Saturday, January 30, 2016

When Saturday Comes...(Drawing a Blank)

A bright but cold Saturday afternoon and, procrastinating over progressing with the painting, quite shamefully considering the rare lovely quality of available daylight in the ‘studio’, the lure of a football match but a short stroll from home proved the greater attraction, what with it being a clash between the local village team and the one from the town where I was not born in Yellow Submarinesque fashion but at least raised and to which I returned some years later to reside for a while.

Gresford Athetic v Flint Town United (who once featured as the football club ‘Badge of the Day’ when the collection was being paraded here on TOoT back in the day) in the Huws Gray Alliance was the event, an affordable £3 the admission price, and there follows a brief photo sequence of the experience/entertainment.

This particular fixture was in fact the second visit of the season to take in a match at Gresford’s Clappers Lane home, the first being for what transpired to be Athletic’s thrilling 4 – 2 victory over the wonderfully-named Holyhead Hotspur on the Saturday before Christmas, a dank day indeed but enlivened by our local heroes’ gutsy comeback from 1 – 2 and a man (unfortunately sent off by an over-officious referee) down, just the sort of performance to encourage the punters, or at least this one, to return for more, both for its own sake and in preference to attending a match a little further up the road and football echelons at Wrexham, as we had done earlier in the season for the visit of the mighty Gainsborough Trinity.

Anecdote duly delivered, back to this Saturday and a little visual evidence. To begin, we feature the small covered stand at the Clappers Lane ground, with the dug-outs to either side, home team to the left, the visitors to the right (contrast this with the comparative grandeur of the facilities at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground and the supposed glamour of e.g. the over-hyped FA Premiership).

The opposite view, from the covered stand side of the ground, of the teams taking to the pitch, Gresford in red, Flint in their traditional black and white stripes. To digress briefly, and by way of a curious coincidence, the very first football match of which I took notice was the 1974 FA Cup Final, as televised, contested by Liverpool and Newcastle United, teams wearing similar colours, Liverpool eventually being the victors by 3 – 0: a portent for today’s match, perhaps..?
First-half action, watched by a healthy crowd of around 70 spectators (including a contingent from Flint) dotted around the perimeter railings and in the stand, Flint on the ball, largely in control of possession and proceedings during the early exchanges but without creating much at the business end, Gresford dogged in their attentions, well-organized and grafting, closing down the space.

One of a number of corner kicks to the home team, now applying occasional pressure of their own, all coming to nought, alas.

The referee in control of a feisty encounter, the Flint management duo keenly observe proceedings with much vocal encouragement and opinion offered (throughout) with a choice selection of ‘industrial’ language.

Spot the ball – oh look, there it is, up yonder! The respective number 2s double-up as the tower of the village’s imposing church peeps over the roof of the Memorial Hall in the distance.

A second-half free-kick to Gresford in what might be a dangerous position. The Flint goalkeeper lines up his defensive wall in readiness. Again, the opportunity proves unproductive.

Events proceeded with the occasional effort on either goal, Flint’s custodian making a fine save at one point to deny the home team and Gresford defending their goal staunchly when called-upon, but ultimately it was all to no avail, and a hard-fought match ended goalless, honours even, time to return home and gain some respite from what had become the bitter cold.



Monday, January 25, 2016

A Walk in the Woods

Yesterday’s constitutional around ‘our’ local woods brought a most intriguing encounter of the fictional kind, as the photo sequence below is intended to illustrate.

Taking a route up a wooden ‘staircase’ to a viewpoint, I noticed from a few steps below what appeared to be a page of paper and, upon reaching the site, stopped and stooped to inspect further, to confirm that indeed it was, more specifically printed matter, a leaf that had become unbound from a book . Continuing the ascent, rounding a corner in the stairway and then gaining the top steps, turning again to view the summit of grass and moss and trees, and in the midst of the tangle of branches and twigs of a bare bush, the sight of what was obviously a book, very likely the substance of the volume from which the just-encountered pages had become unbound, one assumed. Approaching up the rise of the hill, to the viewing area and the immediate location of the bush, closer inspection was possible. As can be observed from the photographic evidence, the book was of standard paperback format, its spine cracked and, lodged within the branches of the bush, the text open at page 305, the beginning of Chapter Fifteen, ‘The Lion’s Den’. Flurries of wind at this elevated point regularly blew this leaf over to reveal the following two pages of print, facilitating a little further glimpse into this lion’s den, before fluttering back down to rest, momentarily.

