) - the back of a statue by Michelangelo...

..and here's my sculpture...

 Well, that explains a lot!


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Sculpture Day 4

Having looked at the photographs I took of my sculpture, and listened to various comments about the work, I decided that enough was enough.  Barbara Hepworth wouldn't be caught doing a sculpture that could be mistaken for fighting hares, fat people dancing or headless chickens.

So it was time to get welding, scrimming and plastering, chisel off those rabbit ears, and not make the legs and other areas such an issue.  This is a sculpture about the surface texture, not the hares/chickens etc.

Meanwhile, others in the class were making far better progress...

Marco slept by the door.  Mary's waste mould sat on the step, ready for the jesmonite pouring process, which drew a small audience.

Time to start putting the copper sheeting down the centre of the piece.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Sculpture Day 3

It's funny that I made so much progress in a very short time on Monday, then today my sculpture seems to have not changed very much at all, despite having spent another whole day working on it.

I'm trying not to anthropomorphise it, but it does rather look like two funny little figures clinging on to each other in a strange dance....

It's not what I started out to do at all.  Here's a close-up of the surface.

Even if I'm getting nowhere, it's strangely satisfying to spend a day working like this, with my hands in a bucket of plaster, and chipping away at the form with a big scraper.


From this angle, they look more like fighting hares, and that's not good.  Tomorrow, the rabbit ears will have to go...this is a serious sculpture.  Behave yourselves.

It's been a hot day, and the big door of the workshop is open into the back lane.  There is a smell of unemptied bins, the sound of buzzsaws from the wood workshop across the way, the trains rattling on the track over the back wall.  Soulless drum and bass music plays across the back court, but is sometimes surprisingly interpersed by a distant song with a woman singing plaintively in an Eastern language, exotic and impassioned.

Everything is a bit grimy and dusty - even the clean bits.  There are children from the surrounding tenements who come to sit on the step of the workshop, and who chatter away in Romanian and pet Victoria's dog Marco.  Patient, good-natured Marco is the handsome model for Victoria's sculpture, which she's made with a metal armature and clay worked over the top.

Because the door is wide open, people come and go, drop in, borrow tools, make cups of tea, and chat about what's going on in the neighborhood.

Here's Marco the sandwich-snaffling, banana-loving model, and Marco the sculpture.  

Mary is sitting on the step with her sculpture, which is for a statue for her garden.  The figure is going to have ivy sprouting from the hands.  Made in clay, the figure has been encased in a plaster jacket to take a mould.  When hard, the plaster will have the clay removed from the centre, and the space filled with a durable material such as concrete or jesmonite, suitable for going outdoors. 

And so another day goes by.