“Cheetah”, oil on canvas, 150 x 100 cm. Finished at the end of last summer; only just got around to editing for social media. The models were photographed at a manor house near Robertsbridge. My dog stood in for the cheetah (you can’t hire big cats in the UK), along with some stock photography. I’ve added a list of locations below. I got further than Asda and local parks in 2021. Some summer memories to keep us going until it warms up again.
Alexandra Park, Hastings
Cottage: mix of stock photos and cottages near Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens, Manchester
Cherry tree: Virginia, USA, family walk (photo from 2019)
Hastings (various public gardens)
Field near Falaise gym, Hastings
Our garden and neighbours’ gardens at home (St Leonards)
Marie Louise Gardens, Manchester
Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens, Manchester
Trisha’s Badger, near Pevensey Road, St Leonards on Sea
Warrior Square, St Leonards on Sea
Marie Louise Gardens, Manchester
Clissold Park, London
Shopping Mall, Leeds city centre (columns)
Ivy – combination Hastings Old Town and stock photos
Near Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens, Manchester
Roundabout near Asda, Hastings (red hot poker flowers)
Wall outside my house
Colour of wall partially based on Kirskstall Abbey, Leeds
Flower beds, Alexandra Park, Hastings
Purple flowers, Mandy’s yarden, Leeds
The witches dancing in the background are from a vintage photograph (photographer unknown), though they unintentionally resemble the Mediæval Bæbes.
Clients so often ask me to put a cat in their paintings that it’s become a bit of a joke. Why cats? Just randomly, someone in Japan, someone in Russia and someone in Scotland all wanted cats in their commissioned work.
It got me thinking about how many times cats have sneaked into my paintings. So I’m going to share a few of these cats here. (note: The first five paintings show cats that made their own decisions to be in the pictures. I did not plan any of those cats.)
The Head of Duncan DeMorgan, 2010. At the photoshoot, Missy Macabre was holding a kitten. I decided to keep the kitten in my version of Caravaggio’s masterpiece. I liked the cuteness of the kitten beside the horror of the severed head.
The Magician Tarot painting, 2012. When San Francisco based magician Paul Nathan came round my flat for the photoshoot, Brup of course, was all over the photos. Fortunately the cat recognized that Nathan was not an estate agent, and did not bite or scratch him. (Brup aka “Psycho kitten” had a reputation for attacking estate agents)
The Judgment of Paris, 2015. There are two studio cats, Spartacus and Artie, at Praxis studios in Stoke Newington where I now do photo shoots in London. Both cats are ginger.. so I would have to ask the Praxis staff which is which. Neither of them had balls, but for the painting I found a picture of cat’s bollocks on the internet. It seemed appropriate for the subject.
Backyard Crucifixion, 2016. Photobombing my painting shoots runs in Brup’s family. The black and white cat in this painting is Brup’s half sister/niece/cousin. I did the photo shoot in the back garden of the house where my cat was born, and where his mum and sister/niece/cousin still live.
The Whores of Babylon, 2017. Back at Praxis studios, Artie or Spartacus is always around, ready to get involved in my photos.
Samson and Delilah, 2019. “Roof Cat” is so named for his climbing across rooftops to visit model Juliet who plays Delilah in this commissioned piece for my Czech client. Roof Cat tends to hang out more on the roof than in the dungeon. But by now I had a bit of theme going on with cats so I put him in there.
Lamentation, 2020. When I took photos for the Pieta and Lamentation, model Ruth, who plays the nun in the painting, requested her black cat be included. It felt quite right to have this black cat crossing the path of the 13 people present in the painting.
Park Bench Pieta, 2019. For continuity I included Brup’s sister/niece Moustache in the Pieta, even though I used a different Virgin Mary:
Here’s the commission I did for a client in Japan. He requested a cat but did not specify any particular cat, so I used my own ginger cat, Amber.
And Rosie up in Scotland with her dear old cat in the background:
I am currently (as of April 2020) working on a large painting where my dear Brup has appeared again. I will add it soon to this page! Although in this case Brup was not actually at the photo shoot.
If you still have an income and aren’t too stressed out by working, feel free to contact me to discuss commissions with or without cats.
When: Saturday 29 September 2018, Trisha Richardson is holding an event to raise funds for Respond 3.0 .
What is Respond 3.0: Respond Academy creates a safe space where young people can come together from all age, racial and social spectrums in a pursuit of an aim in creative arts, music or the media. This is supported by experts, teachers and peer trainers. We deliver to young people who care about their futures and who want employment in jobs they want to do, in and around the Hastings and St Leonard’s area.
