Sunday, 29 November 2009


I continue to struggle to paint four boards with black paint. The perfect surface still eludes me however. As of yesterday I had applied and sanded four layers of blackboard paint but still there remained imperfections on each board. Today, I employed a new softer, wider, wetter brush and stroked each surface repeatedly until it resembled a limpid pool (except black), Imagine my horror when on closer inspection that the ‘new’ brush had in fact been filthy with all manner of dust, particulates and hair and that the pools appeared infested with water boatmen, midges, caddis fly larvae and even frog spawn.

Tomorrow I sand.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

After much consideration and more than a little prevarication I have pruned back my sideburns using an electric hair trimmer. They appear much more controlled now and not at all what I want but time will help. I have prepared four boards with blackboard paint for Monika's spaceship drawings. After the first coat they were almost perfect. When I came to do the second the paint had congealed to a slimey paste which I stubbornly tried to trowel over the surface of the boards. This morning I have spent a good deal of time sanding (and swearing). Soon I shall venture out to Wilkinson for more paint as I am stubbornly convinced that this is the only way forward. I still have not phoned the Oxford Bingo Hall in Whitstable a failing that has caused my companion to make repeated offers of help. Telephonics escape me. I have managed to make a couple of tiny sculptures in my Alien Abduction series.

-- posted abroad

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Monika Bobinska

Monika Bobinska came to my sham of a studio yesterday. I had spent the previous hour unpacking the items I had previously packed and making a few stunt works in progress. I had made sure I had a packet of Leibnitz biscuits and some coffee and felt as ready as I could be. She turned the former down because she was on a “detox” (an alien concept to me) but did have a coffee. As usual both she and her intern Adam were fascinated by my studio’s history. It is sited on a US airbase in the military police headquarters. We have an interrogation chamber with two-way mirror, and my room is a cell with reinforced doors. After initial pleasantries we got down to business. She seemed to want to see lots of things and I tried to keep pulling new surprises from drawers and cardboard boxes. I showed her films of stars and spaceships, photographs, drawings and alien abductions. Cosmic mysteries all. By the time we had finished two hours had passed and I had agreed to show three films, to make a new series of sculptures, have some lightboxes made and to redraw a number of spaceships a little more carefully. And all this to be finished by the beginning of January, what a fool I am! How quickly have I been ensnared by the commercial gallery system!

Now I am exhausted at the very thought of all this toil. So tonight I will rest and watch an episode of “Blake’s 7” Its plot, stolen from “Star Trek”, involves alien forces pitting our hero against his arch enemy for entertainment. It also contains vampires of a sort.

In response to my worries about greying hair my companion found this quote by the Humanist writer Marsilio Ficino:

“To Stay Young:

Suck the blood of a youth… an ounce or two from a scarcely open vein on the left arm… when the moon is waxing”

Three Books on Life, 1489

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Hayley Lock

I have received a very helpful letter from Hayley Lock

May I suggest that you make a cardboard template with the desired 'perfect sideburn' shape cut out of the centre. This could then be taped to the side of your face measuring exactly the distance from say the top and side of the ear to top and side of sideburn on both the left and side of your face to achieve 'absolut'. If I have the time I will send a pic and perhaps a diagram. Maybe a hat with the two cardboard cutouts sewn in would work (given that the two sides of your head will be wonky anyway). Failing that I suggest you get them tattooed in as a permanent feature (maybe in little twinkling star form). Hx

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Performative Sideburns

I am having a little trouble with my sideburns. The left one has quite a different character to the right. It seems softer and less wiry the right is more aggressive lupine even. I am also concerned with the amount of grey hair that has appeared and am seriously considering applying gravy browning. I confess that I have little experience in the tending of facial hair. I am constantly engaged in trying to even them up but I swear they are as unruly as a pair of kittens! I am also unsure as to whether I should prune them back like rose bushes. Would this encourage healthier more luxuriant growth? The reader will, I hope, excuse my mixed metaphors they are merely a product of my confusion.

-- posted abroad

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Another studio visit looms. Monika Bobinska and her intern Adam are planning to come to Suffolk to see my work. Apparently I am to be in a show called 'Cosmic Mysteries' in Valencia and at the London Art Fair. This all seems to be happening rather soon. I was about to move studios because since my relocation in Ipswich I was finding the travelling too irksome. Because of this I have hardly set foot in mine for the last month except to pack a case or throw some rubbish or other onto the ever growing pile at its centre. So, when I arrived this morning to sort the place out and prepare it for visitors I was met with what felt like an insurmountable task. Luckily there was a skip parked outside, which I planned to take advantage of. It was one of those looming container types which either requires one to open its massive doors or to scale a ladder welded onto its side. Too afraid to do the former, lest the contents avalanche onto my frail body, I spent four hours to-ing and fro-ing with boxes of old art, potential art and hopeless mistakes until I had made a clearing large enough for one gallery owner, her assistant and one nervous artist. Next I surveyed some of the work I was hoping to show them. Finding some of it ruined by damp I decided to get some lunch at the local cafe. I have a busy week ahead.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A number of photographs have come into my possession recently. They seem pertinent to the unfolding of this narrative so I have published them here with brief explanatory texts.

