Monday, 13 January 2014


Every new year I recall my father's annual ritual: sharpen the pencils and change the calendars.

Now I am a real fuss-budget about pencils; I only use Canadian Ticonderoga made by Dixon brand.  I buy them in Salmon Arm and do not lend or give away.  I love them! And I like them sharp - always.  I bought this pencil sharpener years ago in USA when we lived there.  My father had one the same screwed to the left hand side of his oak roll top desk where he sat every night going through his Day Book, i.e. the one that fit into his left-hand shirt pocket for making notes.

This is a new calendar from John and it is on the wall to the left of my desk.  I love it! I has 12 of his own photographs - one for each month so this is January to start things off.

Speaking of calendars it reminded me of the Scottish artist Jack Vettriano and the exhibition which is on in Glasgow these days.  I went in the autumn and this is my ticket above: £3.00!  Well done, Glasgow City Council's Kelvingrove Art Gallery!

Now this is an artist that is the subject of much conflicting opinion.  That is one of the main reasons I went along ... just so I could see for myself. The situation is that his paintings sell for megabucks and also he is very popular with "ordinary people". Set against this is the really strong and angry opposing position by art critics and those who tell us what Art IS and IS NOT. 

The following quote from The Guardian critic, October 5, 2005, talking about his most well-known one, gives a flavour:

  The Singing Butler

"The Singing Butler has been criticised for its uneven finishing, inconsistent lighting and treatment of wind, and for the odd position of the dancers (the dancers' pose is reversed from a normal closed dance hold: usually, with the main leading, the man's left hand would hold the woman's right hand, and he would place his right hand on the woman's waist while she holds his shoulder with her left hand; if the woman were leading, her right arm would be around the man's waist)."

Be that as it may .... the original painting was sold at auction in August 2003 for £90,000 and then sold to a private collector in April 2004 for £744,500, a Scottish record at that time.

I had a look at all of the paintings; there were a lot of them brought together for the occasion.  His paintings are very much in evidence on shortbread boxes, calendars, tea towels, postcards, posters and the like and for that reason I was perhaps biased in thinking that they mainly looked like calendar girls (as many are of women with men lurking close by). 

That brings me back to my father's calendars.  The one above is a 1950s calendar and absolutely typical of what every garage had hanging on the wall and his workshop was no exception.  To this day I never stand in a mechanic's garage (waiting for the car to roll of the hoist) without scanning the walls for a girlie calendar!

Bluebird At Bonneville

Yes, I did like one of Vettrino's paintings and it is this one above of a go-fast car of Malcolm Campbell on the Utah flats (I think) and commissioned by Terrance Conran for his Bluebird Club in London.   Apparently it sold at Sotheby's in excess of £600,000 to an unidentified buyer. 

As somebody in the media observed awhile back public galleries had better get moving if they want one because soon they won't be able to afford them! (The point being that galleries steadfastly do not hang his work.)

Last but not least:  here is a really neat calendar on this website here. (It falls into the category of industrial design.)

Images from Wikipedia

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