Monday, January 31, 2011

luke leighfield

v much enjoyed ourselves at all hallows last nite - the songs off of gav's golden album sound better with every performance, and luke leighfield was hugely entertaining with big pop tunes plus tales of scottish hitch-hikers, potato facts, essential worcester sauce info, insights into just what it takes to deliver pizza, and theories about socks.

only downside was that i was driving so couldn't attack the pay-what-you-like bar :-(

anyway, here's the new luke leighfield single.

i'd recommend visiting this website where you can download his last album for as much or as little as you like... although the more you pay, the less pizzas he will have to deliver... :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

st. gemma's

just got in from an evening at st. gemma's hospice, which is just down the road from us here in north leeds.

it was an evening to celebrate the first official birthday of their young people's services, plus the launch of their new website and leaflets, designed by paul at [and illustrated by me]

the work they do at st. gemma's is fantastic, and i met some great folks tonite - staff and kids.

thanks to dan, kerry, chris, michael, cameron and everyone else who made us so welcome there this evening :-)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

paying it forward via facebook...

you may be familiar with this - there's a facebook meme doing the rounds whereby you post an offer to send the first five commenters something handmade during 2011. the deal is that they then also have to post the same offer, so the making and the giving spreads out across the FB community. it's a kind of cool thing to do and i really enjoyed following the trail forward to see where the meme-tentacles had extended to...

i sent out the first two bits of handmade stuff last week.

greenbelt alistair got a set of long-lost paintings of vikings which i wanted to find a loving home for, and james clark got this print - made from a drawing done whilst camping with all our mates last summer.

a little milestone...

i just printed out and posted invoice no.900


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

RE Today 'Expressing Meaning' commission

last autumn i was asked by RE Today if i'd contribute something for an issue of the magazine and this is the strip that they commissioned.
it's my attempt to answer [or maybe avoid answering?] some questions around faith and creativity and art [with a small 'a'] that they asked.

i'm quite pleased with the way it's turned out.
if you're leeds-based you may recognise some of the locations.

you can find out more about RE Today here and on facebook.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

even more bus trippiness...

i can see the light at the end of the tunnel with this bus project now - having completed these two prints, there are only three left to do now...
and yesterday i was discussing a plan for a low-key show somewhere locally to show them all off and to celebrate the whole thing [more news about that when there is any. don't hold your breath...!]


bus trip 60 is one of the smaller ones that i've done - 105x75mm.
it seemed right to do it that size and i'm very pleased with it. it shows the bus stop outside the big new[ish] 'clas ohlson' store in town, where i pretty much always catch my bus home.
i like the big symbols from their window display - the way that they're totally out of scale with the waiting passengers.
they look like some kind of weird alien hieroglyphs or something.

bus trip 63 is from a trip in with eddie to see 'evangelion 2.0' - part of the leeds international film festival...

Monday, January 17, 2011

trip 64

a cold evening's journey back home, having been to see a movie in leeds town hall with our eddie...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

wedding present bizarro gig return bus trip

this print is from my trip home after a wedding present gig last december...

if you're not familiar with them, the wedding present are a leeds band, fronted by dave gedge, making music that often document a particular male crapness in relationships and their aftermath. [my mate simon h suggested that we prepare for this gig by having pointless arguments with our wives...]

their songs are sometimes poignant, often darkly funny, with well observed and cleverly-written lyrics and back in 1989 they released 'bizarro', an album of indie guitar rock thrashed out at 100mph that soundtracked me through a painful romantic heartbreak, and which became my music of choice during the occasionally bitter fallout...

flash forward to 2010 and this was a sort of homecoming gig, with the band playing the whole lp.
and it was a brilliant night - sort of cathartic for me, with songs that i once wallowed in suddenly sounding all joyous and exhilarating. i was smiling for days afterwards.

in the print here, the grey bloke is 1990-me, surprised at 21st century me. the songs quoted are 'brassneck' and 'take me!' [possibly my favourite wedding present tune ever, a big, exuberant, 9 minute rock-out...]

Thursday, January 13, 2011

michael gove's 'english baccalaureate'

i don't post much of significance on here, and writing's not my forte [i could probably do you a better diagram explaining myself here] but last night we had eddie's yr9 parent's evening [just ahead of him making his GCSE choices], coincidentally on the same day that michael gove announced his swanky new plans for an english baccalaureate qualification, so it's a hot topic for us right now, and i wanted to get this off my chest...

first of all - i've always believed that the school league tables are a load of crap.
when we moved up here sue did some supply teaching and worked for half days in two very contrasting leeds schools. the first was in a very economically deprived area, catering for many families and pupils with social and educational difficulties. in the results-based league tables, the school is routinely placed quite lowly. but sue was hugely impressed with the commitment of the staff, their professionalism and the quality of the teaching there, and came back enthusing about what a terrific learning environment they had created there.
the second school is in a much more economically stable area, and has had good ofsted reports. it usually comes quite high up the league with good results. but [without going into too much details] sue was relatively unimpressed with the place, which seemed pretty complacent and happy to focus on it's reputation rather than it's practice. she certainly felt it could have been doing much more with it's pupils than she witnessed while she was there...
of course that's just a snapshot, but then so are the league tables. that's why they're not to be trusted, even though successive governments have put so effort into promoting them as the primary indicator of a school's worth.

