« May 2007 | Main | July 2007 »

June 29, 2007

Oil paint and lilies.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think lilies look great, big florid dinosaurs of the plant world, but I have a problem with their smell. I don’t know exactly what it is, but they have a strange mix of bitter, sweet and syrupy stickiness that sticks in my nose.

But as I say, they look great. Here’s some pictures of the show at the Holme Valley Warehouse this week:




Posted by john at 09:08 AM | Comments (1)

June 26, 2007

Life is a bowl of cherries

I read, in an article, in a magazine, in a disused dry cleaners, in Holmfirth, in the rain, in a moment, when Wayne had gone to pick up his daughter Tess, that the Rabbi Lionel Blue thinks that though success makes you clever, it is your failures that make you wise.

And I thought, as the rain ran in rivers in the road, yes, that’s good. But then, this morning, talking to Daphne, as the sun poked its head nervously from behind the massing cumulo-nimbus. NO! That’s crap. Sanctimonious, soporific, crap.

Who wants wisdom? What does wisdom get you? Cleverness can at least get you money. Though deviousness is often better at that particular pastime.

Okay, cleverness that tells you that tomato is a fruit and it’s wisdom that stops you putting it in a fruit salad. But life is not just a bowl of cherries.


cherry, (cher/e), n., pl. –ries, adj. n. 1. the fruit of any of various trees of the genus Prunus, consisting of a pulpy, globular drupe enclosing a one-seeded smooth stone.

Posted by john at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2007

An Exhibition

I'm putting eleven of my big pictures in the Holme Valley Warehouse, Honley, Huddesfield for a week or so, starting Thursday 28th June, along with Wilf Lunn, which is a bonus. We're part of the Holmfirth Artweek Fringe.

Pictures like this:


If you're in Honley on Thursday night at about 7:00pm, and you fancy a glass of sherry and a closer look, then drop in.


Posted by john at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2007

Stumbling on Poetry and Boiled Eggs

Poetry, like jazz, is best when you just happen upon it.

You can’t sit down and read the entire works of ee cummings. Well, obviously, you can sit down and read the entire works of ee cummings, but I’d challenge you to get the most out of each poem.

However, when you’re thumbing through, say, The Art of Looking Sideways and you come across this sort of thing, it’s a delight:

while you and i
   have lips and voices
which are for kissing
   and to sing with,
who cares if some
   one-eyed son of a bitch
invents an instrument
   to measure spring with?

ee cummings

So too with jazz, for me at least. It’s great when you hear some jazz in a café, but listen to the whole album and your attention can drift. You reach a point of aesthetic saturation. This happens if you go to see the entire collection of Turner’s paintings, the first few are WOW! Then after a while, well, it’s just another Turner. There’s something to be said for rarity.

Boiled eggs are the same. You have a boiled egg and it’s delicious and you think WOW! Why don’t I have boiled eggs more often, so you have one the next day, and you are almost instantly appraised of the knowledge as to why you don’t have them more often.

Posted by john at 09:35 PM | Comments (1)

Even Fools have to have a bath


Posted by john at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2007

Filming Fools

Busy filming Babbling Fools at the moment so apologies for lack of cutting-edge blather. This is what we're getting up to during the day:

filming the rain dripping from the leaking roof - we're keen on continuity here at Foolish Clown.

then there was the scene with the bucket...


and the semolina:


Posted by john at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2007

Drag racing the hip bath


Posted by john at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2007

Tucked up nice and cosy

One of the first things we have to set is the bed:


though the first shot is in a kitchen in Holmfirth at about 8 o'clock on Thursday morning:


Posted by john at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

More hats than you can shake a stick at

Tomorrow we start setting at the location for Babbling Fools.
“Babbling What?”
“It’s a film.”
“Ah – what’s it about?”
“It’s about a man trying to reconcile past events with his present situation.”
“The photographs don’t help, nor do the piles of notebooks he’s kept over the years. It’s all a tight tangle of thoughts and feelings, which he tries to unravel and as he unravels it, work out the meaning of life along the way, wondering all the while why there’re never any biscuits.”
“And why aren’t there any biscuits?”
“You’ll have to wait and see”

Posted by john at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2007

Meanwhile back in Kosovo

Down an alley, just off the main street in Gjakova:


two kinds of steps digital print, 2007

Posted by john at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2007

The Big Easel

Sometimes, in the studio, things fall into glorious order. Though most times, I have to say, it’s a bit chaotic – but then chaos is the engine of creativity.

