Sunday, November 29, 2009

First tree planting at Heartwood Forest

Yesterday, Robin and Xavier and I went up to the bluebell wood to join in the first tree planting event for the new Heartwood Forest. We planted four saplings – well they did – while I recorded this historic moment for posterity.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hand on heart


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thelma and yes you’ve guessed – ‘The Big V’

Another great pose from Thelma.


The local paper had this letter printed and as Roger Miles wrote a much better letter than I did I thought it merited reproducing
Is the Big V what we really want?
10:58 - 26 November 2009
The Big V
The Big V
SIR - Messrs Howell and Carruthers are being somewhat presumptious in presenting simultaneously a need and a solution with their Verulamium Park sculpture (Herts Advertiser, November 12, pictured above).

A more normal course to acquiring and installing a piece of public art would be to first find out whether there is any significant desire for such a thing and in what location, second, sound out feelings for the sort of symbolism sought and then to invite all interested artists to submit proposals.

Instead of which St Albans citizens are being presented with a fait accompli which they are asked to think about raising the money for. It smacks of public funding for H & C Sculptures' open-air showroom.

Further, to place a large, futuristic sculpture in Verulamium Park could be to demonstrate a failure to learn any lesson from the unfortunate business of rehousing the hypocaust.

There is a notable absence of public art in the 'historic city' (a quote from SADC stationery) so I would suggest that the first subjects that we should be turning our minds to depicting are famous people or events associated with St Albans - Nicholas Breakspear, Francis Bacon, Sam Ryder, the two battles of St Albans are some. Alban and Jennings/Marlborough have commemoration already, albeit architectural.

We should give some thought to this subject and not be bounced into something we later regret.


Upper Culver Road, St Albans

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Good morning Thelma!

It’s wednesday so it’s life-drawing (if I can arrange the baby-sitting). I was delighted to discover that our wonderful life-model Thelma visits this blog. Once again she gave us a great selection of dynamic poses and I was really amazed when she chose a standing pose for the last long pose. Now with me, if I was to get into the life modelling business, it’d be – lying on my back, lying on my front, lying on my left side, lying on my right side and then if I was feeling particularly energetic maybe seated on a nice comfortable armchair.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Robin seated


Monday, November 23, 2009

Terrible drawing of something that made me laugh

Click on the picture if you can’t read the text

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Xavier’s magnificent watercolour

I’m scraping the barrel here – trying to get credit for Xavier’s picture. But if I don’t post something soon you’ll think I’ve disappeared. To be fair I did draw the lines. And you can probably tell my age from that – I reckon you probably have to be under 40 to have had a childhood full of pictures of dinosaurs.
They just didn’t feature in my childhood – apart from what we all thought was the very exotically named pop band.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Different trains and more on “The Big V”

ipodsharing bumpy train
ipodsharing smooth train
Yesterday, we caught the train into London to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Royal Academy (which was wonderful – but not for me as mind-blowing as the Hayward Gallery exhibition in 1998). Hugo and Xavier sat opposite me sharing the headphones of an iPod. The train into London was excessively bumpy but the one back was very smooth – which is why the drawings are so different to each other. I think the best place to sit must be in the middle of a train carriage not the ends.

And anyone interested in the Big V project I ranted about previously, I felt I just had to draw attention to some highlights in one of the comments which came from someone who commissions public art for a living and put it far more effectively than I did:

CVs please guys? who are these people and why are you demanding to be allowed to place your piece of junk on a piece of publicly owned land? put it in your back garden…

…the way public art should and is working in other cities is this; the council writes and sets out the artists' brief in accordance with what the public have first of all requested. artists then respond with their ideas, and members of the council, fundraisers and public representatives all formally discuss and select a successful bidder. this is not happening here; we are being dictated to by the artist, who is telling US what WE need; this relationship is the wrong way around: it is the artist who meets the public's demands, not the other way around.

…the idea of a 'V'? COME ON! please try harder, this is not a GCSE art project. it is neither interesting, engaging, cost-effective or what the doctor ordered

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Big V

I take it all back – I just didn’t get it. Two St Albans residents felt that St Albans did not have enough public art and so they set about doing something about it.

