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Friday, 31 December 2010

Jude at ITN with notebook

Looking into the light, standing in the atrium at Grays Inn Road

Jude at ITN

Matt came into work and took some pictures of me there to help publicise my poetry collection. The launch is on 5th February at the Balls Brothers pub in Bishopsgate. Everyone's welcome.

Here I am walking past the Channel 4 offices - they're so pink.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Mitch and Jude and The Boilermakers

Matt and I have just had a wonderful evening listening to our Boilermaker's improvisation (I haven't told you about this yet - check future posts) and doing an arrangement of the new Mitch and Jude theme song which has an Addams Family flavour. The lyrics, so far, go:-

Come into our parlour
Cold and stark
Out of the sunshine
Into the dark

Boll weevil cake
Cockroach tea
Pet bats squinging
squeak squeak squeak

Perhaps you'd like to play
a little parlour game
Miserable Families
or Trivial Shame

Or if you find
charades a bore
we'll wake the monster
that lives under the floor

Scooby doo bah
Scooby doo way
Scooby doo wop wop
Scooby dooby dooby

Our butler
is English
He'll let you in with a bow -
But if he sees
you try to leave
He'll trap you here somehow

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Shooters Hill

This afternoon we gave the dog a lovely run up Shooters Hill. The mist was gorgeous, the light through the trees, the copper leaves, the fallen trunks, the icy paths ...

Sound card

Grrrr the Yamaha firewire sound card has really been annoying Matt. I wish we'd never bought it. It just doesn't work. It just doesn't work. What a waste of his time.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

End of Christmas Shift

Hurrah! This Xmas Day and Boxing Day shift is over. I'm home now, and listening to Matt try out some lines on his bass for his session tomorrow with 'I Am a Kamura'. He has the hiccups which crosses his bass lines and makes for a complex and random rhythm.

I've just opened my pack for my archiving course to see the couple of items on Latin. I'm doing the Latin for Archivists module this term. So I am being incredibly bored. However I'd prefer to do Latin to one of the more general units such as those on Preservation. I've nearly finished this M Litt now, thank goodness, phew.

I'm going to listen to some files that my good friend Mitch Friedman has sent me, a karaoke version of 'The Spy' so I can sing it live without Mitch, but using his arrangement. And he says he has put in as a bonus a little video demo of our new 'Mitch and Jude' song, which he has written. Our idea is to do various pastiches of theme tunes together for a little ep. I'm going to write an Addams Family theme for us. He said that his version would be for a Monkees style show.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Sleepies and Kamura

I fell asleep this afternoon after walking Solly in the snow. He ran away when we accidentally left the front door ajar, and Matt found him running round and round a garden near the A20. It was nearly squashed dog.

While I slept, Matt recorded in my home studio with Atsuko Kamura and Rob Murphy from the group 'I am a Kamura'. Kamura is back from Japan and they're making the new album.

In a little break I made a little Greek inspired, duck inspired pot using newplast and placed it incongruously on the mantlepiece with the other decorations. It didn't look too out of place there. Good.

Rob was also kind enough to help Matt jump start the cab, as the battery had gone a bit flat. We need the cab to take me to work and back over Xmas. I'm on shift both Christmas and Boxing Day. Sigh.

Spoonful of Poison

Yesterday evening took the Minipops, the Microkorg and me out to the Lion in Stoke Newington to play at Vis the Spoon's open mic bonanza, Spoonful of Poison. I did a few improvised xmas numbers. Was fun. I particularly enjoyed singing a rather wobbly and experimental 'Silent Night'. I'd meant to sing it in German (I can't speak German but it's fun to sing in, especially with my impossible no-good accent) but I'd left the lyrics somewhere and so I could only sing the four words I could remember before commencing other vocal patterns. Was great fun! Roll on Helen McCookerybook's Xmas party when I can have another go at xmas vocalisations with electronica in front of unsuspecting guests.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Christmas Tide Decorations

Matt and I have done some lovely au naturel xmas decorations using holly and rosemary and bay leaves and lads love all from the garden. I made some angel-esques, two, and put them on the mantlepiece. And Matt wrapped ivy over our art deco banister, and made a wreath which he hung on the red front door. We then had the idea to wrap our tube of coloured lights round the round window in our wall. It looks grand.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Wintry walk - snowy abandon

Wow, so deliciously tiring walking in the park with Solly and Matt. Had a wonderful winter afternoon trudge followed by hot apple cider with cinnamon. That's what everyone's drinking in New York apparently. Followed by a lovely comforting later afternoon sleep zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Minipops goes slower!

