Further to last week’s first post regarding this painting, here’s a progress update. My photography skills being what they are (why do you think I paint instead?), this picture does not do justice to the subtlety of the technique applied, the delicate shifts in tone and colour, nor the depth and density of the darkness. All being well, I’ll be finished by early October.
With apologies to John Everett Millais – as it’s a play on his ‘Lingering Autumn’ painting – this is the top of Hawthorn Lane in Tile Hill, Coventry, the housing estate that George Shaw grew up on and that has been the inspiration for his artistic career since the mid-1990’s. I had cause to visit there about six years ago, and it was a truly surreal experience to walk around a place I had seen painted so many times, by someone who had obsessed about it for decades. It was like walking around inside someone’s head. To the best of my knowledge, he’s never painted this particular spot, so I gave it a go, using a technique of diluted acrylic paint and ink pens that goes back to my days in comics. I sent the original and it’s companion piece:
‘A Sort of Homecoming’ to George, who responded with rare generosity. Only when I had been to Tile Hill did I realise that it is very similar to the estate I grew up on in south Leeds, and that I could have been painting the knackered old garages and muddy paths I knew so well, years before George got started on his project. But it was his particular genius to realise that these places are just as valid subjects for art as the usual and rather obvious places we typically see painted, and to depict them with Pre-Raphaelite passion and intensity which gives them an eerie kind of power. They’re haunting, and loaded with poignance, and I know more than a few people who find his paintings hard to look at, as they are so familiar and bring such a rush of memory and associated emotions that it’s overwhelming. That, to me, is what art should do, and any less than that means that for the artist involved, their work is not yet done.
We are all born mad. Some remain so.
So said Samuel Beckett, whose sombre wisdom hovers spectrally behind a current project I’m working on, destined to be an Exile In The Margins release in 2022. The above image is a small taster of what’s to come, though it barely hints at the full madness involved. There will never have been a book quite like it before.
This is as far as I’ve got with my current painting. It’s my first seascape, but won’t be my last, as I’m thoroughly enjoying the process of its creation. Lots more work still to do, but it’s getting there. I’ve yet to decide on a title but I have a couple of strong possibilities and will let the finished painting determine which one I settle on.
Worzel Gummidge, My Father was published by Exile In The Margins, the renegade publishing venture in which I am very much the ‘Igor’ to Martin Jones’ ‘Baron Frankenstein’. Back in May I made what I thought was a compelling proposition for this unique volume, but here I am again, encouraging those with a bent for the macabre to hesitate no longer and order a copy. And should you require further enticement, Mr Tomlinson has created some unique postcard art, with one to be given away freely with each copy purchased. Here’s a few examples:
Who wouldn’t want on these framed and on their wall? At the very least, it should keep out unwanted visitors who may suddenly feel they’ve unwittingly wandered into 25 Cromwell Street.
Oliver Tomlinson is the Alfred Kubin of the English hinterlands, and it’s hoped that with the release of this book he will be given the due attention he deserves.
£2.50 per copy & shipping. Order yours here.
I drew this in 1989. Thirty two years ago. Sigh. Anyway, it was clearly inspired by Iain Banks novel, The Wasp Factory, which I first read in its paperback edition in 1985. It made a deep impression, as I immediately recognised something of myself in our protagonist Francis ‘Frank’ Cauldhame. Alright, perhaps not the multiple child murders, but certaintly the arcane ritualistic behaviour of his private life which, though exagerrated, does remind me of my own teenage years. I suspect that if we’re being honest, we all had our own ‘Wasp Factory’, even if it was only inside our heads.
My 2009 painting ‘Scotland’s Shame’ (part of the Project Mogwai series), used for this mocked-up cover for Alan Moore’s biblical-in-scale novel Jerusalem. Other cover designs empasise the magickal and visionary elements of the novel, but for all it’s fanstical qualities it’s rooted utterly in the filthy heart of England, hence my interpretation.
This is the final drawing in the ‘White Goddess’ quadtych (see also here, here and here). All 4 drawings are ink on card, A3 scale (42 x 30cm apx.) and for sale. I’ll offer a discount if you buy all four, and quite like the idea of them hung together, perhaps as the centrepiece of the altar for a very private religion. Interested parties, email me.