Where: The White Rock Hotel, 1-10 White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JU, basement bar. The evening’s entertainment will feature local artists and performers as well as the winner’s of the talent competition on 23 September.
Why: Respond is currently at it’s third location in 21 years, hence to new title of Respond 3.0. Their current building, Queensbury House, is seven stories high. In order to make this accessible to those unable to walk up all those stairs, we are fundraising for the maintenance and safety requirements for their lift. Target: £5000.
The other day, I was in Tate Britain for the first time in years. I have to say I was impressed.
I was also going to stop at the National Gallery to do some intense studying on the use of black paint in past centuries. They often painted figures dressed mainly in black. I have a job coming up, a family portrait with a Death/Doom/Thrash metal singer and his wife and son, two of whom are wearing all black. Anyone who knows about oil painting will know that one is not meant to use black paint. The background on my Crucifixion was some kind of dark green, Alizarin Crimson and French Ultramarine. But when painting black clothing, is it ok to use black pigment?
I have several questions on this subject. Tate Britain actually has paintings starting from 1500. It was like being in the National Gallery and Tate Modern all at once. And it feels much bigger than last time I went.
I spent a good amount of time studying the 16th century paintings, carefully observing the subtle dark grey shading in the clothing of Ladies, Countesses and Lords of Manors. It really looks like actual black paint. But what type of black? Would anyone know?
Suddenly I emerged from my Renaissance reverie to a large room and went “What is this shit?” One piece of conceptual crap after another. In an adjoining room were a bunch of cubic objects arranged in rows. “And what the [bleep] is that…. Wait… what IS that…”
I cautiously approached the rows of resin objects. About 1 square foot each, they all had slightly different shapes, and translucent hues. What WAS this?
It was Rachel Whiteread’s space under chairs. They were resin castings that at least involved process. They suited the space. They were vaguely interesting in colour and material. Unlike the next room, where there was a bit of old rope on the floor that could have been found in Hastings harbour, some shredded black felt (which had been “remade” in 2008 presumably because the original fell apart), Robert Deacon’s twisted cardboard thing, pretty much the same as the one in 180 Strand Gallery the previous day, part of a building site, and some blobs. And Sarah Lucas’ effing futon. F off. Why? Beds are not sculpture! They are beds. For sleeping in. NOT for sticking a neon tube through and calling it art. (Yes. I am a Stuckist).
Off to finally find the red room with Ray Harryhausen’s inspirations, a few of his models, and some really good drawings. They also had the Dore illustrated Dante’s Inferno in a glass case (I shall note I have a copy of this same monstrous volume myself, but someone glued some kind of decorating paper inside it sometime last century, thus devaluing it – so no need to break into my house, thanks) and some huge John Martin paintings that looked like sets from, well, Ray Harryhausen’s movies. Clips from the movies themselves were playing on a giant screen. Great way sit and rest while marveling at pre-digital-age special effects. I see where Josh Collins got his inspiration for Fags in the Fast Lane, and all his earlier films.
I was looking at more paintings in other rooms when a picture message came on my phone – of Ray Harryhausen’s pegasus, with distinctive red walls and John Martin behind it. I headed back to the Harryhausen where Shireen was studying the model of Medusa.
Shireen had a pass to get into the big Rachel Whiteread exhibition. It’s not something I’d pay for and not even something I’d want to see. But I thought, why not, if it’s free?
Walked into a room full of grey concrete squares. “OK I’ve seen it, I can go now,” I said. But then I started really looking at the pieces.
They are cast in resin, cement and various other materials. Resin casting is not easy. As far as I know, Whiteread actually works on these, with assistants, unlike like other conceptual artists who come up with a crappy non-concept and tell some else to make it. The 9 hot water bottle castings were particularly interesting as they were different colours and different materials.
Then there were the bookshelves. An animated conversation between about 6 strangers erupted. But where had the books been? Why were the pages cast and not the spines? What part is the empty space? Were these rolling bookshelves? The guards didn’t seem to know anything but between the bunch of us, we worked out the books had been turned around on the shelves before casting. We then read the leaflet (d’oh!) and found out that this was similar to the Holocaust memorial that Whiteread also did. Certainly an artist given the honour of a Holocaust memorial is worthwhile.
And so we continued. I had only read about Whiteread and thought it a load of bollocks like the rest of them. But to see Whiteread’s pieces themselves, they are not mattresses but objects – and more often empty space – cast in materials that take some knowledge and skill. They are not crumpled balls of paper or a glass of water on a shelf with a stupid title. There really was something to this show.
