29 January 2010


While the tea is brewing, I'm tempted to get depressed because the little frieze of dancing figures that I've fixed in at the back of the main section of the Shrine is not showing up too well. Partly because the elm surface that faces you is aged and faded, which I like; and partly because no light gets round behind it to create a theatrical dynamic when it's against the wall, which is how it has to be. Or does it? I'm thinking that maybe next time I make one of these I could try using the frieze as a door, positioned in front, that you open and close to get at your sacred object or books or whatever you've got in there. That way the figures will get more habitually drawn into play, and will stand out better because of not being pressed up against the wall. I guess you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about - no image of this work available as yet - but you can see what I mean by these figurative friezes by clicking onto the website and sort of cruising around in there, like have a look at the Shrines in the Functional Objects section; www.paulandersonart.co.uk
Either way, I wanted to share with you the great sense of possibility that this small but irritating impasse has opened up. Still excited after all these years. By the simplest of things.
Now for tea, a blend of Clipper Everyday Organic, looseleaf Assam, and looseleaf Earl Grey. Obviously.

27 January 2010


With the table complete and installed, I realise among other things that I didn't give it a name, which is something I always used to do. Today is freezing-ish so after lighting a fire in the studio and making more tea I'll be getting on with sketching out a frieze of dancing figures to go in the back of a small oak shrine. There are a couple of images of similar kinds of things on the website. I'm making it for a painter whose painting of a fiery field I fell in love with. The shrine is my way of paying for the picture. It happens and I enjoy transacting in that way. I'll be using elm, a section of an old thin board I've had knocking around for years. And maybe whiten it so that the figures stand out more, we'll see. More later.

20 January 2010


Yes the Table though finished is still with me. I'm remembering especially the day I decided how exactly I was going to incorporate the long curved section of old oak boat hull. We had talked about possibilities, of something longer than strictly functional emerging somehow or other alongside or each side of the main body of the object. When the time came to finally decide which boat timbers to use (I had picked out a handful of possibles) I knew it had to be just one major wild section, apart from the shorter lengths already reserved for the two ends. And how to align it, given that it was going to be integral from a mechanical point of view ? (Integral because it was to be, apart from visually risky, the hypotenuse of the underbelly's main structural triangle.) I'm OK with the uprights of a frame protruding through the surface of a table, yes: June Summerill (Summerill & Bishop) and Tricia Guild (Designers Guild) have both had tables like that from me. But this is the first time I've thought, yep, this beautiful curve needs to come straight through the surface and continue on for a few inches at least. Partly because to cut it short would have been a kind of crime, and partly because to let it run on adds a fantastic surge of movement and drama. I knew this client would go with it.

19 January 2010

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It took me a few fragmented sessions to complete this Table. I had to keep leaving critical aspects of it unresolved, vacating, then coming back to it in order to see it with fresh eyes. That way, I found it easier to know what it had to end up being like. I'm talking about, for example, how to finish the ends, what colours to apply and where and how much, whether to colour the protruding ends of some of the pegs (something we'd talked about but I'd never yet done).....in fact a lot of aspects that would have dramatic effect, and would influence to a great extent how playful or puzzling or deep it would appear. When you can see a variety of ways forward at any one point in the process its a strange sort of agony to have to go with just one version: its fine if you don't sense there's an option, if you know straight away what has to be done; but if there's a lack of obviousness in the air - that's when you have to stop, well I do anyway, and find a way of deciding how to proceed, and how much of a risk you want to take. So in the case of this piece, I've been working on it and thinking about it quite intensely for a number of weeks, holding it like an exotic cake or a baby, and I can mess it up so easily, disempower it, trivialise it, by making one bad decision. Yes you get used to the deal I suppose. And learn to spend less time agonising.

12 January 2010


So today I was looking more closely at the four old oak boards ( about 2"thick ) that make up the top: how to clean up the worst gliches - gashes, splintery bits - without losing the variations in texture , colour, etc. which made me single them out at the salvage yard in the first place.
So that means sanding some edges quite deeply, cutting notches out in specific places, colouring certain patches - there's a number of techniques I instinctively draw on these days. And try to keep it instinctive and a little risky ( try things out ) rather than always doing the same stuff. So that this table top will not feel the same as any other I've done, and so that it has its own authenticity, which is eccentric but not foolish. When I've got to the end of doing all the earthiest stuff, I'll step back and ask myself if it is all too serious - does it need something playful or really unfunctional introduced at that late stage? That's where the pink might come in, or whatever.....Or it might emphatically not. For me using a colour I've never used before is really unnerving - I guess you might say I have a very limited palate, which is good perhaps, it's me anyway, at this stage.
But I'm jumping ahead: I haven't shaped the ends of the boards yet. More on this, dear reader, and other aspects tomorrow.

11 January 2010

9 January 2010

WORK etc.

I'm wondering how much further I'll get today with the relic oak Table I'm making for my friend, the potter Sandy Brown. Actually she is called more often a ceramicist, because she makes pots, yes, but also huge gawky sculptures. Yes, it is a commission, which is how I usually work. The answer it transpires is not much further, because owing to the increasingly Transylvanian conditions currently gripping our coastal home, I'm progressing in a sort of slowed-down, hibernatory way. However:
This Table is quite rugged, elemental, which is how we envisaged it being in the first place, almost 8ft.long x 3ft.wide. The level of difficulty, as I call it, has been typically high, so far. I'm talking about the construction of the frame here, the underbelly, the more interesting part usually: each mortice-&-tenon joint and half-lap has had to be approached in a one-off kind of way, because the curvey oak sections of derelict boat hull I'm using are no way symmetrical, which is fine, and will make for a zestier, feistier piece of work, but makes marking out and fabrication crazily unstraightforward. It is essentially the way I have worked for 25 years or more.
But it is going well, I'll put pictures up over the next few days showing you what I'm talking about. In fact I'd say it looks as if its going to come across with a stylishly nonchalent mix of earthiness, gravitas even, and risky sensuality. That's what I'm aiming for.