Week 6 and Album Listening Party! 

Bearing in mind that I'm writing this almost a week after the end of the residency and album listening party, I can safely say it's taken a while for me to recover from both. I wasn't sure how I would take to being In Residence. I'm used to performing in public with bands, but I work in my artist studio alone. Making my art process and practice fully visible to the public was quite a daunting thing to do. I liked the idea of it being a performative residency and made sure that I was readily available as much as I possibly could be for people to talk to about the work. I have been overwhelmed by how enjoyable it was to speak to people and also how those interactions have given me a new insight into the way my paintings are or can be perceived by others. It's opened my eyes to new possibilities and changed the way I see my painting, photographs, prints and songwriting. I had a long and detailed conversation with Leigh Mayhew on the final day I was actually working at the gallery. We talked extensively about walking. Walking is the beginning of the artistic process for me. I'd like to see it as an artistic practice in itself, a means to its own end, but have struggled to do so without producing a final, finished piece as a direct result of a particular walk. As part of the residency I had a series of about 70 photographs taken on various walks in East Anglia, London, Sheffield, Devon and some from my time on tour with the band. It enabled me to see them all as part of a whole. A process of observation of the British Landscape and in particular the concrete structures within it. My obsession with Brutalist Architecture is not a new found, abstract thing. It's long standing and I would now also include concrete structures such as motorway flyovers, roads, bus shelters, Martello towers, garages, council estate buildings, lamposts and even bollards under that Brutalist umbrella. The photographer Tom Owens coined an appropriate term for Suffolk's concrete 'scapes, 'Agri-dustrial', which I hope to pursue, perhaps in collaboration with him in the coming months. In a broader sense though, the walking is so important because it forces me to look at the landscape slowly and in detail, searching for structures that don't necessarily belong in a rural context. This is a new insight, a direct result of the residency.
A couple of weeks ago Natalie and I were discussing the album listening party and what format it would take. I was panicking because I wasn't sure that people would be interested enough without some kind of live element. We toyed with the idea of playing an acoustic set in the gallery but none of my band members were available so it wasn't possible. I'm really glad we didn't. Natalie suggested that she and I do an 'In Conversation' at the start of the evening, followed on by the showcasing of my finally mastered album. This was an extremely daunting thing for me to do. I hate public speaking. I had an embarrassing public speaking failure at a 6th form debating event and have avoided it ever since. I didn't expect a big crowd, but there weren't enough seats in the gallery to accommodate everyone. Natalie made the conversation flow easily and I think and hope it was interesting as well as being relaxed and funny. I'm thankful to all those who came for making the evening so cool, to all those who asked me questions, especially my mum Lizzie for bringing things out of the conversation that others wouldn't even know about and I wouldn't think to say, and for staying around afterwards and listening to the album. I'm so proud of the record and the residency and I can't thank the staff at Smiths Row enough for making it happen. I love you all. I'm back in my studio at the Rehearsal Rooms now, preparing for the Autumn walking season!

Week 5 

Having finished 'M25' on Saturday and shot a music video for 'End of Reason' on Sunday, I return to the gallery on Tuesday unprepared to start a new piece. My brain's a bit fried and working out a new painting involves a lot of maths, so I decide to spend a couple of days working on Angie's commission, which I started in the first week of the residency. At this stage of a painting it's all about getting the colour mixes right and balancing them tonally against each other to create depth. On Tuesday it's raining heavily. The day has that cosy feel of being indoors and snug while outside the rain steadily hammers down, summer rain. I announce the next Hoo Ha Record Club on the facebook group page. People immediately start signing up to DJ. So far we have 16 people all wanting to play records. It's incredible for an event which has only been running for 6 months. Our Hoo Ha theme for September 5th is 'VERSION! VERSION! VERSION!' Cover versions, their obscure originals, obscure cover versions, famous originals. Already people are posting up suggestions, the infinite game.  

