JJ Cale

Since cambridge and my attempt at a foundation course, since ploughing the fields as a summer job in hampshire; there has been one constant man in my life. A calming influence that glides over the ruts in the road, slides through the days turning them silky warm and sunny.

Went back to him today after my turbulent days of painting, back to JJ Cale* and I also returned to my clay. Maybe yes, out of cowardice but also to enjoy life.

as the man says

aint no shame in tryingaint no use denyingeverything will be alright

I am adrift when I am painting; in Barcelona I am just too much adrift already. I am bobbing about and I want to enjoy it. Take away home, friends, family and language and then change my work as well is maybe too far from the shore for me to feel ok.

With my sculpture my raft is large, I can enjoy the turbulence, lie back in the sun and feel the movement beneath, not care if I go into deep water, just think its funny and exciting.

So bye bye to the rotten vegetable shop ( we keep missing the market ) with the flies, bye bye dark peaches and wriggly peppers, I am gong back to the flying girls of my imagination.

It could be lack of cojones but I am not worried, I will try again later, just thinking of it makes me feel light again. I had put so much pressure on myself to be Rembrandt in a few days and I only had this chance here to do it, now, it was wearing me out. Like Chesil beach with its slippery pebbles, weighed down by heavy diving gear, in shallow water so the weights weren’t carried by the free deep sea, crawling on all fours trying to extract myself from the cold foggy water as each wave pulled me back under. Half drowning in shallow water. Quite the beach babe I seem to remember.

I send Graham a link on spotify of a ‘sensitive kind‘  as a way of an apology for being such a nightmare these past few days. He said we knew it was coming, the transition from holiday to living, the come down from the excitement of all the work to get here and getting here, the moving to the bedsit in the dark streets from the lovely apartment with the sunny terrace of opera.

But I am going back to holiday, to being a tourist, to seeing the world in it’s best shiniest light. I remember thinking this living in London part time, I think its the best way to see things, just remain a tourist so you remember to enjoy things, see them for the first time. Do the nice things as well as the work. I am going back to being a guiri* and to bobbing around on my big raft of sculpture.

Think this is pretty much finished now after leaving it a while, I couldn’t decide about the hands before wether they should be flat on her legs like the swimmer sculptures ( it sort of makes them point forward more ) but I like the idea of the hands making her look like an insect more. I also couldn’t decide wether to fill her wings in, I have wanted to do fragment sculptures for ages so this is a part way to that I guess ( and I can always fill them in later in wax ) and I like the idea that

she has put on her wings and her flying hat but it is futile,
she cant fly.

( if thats too sad I can fill them in )

she can fly in her head?!

John Terry‘s comments

I love your ‘bug’, poor girl with great holes in her wings -but she will fly despite or because of them – it’s how we use our faults that defines us. No room for ego – which is a lead balloon.

* not what he looks like mind, just his voice and his music!

* ironically a teenager shouted guirri at me as I cycled along on the way home, I was completely fully dressed, I am not burnt, I was not wearing flipflops, I was not looking at a map on a street corner, I was not lost! Maybe the little cow bag was just reminding me of my place here!

apologies for the cheesy water analogy, it must be the sea getting in, its a bit much this time but I cant help it!

Tuesdays Pepper

I approach tuesdays pepper with less insanity than mondays peach. I use my favorite canvas ( 36 Fina Cotton ) and treat myself to a morning in green. As it is with things here its not a perfect pepper, but it is full of life, its wriggly, turning in on itself to look at its reflection underneath. It’s tummy is tight. It reminds me slightly of a Moore sculpture the way its tail presses to the floor like an elbow.

I start slightly cockily, apart from the composition (which I really need to do some research on) I feel I will have this sown up soon and be home by lunchtime, but as is always the case looking reveals more, things become much more complictated and I think I will never be finished and I worry the pepper will wrinkle and dry out like the peach, before I am done.
In the same way that happiness is felt more acutely once you have been sad so the sunshine is more appreciated after the winter.

( Tom Waits puts it better in his San Deigo Serenade* )

So its the strangest thing enjoying it when the sun goes in (but it has to, to enjoy it coming out again!). In the uk, when the sun comes out it’s ecstatic, it jollily plays with that, jostles this and sets off red orange butterflies into lime green fields. Buttercups open and petals unfurl and bees bob about. It brings everyone out of their shell and we are grateful.
Here it is lovely when it is sunny, the mini festival in the park feels right, the roller bladers flit through the shadows of the palm trees. But often there is a harshness to it, a brightness that stings the eyes a bit. I think it must be just that its city not country, and I work in the city and play in the country.

So when the sun is masked by mist as it is today, I like it, it makes me feel ok to be inside and working and I guess thats when I am most content. I have tried taking time off in the week, treating myself to a walk here or a sit there but it makes me feel angst. Only in the evening, after some attempt at something, after some effort of some kind, when the boule players shadows are longer does it feel soothing to sit on warm stone and loll. So is it only after work that we can enjoy not work. And only when the both are in the right measurements that we can enjoy life.

