This post is the first in a series that was originally to be called a ‘Study in Scarlet’. Both titles are appropriate given where Albion finds herself this 20th day of October, 2019. Balm is given by way of some altered photographs of East Yorkshire and East Lancashire letter nonsense.
The 1970s and 1980s were the era where I began to watch football matches in Lancashire and the North East. Initially accompanied by an adult (a pal’s dad, my dad or my granda) during the mid-to-late 1970s, I attended my first games on my own around 1984, with my first serious away trip being spring 1987 to watch Newcastle United play Manchester City at Maine Road (0-0 if you must know). Football has always kindled a creative spark for me. I remember very little about the actual games from the 1970s but can vividly remember the atmosphere of pent up rage, hard-bitten humour and machismo. And the “Fauvist”, almost giddily bright splash of green of the pitch. This somehow opened up a feeling I could only express through drawing.
During the same time (1977-1983), I was engaged in painting the armies of the C18th Austro-Hungarian Empire in full; specifically that which had fought during the later Wars of the Spanish Succession (covering 1740s-1760s). Somehow that dovetailed with obsessively drawing footballers from the 1920s and 1930s. Football history was a subject that, back then, was often ridiculed by my increasingly “casually-clothed” peers.
During 2011-12, I returned to examine this thematic link, discovering that there may be more in it than my pre-adolescent whims let on. These are sketches from a day long “draw-in”(accompanied by a crate of ale, which was polished off day-tripper charabanc style, with the aid of a cheese sandwich). The uniforms are those from all combatant armies of The Great War.
Sometimes I think my life, especially that part of my life I have spent living in the Netherlands is akin to being stuck in a bubble. Or sitting in a greenhouse floating through an endless void. Of course, both situations have their advantages.
Life seems to be led in a bubble of our own current fancies. This is true in the Netherlands, where I live, where my longstanding obsession with images of the descent from the cross and the last judgment are often put politely to one side.
Over the summer, I decided to throw out all my old papers and photocopies and paintings. My friends Paul and Dan rearranged them for me and added their own mark. The resulting works were shown – and remained – in Rotterdam.
The three new works somehow managed to have an air of the Baroque, and Northern Renaissance images I have long admired. Details of two are shown here in black and white. I wonder what’s going to happen when giving answers to everything stops being a going concern.
There is a peculiar shade of blue that pervades certain parts of Accrington. Not always seen, it can nevertheless be sensed as a strong visual memory over long periods of time and sometimes in other places, far removed from this former manufacturing town in East Lancashire. The blue can be put to various uses. In modern parlance, it is a “positive” force. And the curator invoked it to solve, or put to bed a number long-standing obsessions that seemed only to muddy the waters during the indeterminate early 2000s.
Everyday, we feel the weight of the presence of the New Age of the Witchfinder Generals. Blinding everything with a cruel light. Projecting a grey film just behind our retinas. Photocopy and use these images as charms against their powers.
A mini-series of posts dedicated to our Patron Saint, (somewhat slipped), Eddie B. Why should we tell each other anything anyway? Our emotions are being turned into clean code. Very soon we will be shared to death.