David Jones and the matter of Britain

David Jones, 'Petra im Rosenhag' (1931), National Museum of Wales, Cardiff © Trustees of the David Jones Estate/Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

To Pallant House Gallery at the weekend, in Chichester – the first time I’ve been to this rather fine gallery made up of a Queen Anne house with modern extension. It’s primarily devoted to modern British art, with fine examples of Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, David Bomberg, Ivon Hitchens, Graham Sutherland, John Piper, Michael Andrews,… Read More

The round window

The view down a gun barrel from the title sequence to Dr No

Lucifer (2014), directed by the Belgian filmmaker Gust van den Berghe, is a remarkable work of art. Loosely based on the 1654 Dutch play of the same title by Joost van den Vondel, it tells of the visitation of the Devil to a present-day Mexican village, brings sin and sorrow in his wake, leading to… Read More

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