Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Bit Of A Drama

Just before Christmas, we went to see the excellent film 'Mr Turner', which is about the life of the famous English artist.
It amused me to see in the film, how Turner made possible buyers wait in semi darkness, before throwing open the doors of his studio to reveal his paintings in strong light.
In a way, I do something similar to my visitors when they enter
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits. I keep them huddled in the cloakroom, watching an introductory film before letting them enter a darkened dining room. There on an easel is a single painting, illuminated by spot lights. This painting 'Life Cycle' is the first work I did about the family in 1969 and I always start my story with this, regardless of which tour I am doing.
Happy New Year!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Postponed

The Christmas tree had to be hidden in the garden, the cards taken down and presents stashed away upstairs.
The reason ? I had a photographer arriving, to take pictures of the house and gallery for a possible feature in the Cambridge magazine or newspaper in February.
He did take over 90 pictures, so hopefully something will materialise as he  had a long list from the editor, of images she wanted. These included several pictures of me, desperately trying to keep my shoulders back and stomach in.
I was glad that I had hung Richard's aeroplane in the kitchen and put up the extra easel with a painting on in the dining room as these got photographed, too. I usually show the plane when I am describing the painting 'Airlines', which shows my brother making connections with his children through flight. The model is one he made several years before he died.
Once the photographer had departed, Christmas was reinstated with a vengeance, ready for the family to arrive.
Happy Christmas!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Muffin and Green Ice Cream

I did my last tour of the season for Ted Coney's Family Portraits, the other day. One of the group was an interesting woman whom I had previously met at a talk at the 'Silent Partners' exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum. When she heard I too had  a silent partner (Mr Turnip) I sometimes used in my paintings, she was intrigued and booked a tour.
However, when she came, she was more enraptured that I had used another T.V. character, Muffin the Mule in some of my paintings. She had fond memories of seeing him in the late 1940s,  about once a year on an old neighbour's television set.
 Bizarrely, the children were also given green ice cream while watching the programme and she had obviously never forgotten it.
(You can see how I used Muffin in 'David's Journey' in a link from the PRINTS FOR SALE page   and 'Love That Dares' at the bottom of the ART LECTURE page, on my website)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Your Family ?

A few weeks ago I did my lecture, 'On The Edge' to a group from the University of the Third Age.
I was assured  there would be four 'technical' members who would  help me set everything up and as they had their own sound system and projector, I only had to bring my laptop.
Luckily, I disregarded this advice and brought all my own stuff, as to begin with, they could make nothing work. The hall was filling up with people and I neither had sound or pictures - what was I going to do - sing?!
I quickly switched to my equipment, and with seconds to spare, it all began to work.
I think my talk, which is  about my paintings (you can see more details on the ART LECTURE page of my website), went well and I received quite a few complementary comments at the end.
The best one came from an old gentleman who said
 'I thought you were just showing pictures about your family, when half way through, I realised you were talking about my family as well'

Just the sort of comment I was looking for.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Through The Keyhole

The  virtual tour of Ted Coney's Family Portraits is coming on well, I think.
Colin has shown me several versions and I feel he is getting close to finishing. Mercifully, the bits of me are not too bad and I manage not to fluff my lines. I am only seen speaking briefly in the film,  at the beginning and  end and then a back view where I am 'flying' to Hollywood in the Morris Minor.
The film starts with my logo of the keyhole with a section of my latest painting
'The Rashomon Effect'  behind it. Colin is going to try and give the feeling of passing through the keyhole, as the next shot will be of me working on the same painting in my studio.
Lets hope he can make it work as I think it will make a great beginning.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Not Just Mussels and Chips

We've just had a long weekend in Brussels and one of the things I enjoyed  most was Magritte's house, where he lived with his wife for many years. It amused me to hear that although he built a shed in the garden to do his painting, he often retreated to the kitchen to work, as it was warmer. I know the feeling!
We also saw a wonderful exhibition of religious paintings from Siena and I noted down how the artists had pierced through the gold leaf to portray intricate patterns. An idea I want to develop for the shadow puppets in my next painting,
 'Against The Light' .
In the Musee Fin-de-Siecle we also saw some interesting James Ensor paintings and drawings of silhouettes and masks which will also  be useful.
And the mussels? Definitely bigger and more delicious then those you find in the UK. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A Doomed Affair

'A doomed affair' - that's how I began my press release, I sent out to local newspapers.
I wanted to grab their interest so  they would send a photographer to do a press picture to advertise the last tours of Ted Coney's Family Portraits before I close for the winter. It seemed to have worked, because I was featured in two newspapers and one on line. You can see all three on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website in the Reviews and Articles section.
And the doomed affair? It's all explored in my painting 'The Rashomon Effect' which you'll see in the press photos which accompany the text.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Lady Vanishes

