Category Archives: Art

Cool Man

as the annoying young man on the bus, chatting on his mobile phone, said. There is something rather affected when people throw too many foreign phrases around.

We’d just been to see the Man Ray exhibition at Mjellby Konstmuseum for the second time. Back in July I’d simply checked out what was on, before Daughter arrived. I felt Man Ray would be pretty good for her, and was suitably gratified when she embraced the idea with enthusiasm. If she’d been the ‘cool man’ type, then I’m sure that’s what she would have said.

While I found it interesting enough, I did what I always do, and walked through it fairly swiftly, and then rested in the comfortable chairs, looking at the books on Man Ray, before having a look at the latest selection of Halmstadgruppen paintings. (There’s a rather nice geometric affair in blue, with a yellow stripe that I wouldn’t mind having on my wall at home.)

Daughter, on the other hand, took her time and looked at everything. In detail. I was glad. It’s good to know you’re not always dragging Offspring, kicking and screaming, to see ‘worthwhile’ things.

Wasn’t sure she’d want to go again, when we returned and found the exhibition was still on, but she did. Considering we had to get the bus this time, I’d say she really likes this Man Ray chap. Or at least his art.

I waltzed through faster than ever, and then rested more than usual, while leafing through the books. Looked longingly at the blue geometric piece with the yellow stripe.

Once we got to the museum shop, we checked the lot out. A Freud doll rather took our fancy. But what Daughter really, really wanted was the exhibition poster. I asked, and they said this time they hadn’t printed any to sell. But we could have the small flyer, showing the same picture of Man Ray…

Man Ray, Mjellby Konstmuseum

Well thank you. But it’s not the same, is it? And I should have thought that selling the poster would be one of the more obvious things to choose. They made a whole book from the exhibition, so why stop at the poster-printing?


Bookwitch has already mentioned plans to move house. Things have to be got rid of. There are far too many things.

But whereas too much china or even too many books can prove hard to throw out, they are slightly less personal than paintings done by someone close to you. Picasso is all very well, but Mother-of-witch produced an awful lot of pictures. Nice ones. At least I think so.

Art by Anna-Stina

The walls are full, and at some point I gave up on trying to frame more to hang. So the rest are still sitting in the cupboards where I put them while I was thinking about what to do.

Art by Anna-Stina

I can’t throw them away. Nor can I really take them with me, hoping to find a cupboard large enough to stash them in, in the ‘new place,’ wherever that will be. I once did a picture sale, and actually sold a tremendous number of the paintings. And I still have more.

Offspring would have to get themselves their own houses now – with plenty of empty walls – if the situation is to improve.

I’m thinking of the rolls of large black and white sketches, not to mention the prints, which as the word suggests, exist in quite a few copies. There are sketchbooks. What do I do with them?


Rolf Harris at the Lowry

Rolf Harris sauntered onto the Lyric Theatre stage at the Lowry last night, dressed in a white shirt and sun hat, looking for all the world as though he was in Provence. He wasn’t far out. It was a glorious day, even in Salford, and so much better for Rolf being there. Maybe he’d got the wrong postcode, maybe not.

That’s the thing with Rolf Harris. You don’t know how much is an act and what actually happened. Maybe they really did drive round looking for the Lowry. (It’s an apt name. One painter to another.)

Rolf Harris programme

He started with Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, sticking to the same script he’s used for a while. We got emotional, we stopped clapping, we did everything Rolf told us to do. We sang. (Is there a discount when you become part of the act?)

Then he rambled a bit. Sang the intro to Kangaroo in Dutch. Spanish. Claimed he didn’t know the Japanese translation, although that didn’t stop him. Sang Kangaroo in Russian, which somehow turned into Kalinka. And Rolf finished with the Nashville version.

This all took a while, as you can understand.

A Japanese joke swiftly (no, pretty slowly in a roundabout way, actually) took us to Christmas and Six White Boomers. Then he moved via Aborigine art to Uluru and Raining on the Rock. He tried on his accordion for size. Several times. Then he finally played it, for tongue-twister Court of King Caractacus. The audience followed, still singing along. Was it an act, or was it for real? Rolf ‘completely lost it.’ Doesn’t matter.

You Are My Sunshine, with another slight hiccough. Who cares? We were all smiling in the sunshine. We sang Waltzing Matilda, and Rolf reminisced about singing it at Glastonbury with 130,000 index fingers counting ‘one, two, three.’ We found it hard to match this, having fewer fingers at our disposal.

Rolf Harris programme

We got a didgeridoo lesson, with Rolf doing unspeakable things with his glass of water and one belonging to a member of the orchestra. Basically, you blow raspberries while avoiding drowning yourself with the water. Don’t try it at home. This lead to Sun Arise, the most boring song the original musicians had ever played. Even George Martin felt it needed something a bit extra to counteract its mesmerising drone, and after three months on Radio Luxembourg it would have made it to number one had it not been for that upstart Elvis.

