It's been a while

Oof. I promised in the last post that I would report more soon. I didn't. Sorry about that. Life things continued to consume a lot of my time, so although the good intentions were there... well, the internet is paved with abandoned blogs, so no more excuses.

A couple of quick updates first: I was invited to take part in Autocatalytic Future Games - an exhibition put together by Playpaint at No Format Gallery in London. Playpaint were fellow exhibitors in the Marmite Prize. I was genuinely delighted to be a part of this - it featured a great many friends and colleagues, and quite a few artists whose work I had taken note of previously. A fabulous show.

Secondly, as I type, I'm expecting to hear whether or not I have a place on a residency I applied for. I'm not terribly optimistic but perhaps I'll have some good news to share.

Anyway, now to the thing that prompted me to write a post. I have been working on a new piece, one I'm very excited about. There is a problem: I am *this* close to finishing it, but it might as well be nowhere near. Yep, one of those. I thought I was there maybe two, three weeks ago, but it is proving a frustrating technical nightmare. So, in an effort to take my mind off it, I picked up another piece I had finished several weeks ago. This particular piece had proved ever-so-slightly problematical itself - I had sort-of-quite-liked-it, but there was something elusive about it I couldn't put my finger on....

I fixed it to the wall properly for the first time last night, (maybe it looked more interesting than I previously thought), and left it there overnight. This morning I looked at it again. Pow! An epiphany! An accidentally-on-purpose, built-in serendipity that made perfect sense of this piece and something that I now recognise is also on the periphery of ideas behind many earlier works all along. Not quite a perfect planetary alignment, but pretty damn close.

I feel a little mean now, because I don't want to divulge more at the moment, nor am I ready to show pictures yet. But I will.


I promise....

Lost for words

I have been building up to a new post for some time, but of course life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of things sometimes. I have lots of things to report about my own practice - which I promise I will get on to very shortly, but in the meantime here is the thing that has got me back to the keyboard...

I have been a fan of Fold Gallery for some time, and it was one of the galleries I made a point of trying to get to whenever I went in to town. It is a gallery that shows my kind of work, much of it resonating with my own.

We're linked up (if that's the right term) on FB and Twitter, both a good resource for planning what we want to see, not to mention for keeping up with what is going on during our stay here in France. Tim Ellis' exhibition Finding Comfort in an Unknown Future is one show that caught my eye, so it was with some astonishment that I read this post on FB a week ago:

We're saddened and shocked to be the victims of what appears to be a 'steal to order' theft of four sculptures by popular young artist Tim Ellis on Saturday 25th October.
Gallery director Kim Savage says "it appears the gallery was broken into for the sole purpose of obtaining certain sculptures on display from the Tim Ellis solo show. Four of the eleven sculptures were selected, each with a bold and common aesthetic.... The sculptures are displayed unsigned. This is a deliberate security decision, so as it stands they have no re-sale value. The gallery is very keen to retrieve the stolen works and is offering a substantial reward for any information that would lead to the recovery of the sculptures.”

I truly can't imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end of something like this. I hope the buggers are caught.

The exhibition runs until the 22nd November. I'm disappointed I won't be back in time to see it - it looks great.


I have to start with an apology for a prolonged absence. An awful lot has happened in the intervening months, and it is about time that I tried to bring things up to date.

Firstly North South Divine was wonderful to be a part of. Both the London and the Middlesborough exhibitions were a great success, and I got to meet some lovely people. The show was selected by Paul Hobson, director of the Contemporary Art Society, for his exhibition of the week. Regular readers may recall that my solo show Frightening Albert was also his exhibition of the week. Sadly I won't be able to secure a hat trick as he will soon start in his new role as director for Modern Art Oxford.

On the subject of Frightening Albert, I mentioned at the beginning of the year that a well-known critic and art writer had spent some time at my studio and that I would tell more later. My visitor was Paul Carey-Kent, and he has written an essay for the catalogue, which is now online here.