Visitors to Ted Coney's Family Portraits sometimes ask me where Hazel is, during their tours around the gallery. Well, as our cottage isn't that big and I use most rooms (including the kitchen) to display paintings, she needs to disappear.
Hazel might decide to read the Sunday papers in our bedroom or do something more creative in her workroom. Occasionally, she will be working at the cinema, if there is a matinee or swopping  books at the Library.
And sometimes Hazel will go shopping to Tescoes, Aldi or Sainburys. There is always plenty to do in Ely! 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Silent Partner

I went to the excellent 'Silent Partners' exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge the other week. It's subtitle is ' Artist and Mannequin from Function to Fetish ' and that sums it up, really
It was interesting to see how artists had secretly used mannequins and lay figures instead of humans in the early stages of the exhibition and then gradually the 'silent partner' had begun to take over in their own right and hide no more.
I suppose because some of my work uses puppets and dolls in place of humans, my work falls into the later category.
My ultimate silent partner is Mr Turnip, a puppet from 1950s television who represents my childhood in the painting 'Diamonds'. He then becomes my alto ego in the painting entitled
'The Enigma of the Chinese Mask'
You can see both paintings on the PRINTS FOR SALE section of my website.
And Mr Turnip? Well, he's on my Facebook page this week.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

One Last Look

I've been working on my current painting 'The Rashomon Effect' quite a bit recently. I have been concentrating on the two right hand side images more, particularly the magnifying glasses.
You can see my efforts on my Ted Coney's Family Portraits website on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page, where Daniel has posted the latest pictures of my progress.
Is it finished? Probably not, so I shall continue to fiddle around with it until Christmas.
I know I want to redo the background, so it is perfectly flat and I still want to try and get more 'tremor ' into the upside down bed - the old man's view.
As I'll be closing the gallery for the winter in early December I'll hopefully entice one of the local newspapers to run a story on it, to bring in a few more visitors before the end of the season.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Thats It Folks!

The other week we visited the galleries at Compton Verney to see the British Folk Art  exhibition and very interesting it was too.
I particularly liked the Bellamy Quilt of 1890, which was made by a newly engaged couple  to portray their shared interests and images of the period. These included Queen Victoria and Aly Sloper, a popular strip cartoon character of the time.
I like the idea of using cartoon characters in my paintings also, but perhaps in a more subtle way. I am using the cinema  (though they also appeared in comics) characters, Laurel and Hardy in my next painting 'Against The Light '. They will represent two cousins of my mother's, who were young men in about the same period.
As Laurel and Hardy are going to appear as shadows in my work, I have been busy cutting into black card and  making them as   articulated puppets, so I can change their positions. I am also making a translucent set and will decide which to use, once I have produced some preliminary studies. Watch this space.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Dr Who?

Last Sunday I had a party of eight foreign students visit
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits. They were very attentive and seemed interested in everything I said about the paintings.
They were delighted to see my 1931 Morris Minor, so I showed them my latest painting which involves the car - 'Dear Reginald Owen'.
However, I think I may have lost them a bit, when I tried to explain how I had used the car as a time machine, going back to the 1930s.
'rather like Dr Who's Tardis'  I said enthusiastically. Obviously Dr Who hadn't travelled as far as China and Russia, which is were the visitors came from.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

No Jam And Jerusalem

I realised to late that I had made a bad mistake, when I saw sixteen expressionless female faces staring back at me.
I had just done a fifteen minute X factor style audition, trying to impress the ladies of the Women's Institute and convince them that they ought to employ me. This was to  give my  lecture, 
  'On The Edge', which is about my paintings, (you can see details about it on my website) to their members.
As I only had a short time, I decided not to give them any hint of the lecture at all (well, no one had paid me to come) but to show them the  introductory film I use when visitors come to my pop-up gallery. Ofcourse then I go onto explain what the paintings are about but on it's own it just left the poor women puzzled and confused.
What had Muffin the Mule got to do with family life? Well now they will never know.
The guy after me was showing wildlife in Botswana and I am sure he got a more enthusiastic response.
Anyway, what do I want with the W.I.? I am giving my talk to the U3A in November.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Drove On

A few weeks ago I did a charity ride on my old 1940 bicycle raising money for MAGPAS. I cycled 40 miles in a day, along the Ouse Washes and across the Fens.
This is a very flat, exposed part of the country and I did have a head wind for most of the way. However, I am very fond of this part of the world and I got to thinking, while battling against the elements what a great area it would be to do more research on.
In the past, I have used journeys on my bike as metaphors for ideas about family life. For instance:
'Diamond Sutra', 'The Enigma of the Chinese Mask' and ' Snow Angels and No Angels'  (the latter two can be seen on my PRINTS FOR SALE page) all had their starting points in real journeys.
I am quite interested in the 'Droves' and what all their  different names mean, but this is something to be investigated at a much later date.
 I still have 'The Rathomon Effect 'to finish and then two more paintings to work on, after that. Thinking about it, did keep me going though, when my legs where beginning to fail.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Glossy Enough?