Matt took apart the Minipops and fixed it so it's slower. I now have a workstation in the home studio with a little Mackie desk and various bits, an old tape recorder (one of those industrial ones from a primary school), the Minipops drum machine, the Microkorg, and the gooseneck mic from the Microkorg going straight into the other Mackie channel. I'm going to do some Christmas stories / fables using the set up on Wednesday when I've got a gig at Spoonful of Poison. I think it's Weds, better check that with Vis the Spoon, the gracious host.

I love my new set up. All I want now is a nice Moog pedal (maybe a ring modulator?) to put through the aux sends, so I can put nice processing effects on all the different sounds. Well, that is the spirit of Christmas!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Minipops goes too fast!

I played David Hatton's Hidden Away on Wednesday, my first electronica gig. It was good, and I took out the microkorg. However David suggested I add some more layers to my mix. So, come on the drum machine. This afternoon Matt and I are going to try and work out how to make my vintage Minipops, which runs like the clappers, go a bit slower. Crossed fingers. It's a bit of a technical conundrum I guess.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Shepherd

Began remixing 'The Shepherd' for the Blake album last night. Matt helped me. I needed help. In fact he did most of the remixing. It's starting to sound like something. He says it sounds like the lead vocal is being pulled and pushed by a lot of mad, jostling people (the other vocals) but is carrying on regardless. I said, 'Yes, that would be the sheep'.

The Windsors

Last evening Matt played me the live tape of the Club Integral gig at The Grosvenor where The Windsors played their first gig. It sounds great. Love Phil's keyboard sounds. I'm hoping to sing the song 'Stromatolites' for which I wrote some lyrics about prehistoric bacteria with the band at their February performance. If they'll let me. Matt says he hopes lots of different guest vocalists and/or performers will sing with The Windsors.

Art of Germany

I am watching Andrew Graham-Dixon's BBC art history series on Germany. I love the broken, dismembered art - Otto Dix, and the earlier scrawling drawings and pastels of Kirchner. The latter make me fancy working in pastel, the former inspire me to bring collage elements in.

Susan Phipsz wins the Turner Prize

Okay, this isn't new news, it's a few days old now, but I think it's very inspiring that a sound installation has won the Turner Prize. I want to do one! The relationships of sound and place, sound and history, sound and emotion are areas I want to explore myself.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Alternative nativity

I made an alternative nativity out of plasticine. I wanted to stick the pieces of video together to make a long film but I seem to have trouble uploading big files to youtube. I seem to have broadband issues uploading most large items. Grrrr.

Marjorie Daw

Marjorie Daw 2 by JudeCowan

Debs's garden

On the streets of Brooklyn

Cat sketches

Jude in Deb's flat - sketches

Debs flat is full of beautiful and interesting objects. I'm here among the picture frames, the candles, the prints, the bottles, the vases and wonderful bric-a-brac of her treasure trove.

Coney Island - sketches from Dunkin Donuts

I was starving when I got off the train at Coney Island and went in the Dunkin Donuts in train station. Scoffing my privileged donuts and drinking my latte, I watched the down and outs. People scrabbling in the phone booths, for change, picking up the free papers from the dispensing boxes, and collecting items from bins to fill their supermarket trollies. What a sight, America.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Every nice girl loves a soldier ...

this kind of brightly coloured tin soldier that plays a drum, anyway. This pic is from Rockerfeller Centre ... I loved it there, so touristy, so Xmasy.

Bye bye New York, love you, hello London, love you too

Hugging a tree in Brooklyn - look at my brown paper bag, so NYC

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Brighton Beach and Coney Island

Lovely sunny December day for walking on the boardwalk, and going in the Russian shops. Nice time. Took some swoopy videos and some action shots of the seagulls.

Pop the legs out like this

The French student and boyfriend aren't here yet. Mitch and Susie listen to Pete serenade us over the internet. He's sitting in a bathroom in Liverpool. He's distorted digitally, at his end. We sit round the table. A huge turkey. Debs has used a stick of butter and red wine. Shannon carves, cuts it down the middle. Pops the wings out. There's roasted veg, basmati rice, and salad. I'm on a diet, not a weight loss one, I can't eat the basmati. We drink red wine out of large thick dollar store glasses. Prints, watercolours, Ken's photographs of Greece. Zorro miaows. She climbs on the table. We can't feed her enough, she gets poor nutrition from the food since the cancer. As she gobbles, she stays alive. Rachel arrives, in cute dungarees and T-shirt, bubbles. Electro-pop Lyons, says Patrick is a cool teacher. 'Oh little sweetie'. She cuddles Zorro. She feeds Zorro bits of chicken. Amos arrives with his ridgeback, a beautiful bronze colour. We talk, Deborah disappears. When everyone leaves, we find her. She has fallen asleep on the couch.