The Marmite Prize IV exhibition has just come to an end, finishing the tour at The Drawing Room in London. It was good to see all the work in the flesh, and it was great to catch up with so many friends in the pub afterwards. An interesting Twitter debate started, prompted by the exhibition at Plymouth. The gist was 'but is it a painting?' about my work 'Speciality Act' in the show. The short answer is yes, of course it is. But I love the debate....

I am very pleased to have had a work selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize, opening in September at the Jerwood Gallery before going on tour later. I don't think the other venues and dates have been announced yet, but I'll post a link once I find out.
The work is ready for North South Divine! I have been busy getting the work finished, tweaking this and that, sorting out a few technical issues… usual sort of thing. Anyway, all sorted now, and the work will be delivered to the gallery on Saturday. I'll post some pictures of the new pieces after the preview on Tuesday evening.

I went to see Drawing: Sculpture at the Drawing Room on Tuesday, followed by Rosemarie Trockel at the Serpentine and the PV of Plural at WW Gallery (curated by Breese Little). In short, three extremely good shows. Go see.

Last night I went with friends to see the inaugural show at Arbeit, a group show of works based around the theme of scale. My favourite piece was Jeannie Driver's 'Spike', featuring sequentially numbered but otherwise blank sheets of paper, ritually and precisely impaled on a 2m surgical steel spike. A piece called 'Space Time Fabric' evoked a connection with the yarn pieces I had seen a few days earlier at the Rosemarie Trockel exhibition - somewhere between the regular placement of her own works and the obsessive but apparently random works of Judith Scott. It was a good way to launch and an enjoyable show. Conversely, another show was a great disappointment. It is the worst example of the curation overwhelming the art I have ever seen. It was risibly bad, and had more in common with a shop window display. There were works I liked, but one in particular (now I come to think about it) may also have been fiddled with by a clumsy and arrogant curatorial hand.

Another show I'm looking forward to seeing which opened this week is A House of Many Windows curated by Day+Gluckman, which includes work by David Dipré, as well as Dan Coombs, Emma Critchley, Aly Helyer, Annie Kevans, David Lock, Kate Lyddon, EJ Major & Boo Ritson.

On my own work, The Marmite Prize has now moved to Glasgow, having opened on 1st March at The Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow School of Art. I'm busy in the studio and workshop, sanding, priming and painting……
A little peek at a work in progress. I'm particularly excited about the colour combination. That's all I'm revealing for now, folks! (any more and I will have to kill you).

North South Divine

WW Gallery and Platform A Gallery have joined forces for North South Divine - a 3 month show in London and Middlesbrough. I am thrilled to be taking part in this exhibition, which features works by Tony Charles, Deb Covell, Kate Davis, Phil Illingworth, Annie O'Donnell, Boa Swindler, Alison Wilding, and Chiara Williams.
3 April - 11 May 2013, WW Gallery, London
17 May - 20 June 2013, Platform A, Middlesbrough

Since adding this post I came across this enjoyable and enlightening short film in the BBC archive Five Sculptors | Alison Wilding from 1988. The series also includes Richard Wentworth, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor.

Chasing Oyster Catchers

There are Oyster Catchers on the beach most mornings, especially at this time of year. The dog is obsessed with them, far more than she is with seagulls (in fact she is indifferent to those), and chases them along the edge of the surf. They fly along the surf line as they see her coming, moving further along the beach, or sometimes circling round and landing close to where they were before. The dog has no hope of catching them, they seem to know that, and they don't seem to mind. There's no real sense of urgency, and if there is frustration or annoyance on either part, it doesn't show.

I, on the other hand, seem to be frustrated by so many things. I am waiting for news on various projects, waiting for things to happen or to be resolved. Mostly things that are beyond my control.
Several days ago progress on one of the larger works came to a grinding halt due to a technical issue. A tiny detail, admittedly, but one which stopped me in my tracks and which could potentially have repercussions for other pieces. I have been scratching my head looking for ways to address it: the various solutions I came up with were either (variously) fiddly, time-consuming, or criminally inelegant. One promising solution (i.e. not fiddly, not time-consuming, and satisfyingly elegant) just didn't work. Bottoms. I'm pleased to say that I have now come up with a solution which isn't terribly time-consuming and which will work very well. Onwards….

