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Dilly
English Poet Painter
Interests: Poetry, Painting, Creative Writing, Short Fiction, Jazz, Film, Photography.
Recent Activity
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As a poet I'm the first to admit that I had never heard of Ovid until the other evening (see photo above). But then I didn't study Latin at grammar school and swapped English Literature for Art as soon as possible! Enough time was spent at our school on English Grammar—a real chore and a bore! So I've been very impressed by Michael Wood's TV programme and will be researching the great poet's books with enthusiasm. Who isn't keen to know more about love, sex and changes to the cosmos, nature and people? His poetry is as relevant now as... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Creativity
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In my 24 November post I noted that Cézanne's portraits suggest we are not continuous beings but mysteries to ourselves and others, divided and fragmentary behind our masks. Much of my artwork investigates how much we all like to mask our faces, either hiding behind sunglasses or under the floppy brims of hats. Make-up, wigs, hairstyles and changing hair colour also offer opportunities for disguise! These images above, Pretending to be who I am 1 and 2, were both created in 2005 and confirm that I am in a continual state of masking and / or reinventing myself! See my... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2017 at Creativity
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'Nursery rhymes are the smallest great poems of the world’s literature.' So said Iona and Peter Opie, English folklorists who collected, codified and published children’s rhymes, riddles and street culture half a century ago. Iona died in October aged 94 but her obituary reminded me of the book above, purchased when our first baby was born! For decades she and her husband interviewed thousands of children across the country, recording rhymes and games as they were being played in school playgrounds. They wrote several celebrated books. I hope children with their parents are still reading and enjoying these ancient rhymes. Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2017 at Creativity
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Like the artist Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), I've never painted portraits to resemble photos—see my website home page. Jonathan Jones, art critic, reckons that Cézanne not only anticipated Picasso but also Proust and Joyce as he meditated on the nature of the self. His portraits (see detail of Boy in a Red Waistcoat above) suggest we are not continuous beings but mysteries to ourselves and others, divided and fragmentary behind our masks. Until mid-February 2018 the National Portrait Gallery, London is showing over fifty of Cézanne’s portraits from collections around the world, some of which have never been on public display... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2017 at Creativity
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The inspiration of rural Hampshire to me (see my last post) and to Jane Austen is a pleasing connection. I lived for fifteen years in the village of Upham. She was born and bred in the village of Steventon. When her parents moved to Bath, she was devastated. Aged 25 and 28, she and her sister Cassandra had no money and no independence. Despite having written three unpublished novels, evidence shows that in Bath and later Southampton Jane's inspiration to write novels wavered. Only when she returned with her mother and sister to Chawton, a village not far from Steventon,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2017 at Creativity
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The inspiration for this poem (see above) is a place not far from where we used to live at Upham in Hampshire's South Downs, a wooded copse called Betty Mundy's Bottom! There are numerous legends and stories about the woman—not all good! But for the purposes of my poem I imagined a visual connection between Betty Mundy and the famous nude painting The Toilet of Venus (The Rokeby Venus) by Diego Velázquez, now in The National Gallery, London. Her undulating bodyscape reminded me of Hampshire hills! Read my complete poem on the Hampshire Cultural Trust website >> Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2017 at Creativity
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Having just seen Midnight in Paris again, I decided to check out Woody Allen's website and discovered this quote— 'If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.' And that seems to be the key to his creativity—always willing to take a chance and try new ideas. His prolific career as a comedian, writer and film director spans more than six decades. Since his first screenplay What’s New Pussycat? in 1965, he has written and directed more than 45 feature films, including Match Point, Annie Hall, Manhattan and more recently Midnight in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2017 at Creativity
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Roger Hilton's paintings of the 1960s, whether figurative or abstract, always had an erotic charge. In response to this 1963 painting (see above right), Vicki Feaver, now Emeritus Professor at Chichester University, wrote a poem to him, noting at the beginning— The lady has no shame. / Wearing not a stitch / lolloping across an abstract beach / towards a notional sea. The source of Hilton's painting was ‘my wife dancing on a verandah, we were having a quarrel. She was nude and angry at the time and she was dancing up and down shouting Oi yoi yoi! . .... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2017 at Creativity