I love this picture

One hour to play. The next band is on next. Play. Who is there? A few people drinking. I'm here for the week. Explain the London knees up that I know from films and books only the same as a New Yorker. Demonstrate the cockney knees up. Sing expressively. Have fun. Pull some poses. Posters of this and that. Red walls, black walls. One drink per set minimum. Bartender-sound guy. The mic goes off by the piano. Bashing away at 'London'. Tell more stories. Sing songs. Handed a CD in at East Village radio. The store is a shop front. Young Jewish guy. 'That's great'. 'I love the picture'. 'Thank you.' So cold I can hardly speak. Wear, then take off scarf and hat. You've been a wonderful audience, New York.

Have you got a quarter?

The Q train goes over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. Manhattan is full of strange old retail and residential buildings, jumbled together. You cross from 1st Avenue to Avenue A, entering Alphabet City, and back again. Steam pours out of tall, stripey towers. My fingers are cold even in gloves. It's bright but freezing on Madison. The latte in the cupcake cafe which sells red velvet cake, suprise economic hit of NYC. The Guggenheim has an exhibition of futurist and classical inspired art of the inter-war, fascist years, don't look down, look at the sturdy Picasso on the rounded walls. The kiosks sells cheap coffee and pretzls with salt chrystals that look like snow. My mind walks further than my feet. The dusty Russian souvenir shop on 14th street, I try to buy a blue and white ceramic rabbit and he suggests 45 dollars. Rows of plastic frames with no lenses, strips of village lace. Pigeons and sparrows everywhere. Christmas market on Union Square selling machine knitted panda hats. 'I'm cold'. 'Help me out'. 'Have you got a quarter?'

Friday, 10 December 2010

Jam in an artist studio

I've just had a lovely jam with some wonderful folk in the art studio workshop home of Larry and Mary. Thanks Larry and Mary you were so kind. I joined the regular session of artist performers with harmonica, guitars, flute, keyboard, bass, kazoo and more. I suggested some Carter family, and others led on a Bo Diddley song and a bit of Hendrix. I haven't had a jam for ages, it was great and the people were so nice. Claudio took pictures and video on his hot up-to-the-minute camera.

Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop

Oh oh, I had lunch today with Daniel Carlson, superfab songwriter and photographer./ He took me to Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop. Nice choice. Loved the seats, let alone the food. Oh yes. I had house salad with pastrami on top. Good choice. With hot chocolate.

Thank you for a New York lunch supreme, Daniel, hope to do it again soon.

Mandy Patinkin and Tillie's of Brooklyn

Debs has just introduced me to Mandy Patinkin the Broadway star. Online only, sadly. She loves him. I love him too.

I'm playing tomorrow at Tillie's of Brooklyn, 248 Dekalb Avenue, between 7.30pm and 8.30pm.

Brooklyn Museum

Yesterday slopped over to Flatbush to see the Brooklyn Museum. First I stopped over at the Brooklyn Library where there was a lovely exhibition of children's illustrations. The building is tremendous, huge and impressive. I particularly enjoyed the Brian Lorca illustrations, done in pen and ink and watercolour. Nice, professional work, reminded me of the children's illustrations I loved in Puffin books when I was young.
Then passed the impressive entrance to the Botanical Gardens (I shall go in one day) and on to the Brooklyn Museum. It was wonderful. I really loved it. Especially the Edward Hicks which really caught my eye, the children sitting down with the animals in a folk art bonanza. I'm going to use it as a model for my 'Lamb & Tyger' CD when I get home, but I think I would like to paint the animals on a piano and then photograph that. So I need to buy an old piano and get some enamels maybe - although if I rip the varnish off I could use oils which would be closer to Hicks's technique.
I liked so much, I will have to write about my reactions one by one. Debs knows a lot a LOT about Edward Hicks, she has a Hicks style frame in the house, which has a different type of joint to fix it. She really knows a heap about art, a huge amount, a massive amount.

Banjo Jim's

Had a wonderful gig last night at this very cutesy red-painted bar. First on was my lovely friend and great songwriter, Daniel Carlson and his amazing band. I last played with Daniel in Nottingham last summer, at the Folkwit gig.

I have to say Daniel is great on stage. And so are his band. The sound was brilliant. The guitarist had painted his guitar with swoops of colours that seemed to echo the sonic textures of his solos, and in his camel dungarees and with his long hair tucked into his cap, he looked very dapper as he kicked his leg emoting and expressing with his instrument. The drummer as right on it, into and out of the swells, the keyboard player I so enjoyed, with his Wurlitzer and Minikorg.

