Archives for posts with tag: Cafe

– Fragment, 2014 –

The painting studios at Winchester School of Art were like three-sided cubbyholes – just big enough to swing a paint can. I guess the school had to pack as many students in as it could. Walking round the studios as a Foundation student, I used to think becoming a painter must be similar to becoming a monk – you’re isolated, in a small space with limited amenities, but with all the time and space you need to concentrate on solving one problem at a time. There were some amazing abstract painters working in those studios – and on the staff. They would have been great role models, but the sculpture studios were big and airy and had great doors that opened out onto the college’s gardens: the outside.


– You You, 2014 –


Fragment and You You are the fifteenth and third tracks, respectively, on Robert Wyatt’s album Comicopera (2007). For those of you unfamiliar with Wyatt’s work, he has one of the saddest voices in popular music – it’s really quite beautiful. I’d recommend pretty much anything by him, but Rock Bottom (1974), Shleep (1997), Cuckooland (2003) and the aforementioned are all good places to start. I couldn’t find either of the songs I used as titles here, but I did find this.


A photograph, while recording what has been seen, always and by its nature refers to what is not seen. It isolates, preserves and presents a moment taken from a continuum. The power of a painting depends upon its internal references. Its reference to the natural world beyond the limits of the painted surface is never direct; it deals in equivalents. Or, to put it another way: painting interprets the world, translating it into its own language. But photography has no language of its own. One learns to read photographs as one learns to read footprints or cardiograms. The language in which photography deals is the language of events. All its references are external to itself. Hence the continuum.

A movie director can manipulate time as a painter can manipulate the confluence of the events he depicts. Not so the still photographer. The only decision he can take is as regards the moment he chooses to isolate. Yet this apparent limitation gives the photograph its unique power. What it shows invokes what is not shown.

(extract from Understanding a Photograph (2012) by John Berger)

– In The Heat of the Morning, 2014 –

Turpentine (sometimes known colloquially as turps), is a volatile liquid distilled from resin obtained from live conifers (especially pine trees). It is used as a solvent, as paint thinner and also medicinally (for cuts, abrasions, and the treatment of lice). It’s a very useful substance. As with everything, there are downsides: it can irritate the skin and eyes, damage the lungs and central nervous system when inhaled, and cause renal failure when ingested. It’s also combustible. Along with the promise of sex and drugs, it is also the reason I went to art college – I love the smell. It reminds me of the wonder I experienced on realising it was possible to spend the whole day making art.



Map of part of my journey to art college


In The Heat of the Morning is the opening track on David Bowie’s album, Bowie At The Beeb (2000). This version wipes the floor with all others – less mannered, freer, more yearning. Unfortunately, I can’t find an online version of it. But I did find a rather fine cover version by Last Shadow Puppets. You can listen to it here.


It is a basic art-world orthodoxy, echoed just about everywhere, that contemporary art is ungraspably complex and diverse. The variety of contemporary forms, techniques, and subject-matter in art is indeed bewildering. The conventional media of painting, sculpture and print-making have been overlaid with installation and ‘new media’, which can encompass anything from online art to computer-controlled sound environments. Artists cultivate for themselves images that range from traditional guru or shaman roles to beady-eyed, tongue-in-cheek chancer and careerist, and personas that include starstruck adolescent girls and engorged, axe-wielding psychotics. Art’s concerns are also various, touching upon feminism, identity politics, mass culture, shopping and trauma. Perhaps art’s fundamental condition is to be unknowable (that concepts embodied in visual form can encompass contradiction), or perhaps those that hold to this view are helping to conceal a different uniformity.

(excerpt from Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction (2006) by Julian Stallabrass)

– Fragments of a rainy season, 2013 –

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– Self-portrait with man, 2013 –

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This post is dedicated to Ashley Lily Scarlett from Syncopated Eyeball, for kind words and encouragement. And because I love her blogs.

And to Roy Marchant, wherever you are.

Your Heart Out, 2013

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Han and Inge, 2013

I’ve always wanted to do this…to get this shot, I held up a handwritten sign with Han‘s name on it, like a driver picking someone up from an airport…

It all started with Inge (who you probably know as Olive) leaving a comment on my blog saying she was coming to London. So I suggested we meet up and I take her photograph.

After some confusion with emails (my fault – sorry, Inge, for some reason I thought Han was coming on his own. Hence the sign), we agreed to meet up in Covent Garden. These shots were taken just after we met. And then we went for lunch at Café Eterno on Neal Street (the quietest in the area). It was interesting to meet Inge and Han after having followed their blogs. And really nice to have a chat in person. Afterwards myself, Inge and Han went for a bit of a photographic safari, more of which later…

Thanks for a great afternoon, Inge and Han! Hope you like your pictures.

Inge, 2013

SONY DSCHan, 2013

Just before we left the café, Raymond generously agreed to me taking his portrait – what a great smile! I know it’s not strictly speaking a street portrait, but what the heck. Thanks very much, Raymond! Hope you like your picture.

Raymond, 2013

Stephen, 2013

This is my friend, Stephen, taken in Café Eterno on Neal Street, London, UK. It was a nice change being able to take a portrait indoors (and of someone I know), especially given the chilly weather. I have to point out that we spent most of the time laughing so this shot is not representative of our lunch. Thanks very much for letting me take the shots, Stephen!

The Morning Papers (for Olga)

Inspired by this article, I have decided to give every photograph I post this week a title (possibly taken from Prince’s back catalogue – I haven’t decided yet. What do you reckon?) The dedication is my own.

O.F.Y.C. Showcase (for Deanne), 2012

Your Future Our Clutter is The Fall’s twenty-eighth studio album and was released in 2010.

On the lead track, O.F.Y.C. Showcase, Mark E Smith repeatedly sings the words “our future your clutter” – this being their 28th album I’ve always taken the line to be a joke – the band’s future is dependent on their fans acquiring their album thus creating more clutter in their homes. The words your and our were reversed for the album title, (apparently) at the last moment, to sinister effect. It’s nigh-on impossible to pin down why I’ve let The Fall take up so much shelf space in our home, but their ability to fuse the mundane with the strange and sinister is definitely a part of it. Now, back to my bottle of Alsatian wine…

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

This was taken last week at a cafe near the British Museum. I’m calling it a portrait because the subject agreed to having his photograph taken, in advance.


RIP Adam Yauch