Thursday, May 31, 2012

Exhibition News

Exciting news in that I shall be exhibiting three proper oil paintings (albeit ones of a certain vintage) out in the real world next week as part of a show at Ellesmere College featuring prestigious artist & illustrator Martin Aitchison, rather than just existing vitually here at TOoT:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

[untitled: Football Portrait #18]

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

(Re)presenting the latest in the series of drawings processed from the source material of photographic portraits as found in a 1970-vintage soccer annual, re-mediated in the familiar, habitual manner, with direct visual reference made to an enlarged, slightly degraded photocopy of the original image as reproduced within the pages of the book.

The portrait subject, Len Walker, was another of those whose playing career extended beyond the mid-70s & the time I developed an interest in the game (the preceding decade is however the time for which I’m most nostalgic), during which the photograph from which , being a legendary name at Aldershot, for whom he made almost 500 appearances.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

[untitled: Football Portrait #17]

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Continuing with the project of drawings sourced from the photo portrait gallery of footballers as found in the vintage 1970-71 edition of ‘Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book’.
Although the subjects make an intriguing & celebration-worthy collection - mostly of players plying their trade outside of the most glamorous reaches of the ‘star system’ &, indeed, the higher levels of the game, previously unknown to me, with this particular example, Brian Heslop (who heroically ended his Football League career at the outpost of Workington, about as far from glamour as it was then possible to get, given the club’s travails that ended with their failure to gain re-election in 1978, the season after Brian’s time), being no exception – the fundamental subject of the drawings is & remains the process of their making itself, the re-mediation (through numerous & various levels, given that the direct visual reference for the drawing process is an enlarged photocopy of the image as reproduced in the book), the ‘de-photographization’ of the mechanically-(re)produced image.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

[untitled: Football Portrait #16]

Today the opposite of tomato is "an old tooth I believe was a bear's"

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Presenting the latest in the series of drawings processed from the source material of small-scale portrait photographs of then-footballers as found within the pages of a 1970-vintage soccer annual, that period just prior to my own development of an interest in the game that, for whatever reason, exerts the most attractive nostalgia. In the particular instance of this original, although common to the project as it’s progressed thus far, there’s a delightful inverted glamour & ‘redolence’ to such names as are involved (Hartlepool, having remained resolutely unfashionable throughout their history, are, as such, one of the truly great names of English football, the likes of which have previously been celebrated at TOoT), which identify what would otherwise be an anonymous image (given the cropping employed, there’s no evidence to suggest that the subject is a sportsman of any kind), of a player/person previously unknown to me.

The habitual light research into the portrait subject’s playing career reveals that Tony Bircumshaw holds the record for being the youngest player to make a Football League appearance for Notts County, his previous club, & that he would have (been) signed for Hartlepool during the managerial reign of the legendary Brian Clough, which are little facts not without interest to the anorakically-inclined.


Sparklehorse 'It's a Wonderful Life'

The perfect accompaniment to such a nostalgia-inflected drawing process, an album of such beauty & melancholy, the latter all the more so, perhaps, in the event of Mark Linkous’s passing, it created a quite exquisitely poignant atmosphere, treasuring the traces left behind. The artwork fits so well too.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

[untitled: Football Portrait #15]

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

No abatement in the process of drawings sourced from photographic portraits of footballers as found in a 1970-vintage soccer annual, the hand-made representation of mechanically reproduced images (including the additional layer of the latter, the photocopy of the original that serves as the direct visual reference).

The portrait subject in this curious, intriguing gallery of players that might reasonably be considered to have existed outside of the firmament of ‘stars’ (at least other than for the clubs they represented & with whom, perhaps, achieved favoured, cult status), operating in those ‘bread & butter’ levels below the highest echelons of the game that attract by far the greater share of publicity & glamour, is another that research reveals to be sadly now deceased (having been, in fact, for some time), adding an air of poignancy to post-proceedings (most often the research comes after the process), the drawing-as-trace, of time having passed, as indeed it has since the moment of photographic recording that fixed the original image of the young man depicted.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Keeping Up With Developments

Yesterday afforded another opportunity for a stroll alongside the ‘double black lines’ corrective road markings, & another encounter, photographically documented, with an example of aluminium can ‘roadkill’ found thereupon, this still life object particularly compressed to a state of flatness that allows for a little Greenbergian play, & consideration, as habitual, of the grey two-closely-toned ground upon which it rests as something of a Modernist Minimalist monochrome, painterly-textured picture plane.
In one of those serendipitous occurrences, those pleasing correspondences, the stripe that forms part of branded design upon the surface of the can relates rather well to the parallel stripes of the road markings.