As a lover of art and would-be artist I’m all in favour of public art. Go to Southwold for instance and there is a delightful humorous piece of public art ‘The Water Clock’ by Tim Hunkin on the pier.
At Marlborough school in St Albans every day the pupils walk past a beautiful piece of sculpture created by Barbara Hepworth in the 1950s.
In the magnificent re-furbished St Pancras Station there is a charming sculpture of Victorian architecture and train loving Poet Laureate John Betjeman.

All works of art that, for me, add to the beauty of the environment.

So our two, Andrew Carruthers and Morgan Howell, despite, as far as I can tell, having no experience whatsoever of creating public art, came up with this idea of a sculpture to go into Verulamium Park. And whaddya know, the name of the park begins with 'V', so why not have a sculpture that is the shape of a 'V' and called 'The Big V'? What a novel idea. We could have them up and down the country 'The Big H' in the grounds of nearby Hatfield House, 'The Big L' enhancing the Capability Brown landscape of Luton Hoo. I can see why Goodwin Steel Castings are championing the project.

One of my many faults is that I can be too earnest. I take things too seriously. So after seeing photographs of the artist's impression in the local papers I dashed off po-faced letters to the press, stating my objections. You know the kind of thing, you don't start with the sculpture, you start with the brief, you invite artists of proven excellence to submit proposals, you involve the local community, yah de yah de yah etc.

And now I'm feeling rather foolish. I get it now. It's a huge joke isn't it guys? I mean who could possibly think that two men, who have no track record of producing public art, would be allowed to inflict a huge, steel V-sign in the middle of our beautiful park, on future generations of St Albans' residents?

I now realise that you have a worthy underlying motive of wanting the public to discuss the provision of really good public art in our city. Well good on you, it
's a brilliant way of provoking a debate on the subject – but if you're really serious about it you need an area for public comment on your website.

In the meantime any Snorbens residents (or anyone else who has a view) please feel free to give your opinions here, or to St Albans Council or to the contact e-mail address St Michael‘s village website here.

* Thanks to I Like for the use of the photo which I found on Flickr

Emmanuella again


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The lovely Emmanuella


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eating bananas and cream


Monday, November 09, 2009

Tom in his cream sweater

The poorly boy (in the post below) seems to be on the mend and should be back at school tomorrow. Thanks for your well wishes. I noticed when I was posting this picture over on my family portrait blog that I’ve posted 100 pictures of Xavier. Just think if I continue at this rate, when he’s all grown up and he’s approached by street artists wanting to do his portrait, he’ll be able to quite honestly say ‘No thanks, I don’t want to buy one because I have 500 of the things at home’.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Poorly boy

Poor Xavier – almost the entire weekend nursing a queasy stomach, sick bowl at the ready. We did set off to see the annual big St Albans fireworks display but had to return before it started as he felt sick. And then poor Rufus, a shivering wreck terrified of all the bangs. So it’s been a very unproductive day – reading, watching television and comforting my two patients.

I spent most of my nursing time reading a book where the writer comments on one cliché following hot on the heels of another. (Ha – did you spot that?) It does make the process of writing a simple blog post very torturous when self-consciousness about one’s style creeps in. And it’s very silly of me – it’s not as though anyone comes to this blog to appreciate my writing.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Emmanuella in shoes


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Life drawing last night

I haven’t been to a life class in ages. And I didn’t enjoy it. I was ill-prepared and rushed. When it goes well I arrive early, I am focused on which media I’m going to use and the model poses in a position that makes interesting shapes from my viewpoint. I dashed in at the last minute having grabbed the nearest art materials after having fed and washed up for the family. Emanuella is the most beautiful of models and I really didn’t do her justice.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Endodontist waiting room

The beautiful flowers and the smart red leather armchairs do nothing to make the experience of having an abcess removed any less miserable for my brave son, Hugo. Sketching kept me busy while I worried and waited.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Memory landscape

Drawn at the swimming pool because it was so dark I could barely see to draw Xavier swimming.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Lunch at the Paper Trail

A quick sketch while Xavier and I had our lunch at the Paper Trail.