Shakespeare and transistor radios

I've been  a little lax with my Blog postings, so to remedy this I thought I'd write a few lines about my latest etching which is titled; ' But, O, How Vile An Idol Proves This God!' If that sounds vaguely Shakespearean then that is because it is. It's Antonio's oath to Viola in Twelfth Night.

I made this print earlier this year for a specific show at Bankside Gallery  which was to celebrate William Shakespeare’s life and legacy, marking the 400th anniversary of his death. Artists from the
Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers were invited to produce
 works inspired by Shakespeare’s writings.

I decided on Twelfth Night, not a play I'd read or seen before, but I thought it would be a nice  to learn a different play, rather than go back to the ones I've studied before. No idea why I chose this particular play but I'm certainly glad I did. Twins separated by a ship wreck, cross dressing, cross purposes, mistaken identities and of course the troubled path to true love - and also it's very funny.

     I chose to relocate the story from the city of Illyria to a minor public boys school somewhere in the North of England in the year 1959.

A secret society has been formed by a few boys from the school's sixth form.The boys don't necessarily all seem to be close friends? but they all share a love for Shakespeare and at night they secretly perform his plays in the school's grounds. The sixth formers perform the male roles but the female parts are played by their favourite boys from the lower form, in doing so they are unintentionally alluding to the historic use of boys playing the female parts in Shakespeare's time. The relationships and actions of the text seem to curiously mirror the events in the boys own lives.

 
Another Country, 1984

 Whilst writing these scenarios I kept being reminded Julian Mitchell's play Another Country ( which was made into a film in 1984 ) and of course Lindsey Anderson's incredible film If (1968) also came to mind. Neither film perhaps showing boarding schools in their best light...

IF, 1968


The one scene that struck me as being most the interesting to illustrate was Act 3, Scene 4 when Antonio confronts Sebastian, who is in fact Sebastian's twin sister Viola disguised as a boy.

It's an odd moment because up until then the play has been a comedy of errors, but with the appearance of Antonio a real sense of anger and violence occurs. Antonio first appears in a short scene in Act II, he is a Sea Captain who rescued Sebastian ( Viola's twin brother ), from the ship wreck. My reading is that he is obviously in love with this young man, in a very possessive way. In the scene I depict; Antonio mistakes Viola for Sebastian so that when Viola refuses to return him the money he lent he becomes furious and speaks like a rejected lover, it was this speech that gave me the idea for setting it in a boy's boarding school - it had something of that weird cloying quality that can happen to friendships in that hothouse environment.

Once I made that decision the characters came very much to life. The most obvious to me is Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek who comes across as one of those pretty but dumb boys from well off families, tall and floppy fringed. Fabian; however is the real main character as far as I'm concerned. He strikes me as one of those charismatic creatures who seems to know everyone and seems to be in on everything and yet has the ability to slightly distance himself from it all. A ringleader but one who operates with sleight of hand.

Getting it down on paper

I started of with a very quick thumb sketch, the scene is populated with six characters, and one of them (Antonio) has to be physically restrained by two guards, which immediately conjures up a very complicated composition one that can only be resolved by using real models.

Fortunately I work at a place that provides me with my very own life model agency !

working that 1959 vibe
initial sketch

    One evening after work I manage to coax  my  models into posing for all the different  figures in my composition - turns out they    are all born naturals, and after an hour of  shooting I had all the poses I needed.
The drawing itself took ages to get right - really cant remember ever having spent so long on one drawing, and I've no idea.why ? I guess that's how it goes sometimes ?

several vanishing points ??

Couldn't get the perspective right at all, and
at one point I was reduced to pinning strands  of cotton thread all over the picture to try and find the Vanishing Point - I had so many loose threads hanging down from drawing that it looked more like one of those macrame hangings that you'd used to put your  potted ferns in...




Finished drawing

As I said before, the scene is set in 1959 so I didn't want any glaring anachronisms. Early on I knew I wanted Fabian to have a transistor radio, I felt that he would have his own separate soundtrack - that he would use his transistor radio as a device to remove himself from the action around him, with it he could physically and mentally tune himself out of the action.

