We’re so over skirting boards!

Over night, the picture fairies came in and magically hung my paintings on the vacant wall. Where I had nothing to attach them to, the means of attachment appeared; and where dizzying heights would have dizzied me off the ladder, a sure-footed goat of a helper hung two paintings by barely visible fishing line. Some others had to sit this round out but they’re in a drawer nearby and, like the burglar’s mate, I can spring them any time.

I’ll most likely be there 11-2 on the 28th-30th and 4th-5th, with the very experienced Caroline and Andie picking up in the afternoons – their work is on the other walls.

If you spotted that absolutely beautiful clock in the first picture above – well that tells you what the room is like. The rest of Sakala? Full of parasols, wraps, skirts, tops, bits, bobs, and trinkets in the most vibrant colours you can imagine. I won’t get out of there without at least one thing I never knew I needed, and that will be every day!

How many paintings can a painting propper prop ..?

As many as there are skirting boards in a room!

I was ill-equipped, it turned out, to hang the kinds of paintings I’d taken. I’ll have several yards of transparent thread and a roadie who’s good on ladders next time.

Propping works though. It has an air of the Left Bank – laissez faire with a hint of Disques Bleu and an inscrutable shrug.

There are some more to come, but for now I give you – Strayfish Arts at Sakala, on the art trail with Caroline Darke and Andie Armstrong*:

Steyning Arts Trail; August 28th – 30th and September 4th – 5th. Free shrug unless I’m holding a coffee.

*Yes, from Sky Arts Portrait Artist series, that one! Jamie Ampleforth, another Steyning Sky Arts Portrait Artist contender is at venue 2, Church Cottage, Vicarage Lane.

Strayfish Arts on the trail

Sometimes you just have to give paint and water the day off to play together. Left to get on with it, these have made some fine little labels and business cards in earth and sky colours. All very abstract although I’m sure I saw a rabbit in one of them!

Now, remember those rubber stamp printers where you fiddled around picking up individual letters or numbers with a pair of eyebrow tweezers and stuck them in rows on a little platform to make an address? Well I need the 21st century version of that!

#labels #businesscards #handmade #homemade #steyningarts #arttrail #sakalasussex

Steyning Arts Trail – what else is coming to Sakala!

I did some more unwrapping today. This piece was part of the batch I unwrapped a couple of days ago but which had somehow wangled a trip out in the van and made a bid for freedom!

It’s the very divvil to photograph because it’s under glass so you get the whole kitchen in there as well and that really is NOT in the painting. Part paint, part collage, this is acrylics on paper mounted and framed. Definitely best seen in person! Red frame though …

Approx 26″ x 19″ mounted and framed.

Steyning Arts is never too posh for cats! This is based on a photo of one of mine.

Acrylics on canvas. 14″ x 18″

I found this remarkable woman during a search for faces when, as part of the course, I was required to make a portrait and I was heartily sick of painting my own face. The photo was black and white and uncredited.

Acrylics on canvas. 14″ x 18″.

There’s a long tradition of men painting naked women, sometimes in the company of clothed men. Degas didn’t do that so much but he did hang out backstage around young girls – the Petit Rats as they were called – and painted very many of them. This painting is based on (‘after’, as they say) his ‘Woman on a Balcony’. She is quite haughty and may have been a person of importance, unlikely to strip off for an artist. My young woman though is giving the artist the side-eye, I doubt he’d risk any unpainterly moves.

A painting within a painting; acrylics on canvas. 14″ x 18″.

Next – the box with the smaller stuff in it!

Strayfisharts at Sakala, Steyning Art Trail August 28th – 30th and September 4th – 5th. Sakala is also normally open every day.

Strayfish Arts at Sakala!

I’m so pleased to be exhibiting at Sakala in Steyning High street. I knew this shop when it was barely more than a cupboard in Cobblestones and when my sister saw a photo of it, she wanted to move in. Everything is directly sourced and the makers paid properly for their work; this is where buying local means buying from local communities of small scale makers, often women, helping them out of poverty. Take a look at their Instagram account and prepare to be swamped by colour!

I said earlier that I’d be taking mostly small pieces, the kind you can carry home under one arm or slip in a shopping bag, but I might have a couple of bigger pieces hot off the easel by the time we get to the end of August. Those would be unframed and a bit unwieldy in a half-decent breeze so you’d probably need transport.

Trail dates are August 28th – 30th and the 4th and 5th of September although Sakala is open during regular shop hours too. Hope to see you soon, COVID, as ever, permitting!

Literary artiness

fat mo cover7Some of the prints on sale at The Basement are from my book, Not Being First Fish, which is on sale at Steyning Bookshop. Also on sale there is Fat Mo, the cover of which I painted at school when I was about seventeen. I’ve manipulated the colour in Paintshop Pro and added the text (obviously, or that would have been well prescient!) Fat Mo is alternatively available from here where all the revenue goes to a charity, Respond, that supports adults with learning (intellectual) disabilities who’ve experience sexual abuse and exploitation. As you might imagine, Fat Mo is not a cheery read; First Fish though – different kettle. Here’s a snip:

sheep2painted

 Glastonbury, Meteorology, and Shouting at Swans

Saturday and I’d spent most of the morning keeping an eye on the weather as we had been promised our seasonal blend of sun, showers and thunder storms and, finally judging it safe to head for the fields without a wetsuit, I strapped the dogs into their harnesses and hit the road. Naturally, as soon as we arrived at a wide open space devoid of any cover, the sky assumed the quality of the inside of a biscuit tin and the rain came down in stair rods, thereby putting paid to any chance of a future career as either a psychic or meteorologist. On reflection though, the latter may not be entirely out of the question as, in 1987, Michael Fish famously dismissed the approach of the hurricane that flattened most of the south east and left me with somebody else’s shed in my garden and a bemused looking sheep outside my garage. That kind of meteorology I can manage.

