I call these images 'unstill lives'. Drawing people in movement, on a musical wave-length. They are the opposite of 'still life' painting, - (the painting of silent and 'still' bowls of fruit and flowers)... Compositions of dancers and venues made ‘live’ on location in jazz, soul and funk clubs in London, Uk and Beyond. 1990-2020. Fuelled by participation and observation. The images catch or court the spirit and atmosphere of the music and dance of each specific event.
Pastel and charcoal on Somerset paper. 78cm x 114 cm. 2003
This large pastel drawing was made in Spring 2003. Before this date, most of the ‘live’ drawings I made in clubs had been black and white, or at least monochrome, so the heightened use of colour was a development. I had tried many times before, but not with this degree of success. The use of colour here is informed by mood and atmosphere, - the excitement of the music and dance as well as what the eye sees. Adeola Johnson, a regular writer for Straight No Chaser magazine at that time arranged to interview me whilst working ‘live’ at Perry Louis’ ‘Shiftless Shuffle’ Jazz-dance club, which then was held every week for a while at Bar Solo, Inverness St, Camden. It was an exciting time for me to get this exposure. I did not finish the drawing because I spent a lot of time dancing, and a lot of time talking to Adeola. But I got down the central figure of the painting which was based on the movement of ‘Jamaican Tony’ who was dancing at Bar Solo that week wearing the combat trousers, singlet and dancing shoes with spats. When those shoes later wore out, Tony repaired them with silver gaffer tape, and they are still going strong! I saw Tony just last weekend at ‘Shiftless’ in its current venue in Great Eastern Road, and he is still wearing those gaffer-wrapped shoes! (18.06.17).
A week or two later, I guess sometime in May 2003, I went to Southport Weekender with Rocky Marciano, Adey and Kola. I took the unfinished drawing with me, unrolled it, and continued to work on it as we all danced to the sets of Snowboy, Simon Mansell, Bugs In The Attic, etc inside the Bacardi B-Bar. The lighting and decor of that Southport room were added at this stage, inc. the multicoloured parachute ceiling hangings that feature in many other of my Southport drawings. The additional figures were added at this stage, referencing the dance style and apparel of Kola Abigoun, Adey, ‘Jah Burger’ and ‘Little Phil’. Adeola’s wonderful illustrated article was published in Chaser in the late summer, whilst this new drawing was published in Chaser the following year in Summer 2004”.