Périgord, France – Sept 2018

The village of Montcigoux has a house with a long roof.

Scan 5

Note also the extraordinary number of electricity cables. The plan is to put them underground. This was in progress. But so far not on this side of the village.

IMG_0297

The queue at Limoges airport Passport Controle took 1 hour. There were only two officials and a huge number of people on the aircraft.

We went to Brantôme, a town on the River Dronne. It’s on an island in the river. There’s a food market on Fridays. At the cafe I sketched the Abbey.

IMG_0288

We walked by the river and found a poem on a stone tablet. I wrote it in my notebook.

IMG_0307

With the help of friends, I am still puzzling out what the poem says. Here’s the latest attempt:

Philosopher, it is there, right at the end of the convent
Whose façade is washed by the River Dronne in flood
That in this enclave, having spent the summer under the majestic elm trees
While leaving your monastic cell to its gigantic books
You would be in free dialogue with your memories.

All suggestions, improvements and interpretations welcome. The verb “jaser” seems to mean “gossip”, but perhaps “faire jaser” has a different meaning. Any ideas? I also assumed that the “G.B.” was the writer “Brantôme”. Georges Brantôme I guessed. But no, the writer Brantôme is Pierre. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme (c. 1540 – 15 July 1614), also known as the abbé de Brantôme, was a French historian, soldier and biographer.

I rather get the impression from his Wikipedia entry that the abbé de Brantôme was more of a chronicler than a poet. So who is “G.B.”? I definitely need to go back to Brantôme to have a closer look at that stone plaque. And to buy more of that cheese with nettles in, made by a Dutchman who has settled in France, and sold to us by his son.

“Is it French cheese?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, in the manner of someone embarking on a long explanation, “the milk is from French cows, and it was made in France….”. But, evidently, it was made by his father, a Dutch man, using a Dutch process. So is the cheese French? Is that even a useful question?

Here’s a view of the abbey from the restaurant where we had lunch:

IMG_0289

I sketched in Périgord last year. See this link:  Montcigoux

One of my pictures is now on the wall of the house it depicts.

IMG_0261
Original Watercolour framed

Sketches in Crete – Sept 2018

I was experimental. I had a large sketchbook with rough pages, given to me for my birthday. I turned over the pages and tried things.

As we drove back from Aptera one evening, the sun was setting and fired up the mist between the hills. Back at the kitchen table, I had a go:

IMG_0226

It was stormy. We had some amazing sunsets.

IMG_0228

I did a lot of quick sketches with some special Koh-i-noor sketching pencils that friends brought me from the Czech Republic:

We walked up the Diktamos gorge. It is deep and leafy. Here is an impression drawn that evening, trying to show you the dark depths of the gorge, the high rocky walls, and the leaves. John is shown, sitting on a stone, bottom centre left.

IMG_0229

On the way to the airport we stopped in Agia Triada. I had 45 minutes to do a sketch. This is pen and ink.

IMG_0231

It’s a three hour flight.  One has to do something. I revisited the Diktamos gorge in pen and ink. The game was to use as few lines as possible, by not taking the pen off the paper. This is 3 lines.

IMG_0233

The Atlas Building – prints

This week I made prints of an etching of the Atlas Building. The etchings are based on a sketch I made.

I made 12 prints. Here they are.

They are all for sale! Please let me know if you would like to buy one. All are printed on etching paper “Fabriano Unica”. They are intended to be used as greetings cards. So the print is to the side like this:

Version 2

They fold in half to make a greeting card which fits in a C5 envelope.

Equally they can be folded in half or cut, and put in a frame size A5.

If you’d like to buy one, please contact me, and say which one you’d like. They are numbered – click the images in the gallery above. £5 each + postage. These are handmade items by me, an amateur printer. Thumb marks, imperfections, ink smudges and other defects reflect the handmade nature of the items and, as they say, “should not be regarded as defects”.

This is all preparation for my “Towers” exhibition in February 2019.

The process I use is “chine collé”. Here are some photos of work in progress:

To see more detail on the process,  look at this page, which explains all the stages.

The photos above are in “East London Printmakers” in Stepney, where I do my work.

Here is the original sketch on which the prints are based.

fullsizeoutput_1b98
Atlas Building

The boat on top of Haggerston Baths

I cycled down Whiston Road last week and spotted this amazing boat, high up above the roofs. Today I returned to sketch it, and investigate further.

fullsizeoutput_307d

Whiston Road E2 is in Hackney, going off the Queensbridge Road.

I sketched outside Bryant Court. Then I went down “Swimmers Lane” and had a look at the back of the building. It’s a huge place. Clearly a former swimming pool, hence, presumably, Swimmers Lane.

IMG_0079 (1)

On the front is the Foundation stone, laid in 1903.

IMG_0068
Foundation Stone (click to enlarge image)

There are also huge entrance doors labelled “MEN” and “WOMEN”.

The whole place is sadly neglected.

I went and looked at the ship from the other side.

fullsizeoutput_307b
Boat on Haggerston Baths, from the Queensbridge Road

While I was drawing, birds settled on the rigging.

At home, I found that this is “Haggeston Baths”. It closed in 2000, due to underfunding and neglect. Many were sad and they protested. In November 2017 Hackney Council accepted a proposal to redevelop the building. But it will not be a pool any more. Here is the Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, writing on the Hackney website November 28th 2017: 

“Hackney Council has chosen a preferred bidder to refurbish and redevelop the Haggerston Baths building. The agreement to lease will allow Castleforge Partners to apply for listed building consent and planning permission for a scheme to incorporate space for businesses, shops and a café, as well as community uses such as a clinic, health centre, day care centre or public hall.”

