Yesterday I gave a talk about my work at the Swedish Church to an audience of about thirty ladies and several vicars after their special Thursday lunch. There was a very brief drawing demo. Prints of some of my work, The Hand Book (of hopes and dreams), and copies of my first Draw It! book, co-editioned in Sweden, are on display and for sale in the cafe next door. Until the end of September.
Yesterday at the Swedish Church in Marylebone, London, putting up an exhibition of prints. Trying to be relaxed about having my photo taken and not really succeeding. Next week I’ll be giving a talk there about my work and maybe persuading people to draw …
My journey last week from London to Axminster didn’t start well. South Western Rail decided to cut the number of coaches from six to three, and these were packed. En route at Gillingham we were told to leave the train as there had been ‘an incident’. We later learned that sadly an unfortunate person had gone under a train ahead of us. Several people were taken ill en route and were tended by kind railway staff. I had to travel back early from Lyme later that week due to a rail strike – the RMT union is fighting the decision to abolish guards on trains. What would happen on a guardless train if and when there are ‘incidents’ and passengers are taken ill or worse?
Seven hours later I reached my b&b in Uplyme, dumped my luggage and walked a mile or so down a delightful lane and along the little river Lim for supper at the friendly Lyme Bay restaurant and a restorative walk by the sea. The following day I swam from a sandy beach, shaking off city pressures.
My room at The Old Black Dog b&b on the Dorset/Devon border overlooked the gentle wooded slopes of the Lim valley. Directly below was a lane, once the main route into Lyme, said to be haunted by a large black dog. There was a black dog at the b&b, but a friendly live one. I think. At the bottom of the narrow lane was a sign and another, more overgrown spur, signposted ‘Roman Road’, leading down to a tiny river bridge, once a ford perhaps? Apparently a Roman highway from Dorchester to Exeter ran along here, so maybe this was its ancient leafy footprint.
I was almost born in the sea, in Devon, so it is a magnet to me, and as a child I hated leaving the seaside for the dark and foggy Midlands. Before coming to London later to seek my fortune …
I picked an alder leaf from the side of the Lim as a momento when walking to Lyme, wearing my seaside scarf of polka dots on the way to the sea. Joy.
What a fantastic day at the Institute of Physics on saturday at their Moon Adventure Family Day! Over one hundred and seventy people came in to draw comic strips and their journeys into space, and encouraged by an army of volunteers, made space badges, tried to assemble Lego whilst wearing astronauts’ gloves and posed for photos. As well as exploring space by drawing it, families explored the Moon Adventure exhibition in this great venue close to Kings Cross in London.
The workshop wasn’t exactly a game with dice etc (my original idea above) as there were logistical problems with so many families dropping in at different times, but what brilliant ideas from those taking part! A space hotel, a melting planet, shark spacecraft, a diversion to the sun, alien attack, the Rubber Duck asteroid – and lots of other challenges including my contribution – a couple of Black Holes. Luckily I’d included a Health & Safety warning, so no astronauts were lost. As far as I know. Great to see children reading copies of The Comic Strip History of Space afterwards.
As it’s the anniversary year of the first moon landings, the current exhibition at the Institute of Physics is all about the moon, where I ran comic strip workshops yesterday. After some live drawing all about facial expressions and using comic strip framing, I encouraged children to become space explorers, asking them to draw their adventures. What challenges and/or dangers did they encounter, and how did they overcome them? One story showed an astronaut trying to write in zero gravity, with her words just floating away, another involved cosmic cake … immense fun, and exciting to see children gain confidence in their narrative and drawing skills throughout each session. Great stuff!
Here’s a page I drew for the youngest children in the workshops. They drew faces on the astronauts and the very youngest did some colouring in. I’ve included Ed White’s glove by the way. He was the first to do a space walk in 1965, and lost one of his gloves, which circled the earth for about a month before burning up in the earth’s atmosphere. And here’s a photo of the floating glove …
At last I got my timing right and managed to catch Herne Bay Cartoon Festival and chat to some of the many cartoonists doing their stuff on the pier, and enjoyed putting faces to names. Good to see Martin Rowson again, this time painting a bottom – its cheeks eventually transformed into the faces of Trump and Johnson.
Great to catch Glenn Marshall’s moon landing, complete with dry ice (it drifted away), the soundtrack of 2001, dancing and the Clangers – what fun! Then an ice cream at Makcaris (established 1931). They specialise in unusual flavours such as, erm, Marmite or Mushy Peas, but even one scoop of their plain chocolate was a bit too much for me.
I wandered up to the wonderful mosaics by Rob Turner near the Clock Tower, past the statue of inspirational aviator Amy Johnson, visited the town’s excellent Seaside Museum and nipped into the Divers Arms, intrigued by its history and painted pub signs, some of which were in a little courtyard round the back. Its motto translates into ‘while I breathe, I hope’ by the way.
The original pub was opened in the 1830s by former smuggler William Wood, who’d been transported to Australia. On his return to Kent he worked as a diver for a salvage company. It’s said that he paid for the pub with money he’d made salvaging treasure from a Spanish galleon shipwrecked off the Irish coast. The Divers Arms is now a live music venue, and is apparently haunted by a man in a bowler hat – shouldn’t that be a diving helmet?
A cover proof of one of the children’s books I wrote and illustrated some years ago for Macmillan. Interesting to see Mr Punch has managed to appear on the cover – he always manages to pop upevery so often ..
If you’ve just done your shopping in Camden Town, St Michael’s churchyard is a quiet spot to have a cup of tea or coffee and watch the world go by for a few minutes. Love this fairground style coffee stall with its sugared almond colours and wooden fretwork features. A tall man wearing a spotless white apron with a red cross on it saw me hesitating as I noticed the stall for the first time, although I must have walked past it many times. “Come and sit down,” said the man. I knew about the church and its reputation for welcoming homeless and refugees, and although I was neither I was attracted by the quiet space and the thought of a (reasonably priced) cup of tea. I was intrigued by the wheeled stall and its closed and padlocked shutters. ‘What do you keep in there?’ I asked. “Ah,’ said the tall man, ‘that’s where I keep my secrets.’
When you’re playing, and comets get in the picture … If you happen to be looking up into a clear sky on August 12th or 13th, you might see some other flying objects … the Perseid meteor shower which is made up of debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle, not to be confused with the Leonids that appear in November, the dusty trail of the Comet Tempel-Tuttle.