A few weeks ago, the editor of the magazine 'Cambridge' came to visit Ted Coney's Family Portraits.
This was with a view to doing an article for the November issue about my work and the pop-up gallery. She seemed very enthusiastic at the time, even talking about the different paintings she wanted to be photographed, but I have not heard from her since.
As it is one of those lifestyle magazines, maybe we were not glossy enough, or fitted into their idea of a perfect home?!
The gallery has been featured in such magazines as 'Agenda' and 'Venue' before (see my NEWS AND REVIEWS page), but maybe this one was not interested in my work enough, but were to polite, to say.
 If I don't hear by next week, I shall assume it is off. At least the editor took the trouble to come.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Flying Green

It was suggested (though tactfully) that I was overacting a bit, during filming a sequence for my new virtual tour on the theme of 'Simultaneity'. I was trying to put a bit of action into the scene, where I appear, 'Tardis like' to be flying back in time to  Hollywood in my 1931 Morris Minor.
This was to help describe the ideas behind my painting 'Dear Reginald Owen', in which I am contrasting the  search for somewhere to live in 1930s America by a cousin of mine, with our discovery of a new location in this country.
To create the illusion that I was flying through space in the car, Colin (who is making the film) covered some of the windows with green paper, so that he can project moving images onto them, later.
You will be able to access the tour from my website eventually, but for now you might like to see a photo of me in action - just click on the Facebook icon, to the left of any page on
Ted Coney's Family Portraits.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

After The Black Square

With all the hype about the 'Matisse Cutouts' exhibition, I thought I had better go and see it before it closed.
What interested me most, were some of his semi abstract dance figures painted  for the Barnes mural. The way they disappeared off the edges of the composition is something I would like to achieve in my next painting 'Against the Light'. I am using the images of the 1930s comics, Laurel and Hardy to represent my mother's cousins, Billy and Dickie, but I want to suggest their shapes, rather than make them too obvious as characters.
I also found the other exhibition  on at Tate Modern, very useful. This was a retrospective of the Russian artist, Malevich, who painted the ultimate picture, the 'Black Square' painting.
However, after painting himself into a corner, as it were, he started to produce more figurative images again. These were highly stylised figures and the way he applied the paint might also be useful for the way I want to work.
So, all in all, a very useful, if exhausting day.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Down Your Way

It was the Charles Darwin exhibition that I saw several years ago at the Fitzwilliam Museum, which inspired my painting ' Love That Dares '  (which you can see on the ART LECTURE page of my website.)
 Darwin's thoughts on animal's use camouflage to protect themselves, in his book 'Origins of the Species'  made me think about how I could translate the idea onto humans. In the event, I displayed animals in my painting too, albeit puppet ones!
 The title of my painting suggests a more hopeful sign for the future - you don't have to be one of the crowd to survive.
Anyway, we finally got to visit Darwin's family home, Down House, last weekend, and see where all his ideas and experiments were done.
 We also viewed his Billiard room and got rid of all his stress.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Being Professional

I've just asked Daniel to add the information about studying Painting and Printmaking at
Bath Academy of Art in the 1960s, to the Home page of my website.
It seems obvious now that it should be included, but I hadn't really thought about it, until recently.
Having my Retrospective at the Babylon Gallery has given me a taste for pushing the work to a wider audience.
 I have decided to try and get another exhibition  within the next ten years (80th birthday party?). It won't be easy, because as I don't sell my paintings,  I can't approach a commercial gallery.
As I intend to  refer to the website, to any Curator's I approach, it seems only right that I should have something in about my early training.
I've already had a very nice letter of refusal from the director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, but that was before we put this information in.
 Maybe I'll try him again in a few years time.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Did The Boats Come In?

When I made my painting 'If The Boats Come' (you can see it on my website) I used the model boats we always sail at Sheringham every year, as a metaphor for returning members of the family.
Since some of the boats in the painting are represented as knitted and beginning to unravel (or are they been drawn in?) the work attempts to raise  questions about family ties, and how strong they might be.
The attendance at the get together was disappointing compared to other years, when nearly thirty family members had come for the weekend. However, there had been a good turnout at Magnus's wedding at Christmas and my 70th birthday brought  twenty six of us together. Another group of the family  had lunch in France earlier this month and some will be meeting up again for Emily's birthday in a few weeks time.
 Leo (from New Zealand), Max and Ben did ring us up while we were in Sheringham, to see if we were coping without them  - and yes, we still sailed the boats.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Three Bears

