One Man and his Sheep 1989
Polychromed wood on marble floor
Ana Maria Pacheco (b 1943)
“This piece explores the complex and strange rituals and power structures that humans create.”
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery display notes.
Once more, on the brink of a deadline for Britain to leave the European Union, teetering there on the precipice, barely held from toppling by parliamentarians demanding scrutiny of the executive, more than a million people gathered from across the country in Parliament Square to strengthen the hand of democracy.
For democracy does not rest simply in a single vote: the plebiscite can be the tool of the rulers, who control the information and who deceive, reward and punish at will. Democracy sits also within Human Rights, the Rule of Law and public scrutiny, available to all and applying to all.
Boris Johnson is the man of our times: a self-invented shell of a person, without principle, whose sole purpose is to rule. He believes himself a Man of Destiny, a second Churchill in his own mind. If you believe that history pivots on the actions of strong or catastrophic individuals, this may prove to be one such time.
Perhaps, in this time, we are coming to an end of a beginning. We may split first from Europe, then disintegrate to petty nation states, ruled covertly by corporations and led by minor potentates for whom a never-ending quarrel with neighbours serves to distract the populace from poverty, the burning atmosphere and rising waves.
The EU is a means, not an end in itself. Our real task is building a community, binding together peoples and nations, re-purposed away from supporting privilege, as a tool for social justice and environmental action.
By chance, in Piccadilly, I found myself in a small part of Yorkshire, with a white rose flag and a song book.
My drawings in pen and conte crayon continue to represent what I see, however much I want to abstract from them.
I went to Abbey Road Resurfaced, a recreation of the Beatles iconic album live with Jack Goodall [Paul], Rob Peters [John], Emma Reading [George] and Jack Smith [Ringo]. It was brilliant and enjoyable gig. It deserves to be promoted more widely and to larger audiences – the front man and organiser is Rob Peters (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Emma is my lovely guitar teacher who has taught me from scratch from my being unable to read music or keep a beat. She was playing guitar and electric sitar.
These sketches were done in a pocket book in the dark at arms length and with Emma hidden behind a pillar. I could not capture the elegance of her left wrist and hand as she played.
The person who blogs as Still Outside Authority is known for giving gnomic titles to WordPress posts: the latest landscape line drawings are headed “Under the Gibbet“. There is something of David Lynch in this linking portentous words to image.
Yesterday, OA and I walked the canals between Manchester Piccadilly Station and the artspace HOME. Here was my last sketch, coloured this morning in conte crayon and watercolour, having first been re-inked to obliterate the heavy black lines in the original on-site drawing. A cleverer artist would have left that expanse of water as white paper, with a minimum of lines to suggest ripples.
We had visited the exhibition My Head is Disconnected: visceral drawings and relief paintings by David Lynch (open just one more week). In these images, we meet recurring characters and a house motif. This is not a storyboard, rather each individual picture might stand for a whole film, the series connected by a single director. Each work encapsulates the totality of narrative and dialogue, characterisation, build-up and climax and resolution, tone and mood in unmoving shapes and cryptic utterances. We fill in the gaps (the missing 90 minutes of film) in our responding imaginations. That recurrent house icon is clearly, very much, not safe as houses. We see “light fire boy” and the caption beneath “meiah is a girl who he likes AA lot”; “Who is outside my house” which throws out a poignant thought about the dog; “Her shadow began to change“; “Bob’s antigravity factory” with the artists fingers clawing through the think earthbound paint; “A lonely figure talks to himself softly” standing in a storm, expressing the thought common to us all; and Bob’s meeting Mr Redman is not welcome at all.
The most west and southern tip of the British mainland is littered with industrial buildings with a history and pre-history of mining and trade. Here I looked across the moor to the Ding Dong mine. Each ruin seems to comprise a block building like a castle keep, a chimney and a pit.
Here is a glimpse of Dong Dong close up, the side of the building and the opening to the mine shaft. Covered by a grate, it drops maybe a hundred feet, perhaps more. Men were lowered down that pit once.
Here is another, by the roadside, the map did not even give it a name. I drew the stack, I guess that opening beneath was a hearth of sorts. Behind the scrub is the distant sea. These sketches were drawn in Indian ink (or graphite for the middle sketch), then conte crayon, then watercolour, then another layer of crayon. I love the use together of translucent and opaque media, and the crayon as a resist for the overlying wet paint.