  I thought that if I showed him in the act of removing the radio's ear piece whilst watching the quarrel between Viola and Antonio it would show his rather jaded curiosity being stirred - here's finally something worth listening to !
  
In their time Transistor Radios were incredibly popular - their heyday being the 60's and early 70's, but they would have been hard to find in England in 1959. However, they would have been common in America, and that suits my story as Fabian's father works in Washington and hardly ever sees his son, so he tries to make amends by sending him expensive presents instead - much to the envy of the other boys.

Anyhow, just a few ramblings on my latest etching which will be on show at Bankside Gallery from 9th November to 20th November as  part of  The Masters / Etching exhibition curated by Norman Ackroyd RA RE.









































































Interview with Bankside Gallery

Here's an article about me, from the Bankside Gallery which is an in-house magazine for the members of the RE; Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and the RWS; Royal Watercolour Society. I was interviewed by Hatty Davidson at end of last year, I think it came out alright - at least I dont come across as a complete idiot....



    IN THE CONVERSATION 
WITH MARTIN RIDGWELL RE

 Tell me about your artistic education…

 I was just one of those kids who was always found in the corner scribbling away - and copying. I was always copying pictures from children's books and comics, first Disney then Look-In. It was always assumed by my teachers that I would go to art college and I rather regret being pigeon holed at such an early age, looking back it all seems rather sadly predestined, I don't really remember making any conscious decisions to go to art school, I just kind of went along with it all until one morning to my horror I woke up in Bradford Art College.

 When did you start printmaking and why?

 I was introduced to printmaking at Bradford. The BA was some weird course where you had to do a bit of something from all the different processes, painting, sculpture etc., it was a bit of a mess really but we had a great printmaking department run by Alan Marks who was (aside from being a gifted printmaker himself) a very inspiring teacher

The themes of narrative and storytelling are clear in your prints - tell me about your inspirations… 

The first visual works that I recognised as 'art' were book illustrations. I would spend hours studying and copying those black and white line drawings, John Tenniel's Alice, Thomas Henry's William or Ardizzone's Little Tim. Even now I still feel a stronger sense of attachment to those illustrators than I do to any 'fine artist'. They taught me the importance of composition and how to create character and mood by just using line, the kind of stuff that these artists would have been taught as a matter of course, but skills that are very rarely passed on anymore. It’s interesting that you point out narrative and storytelling, as I've just explained, story book illustrators were my earliest influences. I very much see myself as a story teller, but I try not to impose my own narrative on the image, it's important that it's left ambiguous enough for the viewer to wade in and find their own story. Where artists find their inspiration is always a bit of a mystery, however I truly believe that artists throughout their lifetime are only concerned with a very small number of subjects, and that these motifs are already ingrained within their subconscious before they have even reached adulthood. As an adult nothing can quite have such a strong emotive effect on your imagination as those events or discoveries you make as a child or adolescent.

One of your first jobs was as a cartoonist for the comic strip, The On Ones, are there elements of this early work that you have carried with you throughout your career?

 I can see that there are links between the cartoons and my prints, content wise they're very similar, themes of urban alienation certainly. It centred on a group of twentysomething friends, who were all quite self-absorbed and borderline unpleasant personalities, but I enjoyed doing it, and at the time I thought they were really funny, but looking back I see they were actually rather dark and depressing. I've always thought it was something I would go back to, maybe not as a strip, but perhaps as a graphic novel or similar.

Why did you apply to join the RE and how has it affected your career?