Aliens, ghosts and booties

Another stormy night has resulted in more strange things being washed up on the beach. It took a moment to realise that the alien is a section of crab shell, the ghost is (I think) a piece of cartilage from a fish. The boot full of water came from trying to rescue another crab and getting caught by a wave.

The Hall Of The Bright Carvings

The beach was littered with the bodies of dozens of crabs this morning. I imagine they had been caught in a trap some time ago and then washed ashore as a result of the bad weather, for they were little more than empty shells. Almost all were laid on their backs and incomplete. One caught my eye for no obvious reason, except that it appeared intact. It too was on its back, stranded on the high water line amongst the seaweed and other sea-borne detritus. I picked it up and realised it was a different species to the others (a Velvet Swimming Crab I learned later) and perhaps still alive. I placed it in the surf, and was pleased to first watch it crawl and then finally swim away.

Also this morning I bought a copy of the Gormenghast trilogy from a second-hand bookshop. I first read this some years ago, and have had the urge to read it again. Bizarrely, this on page one:

"Those works judged to be the most consummate, and there were never more than three chosen, were subsequently relegated to the Hall of the Bright Carvings."
Waiting for technical support can be a chore. It seems that most are either very, very good - or very, very bad. I have had a couple of experiences in the last 24 hours: one company responded in writing in 12 minutes with all the information I needed. Another is still keeping me waiting. Both companies are in the same business. Frustrating.
I was in a waiting room yesterday. The upholstery of the chairs and the woodwork were lime green. There was an elderly couple seated directly opposite. I had a vague sense that a slightly strange conversation had taken place between the nurse and the man. A few moments after the nurse had gone the woman started counting, out loud, over and over again. She skipped a single number sometimes, or jumped from 29 to 40. I noticed that she was counting the legs of the chairs. Then she said to the man: "There's a lot of green in here, isn't there? Eh? Someone must like green, eh? I don't like green much." Then there was a moment's pause, and she repeated herself, almost exactly. She did both of these things a dozen or more times. Of course I soon realised that she probably had some form of dementia, and it seemed advanced. I wondered about the counting, and the colour, and her child-like fascination. Sobering and sad.

I heard the surf long before I arrived at the beach this morning. The sea surged in and out, dragging the shingle back under the waves. Icy winds held my hands, and stroked my face.

The studio beckons.

"That's interesting." "Ah, but is it?"

Nothing today. The sea and the sky were the same. How do you find your way through that?

I made a slideshow of the photographs for 'unheimlich', picking out close to 40 of the 170 or so I have taken so far. Not a bad proportion really, and it's looking OK. Although I anticipate making prints of the images, playing the selection as a slideshow worked well as a way of pulling the images together and seeing them as a group. It helped highlight the strongest images and the weaker ones. I will drop some of those I included in the slideshow, and I think I need to re-shoot a couple. Now I can see which ones are working the best I need to take some more.

Although I am an atheist, I have long had a slight interest in the decoration of early English church interiors. A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, the nearest, I felt, to what I imagined to be the excesses of medieval religious pomp. Although it had been restored in the 19th century, I wasn't to be disappointed. The lower level was impressive enough, but on entering the upper floor from the winding stone staircase, it would have been difficult not to have been awed.

The most impressive feature of the space is undoubtedly the stained glass - it seemed as if the walls were made of nothing but coloured light.

After a while I started to get slightly dizzy through staring up at the spectacular sight, and decided to sit down. There were two rows of seats - one along each long side, facing back into the room. I sat myself down and continued to look around. After a while I noticed a young girl, perhaps 18 or so, seated directly opposite me. She looked, dare I say, angelic. She had her head bowed and her hands in her lap. Her long, dark hair hung straight down, almost hiding her face. I assumed she was silently praying.

I sat for a while longer, taking in the rich colours of the chapel. As I stood up, I noticed that the girl was in fact texting, totally and utterly disinterested in where she was. It made me smile.


