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Landmarks & Milestones: A Painter’s Progress

5-29 October 2015 • The Castle, Wellingborough NN8 1XA

Our lives follow a meandering path, taking us in different and unexpected directions. This retrospective exhibition is an opportunity to reflect upon a painting career that has incorporated a variety of subjects and activities, with dramatic changes in scale.

From early formative works through to more recent painted and drawn images, it also includes examples of monumental mural paintings, a recurring feature of the artist’s output since 1977.

My painting is me
A kind of biography
Written in pictures

Landmarks & Milestones: A Painter’s Progress
5-29 October 2015
Exhibition Wall & Gallery
The Castle, Castle Way, Wellingborough NN8 1XA
01933 229022

Oh, Vienna

An ongoing memento……..

In Graben

A beautiful voice
Singing in a crowded street
With dark, closed, blind eyes

Time stilled, lost in song
Ignored by walking talkers
– but not by us        25.7.08

Behind the Iron Curtain in Leningrad & Moscow

April 1986

Witnessing a world
Behind an Iron Curtain
Shutters shut. Blinds down

Entrance permitted
But with movements restricted
Suspicion abounds

Cold, grey, colourless
Monochrome. Sepiatone
Spectrum hand-me-down


A first impression of Russia – Welcome to Leningrad

Late night arrival
Black sky, glist’ning snow – floodlights
A chill in the air

Airport reception
Machine guns cocked and ready
Soldiers unsmiling

Stationary line
Of frustrated travellers
At Passport Control

Eyes penetrating
Passport details scrutinised

Stationary line
Of frustrated travellers
At Customs Control

Eyes penetrating
Jew’ll’ry, books, pers’nal effects
Assessed, judged, counted

Bemused collection
Of frustrated travellers
At Baggage Control

Facing ‘Bag Mountain’
An ‘Everest’ of luggage
– No conveyor belt

Reprieved from Death Row
A rustbucket miracle
Is disguised as a bus

Smoking and rattling
A journey-worn veteran
Days numbered for years

First journey. First sights
Of Communist East foreground
From my West background

Comparisons galore
No neon ads, no traffic!
A city asleep

A tongue that’s unknown
A Cyrillic alphabet
What will daylight bring?

Destination reached
Hotel Mokba, Nevsky Prospekt
Our home for 3 days

Huge classic landmark
5 star decaying elegance
– That will do nicely


Pockmarked and wartorn
Damp and cold, black, white and grey
Still shows its scars

It’s ‘lived in’ and ‘worn’
History everywhere
Embedded in stone


Don Quixote

Energy. Poise. Grace
Stunning new experience
Ballet at Kirov


While waiting in queues
On escalators, buses
People reading books


Travelling underground
Deep within the permafrost
L O N G escalator!!!


Leningrad contrasts
City of Revolution
And of culture too

Peter, Catherine
Decembrists and Bolsheviks
Revolt, Purge and Siege

Kirov’s Nijinsky
Nureyev and Pavlova
Hermitage treasures
Neva’s Aurora
Island Fortress, Palace, Square
Smolny, Finland Station

Lenin, Shostakovich
Intellectual achievement
Politics/Art entwined

Surviving Revolution,
Turmoil, War and Fear

-but no sink plugs anywhere!


Join one queue for food
Then another one to pay
One more to collect


An overnight train
From Leningrad to Moscow
Now that should be fun!

A landscape passing
Seen through open train window
I’ll only see once

A shared compartment
With two snoring baritones
– They both slept soundly


Palatial platforms
With crystal chandeliers
A décor unique

Underground surprise
Sheer charm, splendour and beauty
Of Moscow Metro



Big disappointment
Restricted view. Heard not seen
At Bolshoi Ballet


Turning back the clock
Time frozen in the twenties
Or earlier still

And this is Moscow!
A shopping experience
At GUM by Red Square


Not exactly Red
Nor is it exactly Square
But Red Square it is

A very long line
Of quiet shuffling people
Queueing for Lenin


A symbol of hope
Bravery and achievement
– Cosmos monument


Romeo & Juliet

Musical mastery
Expressive choreography
Sheer brilliance


Moscow’s beating heart
Walled city in walled city
This is the Kremlin


Hammer and sickle
A statue of unity
Worker and farmer

A true life doctrine?
All for one, and one for all?
Or propaganda?

Roman Holiday

27.12.02 – 3.1.03

Like Hepburn and Peck
It’s our ‘Roman Holiday’
Second honeymoon trek!


Speaking with gestures
And an operatic tongue
– Italiano!


Time to do nothing
It’s ‘dolce far niente’
– Delicious idleness!

Rome Kerb Drill

Firstly, find a Nun
Wait close by her right hand side
Don’t cross till she’s begun!


Fast cars, horns blaring
Look left, right and left again
Then walk, not caring!


Eternal city
Filled with ghosts of Old Masters
Living history

Raphael, Bernini
MichelAngelo, Caravaggio
– Waiting in shadows



Theatre of Blood
Sinister killing machine
A dark Colossus

Jawdropping structure
Architectural marvel
Wonder of the world!


In crumpled blankets
Wretched shop doorway creatures
Sleeping motionless


A dreadful demise
Pitiful rag bag on crutches
Soulful, begging cries


Normal holiday refrain
Stair rods bouncing off our brain
We’re three drowned rats again


Brellymen calling
Street seller entrepreneurs
Touting for business

Brellies? Dark glasses?
Stocked for fine and wet weather
And hedging their bets


Bocca della Verita

Honesty and Truth
Open mouth or Drain cover?
One reply required


A sidestreet café
Strong Espresso or Latté
Revival assured


Trevi Fountain

Eyes bright, bulbs flashing
Excited screams, throatlashing
Smiles beam, 3 coins splashing!


