Friday, 21 December 2012

The Feast of St.Custard's

We've talked a lot over the years of this blog about ordinary objects suddenly taking on human characteristics. You know the sort of thing: Adolf Hitler in your half eaten toast, Sarah Smart on the bloom of a peach, Andrew Mitchell out of a hastily discarded bicycle chain. Regular visitors to Unmitigated England will also recall that I can never remember the name for it. 'Para' something I think. Anyway, anyway (as Harry & Paul have it) I settled down to paint this year's Christmas Card, having not attempted one for six years or so. I carefully mixed my Designer's Gouache to a suitably custard-like consistency and applied my brush to the paper. All of a sudden my fingers twitched and this apparition appeared before me. Someone looking over my shoulder said "That's you that is". Merry Christmas Everybody!

PS If you want to see a Christmas pudding by a master, take a look at the 'currant' posting on James Russell's blog.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Down The Cut

On Saturday evening My Neighbour Who Knows What I Like rang. "Get yourself down to Foxton Locks tomorrow. They've drained them and you can go down to the bottom". Youngest Boy and I didn't need any further encouragement, even though it was on our local news. So having breakfasted on smoked mackerels and espressos (well, I did) we set off into the bright cold morning. I'm so glad we made the effort. Superb presentation, the people of the Canal & River Trust, scaffolding and ladders, meant that we were able to stand where no members of the general public have ever stood before. These awe-inspiring brick chambers were constructed between 1810 and 1814, completing the famous staircase of locks at Foxton that lowered traffic down onto the Midland Plain and into the River Trent, or upwards and southwards to Watford. We leant against dripping walls, splashed on the orange brick floor and peered into a deep hole in the lock wall where the water would normally rush in to fill the chamber. I explained how it worked to YB, but I'm afraid the high point for him was discovering a drenched and long lost sock just visible in the gloom.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Package Tour

In many ways it was the high spot of the day. After all, it could only go down hill after this lot. We have this annual beano in London that actually takes place in everything but every year, and after being summarily ejected from the Walmer Castle in Ledbury Road because it didn't open until midday (well keep the door locked then) we ended up in Colville Mews at this museum. I'd seen it before, many years ago when it graced an old canal warehouse in Gloucester Docks, but was still totally unprepared for just how utterly brilliant it is. As the Daily Telegraph quite rightly said, this is 'a place of worship'. I had to be restrained from continually dropping to my knees in front of the most superb examples of commercial art to be seen anywhere. If you call yourself a graphic designer (or whatever) and haven't been in, or made a promise to visit the mews as soon as you can, I shall send the Violent Brothers round to your studios in their big black Maybach limo. If you're as old as I am, you may simply enjoy it just for the nostalgia kick, (my pal said he remembered standing on two Watney's Party Seven cans to watch a stripper in a pub), but if you care about the craft of illustration, hand drawn lettering and classic typography, come down here and see just how good it got. All credit to Robert Opie for starting it off with a Munchies wrapper, and credit to the Gold pub in Portobello Road for being there for us at 11.15 with a warm welcome and excellent pints of Harvey's Bitter.