Throwback Friday #65 Still Life (1993)

What with the influence of the Kick-About No.32, things have been rather abstracted on here of late, so I was minded to share these twenty-eight year old paintings for today’s retrospective post. They date from the very first week of my Art Foundation course and we were challenged to draw a still life of bottles, vases and kitchen crockery in a cubist-style. The original paintings – such as they were – are long destroyed, so these are photographs of photographs, but I can easily recall how nervous I was, sitting before my A2 drawing board on the studio floor, not knowing anyone in my class, and hoping I wasn’t about to balls everything up.

Throwback Friday #64 Inquisition Box (1993)

This cruel-looking apparatus dates from my Art Foundation course back in 1993. I even remember the brief giving rise to it, or rather the typically nebulous phrase selected by our tutors to so inspire our creative exertions: ‘Information Gathering’. I must have been reading a bit of Edgar Allan Poe at the time, my imagination taking me, in a few short bounds, to The Pit and the Pendulum. I imagined a sort of portable torture chamber (like you do) – part toolbox, part-music box – and I was thinking about movie props and set-dressing and production design for stop-motion animation, which is where my head was at the time. The box itself – long since consigned to a skip – stood about 2.5 feet high maybe, its various contraptions cobbled together from found objects – an old band-saw blade from the college workshop, the screw from my mum’s old meat-mincer… I presume I asked permission before swiping it from the cutlery drawer, though I can’t be 100% sure!

Throwback Friday #63 Masterworts Anonymous

In common with taking endless photographs of sunsets, there is always a danger of confusing your own endless fascination with plants, as expressed through the act of photographing them over and over, with the interests of others in looking at the resulting photographs. I have hard drives crammed with images of plants and flowers, in the garden, in the wild (and a fair few photographs of fields too!), and I’m taking more all the time. I think it’s a bit like giving in to that urge to keep and collect; you glimpse these extraordinary, fleeting expressions of colour, form and texture and you feel a responsibility to capture them forever. Anyway, you’ll have to indulge me, for here are two images of an astrantia, or masterwort, photographed who knows when, or indeed where. I do recall they are digital scans from negatives, so taken on my old school camera ‘back in the day’. I liked the drama of these images, which is funny and a bit improbable, considering the otherwise papery pinks and greens of this subtle low-maintenance perennial.

Throwback Friday #61 Whitstable Sky #1 (2009)

When you live by the sea, in a place famous for its spectacular sunsets, there comes a point where you have to say ‘no more!’. No more photographs of sunsets, however extraordinary. No more photographs of clouds, however painterly! No more! In my defense, these photographs date from 2009, so well before that embargo, and I still remember very clearly how special this particular lightshow was, boasting skyscapes so dramatic they could have come from a John Martin painting.

Throwback Friday #60 ‘Pillars’ (2015)

Another sultry night in France in 2015, and this time I was working in the bamboo and bramble tunnel running between the old French house and the Widow’s house. It can take the summoning of a bit of courage to work in the night, laughing off the residual fear of the dark – almost. When I look at these specific images, I recall very clearly the indignation of the Screech owl perched somewhere above me, who was unhappy at my long-exposure exertions.

What I particularly enjoy about these images is the way the pillars of light connect with the leaf litter, helping me vouch for the ‘in-cameraness’ of the image-making – no Photoshop tomfoolery here, thank you very much. I should say too these images spooked me; there’s something sentient about these manifestations…

Throwback Friday #59 Holding The Phone (2003?)

I can’t be completely sure when I wrote this song, but you can add it to the pile of similar stuff written following my slow and self-sabotaging exit from one particular relationship. I’m calling these efforts ‘songs’, though there is scant evidence of an actual chorus here, and they’re certainly not poetry. All I can say about this Friday’s example (and the others like it) is, whatever I was feeling at the time, I was feeling it vividly enough to sit down and write something by way of a response, be it a song, or so much dirge, or even a tiny capture of something true.

holding the phone


so, you’re phoning again, after all this time?
a bolt from these blues like a neon sign
i’m being real nice like I didn’t even bleed
but you ringing me, it’s like you’re ringing me
between those gentle hands no longer touching me

so, you’ll talk about the rain, ‘ain’t this weather grey?’
as just the sound of your voice chases clouds away
but i’m being real cool, like I never felt the heat
because hearing you, nowhere near to you
makes this day more grey even as your warmth comes through.

you want to hear how I’ve been? well, yeah I’ve been fine
you want to know what I do these days to pass the time?
I think you want me to lie, well that’s fine by me
as you won’t see these eyes, won’t detect this trace
won’t read the need imprinted on this face

i’m asking ‘how about you?’ ‘I can’t complain’ you say,
now isn’t that just great? you and me, we’re doing okay
anyone might mistake there’s nothing left here to break
our conversation clean and our chit-chat bored
my air supply cut by this telephone cord

I know it’s nearing the end as our pauses grow
just these few moments from now you’ll say you have to go
I have to go too, i’ve all these things I must do
like disconnect from you and repair the line
unplug this phone and that neon sign

we’ve been saying nothing much for nearly half an hour
I decide to say goodbye, my remaining power
you don’t seem phased at all me ending your call
so why ring me now? why ring today?
is there something more you want to say?

now this line has gone dead, I say out loud ‘i’m glad’
that’s over and done, and I’m sure, not sad
and in no time you’ll see I’ll no longer be
just sitting here, alone at home
me crying like this, me holding this phone
and in no time you’ll see I’ll no longer be
just sitting here, alone at home
me crying like this, me holding this phone

Throwback Friday #58 ‘Waffle House’ (2012)

Back in 2012, I went to a conference in Florida. It was an academic sort of affair, but there was a little time on either side to do some sightseeing, include a road trip to the Gulf Coast and a visit to Universal Studios. It was difficult not to think hyperreal filmic thoughts as we drank coffee in roadside diners and walked around movie lots, harder still to resist taking hyperreal filmic snaps.