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Best Seat In The House


Mum knitted this little bear for me when I was a kid. It fits in the palm of my hand and it’s worn the Tranmere Rovers crest for as long as I can remember. Today, Sunday May 14th 2017, the bear (it has no name) sits on a purple chair in front of the TV, waiting for the Non-League playoff final to start. Tranmere Rovers v Forest Green Rovers. Best seat in the house?

I’m writing this on a train to Wembley Stadium to watch the match. The bear is one of very few physical connections I have with our Mum. It’s staying at home, too small, too easy for me to lose. I first saw Tranmere play in 1974 when my Dad and I visited Selhurst Park to watch Crystal Palace. Tranmere were the away team, and they lost 2-1. The naïveté of youth prevailed, and though I returned to Selhurst Park a number of times, I pinned my allegiance to Tranmere, and much like the badge was pinned to the bear, the allegiance stayed put.

The occasional away game sufficed for a long while, and after I learned to drive, the 500 mile round trip to see a home game began to feature in my life. As I trundled up and down motorways, I cursed my younger self for choosing a team based so far from home. And I kept going.

Things shifted up a gear when we enjoyed a few seasons of success in cup competitions. This, coupled with the emergence of internet chat rooms, meant I began to know some of my fellow supporters better. I encountered lots of good humour and kindness, as I travelled to more games, home and away, people would offer a place to stay. This generosity helped break up many a long journey, and meant we got to know each other better too. The kindness of strangers became the kindness of friends.

Over the years Dad and I returned to Selhurst Park together whenever Tranmere and Crystal Palace played. We took it in turns to sit with each other’s supporters so that we could be together. I have fond memories of these games, lots of laughs with the occasional bit of watchable sport thrown in.

I held a Tranmere Rovers season ticket for a while. It used to get used by friends when I couldn’t make the long journey to the ground. I was at Tranmere when the Football Supporters Trust was founded, and served on the board for a few of the early years. I once rode my bike 306 miles from home to the ground (the journey took five days) to raise money for the club and British Heart Foundation.

Fatherhood came along, and this great privilege took me away from football, though before it did, I recall Carole being kind enough to endure an awful home game while pregnant so I could tell our kid there first football match was at Tranmere. Sorry Carole!

I’ve not seen the team play in a long time, and I feel a little awkward turning up for a big occasion after such a long absence. But hey, whether we win or lose, I get to see some lovely people and watch an important match. Did I mention I’ve got a front row ticket? Best Seat In The House.

Update Monday 15th May 2017 : We lost, and were well beaten. 3-1. It’s the hope that kills you, etcetera 🙂  It was great catching up with old friends. For that, and for the chance to be at the game, I’m grateful.

Matters of The Heart

There’s a really cool free art extravaganza being planned in Peterborough this Summer. All the clues and info for the exhibition and giveaway will be released here, and from what I’ve seen so far – it promises to be a fantastic event. I promised to submit a piece to the event and got round to it this week.

I’ve been pondering some remix work on my winged heart designs for a while and been unsure about where to go. I played with some paint dribble effects to make a bleeding hear design – and at first I got it spectacularly wrong. I mixed the paint too thinly and it ran all over the place. Painting for the bin! Second time around I got the thickness and colour how I wanted it then applied the paint with a brush – before blowing it through an old biro casing.

I like how this turned out. I titled it ‘Careful, I Think It’s Broken’ and shipped it off to Peterborough for inclusion in the exhibition. Next I turned my attention to this week’s We Are All Artists free art drop. I wanted to continue remixing, using the second winged heart design and as I stared at the print – inspiration hit me. I took a dark grey fineliner, and inked in the wing edges, then made a maze design on the heart. This one is titled ‘Getting Lost In The Maze Of Your Heart’, and it will be released locally tomorrow. Keep an eye out for it – finders keepers.

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Not Giving Up : An Artistic Collaboration

This is the 50th consecutive week I have made and given away art. Coincidentally it is also the week in which Chloe Ray releases her new EP, titled Reprise, and Chloe and I have been talking about how we can jointly celebrate. The last track on the EP is titled ‘Not Giving Up’ and we decided I would make a painting with the same title. The title of the work resonates for me because the free art project is partly about not giving up.

This week, I asked the community for ideas to inspire the art, and I received many replies. Among the suggestions were light at the end of the tunnel, sunrises, and much more. Initially I thought about stylising the local landscape in some way to incorporate some of these ideas. However, I’ve also been experiencing a lot of stress in parts of my work lately – and I needed a release. I realised the initial landscaping idea wasn’t going to cut it in my current mood – so I upscaled. I took a large canvas outside and really threw myself at the work. What has emerged is a much more abstract image, one for me which captures the spirit of the ideas people shared, captures the song title, and expresses some of how I’m currently feeling.

This art work will be on display this evening for Chloe’s launch event at The Brook, before it is hidden for you to find somewhere in the neighbourhood this weekend, along with a signed copy of Chloe’s new EP.

Thank you to everyone who supports the free art project, it is nothing without you. Thank you Chloe for inviting me to collaborate with you on this special occasion.

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Preliminary sketch for Not Giving Up