Friday, March 31, 2023

More Deliveries

Well, the TFL staff guy at the tube station was on holiday, and the woman works earlies, but the people there recognised them ( ' Oh! That's N**** and C******!'), and promised to put their portrait in the staff room for them. Next, I went to the Trinity Hospice charity shop to hand in the drawing of L****. 'Oh that's her! She works in another branch in Islington! Do you want to take it to her there?'. 

I had to give out more of the portraits and then be at the Gallery, so that one's going to be delivered to her by Trinity Hospice shop internal mail.

The paper stall was closed, probably because it was lunchtime, so I went to look for the street cleaners. 

I showed the portrait to one of them who was working alone in a side street and although his English wasn't that good, he recognised his colleague. 'Cromwell Road', he said. I looked it up on my phone and set off. But Cromwell Road is massively long; I walked down half of it and couldn't find him, so I headed to the Gallery because it was almost time to open up. Suddenly in the distance I spotted another cleaner in hi vis and crossed the road to where he was sweeping the gutter. I though it was him at first, but when he turned round I saw it wasn't. 'Do you know this man?', I asked. He looked at the drawing and creased up. 'That's my cousin! He told me someone had taken his photograph one day!' 

Apparently his cousin was working over the other side of the borough, but he took the picture to give to him because they were meeting up later in the day for a break.

It was quiet at first in the Gallery, but later on a few people showed up and hung out for a chat. Some of them recognised people that they knew in the pictures, and I've found out a lot of names and stories now. The little boy who wrote a song at half term with me walked past with his mum, and then dashed in to talk. They are so interesting to have a conversation with, because they completely get the point of the project. They autographed the visitors tablecloth, which I keep forgetting to ask people to sign.

Finally, we went back via Fulham Broadway so I could seek out the flower seller. Some of the stalls were still out on North End Road (boy, those people work hard!). At the station, there were two women at the flower stall. I kind of waved the portrait in front of them, and they said they didn't know who he could be. Suddenly, the younger one looked again and shouted 'Oh my God! That's my boyfriend!'.

So that's a whole bunch gone off to the people who consented to be photographed for the project. I was sent a photo of the bingo caller at The Hub happily showing her friends her portrait too. I hadn't anticipated people being so pleased with these little framed pictures, and I was touched by their response. More to go- and there's still the possibility that someone might be annoyed by the way I've drawn them: I've been concerned about that. But so far, so good. I'm very tired but very happy.

Next Gallery days Wednesday and Thursday next week, 2-7 p.m.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Delivering the Portraits

After collecting the final portraits from Hackney, I took a bag of framed prints out with me. One for the motorcycle repair guy, who seemed pleased. One for the vegetable stall guy, whose boss was really miffed. 'Where's mine? When can I have mine done?'. 'Next time', I said.

One for the fish shop men: only one of them was there at first and the other man in the shop pretended it was him that I'd drawn, but someone sent for the genuine guy down the street, and he showed up. They were really pleased.

The fruit stall woman wasn't there, and the barista had left her job, but the guy in the coffee shop knows her, and took her picture to give to her.

The natas seller wasn't around either.

Next, the ambulance station, all the way down a long road. A guest ambulance man ('I don't work at this station'), took me through to the office to meet the station manager. He recognised one of the women and said what a nice idea it was. 'This doesn't usually happen', he said.


Tomorrow morning, on the way to the Gallery, I'll deliver the Earl's Court end ones.

I'll be in the Gallery, 26 Lillie Road (diagonally opposite West Brompton tube/overground), between 12 and 5 tomorrow. Lovely to see you, Jerry and Billy, and Gaye and Eric, Alba and Halim, Asama and Mehdi, and Annie and more. The visitor's comment tablecloth has plenty of signatures. It was an unexpectedly social day, and I drew merely one line of the next drawing.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Gig, Sarf London



I bought every A4 black frame from the Wilko in Fulham Broadway, Stratford and Kensington High Street. Every single one. 

I bought every A3 black frame from Hobbycraft in Borehamwood.

I bought 21 A4 clip frames from Snappysnaps in North End Road.

I framed all my portraits (or prints of them), all the copies for the people that I drew, and all the 'hand' portraits of the art class I've been running in the community centre.

I (with the fantastic assistance of Stuart the handyman) hung all the framed prints in the gallery on Friday, and marked up the display boards in the community centre today, ready for the talk I'm doing there tomorrow lunchtime.

