Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Artist

He reminded me of someone from a different era – like that early ‘70s art scene that permeated my childhood, the one with bearded men and batik throws.   It was as if he had been plucked from that setting and that time and placed in the present without having traversed the interim years.   Wild black hair, second-hand velvet jacket, the huge rubber plant in the flat, chipped stoneware bowls, Leonard Cohen and Frank Zappa on C90s.  Thirty years' worth or more of magazines, mostly already cut-up ready for use, on every available surface. The smell of paint mingling with the smell of mildew and recently baked herring.  And his art everywhere, on every wall and piled up on the floor: works in progress, finished pieces, huge canvasses, boxed constructions from reclaimed household objects, book-like collaged miniatures, pertinent words scrawled in inky black spidery script.  He taught me about the artists he loved and who inspired him - Kurt Schwitters and Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly and Duchamp – well, so much Art.  He always spelled Art with a capital A.  He said it with one too.  I'll be honest - he frustrated me at times, his life was messy, his choices often unwise, but friendship endured.

Well, it would have been his 58th birthday today.  Sadly he was the second of two of my friends who died last year, and his death was most unexpected, so it still feels a little unreal.

But I don’t want this to be a sad post, there is enough misery in the world and I need to keep myself upbeat. 

Instead I’ll celebrate his birthday by sharing some of his work, now hanging on new walls in different homes.  Isn't this the lovely thing about Art? -  it lives on.


  1. I think this is the second post about the birthday of one of your friends who died last year - Very hard for you. Sounds as if he was quite a character however who will be long-remembered and of course there is always the artwork. Artists may rarely earn vast sums but compared to many of the people who do earn vast sums they leave a lasting legacy in terms of permanent works of art that could potentially be around for ever. Enjoy them - He definitely had a thing for the Queen!

    1. You're right, it is the second, I'm still coming to terms with it really. I have always been one for 'quality over quantity' when it comes to friends, so I can't pretend that it hasn't felt like a significant degree of loss this last year. However both actually left behind a huge amount of art. Plans are afoot to publish a book about my other friend A's art so that will be a fantastic tribute to him, and as for this friend above, D, his work was exhibited at the end of last year and much of it sold to friends and acquaintances, so in both cases as you say, there is a lasting legacy.
      Haha yes, re. the Queen, he was so anti-establishment!

    2. I must admit I like that philosophy quality over quantity - BUT such a wrench when they leave us. As for the art - My late mother-in-law's art is in our loft but also scattered amongst friends and relatives so she is leaving a lasting legacy - As for Mr WIAA, my next post is going to be about his legacy, so should be of interest!

    3. Ah, that's so true. Lovely about your late mother-in-law's art - I also have much of my own late mum's work here, to see her marks on paper and the shapes she carved in wood etc is like still having something of her here, so personal. Have no idea what will happen to the originals of my illustrations when I go as we have no heirs (plus I already have piles of preliminary drawings I find it hard to get rid of!) but as they're for books it does at least mean that they've been preserved that way, even if only to be looked at by children!
      I am so looking forward to your next post :-)


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