I mentioned the (then forthcoming) closure of White Cube at Hoxton Square in an earlier post. Time Out has this interesting article from October 2012, asking "Has The East Ended?" It doesn't mention what is going to happen to the space (I would be surprised if it doesn't become another gallery, given its location and reputation - not to mention the quality of the space - but who knows), but it does mention WW Gallery amongst an auspicious list of other galleries who have relocated.

I have been working on a new photographic project. Actually, it is a resurrection of a project from a long time ago, which I have now provisionally titled 'unheimlich'. I don't want to go into details yet, but it is coming together well.
Yesterday the dog chewed the pompom off my Santa hat, today I sent off my proposal. The two are not connected.

Along with succumbing to a cold it has been a busy few weeks. Several trips to London including the excellent Black Feast and 100 Artists/ Bogof at WW Gallery, workshop time, writing a proposal, and a stack of other things. I should probably stick to blogging more frequently if I'm going to keep track. Exhibition highlights were David Adamo at Ibid and Harland Miller at White Cube - the last at the Hoxton Square gallery. I wonder what will happen to the space next? I saw at least one other exhibition which was, frankly, dreadful. Also I came away from the Russian exhibition at the Saatchi gallery feeling quite depressed. There are some gems here though, so I have to put the feeling down to Mikhailov's photographs. I will go back to take another look at the rest of the exhibition at some point.

A well-known art writer and critic spent a couple of hours at the studio yesterday. More on this later.

I'm still writing the proposal. I have already spent longer on it than I should, so I think the time has probably come to bite the bullet and send it off. Maybe one more tweak…
I walk the beach, my footprints writing thoughts in the sand.

I started re-shooting some artwork today after a bit of a false start yesterday. This is one of the larger pieces I want to re-photograph so it's a good one to test the rig on. There is only just enough space to get everything in the room!

I have two 300w studio flash units with adjustable output, and two decent sized soft boxes (70 x 100cm). The stands extend to 2.6m. The flashes were second hand from ebay. It should be good enough for most things I will need to do. I generally prefer to photograph in daylight - which I will continue to do when I can - but at least I now have an option when it isn't possible or practical.

I have finished making the free-standing 'wall' to photograph artworks. It is 2.44m x 1.83m (roughly 8' x 6'), consisting of three half-sheets of 12mm MDF mounted to a softwood frame. The side struts are on small castors to make it easier to move around. The whole thing is bolted together using coach bolts and wing nuts so that it can be assembled without tools. A few little tweaks would make it even more straightforward to assemble and disassemble, but it's not bad as it is. The joins between the panels are easy to take out in photoshop should I need to. 6mm ply would probably work as well and be lighter to move around, though it was more expensive than the MDF I bought. Also the MDF will take screws better for heavier works. OSB might do, but the surface is rough as hell.

The reason for a free-standing panel is that I don't have anywhere with a sufficiently large clear white wall to photograph bigger work. I wanted something I could build when needed, and take apart for storage. Particularly large work will need special attention, but this will be perfect for most of my needs.

November sunshine

It has been a while since I blogged. A lot has been happening in the studio, though they have mostly been small incremental steps than anything spectacular. Little by little. I have been spending time resolving details of some of the new works, scaling up sketches, refining technicalities, that sort of thing. The spontaneity of the sketches is a critical element that I am anxious to carry through to the finished pieces, though this will almost certainly be far from apparent. That's part of it.

I have a new bandsaw! Having tried, without success, to pick up the one I wanted on eBay, I took delivery of a brand new one on Wednesday. I have it set up temporarily in the cellar on a bench, just enough to make some test cuts. I'll post some pics when I have it on the floor stand. Cut cut cut cut cut cut cut cut cut. Oh, and I used it to cut some of the components for the 'photo wall' thingy I was talking about a while ago.

I took a trip to London just over a week ago, to see some shows and meet with WW. As is often the case I managed to pick a day when several of the galleries I wanted to visit were in the middle of changing shows or preparing for a PV that evening. I saw some good stuff though, including Hoxton Art Gallery and Ibid (who had some wall/ceiling mounted works which were very similar in some ways to one of the works I exhibited earlier in the year - doncha hate it when that happens?), and first time visits to Maria Stenfors and Laura Bartlett Gallery. I had intended to see the Harland Miller at White Cube - the last at their Hoxton Sq premises - but I must have misread the times, since the PV was one of those that was that evening. Speaking of which, I also trailed all the way round to Sloane Square to see the photography exhibition at the Saatchi, only to find it had closed and a private function was taking place.