I took two drawings over to Hackney today, one to be re-scanned because it wasn't good enough, and one to be scanned because I missed it out. I went to a framers on Friday to ask about getting a mount cut, because the aperture in the one in the frame I bought wasn't big enough, but they wouldn't do it without the print, which I'd left in the studio because of the rain (I'm feeling ultra-protective of my work).

Tomorrow, I'm showing some of my work in the Hub Community Centre in Aisgill Avenue and talking about it at 12.30, then whizzing round to open up the gallery at 2.

Here are the opening times over the next two weeks:

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Wednesday at The Hope and Ruin

It couldn't have been a better night if it had tried. Karina was on the same train as us ,and went off to meet Lorraine Bowen who was also coming to the gig. We walked to the pier and then inland for pre-gig chips.

Audiences really matter a lot. The atmosphere in the room was really great- everybody was excited and ready for a good night out. I can't tell you how great it feels to walk on to a stage and get that feeling from the crowd: it was a field of smiles and bonhomie, and it was almost scary to play to such good humour and positivity. The sound engineer at the Hope and Ruin, Leon, really knows what he is doing, and did a great job; I could hear what I was doing really clearly, and so I didn't have to worry about getting past a difficult onstage sound. I could see people- Pete and Lisa, June Miles Kingston and partner, Karina, Lorraine, Shelley and partner, Jerry, Alice and Nadya. And the people that I didn't know seemed like friends anyway. So much of the crap in my past life gets fixed by something like this, believe me!

The DJ was Grant Lyons, who I haven't seen for ages and who had suggested that I should be the support for the gig. It was great to see him and his partner again: thanks for the Vaultage 79 t-shirt too! And Gina's show was completely brilliant. Every time I hear the songs, they are better and better. The onstage show is exceptionally well-rehearsed without being slick, the humour and warmth emanating from the stage are to die for, and all seems well with the world for that chunk of time that we spend in the world of powerful, woman-led electronic/guitar music with bells on. They have an art roadie, Avis, to drive them around. Cool! Three cheers for us all, still powering through life with all its troubles and tribulations!

That pathetic apology for a human, Boris Johnson? 

Who'd be with him? 

Who ever would have been? 

I watched him on TV drain the energy from life yesterday, after purchasing more frames from Wilko in Stratford, picking up the remaining prints and catching up with my wonderful friend Fola who runs Reggae Choir. Alongside the sad, pathetic psychopaths who have wormed their way in to British politics, there are strong and vibrant people who put much more into life than they take out of it, and yet still hold the key to great personal happiness. I hope very much that I am one of them; it's a delight to be surrounded by them, anyway.

Photographs by Naimad.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Gina Birch in Brighton, 21st March

You must come to this if you can! Gina has a fantastic duo of women electronic/rock musicians as her band, and her songs sound absolutely amazing. I'll be supporting her, with my super dooper tasselled shirt, which had been languishing in an Etsy basket for a long, long time until I liberated it recently. It does need to be ironed though. See you tomorrow!

Friday, March 17, 2023

Fruity Day

One of the stallholders down North End Road is very popular with people in the art workshop I've been doing. One of the participants told him I'd done a drawing of him, and I was a bit worried in case he became paranoid, so I went to say hello yesterday, so I could explain that I'd be giving him a mini-portrait to keep. he was so chuffed he gave me this little box of strawberries. They were lovely. I shared them with Mimi in the community centre, where they'd just had a big donation of two boxes of bananas. So I took a small bunch of bananas home with me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Peculiarity of Privilege

I've just loaded 20 40 x 50 frames into my car to drive down to west Kensington, where I'll unload them all ready to start framing stuff on Monday. I'll also be photographing the Scout leaders for my last drawing, which I'll do tomorrow.

Oh, busy. My body is screeching 'Noooo'. It's not used to this. It thought walking 30 miles a week in the cold was bad enough!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Semitone Studios Gig, Marple

This was a gig postponed after Lockdown, and a bit of an orphan gig: I'd intended to add a few dates around it to make sense of the travel, but hadn't banked on suddenly (and very fortunately) becoming an artist in residence for the first three months of the year.

However, I wanted a music adventure and decided to travel up for the night so I hopped on a train to Stockport, and from there got a local bus to Marple.