I wrote that last Thursday. I've been a bit slack on the blog since. It's time consuming to write every day and last week was taken over by my mum's 70th birthday party preparations and celebrations. I spent Wednesday and Thursday last week continuing to work on Angie's commission, a large panoramic painting of Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Tuesday evening I spent with Erica looking at the hilarious footage from the video shoot, Wednesday evening was Rachel's birthday curry, Thursday evening
I had Wilsons practice - The Wilsons have our first BBC Introducing session in September but we spent the majority of the evening practising the covers for mum's party, Friday evening we decorated The Rehearsal Rooms with draped white fabric and gold baubles, a red carpet, a movie projector, and a cask of real ale, ready for mum's Red Carpet Oscars Glam party on Saturday. It was a full on week but I did manage to get some work done...

Days 19 & 20 14&15/8/2015 

Fridays are generally quiet in the gallery so I take the chance to try and finish 'M25'. Yesterday was a write-off. I had too much admin to do around the record. The record was finally mastered yesterday which is very exciting. Finally we can hear it and enjoy it as it should be. Now it's just a case of finding a home for it, or setting up my own label, finding the funding, and releasing it myself. People can't understand why a record I made with Bernard Butler hasn't been released. Records get released every day so how can it be so hard? They don't realise the amount of money and the team needed to put out a record at the level Bernard and to a certain extent, I, have achieved in the past and is therefore expected from both of us. It's not an 'indie' enough sounding record for the smaller labels but I'm far too 'indie' for the bigger labels. It's the ultimate Catch 22.
'M25' is a welcome relief from thinking about it. I was overly ambitious to think that I'd finish 5 paintings during a 6 week residency. I will achieve 4, which is still pretty good going. 'Flyover' and 'M25' will most likely become the front and back sleeve of the album.
Erica comes in at 2 to work on the dance. We're making a video for 'The End Of Reason' on Sunday which will be the lead track from the album. We've asked 12 'dancers' to come to the shoot but need to choreograph some simple moves to teach them. 'Dancers' is definitely an overstatement. We think we've made the dance suitably simple but when your leading men are a 49 year old ex-goth and a 52 year old ex-punk you never know. They are lovely people, but dancers they are not. Dancing with Erica cheers me up anyway. I needed a laugh today. 
Saturday is altogether brighter. I'm in the gallery early with lovely Sam and Emily. One of the nicest things about doing the residency has been getting to know the gallery staff, who are all absolutely lovely. I'm already feeling slightly sad because this is the end of week 4 and I only have 2 weeks to go. It'll be strange going back to my studio at the Rooms and not seeing them all every day. I've only been working for 10 minutes or so when Shannon, Duncan and Sophie come in. They've already been record shopping and are off to the pub (it's 11am). I promise to meet them at lunch. I ask Duncan if he'd like to be in my video. He's famous for sitting in bars with his head down, headphones on, music leaking out the sides, analysing Uncut or Mojo as if he were about to write a 10,000 word dissertation on the latest releases and reissues. I find it reassuring that people like Dunc still exist. I wan't him to do exactly this in the video but Dunc is quite shy so might not. 
By lunchtime I've nearly finished 'M25'. It's Saturday so I treat myself to a lunchtime pint with Shannon and the others. I'm all excited because the Chair of the Crafts Council came in to the gallery thismorning and chatted to me for a while about Brutalism. By the time I get back to the gallery it's nearly 3. A few more white highlights, final touches and 'M25' is finished. Party time.