On the football front, how jolly it was that Manchester City should become Premiership champions with two goals in added time clawing a necessary 3-2 victory over QPR from the very verge of calamitous defeat, allowing City to pip to the honour the neighbouring club who have made a deflating habit of such brinkmanship over a period of too many years. Such enjoyment was severely compromised, though, by Gainsborough Trinity’s defeat in the Blue Square Conference North play-off final & consequent failure to gain promotion: absolutely gutted.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Saints' Preserver...

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

The series of drawings sourced from small-scale photographic portraits of then-contemporary footballers as found within the pages of a copy of the 1970-71 edition of ‘Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book’ continues. The direct visual reference, acting as intermediary between the original image & the subsequent drawing, is an enlarged photocopy, somewhat degraded in image quality that, in tandem with a drawing process that relies as much on the erasure of marks made, leaving traces, as the accumulation of such in the resolution of tonal balance, informs the familiar bleached & ‘scoured surface’ aesthetic of the drawing.

Another influencing factor to be taken into account is the historical fact of the original photograph having been taken in the bright sunlight of a summer, pre-season day (when the greater number of such portraits would, traditionally, have been captured & that somehow adds to the pervading sense of nostalgia, at least as intended to be communicated), resulting in an image characterised by high contrast between dark & light, with a consequent certain loss in the range of tonal subtlety & also of detail – notably the eyes - to deep shadow as the subject squints into the face of the sunlight: by degrees, the photocopy & then the drawing from continue this process of loss, of distance from the original (itself a reproduction, as printed in the book), an analogue to, perhaps, the temporal distance since the moment the photograph was taken.

The portrait subject of the original image & thus the drawing is, of course, as it says on the drawing if not necessarily the tin, Hugh Fisher, then in the midst of an 11-year stay at Southampton (either side of stints at Blackpool & Southport, the native Glaswegian Hugh thus apparently being a chap who enjoyed life beside the English sea) which encompassed over 350 appearances but alas not one in the unexpected 1976 FA Cup Final victory (where he sat on the bench as an unused substitute) that probably constitutes the most glorious moment in the club’s history, their just-earned promotion back to the so-called ‘promised land’ of the over-hyped & over-exposed Premiership notwithstanding: Hugh Fisher’s particular claim to fame during that cup run of Southampton’s proved to be the last-minute equaliser he scored in the Third Round tie against Aston Villa that kept his team in the competition.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Not at a Loss...

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Presenting the latest in the sequence of drawings that have offered a modicum of focus & come to comprise the current project, the source material being photographic portraits as found as a gallery within the pages of a 1970-vintage soccer annual. The drawings are then processed with direct reference to enlarged photocopies, somewhat degraded in image quality, of these ‘originals’ as printed, reproduced, in the book, the essential subject of the drawings being this manual representation of the mechanically-produced image, with considerations of loss & difference, & time & labour. In working from these copies, the identifying text also becomes part of the image, as does, in this particular instance, the page number from the book.

The subject matter of the originals/copies cannot be ignored, of course, the images being rich in period detail & redolent of their time, particularly in the archive of hairstyles & facial hair they present: this example might be considered as being another of those that do not appear too dissimilar from those images that would be displayed in men’s barbers & hairdressers, then & beyond, perhaps the only appreciable difference being the close cropping (no pun intended in this context) applied to this photograph for the purposes of presenting it as a ‘mugshot’ in the gallery of portraits.

The statistical facts of the portrait subject Colin Prophett’s playing career, researched as has become habitual, serve to illustrate the curious manner in which memory functions, specifically & partially (to mean, perhaps, both only ‘in part’ & ‘biased’), of particular relevance to the ‘hauntological’, nostalgic tone of this current drawing project: my vivid recollection is of the player being associated with Norwich City (probably fixed by an image of him sporting their distinctive yellow & green colours, although such would already have been ‘historical’ by the time I began taking an interest in football), which indeed he was, but for one season only of a career that spanned the period 1969-1982, either side of substantial spells at Sheff(ield) Wed(nesday) & Swindon Town, & being the club amongst five for whom he actually made least appearances in a total of 430. Further research then suggests, from the available archive evidence, that in fact I would have seen Colin Prophett play for Swindon in a League Cup tie at Wrexham in December 1977, without obviously appreciating the fact or event, as the team line-ups from the official match programme serve to illustrate & verify:

