I would like to be a dot in a painting by Miro

This poem by Moniza Alvi,  “I would like to be a dot in a painting by Miro” is deservedly well known.  Part of the video resources on poetry by poetrychannelwebsite on Youtube.  Nice ekphrasis.


Paul Nash – war artist

Appropriately, at this time of remembering the world wars – Armistice Day – the BBC has rereleased an excellent documentary of the war artist Paul Nash, viewable here.  This reminds me of my personal view of a retrospective of his life and work, earlier in the year.

The BBC one hour programme, presented by the great TV art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon, provides depth as well as breadth, surveying the artist’s life.

Screen shot 2017-11-12 at 17.25.23Here are summary notes on the BBC programme –

Paul Nash: The Ghosts of War

On 25th May 1917, war artist Paul Nash climbed out of his trench to sketch the battlefields of Flanders near Ypres. So focused was he on his work he tripped and fell back into the trench, breaking his ribs. Stretchered back to England, Nash missed his regiment going over the top at the Battle of Passchendaele. His regiment was wiped out.

Above all Nash painted war-torn landscapes: the mortar-scarred mud of Flanders, festooned with barbed wire and awash with pools of viscous, oily water. He left out the dead and the injured, partly because their wounds were so horrific that he believed it would have been disrespectful to depict their mutilated faces and bodies: instead, he anthropomorphised the landscapes of war, depicted scorched earth and churned up soil with a violence that implied the disfigurement of flesh.

Nash was scarred by the war and the ghosts of those experiences haunted his work throughout his life. A lover of nature, Nash became one of Britain’s most original landscape artists, embracing modern Surrealism and ancient British history, though always tainted by his experiences during two world wars. A private yet charismatic man, he brought British landscape painting into the 20th century with his mixture of the personal and visionary, the beautiful and the shocking. An artist who saw the landscape as not just a world to paint, but a way into his heart and mind.

After the war, Nash turned to Surrealism, an art of enigmatic forms and mysterious, nightmarish juxtapositions which seemed, to many, the perfect reflection of a world gone mad. His lungs had been damaged by mustard gas and his life would be sadly cut short while he was still in middle age. But Nash lived long enough to see the Second World War and become one of its greatest chroniclers in paint. Totes Meer, or Dead Sea, his depiction of a great wave of downed German fighter planes, is one of the most haunting British paintings of the twentieth century. It was also, sadly, one of Nash’s last creations.


Earlier in 2017, I visited the large Nash retrospective at Tate Britain and was suitably blown away by the experience.  See previous, substantial blog post on that here.

This exhibition was running at the same time, and overshadowed by, the blockbuster restrospective of the better-known artist, David Hockney.  I’ve had people who visited it saying to me “Did you see the David Hockney show?”  And I tend to reply “Yes – did you see the Paul Nash one?” Because I happen to have books by Hockney and he is well-covered by documentaries and of course, his work still appears in large shows like the RA Summer Exhibition, as he is a living, practising artist.  However, to see so much work by Paul Nash was a more unusual treat.




Laura Gill Artwork – painter

Laura Gill makes paintings which are slightly cubist/Futurist – the lines of movement are important.  I have just seen her work for the first time today – so unfortunately, I’ve missed her recent September exhibition: “New Horizons” in Edinburgh.

Her painting is almost sculptural, and her line drawings of people engaged in sport capture the essence of the movement of bodies.  She even does commissions for that very special birthday present:

Discerning Gent

Commissioned birthday card

However, much more typical of her painting style is this painting, Synergy.

Laura Gill

Syngergy (4) by Laura Gill

I am quietly beginning to set aside an art fund money so that I can buy one of her pictures – loving her work.  It’s flowing, beautifully drawn and joyous.


If you’d like to see more of her work, I recommend going across to her website here.


Window – Clement McAleer

Northern Irish painter, Clement McAleer, has done a lovely series of paintings, themed as windows.


“Glasshouse Shadows” 


“Attic Room”

The attic room reminds me of a poem by Seamus Heaney – another wellknown Northern Irish man – who wrote about something as mundane as getting a velux window in his study.  (At the moment, I can’t locate it to pass on to you, unfortunately).




Cartoon view of Medieval Art

Roz Chast takes us through her favourite type of art at the Met – Medieval paintings.  She has a distinctive eye and commentary.


Roz brings her humour to the pictures and a strong sense of where the artist is not quite sure if they’re good enough to draw certain parts of the picture – and how they cope with that.

The general effect is of going around a gallery with a witty companion who makes you snigger and yet wonder – but not be overawed by the art – to still see it as paintings done by humans, with very ordinary human concerns, as well as a sense of the exalted (most art of the time illustrates religious, biblical themes).


Quirky Ceramics Painting

Enjoying the work of James Ward, aka Jimbobart particularly on plates:



… and there are doormats… a welcoming masked panda or a vaguely threatening cat (“I’m so sorry Mr Bond, but my villainous sidekicks must kill you – it’s in their job description”… is what I imagine him saying)


Jimbobart’s works are available to purchase in Liberty’s London or online, on his website  They are quirky, without being at all cloyingly sentimental – there’s a kind of a feel of “The Wind in the Willows” book here.  If you fancy purchasing some for someone else, who has a particular animal they like, his work features cats, dogs, badgers, pandas, brown bears, foxes, penguins, otters – some in underpants and cape, others in full human well-dressed clothing (see “Mr Geography Teacher” stackable coffee cups).


my very favourite plate (although let’s be clear, I’m not the biscuit bandit in the house – cake yes, cheesecake definitely – but biscuits not so much


Creative Takeaways

Obviously, we’re not all skilled graphic designers, but we can still be inspired by Jimbobart.  Here’s a wee video of how you can do some personalised ceramic designs with a ceramic pen, design and carbon copy paper.  Inspiring…

NB: For designs to put on plates and bowls to eat food from, you will need to research which products can be used in this way.

Painting and Party

And for truly simple, fun handpainting gifts try booking a session at a paint/glazing pottery studio, where you can book the time, buy the blank ceramic of your choosing (plate or jug or bowl or mug etc) and they will supply all the paint and materials, fire your finished piece and have it ready for collection a few days later.  If you enjoy this – and it is totally absorbing and therapeutic for even the stressedout – you could also choose to do some pieces with a friend or hen party or kids’ birthday party.  (For the unconfident artist, they do have sponges which you can dab in paint and apply).


Above are some home pics from a friend’s birthday party, where four school friends who now meet up infrequently got the chance to meet and catchup chat while making.


Cooking and Art

Cooking with J W Turner, Rachel Khoo composes a pickled treat.

Sitting in the gallery, she sketches ingredients suggested by the picture, works on them in her kitchen – and eats the result (see video by Tate Galleries, below)


Creative Takeaways

Having watched the video – is there a favourite picture/painting you have?

How about sketching what ingredients the picture suggests to you – and then experimenting with them, to see what it produces – as Rachel Khoo does?