Ship-Shape Shed

When we got here this shed was a huge rotting rhombus of wood the colour of gravy. After so much attention (a few new panels, some cross-braces and a lick of paint), I'm hoping it'll last a couple more years. Now it really needs a length of gutter and a water-butt to counter the coming drought.

Listen, I realise my life's completely dull but what should I do, make stuff up? Next week: pure lies.


Nice to see the BBC use Faber & Faber's preferred font, Albertus, throughout the otherwise unremarkable Arena documentary The Dreams of William Golding. "Unprecedented access to the unpublished diaries" did little to dull the image of Golding teaching while writing bombastic boys books destined only to be taught. Yet between those well-known works, sodden with allegory, there's a peculiar, less noisy novelist. I'm unsure what led me to some of the in-between works, Free Fall (1959) for instance, the truly odd Darkness Visible (1979), or the late literary romp The Paper Men (1984), but they're all still there on the shelf; a watermark of sorts. Sometimes I half expect to find Golding's imagined town, Stillborn, out there on Google Maps.


I love this photo by my friend, Virginie Vaulot, especially as I know these are her daughter's* favourite trousers. After holding out until spring to re-post, I figure we're nearly there now; this week saw the vernal equinox... the official end of winter! Sometimes Virginie lets rip with a piece of writing to accompany Hips Like Boys, her online photo-journal, and it's almost as excellent as hearing her speak.

* I say daughter, more like long-term collaborator.


Culpable Earth

Steven Claydon sculpture

We didn't make it to the opening night of an old friend's exhibition, for a pregnant woman it seemed far too far for a couple of hours of standing and shmoozing. Hopefully we made up for it by taking the round trip to Colchester a couple of weeks later. Standing over the final plinth of Steven Claydon's Culpable Earth (lathed wooden cylinders resembling tins, a modular Euclidean cube in red on a recessed back-lit resin bed) another visitor struck-up conversation.

Like most awkward people, I tend to deflect suspected small-talk with a series of stock responses (you know the drill, every statement a light conclusion, never a leading question. Polite and trite in equal measure), and yet this energetic septuagenarian engendered something else entirely. Emboldened and enlivened by the work, we all spoke for a time about the stranglehold of Catholic symbolism; object/artefact/relic; transubstantiation and the appearance of matter; the pure becoming of life; the imperceptible end of a bell's open note; and his expansive hunch that some moments can never be truly lost in time but continue to unfold everywhere and always at once.

Constable seascape

On the train back to Liverpool Street we laughed at the way the stranger had become and integral part of the show... or at least our experience of it. It's a pity he won't be waiting there for everyone, an uplifting and interpretive tool for an artist who's often awkward and always engaging. Sure, Essex isn't the most glamourous destination but with an ancillary gallery pairing Constable's cloud studies with Carl Andre's infamous Equivalent VIII, there's certainly a stack of reasons for visiting Firstsite this season.

Carl Andre Equivalent VIII at the tate 1978

Steven Claydon: Culpable Earth, 4 February - 7 May 2012
Firstsite, Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester CO1 1JH

• from Steven Claydon's Culpable Earth, 2012 [Andy Keate]
• Firstsite, Colchester, Rafael Viñoly Architects, 2012 [Richard Bryant]
• John Constable, Rainstorm over the Sea, c.1824-1828
• Carl Andre, Equivalent VIII, 1978, Firebricks



1970s snapshot of child in cowboy boots, playing guitar

Congratulations to our dear friend, Liz, on 5 cancer-free years. Our thoughts go to those with less happy news.


Leonard Rosoman bucolic painting

Leonard Rosoman (1913-2012), Figure in Garden with Sunflowers, 1956