I have used the TV puppet, Sooty, several times in my paintings, namely for 'Duet' and 'Offrenda' (you can see the latter in the link from the PRINTS FOR SALE page on my website).
 Visitors to  Ted Coney's Family Portraits  always see the archive material for each painting and the ones using Sooty are no exception. I have a collection of  ephemera dating back 60 years, including puppets, models, books etc.
I already had  Sooty handpuppets from the 1950s and 1980s, so I was delighted to discover a third one from about 1970 in the loft (did we breed it?) recently.
Sooty has gradually transformed from a pale yellow rat like creature into the cuddly orange teddy bear he is today.
I noticed that Sooty has recently returned to television, where he first appeared in the early fifties. To celebrate,  I bought a Sooty comic from the newsagents to add to my collection. (about every ten years it's interesting to see how the style of graphics changes) 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Chips Off The Old Block

We have just had a wonderful holiday in France, staying with our family.
Many of the best moments  were with the grandchildren.
There was the morning spent sitting side by side with Poppy (aged three), each of us doing a painting in our sketchbooks, of the old farmhouse we were staying in. Poppy was sharing my watercolour set and was reminded to wash her brush every time she needed a new colour, which she solemnly did.
The other was with Barnaby (aged six) looking around an art gallery.  I showed him some Renaissance paintings and the artist's use of gold leaf to bring out the religious nature of the work. I reminded Barnaby that I had used gold leaf to represent him in a more abstract painting (entitled 'Minglelands' ) about his parents marriage. He then questioned me closely about what gold leaf was and how to use it.
'Like working with butterflies wings' seemed to satisfy him.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Stairway To Heaven

Readers of my blog will know that I am constantly trying to create more space for
Ted Coney's Family Portraits, as the collection of paintings and objects, continues to grow.
I have been thwarted in the past by building regulations in my attempt to open up our loft space as another gallery.
As we are not allowed to have an internal staircase from the first to  the second floor, I have been exploring the idea with Julie, our architect, the idea of having a 'beautiful' fire escape on the outside.
However, inspite of her ingenious plan of having an inverted dormer doorway in the modern section of the house, the whole thing was beginning to look to intrusive (complete with spiral staircase) to comply with listed buildings rules.
We are now exploring the possibility of building over the garage and studio, so she is preparing some drawings for that.
Feeling frustrated about the lack of progress on the loft, I then had another brilliant notion - so simple, I can't think why we had never thought of it before.
 But it will take another blog to tell you about it.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Myths Debunked

What if I don't like the work? Will he try and sell us something?
I hope I have managed to debunk these and other myths about Ted Coney's Family Portraits in a recent article that went to 9,000 homes in Ely. I was given the opportunity of writing something in the new ELY I magazine and I thought I would try and use it to encourage more visitors to book a tour at my pop-up gallery.
If you didn't receive a copy, you can still read my article on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website. Scroll down to Reviews and Articles and it's top of the list of stories at the moment. Once you've clicked on it, turn to page 9. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Tour de Ely

To celebrate the  Tour de France, I took my bike to Aquafest last Sunday and parked it near the river. As it displays one of my Ted Coney's Family Portraits posters, it's  another way of advertising the gallery.
 I was quite near the Ely Cycling Club display and I think they were impressed (or thought I was a mad, old fool) when I told them about my epic 800 mile cycle ride on my 1940 bike to Scotland, ten years ago. You can see the painting 'Diamond Sutra' I made as a result of the trip, if you scroll down to April 2010 in the Reviews and Articles section on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website. If you want to see me on the bike, scroll down even further to June 2004.
On Tuesday I went into Cambridge to get the bike serviced and cycled part of the route that the Tour de France had done on the previous day. I saw the stands but the crowds had gone.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Upside Down and Out of Focus

Have been working on my latest painting 'The Rashomon Effect', recently. I think I've got most areas working now except for the view into the bedroom by my grandmothers ex- fiancée. I have added to the area inside the magnifying glass several times but have finally  painted it all out. I wanted it to appear out of focus as seen by an unsteady eye, but it just looks a mess!
When I made studies with the magnifying glass from a distance during my research, I discovered that the image appears upside down and smaller than the area around it.
I want to use this effect in the painting, to show that the old man's view of the room will be disorientated, yet still focusing on the bed.
You can see my effects so far, on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website. I'll keep persevering.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

An Angel Remembered

Just as I was leaving the Cathedral the other day, one of the staff came forward and said she had bought one of my pictures a few years ago. I realised that this lady had bid for a tiny painting I had donated to ADEC to help raise  money for the Babylon Gallery.
I had been making a series of 15 paintings entitled 'Snow Angels and No Angels', each one dedicated to a different female member of the family. The first one was in memory of our stillborn daughter, Fay , whom I saw as one of five snow angels.
As I had one extra canvas, I had reproduced Fay's picture again for the auction and called it
 'An extra Snow Angel'
It's current owner very kindly said she still loved the painting and saw different things in it every day.
You can see 'Snow Angels and No Angels' on the HOME page of my website and if you want to view them larger, go to my PRINTS FOR SALE page. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Small Is Beautiful