So kind, the band members stayed with Daniel, and so did friends of his during my set so it felt really good in the room. I loved performing, I played piano as well as uke again, and Daniel was kind enough to help me with the mic, when the one by the piano didn't work for some reason. I entertained with songs from old London town and demonstrated an old-fashioned knees-up (kind of). I have discovered that I love singing my setting of William Blake's London, you can really give that song some welly, and the words really help you lash it out.

My good friend, the amazing poet Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick schlepped over from New Rochelle, where she's living (Norman Rockwell lived there as well I found out yesterday during my visit to the Brooklyn Museum). Amos then gave us all a lift to a cool shop that serves flavoured rice pudding, called 'Rice to Riches'. I had almond and cheesecake flavours with roasted cherry topping. And we drove back over the Brooklyn Bridge, so I got to see night time city scapes. Awesome.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Fantastic cook

Debs is a fantastic cook. While I was swanning around the museums Debs busied herself preparing a very fine turkey, roast veg, salad and basmati rice. She laid on the most deliciious spread.

Our guests straggled in the New York night and were all so fantastic. Mitch Friedman and his lovely girlfriend Suzi who is a designer, Rachel and her boyfriend Simone (I think) who perform in an electro-pop outfit. And Shannon, who is a wonderful poet. I was delighted that she gave me a copy of her first chapbook, signed! It's really, really beautiful.

Debs's old friend Amos and his beautiful ridgeback Tripoli also came. Amos is so nice and kind. I really like him and his lovely shiny elegant dog.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Bit early but ...

I will be playing at Club Integral @ The Miller, London Bridge - 20th January 2011
96 Snowsfields Road London Bridge London SE1 3SS

The Frick and the Guggenheim

A wonderful, wonderful day spent taking in two cracking museums of art, the Frick and the Guggenheim.

I went to the Frick in the morning, very Edith Wharton, and got some extra energy by falling asleep watching the film about Mr Frick the collector. The highlights of his collection for me were the Whistlers, especially the grey-green sea picture, can't remember what it was called now.

But the Guggenheim - I couldn't pick a particular artwork here. There was a great special exhibition - chaos and classicism - and the building is beautiful. Really strange, but comforting and excellent for viewing pieces. I loved the Picassos of course, and there was a great selection of Kandinsky. Surprise hits were the Mussolini sculptures and it was interesting to see Lena Reifenstahl's promotional film for the olympic games, the way she animated the Parthenon and the classical statues.

I really loved the work of Franz Marc. He was someone I hadn't seen much of before. Going to take special note of his work now. I liked the combination of broken form, representation and selected symbolic pieces to make an evocative landscape, a mixture of approaches that's often used in illustration but it's not often I see a painting that uses this composite aesthetic. I also loved the Balthus painting. He's not someone I have previously taken much note of but I did today. Apparently he got his strange dreamlike effects by studying the work of Piero Della Francesca. The notes called it 'displaced ...' well I can't remember but it seemed to make sense at the time. Basically it seems to be about drawing people with regard more for how you want to present their perspective, and in a way that doesn't make a consistent visual illusion, but rather causes you to think 'how odd' while at the same time noting how carefully and well the figures are painted in terms of technique and expression.


Richard Sanderson and I are working on a new collaboration. This is another one he has got up to.

Another New York day

We've had no water last night, as the water workers are doing some work on the water. Debs thinks everyone else is probably using the water because that's the New Yorker way. Thank goodness it's nearly day and we will have water again in half an hour.

I'm thinking about going to a museum this morning. Either Brooklyn Museum or the Guggenheim. We're not going to do the painting today, because we have dinner guests this evening. Debs is doing turkey and basmati rice. She's a great cook. More than great. Really, really impressed.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Dried Fruit and Christmas Lights

Went to this excellent, amazing food store on Atlantic Avenue and bought lovely dried fruit. Apricots from Turkey and dates from California, dried without sulphur. Yum yum yum. I had to eat the dried figs straight away. And the dried cranberries. I love dried cranberries and they are something that's SO much cheaper in New York.

I then bought some Xmas lights of the type that Debs said that she wanted, and when I got home she'd bought 4 boxes of them. Jeesh, my good ideas didn't work out. But I managed to get some paint thinner. I realise now that hardware stores in NYC are not really like British hardware stores. They are more like chemists and homeware stores, with a little bit of hardware in the corner. Which is why I didn't find a hardware store earlier.