 I sort of sneaked in through the back door. After completing my MA in Printmaking at Camberwell a friend gave me the details of the Gwen May Student Award. I may have been slightly blasé when I applied, but as soon as got in I realised how lucky I'd been to have won the award, and what a great opportunity it would be for me as an artist to be a part of the RE. So I took my two years as a Student Member very seriously, sending in work for all the exhibitions and attending all the private views and introducing myself to other Members, which must have helped when I did apply for Associate Membership as the council were by that time aware of my work and commitment. When later on I was asked (along with Bren Unwin and then later Louise Hayward) to manage the Student Award, I would always advise the winners to do the same. Being in the RE means that you have a presence in in a distinguished London Gallery, so obviously that alone is going to have a positive effect on your career. In 2013, however, I began working as a print technician for Lazarides Editions, I decided that I needed to put my practise on hold whilst I got to grips with a quite a demanding job, but what was originally meant to be a twelve month break very quickly turned into three years! However, recently I have started to create my own work again.

What is it about black and white printing that you are drawn to? Have you considered using colour in your work more regularly?

 I don’t know why I only work in black and white - that's just how it is. When I'm starting a new work I begin by creating the original images as finished pencil drawings, so from the start I'm visualising the image in black and white. In my work, I think introducing colour to my etchings wouldn't add anything to the image, in fact I think it would be a distraction. Once I add colour to an image it feels as though I am recording a scene as I see it and maybe it prevents the viewer from seeing what they want to see? My use of black and white probably stems from childhood, we didn't have a colour TV till I was 17 so all the images I saw that moved me on some level were all black and white, even those that were originally made in colour. Originally in film and television, black and white was used to represent a truthful depiction of reality whether in a fictional film or documentary, while colour was used for fantasy, and on some level I still think like that.

 How has taking time out of your practice (and working in a more technical/commercial role) affected your return to creating your own work?

 I feel like I've learnt an awful lot in the last three years, especially working closely with Master Printer Peter Bennett. One thing I've learnt is that there are people out there who know so much about printmaking, it’s intimidating. People like Bennett understand that printmaking is a skill, like learning to drive a car - anyone can do it, but to do it well is to anticipate a problem and know how to solve it. Master printers and print technicians are the unsung heroes of our world; they know so much about printing and know how to apply it in producing work for other artists. I certainly think the role of Editioners and Studio Technicians should be celebrated more. A lot of our Members teach printmaking or are studio technicians or work as studio print Editioners. To do a full day’s work and then go home to produce your own work is, I think, a real achievement. Unless you're lucky enough not to have to take on a full time job or several part time jobs as most artists have to do to survive, it's very hard to be an artist in London, so hats off to all those who are struggling to get by in this city, simply because they have a need to express themselves through their art.

 What are you working on at the moment? 

I don’t want to talk too much about my latest project as it's early days yet, but at present it concerns an all-male community who all wear Aran knitwear and live in the countryside in the early seventies. They are humanity’s last defence against an alien invasion, but like I said it's early days yet...!


Illustrations for Idle Eye

Early last year I went out for a drink with my old chum Douglas Thorp. As he sat down at the table after bringing over our drinks, he told me that he had a vision or a dream or something ? At this point I would normally have made my excuses and left the building, but I'd hardly started my pint - and |I cant bear waste. So I allowed Douglas to talk more about The Vision, The Dream thing, he told me he wanted to gather together some of his Idle Eye blogs for publication in book form.

I kept quite, I've listened to too many of my friends dreams in the past to know it's best to just smile and nod rather than commit to anything. The Vision, the Dream was to ask some of his artist friends to illustrate a couple of blogs that he would hand pick for them, and then put it all together to make a lovely hardback book.

I told him quite firmly that I had my own Vision/ Dream thing and I couldn't waste any time on other people's projects but  then money was mentioned and I slightly reluctantly came on board. Truth to tell I'd actually forgotten what my Dream/Vision thing was anyway...

All this was at the beginning of 2015, by November Douglas had managed to force 20 artists to illustrate two articles each, bring them in on a deadline, whilst successfully raising enough cash in a Kickstarter campaign to have the book printed in hardback, then get the damn thing printed and still find time to organise a book launch at the gorgeous Vout-O-Reenee's !!


Quite an amazing achievement, and I'm very pleased to have been a part of the project. For my two illustrations Douglas gave me a story about, er well not really sure what it was about? But there were young cyclists in Lycra mentioned so that's what I concentrated on. Looking back on the finished art work I may have concentrated a little too much on that particular side of the story...


