- On my coffee table - The Peregrine by J.A. Baker. Beautifully written, every word. This might take me a while as some of his words are so gorgeous I have to keep re-reading.
- On my music stand - Tango etudes - Astor Piazzolla. It's only ever the strange geeky musicians who love etudes. However, this set hides the technical trickery in dances and swoons that nearly take my breath away. They make the violin happy as well.
- On my iPod - The astounding eyes of Rita by Anouar Brahem. It's a great title for an album. He played in Brighton early this month and it has to be on my list of top ten gigs. I don't have an actual list, I realize, but I know what would be on it.
- At the allotment - The rhubarb is in full glory and it's hard to squirrel some away into the freezer for the dark days of November. But we try! Every herb is drunk on long days of bright sunlight. The fennel loves our dry spell. The tin bathful of mint is a lush forest with an escapee chive swaying above it like a monster eye. The mange tout and sugar snaps are joining hands to reach the top of their wigwam canes in unison. And the photo shows the first picking of what have to be our most stunning radishes.
Monday, 31 May 2010
Friday, 28 May 2010
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Hard to ignore how gorgeous the trees look at the moment. So, it was no surprise that I found myself drawing a beautiful tree when I took part in Brighton Sketchcrawl a couple of Saturdays ago. This one droops in the gardens outside the Royal Pavilion.
I'm not sure what I was expecting from meeting up with others to draw, but we were a happy band of three that afternoon and I would have stayed longer if I had gone prepared with warmer clothes. Next time I will dress warm. I love observational drawing, but it has sunk down my priority list a bit these last few years.
More trees today.........
Curtains of oak, beech and maple drift across a view of perfect sky. Lunchtime, taken slowly in the hill top shade, feels like such a treat.
But the blossom rain of seed husk confetti is sudden to shower down as a squirrel dispute explodes high in the tree tops and everyone looks their way. They cackle and spit through the maze of branches, snake fast through the turns until they run out of branch and freeze.
Just like careful chalk marks a playground, a plane trail draws a stand-off line midway between them, as if to settle it. It avoids me having to hide my apple from tiny hands. A blackbird is loud loud louder over it all, painting squiggly lines as if to scribble them out.
And I have sat too still too long. Tree litter covers me, pigeons coo around my bare toes, and the purple shadows make me disappear. The shade is playing camouflage with the patterns on my clothes, drinks me in, away from the harsh that midday brings.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
Pretty much everywhere I go, there's a tiny notebook in my pocket.
They usually have plain pages so I can switch between words and drawings as and when. They usually come with plain covers as well, except I usually buy them in batches and have a book cover blitz when I go into "production line" mode.
The top shot is of my current pocketbook. I'm tempted to name it "Scenes from a life" as it seems to have become a mix of random jotting, strands of poetry that never got any further, phone numbers and e mail addresses and reminders to check train times or buy tea. I seem to have a lot on the go at the moment, so this one is showing signs of wear and tear from all those months on the road with me.
The next ones were actually bright luminous pink when I bought them in a sale, but I knew I had to do something to change that for the better. Oddly, the darker of the two seems to have brought a darker strain of writing than I was expecting. I just loved those chance dark colours against the bright blue.
However, sometimes I go the whole hog and start from scratch and make little books with exactly the size and kind of paper I want and my own choice of covers. The next shots show some concertina books that hold ideas that I'm currently working on. The pebble design wrapping paper on the first one is a particular favourite.
The orange book here is packed full of drawings and has worn back dull from a shine that had always seemed a bit too gold for me, so I guess time has made it into more of what I wanted.
But finally, this little keyring notebook bought for 99p at Muji, has provided a home for all my little writing prompts, and it's my current favourite even though it's all new round the edges.
It's great to have these around when I'm writing in my usual black cover notebooks. I know, I could set to with those as well, but they might take a while longer.
Thursday, 13 May 2010
Sunday, 9 May 2010
As I mentioned in my last post, May is Brighton Festival month, so I've had some great times at lots of different shows and events, and I'm now suffering a bit from way too many late nights in a row!
Antidote to some of this has been an installation that I just love. In my current state of bleary eye, I've enjoyed several little trips down the hill to see Brian Eno's 77 Million Paintings at Fabrica.
Fabrica is a gallery space in a former church where I've done some wonderful workshops, including a drawing workshop that I posted on back in March. The current show is just perfect for this space.
The work features slowly shifting sequences of bright abstract mosaic-like slides, projected in the chancel area, like a stained glass window. This is viewed in semi-darkness from the nave, where you can lounge on rows of sofas, with sounds that softly resonate through the space. All the images and sounds are computer generated so it's a safe bet that you would never see and hear the same combinations of images and sounds repeated, even if you lay on the sofas there for the whole of the festival.
Here's the link to some gorgeous shots. And you can read a bit more info about the show here - be sure to scroll right down as there's another image gallery to see at the bottom of the page.
Friday, 7 May 2010
You come back late from a wonderful gig - either playing it or listening to it. You might just have caught the last train home, or strolled through deserted streets with a fox slinking round the corner ahead after she checked you out.
At home, you kick off your shoes, sit down to enjoy a long drink. Maybe you have a bath in an attempt to quieten the music in your head. You eat a pear, savour the smoothness of it. You make some toast. You have another drink. It gets late.
You're tired out but wide awake.
At some point in all of this, you ask yourself if you should just stay up, thinking that these long peaceful hours could help you write that piece you were working on. Or finish reading the book that seems to have been squeezed out of your busy days, the one that has thumped to the floor each night in bed, as you and it gave in to gravity. You could Skype overseas friends who will be surprised to hear your call in their morning or in the middle of their day. You could stay up and see in the dawning of tomorrow.
And usually, after my late night drink and bath and staring into space sessions, I do none of those things. I just give in and go to bed. Except tonight feels like a whole different kind of gig.
Yes, it's the Brighton festival - for 23 days of May. I'm full of gigs and concerts and readings and exhibitions and good company and wonderful times. I've had way too many late nights and have got up and worked the next day, and been busy with my creative work. I can still hear tonight's gig playing in my head - the wonderful Rokia Traore who I heard live for the first time.
But the difference tonight is that the counting has started for our General Election, and for once in a long time, there seems to be a sense of optimism, dare I say it, even excitement about politics. Reason being, we might be on the brink of electing a green MP here in Brighton and if Caroline Lucas succeeds, she will be the first green MP in the UK. A bit of history.
All my late nights are leaning on me and I know I won't make it til 1 am, never mind until dawn. But I would love, right now, a direct line to the counting hall that will wake me in time to hear that wonderful cheering when it happens.
Ps - AND after a few hours sleep, I was watching a pale blue dawn as the results were announced at 5.52 am. She has WON IT!!!
Monday, 3 May 2010
It wasn't a blue day, but I feasted on colours before my breakfast today.
I was running through the cherry trees as the blackbirds flicked and picked at the tree litter just inches from my feet. Far easier to do those repetitions when the colours are as wonderful as this and when night rain has made every flower scent the air.
Some of the first bluebells -
Tulips like a roar of red.
And then, later, when I went to check on my allotment, the apple blossom was in full glory. Hard not to just abandon the chores and sit there gazing at it. So, it looks like we'll have a good crop of Bramley apples this year. Can't wait for the crumble!