Days 16 & 17 11&12/8/2015 

It seems the further I get into the residency, the busier I am and the less time I have to blog about it! This week I am finishing off the second of my British Road Movies paintings, 'M25'. This one has been much easier to paint than 'Flyover', partly because I plotted out the colours over a year ago when I was still living in Rome. This will be the third time I've painted this picture already, having done a rough version on paper and an experimental version on perspex. It looks better on the MDF board. The primed MDF provides a perfect smooth surface for the straight edge tape I use. Ronnie and Phil pop in to see me. They are so excited as they found out yesterday that they are expecting a grand-daughter, to whom I will be known as Auntie Kate. I can't wait to meet her at Christmas when she is due to arrive.
I'm starting to get into a panic about the album listening party on August 29th. I've been so busy thinking about the Hoo Ha, the video shoot and mum's 70th birthday party, that I've forgotten to organise what's supposed to be the climax of the residency. I know the album is being mastered this week and will be ready by then, but it's a question of how an album listening party will work. It's fine in theory, but the reality of inviting an audience to listen to a record without any kind of live performance element is not that appealing. Iain suggested on Saturday when he was very drunk that I should do an acoustic set. I baulk at the idea of acoustic sets; so wishy washy, so cheesy, but, in this case it might not be a bad idea. So, I ask the band if they are up for it in theory, if we can make it interesting. Shannon has tonsillitis. Reuben is in Milton Keynes. Richard is in Wetherspoons. I'm still thinking. 
I've made a collaborative Spotify playlist from Saturday's Hoo Ha and spend most of Tuesday listening to it. Pulp comes on which prompts a conversation with Emily about seeing them live at the UEA in 1996 with Minty supporting. Everyone remembers Minty. They were legendary on that tour. I wasn't even at the gig and still I remember Minty. Never before or since has a support band cast such a long shadow. We end up talking about Russell Senior and his bat pen. One of the more surreal evenings of my life was when we invited Russell to come to the studio and add some violin to 'Appropriation'. He turned up in his safari suit with a cheap can of lager for each of us ("one each, no more") and a cardboard box full of "noises" which included a set of keys and a toy slinky. When asked what he'd been up to lately he told us that he'd invented a pen for Halloween to flog outside Sheffield Wednesday football club. The pen was filled with liquid and a floating bat. Amazing guy.

Wednesday, market day again. I'm late into town and feeling stressed about the amount of things I have to organise this month. I feel like I've forgotten some tiny but crucial detail, my brain is too full to compute what that might be. Instead of worrying I decide to paint, maybe the crucial details will come to me. We have the Crit Group thisevening so Natalie and I need to arrange the format for that. It's the event I'm most nervous about holding, as I haven't taken part in a crit group since university. We have four cancellations and even though part of me wants to cancel the whole thing, I'm slightly disappointed by the prospect. We have to make it happen, even if there are only two or three people there.  
A lady called Susie chats to me about developing a style of work. She's just finished a foundation in Art and Design at the college and is about to start a BA at Colchester. We talk about how difficult it is to be free with a blank page. I work in a very precise way, mathematically working out dimensions and perspectives and drawing on a grid. I paint to straight edge tape. I never give myself the opportunity to play with paint anymore. I have an idea to hold a painting improv group. No tape. No grids. Just paint and paper and sound. Susie is up for this.
Sam and I are talking about Nick Drake again. About how much his songwriting breaks our hearts. I'm sure I saw a documentary film about Nick Drake at the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield when I was at university. I look it up and it seems to be on youtube, but it can't be the same one surely? 
I spend the afternoon working on 'M25'. It's nearly finished, just a case of adding some white highlights. 
Tom Owens arrives for the Crit Group first. Then Vicky, then Deborah. Tom is the photographer I met at the start of the residency. His work relates to mine in that we both seek out edgeland spaces; brown field sites, motorway slip roads, industrial estates, abandoned factories. Documenting that which no one cares to document. His exhibition, 'Edgelands' is on at the Museum of East Anglian Life. Vicky is a painter based in Diss, working on abstract pieces relating to nuclear power stations and power lines. Her work is also somehow about dividing up the land, the spaces between things, capturing what cannot be seen. Deborah is a ceramicist based in Bury. Her work is about FGM. She lays out two carrier bags full of clay vulvas, sculpted by hand, symbolising the brutality of FGM, of what is cut away and discarded. It reminds me of Schindler's List, with the piles of discarded shoes and teeth.
We discuss each other's work for a couple of hours, enjoy a glass of wine, some cheese and crackers. It's a lovely thing to do. 

 

Day 15 The Hoo Ha Residence Club! 

