Tuesday, November 29, 2016



There was a gap in my blog writing.
This was not that I had given up writing a blog, but a connection failure between the old and new worlds of the internet.
I still write with a Windows 95 computer and its 3 ½” floppy disk. This disk I hand on to Margreet when I have written something, who slips it into a gadget that she can connect with her modern Apple computer. Then she can deliver my words to the ether to be read by anyone who cares to do so.
But, as with most computers, hers had a glitch and had to be seen by Apple experts, who not only mended it, but also gave it an upgrade. In doing so, they disconnected its 3 ½” floppy disk route. (The Apple man, when hearing of my antiquated approach to computer technology, referred to me as a “cool dude”.)
Anyhow, that was all rectified, and I can continue to enjoy putting words together, as well as painting.
The painting part of my life has suddenly taken off. Not only do I have my private collectors buying but, through Offer Waterman (that very smart gallery at 17 St George Street, behind Sotheby’s in Bond Street), sales also go apace.
It so happens that in the 1950s I exhibited in the best London galleries and was thus quite well known at the time. I suppose I could have continued with that form of art when I painted what I saw, then putting paint to canvas. But I have an enquiring mind. So around 1959, after the period of “natural” painting, I would select an imaginative theme, then persevere until I had squeezed enough from it, not bothering too consciously about style and content, but letting imagination, nature and experience take its course. Always in my mind I wanted to create interesting paintings to look at, but with my imagination and that of the viewer paramount.
Around 1964 (I say 1964, but that is a general date encompassing 1963 to 1966), I painted a series on the theme of London’s dockland, and in a pretty vigorous manner. I never exhibited them or, I recall, even sold any. Now they seem to be all the rage, with some collectors liking them not only for their style and content, but also because no other artist, certainly with my way of painting, was working in London’s dockland at that time.
Which goes to confirm (I trust, and hope) that good art will always be recognised as such – eventually. 

So this little burst of sales and recognition is rather unexpected. And I am delighted about it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Robin Training

We are used to having a tame robin in our small London garden.
We train them to have confidence in us and eventually to fly into our shed (a small summerhouse) to eat grated cheese from a feeder that I designed, and then to stand on my knee.
The robins last for a year or more, the length of friendship depending on the extent of their life -–usually terminated by a cat. So we have to train a new one every so often.
Our summer was one without a tame robin – or robin of any sort. But the gap was filled by a wood pigeon.
Training this large bird was minimal as soon as it came to the conclusion that grated Cheddar cheese was not only delicious, but also easily obtainable from the feeder in our shed. So in it would come, hopping on to and over the door’s sill to wander around by our feet. Then it would jump-fly up to the feeder, or fly in directly from outside, making us jump.
So, despite no robins, we did have avian company over the summer months. Our very handsome pigeon became so bold as to walk on or hop over our knees and legs as we sat in the shed in its search for morsels of cheese.
Then, at the onset of autumn, a new robin appeared.
This robin, we think, was a foreigner, a blow-in, perhaps from Scandinavia. It flew around the garden like a wild thing. Slowly it calmed down as it felt more at home in its English surroundings.
Training this wild one was obviously going to be difficult. Our “making friends” regime is simple, but it does take patience and time. Would we have that time between its arrival and the start of winter when it would be too cold for us to sit in the shed with the door open?
The first move is always to show the bird that grated cheese is good to eat. Our new robin was for some time loath to even try it out for taste. But it did, eventually taking the proffered bait that had been placed well away from us in the shed. It liked what it was eating.
Then, day by day, cheese gratings were positioned nearer and nearer to our open shed door – then to the sill and then the floor.
Now the new robin chooses to fly straight into the floor. But despite seeing the pigeon enjoying lovely cheese from the feeder, positioned on top of three boxes of bird food, it has yet to do the same. That should happen very soon, but will it be before the cold winter sets in and we have to abandon the shed and close the door until springtime? 
Being discriminatory, we now ask the pigeon to leave the feeder so that the robin might eat there. Although we still like and admire a wild wood pigeon to be so close and trusting, we would rather have a robin as a garden pet. And we would like it to be an even closer friend before the winter is over and birds think of mates and nest-building once more.

(I am glad to add that the robin has now, in early November, flown into the shed to take cheese from the feeder.)