Thursday, 22 March 2018

London Art Fair

Following on from the recent blog below, here are two general shots of the CANAL stand at last month's London Art Fair. The top photograph is by Maguelone Marcenac, the bottom one by David Owens. Many thanks to them both. I should say that the earlier, documentary photograph of the neon, showed in the February 12th blog, was taken by Charlie Milligan, who had to stand on a very wobbly stepladder in a blacked-out workshop to get a result. I'm grateful to all three photographers. 

Monday, 12 February 2018

London Art Fair

Beyond the bright cartoons - D J Roberts
16 x 215 cm

Sand, pigment, wool thread, Vivanil glue on board
71 x 101cm
c. 1977
A tardy entry - I've been very busy of late - but I do want to say how much I enjoyed showing with CANAL at the London Art Fair last month.

Together with James Brooks and Patrick White I was invited by Monika Bobinska, who runs CANAL and who was showing in the Art Projects section of the fair, to respond to the work of the late Claudio del Sole. Del Sole (1926 - 2005) was an Italian artist and astronomer who in 1959 helped found the movement Astralism and whose practice explored his fascination with the depth, light and mystery of the cosmos. CANAL's show 'L'Osservatorio' (The Observatory) included six of his works.

My response to one of them, Campi Rotanti, a painting he made in 1977, was a neon text which read 'Beyond the bright cartoons'. This is the first line of Philip Larkin's short star-gazing poem 'Far Out', written in 1959 and addressing, like del Sole's art, the nature of our relationship with the universe. For me the poem is very much about grappling with concepts that are difficult - they can offer great rewards if rigorously explored. The line can also be read as a metaphor for avoiding facility in art. I think del Sole would have endorsed both these propositions.

The neon was an exact replica, enlarged, of Larkin's handwritten version of the line. This was possible due to the kindness of Simon Wilson, University Archivist at Hull History Centre, who allowed me to see the line in one of Larkin's notebooks and to copy it. 

The critic Paul Carey-Kent rated 'L'Osservatorio' probably the best curated stand at the fair, while Dr Christopher Adams of the Estorick Collection wrote: 'With the ongoing revival of interest in post-war Italian art, this exhibition is a timely celebration of a figure whose work constituted a sophisticated, accomplished and highly distinctive response to some of the most significant artistic and scientific developments of his day'.

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Death-Cap Dancers

One of the books of display at my show 'Larkinworld' at the National Poetry Library in London is 'The Death-Cap Dancers', by Gladys Mitchell. It was kindly lent to me for the show by Laurence Worms of Ash Rare Books (

The book once belonged to Barry Bloomfield, Larkin's friend and bibliographer. Laurence bought a great many books owned by Bloomfield, and writes:

'Both Barry and Larkin shared an enthusiasm for old-fashioned detective fiction - Margery Allinghan, Francis Beeding, Josephine Bell, Christiana Brand, Freeman Willis Croft and all the rest. Barry had loads of it. Most of it was housed in the garage, but when I was clearing the books away after Barry's death, I asked Valerie, his widow, why there were shelves of Gladys Mitchell in the guest bedroom. Her explanation was that this was because Gladys Mitchell was Larkin's especial favourite, and she was kept in the bedroom so that she should be at hand when Larkin came to stay'.

So we know that Larkin would at least have seen the copy on display in the show. And he may even have handled it and read it in bed!

Monday, 20 February 2017

'Larkinworld' at the National Poetry Library

My show 'Larkinworld' is now up and running at the National Poetry Library, Royal Festival Hall, London. The library is on the fifth floor and is open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-8pm.

Many thanks to all who helped me with the preparation and installation of the show. The excellent photographs were taken by Harpreet Kalsi. More information on the show is available here:


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Postcards From The Edge

Visual AIDS is holding the 18th edition of its Postcards From The Edge fundraiser at New York's Sikkema Jenkins & Co from January 29 - 31, and I am delighted to be taking part. Since being established in 1998, Postcards From The Edge has raised over $800,000, selling more than 18,000 fine art postcards to benefit the organization's efforts to promote AIDS awareness and to support artists living with HIV.  

Monday, 7 December 2015

Small is Beautiful, Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, Dec 2015-Jan 2016

Photograph by Flowers Gallery
I have two pieces in the upcoming Small is Beautiful show at Flowers Gallery in Cork Street. The show will run from Wednesday December 9th until Saturday 9th January 2016. The show is always well worth a visit, so do please come along.

Silent Movies, Q Park, October 2015

My installation at the recent group show Silent Movies, in Q Park, Cavendish Square, London. All the artworks had to be black and white, and at the private view the artists had to dress in black or white, or a combination of the two. It was all great fun.