Sunday, August 31, 2008

Duke Ellington's Collages & an invitation


I love collaging. Best way to recyle magazines. I always have at least one collage session when I teach the Artist's Way. Its the quickest way to create something unique without the whole hideous 'But I can't even draw a straight line?' nonsense (what makes you think straight lines are interesting anyway ? better to take a line on a long meandering walk).


I was in WordPower Bookshop picking up my copy of Life is a Verb on Thursday when I started to leaf through The Paris Review which had reproductions of Duke Ellington's collages. Not only was he a world class jazz muscian but spent his time decorating his tape boxes (I presume big reel to reels) with his own visual creations.


Which gets me thinking about my post below - is anyone interested in doing a travelling journal illustrated/collaged via 1001 Journals ?

1001 journals project

It has an interview with Danny Gregory. I'd love to start off a journal of drawings again. I've been neglectful of it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

comfort food and comfort reads

Strange day slighly oppresive earlier but hazy now moving into almost an Autumnal feel. But its warm in London I hear on the phone !

I am feeling slightly under the weather so made my favourite comfort food. Roast lamb and roast organic potatoes and veggies from my organic box. With a sprinkling of oil, harissa and rosemary. Followed by apple crumble, I shall now retire to bed in in the pages of O Douglas - John Buchan's lesser known sister. I was talking about her recently which made me pick her up off the shelves and take towards bed.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Cricket on Leith Links.
The weather has warmed up - good to be out tonight at Orkestra Del Sol at the Speigeltent on George Square and it being balmy enough to be sitting outside and dry enough !

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good intentions are the enemy of kindness

You can't do anything with kindness. If you do, it's not kindness anymore, but the imposition of an expectation. Our expectations are implicit judgments that may be hidden to us, but obvious to everyone else. This is a subtle and persistent characteristic of our thoughts and feelings. When we are motivated by our own thoughts and feelings, we give people inducements to think and feel like we do. We want them to be like us. But sharing our egocentric thoughts and feelings is not kind. And believing our egocentric thoughts and feelings is most unkind to ourselves.

more here Moma Zen

I had breakfast here a couple of months ago. Slowly working my way through a to do list this morning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rediscovering books

I'm selling books on Amazon mostly to clear out some space, also my tastes have changed. I've got books that remind me of past lives which aren't really me any more. The good thing is that I've rediscoved a whole load which I'd kind of got lost in the house. So I reread Grace Paley this afternoon, a collection of womens' biographical essays and I'm hunkering down to bell hooks next. I've got to go to the library !

Refound poet David Morley's blog


Edinburgh blue door. I've been becoming fascinated by the painted, peeling, touched up and rubbed surfaces of doors.
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Listed
I made a list of things to do before I start work again next week.
I've managed about one in an hour.... ach all the energy goes into writing them I think !

Monday, August 25, 2008


Hanover St Holga July 08
I'm in such a gloom this suits my mood - even though the skies have cleared and a bit of sun has come out. Must Leave House - Might Impove My Mood.


Cool interview with Linda Woods of Visual Chronicles.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Food porn from Istambul via CassandraPages

"There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other's cooking & say it was good." Storypeople

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I am home. I feel I've been away months. I'm disappointed to find that Edinburgh is still being ripped up for a tramway system (I'd hoped that I'd imagined that nightmare and when I got back it would be all back to normal) and dubious planning developments.

I feel I've been on a very long journey. Ot Azoy ! is a crash course in Yiddish at SOAS in a week. I'm amazed but I feel I've made enormous progress in a week and actually feel I have a chance to actually learn the language. I now realise that the feeling that I had no facility for languages has more to do with the bad way we we taught languages at school than any actual bearing in reality.

Next year there is a three week course in the summer in Paris and I'm terribly tempted to go. All my fellow students were interesting and varied and participants came from all over Europe, Norway, Sweden, Romania, Austria, as well as the UK. My only criticism being that the singing session where this non musical person cheerfully sang Yiddish songs badly and enjoyed it often ran over cutting the possible time to chat to participants from other classes. I found in the evenings my brain kind of fell apart into a sort of dazed fitfulness and so got up at 6am ! to do my hame arbeit with my brain fresh. The last time I got up at 6am to do work was when I wrote my first film script.