I got a belated birthday present the other week. My sister-in- law bought me a miniature bicycle to go in my collection. It is almost an exact replica of my real bike - all black with sit up and beg handlebars, covered- in gears and large basket.
She originally got it to go outside the dolls house but as I have another couple of bikes there, I had another use for it.
In one of the showcases, I have four items to represent the 'circles of a journey' - the compass, the map measurer, the magnifying glass and the bicycle wheel. The wheel was represented by a minute plastic bike I got in a cracker one Christmas, only the new edition is much better.
I used all the objects on a journey I made several years ago to Suffolk, to make the painting
' The Enigma of the Chinese Mask '. The painting is all about symbolising the ups and downs of family life with a real journey, made by bike along country lanes and busy main roads.
You can see the painting if you go to my PRINTS FOR SALE page on the website and if you look very carefully (click on the painting to make it larger) you can see these four 'tools' in the biggest canvas.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Just Like Dame Edith

Hazel always thinks I am being too theatrical when I say that I need to get everything ready early, when I have a booking for Ted Coney's Family Portraits, and then rest before the visitors arrive. It does feel like a performance, albeit a low key one.
I remember reading that the great Edwardian actress, Dame Edith Evans was exactly the same (in fact we saw her briefly fall asleep on stage once, but that's another story).
However, last Sunday didn't go according to plan. I now have tours at 2pm OR 3pm as I have found over the years that if it is going well, then the visit can last up to an hour or more.
 I had some of my students at 2pm and they were a lovely audience and I felt that was it for the day. To my consternation another visitor arrived just as they were leaving and I had to start all over again.
The second visitor hadn't booked but had tried to phone me, so I felt obliged to go ahead as she seemed so keen.
I now realise that I only have the strength to do one tour a day now, as like Dame Edith, I'm getting on in years.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Blowing Up Parrots

I heard that Frank Whitford, the Sunday Times art critic and art historian died recently. I knew him as the art history teacher at Hometon College when I was working next door at Hills Road.
He was a  clever man, yet warm, generous and very  down to earth. He was always giving my department art books and gave wonderful talks to our students.
I met him once by chance, when we were both Christmas shopping in Cambridge. He said he was absolutely desperate as he couldn't think what to buy any of his family. I told him that I had just bought everyone blow up parrots from the shop behind were we were standing. He thought this was a brilliant idea and went off to do exactly the same.
He had promised to write the forward to my tour guide when I started
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits but sadly ill health overtook him and it never happened.
 I wonder if he would have mentioned the parrots?

Friday, 30 May 2014

Action This Day

'Action this day' is what Winston Churchill said to his civil servants, when he got a call from the code breakers at Bletchley Park, begging for more resources.
I have always believed that a cousin of my mother's worked there during the war but she died before telling us the full story.
I made a painting about it entitled 'Tea For 222' several years ago, as I wanted to show how two of my family had led extraordinary lives during the second world war and yet never talked about it during old age.
You can see the painting when you come to visit Ted Coney's Family Portraits and read more about it in the press stories on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page.
Anyway, Hazel and I finally got to see Bletchley Park last Friday and spent a fascinating day there.
I didn't find out any more about my relative but there were 10,000 people working on site over the course of the war, many of them women. I am sure she only played a minor role but we know she did secret war work in that part of the country, never wore uniform and had been working at Hull University prior to this posting. It makes an intriguing story.

Monday, 26 May 2014

A Quizical Look

I am now working on my latest painting 'The Rashomon Effect' and you can see it's progress on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website.
I am trying to decide how to deal with the view inside my grandmother's quizzer (magnifying glass) as although a small area, it's perhaps one of the most important parts of the painting.
As all the participants within the painting have a different view of the same image, I want to make each one very different.
I think my grandmother was quite blind at the time but was to vain to let anyone realise.

Monday, 19 May 2014

As Seen On TV

I  opened  Ted Coney's Family Portraits last weekend for the new season with a family of four doing the first tour. As one of them had been a couple of years before, when I had given my 'Journeys' tour, I gave them 'Time' on this occasion. It all seemed to go well and I got some very enthusiastic comments in my visitors book at the end.
Just as I was closing up, the doorbell rang. It was another lady who wanted a tour. She said she had enjoyed my exhibition at the Babylon Gallery and my appearance on TV?!
I was to polite to correct her, but maybe my last radio programme had been so illuminating that she imagined she could see it in  pictures.
I haven't managed to get on national television since I appeared on a news programme giving rides for charity in my Morris Minor, ten years ago.  Maybe I don't need to.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Last Piece Of The Puzzle

