New Light Art @Huddersfield Art Gallery


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A chance to see some of the North’s finest artists in one of the North’s finest galleries.
From the hyperreal to the purely abstract, from printmaking to sculpture, this high-profile open exhibition celebrates contemporary artists from all corners of the North of England.


Exhibition continues until 2 June 2018
Open Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 4pm
Princess Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield, HD1 2SU
Free Entrye

Click Here for Exhibition Catalogue



Orwell Symposium @ Goldsmiths


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target-against-the-wallThe Orwell Society are holding a symposium at Goldsmiths College, London on Wednesday 30th May 2018. Through their generosity, I have been invited to present the “Room 103” project. This will take the form of a half-hour slide show of work by participating artists, followed by a period of questions and observations from the floor. The Society are also kindly arranging space for a table-top presentation of examples of artists’ work, which will comprise original prints and books. The auditorium has a capacity of 250. In keeping with the ethos of the man under discussion, the event is free to members of the public and all are welcome. Further details to follow.

The Orwell Society blog is a wealth of essays on aspects of Orwell’s life and work.

and can be found on Facebook                  

Note to artists: If Orwell’s writings have influenced your work, now is the time to contribute something to this site, as the symposium will be a perfect opportunity to present your work to a knowledgeable audience who share your interest. See guidelines on front page of the “Room 103” blog.

Something for the Weekend..


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b“Design for Living”

It is a design classic. It’s simplicity of form perfectly matches its intimate function. often used; rarely perused… My aim here was to make something of an icon from a cheap, mundane, everyday essential.

The oblique references accompanying each drawing relate not only to the condom and its intended purpose, but also the drawing techniques employed. Their mis-registrations and mis-spellings create double meanings to represent those frequent breakdowns in communication between lovers. Although the titles of the work perhaps reflect a certain cynicism regarding the rituals of sexual courtship, I hope the pictures may elicit the same knowing smile which greets the emergence of a condom, fresh from its package…

All drawings  charcoal and fixative on watercolour paper    75 x 52cm

[This suite of drawings was first shown as “Little Friends” at Alternative Art Galleries, Chiltern St. London W1.     1-25th Feb. 1995]

Glenn Ibbitson cause and effect“Cause and Effect”


Glenn Ibbitson deception“Deception”


Glenn Ibbitson everyday users“Means to an End”


Glenn Ibbitson Intention“Motivation”


Glenn Ibbitson Passing fancy“Passing Fancy”

Glenn Ibbitson shape of desire“Intent”


Glenn Ibbitson The Real Thing“The Real Thing”


Glenn Ibbitson using a rubber“Using a Rubber”


Glenn Ibbitson Contradiction in terms“A Visual Oxymoron”  [drawing fixed through perforated zinc, then erased]


Self Portrait Screenprints: Jan 2018


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glenn ibbitson 6

“Green to Blue” : seven layer serigraph on A2            ed.1/1

glenn ibbitson 5

“Green Self” : seven layer serigraph on A2            ed.1/1

Glenn Ibbitson 3

“Framed” : seven layer serigraph on A1            ed.1/1

glenn ibbitson 4

“Ozymandias” : seven layer serigraph on A1            ed.1/1

A Canterbury Tale: 1944.  Powell and Pressburger


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1 The world is divided into those who, when someone mentions ‘the Archers’, think of BBC Radio Four’s interminable ‘everyday story of inbred folk’, and those others who bring to mind the logo of the production company which propelled the cinematic genius of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger to the screen. My favourite P&P film is almost invariably the latest one I have revisited, though ‘A Canterbury Tale’ always hovers close to the top of the list.

Why? One example of its visual power. Put a group of cineastes in a room and sooner rather than later, they will refer to one of the most iconic transformation shots in cinema: Stanley Kubrick’s use of a shard of bone to journey forward from a pre-history of violent savagery to a space shuttle in mid- commute in 2001. It is possibly Kubrick’s most memorable piece of editing. Yet  in ‘A Canterbury Tale’, Powell presents a smoother, and far more poetic transformation shot. It catapults us from Chaucer’s Fourteenth Century,  forward to 1940’s wartime England, by transforming a hunting kestrel into a stooping Supermarine Spitfire.