Today marks the half way point of my residency at Smiths Row and to celebrate I am hosting a Hoo Ha Record Club in the gallery. I'm late. I have to dye my hair and choose my records thismorning, both of which take hours. In my head I've already chosen my set but it's a question of finding the vinyl I need. My records needless to say are not in neat alphabetical order but strewn about the house in various locations. Every time we have a Hoo Ha I leave it till the last minute and turn the house upside down looking for the one track I must at all costs play.
A Hoo Ha requires the DJs to arrive 10 minutes before the start to draw set times out of a hat, or jug in this instance. Today we have 13 DJs, all from Bury or who have a historical connection with Bury. The theme is The British Landscape. Most have played a Hoo Ha before, apart from Ross from The Vinyl Hunter who has worked in every record shop the town has seen for the last 20 odd years. I'm guessing he has a pretty good record collection. Ross is up first, from 12-12:20. I wonder how it's going to work in the gallery. Normally we host the Hoo Ha at Oakes Barn in the evening, so naturally, as people drink more and the night goes on, they end up filling the dance floor until, at the end of the night they are chanting "HOO HA! HOO HA!". I don't expect that to happen today but the point of having a Hoo Ha in the gallery is more about listening to music in a different context and thinking about the songs thematically in relation to the gallery space, the work on the walls and the wider context of the British Landscape. People don't dance but they do listen and everyone is checking out everyone else's records. Iain is second on and plays 'Gates to the Garden' by Nick Cave which Cave wrote about Bury St Edmunds when he was in rehab here in the mid 90's. The gallery is filling up now. It's market day outside and it's hot too. The smell of onion and garlic keeps wafting in through the window and people keep popping out for food. There's a lovely Thai stall so I fetch a green curry. Reuben is on third, then Andy. Each DJ has 20 minutes which equates to five or six songs, so as a DJ it forces you to focus in on what you consider the best tracks to reflect that theme. People always ask me if there's too much of a crossover, with DJs playing the same songs, but it never happens. I'm amazed at how diverse the selections are and it's become a great way for me to discover new music. You get to a point where you think you've heard everything but the Hoo Ha proves to me time and again that there will always be something new. You will never hear all the good music in the world. There's not enough time in life to do that. The Machismo's prove that even further, I don't think I know any of the tracks they play and can't find half of them on Spotify afterwards either. The other amazing thing about the Hoo Ha is that it has revealed a whole community of music lovers and vinyl collectors in this small market town who had previously never met each other. Now some new friendships are forming. I feel like I've known Shaun and Mark for ages but it's only since the first Hoo Ha in March that I've spoken to them, and new people are coming every time. Ross, Jonathan Carpenter, Rob Puricelli, Lee Bennet. All with great record collections and different tastes. 
Shaun and Terry play some excellent records then it's my turn. I never plan the order of my set in advance but today I know what track I'm going to start with, The Queen Is Dead. Nothing evokes England, particularly the North of England, for me quite like the Smiths. Then a bit of Saint Etienne, followed by The Fall. Noel Coward is an interruption in style, then back to the favourites, Pulp, The Pet Shop Boys. 
On Thursday evening the lovely people from Off The Press (Sam, James and Anna) spent four or five hours hand screen printing our Hoo Ha Record Club tee shirts. Sam delivered them to the gallery yesterday and by 3 o clock thisafternoon we've nearly sold out. By the end of the day the gallery is filled with people wearing Hoo Ha Record Club tee shirts of various different colours and sizes. We're becoming a tribe. Alison, the art director at Smiths Row, stuns us with her choice vinyl selection. Echo and the Bunnymen, The Fall, The Pogues. She hasn't played these records for nearly 30 years! I teach her how to DJ and insist that when she goes home, she cleans them all and plays at the next Hoo Ha Record Club at Oakes Barn in September. Mark, Matthew and Richard play great sets, then Kenny rounds off the day with a right old mixture. I'm exhausted. The gallery is full of booze and record bags. Smiths Row will never be the same again. HOO HA! HOO HA!

 