So there you go…Is this Stuckist turning? Nope. Back out in the large central rooms, the blobs were still blobs, and Lucas’ futon was still excruciatingly annoying.
Before my phone battery went flat on the train home, I saw that Sexton and Billy had been on tv, with their song “Slap up Breakfast” from “Dung Beetle Rolls Again”, on a segment called “Don’t Play This”, where songs are ridiculed on the Tonight Show. Watching it when I got home, it seemed that Ming had won over the show’s presenter and band.
My client often requests versions of paintings I’ve already done. I can change the picture enough to keep it interesting for me, as I can’t really recreate an exact copy. The original Lovers painting is 40 x 30 cm. The new one is going to be 150 x 100 cm.
For reference for the original I used a mixture of dark, out of focus photos from the actual event and reference from the internet. To make a bigger version, I need new photographs.
I know so many burlesque performers, you’d think this would be easy. But somehow the Pole has eluded me.
There is a pole in Bath, in the home of a sexy, athletic model whom I have painted often. She has the right lighting, right space, the pole, and her good self. The only drawback is…. Bath. In theory I’d love a little visit to the old spa town, but it’s quite a chunk of time to take out of the actual work day, just to travel there and back.
A few leads in London have come up with nothing so far… everyone who might have a pole has moved it somewhere else. I would have to contact people I don’t know and deal with whatever that entails. Not that I’m shy; it’s just a lot of leg work and again, time.
A few months ago my good friend Katharine and I went on a research outing to the Only Strip Club in the Village. A few people have asked why no pole came out of this so I will explain as best I can….
Club X (as I believe it’s called) is located down an alley near Hastings town centre. It was like stepping back in time to Florida in the 1980s. You weren’t allowed to take out a mobile phone, so there really was no evidence of the 21st century. Except perhaps the women punters. In the 80s, the classier places would sometimes attract couples, but here in Hastings a woman was on a night out on her own, exclaiming that she is a rampant lesbian and likes to get dances from the girls. And no one batted an eyelid at Kat and me, two women out to watch strippers. Definitely a plus for equality: women can go watch women the same way men do.
So here’s the deal: you pay a tenner just to get in to the bar, where there is a pole on a small stage, and a long bar, with the usual dim red-purple neon glow, bar stools, and then some leather chairs around the pole. Once in awhile a dancer will go on the pole for a song, but most of the time the pole is empty. The girls make their money doing “private dances” upstairs. (I know “girls” isn’t the PC term these days but I’m writing this like it’s the 80s… I remember the red neon sign outside a strip club in Columbus stating “girls girls girls.”)
The dancers were friendly, but that is because they were hustling dances. It was fairly early and fairly quiet. The girls were mostly milling around the bar talking to each other. Kat and I feel that if we’d splashed out on a dance, I might have got some response to my pole query.
We spoke with the woman who was there as a customer. She used to also work there and now does web cam work. She also used to have a pole but she gave it to her mate in Eastbourne. I gave her my business card. But here was the problem… not being able to whip out a mobile phone, I couldn’t show anyone my art work. There is one picture on my card, though now I can’t even remember if I HAD business cards on me or if I just wrote my number on a bit of paper. I didn’t have my printed book of paintings, the one I take out with me to show people. Since the smartphone works most places, I don’t carry the hard copy around much any more. So, when you say “I’m an artist” or “I’m a painter”, people assume it’s crap unless they see it. I recall about ten years ago when I first painted a transvestite named Davina. He hadn’t seen my work until I sent him the one I’d done from a photo of him sitting at a bar in Soho. He was gobsmacked. I don’t know what he was expecting.
So, anyway, even the lady who no longer worked at the club was not allowed to give me her number. She does web camming and lives in Bexhill I think, but her pole is in Eastbourne. Even if I tried to track her down, would she even be responsive? Having never been to a strip club as a punter before, I think my etiquette wasn’t all that good. The girls are there to make money. Not the place for starving artists to be recruiting models and poles, unless we were going to support the girls by buying private dances.
I did not speak with the bar staff or management. The place really had the feel of money making, and as I don’t have an extra budget for this, I can’t exactly pay for use of the pole. I guess I could phone them and just ask how much…. And if it’s less than a train ticket to Bath….?