Reading those lists of names, in addition to featuring arguably Wrexham’s best team of all time – certainly their most successful – it strikes me what fine players represented Swindon Town that night, including their legendary appearance record-holder & archetypal one-club man John Trollope, David Moss who went on to play for Luton with such distinction, the Northern Ireland international Trevor Anderson (against whose name I’ve written a mysterious asterix *), & other familiar names such as Steve Aizlewood, Kenny Stroud, Chris Guthrie, Ray McHale & then midfield ‘enforcer’ (shall we say), now media pundit Chris Kamara: the sense of nostalgia, as transmitted through such a match programme, an object that provides tangible evidence of the match , & the information it contains, representing these hauntological ‘ghosts’ as named, reviving them, is palpable indeed. There’s something rather nostalgia-inducing about the cover price of 15p too…

* a mysterious asterix no longer: he was substituted during the game, as Swindon Town’s online archives inform – isn’t the internet rather splendid?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Beautiful Game

Not for the first time in these parts, today presents a diversion into the aesthetics of football & in particular kit design, which is, to be honest, one of the game’s main aspects of appeal: here at TOoT, in common with Jasper Carrott’s friend of legend, we like the colours, & yesterday evening’s televised Europa League Final, contested in Bucharest between Atletico Madrid & Athletic Bilbao, provided a veritable feast, with one of the most perfect pairs of opposing strips I can ever recall witnessing.

A variety of clubs from around the globe have habitually come to be favoured & supported precisely because of the colour combinations they wear, & Atletico Madrid’s red & white striped shirts with blue shorts & red socks are a classic example of this, so it’s always a visual pleasure to see the team in action but it proved to be an extra-special treat when complemented on this auspicious occasion with Bilbao’s lovely 2nd-choice outfit of green & black with red & white trim (their ‘home’ colours are also red & white stripes, matched with black shorts): a quite beautiful spectacle indeed, as might be appreciated from the image from the match below.

Incidentally, the mighty & magnificent Atletico won 3 – 0, with a trio of finely-taken goals fit to grace any game, but of course the result is merely a detail in the context of such aesthetic splendour…!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Celtic Fringe

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Continuing with the series of drawings based upon portrait photographs of then current footballers as found within the pages of a 1970-vintage soccer annual, but processed with direct reference to enlarged photocopies of the original reproductions, being thus a hand-made representation of a mechanically-produced image.

Again, the portrait subject, the result of the drawing process-as-subject, a Scot by birth despite his name , is a player whose career was spent outside the upper echelons of the professional league structure, mostly with clubs located along the South coast, another member of this curious gallery of non-stars, mostly-unknowns whom intrigue leads into researching at least the basic career facts of (often, little other information is available, they are ‘merely’ names & numbers, the bare statistics of that part of a life that impinged at all upon the public consciousness, interesting to those statistically-inclined), hauntologically resurrected through the (act of) drawing, which (result) becomes an additional nostalgic trace left behind, however incongruously out of time & place.


The Caretaker 'An Empty Bliss Beyond This World'
Moon Wiring Club 'A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding'

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

[untitled: Football Portrait #11]

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

(Re)presenting the most recent drawing to be processed with reference to the visual source material of photocopies of photographs of football players as reproduced in the 1970 edition of a ‘found’ soccer annual, that vintage period of the game’s history, just prior to personal experience & memory, that seems to exert the most romantic appeal.

In this particular instance, the portrait subject of the original image & the outcome of the drawing process, Alan Bermingham, wears a somewhat pained expression more common to the long-suffering supporters of his club, Wrexham (Update 07/05/2012: the current Wrexham team have added to the fans’ catalogue of ongoing agonies by managing to avoid promotion back to the Football League after failing to negotiate the play-off system for a second successive season, a dereliction on this occasion after leading their division for a substantial period of the season & amassing an impossible-not-to-get-promoted total of 98 points – it could only happen to Wrexham, beset, as almost always, by incompetence at the crucial moments. Good luck to their conquerors – again - Luton Town in the play-off Final: please, with respect, leave our league now).

Update 20/05/12: Oh, for God's sake, hapless Luton have lost the Blue Square Premier play-off final again, this year to York City (to whom congratulations & due respect upon regaining their Football League status), in the process making even bigger mugs of Wrexham, with whom they've become locked, doomed, in an embrace of failure - what a waste of time & effort.


The Caretaker 'An Empty Bliss Beyond This World'
Tricky 'Maxinquaye'
Miracle Legion 'Surprise Surprise Surprise' (vinyl LP)
Jesca Hoop 'Hunting My Dress'

The return of the 'Soundtrack' feature with a not inconsiderable bang - The Caretaker's 'An Empty Bliss...' becomes a richer experience for each listen & engagement with, whilst it was a pleasure & treat indeed to hear for the first time in a long time the Tricky, Miracle Legion & Jesca Hoop albums & the many enduring wonders they each contain.