SATURDAY The new set of images from the Muma collection for Project Australia are so reminiscent of our 1997 camping trip that it’s tempting to turn the digital curation into a personal travelogue. There is even a painting of a pair of flip-flops (“thongs” in Australia) outside a tent.
📌 Imagining people as stock-market commodities could be a new TV game show…
📌 I wasn’t paying attention and Steven Gerrard has been appointed manager of struggling Premier League team Aston Villa.
📌 Just as we were debating whether to watch Succession or The Sopranos my wife got an email from Warren Buffett saying he has $2.5m to give her.
SUNDAY It has been routine for some time for news outlets to include quotes from social media to illustrate their reports. But you know you are in a strange place when the whole story is about what people on Twitter are saying about a subject. When last night Twitter users accused Strictly Come Dancing judges of rigging the scores to protect the daughter of a sweary TV chef, the Mirror did not attempt to verify or investigate the claims, it simply reported the outrage.
📌 Tank’s Christmas has been ruined by parcel-delivery firm Hermes.
📌 “Operation Rampdown” is the codename the government has attached to the job of dismantling their ridiculously inept coronavirus Test & Trace scheme, which is estimated to have cost the taxpayer £37bn.
📌 Kensington Palace could be up for grabs when Prince Charles becomes King. It was tarted up as a home for Harry and Meghan, but they’ve left Britain to live in America, and all of the lingering old folks in the Royal Family who might have taken up residence are nearing death’s door.
📌 The Red Corduroys are up in arms over the Prime Minister’s serial bungling. They are joined in a widespread disgruntlement with the PM by the ultra-Brexity Spartans.
“Boris doesn’t have a conviction in his body,” complains one veteran Thatcherite. “There’s a lot of us worrying: is this a Conservative government?”
MONDAY The new stitchwork project is a sketch Sean did in the studio and was about to throw in the bin. It depicts a pair of art-deco women looking moodily into the distance. Michelle thought it was tailor made for my neurotic micro-stitch style.
📌 The Prime Minister’s sanity is in question again…
📌 Sam’s ethnic jewellery picture has a fantastic blue background.
TUESDAY There’s a man who roams around London drawing pictures using old mechanical typewriters.
📌 Number One in a series of stitchwork projects on cotton bags depicting islands is Tenerife.
📌 While working on Project Australia digital curation I dug out some memorabilia from our 1997 road trip. They included a pair of fridge magnets, from Pimba and Cooper Pedy.
📌 The Prime Minister’s office has issued a statement saying Boris is not off his rocker following a fruitcake speech he made to business people which included reference to Peppa Pig.
WEDNESDAY Got an email from someone who’d allowed autofill to put words in their mouth. They thanked me for my kindness and “hostility” (hospitality?).
📌 The sleaze ball will keep rolling for a while yet…
📌 The art class subject was white on white and I managed to go mad in the pyramids with sugar, baby powder, cotton buds and lots of glue.
📌 The man from the William Blake Society giving the talk at St Luke’s had a surprising number of tattoos.
📌 Marge said that her childhood home in Finsbury got so cold one Winter that the fish tank froze up, leaving the goldfish entombed in ice with their mouths open.
THURSDAY Rosie asked if she could make a Headway blog post out of some words I wrote a while back. I’d jabbered about my love of the studio’s motto, “Discovery Through Art” and how it became an anchor for me during Lockdown. Looking at the piece now, I was tempted to make a few changes but decided against, even though it contains sentences and turns of phrase that make me cringe. Here it is…
By nature I always saw myself as more scientist than artist. Geology and chemistry were my chosen subjects at school. Later I was a journalist, a snooper who always had a question ready. Art was not part of the deal. In my work I mixed closely with photographers, picture editors and graphic designers, collaborations that gave me a type of visual literacy. But art was for other people, inward looking people not outward-looking explorers of life such as myself. So the idea of being part of an art studio, practising that thing I always saw as indulgent and self-centred, made me feel a bit creepy, like I was wearing someone else’s clothes. Until one day Submit to Love studio head Michelle asked me to do a bit of sign writing. Great, I thought, something I can actually do. And isn’t that how James Rosenquist started? In big black letters, using the Headway house font originally drawn by Paul Wright as my template, I painted the words she wanted…
…and it instantly felt like some sort of homecoming.
As soon as you walk through the sprung doors of Submit to Love Studios you know you are in a special place. Immediately to your left is a corner full of bubble-wrapped mosaic sculptures. On your right is a toilet, a crazy sculpture made from what looks like bits of a car engine and a kitchenette area infested with art materials waiting for a good wash. In front of you is a shangri-la in the form of a cave spilling over with visual treasure.
In 2019, Submit to Love started working on collaborative projects with London’s Autograph Gallery. One of them uncovered in our artists a previously hidden natural talent for needlework and textiles. Soon the studio was groaning with patchwork portraits based on Autograph’s Black Chronicles archive. I happily joined this orgy of originality and started scouring Amazon for needles, threads and thimbles.
Needlework brought me peace of mind during the lockdown days of the lengthy global pandemic that followed. The exhibition we had ready to open at Autograph was put on ice. Instead I carried on threading and renewed my appetite for travel by stitching maps onto tote bags.
My stitchwork journeys so far include “trips” to Italy, South America, India and Australia. I have toured the UK and explored each of London’s 33 boroughs, including my adopted home in the old City of London. I get my patterns from Google Earth.
Discovery is the best description of what I am doing with this work. And it is the best description of my Submit to Love experience. For that reason, the studio’s motto is a constant reminder of what I have grown into. I am an artist.
📌 Jennifer said yes to my request to extend the Project Australia essay. I still want to keep it under 1,000 words but the search for some new topic sentences is on. I’m wrestling with verbs at the moment. I can’t decide whether, on setting foot in Australia in 1997, the “sensual and the logical” came “marching” towards me or “hurtling” at me.
📌 It’s a toss-up in our household as to which parcel-delivery firm is the worst, Hermes or DPD. Both are serial offenders.
📌 The bus driver was on his radio telling his line manager he was running 26 minutes late. He asked what was the maximum number of hours continuous driving permitted. His line manager couldn’t understand what he was saying. At the next traffic lights I told the driver the maximum single driving period for a London bus driver is 7 hours 51 minutes (according to the government web page). The driver laughed at that.
📌 A group of us from Headway wandered down to Hoxton Street to gather outside Hayes & English funeral parlour for Chelsea Martin’s final departure. The crowd was so big and the number of static funeral cars so great that a traffic jam resulted. Irritated motorists sounded their horns, which Martin would have seen as some kind of tribute, but they weren’t loud enough to drown out the sound of applause as the principal car moved off carrying Martin’s white casket and a white floral display saying “BROTHER”.
FRIDAY Last night my phone conked out. It wouldn’t charge. My wife told me not to panic and to enjoy my crispy duck from Lidl. I did panic and bought a new phone immediately, which arrived first thing this morning and on which I’m now typing this banal entry to my diary.
📌 A massive ruck with France is on the cards. Boris is spoiling for a fight. He needs to show he has courage. The French are likely to throw him the Gallic Shrug and leave him to stew.