Tuesday, 12 June 2018


One of the objects in my pop-up gallery which I show when talking about my painting
 'The Puppets Dream' is a  Pollacks Theatre I bought about fifty years ago. It is a copy of a toy I had as a child and they were originally made in Victorian times.
In my rush to move it to a place of safety when we were having the doors repainted, I dropped the thing and it smashed into many pieces.
I have just finished gluing it all back together again - I shall have to be more careful next time.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Not So Famous

David - a Chinese student in my tutor  group was telling me what  happened in his public examination in English.
While he had done well in Listening, Writing and Reading, he had not been so successful in Speaking.
When asked why, he recounted how he been given the topic of a famous person to talk about.
'And who did you pick?' I asked. 'You' he replied.
He told them I had been on TV and radio and had work in exhibitions and was a successful artist.
Obviously they were not impressed.

Friday, 1 June 2018

A Brushless Painting

You can now see the new film made by Bob Banks on the MEDIA page of my website.
Among other things, I talk about the preparations for my current painting ' Hinaki ' and how I work on test canvases first. I have now started the final piece and am painting the first layer, based on  the structure and patterns of a Maori meeting house.
So far, I have applied oil paint using cloth, sponge and cotton buds, but will get to painting with brushes eventually.
I am photographing the different stages as the picture progresses, so will get Daniel to post them on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page soon.

Friday, 25 May 2018


I watched the Royal Wedding on T.V. with rapt attention last week, having followed some of the antics of the Markle family in the newspapers.
I always say on my tours  that all families are the same, even though the starting point for my paintings has been my family history.
In the painting of our wedding, 'Lavender and Dead Bilberries' I show Hazel's two aunts who turned up at the church even though they were not invited. (a long running family feud)
And Kippers? I always have a pair on the morning of a state occasion, when watching it unfold on the television. Another family tradition.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Not Forgotten

One of the nice things about doing the exhibition at the Babylon Gallery is that it has lead to taking part in another show.
Ann Jarman, the owner of the Old Fire Engine House Gallery saw my work and invited me to put something in her exhibition in a few weeks time, to celebrate fifty years of the gallery.
There are hundred artists taking part so I can only display one picture.
I have decided to put in 'Forget-Me-Nots', mainly because it was the lightest to carry and I hadn't yet found a place to hang it.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Full of Surprises

Ted Coney's Family Portraits kicked off the new season  with a different sort a tour .
I was approached by Ely Gin Company to be part of their  'away day' and subsequently we had a visit from twelve staff.
I gave the usual introduction, looking at one painting  but then they wanted something a bit different.
Each member of staff had collected one object to do with afternoon tea and their task was to draw it somewhere in the house.
Hazel and I acted as art tutors and at the end we had to judge who had made the best drawing. The lucky winner received a giant teacup!
After visiting us, the group were going out for afternoon tea where a new gin would be launched  called appropriately 'Afternoon Tea'
However, I had one more surprise of my own before they left.
I showed them my painting 'Tea For 222' in which I demonstrated that if they looked hard enough, afternoon tea could be full of surprises. The painting shows two aunts symbolised in old age by an image of afternoon tea. A closer look revealed what exciting lives they had lead during the second world war.
You can see the picture when you next visit.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Be Prepared

The spotlights in the garage have been fixed so that they make the Morris Minor gleam when I open the doors.
The garden table has been mended so visitors can lean on it when they sign the visitors book at the end.
Most importantly, the lights on the puppet theatre have been made safe as apparently they could have burst into flames at any moment! When visitors enter this part of the gallery, I always put the main light off first, so that they walk into a darkened room with only the dolls house and puppet theatre lit up.
While a fire might have made it even more exciting, I don't think it would have been very conducive to looking at paintings.
Now everything is ready, so let the 10th season of Ted Coney's Family Portraits  begin.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Inside Out

I've been on Radio Cambridge recently, talking about my  exhibition with Francis Jeans at the Babylon Gallery.
The interviewer joked that I'd had it easy compared to Francis, who paints outside in all weathers.
I swiftly reminded him, that although I always do the finished painting in the comfort of my studio, I often do my research in the great outdoors.
I sited the example of when I cycled 800 miles to Scotland on my (1940) bicycle to collect 60 items for my painting 'Diamond Sutra'.
You can hear the radio programme on the MEDIA page on my website and see the painting when you next visit Ted Coney's Family Portraits (reopening this Sunday).

