Diary of the Plague Year: Day 15 30 March 2020: A thing worth doing …

It is a bitterly cold day with a freezing wind. Just finished writing a proposal for an AIR at UCD. I probably don’t stand a hope in hell but feel I have nothing to lose.

Watching the film on Vermeer was curiously sustaining considering he is such a magician. You should really feel like giving up in the face of such mastery but curiously it has the opposite effect.

There have been times when I have just felt like throwing in the towel. Sometimes it feels like too hard a life, full of petty frustrations. So it is important to keep reading about artists/watching films like this – for one thing Vermeer himself died in debt and was more-or-less forgotten about for years. And for another, because had I ever given up and had afterwards seen that film, I think I would have had a nervous breakdown at the realisation of what I had lost.

What I mean is, and to put it simply, I want to live in a world where how light falls and how you put down a small blob of paint or a brushstroke really matters. And what is exciting and really important is the juxtaposition and relationship between two colours. However badly you do it. Because a thing worth doing is worth doing badly.

Off to the studio which in weather like this is the only warm room in the house.


Diary of the Plague Year: Day 8 24 March 2020: more from The Black Notebook

“Blueblacksliding constellations”
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake – before you ask, no I haven’t.

“Thou hast curiously embroidered me”

“Thou hast wrought me up after the finest way of texture, and as it were with a needle.”

“That Augustus had native notes on his body and belly, after the order and number of the stars of Charles’ Wain.”

The Garden of Cyrus
Sir Thomas Browne

“Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. We are each so anatomically numerous and so vigorously recycled at death that a significant number of our atoms – up to a billion for each of us, it has been suggested – probably once belonged to Shakespeare. A billion more each came from Buddha and Genghis Khan and Beethoven ..”

A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson


A Diary of the Plague Year: Day 8 24 March 2020: from The Black Notebook

From the notebook:

Mono no aware
Japanese – “the appreciation of the melancholy transience of the world”

Exhibition with Shelley Found Object– glimpses, residue, time passing, history, silence, enigma.

“The Soul is in the Skin”
Jacques Rivette, film  Jean Renoir, Le Patron.

“Chaos must shimmer through the veil of order”
Novalis from Alfred Brendel The Veil of Order.

“He, first of occidentals, has explored the infinite ranges of tones that lie wrapped about the central core of greys. His grays themselves pulsate with imprisoned colours. Years ago I had said of the old Chinese school of coloring, that it conceived of colour as a flower growing out of a soil of greys. But in European art I have seen this thought exemplified only in the work of Whistler.”

Ernest Fellhorn (Orientalist)

A Diary of the Plague Year: Day 8 24 March 2020: The Black Notebook

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Funerals, Love, Death, Grief, Friendships, Deptford, the Creek. Ghosts, both alive and dead, march through these pages, some lightly, some with a heavier tread. Arthur, Dorothea, Albert, Susan, Shelly.

Albert’s funeral at St Brides, dear, dear Dorothea visiting the studio and liking my lithographs. Lithography paper so creamy smooth and tinged with rose, like a baby’s skin only smoother.

Pressed flowers, roses, wildflower, rosemary for remembrance. A dried flower is so redolent of death, drained of all colour; veins and dessicated skin. Sepia; the colour of Victorian photographs. The light pouring into the Deptford studio through the huge windows. In a previous century.

The death of friendship, the death of hope, the death of  love.