Tuesday, 23 February 2010


I don't know. No sooner has my erstwhile neighbour Peter Ashley insinuated himself in here with Mike Goldmark, (both of them going into huddles in the corner talking about the Unmitigated County Guides they're going to do AND books about folly towers and fag packets), than he waltzes in here with this. I knew he was a 'railway buffer' or whatever it's called (trainspotter), but it looks like he's been clearing out his drawers of all the stuff he's undoubtedly nicked out of 1950's waiting rooms. Oh yes, it's all in here- tickets, luggage labels, cigarette cards, bits of torn timetables AND I don't doubt the wrapper off a Brief Encounter rock cake. Of course everyone falls over themselves and it all gets done up as a 'Mixed Media' limited edition print called Shunt With Care. I'll mix media with him if he does it again. Although as I've got his lawnmower in bits in my barn I suppose I ought to keep quiet about it. For a bit.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A Passion for Colour

We've recently had seventeen original coloured etchings come in by Georges Rouault. I can never get my tongue round pronouncing him correctly so just say 'George Renault' to everybody. When I first saw them I thought 'Blimey' but on closer inspection they're really growing on me. There's also a series of wood engravings. But it's the etchings that I keep going back to, and in particular The Tramp, pictured here. We're still wondering how exactly they were done, but the likelihood is that all the colours were applied on one plate, the whole process for each print being incredibly labour intensive. Rouault (1871-1958) worked on the etchings (and woodcuts), collectively called Passion, during 1934-6, and they were eventually printed by Roger Lacouriere and issued by Ambroise Vollard in 1939. All those French names and me not knowing how to put an accent on letters when I'm writing blogs. But don't worry, we speak anglaise here when you phone us with your order- 01572 821424. And you can look at them all here. Au revoir!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Pot Shots

Saturday saw the opening of 24 British Potters, a new show at the Goldmark Gallery that everyone here has been beavering away at for weeks. The van's been out on the road continually, picking up pots from Peckham workshops, Bow railway arches, an old piano factory in Camden, and, memorably, from halfway up a snow-bound Welsh mountain. It's been an eye-opener for me, I can tell you, as one who hitherto had thought of pottery as something to keep leftover bubble and squeak in in the fridge. Many of the very top potters were here, dusted down for the occasion, and I welcomed nine of them at Kettering station. "Have you all come on the Harry Potter Express" I asked, and when the eight seater taxi turned-up there was a fight so as not be the one that had to come with me to the gallery. Which by the time we arrived was already heaving with ceramic cognescenti and our girls rushing about putting 'sold' red dots on the white plinths. From far and wide they came (hello John from Long Melford) to look, admire, chat and drink cold champagne in warm company. I can't tell you very much about the two dogs that came along, except they'd look nice with just their heads poking out of a pair of urns. But I do know that after all this I'll never look at my Colman's Mustard pot in quite the same way again. Do come and take a look in the next three weeks; word's getting around it's one of the best shows for years.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

McCool Aid

There's a corner of the gallery that's been very quiet recently. Men hunched over computers, discussions about leading and indents, and reams of galley proofs marked-up in red ink spilling out on the floor. This has all been in aid of McCool, more from the pen of poet and Kings Cross psychogeographer Aidan Dun, and another simply beautiful book produced by Goldmark's (it says here). Actually, I have to say it looks stunning. You can buy a reading copy for a tenner, or, if your books line-up on mahoghany shelves and you talk about them in a low whisper with your spectacles on the end of your nose, there's a highly desirable hardback that comes not only in a handmade slipcase but with three CDs of Mr.Dun intoning into a microphone. Goldmark has made just a hundred of them at £100 each plus a bit for posting and packing. I'd buy one now if I hadn't got an equally impressive gas bill to pay, just for the decent typography. And if all this wasn't enough, I came across Mike Goldmark staring at a computer yesterday like Stanley Kubrick over a Moviola, directing the final edit of a film we've made of the poet and his table lamp. McCool is launched today in the German Gymnasium opposite St.Pancras railway station. Mr.Dun'll like that.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Inky Fingers

Welcome to the post war school- high windowed times table inculcator, baby boomer incubator. Wooden floors, stale milk, chalk dust and inkwells. And not much to look at except 'teacher', a scratchy blackboard and a sepia picture of the Holy Land. If you were lucky. Thank God for Brenda and Derek Rawnsley, who thought enough is enough and brought the concept of contemporary art to the school wall. Brenda didn't hang about, and immediately cajoled leading artists to get down to the Baynard Press and start drawing backwards on limestone to produce a stunning series of original lithographs. She even flew to see Picasso, drinking champagne in the cockpit. I like that. And so the School Prints found themselves pinned-up in Bash Street in the 1940s. Michael Rothenstein's Timber Felling, Kenneth Rowntree's orange Tractor and good old John Nash's mouthwatering Window Plants and Harvest (above), which graces the baronial fireplace at Carrot Hall if the butler's not flogged it. Whatever happened to them? Torn, drawing pinned, used to make heavyweight paper darts? Possibly, but then Mike Goldmark finds a cache of them hidden away in Germany (of all places). As fresh and newly-minted as if they'd just come off the litho stone. He may get some more, but the first lot are a rapidly diminishing pile. Lord Carrot speaks to the nation: Buy some now, here, before the bell goes for playtime.