On the way back from Mitch's we walked through picturesque Cobble Hill and he pointed out a plaque on one of the houses saying that Jennie Jerome was born and lived there, that is, Winston Churchill's mother. Nice house. I knew the story because I'd done a dissertation on Randolph Churchill, that is Winston's dad, for my history A level.

The Spy

Mitch Friedman and I have spent the afternoon recording our joint musical composition 'The Spy'. He's done a wonderful arrangement, very John Barry-esque, inspired by 'Diamonds are Forever' and 'You Only Live Twice'.

I also did a short interview with Mitch for a little package for the radio show Naomi Woddis and I do for Reel Rebels Radio. We talked about our experiences on the Ray Davies songwriting course, where we met, many moons ago, and about the music scene in New York for an independent songwriter.

Spy! Bathing Beauties ...

Off to meet Mitch now to record 'The Spy' cannot wait. I'm going to take my uke. Debs is showing me her tracings of the bathing beauties that she painted for a client. She is brilliant at transforming spaces with paint finishes. She knows so much about art and techniques. But she destroys all her artwork. We are complicated people, us artists. Or rather, people are complicated. And artists certainly are.


Grrrr, just walked round Fort Greene looking for a hardware store to buy some turps as Debs was going to give me an oil painting lesson. But I could not find the store. Bought Blanaid a nice pair of turquoise and pink gloves from the Dollar Store, popped in the Greenlight bookstore and gave up.

MOMA and Rockerfeller's

Wow. What an amazing day yesterday. I forced Debs to come with me downtown to the Museum of Modern Art. We saw the two painting and sculpture galleries. I was particularly taken with the de Koonings, wow! And the Picassos. And the Motherwells.

I got introduced the American artist Andrew Wyeth for the first time. Very cinematic, very open air. Really transports you to that open skies and fields, the big American scenery.

Debs loves the pregnant goat in the sculpture garden. She used to sit there and eat her sandwiches by this Picasso.

Took a video of Deborah waving through the legs of a Futurist sculpture. Might post it on Youtube when I get home.

Strangely, I found a new toothbrush on the road outside, just what I need. My old one has died a death.

Afterwards we went to the Rockerfeller Centre, saw the huge Xmas tree, and darling chocolate shops, the cool Angels and all the people ice skating around and around.

Didn't have enough money to go in the Russian Tea Room (apart from poking my head inside the foyer) but I did pose as a teapot in the street outside.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Q Train

Last evening I took the Q train from Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge, to the East Village. Coming over the bridge at night, saw Manhattan's buildings all jumbled up in a high, angular heap, looked impressive and friendly. All that dirty industry, that mass of construction, vigorous and tense, decorated with coloured lights.

We went to Avenue A. Alphabet City. Makes me think of the Muppets. But Jim Henson lived in Brooklyn, not far from Debs, I'm told.

Sidewalk Cafe

Ooooh, I played piano for the first time ever at a gig last night and it was wonderful. I really enjoyed it. The piano was at a right angle to the audience, and I found it so strange to turn my head towards the audience and look at them while I was playing.

The sound was so good and professional in New York, felt different to London gigs in a good way. I think I would really like to play some Open Mics here, but doubt I have time. I have two more gigs this week at Tillie's Cafe here in Fort Greene on Friday, and at Banjo Jim's on Thursday.

I'm having such a cool time, and Debs is a great host.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Fort Greene

Visited the local park where a Walt Whitman impersonator stalks park-goers with 'Leaves of Grass'. He wasn't there today though.

The park is named after General Nathanael Greene and a fort which he supervised the building of - Greene was an American revolutionary general who helped Washington in the Battle of Long Island in 1776.

The big monument in the middle and the crypt, now the visitor centre, is erected in the memory of the patriots who died on the British prison ships during the American revolution.

I walked a little further along, down Myrtle Avenue. Debs says that this was once called Murder Avenue, when things were much rougher here. Further I made my way through council housing (I think, some American version of) called after Walt Whitman, nosed at people taking their kids out on a Sunday afternoon and thought of London estates, rolled up at the Expressway to Queens. I didn't go any further though.

Poor old Zorro

Debs's cat Zorro is very sick. She keeps eating. I think the cancer means she can't absorb the nutrients. It's very sad, but she doesn't seem in distress. She's a lovely cat. She was purring on my bed last night and ended up sleeping at my feet. She looks happy for now.

Debs wants me to record Zorro miaowing for the radio but it's not easy. She doesn't miaow that much.

Sidewalk Cafe

Tonight I'm playing the Sidewalk Cafe on the Lower East Side. I'm hoping to play the piano as well as the uke for the first time ever at this kind of gig. So this is a big evening for firsts for me. First ever gig in America, first ever gig in New York.