A short five-minute break for ten to fifteen minutes, meant we were back in 20-25. I’ll round that up to half an hour.

Rolf needed the time. He had a third leg to grow and clothe (orange trousers?) and a green tartan coat to put on. Yes, it was Jake the Peg, who had not only an extra leg, but sang the same bit a second time. Or tried to.

Rolf Harris programme

Once rid of the outfit and the spare leg, Rolf wore his cerise shirt, which he immediately covered up with a blue one so he could splash paint around. It was time for the painting. Fairly small canvas, for Rolf, but a great piece of work, nevertheless. Someone in the audience shouted out ‘can you tell what it is yet?’ I suppose it was worth checking he had some idea of what he was splashing the paint on. (Uluru, in case you wondered. With rain.)

The time spent painting, Rolf asked for permission to tell non-pc jokes. It was something about two Albanians, one of whom was called Patrick… He does do accents very well. You tend to forget this, in-between concerts.

Delilah and Stairway to Heaven raised the roof somewhat (we did sing very well, even if I say so myself). I now have a mental picture of Miss Given, for future use. Pavlova, on request, followed by Two Little Boys. I wondered how you can follow that with anything else, but Rolf did a rude version of it, which ‘lowered the tone’ sufficiently.

A lot of background information on Leadbelly, who wrote lots of songs, but not Sixteen Tons, which is why Rolf didn’t sing it. He forgot stuff. He dropped his money. And Leadbelly wrote Goodnight Irene, which will be why Rolf sang it.

Rolf Harris programme

Avoiding encores, we were firmly informed Rolf would finish with the British version of Kangaroo. We sat up straight and legs were uncrossed, and what we got was Kangaroo Elgar style. Or perhaps Land of Hope and Glory with dying stockmen. Seeing as it was the Last Night of the Proms, we felt we hadn’t missed out. And not a single varicose vein exploded.

Here he comes at last; Rolf Harris at the Lowry

We trooped out to the foyer where Rolf was going to sign. (They never said what, though. No merchandise, only programmes. And with no photography allowed inside, I have taken to photographing the programme to illustrate things. Sorry.)

It was a long wait, and a long queue. They had time to replace the pot of tea for a fresh one as we waited. I took a few photos and scarpered, so have no idea when the last ones left. This morning, I imagine.

Rolf Harris at the Lowry

I got to the tram stop as Rule Britannia was belted out on the façade of the BBC. Very nice.

Rule Britannia in Media City

It was all very nice. And if someone had suggested forty years ago that I would ever attend the concert of an 82-year-old, I’d have said they were crazy. But crazy would be not to go. This is feelgood stuff at its best.

Rolf Harris at the Lowry

I’d say come back soon, but I am a nice and generous person, so will say that it would be great to see you again, Rolf, but there are other deserving parts of the country, too. Probably.

Avengers as art

Graphic History of the Future, Holden Gallery

You can’t go far before running into the Avengers.

Graphic History of the Future, Holden Gallery

The official opening of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival took place at the Holden Gallery on Friday evening, and at the same time the exhibition Graphic History of the Future opened. It will be open to the public for the duration of the festival, i.e. Sunday 8th July.

Graphic History of the Future, Holden Gallery

Well worth going to if you like your old film posters and other period posters, as well as some Andy Warhol and Russian space memorabilia and what have you. Children may have seen Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlett on television, and they will probably enjoy drawing cartoons on the – designated – wall.

Graphic History of the Future, Holden Gallery

Ceiling art?

Dress with poem


I will leave it to you to work out how you want to pronounce it. Mis-pronouncing Swedish words and names is extremely hard for me. Guessing which way to get it wrong (i.e. the official Ikea mangling by English speakers) generally causes no end of difficulties for me.

But our family are very fond of Pjätteryd.

It’s a place name. Somewhere fairly insignificant in the county of Småland. Many years ago we were driving through Småland, on our way back from a visit to Ikea HQ in Älmhult. Every road sign – or so it seemed – promised to take us to Pjätteryd. The more we said it, the funnier it got. But we never arrived in this Pjätteryd, so I suspect it was all an elaborate hoax.

Over the years, whenever we needed to giggle about something, the Resident IT Consultant would bring Pjätteryd up. We’d laugh, and then forget about it until the next time.

That’s when Ikea brought in products bearing the wonderful name of the village that seems not to exist. It’s mainly arty stuff that’s been given the name of Pjätteryd. To the best of my knowledge we haven’t yet bought any.

Or maybe we have?

The Lost Thing

A 15-minute film wouldn’t normally be on my wishlist for DVDs to watch. But The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan is not your normal film snippet.

Shaun Tan, The Lost Thing

I read the book last year after Shaun won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and instantly loved it. The Lost Thing is a picture book, and you don’t always get successful films based on something as short as that.