The watching falconer becomes an army sentry.

The ‘Kubrickisti’ at this point look down at their shoes and shuffle self-consciously, realising their demigod has been caught with his fingers in the film splicer….

But there is so much more to ACT. [Followers of P&P tend to refer to their treasures by acronyms] This is perhaps the most genre defying piece of cinematic poetry ever made with the commercial cinema in mind. In written description it seems to be a mass of contradiction.

It’s plot driver is a petty criminal, but this is not a crime thriller.

It is very much a war film played out in a landscape populated with troops, but no shots are fired. [The only violent battle scene takes place between pre-teen children.]

9 It is based on a classic of English [world] literature, but only loosely.

There is not so much as a kiss, but an atmosphere of febrile sexuality pervades almost every frame.

It identifies human decency derived from a shared language, but the use of which is frequently divergent in meaning.

It is a timeless story story set in a specific location at a particular point in time. Four people and landscape, each bearing the indelible marks of their past record.

The film is, like life itself, fairly plotless; a capture of an episode in the lives of four people who pursued lives before this point and will continue them after we have left them.

The plot device is mundanity itself. Someone is going around pouring glue into the hair of young girls, under the cover of darkness. The ‘Glue Man’s’ crime is of a low priority [and somehow very English in its eccentricity], and in no way comparable with the crimes against humanity being perpetrated across the nearby Channel. The film will not develop into a manhunt feature; the culprit is revealed to the audience within the first twenty minutes or so. Not so much a ‘Whodunnit’ as a ‘Whydunnit’. It is the motivation for the glue assaults which is important. Here, subtext is everything.

The script was a response to the contemporary situation in wartime England. With the entry of the United States into the war, plans to liberate Europe depended on the use of England as a physical springboard. In preparation for a ground offensive, a massive influx of US armed forces personnel were by 1943, “over-paid, over-sexed and over here”.

Figures in authority at any time are suspicious of those younger and more virile than themselves and attribute moral irresponsibility to their condition. Wartime England, its population boosted by American servicemen had more hormonal youth than could be easily controlled from above. Worse, this young immigrant service force were affluent. They brought with them all things modern – dance music, consumer treats and perhaps also a more ‘sophisticated’ or permissive philosophy, with which to impress a young indigenous female population awakened to its own mortality by the  casualties of war around them. Any subsequent increase in the rate of pregnancies out of wedlock would create frictions between both the generations and the Old and New World allies and might sap the joint war effort.

The film presents two approaches to this problem. ‘The Glue Man’ proposes to counter this threat to the social fabric through the technique of aversion therapy. Any girl ‘stepping out’ with servicemen on a date is a target for a glue-pouring attack. His hope is to turn young minds away from carnal thoughts towards the more intellectually rewarding pursuit of historical study. This enthusiastic consumer of Ryman adhesive supplies happens to be a Justice of the Peace and a pillar of the local community.

P&P’s solution is to trust in common decency: social intercourse and mutual accommodation built on the foundation of a common language. As words on paper, this reads like an Anglo-American bridge-building propaganda exercise. What they present is actually a very acute series of social details which provide points of connection. A central scene here is when two characters from different nations, generations and occupations discover that they fall back on a shared pool of knowledge of wood types and woodworking techniques.

Such connections are counter-intuitively reinforced by the divergences the nations have occasionally made from the common pathway. The American officer discovers that the English speaking peoples have different words for currency and grocery stores. Different measurements for town and river size. Radically different police methods and telephone systems. Military stripes which follow opposite directions of travel symbolise the deviations from the common cause -but also represent the small scale of these differences within the broader scheme. By the end of the film, even 50% of the film’s American contingent have succumbed to the pleasure of tea-drinking!