Then there are the models. The original painting was of Romany and me at the 2013 Last Tuesday Society Halloween party. We were drunkenly dancing on a pole together, though the only photos of this are very far away, dark and fuzzy. Romany is in London. How I’ve not found a pole in London yet, I have no idea..
I’ve got to start using models in Hastings, but the one that I had in mind is out of town indefinitely and I need to shoot this next week really. A local friend has a Wonder Woman costume but how to tell her politely that although she is totally gorgeous, she’s not quite the right look for this project…
And then there is another, much darker, layer to this painting. Even when doing commissions, especially a commission that is very much my own work, there are all these layers of hidden meanings. And this painting in particular has a chilling omen, of which I was unaware at the time.
When using references from the night, there was a dark shape hovering above the crowd. I couldn’t tell what it really was, so I made it a crow. It seemed apt for the Tarot card. The Lovers is about choice and warnings about the wrong choice.
The painting captures a moment in time now lost. A wild weekend when anything was possible. Euphoria was the feeling banded about by my young French friend Laura, who was also visiting London that weekend. The Urban Voodoo Machine, our favourite band, were headlining the party. A streaker got on stage when they were playing. The crowd were dressed to the nines in Halloween gear. The atmosphere was indeed euphoric.
There were many rooms off the main stage area of the Coronet Theatre in Elephant and Castle, where the party was held. In one of the rooms, Ben Hell, She Rocola, Almande Magdalene and I were doing our Arse of Almande interactive installation. Inspired by my earlier Devil painting, Almande’s arse was on display in a box hidden behind blue velvet curtains. She Rocola held a dial and I a silver teapot; a punter would put a pound in the pot, spin the dial, and the curtains would be opened. They would then follow instructions based on the dial: tickle, spank, draw on, kiss, etc. This piece of art/arse was great fun, and part of that wonderful evening.
It’s difficult to revisit the time captured in this painting. It feels like a time of innocence, a time when all was right and glorious, when we all celebrated music and dancing and dressing up, embraced hedonism, lived in the moment. What happened in the months and years after can not be undone.
So I want to change the painting… and perhaps there is some sort of fatalistic block about even beginning another version. There is so much pain there, and yet I need to think about the cycle of life rather than the cruel endings that are so out of our control.
So, it’s not really a painting about pole dancing. It’s about life and death. Maybe that’s why i’m having trouble finding a pole.
A few weeks ago, a certain Mr Paul Raggity, artist and photographer, messaged me asking for tips about working with oil paint. Paul had mostly used acrylic and ink. He was holed up somewhere without Skype, so I made a few short video clips to email him. I accidentally showed the clips to a friend whose 16 year old daughter is studying art, and it sort of snow balled from there.
After making about 9 short video clips, my phone ran out of memory. So I “went live” on Facebook, at the risking of being seen picking my nose or accidentally showing my flat arse to the cameraphone while fumbling around looking for paint.
Still, this exercise proved not only introspective but also a bit popular, so, I’ve uploaded the whole lot to YouTube – as of today, anyway, 27 March 2017.
Join us for a life drawing session led by the Drawing and Dancing society. (see link for more details & images from previous sessions.)
In our sessions we draw together of artists from a variety of fields with a strong relationship to drawing and a desire to explore, experiment and develop in a congenial atmosphere with materials and knowledgeable guidance. Our events are fluid, intuitive, and challenging to summarise in words. It is unlike any other life drawing class.
Drawing can be either a quiet and contemplative or a performance act. Musicians performing live for us to draw, even in the nude as the French group Garance Louis and the Mitochondries at the last session at Regent Studios. We have performance artists whose work evolves as our pencils, pens, and brushes flow onto paper. Each artist has their own perspective, and some even draw the room, the other artists, or an interpretation of the performance. For example, the life model Arkem talks while striking poses, reading from books, reciting poetry or music on his own experiences of life and modelling. Hs words mingle with his limbs and props and the variety of results are astounding.
This is a special collaboration as part of Nwando Ebize’s festival of perception, Your Reality is Broken, where we especially welcome those who experience visual illusions, lucid dreams, hallucinations and visual disorders to draw their reality.
Here are some photos and drawings from our last two sessionsin 2015 and 2016, plus a poster for the new session. Each event is truly a unique experience.
More details will follow as the models, musicians and performers develop their contributions.
3. The Mindreaders reunion. Medway legends came back with a bang: London, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Cologne. And more planned for next year. (See where this is going? Not only good stuff this year but more of all of it on the way!)
4. Dogs. Just because. Dogs are great. Dogs then, dogs now, dogs to come. (And cats when they’re not pissing on my stuff).