The more I learned about Shaun and his books and his art, the keener I grew, and knew I had to try and get hold of the film.

This Christmas Daughter and I sat down together to watch, and we both loved it. Daughter now ‘must’ have her own ‘Thing’ to look after. ‘It’s so cute!’ she wailed. And it was. Very. But it’s also so large that it’d be hard to house, which is what the boy in The Lost Thing finds as well.

Narrated by Tim Minchin, it’s so laid-back in tone that it sounds exactly like Shaun himself. You could be fooled into thinking the boy doesn’t care about his new-found Lost Thing, but if he didn’t, he wouldn’t spend all that energy on finding the best solution for Thing.

It may be CGI, but to me it looked exactly like the book, only moving around. Perfect!

The 2011 Christmas Card

My rather nice card comes from the children at Charnwood. This is a Stockport nursery/playgroup with a difference. ‘Normal’ children can be found there, nicely mixed with children with special needs of varying type and severity. Both Offsprings attended Charnwood, and both received much needed skills and support from the fantastic staff. The place looked such fun that it was all I could do not to kick off my shoes and jump into the indoor sandpit, not to mention the ballpools.

© Charnwood

Definitely the Inn Crowd.

As with the place in Bethlehem, places are at a premium. But it was well worth persevering.

Guest art


We’re sleeping in the New Librarian’s old room. It’s now an ‘artist’s studio’, so on the shelves there are no longer the New Librarian’s books, but art. Always nice to look at, when ‘sleeping’.


Sometimes I even sit and blog at the paint stained desk in there.

As for the bed, it’s the most comfortable I’ve known. It’s damned hard stealing a bed unobtrusively. I would if could.


Frisk-ier than ever

When Daughter saw the prices asked for Thomas Frisk’s art today, she came to the conclusion that ‘she could do that too’. I was less surprised, because Thomas is good, and he has to have money to live. Unfortunately, so do we, so no buying.

We needed to entertain GP Cousin and Swiss Lady, which is why I suggested the new Thomas Frisk exhibition in Halmstad, at Galleri Art-On. I’m only ever a ‘little girl’ to GP Cousin, so he might well have had his doubts about my suggestion, but I think he was won over. It’s an excellent exhibition, and I’d struggle to pick a single piece I wouldn’t want to own.

There were ones that I absolutely loved, but all were good.

Between us, Daughter and I and Swiss Lady, as well as the other visitor there, fell for the same picture. Despite Swiss Lady claiming to have a wall waiting for something large, she too loved the washbasin picture, which also happened to be a more ‘normal’ size.

Ever the sexist, GP Cousin explained away our fondness for it by saying its colours were girly. Hah. OK, there was pink and purple, but mostly not. Mostly it’s the same grey and monochrome industrial grunginess as usual with Thomas. In other words, perfectly wonderful.

I have blogged previously about Thomas, and I feel the washbasin would complement my earlier toilet print very nicely. But I’m not fussy. Any of the other paintings would be quite acceptable. However, some of them would need to come with a new wall to hang them on. The wayward shopping trolley was good.

So were the ceramic industrial ‘details’ Thomas had made, to match what’s at the exhibition venue. All I can say is that before my electrician removed them for something modern and bland and white, I too had light switches like Thomas’s. I could have killed him. The electrician, I mean.

I’m going to need to send Daughter to study for Thomas, and then she can – maybe – produce industrial grunge directly for me. Free of charge. She did study with Thomas once before, because he’s a very kind man, and at about age 10 she angled for lessons when we met him. She was too young. Now she’d be more than ready for some knowhow on ceramic light switches, and how to best portray a WC.

The birth of British rock

This was right up Daughter’s street, and I don’t mean that in the geological sense. We managed to find just enough spare time before the show at the Lowry the other day, to take in the exhibition of Harry Hammond’s photos of early rock stars.

Sometimes exhibitions like these sound good and turn out to be somewhat disappointing, mainly due to far fewer exhibits to look at than you’d expected. This one was almost the opposite, with far more photos than we could have hoped for. All of them good and interesting to see.

I’m obviously too young (yes, really) to remember most of these stars from back when. The Beatles, yeah, yeah. My Cliff Richard is a little older than the one in the many photos. It almost seemed like a ‘Cliff with a touch of Beatle’ exhibition, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

The others were many of the obvious ones, but I especially remember Adam Faith. You know how you often think when you hear that someone has died, that you didn’t realise they were still alive? It wasn’t until I saw the dates given for Adam that I remembered that he died in 2003.

As for Shirley Bassey she looks younger now than then. Almost. There’s something about the hairstyles and dresses from the 1950s.

Well worth going to see, especially if you’re ‘old’. Some of the theatre-goers for Goodnight Mister Tom who were taken round the photos by granny looked less than enthusiastic. Perhaps they’ve not been brought up on old songs on the iPod?