Always give a film a viewing before referring to an online movie critique site. ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ presents some interesting and widely divergent views, which might, on balance, just usher a potential viewer away from this gem [though seen as a ‘small’ film, one must invest two hours in it]  towards more easily digestible commercial fare. However, guest reviewer there, “Brian R.” in his critique of February 2011 succinctly describes the film thus:

“By today’s standards it is slow-paced, almost meditative. Four disparate characters follow the Pilgrims’ Way to Canterbury Cathedral (symbolic of the spiritual journeys being made by the people of a country at war) and receive unexpected blessings.The Kent countryside is glorious and is allowed to speak for itself, but the most visually impressive thing is Art Director Alfred Junge’s recreation in the studio of the interior of Canterbury Cathedral. The acting from the four leads is brilliant, with real life American G.I. Sergeant John Sweet outstanding as Bob Johnson.”

I concur wholeheartedly with his assessment of John Sweet’s performance. Portman, Price and Sim are always going to be reliable and entertaining fellow travellers, but how adventurous the decision to cast a non-actor in the central male role. Powell had initially hoped to use Burgess Meredith, already an actor of note. Though a fine talent, he would have impregnated the role with a degree of off-screen personality and worldly wisdom. Thanks to US Army bureaucracy, Powell instead had to use an amateur he had seen in a Red Cross production and the result produces an anchor of realism for a soaring, almost mystical portrayal of a nation at the crossroads of history.  In his acting inexperience, Sweet imbues Sgt. Bob Johnson [from Oregon] with his own gaucheness and naivety, being himself a young man adrift in surroundings most unlike his native Minnesota. He knows nobody, he struggles with everyday objects [his battle with the telephone actually took him 23 takes to get it right], the ‘blackout’ rules and the Inn’s breakfast protocol.110

Frustration gradually develops into enchantment with this alien culture with roots which, he is reminded by station master Charles Hawtrey, travel deeper back through time well beyond Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of the New World. He experiences this epiphany largely because he makes an effort with the local people; Wheelwrights, children and his fellow ‘pilgrims’. He called upon his own experience to refine his performance, for example, “a scene sitting in a farm cart lamenting the lack of letters from my girl friend back home. Now it just so happens that I myself was in a no-mail-from-my-wife slump and when I talked about my loneliness it came out on the film quite real and life like. Where, said director, did you find this sudden       mastery ?…. despite the edge of sarcasm, I needed and welcomed the compliment.” 2                   Sweet’s wholesome good nature was not simply screen persona. He received $2,000 from the film company. US Army regulations ruled that any extra-curricular pay must be donated to a charity.  He elected to give the full sum to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. Coming from a native of Minnesota and enlisted in an army which had imposed a rigid colour bar within its own institutions, this was a profound gesture and fully vindicated Powell’s reading of human nature.3

At an upstate New York film festival, someone asked this humble man about the effect of the film on his career – was there a fan club? He said he received a total of three fan letters from three lonesome British servicewomen. 4

In return for his invaluable contribution to the film, the production and the corner of England which provided its location shoot rewarded ‘pilgrim’ Sweet his own blessing; ”The few months I spent making the film were the most profound and influential of my life”.5

My personal favourite moment? Everything here is a pleasure, but the sequence which moves me closer to tears with every viewing is when Alison returns to the caravan which she shared with her fiance on a prewar archeological excavation. he is now lost in action. This conduit for her memories of him is decaying before her eyes. Her revulsion at the flight of the clothes moths emerging from his coat and into the light, is moving beyond words.

15And then…. her blessing is awarded and in an unexpected form…                           watch and be delighted.





A Pilgrim’s Return by Nick Burton and Eddie McMillan. This documentary is featured in the Criterion Collection DVD



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Earlier this year, as an exhibitor at the PAGES book and book-art weekend at the Tetley in Leeds, I attended a presentation by graphic designer Frazer Muggeridge about the implementation of retro technologies as drivers of contemporary design. He referred in passing to an obscure but striking lettering system from the inter-war period. I e-mailed him later for further information and he kindly directed me to the “Wrico Lettering Guide”; patented in 1926 and widely marketed by 1950’s by THE WOOD-REGAN INSTRUMENT CO. INC. of NEW YORK.

