Monday, 24 November 2014

Does my arse look big on this?

I recently sold this little, African wood sculpture for about 10 times more than I paid for it, and now I miss it. I don't normally like 'ethnic' art, but this bit is rather fetching, don't you think?

The only slightly disturbing thing about it is that - from the waist down - it tended to put me in mind of Kim Kardashian every now and then.

I used to go out with a girl who had similar attributes to this Venus, and I can honestly say that one could have rested a book below her back to read it. I know this for a fact because I once did. It was not 'War and Peace', though, and I did not get much reading done.

The other slightly disturbing thing about it is the missing head, arms and legs.

Although these omissions could be misunderstood as disrespect, I know - as a sculptor - it would be an entirely different thing (I was about to say 'object', but that word is too charged in this context as well) to what it is now, and just wouldn't work as a piece of sculpture as it does.

I know that I have already said how - when assisting a sculptor in making a classical figure of Apollo - we experimented with putting a normal-sized penis on the figure, and this was a disaster which was easily rectified by whittling it down to juvenile proportions, as all the Greek and Roman sculptors did. If we had begun the other way round, this would not have been possible.

The trouble was that it was deeply off-putting to have a normal willy on it, and one's eye was immediately drawn to that region at the expense of the rest of the anatomical carving. This is the sole reason why the classical sculptors gave them diminutive tackle, and this in itself was an extremely valuable lesson to learn.

Cro has already pointed out that it is - somehow - better to have over-size hands and feet on a classical figure, so what you lose in the trouser-department can be made up for in other extremities.

The Victorians liked large backsides, but detested big hands and feet on all but agricultural workers.

If you paint large hands on agricultural workers, remember that they must also be red.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

It's that hedge again

I had just left the petrol station when I took this photo, but I had to do a double-take to see what was being advertised on offer there at the pumps. I don't think it is just me that had the same inappropriate thoughts - especially when you notice how they describe the colours...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Compact but disturbing city apartment


4000 words

When I trawl through my photos looking for something hiding in amongst the thousands of others, I am forced to stop every now and then and revisit an image which takes me back in time. This award-winning one above (nominated by me) reminds me of a Peter Tinniswood or Nick Warburton play.

I love this trailer, parked up next to my stone-supplier by - presumably - a potato merchant. The same merchant is probably lobbying the government health police to get around to designating the humble potato as one of our five a day.

Like another view of Mount Fuji, here's the old Falcon and chicken shot again. I obviously cannot resist a good photo opportunity, no matter how many times it presents itself.

On the rare occasions that H.I. or me hunt for a particular old photo from the piles of prints in bags, boxes or containers, we suddenly realise that about three hours have been passed in pondering pictures of her aged 20 or 13, her daughter aged 3 or 15, or me with dark hair.

I have sepia prints of the grandparents I never knew with their parents - complete with an Aspidistra to once side of the photographer's studio, and marvel at how close to the Victorian age we really are.

In one way it is great that digital photography allows us to take so many pictures and I no longer duck as I walk past a tourist in the street taking a shot, but in another it has made us all a lot more careless - all those bloody selfies, or pictures of untouched restaurant meals. If I have to see Kim Kardashian's arse one more time...

Yesterday's post was an exercise in talking to the blind, but today's is - for me - picture heavy, though I know I could never compete with many of you, even if I did own an expensive camera.

I have an acquaintance (I could not call him a friend) who told me he was not in the slightest bit interested in looking at my 'holiday snaps' when I tried to show him the recently discovered, ancient and magnificent cisterns beneath the streets of old Istanbul. He is mean spirited about most things anyway, which is why I could never count him as a friend.

I love looking at people's holiday snaps, no matter how crappy they are - just so long as they don't hand them to me one by one or edit them. I will decide how long I want to look at something, thank you.

That coat is just about to come out again, but the hat... is not quite right...

Friday, 21 November 2014

Hedging and ditching

I went to download a photo from my phone just now, and although I can see the picture clearly on the phone screen, the computer says that it is an empty file, so cannot import it. Oh well, I will just have to describe it.

Set back from the country lane, a swathe of verge has been neatly cleared of ragged bushes and small trees in order to create a hedge.

The hedge has been laid in the traditional manner by half cutting through a line of short but reasonably mature hazel, then bending each piece to the left to be interlocked with its neighbour. Because there are still some green leaves left on the wood, the new hedge is already quite dense, and it stretches about 50 feet in both directions, but only about 25 feet can be seen framed in the open window of the passenger door of the Volvo, because I was too lazy to get out of the car to take the photo.

Behind the hedge there is a green field of about 4 acres, and there are a couple of neat-looking houses at the top, fringed with mature trees behind.

Dead centre of the field there is a tree which - although quite tall and mature - still has a sort of fence around it to protect it from deer.  It is about 20 feet high and shaped like a sugar-loaf.

