Life, photos but not the universe

But is it Art?

When I was at art college, I was told by a tutor one day, “your paintings are too classical, don’t use white”.

Obediently I struggled to paint without any white and discovered a quite new style involving a lot of black.  One day the same tutor wandered past, stopped and said “your paintings are too classical.  Don’t use black”.

Another time a whole group of us went to Healey Dell, a local beauty spot just outside Rochdale.  I spent a happy afternoon drawing white limestone rocks with perfect swirls and pockets carved out of them by the river.  When I got back, I wanted to incorporate these patterns into a picture, together with my current obsession with red haired women, waterfalls, stairs and oil pastels on expanded polystyrene.  There was only one piece of polystyrene available (scavenged from leavings in the sculpture studio) and what I had in mind didn’t quite fit so I ended up, more or less accidentally, with an Escher like arrangement where some stone steps led down to the top of the waterfall which fell to the top of the steps*.  The waterfall fell over some very nice curly rocks and there was a red haired woman crouching at the top/bottom of the steps.  It wasn’t a very satisfying composition, having a waterfall falling up/down one side and the steps going down/up the other but it was quite fun.

As I was finishing this off and wondering how I was going to preserve it for posterity** and the end of term show, a number of tutors wandered past (they did a lot of that) and looked.  One or two wandered past again and even came in pairs and muttered a bit.  Eventually one of them said “That’s interesting.” and then, with a note of incredulity,  “Do you know what you’ve done?”  Up to then, I had attracted little attention as a potential artist so I was slightly flummoxed both by the question (well of course I knew what I’d done –  a pastel drawing with some curly bits and a waterfall and some steps and a bit of accidental but quite acceptable spatial impossibility – wasn’t it obvious?  What had I missed?) and by the unaccustomed attention.  So I muttered something inarticulate and sulked a bit that it had taken an accident to make anyone realise what a gifted, interesting, clever, good student I really was.  What really annoyed me was that I never quite managed to reproduce the effect but at the next assignment session when everyone was told what they should be working on next, I was told to do anything at all as long as it involved Healey Dell.  Baffling!  But very nice since this meant I could catch the bus up to Healey and wander around in the dell for a week or two and consider it work.

A few years ago, I went there again.  It really is a pretty place though on that visit it was too wet and dark to go looking for the limestone bit.  Took a couple of photos though.

I’ve forgotten why I started this post but I’ll be away for a while soon and there’s an awful lot of packing to do so I’m afraid you’ll have to guess.  If you can be bothered : ).  The canals beckon and who knows, we may be icebreaking again – it’s exactly a year since we went on our first trip on our boat.  Ah well, goodbye to sunshine for a while.

Looks as if somebody left their dinner half finished on the post.


I hope you have a good time while I’m away and that good things happen to you.

*Or maybe the steps went up to the bottom of the water fall which fell to the bottom of the steps?  I’m not sure.

**Polystyrene! Honestly, what an idiotic material to use!  All those little white balls dropping off everywhere!  But it did bring up the colours lovely and bright.


January 28, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I want to see your Escher version of the Kennet and Avon. No rush. Enjoy your cruise.

    Comment by Tim | January 28, 2012 | Reply

  2. That’s pretty funny Mig.. But you are talented regardless of what the professor said.. What’s wrong with Classical? Hope you have a wonderful time on the canals.

    Comment by Betty | January 29, 2012 | Reply

  3. Why is it I’m not surprised?
    We rarely see our own greatness.

    JUST sayin’……..

    I do hope you’re having a lovely time of it on the barge…and staying warm.

    Comment by Mel | February 4, 2012 | Reply

  4. Thank you Tim. We did. Escher, K&A – oh if only I could. Would be the Devizes flight.

    Thing is Betty, I’ve always wondered if I ought to do something about it but couldn’t think what. As you say, what’s wrong with Classical?

    I see my own greatness often Mel but it never seems to be what everyone else sees so I don’t worry about it too much. And yes thank you, it was great.

    Comment by letouttoplay | February 5, 2012 | Reply

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