Mr Glanville continues:

“I know that local residents were keen to restore the swimming pool, so the council spent the best part of a year negotiating with a bidder whose proposals included a pool. As I said when we consulted on the shortlist, we could not get the reassurances we needed that the scheme with a pool would actually be delivered.”

He makes no mention of the boat. What will happen to it?

IMG_0073
Stone, art, in Swimmers Lane

Someone found some money for strange stone artworks, clearly referencing the pool.

Both sketches done on location, the first one about an hour, the second one 35minutes.

 

Turnpike House from Seward Street

Here is a view looking North from Seward Street EC1 up the wonderfully named “Mount Mills Road”.

IMG_0034

On the left are the backs of houses which front onto the Goswell Road. See the aerial walkways!

These houses are very old and much altered, somewhat provisionally. On the extreme left, for example, a drainpipe seems to have been routed right across a door. No doubt they said to each other “We’ll sort that out later.” Below the window on the second floor is one of those extensible clothes dryers. The vertical red pipes seem to be flues from a café, but it’s difficult to tell.

Turnpike House is part of the “Kings Square Estate” managed by Islington. It has 20 floors and was built in the 1960s as council housing.   There is a current renovation programme, which is why there is scaffolding down the left hand edge of the tower in the drawing.

About 1 hour, drawn and coloured on location.

 

“Teeth” at the Wellcome Collection

At the Wellcome Collection there was a special exhibition on colour. It was called “The Pharmacy of Colour”. A short film pointed out that certain substances used as pigments were also used as medicine. A red pigment called lac, produced from grinding up lac insects, was also used as a medicine. Saffron is both a dye and a medicine. And the terribly poisonous Red Lead was also cheerfully described as a red paint on medieval manuscripts, mixed with egg yolk. Don’t lick the pages.  It was also, alarmingly, used for treating intestinal disorders. A cabinet held jars of bright pigment, well protected behind glass. Yellow Ochre was there, and Ultramarine Blue, both of which I use. I’ve often wondered about the colours in my box, and the real chemistry behind the names.

Interesting though this was, it didn’t take long to look at, and it had been a long walk to the Wellcome Collection. So I went to their other current exhibition “Teeth”. This was mainly about dentistry through the ages.  The images were alarming and I was unprepared. I found some of the exhibits calming though. Here is “Junior Dental Chair” from the 1950s. It reminds me of my very first dentist, Mr Gant. He must have had one of these. I can almost smell it, the leather at the back, and that hard, sculpted, bow in which you rested your head.

IMG_0032

There were many people drawing in there. An art class, perhaps.

The equipment was strangely humanoid.

IMG_0033

I read that “Patients from the 1960s and 1970s, when amalgam filling use peaked, are known to dentists as the “heavy metal generation”. That would be me then. Amalgam is mercury, silver, tin and copper.

I also read that “Tooth decay is the number one reason for child admissions to hospital.” I paused at that statistic. The woman next to me was reading it too. I commented that I found it surprising.  She said it was because “People can’t afford to take their children to the dentist.” She spoke with authority. Dental charges have gone up, she explained. The hospital is part of the NHS and so is free of charge at the point of use. “So people wait until it’s really bad, and then take the child to A&E,” she said, speaking as though a practitioner. She smiled grimly and walked away. A strong woman, upright, informed, articulate, opinionated, caring. A dentist herself, perhaps, or an NHS administrator, or medical person, I thought.

Godfrey House and the Atlas Building

IMG_0015

On the right is Godfrey House, Bath Street, Islington, part of the St Luke’s Estate managed by the London Borough of Islington. It’s former “council housing” built in 1965. Today many of the flats are privately owned, as is evident from the number listed for sale.

On the left is the Atlas Building, on City Road, nearing completion. Atlas is taller than Godfrey House, but further away. Atlas Building is 52 floors, of which 38 are residential, Godfrey House is 21 floors.

“Atlas epitomises luxury-living in an exciting and vibrant urban landscape. Standing tall with 38 residential floors of exquisite apartments, Atlas stretches across London’s prominent skyline” (from the Atlas Building website)

In the foreground is the roof of Saint Luke’s Church of England School.

IMG_0011I drew this picture sitting on a stone in Radnor Street Gardens, off Lizard Street. After a while I noticed that the place smelt of dog excrement. It has rained recently, after a dry spell.

At 6pm a personal training session started behind me. A large man was training a slim woman. They were doing kick-boxing. Between rounds, she told him about government procedures to find out about your earned income, and thus check your tax payments. They can access your bank accounts, she warned him. He laughed and said, “Hey, that’s not making me feel good. I thought you’d have some good news for me.”

The stone I was sitting on was damp.

1hour 45 minutes, drawn and coloured on location.

Data about Godfrey House from the “Tower Block UK” website of the University of Edinburgh: Contractor Kirk and Kirk, Committee approved 1965, 120 dwellings on the St Luke Printing Works Site.

 “Tower Block UK is a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, bringing together public engagement and an openly-licensed image archive in an attempt to emphasise the social and architectural importance of tower blocks, and to frame multi-storey social housing as a coherent and accessible nationwide heritage.”

Here is a link to a Freedom of Information request which gives a very detailed map of the estates in Islington (2010):  FOI request from Mr I Agar