Wrestling with cars

Lately I’ve come to realise that cars and caravans (especially caravans) are boring, ugly and completely devoid of any elegance.
I have had – and you may be ahead of me here – a difficult few weeks wrestling with my Croydon Underpass linocut but I think I’m ready to edition it now. At last…

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The Great Studio Move

At the end of last year, our landlord at the studio kindly offered to put our rent up by 60%. Strangely, us poor struggling artists just couldn’t afford it.

Quite honestly, though, I did feel I’d outgrown my space a bit..


So we went and looked at this one, which needed a few finishing touches, obviously.


Ditto the outside – but that’s okay. We had a dream.

And, anyway this is Woolwich, so just look at what was on the other side of the building.


A few months later, our leap of faith had turned into this….


And so, The Great Moving Out Day dawned bright and early.
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Many dust-filled, back-breaking hours later, it was finally time to get the broom out..

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So, farewell then, Dulwich…

And hello, Woolwich!


And so begins The Great Moving In Day – well, it’s a start…


Where’s all this stuff come from? And more importantly, where’s it all supposed to go?


Securing the print drying rack to the wall – I did my bit by taking a photo……


And finally it’s time to move the presses – I took up nail biting…


….because if the cast iron cracks on the 170 year old Albion, then it’s done for.


Panic over. Both presses went in safely – and I gave up the nail biting…


A lovely day for Louise, sorting out the storage shelves.


I think that’s probably enough stuff on the shelves for now…..


At last, Home Sweet Home!


Back to work – and they’ll have to carry me out in a box before I do that again…

Yet Another Printmaking Odyssey…

While sitting in the usual queue of traffic on the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel, I had an idea – what could be a nicer subject for a new linocut, than a view of the A102? If only I’d known….


So off I go, sketching out a rough plan – who knew cars were so difficult to draw?


The working drawing is coming along – did I mention all those cars? There are SO many….



A rough cut of the first block – the lino is so long, I had to make a new registration board for it.


And I had to print one end first, turn the block around and pass it through the press again…..


I hadn’t got too far before I realised the road surface was too dark and needed to be cut away.


The first few proofs are not working out the way I’d hoped – this is going to be a bit tricky.


Back to the beginning –  I think I’ll try green instead on the first block, followed by pale yellow.


Third block is finally printed – this is turning out to be a printmaking marathon. I want a medal…


You know things aren’t going well when the note taking gets out of control.


The number of trial proofs is multiplying – but the colours are coming together now.


So finally, all four blocks are cut and working together well.

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And the finished print is called ‘The Day’s Work Done’ – possibly a little irony in there….

A Solo Show in Cambridge


I have a new solo exhibition at Cambridge Contemporary Artthis month. It’s called ‘Destinations and Departures’ and is on until 24thNovember. I have both prints and paintings on show, and I must say, it looks pretty good, mostly due to the expert hanging, of course.

Unfortunately, getting to the Private View turned out to be a bit of a marathon. We left London on Friday afternoon at 4pm, expecting to arrive at 5.15pm, looking forward to a quiet drink and a light meal before the opening. Unfortunately the gods had something else in mind for us and after a litany of misfortunes – the usual downpours, accidents, and breakdowns (other cars, and my mental state), we finally arrived at 7.20, a good ten minutes before the end. I had only time to throw down a glass of wine and talk to the handful of visitors remaining. Apparently there had been a queue to get in – I could have been like a film star on the red carpet, only I was stuck on the motorway….

At least it won’t be so bad getting home to London, we thought. After all, that Friday night traffic will be going the other way – but we reckoned without the police completely closing the M11, due to yet another accident. Still, I mustn’t complain, as we had a lovely drive down narrow A roads, along with all the other motorway traffic, and finally arrived home at 10.25, a round trip of six and a half hours.
To cap it all, my official photographer (aka partner) had a streaming cold and had been unable to lift his weary arms to take many photos, or even focus the camera properly….
Here is a photo of me with some of the wonderful team who work at the gallery – I would like to point out that I am actually 5’8” and have never felt short in my life, but looking at this picture, I look like a hobbit. Oh well…
And, looking on the bright side, all that sitting in queues on the motorway has given me some inspiration for a new print – looking towards the Blackwall Tunnel, on the A102. There’s always a silver lining….

Art Fairs (and the absolute embarrassment of talking about your work…)

So, another year, and another Affordable Art Fair is over. It’s an unusual experience for me, in that I get to meet a lot of people who are interested in printmaking, but who are also interested in buying my work. There were a lot of questions, as always, and sometimes it’s hard for us artists to articulate our answers in a clear and informative way (in other words, we can be unsociable, inarticulate and slightly feeble).

The most important thing here is to appear confident – if you look at the ground and scuffle your feet while you’re talking about your work, then all those lovely potential customers won’t feel too confident either. They’re hopefully going to spend their hard-earned money on your work and they need to feel that they’re making the right decision in choosing one of your pieces.

I know how hard it is though – I’ve never come across an artist who actually likes talking about their work (“I’m not a Performing Seal” and “My work speaks for itself”, etc.,) but like everything in life, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

It really can give you valuable insights into what people like about your work and what they don’t, and it forces you to verbalise what it is you’re trying to achieve. It doesn’t harm, either, to have a little talk prepared in your head before you start (but if a slightly bewildered look keeps stealing over your customers’ faces, then you may need to work on the content of that little talk….)

Talking to art fair visitors is also great for making you feel like a bit of an expert – you tend to forget how much experience you have. When you’re in the company of people who aren’t artists and therefore may not know too much about your work, and the processes you use, it can make you feel very knowledgeable and that’s rather nice.

All that noisy confusion of the fair certainly brings you down to earth – no bad thing for artists who can get very precious about their work if given half a chance. A few days of art fair visitors walking past your work as if it was completely invisible (or even worse, saying loudly to no-one in particular, “Well, I don’t like that”), certainly toughens you up. If nothing else, you learn to shrug internally and ignore it, at least until you can get home and start weeping into that pint glass of beer, wine, or whisky (depending on how bad it’s been).

If you really can’t face talking about your work, then you can always talk about the practical side of your work, your processes or the equipment you use for example. People are always interested in hearing about my printing press. (It’s an old cast iron Albion relief press made in 1841, purchased for a bargain price on eBay and brought all the way from deepest Norfolk to London on the motorway, strapped on to the back of some bloke’s van…..)

Above all, it’s a pleasure to be surrounded by people who appreciate the value of original art and who see a sense of value in what artists are trying to do.

So no more Affordable Art Fair for another year, but if you were one of those people who stopped by for a chat, thank you very much for coming (and to those of you who bought something, an even bigger thank you!)

And now I guess it’s time to get back into the studio and get on with some work, sigh…