It feels right to do this and it makes no sense (many students are learning Yiddish as their grandparents spoke it - mine didn't - it was a total accident that I ended up in a Yiddish class one autumn evening with no idea what to expect).

BUT all the great things I have achieved have had a strong streak of at once feeling right to do and at the same time very illogical and making no sense. We have to listen to the non-sense and follow it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Greetings from the Bloomsbury Shetel

Day three of my Yiddish Summer School. I'm sitting struggling with Hebraic letters along with the other beginners. We doggedly copy weird pictograms over and over (metaphorically with our tongues protruding). We try to encourage each other - Tes I mutter looks like a 'cat tail', Fey to another student is a 'Swiss Roll' yes with icing on the top... Gimel is a girly high heel shoe, Nun is like a flat sensible shoe worn by nuns... only another 35 or so to master...

But you know my brain has needed this workout. Sunday and Monday I was knackered but today I feel ALIVE ! Learning, growing - I can feel my brain expanding and knowledge filtering through. Its a good feeling. The school is very international with students from Riga, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Czech Republic, South African exiles. A small contingent from Scotland and my teacher from Edinburgh.

Monday, August 18, 2008

house sitting tales

I'm currently in London for a course at SOAS and house sitting for a friend's mother. She left me instructions on how to use the shower - away from the taps ! doorlocking and security and strict instructions not to let Leo-the-cat from next door in as he pees on the beds.

On Saturday I went with a lives-in-London friend to a party in a pub in Battersea. A treck but seeing the amazing 1930's building up close at night was incredible. Mysterious lit trains trunded past this great hulk - which apparently isn't being redeveloped as some rare birds have taken up residence in it.

At the gatecrashed party I spoke to a German woman who was also in London house sitting for her Aunt. Her duties included, waiting for the plumber (4 days) and 1. feeding indoor cats 2. feeding outdoor cats (less expensive cat food) and 3. feeding the local foxes with different food in the garden. Only in Britain !

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Regents Canal

Yesterday after meeting a friend for breakfast I walked from Islington to the Thames via the towpath of Regents Canal. It was such a lovely day (I got sunburned my face and neck are all red - gone to Superdrug for sunscreen today). I was able to see narrowboats negotiating locks, single mother moorhens anxiously supervising moorchicks, geese and even some fish in the canal. I saw several groups of kids in canoes - I think various holiday schemes to keep the blighers off the streets and out of mischief. I stopped off in Victoria Park Hackey for coffee and cake before taking up my route. The towers of Canary Warf soon came into view and in Wapping many swish flats made out of former warehouses. It was difficult to find a path along the waterfront as often developments had cut it off. I made it to the Tower (yay ! loos!)and decided that as I'd been walking about 4 hours I could now take a bus along the Strand.

http://www.canalmuseum.org.uk/history/regents.htm

Regents Canal history - linking doodad doesn't seem to be working.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Yesterday at South Bank - lunch and then looking at the crocheted coral exhibition - rain then came and thunder and I sat outside under and umbrella. Small children squeeled ran through a fountain and one stood in the fountain under and umbrella. I suppose the universal desire to play whatever the circumstances must be admired !

The celebrity portrait workshop

A chance to use large format studio camera and lighting more info here at the National Portrait Gallery.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rain postponed play

Was going to walk along Regents Canal yesterday but the rainy weather and wind (more like November than August) mean't I stayed in doors and read The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon instead. About the 'frozen chosen' in Sitka. Chabon imagines what would have happened if the proposed resettlement of Jews had happened in Alaska. A imagined place where they speak Yiddish and the street names are redolent of the places they fled from. I feel I've been very very far away.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

There is something really compelling about this photo - NY 1942 - its so rare to see colour photos of this period.

artist dates

I'm filling myself up with them. (An Artist Date is a tool developed by Julia Cameron in the Artists Way book, whereby people go off for a block of time weekly on their own to have fun - normally for about two hours). I find them the most difficult thing to persuade some students to do. They sound so pointless, indulgent, counter productive, surely to be more creative one should work more?