Day 12 5/8/2015 

I'm in early today to try and get as much done as possible. I'll lose a painting day this week because of the Hoo Ha Residence Club on Saturday so need to crack on if I'm going to fulfil my aim of completing five paintings during the residency. Prof comes in to see me and wants to stay and chat over a cup of tea. Prof is my pretend dad, I am his pretend daughter. He used to be mum's boyfriend but after they split up in 1992 mum didn't mind that I kept him as my dad. He is wondering how big his role might be in my up coming video shoot and whether it's worth his while. Prof is also a sought after bass singer in the male voice choir, the Bury St Edmunds Octet and Suffolk Operatic. He's been offered a starring role in a production of Little Red Riding Hood in Eastbourne but it's on the same day. I tell him to take the gig. 
I get very little done before midday, when Ken comes in to meet me. We're going to Suffolk Mind to meet the Waves group who we've been raising money for at the Hoo Ha Record Club. Neither of us are really sure what to expect. When we first decided to donate the money to Suffolk Mind, we were quite insistent that it should go to people in our local community who need it the most, those with quite severe mental health issues who would benefit directly, rather than it disappearing into leaflet printing or website building. Charities need to do those things of course, but our aim was to make a difference to lives in an immediate way. Waves is a wonderful group run by dedicated staff, a place for people suffering from mental health problems and personality disorders to come and feel part of a community. It's a drop in service, with no obligations, and people can be involved in the group as much or as little as they want to be. We are amazed to discover that the money we raised at the last Hoo Ha Record Club has been spent on hiring a mobile zoo, Kimi's Zoo, for the afternoon, for the group to learn about the animals as well as being able to handle them directly. It's a beautiful thing. We help the guys from Kimi's Zoo bring the animals up to the Waves group. They have Charlie the bearded dragon, a chinchilla called Stanley, two sugar gliders, a skunk, a frog, a tortoise, a stick insect, a leopard gecko and two meerkats! It's fascinating even for us to see these animals up close and to be able to hold some of them, and the group seems transfixed by the whole thing. It makes it very real for us to meet the people we're actively involved in helping. After all that it's time for a cheese board. I need to get back to the gallery but hear that the fire alarm has gone off while I've been out and it's been evacuated so I feel less bad about the cheese board.
I spend the afternoon working on my new painting 'M25'. Mum comes in with our two dachshunds Darcy and Bertie. As the gallery is empty we run around the wooden floor boards pretending that we're showing the dogs in Crufts, except that the gallery isn't actually empty, Sam and Emily are watching and laughing at us. Mum's been to the fabric stall on the market and bought a roll of red fabric for me to make her a red carpet at her 70th birthday party in a couple of weeks time. My mother belongs on the red carpet. 
Two ladies come into the gallery and we talk about travelling. It sounds like they have travelled extensively, particularly to Berlin. One of them went before the wall came down and just afterwards. It's really interesting to hear how it was then, and we talk about change and capturing transient moments in art. They describe themselves as well-heeled nomads, which I like.



 

Day 11 4/8/2015 

I can't believe it's week 3 of the residency already. Now I'm in the thick of it, with one completed piece, a half completed commission and lots of ideas for new work. Today's aim is to prime up more boards, work out the dimensions of a new piece for the album and draw it up. I'm writing yesterday's blog in the gallery, drinking a very strong coffee, when a man comes in and starts looking at the Modernism reference book. I don't take much notice of him to begin with but as he looks around he begins talking to me. He's clearly very knowledgable about art and artists. He says he didn't finish his art degree and wishes he had. He likes the clean lines and shapes in my work and shows me two small lino cuts he's made. He's carrying the lino itself with him. I like them. Something about his manner is slightly off-kilter, but that's ok and we talk for about an hour in the end. It turns out that he's a regular Artheads attendee. Artheads is a Bury St Edmunds based voluntary group aimed at helping those with drug, alcohol and mental health issues through creativity. They hold regular drop in art sessions which anyone can attend to make paintings or prints and also hold music sessions. At the moment there's an exhibition of Artheads work at The Apex in town and my friend says he has a piece on show. I promise I'll go and look at it when I can. I wonder whether a creative outlet such as Artheads would have made a difference to John's life. I'm not sure it would. He loved music but didn't like change or strangers particularly so I can't imagine him going to a group activity with people he didn't know. We once tried to start a Fall tribute band, The Mitherers, so that John could fulfil his Mark E Smith ambitions and have something to focus on other than the pub, but he claimed he didn't know enough of the words to do it (he knew all the words).
http://www.artheads.co.uk/

I make a lot of progress thisafternoon. I manage to prime three new boards, explore options for the rest of the album art work, and draw up a new piece. It's a series of flyovers across the M25 at Junction 23, at least I think it's junction 23. I've taken so many photographs over the years that I forget where some of them are. At least two people (blokes obviously) have looked at my rough drawing though, stroked their chins and said, "That's the M25 isn't it?" and that it is. Looking at this handy map of M25 motorway junctions, I think that Junction 23 makes sense as I had a bit of an obsession with South Mimms after reading 'London Orbital'.
http://www.m25traffic.co.uk/maps/map-of-m25-motorway-junctions/

Thisafternoon I finally get round to listening to Jarvis Cocker on radio 4 talking about John Betjeman's 'Banana Blush'. A definite contender for the British Landscape themed Hoo Ha on Saturday.
 