I trawled the internet, contemplating a purchase, but incomplete boxes from USA cost upward of £60 as they are now considered collectable. Besides, I wanted flexibility of scale  so that I could apply a system to my larger scale paintings. A set of rules and templates to transfer shapes on to A4 sheets would be of little use to me.

My idea was to create my own variation based on the shapes of the negative spaces to create characters by inference. The importance of ‘negative space’ -the shapes of the gaps or voids created between two or more corporeal elements, is one of the fundamental [and more interesting] principles of abstract art and design. Emphasis on these empty spaces would produce latent characters; hidden in clear sight, a notion close to any illusionist’s heart.

American Typewriter bold

I wanted to create a font using  American typewriter bold as a foundation. Why choose this? I am of an age when my educational theses, my mailed letters and later the scripts and running schedules I worked to professionally, were all typed; either by manual or electronic mechanical typewriters. It is still, to me, the most beautiful and evocative of fonts; even though in its current derivation, it is no longer a slab serif.*

anatomy of typography

Enclosed voids or closed counters provide specific identities for the following lower case letters:        a e g o

Open counters could indicate the presence of:     c h k m n s u v w y    Some of these gave a particularly striking arrowhead pointing in different directions.

However, to separate b d p and q from each other, I would need to provide further information; some element of ‘positivity’. Terminals, or finials [font nomenclature varies depending on source] are a visually satisfying characteristic of American Typewriter, those comma-like flourishes at the ends of some letters.  These I decided to incorporate. to differentiate ascenders and descenders. They also gave me r with its finial, referred to endearingly as an ‘ear’. If terminals could be applied, I could combine a dot to identify j and this could also give me i and a full stop.  An exclamation mark? Add a positive ‘cap’, fading out from the top line. This could also identify l.

If I introduced such a fade-out I could see a way of identifying t and x. Fading effects pose a difficulty on a font. They run counter to the central concept of legibility through contrast and solidity. But this is a ‘code’ designed by an artist, a painter whose trade specialises in blending, grazing across and nuancing surfaces. My application would be through means transmitted by pen, pencil and brush. My motivation is to add another element to my visual armoury. Consequently, I decided to use the negative space around the point where the t crossbar cuts across the stem. This created four right-angled triangles pointing to a central point on the mean line and fading out to the edges of a square.

x is created in the same way, but  rotated 45 degrees on the character line.

z could be created in the same way [though not having yet used this letter, I am tempted to use a simple solid diagonal stroke simply on the grounds that it is so visually powerful].

The first example was posted online on December 9th 2017, using Facebook as a sounding board.

Happy Birthday

After a day eliciting no responses, I was pleased that viewers began to engage with this visual puzzle…


The font will be applied to a forthcoming suite of drawings and paintings with a working title: “Landscapes of Betrayal”

*a slab serif (also called mechanistic, square serif, antique or Egyptian) typeface is a type of serif typeface characterized by thick, block-like serifs                                               Typewriter slab serif typefaces are named for their use in strike-on typewriting. These faces originated in monospaced format with fixed-width, meaning that every character takes up exactly the same amount of horizontal space. This feature is necessitated by the nature of the typewriter apparatus.

Levitating Ladies in Cardigan


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Two versions of “Levitating Lady with Hoop”

Will feature as part of ‘Gifted 4’ the Square Pegs Christmas Show

December 4th -9th: 10am -5pm daily [Friday 10am – 8pm] Guildhall, Cardigan

Showing with:

Carole King
Annie Coombs
Steve Thompson
Yvette Brown
Botanic Chocolates
Flora McLachlan
Sue Hanna
Helen Rowlands
Ag Cain
Angela Hathway
Moira Williams
Rustic Revolution
Ian and Paula Rylett

Six of the Best: a musical diversion


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6 Pefect Albums  After a week of delivering art to galleries, I had an evening free to indulge myself and listen to some music -pure and simple. With time on my hands I rifled through the collection and mused on what might constitute my six all-time perfect albums.