I reported some time ago that my companion underwent blood tests to investigate her propensity for fainting fits. This is the dressing used to cover her wound.

This photograph of her preparing to scan a long eared bat illustrates her fascination with the collection of deceased animals.

These are the Crayola Girls mentioned in my post from Bath.

I have been watching a number of vampire films. This one, ‘Vampyr’ featured fascinating shadows cast by invisible creatures. In his book (residing in my lavatory) Basil Cropper praises the film but does note that, of course, vampires cast no shadow.

Finally this is the street in Chelsea that seems to appear in ‘Dracula AD 1972’. I stayed in the basement of one of these houses with my companion whose initials are AD.

Sunday, 15 November 2009


I have recently been struck by the power of coincidence. Last night my companion and I watched "Dracula AD 1972" with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing rerere-reprising their roles with
flared accomplices. Dracula's hip apprentice was cunningly named Jimmy Alucard an anagram that took Van Helsing several minutes with a pen and paper to figure out. This ne'er do well's dastardly plan was to raise his master in order to re-wreak revenge on the Helsing house. Their first target was Jessica, van Helsing's granddaughter played appallingly badly by Stephanie Beacham (although my companion pointed out her bosoms certainly earned their equity cards). She was so annoying that quite frankly I wanted to bite her by the end. Cushing did close the film by stating, quite pointedly I thought, that the whole thing was FINALLY over. This aside, the coincidence we noticed was that Alucard's lair was located in the very same street in Chelsea in which my companion and I lodged a few weeks ago. We recognised both the view from the front door and the layout of the interior.

While ln Amsterdam my companion (who, among other things, is fascinated by houses and their inhabitants) was browsing through a book on famous addresses in London. Initially she was looking for that very same sister's house in Chelsea but, failing to find it, she decided to look in the index for 'Dracula'. There she found Bram Stoker's house in St Leonard's Terrace. Laurence Olivier lived a few doors down. I decided to hunt out connections between the two actors and soon discovered on IMDb that Cushing played Osric to Olivier's Hamlet in 1948. A few weeks ago I was invited to put one of my films on the same site.
Anagrams of Peter Cunshing and Laurence Olivier's names are respectively:
Spectre hug-in
Lance our evil ire

Thursday, 12 November 2009


My dear companion has developed a fascination for carnivorous plants. While walking through the Bloemgarten she told me a Venus flytrap was on her Christmas list for five years but it never arrived. I had one of course and probably killed it with frequent ambitious feeding. The conversation reminded me also of the seventies dramatisation of 'The Day of the Triffids' with it's young flared John Duttine and face slapping plants. Later we visited the Butterfly house. I tried to show my bravery as the huge nectar sucking insects alighted on my scarf. My companion didn't notice though, she was too busy watching the giant chrysalides twitch.

-- posted abroad

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Arrived in Amsterdam last night. The crossing was calm and largely uneventful except for one point when one of our party slipped on deck. He contrived to land full on his face fetching himself such a knock that he split his eyebrow completely open. This morning he looks like a losing prize fighter, but was otherwise unaffected. Three hours into our voyage we sighted a grey band stretching across the horizon. Some swore it was land as it thickened and darkened. It soon became clear however, that it was heavy weather. We felt captain Holmes altering course and began to fear the worse until we realised he was steering towards a rainbow in the distance. I must admit it was a magical and disappointing moment when the bow entered the rainbow's end and it faded from sight.

-- posted abroad

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Sleep Talking

My dear companion has begun talking in her sleep. I have decided to take notes. Last night she mumbled about our trip to Bath. I have paraphrased the gist of it below hopefully making sense of parts that were not immediately clear to me.


With the lovely Pearly at the train station. He's gone stiff and nervous.

Trying to distract the lovely Pearly with pictures of mummified animals in National Geographic.

Flicker of recognition from JJ at the turnstile.

Roll onto JJ going round a roundabout in the back of the taxi.

Ask JJ about his bloodstone ring.

Pearly is quiet I am noisy.



Wet everywhere

The sound of Pearly stepping into deep puddles.

I relentlessly question JJ.

Dr Dan seems nervous of JJ.

JJ holds forth on the sofas.