in essence, the idea of the baccalaureate [as i understand it] is one i'd support. if the bacc is a qualification that recognises that a student has had access to and success in a broad and varied range of subjects, studied in some depth then that sounds great to me. because i believe that education is about producing well-rounded individuals who have been given a chance to explore the full breadth of the available curriculum, and opportunites and encouragement to excel in the subjects where their aptitudes and passions lie.

but despite what he might say, michael gove's 'english baccalaureate' - and it's imposition on the league tables - is absolutely not about that breadth and variety of experience and attainment.
instead it looks to me like a regressive promotion of a two-tier academic vs vocational divide whereby schools are rewarded for their success in a narrow range of subjects and effectively punished for their achievements in those areas which the government perceive to be less important.
if gove's baccalaureate was truly about breadth it would have some arts requirement in it. but it doesn't.
the arts [along with many other subject areas] are deemed by the government to be less important than maths, science, english, foreign languages and the humanities.
as a school, if you want to do well in the league then you will now have to promote the bacc subjects and achieve good results across the board there, first and foremost.
and because a low showing in the league is likely to make your school less attractive to parents, and with the cash allocated largely dependent on the size of your roll, there are big implications for future funding there.

our eddie's school [allerton grange, in leeds] has been absolutely fantastic for him, and we have nothing but praise for the place and the staff. it's a school with an arts specialism, and that's one of the reasons it's been so great for him [and us] - it suits his aptitudes and has given him a big variety of great opportunities to explore and develop his creative talents [not least appearing in macbeth at the carriageworks as part of the shakespeare in schools festival last year]
it's also been brilliant in helping him in the more academic and gove-approved subjects too, where he's also excelling. but i fear for the school and others like it. because part of the school's DNA is the promotion of the arts it attracts kids like eddie who have a passion and an aptitude for the arts [actually, "passion" is not a word that you'd normally associate with eddie, but you get what i mean...!]
and those kids will go on to acheive good grades across the arts.
but the 'english baccalaureate' won't recognise those qualifications and achievements in the arts, and the school will be downgraded in the league as a result. it's wrong and it's incredibly misguided; and it seems to come out of our politician's presumption that "hard" academic subjects and qualifications are intrinsically more valuable than arts and vocational studies...

it's making me quite angry. grrr.

and having said all that, here's a link to my good friend steve's blog, where he puts it all much better and more succinctly :-)
there's also a link there to a nine-minute bbc clip of michael gove and a caller sort-of debating the issue on radio 5live.
it's worth a listen. i found our education minister rather patronising, rude and disingenuous in it, but that's just my opinion - you can have a listen and make your own minds up ;-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

three more bus trips...

so, i'm getting near the end of the bus lino print project thing.

the bus-travelling part of it ended on december 21st when i made my final journey of 2010, back from chapel A having bought sue her christmas present. that's trip no.71 - see above.

trip 68 was a journey into town with eddie for the sunday service - not, you may be sad to learn, a religious gathering, but the rather brilliant acoustic night put on by mr barnaby aldrick at the call lane social bar in leeds city centre. it was snowy, and cold, and the bus windows were all smeared with condensation and road-filth, so it was hard to draw anything in much detail...

trip 69 was the journey back. it was so cold that even on the bus you could see your own breath and despite appearances, we were both pretty cheerful, if a bit knackered. i may revisit this print and re-do it, with a few little alterations. i'm thinking that i might add some text and maybe tweak my glasses a bit.

the bus stop in no.71 isn't the one that i caught the bus from - it's the one across the road [just down from the library in chapel allerton, sort of opposite the seven arts bar if you're interested...]
i've never really enjoyed drawing trees much - trees, foliage or general landscape.
but i like the way that this one has turned out...

Monday, January 3, 2011

the 47th bus trip...

i may have blogged about this before, but a while back i came across an interview with billy childish where he talks about the theory of 'ruckenfigur' - compositions in which the viewer sees the figure from behind and is invited to share in the view that the subject sees.
it's relevant to a lot of these bus prints as i've inevitably ended up drawing that back of my fellow passenger's heads quite a bit.

that said, i've shied away from showing much that's going on outside the bus, probably because there's not a huge amount of dramatic landscape to draw between here and the city centre; often it's dark out when i'm travelling; also because the scenery flies past a bit quick to draw clearly; plus sometimes the windows are so steamed up and/or grimy that you can't see much through them anyway...

so this was an attempt to do something ruckenfigur-y. and i quite like it.