Some exciting stuff coming up that I can talk about - the Marmite Prize starts next month, launching at Central Art Gallery. Also coming up in December is the WW Bogof fundraiser. This also has a great line up and I am pleased to be taking part. Other things - well, things in the pipeline….

The 'To do' list is growing.

The Sluice auction went very well, and I was very pleased to hear that my piece had secured some bids. There were lots of familiar faces and it was good to meet new people. Bids were being placed all evening, with a rush right up to the last moment. Well done to everyone concerned.

I have started work on some new pieces. My bandsaw hung on valiantly, but finally gave up the ghost today. I managed to get a fair amount of use from it in its last throes, almost enough to cut all the components for a complete work. Hand tools came to the rescue, but I now have to source a replacement.

I had a slight setback on another piece. I had decided to make a small-scale maquette for it, rather than getting stuck in to making the full-size version. That turned out to be a good move, because it didn't work as I intended. It is easy enough to resolve technically, but the logical solution has an impact on the aesthetic. I need to think on that some more.
marking up a curve (2nd try)
Gluing up rough-cut components

Ready for cutting out and shaping

Friday was the pv of the John Mynott exhibition at Aspex Gallery. Superb work and a wonderful turnout. It was a great shame that John wasn't able to attend in person, but if he has any idea of how well received his work was I'm sure he will be delighted.

I delivered my contribution to the Sluice exhibition yesterday. It opens today and runs until Wednesday evening. Not all of it had arrived by the time I left but there was already some very good work on show. I will be travelling up for the auction on Wednesday evening, and I have my eye on a few works.

I had intended to go to see the photography exhibition at the Saatchi gallery, instead I went for a beer with a couple of the other exhibiting artists. A slightly surreal moment was sitting in the pub watching some people playing cricket, on the pavement, in the rain, alongside an extremely busy road.
I am out of the cellar, blinking....
After several days of moving out junk, reorganising, and swearing, I have finally finished sorting out my workshop space in the cellar. A gradual accumulation of 'stuff' over time meant that when I started there was barely room to stand - admittedly it is not huge even now, but it's all I have - and it is going to be 'home' for substantial parts of my studio life for the immediate future. So, a trip to the tip, followed by a trip for materials, should see me rolling once more. A slight obstacle stands in my way - my bandsaw does indeed seem to be as buggered as I had feared.
It ain't big, and it ain't grand, but it's mine!

I have selected the work for Sluice at the Hanmi Gallery, and mounted it in a frame. I toyed with the idea of sending it by special delivery, but the risk of broken glass is high, so I will probably deliver myself by hand on Sunday.

I made a quick search for a daylight lamp. One artist materials supplier had this statement in the lighting section on their website: "Daylight not available in the UK". Hmmm...
Little things can make a huge impression. I placed an order on Friday for plastic rod for use in some new artworks. The service was impressive from the start, with emails at every stage and two texts from the courier to tell me when to expect delivery. The package came this morning, exactly on time. Carefully wrapped up inside the end of the package was a little packet of sweets.

I came across an interesting statement yesterday: "Your most photogenic work defines you as that's what the press grab onto". (Freddie Robins) Food for thought.

Slowly getting organised. It is a little like those puzzles where you can only slide one tile at a time. I cleared about two square metres of floor today - not much, but it should start to get easier now.

I remember as a very little boy - I must have been six or seven - going on a school trip to the seaside. I think it must have been the first time I saw the sea. I don't know where it was, but I recall wide, flat sandy beaches, and rocks. I got lost - except I didn't know I was lost. I was just having a good time playing in the sand and paddling in the sea, looking for crabs, and sharks, in the rock pools and all that. Blissfully unaware that school staff were searching for me. Eventually I was 'found' and re-united with the rest of the kids who were having fish and chips in a café. They all stared at me when I walked in - I think some of them thought I was some kind of hero, some of them thought I was weird (possibly for risking losing out on fish & chips), and some of them thought I was a troublemaker. It wasn't my fault, but the teachers were annoyed with me, I think, and didn't give me enough time to eat my fish and chips.