Day 10 1/8/2015 

I know, I know, I missed day 9! I had to drive out to Bardwell on Friday to pick up a print from my uncle and ended up going to an American Diner in Hepworth for lunch. For weeks I've been driving past this Diner on the way to Wilsons practice in Rickinghall and thinking how I must photograph it for future reference. It's so out of context, yet it fits with my theory that Suffolk, of all counties in England, is the most similar to America. The flat agricultural landscape and big skies, the long, often empty roads, the large numbers of American service personnel and subsequently American cars. Why shouldn't there be an American diner in the middle of nowhere on a road between nowhere and nowhere with very little through traffic and a distinct lack of trucks? Surely it had been some sort of regular mirage. Inside the Lollipop Diner, as I now know it's called, it is decked out in baby blue and cream booths with 50s neon signs and a life sized, roller-skating Betty Boop gleaming down from the far wall. It would be a great place for a party, or an appropriately themed Hoo Ha Record Club. If only the food was more authentic rather than just a sloppy full English and what taste like Scotch pancakes. I'm surprised at how busy it is for a Friday lunchtime. I suppose the kids have broken up from school now, as there are plenty of young mum's taking their bored children out for a milkshake, but also workmen, plumbers, electricians, brickies, eating their fry-ups like it was any other truckers caff and resolutely ignoring Betty Boop. Friday afternoon was a bit of a write-off after all the excitement of the Lollipop Diner. 
On Saturday I'm back in the gallery and feeling ready to finish my painting 'Flyover'. This piece has been one of the hardest I've ever attempted in terms of composition and colour balance. Having had a day away from it and studied the photographs I've taken as the piece has developed, I can now see clearly what needs to be done. It's a case of making the black more blue, the grey more orange and giving the orange more white highlights. Completing a painting is like finishing a jigsaw puzzle sometimes. It's relatively quiet for a Saturday. Roz, who is now the owner of 'Sugar Beet Factory II: Spring' comes up to see my progress since last week. I'm really focussed on working today so try to explain to her what I'm doing with the new piece and how I can finish it today. At lunchtime Iain from The Wilsons comes up to talk to me about various upcoming projects. I'm making a video in a couple of weeks for a song called The End of Reason to support the album release and Iain has a starring role. We decide to go for a lunchtime pint of cider to discuss it further. By the time I get back to the gallery it's nearly 3. I know what needs to be done to finish 'Flyover'. I'm listening to the new Lonelady album 'Hinterland' which is awesome and I can't stop thinking about records I might play at the Hoo Ha Residence Club which we're holding next Saturday in the gallery. For those who don't know, the Hoo Ha Record Club is a DJ event unlike any other. Anyone can sign up to play records on any format as long as they adhere to the set theme. As a one off I'm hosting a Hoo Ha Record Club in the gallery on the middle Saturday of my residency with the theme of The British Landscape. 
I'm finally happy with 'Flyover'. There are still edges to tidy up but I'll leave it now until the end of the August and can start something new next week. 


 