For the second illustration I was given an account of Douglas' experience of using a bathroom that had an infinity mirror - you'll just have to buy the book ! Have you ever tried to draw an infinity mirror ? Impossible, and I couldn't find any decent photographic references, ended up staging my own little scene

Had more trouble with this composition than I have had with any other drawing in ages ! Finally managed to come up with an image that almost matched my initial vision, unfortunately I really needed more time to get it right - but what ya gonna do ?                                                                                                                                                                            



The Anonymous Art Teacher #2

Whilst the Bank of England are slapping themselves on the back for coming up with the charming wheeze of having public vote for their favourite dead artist, lets have a look at what our current Minister of Education believes about the arts in Education...

                                   Pupils 'held back' by overemphasis on the Arts

Click on to link above and read how Nicky Morgan MP really feels about the arts in education. Basically if the subjects the pupils are studying aren't STEM subjects then they are wasting their time.
is she The Anonymous Art Teacher ?
Let's ignore the fact the the Arts cover a vast range of subjects, and that some kids simply enjoy the chance of being able to express themselves - the fact is The Arts are an important part of our economy, the Creative Arts Sector represents 5% of the British Economy.

If you are voting for your favourite dead artist, remember they had art teachers too. I'm nominating The Anonymous Art Teacher ( #TheAnonymousArtTeacher ) to be on the new £20 note

The Anonymous Art Teacher

The Bank of England want the public to nominate which visual artist they'd like to see on the new £20 note. There's something rather galling about this. The creative arts represent 5% of the UK economy valued at £76.9bn - and yet the arts year on year face cuts to their funding.

Some schools now dont even offer the arts as a subject.  Between 2003 - 2013 there was a 50% drop in GCSE numbers for Design and Technology, 23% drop in drama and a 25% drop in craft related subjects.

Since 2010 the number of art teachers in schools has fallen by 11%.

(Information from The Guardian )

Instead of nominating a successful artist why not use this opportunity to celebrate all those art teachers who have inspired and helped all those people in the visual arts.

Go to the Bank of England's  nomination form and write The Anonymous Art Teacher

Here's the reason I gave for my nomination

;I nominate The Anonymous Art Teacher, who represents all our overlooked and under valued art teachers.

Behind every successful visual artist stands the teacher who recognized and encouraged that talent.

Funding for the visual arts is cut annually and yet the Visual Arts amount to 5% of the UK economy.

The number of art teachers in schools has fallen by 11% since 2011, what is the future of the visual arts in the UK ?

Let's use this opportunity to celebrate all art teachers.

#The AnonymousArtTeacher


Many Thanks x




Not so merry Christmas cards: No 2

I knew there must have been some more Christmas cards somewhere ? Finally found a few this afternoon hiding in old portfolio. These are even more depressing than the others...



1996, I cant even remember that far back, although having said that I think there may be some things in my laundry basket from around this time that I still haven't got round to washing...


This one's rather sweet, although once again my nose is pressed up against the window. Always looking in rather than joining in


Obviously something was smelling in the state of Denmark or where ever the hell I was. Best thing about being an artist is that you can turn your crap into a pretty picture. I later turned this image into an etching entitled: Like an 18th Century Military Campaign.




Now this was the last card I produced in which I appeared. After this year I instead made a small etching and printed a small edition which I would send to my friends. I'll try and hunt them out and put them up on next Blog.

Illustrations for A Child of the Jago

As I've already posted the art work for the cover of A Child of the Jago, I thought I'd put up the rest of the illustrations. In all there were six illustrations, including an end piece and the cover. All six pieces were hand cut onto black A3 paper.

The last few years I've been doing a lot of paper cut-outs, however, i'm still not sure what to call them ? Somehow Paper Cut-Outs just doesn't sound right. Originally this art form was known as Scherenschnitte and was founded in Germany and Switzerland in the 16th Century. Unfortunately Scherenschnitte isn't a name that trips lightly off the tongue, so I'll have to settle for Paper Cut-Outs till I can find another name.     