I have an up to date news page on my website. I may use this as the basis of the newsletter idea I mentioned a while ago. I'll see.

My studio flash units arrived today. I now have a basic set up of a pair of decent stands, controllable flash units, and big soft boxes. Re-photographing the larger works is something of a priority. I still need to construct a support 'wall' which I can disassemble (I don't have a large enough unrestricted plain white wall anywhere). I'll post images when it is all done.

So I'm back. Everything - tools, luggage, weird stuff - is (more-or-less) packed away, the huge pile of mail is reduced to a small pile of things worth keeping and a taller pile of recycling, I also have a pile of new and unread art mags to go through. The studio is here, waiting. The cellar is sadly smaller than I remember it, so I may be forced to temper some of my plans for filling it with equipment to help me make some of the new artwork. Never mind, where there is a will, and all that. A big workshop will be mine one day; my delusions extend as far as that.

I'm suffering, as usual, from the contrast between my surroundings of a few days ago and now. So is the dog. We will go to the beach tomorrow.
Just a few pics from the dog walk this morning. Autumn is definitely here...

I had a brief online conversation with David Dipré last night, about 'stepping into the void' - that wonderful, invigorating, scary and absolutely essential move outside of the box. I can recall at least two real instances of that in my life, where I literally did not know if there would be solid ground or not beneath my feet when I stepped forward. Walking in total blackness. Exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, wanting to stop, wanting to go on, all at the same time. The metaphorical void is likely to be an infinitely greater space, for the terms of reference are as abstract as the stepping-off point.

I almost lost a finger. I have been using all kinds of power tools, from chain saws to a gas powered nail gun; leaping about on a roof; balancing above great heights on the tip of my toes - and I almost chopped a forefinger off whilst moving a ping-pong table. Ping-bloody-pong. Really close, but nothing serious, thankfully.

A walk in the morning mist

I saw this today: "Legend says, when you can't sleep at night, it's because you're awake in someone else's dream."

A quick scan of my Twitter feed shows that I am not alone in finding the open I referred to in the previous post as a poor show. One description: " indictment of painting and curating."

There was a short piece of string in my bed this morning. No - I have absolutely no idea how it got there.
I love these colours

Feeling very subdued at the moment. A long walk - even in the heavy rain - helped. I was wrapped up against the weather, yet the dog was just as happy tearing around in nothing but a dog collar. Maybe I should try that.

Considered returning to the UK early today, but temptation thwarted because industrial action by one of the ferry operators has meant that there is no space available.

I saw some images from one of the big opens - the one that now claims to be the biggest. Apart from a handful of notable exceptions (including people I know, happily) the other work I saw ranged from unremittingly dull to downright awful. It makes me angry for some of the people I know who didn't get selected, and it also makes me continue to doubt the value of this one and the other very like it. Speaking of opens, the ZAP open deadline has now passed, and they have had a terrific response. Good luck to everyone who entered -I'm looking forward to seeing the show. Another promising open exhibition coming up is Salon at Matt Roberts' new premises.
I heard yesterday that someone had jumped from a friend's studio building in London, and today it transpired that he was an artist who had taken his own life. He was not someone I knew, or indeed knew of. Nevertheless it is incredibly sad and very sobering.

On days like today the studio doesn't just beckon, it screams "Get the fuck in here!". I'm very excited about the new work, and keen to get started.

Someone has sent me some English weather. Thanks. So, being rained off for most of the day, I spent a good chunk of my time researching studio lights to photograph artwork, and planning a method to temporarily support heavier wall-mounted 3D artworks for photography. In the past I have used natural daylight with (mostly) decent results, but problems imposed by larger works and the quality (and quantity) of daylight defined by the vagaries of the weather have made it increasingly difficult to light works well. I think I have found a good lighting system for a reasonable price. I will probably continue to use daylight when I can (simply because I prefer it), but it will be good to have an alternative when I can't. Having said that, the facility to be able to photograph at any time that suits me is very attractive.

