Gaudy Summer

An assortment of Gaudy Welsh saucers and side plates. Bought cheaply. A job lot off the e-Bay. They are variations on the ‘Tulip’ theme. Hand painted in intense cobalt blue, pink lustre (that appears copper when applied over glaze onto the blue), yellow, burnt orange (russet – an equal mixture of orange and purple) and green. They exude energy. Optimistic Ware.

Continue reading “Gaudy Summer”


Ghost Flowers

The boat moored alongside our ‘Eileen’ in ‘the Arm’ in Banbury is perhaps best described – charitably – as a project boat. It’s a project that has seemingly stalled. It’s a boat in decline. With it’s restoration becoming, year by year, still more challenging. More expensive. Hope erodes. Continue reading “Ghost Flowers”

Journey Can Hero: Alfred Wallis


Alfred Wallis (18 August 1855 – 29 August 1942) was apprenticed to a basketmaker before becoming a mariner in the merchant service by the early 1870s. He sailed on schooners across the North Atlantic between Penzance and Newfoundland.

At 20 he married Susan Ward, his wife was 41, and became stepfather to her five children. The family moved to St. Ives in 1890 where he established himself as Wallis, Alfred, Marine Stores Dealer buying scrap iron, sails, rope and other items. Following his wife’s death in 1922, Wallis took up painting “for company“.

Continue reading “Journey Can Hero: Alfred Wallis”

Journey Can Hero: James Dixon

A Journey Can Hero – James ‘Jimmy’ Dixon (1887-1970)

A finger of land. A boat adrift in a storm. Isolated. An outpost nine miles into the Northern Atlantic, one steeped in history, music, song and dance. Tory Island, off the north west coast of Co. Donegal.

In the late 1950’s Derek Hill, artist, was painting on Tory Island when a cantankerous old man, looking over his shoulder, said “I could do better if I tried”. Intrigued, Hill challenged James ‘Jimmy’ Dixon (1887-1970) to prove it. He gave Dixon paint and paper. Dixon refused paintbrushes choosing to make his own from donkey hair.

Continue reading “Journey Can Hero: James Dixon”

Journey Can Hero: David Jones – the artist-poet of the ‘ever-present past’

David Jones was a visionary who wrote, in 1937:

That our culture has accelerated every line of advance into the territory of physical science is well appreciated – but not so well understood are the unforeseen, subsidiary effects of this achievement. We stroke cats, pluck flowers, tie ribands, assist at the manual acts of religion, make some kind of love, write poems, paint pictures, are generally at one with that creaturely world inherited from our remote beginnings. Our perception of many things is heightened and clarified. Yet must we do the gas-drill, be attuned to many newfangled technicalities, respond to increasingly exacting mechanical devices; some fascinating and compelling, others sinister in the extreme; all requiring a new and strange direction of the mind, a new sensitivity certainly, but at a considerable cost.

David Jones, In Parenthesis (1937; rpt. London: Faber, 1963), p. xiv.

In Parenthesis (1937) was David Jones’s first and perhaps greatest book, it made his name as a writer: a hard-to-classify modernist prose-poem distilling and mythologising his experiences during the First World War.

Continue reading “Journey Can Hero: David Jones – the artist-poet of the ‘ever-present past’”