Monday, 29 September 2014

Timely poem by W.B. Yeats


    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Perth racecourse

Parade ring
Parade ring
The exciting bit

After the race

Hosing down after the race
PS  Would you believe this seems to be HORSEHAIR mulching this ornamental pot?

I braved the Ryder Cup traffic today and drove up to the last race meeting of the season at Perth Racecourse.  My reason was to do some drawing, but it turned out to be the most relaxing experience I have had for quite some time.  Everyone seemed to be completely enjoying themselves and I joined in effortlessly.  The weather was perfect, and Perth is a small course, so you can get to see the parade ring and the unsaddling enclosure, right up close and personal.  There were so many scenes of people just happily hanging out that I felt the need to brush up my people-drawing skills!  It was so different to be there for real rather than watching on TV or reading about it in the paper.

The action moves along seamlessly, from parade ring to horses going down to the start,
following the race on screen, and then everyone surges back to paddock to watch the unsaddling ritual.   I was so impressed by the riders, very tough, very fit and very brave to do this (over jumps) day in day out - AND they vault onto the horse while it is walking along in the paddock, no need for a leg-up.  And the horses are magnificent athletes too, tuned to the minute.  

Great day, Perth.  I will be back.  I did do some drawing, but as sometimes happens just got too carried away by the action. Next time...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

What you can make with plums...

A big prize for guessing what this is.  Victoria plums turned into a rolled-out form - look like thin sheets of smoked salmon.  No I had never heard of such a thing before either, but when the plums keep on coming you have to think up new ideas and this is what a friend came up with. Something to do with adding a little honey and baking overnight.

Sunday after the referendum

Cycling out in Scottish Central farmland on Sunday evening:)

Falkirk ladies

New tattoo parlour in Falkirk brightened my day!

Clydesdale mare and foal - quick sketches

Beautiful Clydesdale mare and foal posed for me yesterday

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Good omen for the exhibition

Last week I was in a local town to look at a possible exhibition space.  It was a cool dreich Saturday morning.  I found the venue and had a look at it.  On the way back this little still-life jumped out at me.  It is a damp patch on the pavement outside a local hall, and they were preparing for a wedding later that day.  A little piece of decoration or confetti had falled amongst the autumn leaves on the pavement.  I liked it.  I snapped it.  I suddenly thought "it's time to start my blog again".

And the exhibition is booked for April 2016.  More news about this nearer the time, but I am planning to do some architectural drawings. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

A Most Wanted Man

Philip Seymour Hoffman in "A Man Most Wanted"

This film started slowly and from the first crucial frame I thought "this is not going to be a visual film".  But it did turn out to be a great character study and spy thriller, based on the book by John Le Carre.  It was set in Hamburg, where the security forces are super-sensitive, and centred on a young asylum seeker from Chechnya whose every move was being charted with suspicion by spy networks, including the CIA and the group run by Hoffman's character. 

Hoffman played Gunther Bachmann as  the archetypical Le Carre spy -  a weary, stressed-out, chain smoking, hard drinking and unscrupulous man with a moral agenda.  Philip Seymour Hoffman, who tragically died earlier this year from a suspected drug overdose,  gave a wonderfully powerful, moving and subtle performance just like the master actor he was.  Thank you Hoffman for delving so deep into the character and giving such a truthful performance. 

Good too for Le Carre to write another book about issues in the contemporary world.  

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Winner of Drawing Prize at Society of Equestrian Artists exhibition

"Tang Horse"  Diana Hand  charcoal on paper 2014

Big thrill when the Secretary of the Society of Equestrian Artists e mailed me to say I had won the drawing prize at the Horse in Art exhibition in the Mall Gallery earlier this month.  I am especially pleased because I like this drawing.  The idea came from a ceramic horse (Tang era -  618-907 AD) I saw in a museum in Xian, China a year ago.  I really like the  power and vitality of the horse,  and its informality, with the rug slung casually over the saddle.


Constable: A Country Rebel


Alistair Sooke has been profiling the nineteenth-century English painter, John Constable in this recent programme.  Much of the info was biographical and included the story of how little Constable was accepted as an artist during his life and his personal struggles in  marrying his wife against her family's wishes, and losing her to illness at an early age.  Although he is associated with his famous paintings of the Stour valley in Suffolk, he lived in London and, unexpectedly, Brighton, later in his life.  

While in Brighton he met the famous scientist Faraday and became friendly with him.  Constable maintained that painting was a science, and he related more to scientists such as Faraday than he did to fellow artists.  His cloud studies were revolutionary in their close and realistic examination, and his clear vision of landscape predated the Impressionists half a century later.

Although he was scientific in his approach, he also famously said that "painting is another word for feeling" and I would say this is true of drawing and other kinds of art as well.  Later in his life he painted great numbers of canvases and his brushwork become simpler and more powerful.  Sooke suggests that he was increasingly painting his emotional truth and the "psychodrama in his head".  Many artists find this power and simplicity later in life.  I think of Titian and Matisse, just off the top of my head.

Sooke presented a very human portrait of Constable and also gave insight into his art.  During his lifetime he was celebrated in France, but never in England.