The public house is a  recurring  image in the poems of A Child of the Jago by Joseph Ridgwell  and I took the idea of the pub and the figure of a child waiting outside as my inspiration. For me, the pub represented all that is good about being an adult. As children we wait outside those etched Victorian windows with our bottle of pop, and wonder what happens inside. A secret world that we cant wait to belong to. The pub becomes a symbol of adulthood, and the figure of the boy waiting outside the pub represents that stage period, the transition from boyhood to manhood
Chopper Boy



This is my Vivian Myers moment



Half in, half out

I think this is my favourite
                                                      
                                                                                  

Endpaper

A Child of the Jago

The year is still young, and we're both sniffing each other out trying to see what we think we can get out of it. The one thing I do know  is that I have to start doing my own work again. The past two years I've been working full time at a print studio, and honestly I was too knackered most of the time to even think about doing my own work, but that's all going to change - startin' here - startin' now.

Having said that, the truth is I did manage to do a few projects in that time. One of them, the one I'm most proud of was being commissioned to do the art work for a book. Turns out I have a very talented cousin, Joe Ridgwell who is an incredible writer, and I was so pleased when he asked me if I'd provide some art work
for his latest collection of poetry.

The book ; A Child of the Jago is a collection of poems that describe his childhood in the East End in the 70's and 80's. It describes a part of London and way of life that seems to have disappeared. The pub features a lot, for of course in those days the local was the heart of the community. And now those same old beautiful Victorian and Edwardian pubs are disappearing as well, as Joe writes in Ode to the Lost Boozers of East London;

The boozer or public house was the lifeblood of the community
In the old East End
Two or three in every street and one on every corner...


And now

There's not much left
Just ghosts, phantoms and spectres
Abandoned by newcomers with a distaste for alcohol
And strange pale-faced goons wired to electric gadgetry
Hastening the disappearance of the
Boozer, rub-a-dub, and ale houses...

It was the image of the pub that struck me the most, and I knew I wanted all the illustrations and cover to be based around the pub, certainly people of my generation will remember vividly the afternoons sitting outside  those smoky dark buildings into which the adults had disappeared, occasionally your mum or dad would pop their head round the door and hand you a bottle of fizzy pop and a packet of crisps.

I knew straight away that I wanted the cover to have a boy framed in the doorway of a pub. I wanted the boy to be a gangly teenager, at that age where they don't  belong outside in the car park with the younger kids nor inside with the adults - in between both worlds.

It's funny how sometimes you get the image that you want straight away. Here's the first sketch I did for the cover. Everything that I put in to the finished art work is already there. That's not to say it was an easy process. When the image comes that strongly it can be a real pain to capture it on paper. I lost count of how many variant sketches I did before being able to nail it, but I kept a record of a few. I think it's sometimes interesting to see the process involved in reaching a final image.

When people say can you come up with a drawing for me, I think they assume that you just sit down and draw it straight from your head - if only !

These are more finished sketches, by now I realised I wanted the title of the book and Author's name to be on the glass, in a font that would be reminiscent of the lettering you would ( and still occasionally see ) in old pub windows.

The placing of the pint glasses didn't look right with the figure of the boy, later on I made the glasses much bigger so they were same size as the boy and that really worked.They somehow made the boy look extra vulnerable.

At the time I was commissioned to do this cover I was doing a lot of paper cuts in my own art work, and I felt that paper cut out would be ideal for these images, having the boy as a silhouette would make him more of a universal figure so that we could all impose our own childhood memories onto him.



And finally it sorted it's self out and I when I was happy with the image I then made a cut out of it on black paper using a surgical blade. this was then scanned with the lettering added and then printed off onto a transparent film. The film was used to make a Photopolymer plate, as the cover for the book were all hand printed by moi - fortunately it wasn't a massive edition!

Here's a link to an interview where Joe talks about his work, and this book over at Monkey Picks.