5. Paddle boarding. Joined the Hastings rowing club. No more cycling with inflatable paddle board on my back. More of that – plus learning to surf properly. As in stand up, on a wave, in the correct position. If that fails, just more wiping out 🙂
6. Drawing. Although Lucy‘s space sadly came to an end during the corporate pillage of London, the energy in the last few Drawing and Dancing sessions has galvanised us to continue. Next session is 5 February as part of Nwando Ebizie‘s exploration of perception, “Your Reality is Broken.” https://www.facebook.com/events/1914044812163475/
7.Barbary Lane. A pleasure to be involved with the set up, website and special event days at Brighton’s newest and brightest party shop. Ties with number 2 above nicely.
8. Summer holidays. Cycling around Paris and Versailles with my sister and our kids. Wonderful trip, fun times, the Louvre, the Tour de France, and then Tigger and I traveing on to Switzerland to meet up with old friends and play in the snow in July.
9. Drag. All of it. Like dogs, drag is just great. Past present and future. From RuPaul drag to Hastings old men wearing whatever the fuck they want. Love it.
10. Mediaeval Baebes 20 year anniversary show just before winter solstice. So magical. Let’s see the group on the road again. The world needs more Baebes.
11. ALL my wonderful friends and family. I can’t name everyone but you know who you are. So many good people have stuck together through thick and thin. It’s not been an easy year for most. There is so much fear and mistrust and anger in the world. Remember those who you love and hug them tight. Enjoy each moment. It’s all we can do. I know that sounds cliche but don’t know how else to say it.
And my final resolution for the new year is to write more. To not shy away from words. To keep chipping away at communication like a fine sculpture, and work with the mistakes rather than withdraw inwards and fight against them.
I have been doing commissioned work for as long as I can remember. Here I will highlight the great variety of the projects I’ve done over the years, up through 2016.
The Von Stockhausen family portraits
The Von Stockhausen family have portraits dating back centuries hung in ornate frames on the walls of their manor house. Mary Von Stockhausen sat for me in London, shortly after opening the first Stuckist Centre in Germany in the early 2000s. She did not mention her heritage at that time, and appeared to be living her life as a humble Stuckist. It was only when Mary’s mother flew me to Germany to paint Mary’s sister Lizzie, that I squinted at the address and wondered why there was neither street number nor even street name, only a house name and village name. “Is it.. a castle?” I wondered. Mary’s family took a bold step in continuing the tradition of portraits in a Stuckist vein. It was the ideal way to have both a painting and something contemporary.
Both sisters’ portraits are done in acrylic, as they were done quickly from life sittings. I usually work in oil.
I have painted some people’s beloved deceased pets, using old photographs, as well as living pets, including an alpaca. I have also painted people with their pets. The pets are usually photographed separately. Try herding cats and you will see why! I have even painted a Dodo on request. Quite a challenge as I had to use old photographs and toys for reference.
Showing the great diversity in my abilities, I have painted the cover for bourbon-soaked Gypsy-blues bop’n’stroll band the Urban Voodoo Machine, as well as Jane Ruby’s latest children’s music CD, Flamingo Flamenco.
Only marginally easier to pose than pets, I have painted various children.
Why not get your guests to pitch in and commission a wedding portrait? Better than getting 50 toasters! And lasts longer, too. Traditional white weddings are fine, too. I can do anything.
Religious and mythological themed commissions
A few years ago I had the unusual job of painting the circumcision of Christ. In these turbulent times, with child protection hysteria, it was a challenging subject. My friends Dawn and Rick Hollingworth kindly volunteered their daughter (yes daughter) for the role, posing as Mary and Joseph themselves. The rest I made up from observation, rather than risking having any questionable photographs on my computer. Interestingly the public reaction sparked a discussion on the barbarism of the ancient practise, and nothing about the lack of clothing on the baby.
I have also painted the Judgement of Paris, with the figures as described by the client placing the order: tattoos, glasses, and “ornate by many jewels.” The client also commissioned “tattooed Adam and Eve” and the Diana and Actaeon myth with a contemporary twist.
Your entire life on one canvas
When my friend Lynne Gillett left London after 23 years, she wanted a painting encapsulating as many aspects of her city life as we could fit on to an 80 x 100 cm canvas. She has her friends; well known landmarks that mean something to her; performers and bands; and on the table, a book about the Peopling of London, as Lynne had been working with refugees.
Please contact me for enquiries. No job too big or too small; no subject matter too outlandish.