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Reading the introduction to Voices in the Gallery by Dannie and Joan Abse (see above), I've discovered that since antiquity poetry and painting have been regarded as sister arts. Simonides of Ceos, a Greek lyric poet c. 556 – 468 BC, characterised paintings as mute poetry and poetry as speaking pictures. For centuries myths, legends, historical and religious themes have inspired generations of painters. But only in relatively recent times is the reverse true. Take Oi Yoi Yoi by Roger Hilton, (see above). Vicki Feaver's poem about the painting is a very amusing example and will feature in my next... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2017 at Creativity
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Yes! I've known for many years about his numerous novels and short stories, especially the Rabbit series (Pulitzer Prize) and Bech stories. Certainly a remarkable output. But I had no idea until the other day that throughout his life John Updike also wrote poems. Between 1958 and 2009 he published eight collections of poetry! When he died in 2009 Ian McEwen observed— He was a . . . colossal figure in American letters, the finest writer working in English. He dazzled us with his interests and intellectual curiosity, and he turned a beautiful sentence. I will certainly be looking out... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2017 at Creativity
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Bendor Grosvenor's recent TV programme about a lost masterpiece by Mary Beale (1633 – 1699), see self-portraits above, also drew attention to Allbrook Farmhouse near Chandlers Ford in Hampshire. As a very successful professional female portrait painter, she moved to the farmhouse in 1665 to avoid the plague in London. Not only is this house a rare surviving studio of an artist from the pre-Georgian period but Mary's society and clerical portraits were judged as fine as those by Sir Peter Lely and Godfrey Kneller. She not only made a living in what was an exclusively male profession but became... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2017 at Creativity
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When I recently read about Rupi Kaur's success as a poet and painter, I was amazed. She is a Punjabi Canadian feminist poet whose début collection of poems Milk and Honey has become an internet sensation. Initially self-published, her book (now commercially published) has sold 1.5 million copies worldwide. She posts verses on Tumblr, Twitter and has 1.6 million followers on Instagram! She also illustrates her work, enjoys photography and offers live performances of her poetry. I'm very impressed and just hope that all the media attention will not frazzle her too much. Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2017 at Creativity
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I took these face photos at Dorset County Museum, Dorchester, England, which is a gem! There is also a fascinating permanent exhibition about Thomas Hardy. I later created the photo collage, inspired by Thomas Hardy's poem Heredity, which begins— I am the family face; / Flesh perishes, I live on, / Projecting trait and trace Through time to times anon, / And leaping from place to place / Over oblivion. . . . Thomas Hardy always thought less of his novels than his poems. After the death of his first wife, he wrote a great number. He had not treated... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2017 at Creativity
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Some of my Ward ancestors were indentured River Thames watermen. So imagine my delight when I discovered this painting of a Thames pageant, 1747-48, by Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto. The artist first came to prominence with captivating views of his own city, Venice, which proved very popular with English tourists making The Grand Tour of Europe. As a result, Canaletto repeatedly visited England between 1746-56, creating idyllic scenes like the one above and providing him with a lucrative income. My watermen ancestors would have experienced other very different river scenes, especially during stormy weather conditions. But then,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2017 at Creativity
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I like to think of my poems as verbal landmarks or WORDMARKS!, offering you, the listener or reader, a vivid sense of my creative world, outlook and ideas. Many poems reflect my mixed ancestry—maternal Scottish forebears, telling tales around peaty croft fires, and paternal Londoners indentured as Thames watermen, noted for their raucous river repartee. Poems include thoughts on love, life & death; observations by a keen hiker; artists and authors under scrutiny; even taking myself to task! As a result, my WORDMARKS! poetry performances are designed to amuse, intrigue and entertain. See more info here >> Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2017 at Creativity
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You might be a painter like Vincent Van Gogh (see detail above) if . . . — you talk to your art easel frequently, asking for help and assistance. — you apologise regularly to your art easel for violent kicks it may suffer. — any thoughts of other day jobs provoke heartburn, anxiety and stress. — you ignore your mother / father / partner / kids, who want you to get a different day job. — your family moves into the garden shed, so you can extend your studio space and furiously engage in action painting. — you clean your... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2017 at Creativity