Not so Merry Christmas Cards...

Whilst tidying up my studio I came across an old folder containing a selection of Christmas Cards that I had made and sent to friends years ago.

Not exactly sure what date each card is from, but I think they were made between 1990 to 2002, after 2003 I stopped making these types of cards and instead, each year I now make a small etching which I then print up in an edition of 100 and send these instead.                                                                                    

Interesting for me to look at them now, after all this time. Have to admit I did feel my ears burning red with embarrassment. At the time I thought I was making rather lovely drawings that were a wry and sophisticated take on events that were of some importance to me at the time. Good Grief - how can it be possible to delude oneself to such an extent ?   

I look at them now and wonder how I had the nerve to post them ! They seem more like a psychological X-ray of my emotional state when really, all people really want is a nice picture of a robin.Which is what they get now !







                                                                                                          


Marnie or The Birds ?

 My friend Jo an gave me a beautiful book the other week; 'Barbie Millicent Roberts, an original' ( thank you Jo an ), which is a gorgeous coffee table book on Barbie doll, photographed by D. Levinthal. Now as you know; I only (used) to collect Sindy and I'm not a great fan Barbie - far too pushy for my liking, I've always had the suspicion that Barbie would only talk to you if she thought you could be useful to her - so unlike our dear old Sindy, who would talk to you purely because she liked you. but ofcourse; it is the pushy types who always seem to succeed, and maybe it was Sindy's 'niceness' that was her undoing ? come to think of it; that was probably where I went wrong; I should have been more Joan Fontain and less Margaret O'Brien...

Still; the book is lovely. All the original costumes are from the early 60's, and there's a real MadMen feel to them, but the one I've put up made me think of Hitchcock's film Marnie. Which has got me thinking all week, what's my favourite Hitchcock film? Marnie ? or The Birds?

The Birds has been my favourite film of all time since I was a wee boy, but recently I've begun to find myself drawn more and more to Marnie. I wonder why ? The films themselves have much in common, the lead character is played by the same actress Tippi Hedren, and in both films she portrays a young woman who has been abandoned ( emotionally or physically ) by her mother, she hides behind a carefully constructed persona, and her troubles only begin once she allows her self to fall in love


Here's a photo I took last year recreating the famous opening shot of Marnie, me and my friend Lizzie asked the station master if we could take a photo on the platform, he said you're not allowed to do that any more   ( terrorist or something !); however, he said he'd turn a blind eye for 5 minutes - so me and Lizzie legged it down to the platform and whilst I held Sindy upright Lizzie got behind me and held her camera phone in front of my face and I had to direct her till doll was in frame - then 'click' and off we scarpered. Have to say in all honesty - not a bad photo !


( for any freaky sindy freaks out there; the jacket is part of the 1980 Cool Customer outfit... )

Oh dear! I just don't know who to choose ? I guess if someone was to attach a long cage to my face with a rat temporarily secured at the other end, I would probably have to go for The Birds, if only because I find Melanie Daniels more appealing, more vulnerable. at the end of the film, you really do believe she has changed, and allowed us to see who she really is. Whereas in Marnie, when she's in the back of the car with Sean Connery I get the feeling that for all of her fine words about change and love - she's just playing for time . When it comes down to it, Melanie is a sindy and Marnie is a Barbie, if you know what I mean.

A Man Barely alive...

Oh My God! I've just been on Amazon and was looking at their recommendations- and I can't believe what they've suggested I'd want; THREE movies reuniting the Six million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.

Sometimes I think Amazon know me better than my actual friends...

OF COURSE I WANT THEM !!!

For the last year or so I've often thought to myself, wouldn't it be great if they made a film with the Bionic Woman accidently bumping into Steve Austin ( a man barely alive ). I kind of imagined that his bionics were breaking up, and her bionic ear would be giving her some jip. Still; they'd sit down and reminisce over their past adventures, and all the time it turns out it actually exists...