About ten years ago, I decided that I wanted all my paintings framed by the Trumpington Gallery, when I could afford it.
 Some had been done by them already, ofcourse, but we have been steadily working through  the earlier ones, (getting one or two reframed each year), to bring them up to the same high standard.
The last one has just been delivered, and will be up in time for when I reopen
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits this Sunday.
 The painting is entitled  '30 DAYS' and is all about our month's holiday in Sheringham, many years ago. Each day's events are painted on a wooden jigsaw piece and they all fit together. Only, there is a break in the painting where Hazel dislocated her kneecap and ended up on crutches. With two small children, it was some holiday!
Anyway, you can see it, and all my other paintings, when you visit.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Worth A Thousand Words?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when it comes to a press photo, I am not so sure.
To launch my exhibition at the Babylon Gallery the press came and insisted on taking a picture of me with Mr.Turnip (you can see the picture and story in the REVIEWS section of my NEWS AND REVIEWS page, on my website).
 As Mr. Turnip is a marionette, I suggested that  they should take our picture infront of my painting  'Diamonds', in which he appears.
 Unfortunately, when the article appeared, there was no mention in the text, of who he was  and the painting behind us was out of focus, so you couldn't see the connection.
Curiously, Mr Turnip and I look similar in the photograph, but that is because I forgot to brush my hair and has no bearing on the story!
A similar confusion happened this week. I have a small display in an upmarket wool shop in the market square, centred around my painting 'If The Boats Come In'. The connection between the painting and wool is that the work is all about family ties and unravelling threads. The press duly ran the story but put in an old photo of me with another of my paintings entitled 'Limners'. As this is about our 37 days of Christmas, anyone reading it, must have been a bit mystified.
However, I am grateful for the press helping me to advertise the opening of
Ted Coney's Family Portraits on 11th May, so I mustn't sound too critical.

Friday, 25 April 2014

A Preliminary Precaution

I am so glad that I offered one of my preliminary studies to Joe before the exhibition started, as by the end of the show I had sold all seventeen little canvases! Joe, who had bullied me into having the exhibition in the first place, chose 'Airlines' and it is now displayed in his hallway in what he calls 'Coney Corner'. This also has one, of only two weavings I ever made and a screenprint from my distant college days.
The most popular studies in the exhibition came from my preparations for the painting
 'If The Boats Come In' and I could have sold them twice over. Obviously boats are very saleable and I could  have sold one to the captain of the QE2 (I know his wife) if there had been more.
The exhibition closed last Monday with the last two studies being sold in the afternoon.
2,000 visitors were recorded has having attended the exhibition over the five weeks, so not a bad effort.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Contract

Before my exhibition began at the Babylon Gallery, I had to sign a contract. This stated that ADEC would take all the admission fees for my lecture On The Edge', unless under twenty people came, when they would be entitled to 20% of the money from the sale of my preliminary sketches, postcards and tour guides instead.
Luckily about 25 people came to my talk in the gallery last Sunday (only three tickets had been sold beforehand so I was getting nervous) so it looks as though I will be able to keep all the sales.
The good news is that I have sold all my preliminary sketches but two, and there are still a few days to go.
The last day of the exhibition 'Ted Coney: A Retrospective' is Easter Monday, when I shall be in the gallery as a volunteer. Hope to see you there, if you are one of the few people who haven't made it yet.

Friday, 11 April 2014


I set off on my bicycle the other day to go to Isleham and got lost. I even ventured into deepest Suffolk at some point. Luckily, I had a pork pie with me for lunch and it was a lovely day but it did take along time to get there. I  hailed a farmers wife at some point and she and her husband were very helpful and  drew me a new map (I realised later I had been reading Hazel's map, upside down). They even invited me in for refreshments so I must have looked tired, but I politely declined as I was already late for my appointment.
I was going to see Nigel, who manages the sale of my prints, to help him edit the advert he has made about  me, which will hopefully help sell more work.
Nigel has  put the piece on YouTube now and I did manage to find it  eventually, but it is rather lost among the other  hundreds of  films and clips.
If you key in UKPHOTOGALLERY and go to page 16 you may discover it.
Alternatively, you can go to my website and you 'll find a link to it at the bottom of the PRINTS FOR SALE page. It's a bit easier.

Friday, 4 April 2014

A Slightly Creepy Feel

I can report, unashamedly, that my Private View was a triumph. 310 people were recorded as attending the event to celebrate my 70th birthday and the Babylon Gallery was packed with guests queuing to come in. What more could I ask for, with 25 of my family attending and lots of old friends turning up, unexpectedly.
I did notice however, when going through my visitors book, the next day, that one mystery guest (with a name I didn't recognise) had written that she felt the work had 'A slightly creepy feel'
With over 1,000 visitors so far, I have to accept that you can't please everyone.
You can see some of the photos of the private view on the Ted Coney's Family Portraits page on Facebook, which you can access from any page of my website.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Age Old Problem

