I used to draw a lot. My earliest surviving drawings are from Pompeii and Paris, all in ink, both black and coloured. Lately painting has taken my fancy - acrylic in particular, as oil smells too much. It's tough, as you have to work fast before it dries and you have to be certain about the colour mix, as painting straight from the tube to the canvass tends to become flat and uninspiring.
In 1976 I lived in Zeeuwsch Vlanderen in Holland. It is an area rich in history from the 17th C. The old fortresses from the 80-year war between catholic Spain and protestant Holland can still be found in the landscape and traces of people's fight with the sea are abundant. 2-300 year old dykes criss-cross the landscape and small tidal harbours fight a losing battle with water and mud. A whole section of the south-bank of the Schelde river-mouth was at one point in time given back to nature; one flood too many: "The drowned land of Saeftinghe". That's where I found the stranded barge, just beyond the modern 8m tall dyke - and decided to paint it.
In January 2008 we decided to bring over Natali's cats to London. It is a long and complicated story, so let me just say that the enormity of the organisational issues of getting the little creatures from Ukraina to Poland and then to London, following the bureaucratic and legal rules imposed on such an adventure, luckily are well and truly behind us.
I dubbed the painting "Shelter" for obvious reasons (I hope) and tried to express it in an almost allegoric painting that should reflect Natali's attitude to her animals.
It is for sale at £21,000.
Oh - greed, you say?
Well, that seems to be the only value endemic in our society; £5,000 pr. cat and £6,000 for Natali.
Or perhaps it indicates: Not for sale?
Up to you, the reader!
And then, of course, there are my drawings from the Carpathian mountains, where fresh air, unpolluted fruit and musrooms and a simple way of life present such a contrast to our homely ant-hill in London. When I drew this I was unaware that the Hreidgoths in the 4th Century had lived in this area, in the sagas called Harvath Fells, before being squeezed north by the Huns and later becoming - the Danes!!
Simple farms like this one in Slavsko, with one cow, a few chicken and a cageful of rabbits are scattered over the hill sides.
In this cabin above the village of Slavsko, Nikolai and his wife spend the days while cutting the autumn's grass - they were incredibly hospitable, offering vodka and soured milk as we passed.
An almost J.J.Rousseau'sk experience