15 favourite paintings

William Scott, 'Morning in Mykonos', 1960-61, British Council collection

On we go with the lists, and now we have fifteen favourite paintings of mine. They’re not all great works, but each has struck me in a particular way and lingered in the mind. Often they represent a particular time and place (London, Dublin, Canterbury, Manchester) that help make them specifically memorable for me. I’ve… Read More

It’s a square world

An attempt at recreating Malevich's 'Red Square', from Melanie Smith, 'Aztec Stadium', http://melaniesmith.net/projects/aztec_stadium/index.html

This weekend I went to the Whitechapel Gallery in London for its new exhibition, Adventures of the Black Square. This marks the 100th anniversary of Kazimir Malevich’s epoch-making painting ‘Black Square’, which was exhibited in Petrograd at the Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0.10. The Whitechapel show celebrates a century of abstract art and its… Read More

Football considered as one of the arts

Watching football on an inflatable screen in Kenya, via BBC

I have watched a lot of football in my time. I’ve not been to that many live professional games – four in total. But despite such apparent apathy I have seen hundreds if not thousands of football matches. I have seen them on television screens (from black-and-white era to Smart TVs), I have seen them… Read More

On Margate sands


Few railway stations can offer a grander view of the town that they serve than Margate. As you step out of the station, the full sweep of the bay opens up before you: the low waves ebbing over flat sands, a great line of amusement parlours, shops and hotels following the leftward curve of the… Read More

Every picture tells a story

The main gallery at Ulster Museum, showing the William Scott exhibition

Just under thirty years ago I went to a tiny cinema, the name of which escapes me, somewhere off Piccadilly, London, to see a dramatised documentary about the Irish painter William Scott. It was directed by the painter’s son, James Scott (who had won an Academy Award in 1983 for the Graham Greene short film… Read More

Dreams of iron and steel


Who saw this one coming? Bob Dylan as a welder of gates? The Halcyon Gallery in Bond Street is currently hosting Mood Swings, an exhibition of ornamental gates and associated metalwork crafted by a man, who when he isn’t composing, recording, touring, writing, broadcasting or indeed painting, clearly likes to go a junkyard, pick up… Read More



I was wandering past some of the unlovely new homes being built on the Rochester riverfront with their regimented, office-like brick walls, and the idea of a post on bricks came to mind. I thought of the many kinds of beautiful bricks walls, from Jacobean to modern times, that can be found in this town.… Read More

Magic and metaphor


I have been engrossed by Turner Prize-winning Jeremy Deller‘s video installation English Magic. Produced as part of, and as a synthesis of, his Venice Biennale exhibition of the same name, the British artist’s work is a playful and visually profound statement on the state of the nation (particularly the English nation). The video is a… Read More

The museum of public art


I was in the town of Lund in southern Sweden last week, attending a seminar on newsreels, which I’ll write about in due course. Lund is a pleasant, quiet town of around 100,000, almost half of which are students. I had half a day in which to mooch around the town, and so it was… Read More

The national gallery

Artists' self-portraits from Your Paintings

I have, tucked away in a cardboard box somewhere, a large collection of postcards of paintings from small galleries up and down the UK. Years ago, when somehow there was more time to do such things, I would go out on regular trips to towns to pursue the kinds of paintings that seldom made into… Read More