Friday, 20 April 2018


I was relieved that nearly all my preliminary canvases I displayed  at our recent exhibition at the Babylon Gallery  had sold. I also sold all four prints.
My studio is so small that once I have no more use for the canvases, it is good to get rid of them, to make room for the next lot.
You can see the four still available, (all at modest prices!) if you click onto the
 NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website.
Or you can see them for real when I reopen Ted Coney's Family Portraits from 29th April.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

TED Talk

My  chats about the paintings in the Babylon  Gallery during our recent 'Art Opposites' exhibition, were billed as TED Talks.
On each of the three weeks I did them, I managed to gather about ten people to talk to.
On the last day an ex student of mine from twenty years ago turned up with his mother. They had come on the bus from Cambridge in the pouring rain, which was jolly nice of them.
He insisted on buying all eight tour guides (I did give him a discount) and got me to sign one of them.
His mum really liked my painting 'Against The Light' (which you can view on my MEDIA page) and was intrigued by the way I had made the coloured shadow puppets first.
They promised to return when Ted Coney's Family Portraits reopens at the end of the month.
I will probably give them my 'Puppets and Dolls' tour.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

A Double Life

My old bicycle has been leading a double life, recently.
On weekdays its been taking me to school as usual, but on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays it has lead a more interesting life. It is one of the objects being displayed in the Babylon Gallery as part of our 'Art Opposites' exhibition.
I had previously used the bike as a model for my painting 'Bicycle Thieves', which it now resides beside in the display.
Some elderly ladies got a shock when I returned the bike the other day, while they were looking at the paintings.
A photograph of the bike in all it's glory can be seen on my Facebook page and if you want to see the real thing - the show finishes on Sunday at 4pm.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Colour Theory

I am currently working on my new painting 'Hinaki' in my pop-up studio at the Babylon Gallery.
As usual, I am testing out my ideas on a series of small canvases.
Some visitors seemed interested and one little girl asked me why there were no bright colours in the picture. I tried to explain that I had used earth red and a blue/black to represent the mother and father gods in a myth I had heard about. The white stripes symbolised the son god who was trying to escape.
She looked disappointed enough, so I didn't elaborate further that the patterns represented the tears of the albatross when their chicks had flown away.
For more information on the exhibition 'Art Opposites' see the NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website.

Friday, 23 March 2018

It's Alright

It was a cold, snowy night but luckily we still managed to attract over 100 visitors to the PV of our exhibition 'Art Opposites' the other evening at the Babylon Gallery.
I even managed to sell most of my preliminary canvases and a couple of prints.
My grandson (who is ten) penned 'It's alright' in the visitors book but my granddaughter wrote 'fabulous' and did a cartwheel across the floor, once the crowds had thinned.
 She even did a lovely drawing in my sketchbook (I have a pop-up studio in the gallery) which could of been of me or her?
She's six and my greatest fan.

Friday, 16 March 2018

On Parade

It's a bit disconcerting to all one's work being paraded through the streets of Ely but that's what happened to mine, earlier in the week.
Volunteers from the Babylon Gallery had come to collect some of my paintings to start to put up our show 'Art Opposites' which starts later TODAY.
They managed to get them there safely and have spent the rest of the week putting them up. Everyone kept complaining about how heavy the paintings were but I guess that's what happens when you have them framed under glass or Perspex.
Yesterday I staggered along with the wedding cake to place beside my painting 'Bicycle Thieves' and this morning I need to take in all the other objects which I have used in the paintings  on display.
 Lets hope it stops raining. 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Homage To Me

'Homage To Ted' was the title of an Email my nephew, Magnus sent out to the family, recently.
It turned out he had been doing a lesson in English with his foreign students and they were looking for words to describe an artist.
Naturally, his thoughts turned to me. Words such as 'eccentric', 'reclusive' and 'absent-minded' were illustrated.
 To describe eccentric, Magnus recounted how I used my 1931 Morris Minor to go shopping in Tescos (though in reality I am more likely to go on my 1940 bicycle) and as a 'reclusive', painting  in my tiny studio. This maybe true but I am always popping out for a coffee and a chat.
After much banter from the family, Yve asked if it could be brought to a halt, as all this talk was bad for my ego.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Snow Angels

With all this snow around I suggested to my students that they might like to make snow angels - though I don't think the Chinese students had ever heard of them!
I was reminded of children making angel shapes in the snow (flapping your arms and legs up and down - if you have never done it) in Spain when we went to my nephew's christening and he didn't turn up because the weather was so bad. The negative shape the snow makes once one has climbed out of it seemed a perfect metaphor for an absent child.
This image was the start of a painting I made several years ago entitled 'Snow Angels and No Angels' which you can see  on the HOME page of my website. There are five snow angels, five corn dollies and five sand mermaids in the sequence.
If you want to see them separately  go to the PRINTS FOR SALE page.

