Tuesday, 10 September 2013

No news is good news

About a year ago I held an exhibition because I was angry.

Five years previously, a group of young men with the strength of adults and the judgement of spiteful children beat up a 'mosher' for no reason other than to exercise their aggression.
When his girlfriend intervened, they turned on her and killed her.
In their minds they were entitled to single out victims for recreational violence, and anyone who got in their way invited the same treatment.

It made me angry then, and it still makes me angry now, mainly because I'm powerless to do anything about it.

Painting a few pictures, raising a few quid for the charity, inviting people to think about it comes a poor second to the significance of what happened.

For those close to Sophie Lancaster, that moment will walk one step behind them for the rest of their lives.

Fast forward six years to the Harbourside Festival in sunny Bristol.

We all meet up and have the sort of day that you'd expect.
A mixture of young and old, youthful exuberance and grown ups being daft; music and beer and telling people whose names you can't remember that you love them  ( "but not in a funny way..." ).

We all go our separate ways, but later on two of our group walk into trouble.

It's the usual depressingly familiar scene of hate fuelled violence.
Ugly, relentless and dangerously out of control, the victim incapable of offering resistance.

By intervening, the son of our family friend broke the flow of the attack but in doing so made himself the target.

He wound up with a few bruises and a chipped tooth, but he'd defused the moment enough for others to assist, for the violence to fade, for help to arrive.

It's entirely possible he saved a young man's life.

He's off to uni now, his future bright, his smile restored thanks to the wonders of modern dentistry and his cheerful enthusiasm undiminished.

There's no headlines in the paper, no Daily Mail tub thumping about "Broken Britain Ruled By Thugs", no bedside vigil, no need for charity fundraising, no moment when the clock stopped.

There's nothing to report.

And that's as good a reason as I can think of for painting someones portrait.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Fairy Nuff

When I was knee high to next door's dog I used to pull my toy soldiers, knights, zoo animals, farm vehicles and tanks to pieces, chuck them in the toy box, pull the components out randomly and make weird, hybrid creatures out of them.

I think my favourite was a cow with a gun turret that towed a caravan.

I also wore a deerstalker hat and a tie with the Taj Mahal on it, but that's for another time.

The end result is that I get terribly, childishly, even ecstatically excited when I find myself in one of those fancy reclamation places that sell bits of old toilets and stuffed squirrels.
The last one I encountered had everything a ten year old could want, including swords, a Russian T34 tank (running order, road tax exempt) a Cruise missile (honest! no warhead though) and the clock from Crewe station.
In fairness, I was never your average ten year old.

I inevitably come home with 'stuff that will come in handy one day', which in the past has included the back of a broken chair which I was sure had potential.

So when a Designer Chum of mine offered to do a swapsy of a portrait of her daughter for a leaflet design I had the frame sorted already.

Not so bonkers after all then....

Apart from that, it's been business as usual.
I spent an amazing afternoon with two incredible belly dancers which has provided plenty of material for the next round of paintings ( sketches as shown ).
These are, hopefully, going to be a lot looser and dynamic, ( the paintings, not the dancers, wash yer minds out ), as fits both the style of dancing and my desire to get a bit more life into the paintings.

And finally, the very beginnings of a portrait of an exceptional guy whose story is worth telling, and whose portrait is most definitely worth painting.
Pretty obvious it's early days on this one, but when it's done I'll tell his story, make his mum proud and embarrass the living marsbars out of him.

Still, at least he's not wearing a deerstalker.