Only two criteria were imposed:

1] they would comprise original material from beginning to end -no covers.

2] they would have to be studio albums -no compilations allowed.

I could have gone for six albums from just one artist. Early Dylan might have had a shout, but there always seems to be a throwaway track somewhere, or, in the case of “The Times”, the title is just too familiar now [am I the only one immune to ‘standards’?]

There may be albums which have almighty tracks; Floyd’s ‘Money’, Levi Stubbs Tears” and “Between the Wars” by Bragg, Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe…”, “Forest Fire” by Lloyd Cole, “Vapour Trail” by Ride, but this is not a survey where tracks carry the day. Indeed, my four all-time favourite singles do not appear on my perfect albums. In no particular order, they are:

“Tracks of my Tears”  Smokey Robinson

“Walk on By”  Dionne Warwick

“Say a Liitle Prayer”  Aretha Franklin

“You’ve lost that Loving Feeling”  The Righteous Brothers

Some albums came so close; “Green”, “Troutmask Replica” , “Who’s Next”, “Meat is Murder”, “Tour de France”, “Loveless” -but you get nothing for being seventh…[Though already, I am beginning to regret excluding Magazine’s “Correct use of Soap” from my list… ‘Seven of the Best’, perhaps?]

I have most of the recorded material from the artists whose albums I have chosen, and in several cases, there was a severe pull between two or more albums. This is where the ‘original material only’ clause helped. It meant that between “More Songs about Buildings and Food” and “Fear of Music” I had to plump for the latter. “Take me to the River” is wonderful and far better than the Reverend Al’s original, but is nevertheless a cover. [“I Zimbra “, which opens FOM was adapted from lyrics by Hugo Ball, but the music is Byrne/Eno; not a cover in the true sense of the term.]

So here are my six of the Best. These are presented neither as countdown or order of preference. They are:

a] Kate Bush: “The Hounds of Love” A towering achievement; not only are we offered  a side of memorable and varied tracks -most of which eventually saw release into the singles chart, but Bush uses side two to present a multi-layered narrative in seven parts. The‘Rock Concept album’ is a notoriously dodgy genre; in the hands of a majestic talent, it is a high risk strategy which repays in full here.

b] Joy Division: “Unknown Pleasures” Sadly, only two albums to choose from. Both could have made the cut;. Today this one came out on top. Next week I might just as easily choose “Closer”. Lyrics by Ian Curtis; no more need be said. A nihilist manifesto for the eighties, which sadly, few other bands signed up for.

c] The Wedding Present: “Bizarro” is probably the choice made for personal reasons. David Gedge provided a soundtrack to a most pleasurable part of my life, both on the deck and in concert. In 1989, Leeds’ finest provided me with three of the best gigs I have EVER attended. One of these presented their foray into Ukrainian music; an unforgettable gig complete with ukranian tumblers and dancers. Punters who arrived late would have missed the support act -The Wedding Present playing a “Full English” set!  Listen to “Kennedy” and “Granadaland” several times and I defy you to navigate the same aural passageway through their complex guitar mesh twice. And if there is a better song about the heartbreak of clearing one’s possessions from a shared flat at the end of a love affair than “Why Didn’t you just say No?”, I have yet to hear it. High energy heartbreak and longing. What could be better?

d] The The: “Soul Mining”  I am disregarding the CD version in favour of the original vinyl release, because the bonus track tacked insensitively on to the end of the laser format, “Perfect”, pleasant though it may be, severely undercuts the mood created by “Giant”, which must be one of the best tracks ever laid down to end an album. SM squeezes in because, quite simply, there is not a single note out of place up to the end of this mesmeric, percussive chant [unless your copy is, like mine, scratched with overplaying].