The clouds were racing last night, and the moon was truly beautiful. The edges of the clouds flew by like shreds of silver against the black. A little camera I grabbed refused to focus, so rushed back in for my dslr. I put it to my eye, focussed, and the moon disappeared behind the clouds.
Refining and developing ideas for new works. That side is going well, I think. Well enough to be impatient to set about making them. Still struggling with pinning down one or two others, though. I ought to turn them to the wall for a while, metaphorically speaking, but they have a tendency to pop up in the middle of the night, as things do.

I don't know what reminded me, but some years ago I went to a New Year's Eve fancy dress party dressed as the fairy on the Christmas tree. It was effectively a pub crawl in a small village in North Yorkshire, followed by a house party. I wore a blond wig, a cardboard crown, a proper ballerina-type tutu, white tights and Doc Marten boots. A vision of loveliness, as you can imagine (not), somewhere between Tinkerbell and Mad Max. I also had a wand, which I lost. I was pursued from pub to pub by a woman who kept sticking her hand up my tutu. I made a mental note to never, ever, dress like the fairy on the Christmas tree again. So far so good.

The / a rabbit has moved back into the little barn.

I am starting to look at the shows I want to see when I get back to England. I am also looking at equipment I will need for the workshop (That sounds grand. I mean cellar, of course) for the new work.

The water of a hot shower stung the cuts in my hands but purged some of the aches of a hard day's work. There was a heavy frost this morning, but temperatures rose and I was still able to work in a t-shirt. Good progress on the building today.

I still can't remember anything about the resolution of the artwork I mentioned a few days ago, and it is really p*ssing me off. I keep telling myself it can't have been very good, but....

Lovely skies this evening - these pictures are to the East, South and West, within a few moments of each other. The 'V' in the sky in the last image is remarkable (at least I have never seen anything like it), and was even more distinct in reality than in the photograph.

If you study a lion, or a tiger, you may say to yourself "That is a magnificent beast." but the lion, or the tiger, is probably saying to itself "I would eat you."

I took a day off from the building work yesterday, which means I get to spend time with my notebook. In the afternoon, after lunch, I sat under the hawthorn tree and flicked through some art press. I made a few scribbles, then I sat back in my chair, put my hat over my face so that I could study its inside, and thought... As I dozed off I reconciled a piece of work - the missing link, the title, it all came together perfectly. Now I can't remember what it was.

I have been making notes and sketches for the next phase of work. I am excited by them, and a little bit scared - in a positive way, if such a thing is possible.

'John gets his camera out.

After a while he says, "This is the hardest stuff in the world to photograph. You need a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree lens, or something. You see it, and then you look down in the ground glass and it's just nothing. As soon as you put a border on it, it's gone." ' - Robert Persig, ZATAOMM

I searched on eBay for spandex (don't ask), but I think I meant lurex (I said don't ask). I came up with some alarming results. Won't do that again.

The dog is fast asleep and making tiny 'woofs' in her sleep. I like that. I wonder what she is dreaming about.

I saw from a very perfunctory statement on their website that Madder 139 had closed. I spoke to Debbie not long after their re-relocation from Vyner Street back to Whitecross Street. I am a fan of much of what they have shown, so it was good to hear (via Mark Scott-Wood) that they are relaunching as Carslaw St*Lukes.

John Moore's has just announced the winner of this year's prize. Who I thought would win was not the same as who I thought should win, so I am pleased that my guess was wrong. The Liverpool Biennial also starts today. I was given a 'VIP' pass when I was there last, but had to catch my plane and was unable to take advantage. I'll have to try to make sure I have reason to be there for the next.

I have tested the electrics on my mystery purchase from a few days ago, and they work. There is an unexpected 'beep beep beep beep' too. I'll have to think about whether that is a good thing or not - it would be enough to thoroughly irritate anyone seeing the work, never mind someone invigilating at an exhibition. Hmmm...
Wrestling with ideas and thoughts; some good, some bad, some elusive, but all are putting up a massive struggle against resolution.