The other Sunday, I appeared live on a local radio programme to publicise my Retrospective exhibition at the Babylon Gallery and the return of Ted Coney's Family Portraits in early May. It was a sort of Dessert Island Discs format with me talking about different bits of music which had been significant in my life. This was all fine, as I had sent my requests in earlier and knew what questions to expect.
It was to my horror then, that the interviewer suddenly asked me what music I didn't like. I am one of those people (maybe it's my age, having turned seventy yesterday) who instantly forgets what I don't like - wasted information, as there is only so much my brain can hold.
However, I knew I had to say something as the show was live, remember. I suddenly thought about the Monkees who were a sort of American manufactured pop group of the 1970s (I think). I said I didn't like their music as it always seemed a pale shadow of the Beatles (whose music I had just had played). This may be true, but I couldn't remember a thing about Monkees music anyway, but the real reason for saying it was because of my chance encounter with one of them.
When I was teaching at Hills Road Sixth Form College, one of the students had an American father called Micky Dolenz. He was one of the Monkees many years before and I  showed him around the Art Department while he was over, visiting his daughter. Infact I  surprised him by being reminded  that I had seen his younger self in the series of adventure films on 1950s TV, entitled 'Circus Boy'.
 I do remember some things.
 You can hear the radio programme on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website and it's the latest one in the RADIO section. Happy listening.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Technology Be Damned!

It was the very last thing to get ready for my exhibition. I took  the film which introduces my work, along to the Babylon Gallery for them to set up a device to play it on. Although I just shove it into a TV  and it plays on a loop here, ofcourse it wouldn't do this in the gallery!
Frantic phone calls to Colen, who originally made the DVD, meant that he had to make a new version overnight and was duly delivered early the next morning.
I am so bad at anything technical, that I couldn't even switch  the computer on, never mind get the film playing. Thanks to  wonderful volunteers, Rebecca and David, they managed to get it all working just as the first visitors arrived.
Over the weekend 250 visitors came to see the show and £250 worth of preliminary sketches were sold, so not a bad beginning , after all.
Needless to say, you can see the film (in four suites), by clicking on the You Tube symbol on any page on my website,  but I hope you'll come to the exhibition and see the real thing.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Sale Or Return

It might be the fact that I am having an exhibition in a real gallery, but the Cathedral shop has agreed to take 100 of my new postcards of the painting 'Another Year' to try and sell on a sale or return basis. Feeling ever braver, I approached another gift shop in Ely and they agreed to take some of the cards, also.
The preparations for the exhibition gathers apace (it opens tomorrow). I had my photograph taken for a local paper yesterday with the puppet, Mr Turnip, against the backdrop of my painting 'Diamonds' in which he appears.
On Sunday morning I am going to appear in a dessert island disc local radio programme, but no doubt, if I survive it and the opening, I tell you about that, next week.

Friday, 7 March 2014

A Shy English Artist

Fifty years ago, I was described in a newspaper as 'A shy English artist', while painting a mural for a youth hostel in Holland. Well, that was because I didn't speak Dutch, but was reminded of it this week when I spoke to Caroline and Christine at the Babylon Gallery.
 I told them I hoped not to do any stewarding at the gallery while my exhibition was on, as I didn't want to witness visitors coming in for two minutes and then walking out again. They both admonished me for being so sensitive and told me to live in the real world!
Talking of the real world, arrangements for the exhibition are gathering a pace.
 Jonathan arrive with my newly framed picture 'Love That Dares' the other evening, only to be told that he had put the canvases in, the wrong way around (it arrived again the next day, correctly framed)
Seventeen of my paintings were collected the other afternoon and  I nervously wait to see how they look in the gallery. I must say, the house looks rather bare.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Virtually A Tour

 Andrew suggested that I had a virtual tour quite a while ago, which the public could pay for, via the website.
 I think the time is now right to organise this, as I was waiting to include my current painting
'The Rachamon Effect' to get to an 'interesting' stage before it could be  part of the film.
The theme for the new tour is ' Simultaneity' and will comprise of three pictures including a work in progress. This, I hope will make the tour more interesting and show me working in the studio.
I contacted Colin, who made the introductory film which is shown when people visit my pop-up gallery and he came over to discuss the project.
Daniel, who manages my website, confirmed that he can build in the payment element, so we are going to start filming June. Before then I've got to write the script - and probably get a haircut.
In the future ofcourse, Ted Coney's Family Portraits could become completely virtual ?!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Another Fine Mess

We've just spent the week with our grandchildren and have been helping the family get ready for Barnaby's Star Wars party. I knew he had been making silhouettes at school, so came up with the idea of printing silhouette shapes of Darth Vador and co. so we could cover the room with lots of strong images.
Working with a five year old was great fun but it did get a bit messy. Once we had printed the figures, , Barnaby enjoyed covering everything with glitter, stars and highlighter pens.
I have also been developing my ideas for the next painting 'Contre Jour', involving silhouette figures. My plan is to show my mother's two male cousins in silhouette using the Thai shadow puppet convention that only the women spectators saw the shadows, while the men saw the real puppets. I am using this to try and show the way  the parents each saw their sons in  very different ways - as rascals or angels.
However, I have come up with a further twist. I want to represent them as the 1950s Hollywood stars, Laurel and Hardy. This is because, they  have strong silhouettes, one being fat and the other thin and both wore bowler hats. Also, as a child I saw Laurel  and Hardy for real, on the stage. I thought them very funny and almost unreal, until I saw them the next day - as tired old men getting into a taxi, looking very grumpy. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

