Tuesday, July 28, 2009

prospero's books

i've just found a couple of extracts from peter greenaway's film, prospero's books, on youtube


i have difficulty in essaying a short description

at the core of the film is john gielgud delivering, or rather, exploring the text of shakespeare's tempest, the text so slowly and delicately phrased, with much joyful repetition, so that it gathers meaning with each newly heard utterance

the story is presented as if through a prism of the printed culture of the times ... in episodes that are presented as if coming off the pages of alchemical books in the enchanter king's library ... maybe it was greenaway's and gielgud's meditation on the lost riches of superstitious imaginings

it was certainly gielgud's last big statement on the beauty of words

to make thing even more enigmatic, and for me more enchanting, the whole performance progresses within a stately whirl of dance and music, much of it inexplicable, much of it exquisitely beautiful, everything being staged in what might pass for a polymath humanist's laudanum hallucination

i saw it several times in the early nineties but have never been able to acquire it on dvd, and i can't remember the last time there was an opportunity to see it in a cinema



Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on; and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

marina ginesta at the hotel colon, barcelona, 1936

... serendipitously discovered just now via the spanish blogger gastropitecus-gloton ...

window-shopping in new bond street ... what can you buy for the woman who has everything ?

Monday, July 27, 2009

they might as well have given a man with toothache a poke in the eye

Having been, for nearly all of the last sixty years, pathologically impecunious, I've always felt uncomfortable in Oxford Street; one of the ugliest in London and thronged with shoppers who have no taste, so I avoid it at all costs.

Particularly dismal is the huge facade of Selfridges, a baleful temple, if ever there was, of commodity fetishism.

Then i learned that there is a clock above the main entrance designed by Gilbert Bayes, and so I went along with an open mind this afternoon after work, hoping to be pleased.

Not a bit of it. If anything, despite the masterly complexity of the accomplished craftsmanship, it seemed astonishingly drab in spirit ... somehow lacking Bayes' usual exuberance and/or tenderness ... two of the "must-have" qualities that i "demand" from artists.

Never mind ... i still like his stuff in the V& A, and on Shaftesbury Avenue.
POSTSCRIPT ... twenty minutes later, I found myself leaning across the railings to get a better view of an ancient ?Tang? camel, terracotta, partly glazed in yellows and ochres, proudly displayed in Eskenazi's window in Clifford Street. All my cares vanished.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

portrait of the "artist"

oh, really ? fortunately, most of the girls around here are too busy dancing on the tables ...

Proverbs 31:10-31 (King James Version)

10Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

11The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

13She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

14She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

15She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

16She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

18She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

19She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

20She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

21She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

23Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

24She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

25Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

26She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

28Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

29Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

30Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be

31Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

formerly the tiger

posies in lindfield church

"... the middle classes at prayer" ?

persons blah blah committing blah blah blah in this churchyard will be prosecuted

Thursday, July 16, 2009

tumbling cherries and orbiting planets

a few weeks ago, in a small village high in the sierra de gredos, as i walked along the street looking for the little shop that sold affordable beer, i passed the entrance to a narrow alley that came down from some houses above the road.

there were no steps, but a steep smooth concrete ramp and, as i passed, a very small boy with plump rosy cheeks and huge bright eyes, a face enlivened with laughter, and with chubby dimpled knees above rolled down socks, came running down towards the top of this ramp

as he reached the edge he crouched, and stopping, held out his hands with palms up

in the centre of each palm there rested a bright dark cherry

as he stopped, so the cherries rolled forward over his outstretched pudgy fingers and dropped on to the ramp, and accelerated down it

was he a born gambler, merely curious to know which cherry would be favoured by the laws of chance to roll the farthest ?

or was he an infant scientist ? ... perhaps a kind of reincarnation of galileo, or maybe of richard feynman ?

richard who ? ... click on the link


made me laugh, made me cry

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Whilst the first colours lighting the sky today were the deepest blues, and the streets were still dark, and as the night bus sped down Putney Hill towards another day’s work, so the illuminated poster frame at the side of a distant bus shelter was an even more intense patch of that same rich azure. And as it came in to focus, so did two silhouettes; young slender lovers were standing before it in profile, their hands on each others' waists, their foreheads meeting in balanced repose.

As midday approached, in "Jane Austen Country", and as a heavy shower ran away from the sunshine, an exultantly glittering oak dominated the middle of a passing field which was strangely bejewelled with thousands of cornflowers. The oak's low canopy was wide enough to make a deep shadow for some young beef cattle, every one glossy black, and their ears clearly profiled against the bright distant landscape whenever their heads turned to watch me.

The radio in the cab of my truck was playing an interview with Ray Davis, a gentle man who was describing with some tenderness how Kirsty MacColl had recorded his song, which begins, "Thank You For The Days", and as he puts it, “Made it her own”. And then, just as she began again to sing that unforgettable first line, so my truck was swooping past a huge shining cornfield that undulated along a low hillside whilst the shadow of one tiny cloud went dancing off like a ghost over the waving corn towards the distant wooded hills.

Friday, July 10, 2009

why the compulsory hoovering had to wait ...

... and wait

the joy of temperance on clapham common

the shady dog, as it turned out, had an owner ...
he lay in the sun with a group of seven or eight other alcoholics ...
i hadn't noticed them until he began to shout ...
he wanted me to erase the picture, or pay him five pounds for the privilege of taking it ...
you can probably guess how widely i smiled

Thursday, July 9, 2009

least said, soonest mended ... part one

least said, soonest mended ... part two

blimey! here's one i'd forgotten ...

a friend just showed me this little photo of a forgotten painting ... ten years ago, a posh theatrical costume designer in brighton, a wonderful woman named fay, had asked me to design a business card, but i was in such a state of mental prostration that i never got past this sketchy stage of visualising it as a linear painting ... sorry fay !

Thursday, July 2, 2009