But I find that without them 'productivity' of a creative kind or otherwise dries up. We need the input and stimulus to have the building blocks for creativity. Art as Julia Cameron writes is an 'image using system'. We need to go out and fill ourselves with images to have something to express. This is true of every art form. Even for people who are 'not creative' it makes them happier, cheerful, more interesting and more passionate and centred. All this just for a spot of fun, a dolup of pleasure, a scoop of indulgence.

I'm just about to cross the road and go and read magazines for free in Borders - a favourite artist date.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

4 hour walk

from Islington to Charing Cross via pastries in Exmouth Market and the British Museum. I found a tiny exhibition there of Japanese Photobooks. Which was somewhat synchronous as I've been thinking about photography books a lot. In fact many synchronicity have been happening recently - I've made a conscious effort to relax and open up.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Lost in Islington

which is great because I found the Make Lounge

Thursday, August 07, 2008


June 08 - rather dark to see.
Taken one Sunday morning in search of breakfast out.
Off to London this afternoon for various adventues so blogging will be light.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More Loving Burns

I went to meet Alicia Devine the playwright, director and performer of this play ( and costume designer !) tonight for a drink. I ended up meeting more of the cast and crew and going out in the torrential rain for a meal. I've just rolled back in half a bottle of white later.

Just to say that its a lovely piece lyrical, moving, and earthy. On at the Roxburghe - off Charlotte Square at 5.30pm each day.

cup of coffee holga not taken with closeup lens

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such a driech day only thing is to hole up in a cafe and try and keep warm!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

CV: What's the best advice you've received about the creative process?
TN: Not sure if anyone ever really told me this, but the best advice I can think of is to get comfortable spending a lot of time alone. Also, don't let anyone else hold the keys. If the galleries aren't liking what you make, come up with your own way of showing your work. If you can't get an agent, make the movie yourself and post it online. If you can honestly stand behind the work you're making, you can find an audience for it -- most of those gatekeepers are there to screen out the people who aren't committed. When you give other people the keys, you give yourself an excuse not to make the work, and then you might as well just go to a baseball game.

Tucker Nichols interviewed at Cecil Vortex

clearing


Kalendar Cafe Parliament Hill - taken with my close up lens for the holga
Taking a break from clearing stuff from my bedroom. The worst thing being I've got a massive allergic reaction from disturbing dust. I sneezed 10 times straight. I'm mostly with Quentin Crisp that one should leave dusting well alone and that after 7 years it makes no difference any way. I was supposed to be seeing a fringe show but I've cancelled as I'm not sure sneezing my way through a modern dance piece would go down well with the dancers.

Monday, August 04, 2008

SFgirlbybay via loobylu - lapped up pics as I'm planning a brief trip there myself later this year.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Barbara Rae

I haven't been to the commercial galleries in Edinburgh for about two years. Going to see the Perpetua Pope gave me the impetus to visit 3 on Dundas St where a large number are located. Highlights include Willamena Barnes Graham prints at the Open Eye Gallery and Barbara Rae at The Scottish Gallery in the next room to Perpetua. There was a great book about her on display at the gallery with an interview where she explained her working methods and how a stay in the US changed her style fundamentally after getting the space to create on the floor instead of vertically.

After cake and coffee at Glass & Thompson - yum!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Women artists forging ahead

Saw Loving Burns last night at the Roxburghe - a beautiful play, written, directed and performed by Alicia Devine. Tickets tonight are still the half price previews so if you go down today only £4.50 at 5.30pm.


Tomorrow Sat is also the last day to catch Perpetua Pope's exhibition at The Scottish Gallery.  92 and still painting and gardening. Until about 10 years ago in addition to painting she created and tended three gardens. I'm sure that being creative in multiple ways has helped her keep on painting and developing as an artist.

Walking back from the play last night - a sort of tropical downpour - very odd weather ! With a former student, she has been tremendously stuck in her career for a number of reasons but after taking up a Tai Chi class from a notice at a local supermarket feels released and not only more open to change but some interesting paid opportunities came into her work life.