Sunday, 26 February 2012


I thought the mouse problem that arouse just after Christmas had gone away (no evidence of them for several weeks now) but when I came home today I stepped on something as I passed down the hall to switch off the alarm. I turned the light on and I found it was a mouse in the last thoes of life. And then it died. I have to say I felt really guilty. And then revolted because I had to sweep the corpse into a bag to dispose of. As I chucked it into the outside bin I found one of the neighbourhood stray cats sitting on my gas meter and I tried to make friends with her (I've been thinking a cat is the answer for a while) but she was having none of it.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Night at the Museum

Late opening at the Natural History Museum. Always an atmospheric place, only more so in the evening with the light low.

The place was heaving with adults - dining all around the diplodocus in the main hall and an excitable hubbub in the makeshift bars. The dinosaur exhibition was quiet (unlike during normal opening hours when it is frequently too crowded to see anything). Palaeontology has moved on considerably since I was in primary school (when I, like most people, loved dinosaurs). The names and species have changed massively - there used to only be about 3 - T-Rex, stegosaurus, brontosaurus and pterodactyl (which I learned was not a dinosaur because it flew rather than walked on the land). We had to go back to the T-Rex exhibition when they had managed to turn the air back on to get him moving again (something about someone not reprogramming for the evening opening).

On the way home I waited for the bus at Euston. A very drunk white haired woman was sitting in the bus stop. On seeing a man crossing the station she shouted loudly (I was quite surprised), "have you got a big cock? Cos you've got a big arse". The other passengers waiting were shocked. The man didn't hear her. Everyone else tried to ignore her.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

David Hockney at the Royal Academy

Got tickets in advance for the Hockney. I was quite excited to go. Apart from the fact that the Royal Academy is a horrible gallery to visit (too many people of a particular sort).

The galleries were packed - it was like trying to look at art in a crowded Friday night bar. The pictures are, in the main, huge and to see them properly you need to be able to be a distance away from them. Not possible in the crowd. Timed entry - at 3pm all of us entering then are crammed into the first room - couples, families, people in from the burbs, tourists, buggies, toddlers, arty oddballs, arty ordinaries etc. The pictures are the four seasons view of a group of three trees. Winter and summer are my favourite. Then led into a small retrospective of pictures that are very familiar from the 50s, 60s that were in a book that my mum had. And one huge grand canyon picture. A mixture of styles - some very flat with words, some very colourful. In the body of work from Yorkshire I liked the collection of oil and water colours. Sometimes the themes felt over-worked - it became a little formulaic. The huge paintings that are being used to advertise the exhibition are impressive only in scale and are somehow too composed, seem rushed and lacking in emotion. A bit too much like wallpaper. iPad drawings blown up were interesting while being varied in quality. Film work - liked the films of the landscapes in the paintings but not so much the dancing in the studio (not developed enough - I felt the idea could have gone further). Perhaps the abundance of similar composition and mass of paintings detracted from the ideas. I might have preferred greater selection. I also couldn't get over the crowds. It was claustrophobic.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Emmanuel Cooper

Emmanuel Cooper, ceramicist, died

Opened the Ceramic Review and found that Emmanuel Cooper had died on 21 January. He taught on the ceramics course at Middlesex University when I was there. He was a memorable character with his white handlebar moustache and clogs, and his writings on eroticism in art. I am interested in his work because of its excitingly textured glazes and deceptively simple forms. His prominence in books on ceramics and glazes says everything about his importance in the field.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Bruce Castle Park

So after the excitement of watching the snow falling last night got up early and headed over the park (after scaping the snow and ice off the pavement outside my house - friends in Wisconsin would be proud of me). It was beautiful.

bruce castle park (9)

The snow was perfect for making snowballs and building snowmen. There were lots and many of them were huge.

(If you look closely the last one is actually a snowlady - two early teens made a couple of additions to a not-quite-finished snowman).

Saturday, 4 February 2012


It's snowing. And settling. We're cloaked. It's the third year in a row we've had snow like this.

It's night but the whiteness of the sky and the ground make it very light.

Big Chill

Big Chill

The big freeze is here - a dry cold like it is in Wisconsin in the winter. There has been blue sky, biting wind, intermittent ice on the road where there's a leak or spillage. Today the sky is white - threatening snow. Ground is frozen and solid. All the bird baths frozen solid. The type of cold that reminds you how delicate the inside of your nose is and cracks your lips. The plants in the garden are gaunt. The grass has frozen. My red camilla blooms are turning brown.