Monday, 25 January 2010

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard is a French director who was part of the Nouvelle Vague with Francois Truffaut in the sixties. This evening I've been watching film clips and I came across this lovely one from Bande a Part.

It reminds me a lot of Truffaut's Jules et Jim - the omniscient narrator that tells you what each character is thinking intimately and succinctly, the characters engaging in obvious symbolic acts, and the love triangle. In particular there's this scene where the two men, Jules et Jim, race Catherine, the woman they both love, down a bridge. Catherine cheats and wins. Women cheat and win in quite a few new wave films actually...

I would really like to learn that dance.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Prized wax jonquils

Thief, give me back my prized wax jonquils.
Sixty zippers were quickly picked from the woven jute bag.
Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog: graphic designers, get some variety in your lives. More sentences with all 26 letters in for trying out typefaces.

Galen R. Frysinger

Today I found the most amazing website. Galen R. Frysinger is a retired scientist whose field is now 'comparable ethnography'. He has been travelling the world for a long time. His website is bizarrely amateur, with word art and 90s graphics and sound effects: but do not let this put you off. His photos are incredible, there is an unbelievable amount of them from every possible place in the world. It's somehow so much more interesting than looking through a glossy photography book. You can click on the continent - then pick the country - then even the area - and there is a long long long page of photos. They feel personal.

My personal favourites are
Whaling in Georgia
Ghost towns in Kansas
Icebergs in Iceland
Saint Pierre

You could spend hours delving into this. Amazing.
The pictures above are taken from his website, I hope he doesn't mind.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


This is Bayerisch Eisenstein train station. Half of it is in the Czech Republic, and the other half is in Germany. Different trains, different numbers, different lamposts, bins, guards. I stood in the middle of the platform and turned to each side to take these photos this summer. The first picture is outside the station, the fancy paving is Germany and the plain is the Czech side. Mad.

Saturday, 16 January 2010


I have to say I think Trocadero is one of the weirdest places I've ever been. It's a multi-floor kind of...entertainment centre I think. It's got a bowling alley, cinema, little shops, food places, amusement arcade. Which is all very well and normal. But it is the way they've been spliced together which is so unsettling. Big purple arched escalators bordering an indoor trampoline, dead areas of grey tiling that seem to have been forgotten about, pink Hello Kitty stalls in the walkways, and the cacophany of slot machines, toy grabbers, coin pushers. Why do people choose to spend their leisure time here rather than a park? Which brought me to thinking, on the train home, about shopping.

Why people shop?
Why do I go to a gallery shop before the gallery itself?
Are there different motivations between a country gentleman at Sotheby's and a teenager at Primark?
Why do people buy things they already have?
And where is the point at which shopping shifts from chore to enjoyment - is pushing the trolley from the vegetable aisle to George clothing?

These questions will form the basis of my self directed drawing project. Sort of a behavioural study. This week we watched part of The Dinosaur and the Baby, a dialogue between Fritz Lang and Jean-Luc Godard. In it, Fritz Lang said that to be a director you have to be a psychoanalyst: you have to know why the character does what they do, and what he will do next. I think this applies very much to drawing, and what I am doing. Drawing is a way of understanding things.

I'm really excited about this, and I'm going to keep posting about it as I go along.

A rainy day's drawing

Thursday was location drawing, and I had a lovely day wandering around in the rain. Trafalgar Square, Chinatown, Theatreland, Piccadilly Circus, and Trocadero (more on which later). It was the first time on location drawing that I stopped worrying about making good drawings and planning them, and just made a big mess. These are inky. And the rain makes such nice speckles in the ink! I really enjoyed it.

Sorry about the image quality, I'm going to start scanning things in at uni instead.

Sunday, 10 January 2010


I now have an external hard drive so now I'm back in Kingston with all my old photos, it's so nice to have it all with me. These photos are from Switzerland in 2006: beautiful.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

I have fallen a long way

An aside to yesterday's post: last year's Christmas project was on the subject of Tradition. My final piece is this sampler using an excerpt from Sylvia Plath's Moon and the Yew Tree. I've always been quite interested in needlework and crafts, but never really put it into practice - I'm not sure if I have the patience. I saw making this sampler as a traditional skill, but the words are not twee sampler fare, though they are beautiful. I thought about it as the creation of a typeface, too. I love type. I love type so much I decided halfway through that the square O's I'd been sewing were ugly, and I unpicked it and did it all again using diagonals. It took a very long time, and I watched the French film Cous Cous while I did it. I didn't enjoy Cous Cous very much - it had some very good scenes, like a ten minute long belly dance, but I found the ending unfulfilling. Films and books that just cut leaving the story untold, or any uncertainty about what will happen next, leave me feeling very unsatisfied.

Friday, 1 January 2010

The Moon and the Yew Tree

The Moon and the Yew Tree

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place.
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky ----
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up, it has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness ----
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars
Inside the church, the saints will all be blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness -- blackness and silence

Sylvia Plath

That is the moon tonight, on the 1st of January 2010, as I painted it from my window. Yesterday was full moon. It was a true blue moon: the second full moon in a month. The last time it fell on New Year's Eve was 1990.

That poem is the first thing I ever illustrated. I had a book of poems for children by Carol Ann Duffy, Meeting Midnight, and the illustrations were - not necessarily attractive to me but so evocative and captivating. They are so full of life, that is what I wanted to make. So I read this beautiful Sylvia Plath poem, and closed my eyes, and drew a body, falling. Saints in blue oil pastel hovering, and an ugly yew and powerful moon.

Happy New Year everyone, enjoy the binary date.