Taylor and Pete run the studio both as a recording facility and as a gig night. Both the venue and Taylor are decked out in red, white and black, and it's a very unusual place: it's basically a shop window facing a Texaco petrol station (also red, black and white), so you play not only to the very respectful and listening audience, but also to a further layer of people outside the window, local cheeky teens, which adds to the fun.

I was the featured artist of the evening and after a quick sound check, got to it all. A lovely woman called Elaine filmed the night and I'll post links to the songs when she has edited them.

The rest of the night was open mic; there was lot of very beautiful acapella singing, both traditional Irish songs, self-composed songs (including a lovely one about a woman's mother), readings from Alan Rusbridger's book, Schubert and Vaughan Williams, poetry from Elaine, and a gorgeous song from Taylor at the piano. I finished the night with a couple more songs.

I love this sort of gig. People chatting from the audience! It's like being part of an event rather than being apart from it. Such friendliness made it well worth the journey.

I stayed in the world's most odd Bed and Breakfast. Actually, that's probably all of them, isn't it? Anyway, when I got back after the gig, the landing was in darkness. I thought I'd found the door to the room that I was staying in, put the key into the lock, turned it, and walked in on a woman reading in bed. Did all the bedrooms have the same key? I'll never know!

Anyway, next morning I sang the praises of the venue to the breakfast waitress, who had told me she was a song writer. I hope she goes there. Good place for you too Rowen, if you still read this blog, and also Maria from Glasgow. Great Grand Piano, and you could record there too!

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

This and That

A week ago today, I went to Lucy O'Brien's book talk in a very swanky club off Shaftesbury Avenue; Lucy has just published the book Lead Sister, a biography of the wonderful and tragic Karen Carpenter. I'm looking forward to getting hold of a copy and reading it. Travis Elborough who was interviewing Lucy said he was moved to tears at the end of the book, so it's obviously a must-read. Here's the review in The Guardian: It's on my list!

On Saturday, I went to The Moth Club in Hackney to see The Loft, supported by David Lance Callaghan. Although I know three members of The Loft, I haven't explored their recorded material in depth and it was a very pleasant surprise to hear what I'd describe as sunshine pop with a bite. The audience was absolutely with them 100% and it was touching to see a group of people I know getting such a positive response. David's set was wonderful too. The sounds was very good so you could fully enjoy the intricacy of his playing and as for his guest drummer... well, this is the second time I've seen the duo and that guy is a marvel. I think he must have trained in a marching band. Such manual dexterity and such perfect tempo. Wow.

And on Monday- what and extraordinary night! Because we've done an animation collaboration based on apples (here:, Joan invited me to see Matthew Herbert's night at Tate Modern. We heard a talk about the apple industry from an expert based at The British Library; the sound (and smell) of burning dried apples as fragrant smoke drifted across the auditorium; a talk about migrant fruit pickers from an expert journalist; music made from the picking, washing, sorting and distribution prices, and poem about fruit stickers. Finally, we were all invited to rub, tap and bite into the apples we'd been given at the outset. Names to follow- what a brilliant and inspiring night!

Yesterday, I spent two hours waiting in queues of 2000 people for Eurovision tickets. Whenever I got to the front of the queue, the computer said 'no', there were no tickets left and would I like to try something else, at which point I went to the beginning of the next 2000-person queue. Great publicity for Ticketmaster, I'm sure, but a monumental c*ck up, actually, and I was relieved to give up. They shouldn't have been given the ticket franchise.

On another talk, a late arrival at my art workshop yesterday drew such a realistic pencil that two of us tried to pick it up to put away at the end of the session! Trompe d'oeil extraordinaire!

Friday, March 03, 2023

Bandcamp Friday!

Bandcamp Friday starts at 8 a.m. today!

Anarchy Skiffle digital album now only £5.00:

And of course, this CD and digital album which I'll be out playing again live very soon!

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

More Drawing

This is the second person I've drawn from the Sewing group. I'm not going to add anything to it now; I don't want to take the life out of it by distracting from her herself.

We had a really nice art workshop yesterday. I took in a pineapple and some lemons; most people chose to draw the pineapple, probably because it's such a dramatic fruit with so much going on. Every person saw something different in it to draw, even the people who came along and said they weren't going to join in. Pineapples have a lot of charm.

I'm waiting for a delivery of giclée prints of the drawings so far. I have about 15 now, but there are more on the go. I know I should start winding down soon; the residency ends at the end of March and I've got to sort out framing and so on, but honestly I don't want to stop.