The first film; Return of The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (?) was made in 1987, the second film was made in 1989 and co-stars Sandra Bullock as the latest Bionic Agent , and the last film Bionic Ever After made in 1994 has Jamie Summers and Steve Austin tie the knot, how come nobody told me about this ? I mean I loved the Six Million Dollar Man, he was so cool , and bionics aside ; he's the only man I know who can make a red track suit look sexy...

I remember when the Bionic Woman appeared in a two part episode on The Six Million Dollar Man  ( before she got her own show ). In her first incarnation her body rejected her bionics, not sure; but I think she actually died ? I remember vividly her trying to escape from the hospital running madly down the corridors flinging herself through those plastic flip flap doors.

 I was at junior school at the time , and remember I was on the way to the library and I was flinging myself through the same type of plastic doors a la Jamie Summers. I thought no one could see me, but then I noticed my friend Tanya looking at me, and I remember her saying rather sadly, " oh Martin I know who you think you are, you think you're the bionic woman". I couldn't even try to deny it as at that moment I was clutching my head trying to stop the pain of my malfunctioning bionic ear. That's when I realised , If I wanted to get through my schooldays alive I was going to have to start reigning it in. I was 10...

Easy like a Sunday morning...

Thought I'd put up some photo's of the latest acquisition to my Paul collection...

Paul is the original boyfriend to Sindy doll, and for a boy doll he's got some really cool clothes, but the holy grail for collectors is Pauls string vest and Y fronts , and now they're mine - All Mine !! Quite pleased with the photo's ; I took them in a hurry this morning and they've come out like a poor man's Bruce Weber, not bad...Kind of reminds me of that TV ad for some bank; years ago. where they had that good looking guy moping about in his undies with his white cat whilst they played 'Easy like a Sunday morning' on the soundtrack, Paul's got the same vibe going on.

fingers on buzzers...

Here's your starter for ten:

Which artist won two awards at last weeks Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers Annual Exhibition ?

Buzzzz

That's right - ME !

can you believe it, I guess prizes are like buses; you wait forever for one and then two come at once. I won the Aberystwyth University Purchase Prize and The Hector Purchase Prize, and the best thing, is that one of the prizes was cash !! I nearly fainted when I opened the envelope on the bus coming home, ooh which reminds ; the next morning my friend Gillian who was staying with me, came into my room to get me out of bed so we could watch the Royal Wedding together - and I just couldn't move ! Everytime I tried to get my head up off the pillow I felt like fainting. Apparently I had Vertigo ? I didn't know you could get Vertigo just lying down , I always thought you could only get it from hanging from a roof top like James Stewart in that film er, uhm - Vertigo.


Picture round : Bamber Gascoigne, Hilary Paynter PRE, Bren Unwin and moi
Anyway, back to my prizes ( did I tell you I won two ?), The really lovely thing about the evening was that the show was opened by Bamber Gascoigne, who; if you're as old as me; will remember him from University Challenge - pre Paxman. He presented all the prizes to the winners - and there was quite a few of us, and was utterly charming. Can't imagine old Paxman doing that, although I could be wrong. I remember one year I sat down next to Jeremy Paxman at the church service to bless artists on the morning of Varnishing day for the Royal Academy's Summer Show, he took one look at me; grabbed his coat and went off and sat some where else - I hadn't even started singing ?

Right, I'm off now to Argos to buy a sonic toothbrush with my winnings

Royal Academy...

Anyone else took their work down to Royal Academy to submit for Summer Exhibition? I went on Monday and it was very strange as there were no queues at all ? Last two years the queues have been round the block, I blame that BBC programme, it gave people the impression that all you had to do was turn up and they hang it on the wall for you. So what does no queue mean ? Maybe people aren't so ready to cough up the cash in a recession ? Maybe they've cottoned on that it ain't that easy to get in ?Well goody; that means more of a chance for us!

                                          what no queue ?



I quite like submitting day as you're bound to bump into lots of people you know, all carrying something smothered in bubble wrap, looking rather sheepish. I mean I know it's a lottery, but you gotta do it, anyway - fingers crossed and good luck to all those who've submitted.