Sunday, 25 January 2009

Burns Night

Tonight is Burns night and generally speaking me and Robin always do something for it. Either some 'Neeps and Tatties' or some Whisky (Ok, always Whisky - Neeps are optional) and reciting/listening to a bit of Burns. It's a weird thing because neither of us is Scottish but we've done this since long before we moved here - I don't know why and can't even remember when we started.

Being English makes reciting Burns a bit of an embarrasement, so listening to recitals is better. You either need to be scottish or be able to pull of a damn good accent to read it. I have tried out my scottish accent on people here and i'm told I sound like an english person doing a really bad scottish accent.

Neeps and Tatties are just swedes and potatoes mashed up with plenty of butter and salt. Haggis is the usual (some might say neccesary) food to go with them, but being a vegetarian is a cruel thing on Burns night. Instead I have to resort to Vegetarian Haggis (It does exist!) or maybe load up on dessert. Speaking of which, a lovely scottish dessert (normally made in the summer but what the hey):

Cranachan with raspberries

250ml/½ pint fresh double cream
1 tbsp thick heather honey.
1 generous tbsp of Talisker whisky
1 heaped tbsp of toasted oatmeal
2 punnets rasberries

1. Whisk the cream together with the honey and whisky.
2. Fold in the toasted oatmeal.
3. Pile on top of fresh raspberries and serve.

So that's probably what we'll be doing tonight. My favourite poem by Robbie is currently 'To a Louse' which is about robbie sitting in church and watching a louse weedling around in a fine lady's bonnet, it's a hilarious poem when you eventually fathom what it's saying. It gets all philosophical in the last verse

"O wad some Power the gift tae gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An foolish notion"

Amen to that!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Wee progressions

I finally finished off the sailor automaton...Sometimes I spend a lot of time faffing in the final 10% of a piece. I spent a lifetime doing the gold titling, the final set of varnish, the covering of the silver screws in his joints. I no way should I have faffed for so long. He doesn't look that much different but in person he's a lot smarter looking.

I started a painting of a fox last week to sit inside the front of a clock i'd ripped off, no shots yet but here's the sketch for it

I think the painting itself has a long way to go, fur is the devil itself ot get right and since the painting is quite large it is doubly problematic for me....I think a coating of oil over the acrylic is the only way to do it properly, we'll see!

Meantime i've been researchig for the next big theatre I want to make and in my studies i've come across some of the oddest stories...Since it's nearly Burns night i'll be literary and relate to you this odd tale called the Red Barn....Bear in mind this is a true story.

In 1826 in Suffolk, England a young woman named Maria Marten (the daughter of a mole catcher) got romantically involved with a local well-to-do rogue called William Corder. Maria had had lovers before including William's older brother whom she'd had a child by. In any case Maria became pregnant with William's child and wanted them to marry while Corder wanted the relationship to remain a secret.

Eventually Corder relented and told Maria to meet him in the Red Barn so that they could elope, she was never seen again. Corder also dissappeared for a time but when he eventually resurfaced he claimed maria was alive and well. He sent letters to her family giving all kinds of reasons why Maria couldn't write back or visit. Her family of course grew suspicious and one night her stepmother had a dream that maria had been murdered and buried in the Red Barn. She told her husband to go and dig in the barn where they found her remains hidden in a sack in a grain bin.

Corder was unbelievably easy to catch, he'd married someone else and was running a women's boarding house, and had all manner of incriminating evidence such as pistols bought on the day of the murder. Clearly not the sharpest tack. He was tried and convicted of her murder. His sentence of course was death - He was hung and his chest was slit open to reveal his muscles - how strange - and then he was displayed for the public to see.

I thought perhaps the story would end there, but actually the oddest part comes next. Corder's body went through all kinds of strange things. Firstly he was dissected as an example for trainee surgeons, then later his skull was examined by phrenologists (His personality was found to be secretive and destructive). The skeleton was then put back together and exhibited as a teaching aid at a hospital while his skin was cured and used to bind an account of the murder (You can still see this book in Moyse's hall museum I think).

The story actually has numerous side-stories and alternative plot lines. For example Maria's step mother was possibly having an affair with Corder (her dream came about only days after Corder married the other womans) and helped to plot the death of Maria. You can read the full details here:

It's an unbelievable mess of a story with all of the traditional elements at work. A wicked step mother, a murderous bridegroom, an iconic building, dreams and portents.

The theatre itself is not related to the story but since i've been scouring local histories of places around britain it seems like there are hundreds of fantastic tales like this.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Gigantic Jumping Jack

He's not gigantic but he is larger than the norm. Here's some shots, not the best light.

It isn't finished yet. Due to its size it's quite difficult to get a shot of it hanging long, so he's sitting here beneath a very elderly composer puppet I found in Brighton.

I am not 100% sure about him. Because of the size, as time went on, I started meandering around and trying different things, so he is something of a mish mash.

I've always loved the faces of blue hindu gods. A totally blue man was something i'd toyed with but as I say, I started meandering and the clouds appeared.

I will finish him, but I need a short break from it. The good thing about this kind of meandering is the firm ideas it gives you, so I know what I want to do for the next one. This one and the one following are what I aim to send to a Berlin Gallery for a collective show in April.