He laughs when I say my arse is large (watch it JJ)

Get bus.

Students cocky and annoying. One girl who looks like a shitsu is talking relentlessly about how much men want her. I wonder if this is how Alex feels when I go on and on.

Bath so beautiful and looks like its rendered in halva.

Back to campus.

Lost although a milimetre away from Alex's show.

Alex has shut down and is in nervous concentration mode.

Dr Dan and Charles seem very awkward in the bar and I worry that I am pissing them off-but wonder if Dr Dan is just worried about the night ahead.

Gin and tonics through the men/women's loos-like Mr Ben

I like the records and the high up eau de nil ship

'in conversation'

JJ is riffing on a few themes and wangles some of Alex's work into them.

JJ thinks Alex is more of a cynic than I think he is.

I pipe up relentlessly.

Unfortunately the obvious brilliance of my argument is fluffed by the gin and I realise I can't remember what my point was as soon as I start talking.

JJ declares me the new Martin Parr as he peaks on red wine.

I'm in bed

Dreaming - I am holding a baby and I love it

Wake up Alex warm and soft in bed.

Alex tells me he loves me.

Put my ear plugs in and Alex says the prayer-I know he does because I feel his lips

Awake and have a bath with Alex

Take photos of JJ's room.

Egg and bacon bap with Alex.

Quest for the Bath bun.

The Circus was cold.

The Royal Crescent was colder.

Fell asleep on Alex on the train home-dreamt he was a giant furry squirrel.

Curve of the weir and the water-sad the rubber ducks weren't there.

The spa.

Seeing the town and rooftops while being in a giant communal bath.

Different steam rooms: Vicks, Chanel number 5 and lavender.

New friends James and Daniel at the baths find it hilarious I am in underwear.
Hayley Lock sent this image along with a suggestion that I model myself on John Gottowt during my visit to Amsterdam next week.

Friday, 6 November 2009

"No Mr Bond, I expect you to die!"

Joy, joy, joy but not all joy. It is all over. The show is hung, the conversation had, the drink drunk and the invoice almost ready to go. I say almost because I don't have a printer at the moment, an absence that causes me no end of slight logistical nonsense. The management at my place of work is currently striving towards a paperless office. An ideological standpoint that has only served to push my colleagues photocopying habit underground. Pale and shaking we huddle in corners printing and copying papers for our students. Some of us have taken to stockpiling handouts for future use. Now on top of this I find myself sneaking prints of personal documents snatching them away from sight as they appear.

Looking back, many things were discussed and said before during and after the opening at ICIA University of Bath. One thing I was asked (by Doctor Hinchcliffe) not to write about, so I won't. Another topic, this time during my conversation with Mr Charlesworth, is likely to be edited from the video recording. Later, in the student bar, drinking with my dear companion, JJ and the Crayola Girls a further conversation will remain unreported for other reasons.

I did tell JJ about my (so far secret) plans to apply for an Arts Council grant to cull a large number of Artists in the fashion of Ian Fleming's Goldfinger. I have always been taken by the efforts Auric went to gather the mob bosses to his home, explain his plans to them with elaborate model and audio visual presentation and then kill them whether they were in favour of his plan or not. Perhaps I should not have mentioned this.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

As a sort of performative work I have been trying to grow my sideburns similar to those sported by Peter Cushing in his roles as Van Helsing. They also hark back to my father's facial hairstyling in the seventies. Back then I wondered how they were produced and half believed that they would appear like the facial growths on a dominant male orangutan. My companion has become rather attached to them.

Some sort of shadowy pall seems to hang over my happiness. Tomorrow I travel to Bath to converse with JJ Charlesworth. I sent him a grovelling email communicating fear and excitement, mainly fear. He in turn replied graciously telling me not to worry. So I am endeavouring to follow his advice and act, at least, with coolness. Another communication came from Bath expressing concern that no one seems willing to look through my carefully placed telescopes. I am now considering a form of words to encourage the viewers' curiosity. I am considering bastardising a rather poetic section from Coline Milliard's essay on the Bedford incarnation of the show: "In Roussel's proto-surrealist book, the narrator (allegedly) first encounters the African coast through his telescope. This circular viewpoint provides a leitmotiv for Pearl's 'Goodbye to most of the daydreams' series, encapsulating distance and otherness, what is both feared and craved for..."

The above has all been via electronic communication. My relationship with real post has been a little more strained as my postman seems unwilling to knock on the door and merely pops his little pre-prepared red cards through the letter box. This invariably involves a rain soaked ride to the collecting office the next day to pick up my packet, letter etc. I have been playing with one such 'delivery' today a little circular brass mirror compact. I have been photographing my reflection to prove I am not a vampire.