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This magnificently decorated memorial in Southwark Cathedral, London is to John Gower who died in 1408. He was poet laureate to both Richard II and Henry III, and one of the first poets to write in English. For this reason he has been dubbed 'England's first poet'. Gower lived within the precincts of the priory of St Mary Overie, near the current cathedral. He had a chantry chapel built on the north side of the nave which no longer exists. If you look closely you can see that Gower's effigy rests his head on three books, one which he wrote... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2017 at Creativity
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The often provocative work of French-American sculptor, Louise Bourgeois, 1911 – 2010, is being celebrated in a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. On show is a selection of some of her lesser-known prints which focus on issues of patriarchy, sexuality and womanhood. She continued working into her 90s, proving that 'creativity' might be the most addictive experience on earth. It seems that some highly creative people just never grow up, choosing to see the world each day with a child's imaginative eye. It is certainly true that some of her work is visually very exciting! Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2017 at Creativity
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As a self-published poet, I always feel encouraged by other poets who have taken this initial route to publication. So meet W H Davies (see photo above). Back in 1905 he self-published his first book of poetry, The Soul's Destroyer. Not only did he live the life of a tramp for six months to pay the London printer, but when published, the slim volume was largely ignored! So he resorted to offering individual copies to prospective wealthy customers chosen from the pages of Who's Who! Eventually he managed to sell 60 of the 250 copies printed. Well done for perseverance! Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2017 at Creativity
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Hey, Dixiebelle! Wake up! Wake up! It's time for roof surveillance. Zzzzzzzz! Dixiebelle! Did you hear me? Wake up! Wake up! It's time for rat patrol. Zzzzzzzz! What's the problem, you feline failure? Wake up! Zzzzzzzz! OK! OK! I get it. You want more Michelin-star meals, is that it? Zzzzzzzz! OK! OK! I don't get it. So what's the zzzzzzz-ing problem? You what? Stop mewing and talk to me! Your feet are killing you. How come your feet hurt? Splat-the-Cat next door is teaching you how to paint paw-traits. PAW-TRAITS! Now listen here—that's my line of country! Get out! Get... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2017 at Creativity
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As a painter I've always found certain artists inspirational. For example, the self-portraits of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter, intrigue me; also the epic figurative triptychs of Irish-born Francis Bacon. But Marc Chagall, the Russian-French artist, and his other-worldly paintings are of special significance—hence this poem! Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2017 at Creativity
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Creating profile silhouettes using a single light source and strong shadow is a very ancient, even prehistoric, activity. The defining features are usually the nose and chin. Whilst drawing and painting Profile with Fig Leaves, I also saw the possibility of turning my silhouette into a vase! I love visual games of illusion—see more examples on my website at Artwork / Living with Illusion. Also contact me for purchase details about Profile with Fig Leaves, 2005 (mixed media on paper, 35 x 50 cm) or Artist as a Vase 1, 2005 (mixed media on paper, 46 x 33 cm). Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2017 at Creativity
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Founded in 1123, St Bartholomew the Great is London's oldest church! Near here John Betjeman, Poet Laureate, lived in Cloth Court for a number of years (see his larger-than-life statue by Martin Jennings above). The Poet Laureate loved this part of London, its hidden alleys and passages evoking medieval times, even a shop still selling cloth in Cloth Fair nearby. On some nights he would hear bells ringing from St Bartholomew's church, reminding him that at one time such bells would have rung out from medieval London's 108 churches. A bell bonanza in a walled city of just one square... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2017 at Creativity
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In January an artist was jailed for three years seven months, having sold 14 forged drawings and paintings for more than £30,000. Claiming the artwork was by Norman Cornish, the renowned pitman painter (see above), suspicions were aroused when a restorer noticed that one of the canvases used was too new! A price on a receipt claimed to be from the 1960s was also spotted to be in decimal pounds and pence, rather than pounds and shillings, and a telephone number used was too long. If only the artist had created his own paintings of miners but in the style... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2017 at Creativity
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Writing Home is a very entertaining book by Alan Bennett, full of anecdotes about his professional and family life. He recounts an amusing tale about his mother bumping into Mrs Fletcher near their homes in Leeds. She was introduced to Mrs Fletcher's son-in-law. Unaware that this was T S Eliot, author of The Waste Land, they chatted inconsequentially. Only later Alan Bennett told his mother that T S Eliot was not only very famous but also winner of a Nobel Prize (see photo above). With that unerring grasp of inessentials, she commented— 'Well . . . I'm not surprised. It... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2017 at Creativity