Brooklyn Flea Market

Just had a blowy walk in the sunshine to the Brooklyn Flea Market in the Williamsburg Bank. What a lot of trendy gorgeous youth shopping in this lovely building, eating cupcakes and salad out of plastic glasses. Debs bought a one dollar mini cupcake, but I passed.

The vaults are very impressive, big solid metal doors, so thick and tactile. I had to stroke them.

The foyer is bright and heavenly, yellow stars, blue lapis lazuli background, shiny mosaics. I took lots of Flip video of legs, as shoppers milled around the stalls.

Brooklyn Deb and Baynard Rush Hall

I'm in sunny Brooklyn staying with Debs in the most beautiful wooden house, built before the Civil War a couple of doors down from where Marianne Moore lived. It's an early three story frame house, built in 1853. Walt Whitman was a carpenter round here actually, and might have had a hand in the construction. It's now a row house. It's earlier than the other brownstone houses that are so classic around here, and which were constructed after the civil war.

In this strange tenement of open hardwood staircases and Deb's wonderful art a chap called Baynard Rush Hall once died. His father was George Washington's physician. A pretty famous American family, who had an important role in persuading Washington to take up his public office (apparently). I only stay in the very best places.

Baynard Rush Hall was a writer and teacher who began the University of Indiana. He was the first owner of this house. Dixie Kline Richardson has written his biography.

Baynard had a lot of kids but they all died before him. So sad.

If Deborah had never opened the letter addressed to 'Occupant' written by Dixie, when she was investigating Baynard, and called her back, she'd never know about it. And such an interesting history. Dixie must have spent years and years researching her book. Very beautiful.

There is a lot of American history in this house and in this street. I feel very, very privileged to be staying here.

Friday, 3 December 2010

I'm off

NYC here I come. If I ever pack. It is so snowy it is hard to concentrate.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


... is so clever! Everyone should really read one of his sonnets a day. They always cause a chuckle, even if they don't keep the doctor away, the restructuring of the NHS does that.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Monday, 29 November 2010

New on sunnyside lane

Home made oil paint

Honestly, my boyfriend is not only gorgeous, he is hilarious! Well, I am holding a large glass of wine. I do drink occasionally, as you can see. I seem to be in some kind of strange painterly ecstasy. We're standing in front of a rescued canvas, on which we have been trying out my home mixed cream oil paint, made out of powder, linseed oil (boiled) and beeswax. Bit gritty but it worked as a mixer. Soon there will be large canvases painted in the garden.

Fire! Fire!

We have a beautiful new iron grate and a wonderful open fire in the lounge. It works, the chimney draws well, it's gorgeously warm. See!

9.5mm v. 8mm

Although Matt has got the 9.5mm projector and camera working to a degree it has been difficult and there are lots of problems. For example the wheel that spins around and blocks out the sprockets in the middle of the film strip is bust. He has done a great job, even cutting the wire that lights up the bulb and plugging the wires directly into a transformer. He focused the film on a little bit of paper. However it was hard work. The camera works okay, and seems practical but because of the projector difficulties we have decided that it will be less hassle to go for the 8mm option, as it's easier to get good machines in working order. And if we want to leave films running automatically as part of an installation we need something more usable than a broken hand-cranked Pathe projector, cute though it is. I have a lovely 8mm projector, more recent, and which has its own beige plastic charm, so we're off to a good start. We're hoping his uncle may have an 8mm camera in his loft. Really excited about making some films, especially seeing as I have a PhD in film history!

More sketches!

I just can't stop ... loving the sketching thing

Here's one from La Loma

To see the sketches blog, visit

Saturday, 27 November 2010

For the Messengers - Mumbai

Did some more sketches today in my lunch hour. Here's one from 2008, the year which my book 'For the Messengers' studies.

Lucia Nogueria and 9.5mm

It's Saturday, and I walked home via the Tate Modern as I often do on a weekend. The evenings are great for seeing the work as it's not too crowded. I like to see a small part of the collection seriously and think about it for the next couple of weeks. Today I watched Lucia Nogueria's film, her intervention in Berwick. Enjoyed the static camera and the movement in the frame. That's something I like about early film. It had a nice texture, with the wind and the kites, the shadows and the grass and flowers, and shot in black and white grainy analogue film.

My 9.5mm movie camera arrived today. It hasn't got a lens, but I presume it needs one. I'm looking forward to filming some material on this amateur Pathe stock, and projecting it on the home projector. I see Matt has got the projector off the shelf. It's old but cute. He particularly admires the Bakerlite plug. He reckons he can get it to work, so there may be some amateur B&W film soon to share. Not till next year though.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Bolton Elephants

Here's a lovely site with pictures of Bolton elephants.