Of course, the biggest clue to forthcoming weather conditions is the open air music festival calendar and this week it’s Glastonbury where the mud is traditionally at chest level and after about half an hour nobody knows what gender anyone else is because of the layers of variously baked on and reapplied primeval loam. Liberally mixed with E.coli and various exotic herbs, this stuff is guaranteed to expand the minds of sleep deprived and over-indulged punters or at the very least peel off a few layers of alimentary epithelials and chuck them over the fence into next door’s tent.

There’s something remarkably special about Glasto; it’s not polished, it’s not slick – well it is if you’re up to your fundamentals in sludge and you take a run at something – it’s raw and intimate, personal and communal. Back in the day when I was spritely enough to leap about in a field with several thousand other people to a band of unwashed youths at a headline gig rather than sofa-bopping in front of the telly, there weren’t any such shindigs to go to. Hendrix pretty much started it at the Isle of Wight, and Glastonbury followed with a hippy, folksy, medieval fayre event that got entirely upstaged by Hendrix himself who’d had the bad grace to pop his clogs twenty four hours earlier. These days we have multi-acre swamps for the hardy young creatures of the twenty-first century who are willing to queue in the rain for the privilege of taking a leak in an oversubscribed and thoroughly dispiriting portaloo. Probably the wacky baccy and litres of Stella Artois go some way to knocking the edge off that particular experience while, curiously enough, enhancing the rest.

Back in the fields, there is a bit of a ruckus going on up ahead. Apparently, a large swan in an ugly mood is attacking another that has got in the way of him and his mate who is sailing majestically down-river with her flotilla of tiny cygnets. People on either side of the river are doing what people do when two large entities start slugging it out – they are standing back and shouting ‘Oi!’ One group is smiling; they think the birds are mating. We give them a country look as we pass by; ‘stoopid townies’ it says. It’s Saturday.

I’ll be taking copies of First Fish to my pitch on the art trail, along with some cards and prints from the book. Mo, you’ll be relieved to hear, will be sitting out that gig.

Steyning Arts trail

img_2769I’ve a feeling this month is going to zip by at a rate of knots, like that time between October when Christmas is forever away and December 24th when you realise a black hole ate all of autumn. I’m pulling together my bits and bobs; paintings, prints, cards, and arty sundries, for my pitch at Jill’s in Beeding. There’ll be sheep, brooding landscapes, some things with Tin Pots Hill on them, and a ‘Winter is Coming’ snow globe because obviously. Also cats, there’s always cats.

Steyning Arts trail – where to find trail guides

arts trailThese are the fab folk in Beeding and Bramber who are hosting our trail guide this year:

Beeding

Beeding News, High Street (river end) Upper Beeding – leaflet, natter, papers, eggs, bread, magazines, and a cross-dressing gorilla.

The Beauty Box, opposite Beeding News – leaflet, nails, and new eyebrows depending on if you fall asleep in the chair or not.

Jayze Barbers, next door to the Beauty Box – leaflet, bloke talk, and exactly what you came in for on your head.

The Pharmacy and Store, just down from the newsagent – leaflet, hair colour, an ointment of some sort, and a bottle of milk.

The Kings Head, along the High Street from the Pharmacy – leaflet, beer, beer, and did I mention beer?

The Hub, cross the road from the Kings Head, mosey on up Church Street and it’s on the right – leaflet, carrot cake, coffee, and many many smiley people.

Khushbu, between the Beauty Box and Church Lane – leaflet, takeaways, and a chance to sit on a big leather sofa like a boss.

Beeding and Bramber Village Hall, – leaflet, craft fairs, yoga, line dancing, and BYOB 40th birthday parties.

Beeding Surgery, a bungalow next to the Village Hall – leaflet, doctors, vampire nurses, and something to take to the pharmacy at the other end of the street.

The Rising Sun (or the Riser, if you’re in with the in-crowd), along the High street, right to the end after Beeding’s Bungalow Surgery and it’s on the roundabout. Well, not actually on it, obviously – leaflet, beer, brain strain quizzes, and beans.

The Towers, a school for girls up the road from the Riser towards Henfield and on the left. It has towers. Leaflet, educational education, and fun nuns.

Back along the High Street turning right up Hyde lane, there’s Hyde Square and more leaflet hosts.

Handsome Hounds – leaflet, get your pooch primped, come out with a glittery collar that doesn’t fit either the dog or you but it’s lovely.

iMendLtd – leaflet, sort out your scratched screen, speak words you read in a manual but don’t understand, get your PC back working perfectly.

Studio 44 – leaflet, glam, more glam, and also glam.

Blue Sea Fish and Chips – leaflet, chips, fish, chips and fish, probably featuring vinegar.

St Peter’s Church and Gladys Bevan Hall, along up Hyde/Pound Lane, left along Deacons Way and off up the top end of Church Lane to the um church. Leaflet, vicar, parties, and a very big tree.

In Bramber

The Castle Inn Hotel – leaflet, pub stuff, garden, and more parties. We like parties.

The Maharajah – leaflet, classy Indian food, takeaways and also sit-ins (no, not that sort).

The Old Tollgate – leaflet, yet another pub and food haven, very posh parties.

Text in red means we haven’t dropped off yet. We’ll try again soon, maybe take one of those police battering rams just in case.

Disclaimer: in case of complaints, all text as written is mine and nothing to do with Steyning Arts, its members or committees.