Curiosity of course dictated the disturbance of the book from its perch in order to discover more, precisely what its title and author were at least, thus revealed to be ‘Fallen’ by the hitherto unknown-to-me Lauren Ka..(te, as it proved to be in totality), the surname truncated by the physical fact of the bottom right corner of the cover having been torn off in addition to its missing pages. Such a title might fancifully complicate the mystery of who might have left the book in such a place and why – was it intimating that the object had indeed fallen, from the sky, from what- or wherever, to land in the midst of the bush, perhaps..?

Whatever the circumstances, they could be mulled over during the continuation of the walk. The book replaced within the bush, I set off to descend the wooden steps only soon to be distracted again, by the sight of another unbound page, near the top of the stairway, more of the story unfolding…



Sunday, January 24, 2016

(A) Painting-in-Progress

Following the ‘purposeful play’ indulged in yesterday afternoon (see the previous ‘All White Now…’ post) and the at-handness of one of a pair of already-stained smaller canvases, a decision was taken to proceed with the simple and familiar composition pictured below, as at least underpainted in Payne’s Grey acrylic before the natural light faded and work was thus brought to a close.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

All White Now...

Newly-remodelled white pears, as previously posted, and new white ‘Billy’ bookcases as a ‘studio’ storage solution suggested that both could be combined, in Edmund de Waal-inspired configurations with a view to providing suitable compositions for a new batch of ‘white’ still life paintings. A few examples, with subtle variations, in placement, viewpoints. etc…

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Whilst the old painting practice might be in recess at the moment, enjoying what has been a little period of hibernation from shortly before Christmas and since the turn of the new year, thoughts have turned to its resumption & the taking-up of brushes once more, & indeed certain actions have taken place recently to facilitate such, with the photographic evidence below.

What we observe here are five of the model pears, which have served as the physical subject matter for the recent batch of painting productivity (& rather handily, for the purposes of illustration, pictured together as #1 & #14 in the series), subsequently having undergone a process of re-modelling, with air-drying clay applied to alter the original form in the interests of creating something more suitable, more like the shape of the other three objects (e.g. as subjected to the usual scrutiny & representation in #6 & #15) from which I’ve also been working since the summer. Another immersion in whitewash & they were done.

It proved a most satisfying hands-on experience to re-shape the pears, to have that very specific contact with them, deepening the connection with one’s source material, & the results, with their obvious evidence of manu-facture, as sculpted objects, subtly yet significantly re-made, with a range of surface detail - not least a rudimentary faceting, finger- & thumb-marks suggesting an analogy to brushstrokes - that wasn’t previously present, are quite pleasing to the eye too.

Now to compose them upon a horizontal plane & get down to the process of active observation...  

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Cultured Football

A happy new year indeed with the sight, observed whilst tuning-in to the BBC's 'Final Score' yesterday afternoon, of the mighty and magnificent Jonathan Meades, whose marvellously idiosyncratic, fiercely intelligent, erudite, opinionated and witty television films, often based on explorations of architectural idioms but expanding to cover a dizzying range of cultural aspects of peoples and places, are the stuff of hero-worship in the parish of TOoT, turning his hand (or more likely foot, under such circumstances) to a spot of goal-scoring during the day's football fixtures. Ah, the delight of inhabiting alternative universes where such occurrences do actually happen...*

Mr Meades, of course, did touch upon the subject of football, and a discerning selection of the small-town names of the Scottish game that exist in the general public consciousness for but a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon when they appear amongst the soccer scores/results lists, during his 2009 series 'Off Kilter', so the association is not too fanciful a one to make, perhaps.

* See 'The (Fictional) Football Alliance', where such possibilities might exist!