The Elephant Gate in Bolton

Humphrey Jennings and the Elephant Gate in Bolton ... in this documentary they're making a big fuss about him linking exotic and industrial climes ... ut the elephant is known as the Bolton image ... it's on the town crest ... Bolton is exotic, I always found it an exotic landscape as well as a Lancashire one, through the links to India through the cotton trade and the recent large immigrant community, the Pakistani shops their bright goods in the red-brick rained-on cobble streets.

The Man Who Listened to Britain 1

Humphrey Jennings

In the furtherance of my developing immersion in British surrealism I'm watching a documentary about Humphrey Jennings on Youtube. It's very helpful, and free. It's 'The Man Who Listened to Britain'. Recommended.

Posy blog

I've just started a posy blog, for the little nature arrangements I like to do. I've liked to do this kind of thing ever since I was little, picking little blue forget me nots and arranging them in the doll's house vase.

I'm particularly keen on natural looking arrangements.

I don't plan on being particularly strict with this category, for example, posy 2 is really a rather interesting mushroom that Matt and I encountered when walking Solly. It's a huge fungi growing in the side of a trunk. Looks like a gnome has thrown flour in it. Very strange.

Emmy Bridgwater

Dabbling in the waters of British surrealism at the moment ... love Emmy Bridgwater's work. This one is called 'Night Work Is about to Commence'. I think the greyish palette is lovely and I like the themes of domestic work, one which occurs time and time again in my own art, specially my poetry and song. What's that bird looking at - seems ominous to me. Definitely a night time painting.

The Vacant Chair

My post punk minimalist duo with Richard Sanderson is coming along. An avant-folk outfit, we're going to do traditional and parlour song. I've just sent him chords and music for 'The Vacant Chair', the civil war, anti-war song. I'm going to play Microkorg and he will play electric guitar with fuzz pedal.

The only problem is that we can't decide on a name. I fancy Foulkestone, but Richard prefers either The Unwelcome Companions or The Charming Interior so far. Perhaps we'll end up with none of these names ... who knows?

Ciudad Jarez 2010

Another of these little sketches I've been doing in a journalist notepad of the stories from round the world that I shotlist for my job for Reuters.

This is a very poignant image for me. Mexico, the lost children ... the bleeding hearts and bodies ... it's just not fair ... anger seems too petty a response ...

Quite Contrary - Snakeperch Press

Matt's version of a Winston Churchill speech is in this lovely, slim tome.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Desperado Housewives XMAS EP

Hurrah! This is now available in our new online shop. Hurry while stocks last ...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Mexico City 2010

Uploading new sketches to the Sketches blog - do have a look,

In this sketch you can see the terrified bull jumping out of the enclosure, the sand of the arena falling off him as he leaps. I hate bull fighting.

Duck disaster

Two of our lovely ducks were hurt yesterday ... they seem better this morning. We're going to leave them in the pen more of the time, and only let them roam supervised. Shame.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Ducks eating and flapping

Look at the gorgeous swirls as Philippovich flaps.

Frosty when I let the ducks out

I had to break the ice on the pond this morning. Ducks doing well.

Walking out the door I was assailed by the scarlet berries on this bush. Overpowering. They look unreal. I guess coz the frost sticks to the leaves better or something, they are almost flourescent or something ...

Cardamon rice pudding

This evening I made an Indian style cardamon ground rice pudding.

Frosty morning

This morning when I fed the ducks it was all frosty. Very beautiful, but the bolt on the fence gate that keeps the dog out of the ducky area was all cold and shiney ... I took some pictures.

The washing line takes pride of place in this photo.

For the Messengers - Hat Yai

Woman wading through the floods at Hat Yai. Her lovely stripey dress, her delightful spotty umbrella ... was funny how her head disappeared into the dark space of the gateway beyond ...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

For the Messengers

My first poetry collection, For the Messengers, will be published early next year, the launch is scheduled for Feb 2011. It's about the video stories I archive for Reuters. Today I started a series of drawings to interpret the stories visually as a parallel exercise. This is set in Indonesia, the volcano in the background is Mount Merapi.

Commuting textures

Blow these up big to see the subtle image

Commuting textures

Commuting textures

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Coptic binding

Watching a bookbinding video as I'm hoping to make a book of poems / fragments / drawings from my trips to Orbyhage in 2009-10. I don't know if coptic binding is a good idea though in this instance.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Passing by ...

