A reluctant tenant …

Want less, do more.

The wind tickles the trees now, the energy in the wind has gone and I sit quiet within ancient walls. The valley is sunday silent and I wonder why I always want to complicate things. The problem lies in ambition. The problem lies in wanting to settle, in wanting permanence.

I am just a visitor to this place of oak structures, of piles of stones pulled by gravity, of secret still ponds wrapped by white flowers in lowlands and wild winds roaring through trees in uplands. Temporary is my time in the colours of spring. Maybe I will see only one low summer’s stream trickle over red rocks.

I have difficulty living in the present without a care for the future. Maybe I am more of a homemaker than a nomad, I want to be cool and appreciate our time here and I tell myself constantly that the temporary nature of a tenancy can be a freedom not an anxiety. Yes I love it so much, and everyday I am here it gets stronger and deeper, something of the ancient seems to seep in from the structures and the land but to try and own this would mean chaos and pressure and distraction, not freedom.

And I am a sculptor.

And we have this place until the spring and maybe longer and after that we may find something else. We may even find something less ambitious to buy and make our own.  Just appreciate time, space and nature for what it is …it doesn’t have to be owned, it doesn’t have to be ‘a project’, it doesn’t have to be ‘a painting’  you can just look and love.

And then go home and make sculpture.


I have always felt insecure about painting from memory tainted by imagination, the picture of Graham and I on the hill was done from a feeling, from memory of colour and space. If I had the courage and the talent to do more I would as its something else, a path to being a painter possibly. I like to stick to reality as even that gets pretty intense when you start to let colour in.

It was painted in Barcelona  about the time of doing the ‘Imaginary Sculpture’ painting, I am going to keep at as my memory of our trips up the hill after work, a couple of tinies and some crisps and we would sit and stare at the light changing colour. The disk in the sky is the moon.  I wrote in my sketchbook then

“we are up north now, and Graham thinks too suburban which is true, it does feel a long way from ‘town’, it’s next to Sant Pau and Sagrada Familia of which both we can see from the terrace. The terrace is why we are here, it was imperative actually on our search, while its interesting seeing the non touristy area I think we could have lived without the terrace and kept the park and the promenading*. But as I have said before the grass is not always greener but it is different and different is good sometimes.

Being here makes me appreciate where we were but it also has it’s advantages. Round the back of Sant Pau is park guinardo and I am sitting near the top in evening sun with a warm breeze filtering up through pine, apart from the hub of the city below and the expanse of ocean just beyond it you could be deep in the country and after a day of painting in the attico it feels amazing to be up here.

I feel slightly cautious up here on my open but at this time of night its mostly older people taking their promenade, they just must be a bit fitter up here as its a hell of a hill. There are flats at the bottom and to get to those there is a series of escalators and lifts. Imagine taking an escalator up park street. If park street was here it would have one. Molly’s not allowed on the escalator ( although on monjiuc we did resort to putting our bikes on them, Mid day mad english people biking up the other hill in Barcelona, intact we often find ourselves up a hill**)

I am sitting by the water spout and dogs come and wait by the tap for their owners to press the nozzle. Molly’s not really got to grips with drinking from a tap, I don’t think she correlates drinking with cooling down so her panting and odd wining is louder than the ambulances and city down below. She is wining occasionally as sitting down on walks is not really appropriate.

At the crown of park guinardo is an old settlement and you can see north, south, east and west. Its like another part of Spain altogether, a little village. To me it feels quite warm, it’s actually really comfortable and at 7pm it’s finally cool enough to sit in the sun, but I have seen 3 joggers go past in the time it has taken to write this. I think its time for a beer!

Went to the bar with the terrace and view and watch the city turn from yellow to orange, to pink, to pinky blue, to night.”***

* The attic was painted green and orange and red, it was hot and intense and away from the tourist areas which gave me solitude and maybe while not comfortable, it gave me the space away from the shared studio to experiment. It was further to bike to the studio and for Graham to come and walk Molly at lunchtime so the practicalities dictated that I stayed in the flat and gave me a chance to paint instead.  It provided the kind of atmosphere that is potentially perfect, not to comfortable ( i.e. herefordshire is just too nice, its wild and it may work later but its too ‘known’ too content at the moment ) the Bristol studio is too busy, too much business and too many visitors ( although it does have doors!? ) this was the perfect type of solitude to work, not something I would want to replicate long term but to dip into oneself further now and again to see what comes out is needed. You need the valleys to be able to see from the mountain.

** smile to myself as now we live on one in England

*** Graham arrives hot and panting up the hill on his bicycle at some point within that change of light, we drink cold lager and the owner is enthusiastic and we order too many plates of little fried fish and calamari.


Arnos Vale – Big Green Week






I had deadlines, I had a van coming to collect work, but Molly always needs a walk and with the idea of coming later for poetry that evening, with a fondness for my area of urban, I head up into Arnos Vale, one of the  sanctuaries of Brislington. You can still here the traffic but in parts the bird’s chatter drown it out and when you are looking at the silence of the trees the cars often dissapear. Bristol is European Green Capital 2015 which “gives Bristol a unique opportunity to further enhance the city’s reputation for creativity, culture and innovation. It was awarded due to our ability to demonstrate rapid progress, and continuing ambition, across a wide range of quality of life, environmental and green business aspects”. 
Are these areas of physical green part of that, Bristol is blessed with areas of natural life arguing with each other, clambering over each other to get to the light. We are the same, we are greedy and continually take from nature but sometimes we give back, we have the ability to give back, so thank you to those that did, to those that stood up and saved this place. To those that argued for the dappled light to feed our bones.
That evening I went back to see Helen Moore and Susan Richardson, eco poets. I questioned them of their titles but instead of being shy about their role, they were proud. They had the confidence to say who they were. After the joint performance entitled Green Fire , one of the members of the audience said , ‘you drop hand grenades of poetry’. Yes they were shocking, in a way that only poetry seems able. Their words trickle through you, into your heart, unnoticed, then once in they explode and you are stunned.