Anyway, two recent, disparate, events left a classic set piece. A photo-shoot using some old tarpaulins followed later by the screening of the opening sequence of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West* left this image:

I had taken the big screen off the easel to re-paint it

The photo-shoot, by the way, produced this sort of thing:


* best opening sequence ever

Posted by john at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2007

Eumig – a whiff of nostalgia

When I was at college I studied film and animation, primarily because on a first year field trip to rain-sodden North Wales we were taught about colour by an amazing man. When we had to chose an option for the second and third years I said I’d do whatever he teaches. He had just started a new course on film and animation and so is destiny decided, not by planning aforethought but by inspiration.

Ray Fields, for it was he who so inspired me in that wet week in Wales, was a dynamic thinker who believed in Art with a capital A and that an artist should have a visualisy [his word] that they could apply to any creative discipline. An idea I have tried to uphold.

In my first tutorial Ray told me to bring all my work to him, whether it was sculpture, poetry or painting, it was all part of the same thing. His motto was Less Talk More Do, which was somewhat ironic for a man who would stride into the studio, scratching his beard, first thing in the morning and talk till lunchtime about current affairs in the art world or innovations in colour theory or what he was working on himself .

It soon became clear that I would need equipment for this film business. The college had cameras, so I decided a good thing to have would be a projector. When it came time for my degree show I sold all my equipment to pay for the show and have subsequently not seen any of my films since then.


Imagine my delight when I saw this in the second hand market yesterday – a snip for ten notes.

Posted by john at 11:59 AM | Comments (2)

June 05, 2007

Waiting for Fabio

We arrived in Gjakova to discover that, the day after 83 staff and students arrive in Kosovo, KFOR are due to demolish the hostel we stay in and run the summer school – Whoopee do!

The Konvict, as the hostel is somewhat auspiciously called. In 1999 the top floor was fire bombed.

So It’s cling-clang pick up the phone and speak to Fabio, Tenente Nuzzo to you, and ask if he can call off the Khaki bulldozers for a week. He invites us over for a meeting with the Italian Kosovo Multi-National Task Force West.

It was a stop start slalom of concrete road blocks and temporary traffic lights to get to the main gate where we were met by heavily armed camouflaged men sporting expensive sunglasses and brutal haircuts. We were ushered past the wire tangle and through the electric-slidey gate by a brief gesture from the business end of an assault rifle slung, somewhat casually, round the neck of one of the soldiers.

Inside all was khaki and drab greens and camouflage nets mixed with the cold grey sheen of gun metal and high impact dull plastics. Here the men were Men and the vehicles looked like they wouldn’t have any trouble parking anywhere they wanted.

Tenente Martino showed us into a reception area adorned with flags, shields, trophies and large framed photographs of military endeavour. We were joined by others whose various varieties of overly clean hi-performance black boots and neat greeny-brown uniforms stuck with Velcro badges, labels, names and flags proclaimed their position in the pecking order. Brown wrists, below sleeves neatly rolled-up to highlight the biceps brachii, carried expensive watches that could calculate the angle of most things the altitude of everything and tell the time to the nearest split second, They sat or stood using a version of the word relaxed that we were hitherto unfamiliar with. There was a silence.

Tenente Nuzzo, Fabio, hadn’t arrived yet. We waited. Then one tall tanned man stood up and, resting his hand on the sidearm strapped to his thigh, asked if we wanted some fruit flan. Er, what?

Here we were in the heart of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo’s Multi-National Task Force West, and they want to know if we want some cake. We decided it would only be polite to say yes. They produced white plastic forks, paper napkins and paper bowls and, with a precision developed over years of rigorous training, divided the flan into neat sections. And we sat there, in a bizarre mix of Full Metal Jacket and my nephew’s fifth birthday party, waiting for Fabio.

Posted by john at 08:50 AM | Comments (2)