Saturday, 7 March 2009


My mum went in for a hip replacement operation this week so my mind switch has mostly been on 'agitated'. She's doing fine right now and walked 10 metres unaided today. There's always that dread at times like these, when you phone the hospital or get a call from them. The hospital she's in is like a prison in terms of security - and won't even allow family members to drop off newspapers or anything outside of visiting hours.

The lady in the next bed to my mum looked in a pretty bad way - don't know what she was in for but she looked thin and old and kept sort of doing this sort of lacy, typing dance thing with her fingers on the bed clothes and trying to lift her head - very close to the end I'd say - but fighting, fighting it, then retreating. There's a strange skin thing that seems to happen to the nearly dead - whatever colour people happen to be - the skin gains this sallow, soapy quality - do you know what I mean?

Years ago (when a student) I worked as a cleaner in several London hospitals - Bolingbroke was one (now defunct) and another near Old Street. Most of my time was spent dusting and cleaning toilets. So being on the ward was always more exciting - despite the fact I was usually on wards full of elderly people. I heard the death rattle for the first time. Other times I'd be dusting in the dayroom - quietly spraying the windowsills away from the circle of wheelchairs & stuffed-chair pensioners positioned round the TV when a low menacing hiss would start 'Die!' Quickly the cursed whisper would spread across the room like a football cheer; 'Die die die!' And I'd rush from the room.

The best thing about cleaning wards was the polisher - you know those big industrial hoover machines that skim from side to side leaving polished stripes. Great fun.
In fact my own fear (of bad news from the hospital) was probably exacerbated by a story I read fairly recently in the 'No 1 Ladies Detective' series - where there was a series of regular and unexplained deaths on a particular ward in a hospital. They always occurred on the same day of the week at the same time. They were eventually connected to a cleaner whose routine involved switching off a defibrillator (or other vital lifesaving equipment) in order to plug in the electric floor polisher. Tut.

Aside from this - the art. Have made a start on the next one as you can see. I'm having a bit of trouble drawing out a rounded, globe piece of the world. For a start, can't find a bit that I want, that doesn't have too much ocean in. I've downloaded these rotating NASA animatronic rotating earths - but it's the angle too I'm having difficulty with. When you're drawing pictures you need to think about filling the space well, as well as accuracy - it has to look good too..

Actually been thinking about the essence of drawing and writing quite a bit lately - particularly in terms of 'composition'. In drawing I think I've now finally 'got' composition for the first time in my life. In drawing, composition is maybe just a couple of lines on the page - but lines on which the whole of the picture will rely. If I compare this to scriptwriting, then composition is probably closer to metaphor than structure. (Schrader says "the metaphor is the structure" Maybe all art and writing is about finding the essences of things - the absolute simple reduction of message. A bit like the throwback way smell works. GG Marquez said that the enigma of the tropics could be reduced to 'the fragrance of a rotten guava.'

So in this picture I drew two circles (not whole circles) one is the outline of the nest and the other is the edge of the world) Once those were in place I knew the whole picture would work - just the details had to be worked out. Two circles. That's all.
So after I've sorted the ocean, there's the constellations.

Other than that its been insanely hot here this week - 40 degrees plus. My pc keeps crashing because the fan inside just conks out in the heat. Agghhh - always seems to be right in the middle of an important game of word scraper.

Life can be a little trying sometimes huh?

Talk to me


Helen Smith said...

Hope your Mum makes a good recovery. Good luck with the next picture xx

word verification: telwoo

Near by said...

Thanks Helen...

hmm owls about

potdoll said...

Get Well soon Mum!

Do you get ideas for drawings in the same way as you get ideas for writing?

I love the new outline. Huge.

wv cheri

Andy Phillips said...

How strange! Just this morning, Caroline got a forwarded email. She read it out to me. It was about people dying at regular times on a hospital ward...due to a cleaner turning off a machine to plug in a polisher. Plagiarism + coincidence = ?

Hope she's up and about soon.

Like the new artwork.

Near by said...

Hello peeps.

Pot - no - ideas for writing have to percolate a lot longer before the 'whole' is in place. In this series of drawings, they keep feeding one another. I'm usually half way through one when I get the idea for the next...

Andy - weird huh? maybe it is a regular occurence then.. or maybe it turned inot an urban myth..hmm. It's in 'The Good Husband of Zebra Drive'..


potdoll said...

i suspected as much. damn that perculation period. sigh.