Greeting the New Year on the Ponte Sisto

Dark canvas with pearls
Fleeting moments of beauty
Fireworks at midnight


With a shaking voice
Frail figure at a window
Speaking to the world     1.1.04


A Face at the Window

A figure in white
Trembling voice, a shaking head
A New Year message     1.1.04


Taste explosion!
Such a different texture!
Not ice cream – Gelati!


Visiting the Vatican Museums

Waiting with patience
Shuffling snake of umbrellas
Queueing in silence


The Sistine Chapel
Head back. Eyes wide. Mouth open.
No words needed!


Living museum
An unrivalled collection
Where treasures abound

Paintings and Sculpture
Architectural glories
History on tap!

Danger! I’m drowning
A cultural overload
So much to swallow!


Penetrating eyes
A calm, confident posture
Pope Innocent X


Pantheon pigeons
Hungry low flying sky rats
Tormenting tourists


By 26 Piazza di Spagna – John Keats’ last home

Strangers at sunset
Sauntering spectators
Chill on Spanish Steps


Rome still casts its spell
A group of teenage students
Enter their hotel

Adored and admired
Another generation
Impressed and inspired

Catching Breath in Venice

8 – 10.1.06

Learning from a Master

A daunting prospect
Following giant footsteps
And reputation

Walking in a dream
And looking through Turner’s eyes
With captivation


Drowning in adjectives!

Majestic, ethereal

Mystical, sensational


Looking back at Canaletto

They’re inaccurate
But entirely convincing.
Paintings come alive!

Walking in oil paint!
Canaletto’s vedute!
Can’t believe my eyes!


Spellbound, overwhelmed
Eyes filled and spilling over
A life’s wish come true


Travel Notebook

Scribbled distortions
Inaccurate proportions
Mental absorptions


Time frozen
In a Blue Lagoon
– It’s Venice!


Ink black pond skaters
Floating matchstick silhouettes
Crossing a mirror


Déjà vu? Perhaps
A second coming? Maybe
I’ve been here before

With Canaletto
In magnificent Turners
Many others too

It’s not a stranger
No introduction needed
A friend already


My notebook practice
‘Edit the inessential’
Not easy at all

Not drawing
Just ‘scaraboti’
Dash. Dot. Scrawl


Bridge of Sighs

How to bridge the gap
Between site and studio.
Turner did. Can I?

Epping Forest

Corporation of London Christmas Card Commission  2001 & 02

Centuries of leaves
In a cathedral of trees
Carpeted with breeze


Alone in a crowd
Light dim. A face peers out
From a crumpled skin


Ticker tape welcome
Confetti fluttering like
Pennies from Heaven


Rockin’ and Rollin’
Arms raised, Hallelujah’in
Tall, time-worn trees talkin’


Time-worn veteran
A portrait of life etched deep
In wooden wrinkles


Family clusters
Small processions of figures
Regal, triumphant


A shower of sunlight
Tall canopy filtering
Sun streaked whisp’ring winds


Faces emerging
A woodland Nativity
In pollarded trees


Leaf fall glittering
Autumn sunlight flickering
Black crows bickering


Cascading deadfall
A jackpot of leaf pennies
A blanket of gold

    Haze. Sleep. Dream. Nightmare
    Suddenly. Without warning
    Prostrate. Hanging on

    A deep rooted pain
    Aggressive and insistent
    And out of this world

    Air gasped through gritted teeth
    Ribs crushed tight in hot barbed wire
    I refused to leave

    The other side called
    I almost lost ev’rything
    But wouldn’t let go

    My spirit tested
    But Black Sunday came too soon
    – I wasn’t ready

On 21st November 2010 I suddenly found myself lying on my living room floor, tied up with red hot barbed wire crushing my chest like a garotte. At least, that’s what it felt like. I was fighting for every breath in excruciating pain, the like of which I’ve never experienced before nor ever want to again. When asked its strength on a scale of 1 to 10 by a paramedic, I replied “89!!!” – to have simply replied “10” would have been far too tame, this was well off the scale. I haven’t the faintest idea how long I had been on the floor, all I can remember is how hard I had to concentrate on dealing with the pain and trying to breathe – and the realisation that my wife Henri had saved my life. I was in shock, confused, and hanging on by my fingernails until the second injection of morphine kicked in. From nowhere, and without warning, I felt my end had come and the only thought in my head was about staying alive. It was a nightmare, and I wanted to wake up. Unfortunately the nightmare was reality, I had to accept that it really was me in that desperate position. I thought I had a heavy cold coming on, instead it was pneumonia and pleurisy, and when I arrived at hospital the x-ray showed I had only one lung working. I developed other complications too, and was in hospital for 23 days. When I left I felt I’d entered another world. The reflection in the mirror was changed, winter had arrived, everywhere was covered with snow and the price of petrol had shot up by 15p a litre!


Now, twelve months later, to describe this event as life changing would be too predictable and melodramatic. Nevertheless it’s certainly given me food for thought. What happened that day turned my world upside down. There has been plenty of time for reflection, contemplation, rumination, deliberation, consideration, meditation, and frustration – but most of all, the last twelve months has been about recovery, and starting again. It’s been a very strange year, and a long one, but at the same time it’s passed in the wink of an eye. Life can be like that sometimes.

    From out of nowhere
    Something came to collect me
    The choice wasn’t mine

    Parcelled up in pain
    Unsure of destination
    Bound, weighed and measured

    For Delivery?
    For Recycling? Or Disposal
    Promised land? Or Dump!

    But winged ‘Postman’,
    Celestial ‘Bin man’ or
    ‘Courier’ no-showed

    With address unknown
    I was returned to sender
    For collection later


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