Day 8 30/7/2015 

Today's theme has been Hong Kong. I watched the first of Joanna Lumley's Trans Siberian programmes on ITV player last night, beginning in Hong Kong. She began the programme on The Peak above the city looking down at the incredible view of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon below. In January 2012 I was lucky enough to visit Hong Kong. It was somewhere I'd always wanted to go but was never likely to play a gig there, so when Pietro asked where I'd most like to go in the world it was top of my list. The excitement of the long haul flight, a new airport, a different smell, futuristic transport, sky high hotel rooms, congee at midnight, ponds full of koi carp, incense filled temples at every corner, British road signs, excellent cocktails, trams, tea-coffee, posh dim sum. Hong Kong is the perfect meeting of east and west. Culturally foreign but visually familiar. The night we arrived we were so tired that we couldn't take much in. The next morning, from the glass window/wall of our 44th floor hotel room, I cried at the sight of one of the most stunning views I've ever seen. The buildings, largely tessellating white concrete tower blocks, interspersed with fluorescent blue swimming pools and rust-coloured clay tennis courts, were my artist eye's wet dream.
Back to today. I don't often get the chance to talk to someone about the buildings in Hong Kong but Keith Watt, an Ipswich based photographer, is talking to me about my work. He asks why I'm drawn to these Brutalist buildings. I think it's because I like the shapes that they make in the landscape and also because I associate them with culture. He says he also photographs buildings, in sharp focus, without a context or setting and devoid of people. He's recently visited Hong Kong and taken a series of photographs of the tower blocks I liked so much. 
One of my best friends from school, Lucy, has just had a baby. I've never met little Arthur before but they come into the gallery today. Lucy tells me that Arthur is a terror who never sleeps but he seems very docile in his pram, snoozing and yawning and snoozing. It's lovely to see her. The last time I saw her was the day she gave birth 8 weeks ago. We were joking about how she could pop at any minute. 12 hours later and 12 days early Arthur came into the world. 
Thisafternoon I do manage to fix 'Flyover'. I understand it now more as a piece of graphic design than a painting. Bruce comes into the gallery to see me. I'm not sure how long he's been standing there but it could have been a while. I'm concentrating. He looks around and says he likes the view from the gallery window and the large cast iron radiator underneath it. He says it goes with the paintings, which I suppose it does, although I hadn't noticed it. James brings more wood in for me to prime ready for the next paintings. I always seem to be just getting into the work at five o clock when the gallery is about to close. Progress has been made today though.
Later The Hairy Bikers are in Hong Kong, eating an English style breakfast in Lan Fong Yuen cafe where they serve tea-coffee strained through a stocking filled with eggshells. It's really good. Another circular day. 

Day 7 29/7/2015 

Thismorning my aim is to fix 'Flyover' which I feel like I ruined yesterday. Making the album artwork is slightly different from painting my usual pieces. These pictures have to be more graphic and allow for text to be added afterwards. I have definitely added too many colours so need to pare it back a bit. All I seem to be doing though is adding more colour variants and making things worse. I'm probably not concentrating because I have two distractions, Ken and Andy, sitting behind me drinking coffee. They are only making my open studio more authentic by being there. Ken is ever present in my working day as his office is next door to my studio space at The Rehearsal Rooms. The weirdest thing about being in residence is probably the fact that Ken is not here all the time. Andy is our frequent visitor at the Rooms. My radical walking companion and artist muse. Allotment chieftain and teller of colourful, ale fuelled stories. 
Once they leave I realise that I'm not necessarily improving the painting so I decide to listen to the Ashes on TMS to help me focus. I'm a big fan of having sport on in the background whilst working. I find it calming and strangely, as I work alone so much, it makes me feel more a part of the wider world. When I lived in Rome this was especially true. I've never watched a cricket match in my life, am not sure that I totally understand cricket even, but there's nothing better than Tuffers and Blowers in the commentary box, discussing seagulls and buses.
A face I don't see very often comes into the gallery, my friend Jon the Goth. Jon isn't really a goth anymore, although he does have a penchant for photographing graveyards. He lives in Berlin most of the time but is back in Suffolk looking after his sick father. Jon was the person who first inspired me to move to Sheffield. His stories of late 80's/early 90's Sheffield nite-life, The Leadmill, The Limit Club, coupled with listening to a lot of Pulp. 
The afternoon is cricket, mistakes, cricket, mistakes. Maybe tomorrow I will fix 'Flyover'. Sometimes it's best to leave a painting when it's not working, especially if I'm tired.  I discover a photographer on twitter called Quintin Lake who is walking 10000km around the coast of Britain. It's something I fantasise about doing but I'm sure the reality of it would be incredibly challenging. Last year I walked 24 miles in one day from Clare back to Bury and it felt like my hips had been ground down to the bone. Quinitin is an architectural photographer and is posting photographs from the walk on his Perimeter website. They are beautiful.
http://theperimeter.uk/