My on-line diary began in the 1990's from my studio in the North of England. After a lapse of ten years, I resumed posting from my present studio on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

From the far beginning, the intention has been to give an insight into my working methods, and to share the triumphs, trials and tribulations of work-in-progress.

My diary pages are followed by thousands of artists, art students and art lovers in over 50 countries.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Similarities but poles apart

My daughter recently bought me a copy of Enrique Martínez Celaya’s Collected Writings & Interviews, 1990-2010. It was not the book that I had sent her in search of but she did her best in finding an alternative that she thought “looked like me”. Thanks Tania!

I had never heard of Enrique Martínez Celaya and I’m sure he’s never heard of me. As artists we have a few things in common: we both hail from the Caribbean (Cuba for him and Dominica for me); we both paint and sculpt and we both share our thoughts through speech and the written word.

But there the similarity ends: he veers towards the conceptual while I cling to the representational; his thoughts are complex and mine are simple; he is internationally known and in demand, whereas I am not.

He says: “I’m after work so empty yet so dense that in engaging it, the act of becoming is generated”.

I say: I want my work to have the passionate feeling of making love.

I will let our respective work speak for itself. First, two of mine at random...

 Now two of his at random.

Monday, June 19, 2017

He’s made up for it since

Due to what was thirty years later diagnosed as dyslexia, until the age of five I had no means of speech – even the pronunciation of my name eluded me. As my brother once sarcastically remarked: he’s made up for it since!

To prove his point I’ve given two talks in two days. The first was to visiting students from the States and the second, to Dominica’s Prison Officers. For the students, the venue was my studio and the theme my work as a painter and sculptor. For the prison officers, the venue was the prison and the theme dyslexia: a relevant topic as research shows that 40% of prisoners are dyslexic.

I’m an old hand at working with prisoners. In the early 1980’s I did regular Thursday afternoon sessions at Road Town Prison in the British Virgin Islands. Those were the days of the old prison that is shown in the opening illustration.

For the visiting students I rounded off my talk with a sketch of one of the participants. While sketching I kept up a running commentary, so I’m still talking to make up for lost time!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Don’t pick a fight with a Grenadian woman

The above drawing is taken from my book Caribbean Sketches. It shows women carry bungles of sugar cane on the River Antoine Estate, Grenada.

It is mostly women that carry the heavy bungles of sugar cane from the fields to the mill. The bungles are hoisted shoulder high and then finally thrown down the trough that leads to the rollers – rollers that for hundreds of years have been turned by a huge waterwheel. What strength, I could barely lift one of the bungles. Take my advice: don’t ever pick a fight with a Grenadian woman!

Bagasse is the residue left after sugar cane has been crushed and it is from this that I am making paper. I have spent my day chopping, boiling and shredding a batch. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Same ingredients, different end product

In the far corner of our land, are the remains of an old sugar works and rum distillery. The river provided the pure water and the surrounding hillsides provided the cane. Now only the old walls stand: the waterwheel and boiling coppers are no more. Two hundred years ago trash from the sugar cane was used to fire the coppers that converted the cane juice into rum.

Sugar cane still grows to within a few yards from my studio but alas the bottle of rum from which I pour my sundowner does not have Antrim Estate on the label. However, a different end product from the same raw ingredients may soon have Antrim Studio as its watermark. I refer to paper.

The first picture shows sugar cane growing alongside my studio and the second, a sample sheet of paper from the same growth of cane. The paper has a faint musky scent; perhaps that's a trace of aged Antrim Rum percolating through!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Did I paint that?

It has happened to us all. We are jolted by the unexpected glimpse of our reflection in a shop window and ask: is that me?

The same goes for my paintings. After a session I select what I perceive to be the best and the remainder are put to one side. I stress “put to one side” for I learnt long ago never to discard. I also keep computer images of all my paintings. Sometimes, when searching through the thumb nails of these images I hit upon one that gives me a jolt. I enlarge it to full screen and ask: did I paint that?

Why I cast today’s painting to one side, goodness only knows. In retrospect it says all that I’ve ever wanted to say. In other words, it leaves more unsaid than what is said.

It takes a model as inspirational as Annabelle to work that kind of magic.