Tom Waits
Never saw the morning till I stayed up all night
Never saw the sun shine till you turned out the light
Never saw my home town until I stayed away too long
Never heard the melody till I needed the song

To go get or not to go get

A mixture between doing some work, not much ( just my vat return ) having visitors and having the first cold since I cant remember, words seem to have passed me by, some are in my sketchbook which I will add later but generally it has been a quite time of looking around, going to exhibitions, looking at other peoples work and not putting much down.

It might be a good thing. I had started on a successful path of new sculpture which I was pleased with but it was much the same road as before. Better possibly all the time, but not different. The break, the cold, the rain, the visitors might have made a break in that. They have certainly stopped me working. But maybe it was not the path I wanted to be on.

Today, now friday, my cold still has a firm hold of my nose with disgusting concequences, it attached itself inside my head, in my ear and down my neck and its starting to creep down my throat and I resist it by developing a rather attractive hacking cough in response. All in all a delightful picture am I.

I went for a jog on the beach in the rain on sunday morning to bash it away and then sat in the park drinking wine with the permanent festival on wednesday (may day) to drink it away but it is a tough one and finally thursday made peace with it and looked after myself and chilled. But through the fog and mist of a cold in the sunshine ( which feels odd ) I have slowed down another notch and have found a beautiful if rather foggy pace with life.

Its not a pace I am comfortable in and is probably not sustainable finically but the days starts with a walk in the park with molly and some sketching. As the shadows became shorter and the sprinklers sprinkled me off we moved off to a convent courtyard and had a coffee and drew some arches and the people in their shadows. Back to the apartment and lunch was white beans cooked and when still warm dressed with oil, chili, garlic, basil and a little lemon, which when added to avocado, tomato and rocket made for a rather surprisingly yummy salad.

Its all cheap, life here is cheap.

And rich.

I cant decide wether this is an easy living, loving life or a lazy life.

Don’t you work hard to do this in your retirement. so why not do it, if you can do it now? I only question it because I am from the north and I think…

Its not very go get.

But what’s there to get and where’s there to go?

A bigger house, a stupid car, a bigger mortgage? More steak. More stuff.

What’s wrong with a simple life of beans and friends and time.

Do our southern European friends have none of the money but all of the answers?

When we go on holiday is it just their life we crave. Or the life we perceive them to have.

We are too go get, to moneycentric to relax.

If you don’t go get, your a looser.

If I don’t go get, I feel like a looser. Like I am out of the game, like a horse that cant finish the race and has to be pulled back, to come in easy at the end and be put out to pasture. Maybe the horse likes it out in the field?

It has taken a persistent cold for me let a different pace in and see the very pleasure in it.

No doubt however, I will as my cold wears off develop my hard workers angst and my pooteling about making a nice lunch for myself and a nice day for myself, and a wonderful kind of life for myself will subside and I will need to go get again.

I will crave the anxiety and the adrenalin and the pace and the spin.

And one day I will figure it out what it is we are all rushing about getting.


First proper day making at the studio.

I went to the fantastic art shop called Barna Art yesterday on my bike to get some canvases, obsessed with painting and how brilliant I will be at it! They have what I have wanted all along, a smooth surface so I can draw and paint at the same time, they will make up the canvases as you wait. Pablo was really helpful and sincere about surfaces as I apologized for my lack of language.

It’s strange being in a city cut off from the crowd. A city that is more about the people than any other place I have been and I, like there is a smoke screen around me, can not intercept them. When I walk Molly people talk at me and I am silent, awkward and it exacerbates my insecurities and my confidence dwindles. In a way its quite, you can be with your own thoughts in a metro full of people, but at the same time you walk around the city full of life, alone.

This week it is finally sinking in that it is going to be sunny every day in Barcelona. And if I don’t get something creative done I am going to start feeling like a bit of a looser. Well, it is as if I have to. To regain some of my identity, my mojo, before I sink down into self destructive pity of an aging lady with a double chin, who cant speak Spanish let alone Catalan.

We spent a bit of sunday on the beach, and yes the sky was deep blue and it was funny to be there, and I felt amazed and lucky. But the sky can be blue and the sand can be soft under your belly as you let the warm sun heat goose pricked skin from the cold still water of Mar Bella Beach, but it’s meaningless without your mojo.

And the beautiful naked things around you only agitate a rising insecurity and lack of confidence that you could brush off surrounded by the pink bodies of Paignton, but here, with the beautiful people, insecurity disguised as self loathing creeps in like a bad smell so when I go to the studio tuesday I cant do anything.

I don’t know what to paint nor have the courage to start, so in strange surroundings of a new studio I listen to a song that sings “I had it all” and I miss my studio, and I scrabble and wrangle and slightly panic and then I do what I know. As Graham said to me a long time ago when I was stuck ‘why don’t you do a standing figure?’ knowing that as soon as the clay was in my hands and a form under way someone would come out, and she has.

mojo also means …. a Cuban sauce or marinade containing garlic, olive oil, and sour oranges.