The tree's leaves have turned a vivd rust-red and are the complete complimentary colour to the green of the grass, making the tree startlingly vibrant.

It is as if the whole hedge and verge has been created just to frame the tree, so that it can be appreciated by any passer-by for the week or so that the leaves stay on it.

Normally, a tractor goes up and down this lane for a day, slashing the hedges with a giant and hellishly noisy set of rotating blades, leaving ragged white stumps and chipped wood all over the road, but an old man has moved into the area to show everyone how it could be done, given a little care, attention and time.

On the exposed and wind-swept plateau of Lansdown where that war memorial is, all the boundaries are stone walls - the very same walls which the Civil War troops sheltered behind in the battle. Walls rather than hedges up there, because the thin, hard, brash stone lies conveniently (or inconveniently) about 2 feet from the surface of the fields, and has been ploughed-out and thrown to one side by farmers.

Finally, people are beginning to return to the old ways if they can afford to, but agricultural wages have always been low and property prices have never been higher.

That old man is a real sculptor, and one who works with colour as well.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

You've got one chance

With my heart in my mouth, I have today sent off this piece of valuable, irreplaceable, antique, Breccia marble column to be cut into exactly two pieces by a sawyer who has already destroyed about £500 worth of other marble by cutting it into four pieces instead of the two that I asked for.

The trouble is that my regular sawyer  - the best in the West - is too busy to do this little task, so I have sent it with an instruction sheet - including drawings, photos and step-by-step explanations which I believe a small child could understand, but I am still haunted by the previous mistake.

To a great extent, the previous wrong cutting was my own fault, because I had drawn a 90 degree cross in the middle of it to mark the absolute centre, which is a technique used daily by all masons, but because I didn't rub it out, the sawyer cut right through the middle of both lines, destroying the marble. The trouble is that many sawyers are not masons.

I have also made life as easy as I could for the sawyer by setting the column in a cosy cradle of polyurethane insulation board which can be cut straight through without the blade even knowing it is there, so the marble does not have to be chocked-up on the bed of the saw to stop it rolling off during cutting. I have placed cable-ties either side of the cut so as to lessen the chance of the column being shifted out of true by the sawyer pushing the diamond blade through too fast.

Another consequence of pushing the blade through too fast would be the breaking off of some of the different, harder or softer bits which make up the conglomerate which is Breccia, but I have asked him that - if this should happen - he should save the little bits for me to glue back in later, but since they would probably fall into a deep slurry of liquid mud stone-dust, the chance of him spotting them flying off at high speed are almost zero.

What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

My flirtation with transvestism

Mise's lipstick post coincided nicely with a rare moment of mild transvestism on my part, when I went to the bathroom and put on some Mitsouko perfume last night.

"You know that is a ladies perfume, don't you?" H.I.'s voice betrayed a hint of concern.

Of course I did, but - in her defence - she does tend to prefer perfumes which could easily be worn by both sexes without fear of gender confusion in the blind - warm, woody, evening scents at the other end of the spectrum from the citrus-sweet, girly ones as worn by slappers on their nights out. Actually, there is one perfume worn by them which smells like rotten cheese.

Occasionally, on a warm Summer day, I will splash on a bit of Koln Wasser, and justify it by saying that if it was masculine enough for Napoleon to use on the battlefield, then it is manly enough for me to take to work.

I stopped H.I. from throwing away the bottle of Mitsouko a couple of years ago for being too old. I said that the only thing that age does to perfume is evaporate it, and if there is still half an inch left in a 20 year-old bottle, then it will be just as good as ever.

Mise was saying the same thing that H.I. says constantly, and that is about the infuriating way that as soon as you have found something which really suits your needs, requirements and aspirations, it goes off the market.

How many time have we rushed to buy something which has just been restocked before it runs out again because people bulk-purchase it for fear of it running out, only to be told it will never be stocked again because there is no demand for it?

The manufacturers of these products kid themselves that they create the demand for their stuff by setting seasonal trends for it but, in reality, all that happens is that they occasionally hit it right but find there is not enough volume in the sales to justify its continued manufacture. The bulk of their sales come from slappers who go to nightclubs smelling of rotting cheese.

Of course, if you are prepared to spend £2000 on a small bottle of classical perfume, then you will always be able to buy it, so long as you can afford the air-fare to Paris as well.

Talking of cheese, a couple of years ago, Waitrose stocked a medium-hard, white cheese which was packed full of finely chopped Perigord truffles. It was so ridiculously expensive that they couldn't sell any of it, so they reduced the price to the mouse-trap Cheddar level, and I bought the lot.

That was never re-stocked either, and I wonder if the producer went out of business.

(I am trying out the John Gray technique of titling, and I bet a lot of people at least read the first line of this...)