First they came for the birds...

I was asked why I use pigeons so much in artwork since they are often considered a rather ugly, nondescript bird. The answer is simply, in many ways it's a bird that I can empathize with.
Let me tell you a tale of two places...

Once upon a time back in the wilds of Yorkshire, my brother kept pigeons and had an incredible relationship with them. He would spend hours training these intelligent birds, taking them out on his bicycle to release them, and then race home as fast as he could to see if he could ever beat them. In those moments, I never saw him more alive and happy... his heart truly soared as high as his feathered companions. It was a time when they were still recognized for their unique homing ability and speed; remember this breed were once trained as military messengers during both World Wars and could even be awarded decorations for valor.
But that was many years ago, in a different time and a very different place, where these birds were seen as very elegant, wise creatures... here and now in present day London, it's a very different story in which they are often referred to as 'rats with wings'. The days of buying seed has long passed, instead there are bylaws that prevent them from being fed by their once human companions, so they are left to fend for themselves. They resort to scavenging off the trash thrown away by a society that no longer remembers or cares. Deemed the unwanted, they have been made homeless due to all the various anti roosting spikes and devices placed on buildings and walls. They now roam the city half starved, with twisted and deformed limbs; wings that once flew to great heights are left tattered and torn... and the city will do everything in its power to cleanse itself of this unsightly pest.
And many of you will probably applaud this, for you don't want this filth in your world, but perhaps you should pause and look at the bigger picture for a moment... for sadly, you are not so unlike the pigeon.

Take a 'real' look outside and see how London treats its human inhabitants. Look to the streets and see how many people you'll notice desperately searching through bins and discarded trash, take note of the 'anti people spikes' appearing in doorways and sidewalks. Notice the forgotten with disabilities (both physical and mental) left unaided, to fend for themselves on the streets of this harsh city. Those with the minds creative enough to soar to incredible heights, have had their wings damaged by the daily onslaught of surviving here, and may never again remember what it is to fly... unless they have the courage and will to leave this place forever. Many here are just one or two paychecks, one or two bad choices away from joining the weathered souls out there. You may well ask the question, why do they stay and allow themselves to be treated so vilely? Well perhaps it's because like the pigeon, their inbuilt 'homing' senses prevent them from leaving the place they know as 'home'.

So as I walk these streets, I see and understand what is happening all around me and it makes it very (un)easy to be able to relate to this 'filthy' bird.
First they came for the birds, but the birds had no voice and could not defend themselves...

Victorian art on walls

The John Jones experience...

Recently I had the opportunity to work with two of my wonderful artist friends, Joni Belaruski and Ella Guru, on a large commission for a prestigious framing company John Jones.
The company had recently moved into new premises and were holding a party to celebrate, so with a theme loosely based on 'Victorian Interiors' we were challenged to fill a huge white walled space with appropriate illustrations within a time frame of less than a week.
I've worked for many years in a vintage inspired style, and have extended knowledge and a passion for Victorian interior design, so I had a lot of fun with this project even though the artwork (black illustration on white walls) was much simpler than my usual work.
The artwork we created was only going to be there for a single, solitary day so we managed to take a few snapshots as a memory before it was gone forever...

 The beginning: A sea of white walls and very little else...

The vintage inspired frames start to appear...

The cat and the cuckoo
Ella climbing ladders and painting on walls

Almost there...

Waiting for the lights to go down and the party to start.


On to the party...

The Art Coven
The photobooth
Ella Guru and Joni Belaruski
It was a pleasure working with these amazing, talented ladies.

An outtake from 'Charlie'

Another piece of artwork left on that imaginary cutting room floor.

When I was creating my piece 'Charlie', a tribute to the great Chaplin, I found my mind wandering back to a time before he became the Hollywood Icon that everyone came to love and laugh with.
Back to a time before his screen persona "the Tramp" came to life in picture houses, when he was still walking the harsh streets of London, and this is the outcome of that journey of the mind...

The Angel tube sign never made it into the final artwork but I still like this version.
It reminds me of a quote I once read by him...

 “You have to believe in yourself, that's the secret. Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world.”- Charlie Chaplin (on being a street kid in London).

Left on the cutting room floor

Sometimes things don't fall into a perfect place, instead they fall away and slowly fade, forgotten on an imaginary cutting room floor. She never made it...

An outtake from 'London Rain'

Rare Birds

Love in times of adversity...

“but all other things shall fade away,
while love stands alone and still holds sway.
all other things shall fade away,

into the ground, into the grey.”

Detail from my artwork 'Rare Birds'

The Little Elephant that could

Often my work has a dark, sinister side but once in a while there's a piece that's inspired by the light.

“Fly without wings;
Dream with open eyes;
See in darkness.”

The trouble with technology

It's such a great feeling when you can finally access a dead computers hard drive. It's been so long... you begin to eagerly look through folders and folders searching for so many hours worth of 'lost' work. Then the heart sinks when you realise that some files have been lost or corrupted forever. It's heartbreaking to know that even though you are careful to have backups in place, there are circumstances when your whole digital safety net can fail.
You survey all that remains, take a deep breathe and walk away. Make a cup of tea, smoke a million cigarettes, and then let it go... for there is nothing you can do, so why torment yourself over things that can't be changed.
Technology is wonderful, but sometimes it fails and you usually learn this lesson the hard way.

All that remains...