Friday, 23 February 2018


'Hinaki' means eel trap in Marae and I have decided to use the word as the title of my new painting about our son, Leo who is currently living in New Zealand .
An eel trap was one of the first objects I found myself drawing in a museum when we visited, four years ago.
Having made the connection with Ely (which also has eels) I  became interested in the meeting houses, where the structure of the building  represents the  bones of the Marae people.
I have made some drawings of our old beams,( laid on the floor looking up at the ceiling) to represent the UK and am currently making a large sketch of the inside of a meeting house, showing some of it's symbolic patterns. One represents the tears of the Albatross parents, after their children have flown  away.

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Wrong Stretchers

I've just taken my latest painting 'Forget-Me-Nots'  to be framed in readiness for the exhibition at the Babylon Gallery in March (see NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website) and Jonathan was appalled by my choice of stretchers.
As I wanted a linen canvas, I had chosen a frame with thicker stretchers, which apparently makes it much harder to frame.
After much discussion I am going to have the canvas restretched before it is framed.
The good thing about this is I can have two inches lopped off the top of the picture as the background was always too big
 You can now see the finished painting on the DISABLED VISITORS page. 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Scratching At The Surface

I invested in a set of wire brushes just after Christmas to experiment with rubbing down the surface of bits of my painting, 'Forget - Me - Nots'.
I wanted to give the impression of some of the images fading away to represent loss of memory.
Luckily I tried the brushes on a preliminary canvas first, as I nearly overdid it!
The painting is now finished and you should be able to see the end result when it moves to the DISABLED VISITORS page in the next few days

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Art Opposites

'Art Opposites - Different Approaches to Oil Painting' is the title we have finally decided on. Francis Jeans and I are doing a joint exhibition of our work at the Babylon Gallery, Ely starting 16th March.
You can read all about it on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page on the website. It is the second story down in the REVIEWS AND ARTICLES section.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Postcard From The Past

While working in Hertfordshire about forty years ago I came across a postcard of the home of a great, great uncle of mine. The name of the house was Garston Manor and it looked rather grand. We knew my relation had known George V and mixed in royal circles. We also knew that after his death, most of his money had been frittered away by various nephews and the house was sold and later demolished.
I lost sight of the postcard - until recently, when it was found at the back of an old photo album.
 I've now had it framed and plan to use the image in a painting I hope to do in the future.
 A painting with a moral, obviously.

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Miniaturist

When my grandchildren were here over the holidays, they asked if I would open up the dolls house so they could inspect it more closely. My grandson was particularly keen to move the drum kit around as he explained, it was incorrectly positioned. As he is a brilliant drummer of nine years old, I was happy to let him take over.
The dolls house is on display at Ted Coney's Family Portraits because it has been used several times in my family paintings.
The last time was in 'The Rashamon Effect' which you can see on the CONTACT US page of my website.
You can learn more about the painting if you take the VIRTUAL TOUR .

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Tracking Him Down

Max managed to track down a small ceramic figurine I wanted, of Mr Toad  on E-Bay.
For a future painting, I want to use Toad as a symbol of greed and selfishness to mirror what happened to my family over many years.
To have a three dimensional image of him will help , as he will appear more than once in the picture.
The fact that he is dressed in Edwardian motoring clothes and his image is based on a drawing by E.H. Shephard is also a bonus.
Shephard is reputed to have used Ely courthouse as his inspiration for the scene of Toad's downfall,  another image I hope to capture in the painting.
I also plan to get my 1931 Morris Minor in there somewhere!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Another Door Opening

Just before Christmas I was asked by an old friend of mine, to open an art exhibition at Michaelhouse in Cambridge. It was a display of his students work produced at an evening class at the sixth form college, where I used to work for many years.
Who could resist the invitation when the poster read 'opened by Ted Coney, Head of Art, Emeritus'?!
Ofcourse I took some flyers to advertise my pop-up gallery and used my (very short) speech to make the point that we were all students of Art and never stopped learning. I explained that I was about to embark on some experiments with wire brushes (more on that in another blog) on my latest painting, 'Forget-Me-Nots'
Immediately after my talk I was asked about this by one of the audience. Next day I received a booking from her. for one of my  tours,  so I must have said something right.