The Street of Bitterness – painting

I managed to trace the steps I’d taken as I wandered around old Havana, these people are standing in Calle Amargura, outside the Conde del Castillo restaurant which is within the Marqués de San Felipe y Santiago de Bejucal hotel on the corner of Calle Amargura and Plaza San Fransisco near the port.

I was struck by their expressions, a mix of boredom, anticipation of the hard work to come during the busy midday period and their suspicion of me taking their photographs. They made such an interesting composition, the two men looking over the woman’s head, the pot-bellied chef’s whites stark against the dark background, that same darkness almost engulfing the taller man, concentrating the eye on his upward-pointing arm resting on the door frame.

Amargura translates as Bitterness.

The painting is not quite finished, a few refinements and adjustments to make yet.

Street of Bitterness

London People

Wandering around with a friend from out of town, I found these people and faces, so many stories in London, right on my doorstep. silhouetteboy
On the south bank of the Thames, these tourists were thrown into sharp silhouette by the brightly sunlit ship beyond.

white toecap At first I thought this man’s shoe was being highlighted by the sun but no, he is actually wearing canvas shoes with white rubber toecaps, his friend’s shadow just happens to be falling in line with the white rubber tip. The strange gesture of pointing his finger straight down, is in fact merely the gentleman getting a good grip on his walking stick, only visible by his right foot.


I sat for some time watching the passers-by in the courtyard garden of the Victoria and Albert Museum, this young boy seemed dedicated to improving his handstand technique in the water, he did it at least 10 times, the first was good, the last ones were excellent.The little girl to the right is desperate to try but I think too scared.

pink dress

I so admire this woman’s dress style, a great lover of Mondrian and a perfectly thought through outfit, even down to the flower earrings and the pink socks.IMG_2529

I looked up and this guy was towering over me, making everyone around look so small!


Its not often hat you see a plait this long and what a beautiful colour too.

Canadian Sky

I don’t recall ever having seen the shadow of an airplane trails on a cloud before but here the clouds look as though they have been brushed smooth to make the shadow sharper. I saw this around 6:30 in the afternoon west of Toronto.

cloud shadows

Photo credit Dr Reason under my direction  . . .

Bauhaus at the Barbican

The Barbican on a hot Wednesday evening was another delight, a talk by the renowned Swiss artist Peter Fischli  whose father studied at Bauhaus Dessau. He talked about the influences of the Bauhaus after its demise including its far-reaching effects in the US an even in Britain.

I was expecting an audience of people in their 60s but the average age was more like 30. He talked about his early life living in a modernist house designed by his father in the outskirts of Zurich. Affectonately known as The Shoebox by the locals, the house was furnished with non- upholstered chairs, as upholstery was considered Bourgeois. He showed us this image.

It was only today that I realised that Fischli’s collaborative partner 0f some 30 years David Weiss had died a few weeks before. Fischli/Weiss  – The Way Things Go

Bauhaus: Art as Life
3 May 12 – 12 Aug 12 / Barbican Art Gallery

Read Me Something You Love

Farringdon Road on a hot Tuesday evening, at the Free Word Centre, was an unexpected delight. A group of singularly insightful individuals, broadcasters, writers, publishers offering us, the audience , access to their experience. And in the melee later I met the most interesting Steve Wasserman who runs the blog Read Me Something You love. This is a blog like no other, to quote ”

Read Me Something You Love is an online podcasting project. But it is also, hopefully, an offline experience.

People who love the written word read me a short story, an excerpt from a novel, or poem that excites them in some way, and then we wholeheartedly discuss the piece in question.”

How cool is that – but don’t take my word for it – go visit RMSYL

An example, quite apposite since I have recently returned from (been reborn from) a week’s residential tutoring by the delightful Mr Haddon.

The Gun by Mark Haddon – read by Ted Hodgkinson