Sat, 24 May 2014
Electric Colour

I've never been a big admirer of David Hockney's work in general but really liked the colourful landscapes he's started "painting" in the last few years. Since his return to England from America he's been experimenting with creating very colourful art on his iPad.

Many charcoal studies and the full colour prints of his iPad landscapes are on show at Annely Juda Fine Art in London.

The pictures are large and very striking! Including a lovely slow tracking shot of a snowy country road on a bank of TV's (at least when I was there). He paints the same scene at very different times of the year: summer, rain, snow.

The gallery has a good Hockney page with lots of other paintings to see, some excellent. His golden age perhaps.

Sun, 11 May 2014


A strange word that caught my eye in the title of a BBC Radio 3 feature a few years ago, In Search of the Gododdin. Reading the summary piqued my interest even more :

Fourteen centuries ago an elite band of three hundred warriors set out from Edinburgh and marched south to Catterick in Yorkshire to meet a force of 10,000 Saxons in a bloody pitched battle. At the end of a week of ferocious combat all but three of the 300 lay dead and, with them, the last hope of the Old North - the original Britons - against the Saxon invaders. But the battle left an enduring literary legacy: one of the three survivors, Aneirin, fled back to Edinburgh and composed the Gododdin, an epic poem to commemorate his fallen comrades.

Of course it's not quite as simple as that, and we have to leave aside the numbers, but what an introduction to something I'd not only never heard of, but had no idea of a context for.

An epic poem called the Y Gododdin, written in early medieval Welsh, perhaps written in Din Eidyn (Edinburgh) and commemorating a battle in England between Britons and Angles.

There's a massive amount here we don't know for certain, a lot of conjecture, myth. We learn a standard history that often starts with the Romans, skips to a bit of Anglo-Saxons, jumps to the Normans and from then it's a quick romp to Empire and the Victorian 19th Century

There's much less certainty in the "Dark Ages" but we have to remember how much of our history is buried in odd corners like the Y Gododdin and the original tribes of Britain. These tribes didn't go away and were not exterminated. They're still here.

Thu, 08 May 2014
Art and Anarchy

Jamie Hewlett, exhibition cover

On Saturday morning I had a look around the new Comics Unmasked exhibition at the British Library.

Another occasion where my Art Pass came in handy, I had a great time taking a leisurely stroll around the show and seeing how much stuff on display I recognised, or even owned.

I've liked comics for as long as I can remember, although I stopped buying them for a long time and have only bought a few in more recent years. Dipping my toes in the water again, the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the production quality had become, even for smaller press and limited edition work. The comics and graphic novel scene has really come of age over the past twenty years.

There are a lot of different styles on display here but the most interesting parts for me cover the 60's onwards. As part of the breakdowns (the psychedelic bit), we even get some Crowley and Burroughs. I'd known of the infamous "kids" issue of Oz, and knew of the obscenity trial, but never actually seen it: and now see Rupert the Bear in a different light (even it was really ripping off Crumb basically).

Thankfully, Rupert Bear was not represented elsewhere in the show.

Warrior magazine. Original home
for V for Vendetta

Yes, lots of subversion, and politics, generally left-wing, although some a more finely tuned flavour of anarchism. The agitations of the 60's and 70's seem to have been diluted somewhat and is less crude. You might say grown-up really, and I'd say that the end result is a lot better (and funnier).

Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta etc.) is very well represented, and deservedly so. But many other comics writers and artists are also given good exposure here, including Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Pat Mills, Simon Bisley, Pete Milligan, Brendan McCarthy, Jamie Hewlett, Posy Simmonds and Bryan Talbot.

An amazing amount of talent has flowed from these islands over the past 30-40 years.

A lot of memories were brought back here for me. I still have a lot of comics and art stacked away, unseen for quite a long time now, and I'm feeling an urge to dig it all out again. Like most things nowadays though, it all comes down to time and, in this instance, space. Space to stretch it all out and digest it properly.

Simon Bisley's Slaine

Afterwards, I resisted the temptation to scramble down to the nearest comics shop and spend loads of money. That's what the exhibition shop was for!