... in the cab


We went shopping yesterday in the cab. Today we ate the ham that we bought. There's plenty left, we got a huge piece for ten pounds, on special offer. Here's a photo I took of the Sainsbury's the sky looked nice through the window and I like the chair.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

What Loving - Naomi Woddis

I present a poetry and music show for Reel Rebels Radio with Naomi Woddis. She is a lovely poet, I really connect to the emotion in her work, it's not overshadowed by other concerns. Her work slips into the heart so simply and beautifully.

What Loving

calls this way? His words a virus, slippery
as an eagle in flight to your eager ears. Loving
is a gun sleeping in a worn holster or a hymn
for those who know what praying is.

Some days he'll tilt his head towards you
like the sun, conjour up a sound and roar.
Others he'll leave you ice bound. What's left
is to hurl your voice upwards and sing.

Anyone can call you sugar. It's not a sign
of anything other than a need for virgin hope,
the gull-cry plucking the air like a violin.
Get a pen, make a poem out of this-

you can be your own savior.


Just been shopping and took this picture on the way back from inside the black cab. Lovely texture, the streaks look like musical notes with square ends to the notes.

Ikebana posy number one

I like to collect posies ... of flowers and plants and bits from walks and the garden etc, so I've decided to do a series of them. This is number one.

Jude in the kitchen

See, I do do stuff in the kitchen (like pull long Thai dance silver fingernails out of the bottom drawer, I used to do Thai dance, you know ... )

Desperado Housewives XMAS EP

Available now for pre-order!

Comes in lovely sock for xmas. 6 tracks from the intrepid Desperados to play as you baste your turkey

1. Lentils : Kath

2. Thinks (See You Later) : Jude

3. Waltzing away from Winter : Helen

4. Hole in the Hedge : Kath

5. The Song of the Unsung Heroine : Helen

6. Ta Dee (Last Night) : Jude

The Desperado Housewives are Helen McCookerybook, Kath Tait and Jude Cowan

Photoshoot, comparing colours

I wanted to post this alongside the Mantegna Saint Sebastian just because the colour palette interests me. Also the shapes of the shower shots with their contained-ness relate somewhat to the saint shots in my opinion. Saints are shown separate from the world, but not yet in heaven in some kind of 'saint box' with their martyrdom.

I'm trying to plan a new series of photos, and am becoming very interested in colour and relating the pictures to previous artist work, which I know is such a cliche but at the moment I can't stop myself. I don't want to manipulate any of the photos digitally, even though they are taken digitally. I want to set myself the rules that they are published how they are framed and taken and then stuffed in the scanner. A bit like Dogma rules in film making.

The Embodiment of Pain

I'm getting a little into scapegoating and Saint Sebastian and saint shots. It's probably working at Reuters. There's a huge iconography of Saint Seb out there. Here's Mantegna's Saint Sebastian. There's a horseman in the left in the cloud. I like that kind of irreverant joyous touch. Also he must have really enjoyed putting that arrow through Sebastian's throat and out through his forehead.

The colours are a little like the palette that emerged naturally in the shower photoshoot.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Matt's painting of Shoreham

Blanaid scanned in Matt's gouache painting of the Shoreham scenery

The boot of the new cab

We've got a little problem with the starter motor. This is where it's lucky Matt is a mechanic. He's going to fix it at the garage we got it from.

Here's Matt and myself reflected in the shiny black boot during our day out in Shoreham.

One more from the photoshoot

I really like the colours in this shoot ... how would you describe them - sallow, pale pea, urine ...


I love Bulgakov. I'm reading Diaboloid at the moment on my commutes. But he does the same themes the same treatments. When you find an author you love, you should know when to stop.

Matt in Shoreham

I really like this photo I took of Matt. I'm using it for a composite surreal type picture. He didn't like it at first as he felt too self-conscious about the way he looked. However, now he has got used to it and actually posted it as his picture on facebook - it shows how you can change your opinion on things quite easily.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

And another

from when I turned the water on - I like the face shapes - glasses, mouth ...

Another from the photoshoot

Surreal photoshoot

I've been looking at various surreal artists works recently and am also thinking about self-portraits. And reading Bulgakov (one of my favourite writers). So I did a strange photoshoot this evening. The light was rather good I thought. Nice colours, nice textures. Matt took them on my Sony.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Feeling like a trip to the beach

Although Winter is coming, perhaps because Winter is coming, I am aching to go to the Seaside and do sandcastly things. Now we have the cab, maybe we will go. Here's a picture to inspire vintage seaside activities - so sensual - bare feet on the sand, feeling that damp grainy-ness and shells. Where else do we take our shoes off and walk along the bare ground?