As I sit at my desk tapping away, it is a lovely day. The sun has opened the roses and brought an abundant crop of raspberries. There is also, inexplicably, the sound of bagpipes in the street (?) if I didn’t have these words to type, by jove, I’d go out and do a Highland Fling.
However, when I first started jotting my little update a few days back, it was dark as night, pouring down and windy to boot. The café next door to my studio had suffered a flash flood and, because the drains adjoin our properties in a certain way, so did my studio. Hello British Summer.
It’s as well we are used to this sort of weather carry on. It doesn’t stop us from grabbing a cagoule and making for a festival or National Trust site. Come hell or high water I still go in the sea for a paddle; in fact I think it’s the best time to do it. There is something magical about being in a body of water on a moody day or in the rain.
I’m sure it relates to the memory of being a slip of a lass and wallowing in an outdoor thermal pool somewhere in Hungary. The heavens opened for a warm thunderstorm and I clearly recall glimpses of brilliant colour from gaudy bathing caps through the thick, warm fog. I also clearly remember storks standing to attention in their nests atop nearby telegraph poles and adding to the surreal quality of the moment.
Having said all that, I have not yet been brave enough to immerse myself fully in the North Sea. I’m not as brave as the gaggle of giggling older ladies I’ve seen on my local beaches. One day I will join them – especially since I learned we currently have dolphins here – ACTUAL DOLPHINS.
I painted the hefty lasses (above) 21 years ago and looking at their thighs, it surprises me how much the figures of my paintings have changed shape in the intervening years.
Speaking of bodies: following stern medical advice, I’ve had to make a few life changes. Unfortunately, a long love affair with the grape has had to be significantly cooled down and I’ve started riding a bicycle.
my bike: Nigel
Never good at exercise for the sake of it - I’d rather fall in a bed of nettles than join a gym – I have found that I don’t mind exercise so much if it is useful. So, at least a couple of times a week I’ve taken to pedalling along the coastline to my studio. Commuting this way stretches out the arthritic body parts, gets oxygen and blood through what passes for my brain and overall delivers a certain delicious smugness for the whole day.
There are downsides: motorists aren’t always very considerate, pot holes and poorly maintained roads can make for an uncomfortable passage. Worst of all is the ‘look’. Wearing a cycle helmet and fluorescent items teamed with a padded bum under a summer dress is unlikely to win me the ‘Best dressed artist on a bike in Whitley Bay’ award but I guess it’s a small price to pay for being a little healthier.
My own private beach (Longsands, Tynemouth) on a perfect paddle-day.
Just a very brief mention about a small exhibition I happened upon while in Durham recently. If you are reasonably local and a fan of Norman Cornish – you could do a lot worse than have a stroll through this lovely city and catch the small exhibition featuring his superb portraiture.
Cornish – self portrait
Forget the current crop of ‘nostalgia’ artists and their untimely efforts to capture a long-gone era of pit toil and flat caps, Cornish was the genuine article, painting his own life of hard graft and community. It also marks the 100th year of his birth.
The exhibition is open until September 1, 2019.
Artist turns Gallerist
As you may be aware, I have a small public space (not that it’s very public since I only open it on a Saturday) but I am still there most days, slowly covering the canvasses. I’m setting aside paintings for my own exhibition in 2020, however, I will pause the brushes for a handful of weeks this summer to host a summer show for my friend and talented artist Anthony Marshall.
I’ve collected Anthony’s work for a long time and although he needs no help from me to find homes for the beautiful art he makes, I’m delighted to have his paintings on the wall of my own gallery. If you should fancy popping along to view the exhibition, the details are just here:
Before I go I’ll leave this here:
Sometimes I receive images of drawings, sculptures and cakes made by others, (often school children) and which are inspired by my own art. You can’t imagine how chuffed this makes me. it’s a lovely compliment. Recently, I received my first ever LEGO tribute (Thank you, Gail). Who knew such things were possible?!
I’ll be back soon but in the meantime, enjoy the summer sun, rain...or snow...
Whatever it does, wear the cagoule and your best smile.