e] Talking Heads: “Fear of Music”. My copy of the “Rough Guide to Rock” describes the Head’s third studio product as strong contender for ‘Album of the Decade’. There will be no arguments from me. Opening with a DaDa poem set to African beats, this is going to open you up to the idea of cultural crossover [and clash-into] like nothing in rock before. A soundscape where an electric guitar is tried before a court of law and is found guilty of crimes against the state. Where animals are feared for being hairy and for being able to see in the dark and are castigated for “laughing at us”. Where air can hurt you too and break your heart. Evocative locations abound; “..some gravesites, out by the highway, a place where nobody knows..” ” A dry ice factory -good place to get some thinking done.” “Hard to imagine that nothing at all could be so exciting, could be this much fun.” Indeed.

f] The Divine Comedy: “Promenade”  Neil Hannon is in my humble opinion, and let’s face it, mine is the only one which counts here -the finest songwriter we have today, -quite possibly the finest ever produced within the British Isles. Witty and erudite, his work can have me laughing out loud one second, tugging at my heart the next. In the 40’s and fifties, recording stars like Day, Sinatra, Martin, Darin et al, would have killed their agents and Grandmothers for this kind of material. Why “Promenade”? I could have just as easily selected another great album from TDC and as I hold that thought, three friends, one ‘absent’, one ‘mutual’ and the other ’imaginary’, are calling to me,”why not us?”. This album’s predecessor, “Liberation”, also shouts loudly for consideration. I find it difficult to resist a record where a cheeky Irishman imposes a musical collaboration on Wordsworth. [Incidentally, Liberation was not Hannon’s debut offering. Received wisdom holds that the rare ‘Fanfare for the Comic Muse” is not worth the search, but if it didn’t have to withstand comparison with the superiority of subsequent material, it would reward thirty minutes of anybody’s listening time and is well worth tracking down, Hannon’s own disavowals notwithstanding].

Perhaps it is something in their shared nationality, but “Promenade” reminds me of Joyce’s “Ulysses”. The events take place over a day in which the protagonists negotiate a series of fairly humdrum events.  Ablutions and a bicycle journey [with literary musings hovering overhead like a thought bubble] precede a rendezvous. After a seafood lunch the couple are soaked by a sudden downpour. They dry out and take in a vertigo-inducing and God-encountering Ferris wheel ride, followed by a french movie. Thoughts leading  back to a shared childhood precede a boozy gathering where the tipsy girl is rescued from drowning and brought back to the heart of the revelries. [“Neptune’s Daughter was initially the slowest of burners, but its haunting musical, kelp-like swayings,  now provides me with the highlight of the entire record.] A reverie countdown to finding love precedes the final rush of joyous, youthful energy in flight;  a reading of the first half of Dryden’s “Happy the Man” [this doesn’t count as a ‘cover’] provides a coda exhorting carpe diem; for we are here but once, and for too short a short time.

I envy anyone who has never heard this album before;  if that is you, you have an unforgettable treat in store. The world does divide between B.P. and A.P. As I would say to my honorary grandson, “What an album, Nathan; what an album…”



Inktober 2017: 31 self-portrait sketches


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Inktober 2017: 31 Days 31 Drawings

Every October, artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.


Jake Parker is an illustrator.  For the last 15 years he has worked on everything from animated films to comics to picture books. He’s lived in six states, working at several studios with” the most amazing and talented people in the country”. He now freelances from his home studio base in Utah.

link to his official site:

He instigated the Inktober project and posted a worldwide invitation to artists on Facebook.

“I created Inktober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year. Anyone can do Inktober, just pick up a pen and start drawing.”

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).

2) Post it online

3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2017

4) Repeat


Jake had provided a prompt list of daily themes. Fine artists tend not to like prompts of any kind [most I know see commissions as an economic  necessity, but a hindrance and diversion from primary pursuits]. Accordingly, I ignored the list because I wished to use the month long period as an opportunity to spend 20 minutes or so per day in examination of my face; attempting to be as dispassionate as possible, but with the opportunity to exaggerate facial contortion and lateral head movement. Position and lighting varied; the drawings were united by medium. All were drawn with biro [either blue or black ink] on cartridge sketchbook paper; A4 portrait format.

The results are shown in sequence below, from October 1 / 31, 2017