A Gleaming White Canvas

I think I'm ready to start my new painting, 'The Rashamon Effect'. This is about my grandmother meeting up with a former fiancée some sixty years after they had both married different partners.
Having produced four small canvases to work out how I am going to paint the four different viewpoints, I feel fairly confident, I know what I am doing. I want to paint the various sequences in either soft or hard focus.
My mother's view of the kitchen will be in very sharp focus and I will be mixing in a very cold blue with the blacks and white tones.
My Grandmother's view is through her magnifying glass (on a gold chain) and will probably be tunnel vision and out of focus. She will be looking into the bathroom, which again will be painted in cool colours.
Her former fiancées view will be in warm shades, out of focus and upside down. He will be looking into the bedroom (ofcourse!)
My viewpoint (as a twenty year old youth) into the dining room, is distorted by a brightly coloured kaleidoscope lens.
As the proportions of the painting are fairly normal I have treated myself to buying a canvas rather than trying to stretch one, as I normally do.. So my gleaming white canvas awaits.  

Friday, 7 February 2014

Twenty Three And Counting

It has been rather gratifying to learn  that so far, twenty three members of the Coney family  are coming to my 70th birthday weekend and attending the private view of my exhibition at the Babylon Gallery. The fact that I am treating them all to lunch the next day, may have something to do with it, but lets hope they like some of the pictures as well.
Ofcourse, all the pictures are about them, so it will be great to have them there.
Preparations for the exhibition continue. I have been writing the captions to go under each picture and these are awaiting Christine's approval. I was interviewed by Star Radio the other day about the forthcoming exhibition, and as this was pre-recorded, I guess this will be heard in the near future.
I have also commissioned another postcard,of my painting 'Another Year', to be on sale during the exhibition and have just sent some pictures to Caroline for her to use on the posters.
You can read all about the exhibition Ted Coney: A Retrospective on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website.

Friday, 31 January 2014

A Watery Tale

As I was  watching a really good Clint Eastward film at the Old Palace the other evening, I was blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding at home.
 Hazel was battling with a burst pipe and had water pouring down into the living room. She tried heroically to brush the water off my pictures, while the plumber turned it off at  the mains .
The painting most at risk was 'Limners' - a picture about the 37 days of Christmas (you can hear all about it in the radio section of my NEWS AND REVIEWS page of the website).
I had just closed all the doors on the painting  (there are 37!) now that Christmas was over and I planned  to open them again, when Ted Coney's Family Portraits reopens at the end of April.
As we have now got the humidifiers in,  I have had to open them again, to make sure there is no moisture trapped , between the doors and the paintings.
In other galleries, they often have small, quiet humidifiers around, but these are large, noisy, industrial ones.
We shall be glad to get back to normal.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Stuck On The Edge

Last week I did my lecture, 'On The Edge' , to a group of people in Little Downham. I think it went well, as they asked lots of questions at the end, particularly about a painting they never actually saw.
 To have them gasping for more (that's the idea, anyway) I showed them the beginnings of  ' Diamond Sutra', a painting which all started with an 800 mile cycle ride to  Scotland to celebrate being 60 years old. I told them about how my mission to collect sixty objects on the journey to be used  in the painting and the puzzle behind the image of three rabbits I discovered in a country church in Lincolnshire, with the inscription CONEY 1640AD.
I am always very nervous about  technology when doing these talks. I always dread setting up the laptop, digital projector and sound system, in case they doesn't work. Infact, the only thing I had a problem with, was the zip on the suitcase I keep the sound system in. I wrestled with it for several anxious minutes until a kind lady came to my rescue and calmly sorted it out. 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Last Minute Dash

I thought I had finished my painting ' If The Boats Come In ' about six weeks ago and it was due to be taken to Jonathan's for framing this week. However, the night before, looking at it side ways  in the semi-darkness of the hallway, I realised it needed a few more dashes of white paint on the boating pond section.
 I always find it very difficult to decide when a picture is finished, but it went as planned, anyway, as I needed it framed in time for my exhibition in March.
You can see the completed picture on the OPENING TIMES 2014 page of my website and ofcourse you will be able to see the real thing in my Retrospective at the Babylon Gallery (more details on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website)
When discussing the frame (more difficult choices) we decided to pick out the darkest parts of the rough sea for the overall colour. I hope I like it!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Shelford Lives - Not Forgotten

I was going through my bookshelves the other day and I found 'Shelford Lives', a book I contributed to, the day before we left Great Shelford and moved to Ely. I remember my contribution was by audio tape, sitting on a packing case, getting ready for the removal van to arrive. As well as talking about our life since moving to Cambridgeshire thirty four years before, it was interesting to read it again and to see our my aspirations and plans for Ted Coney's Family Portraits had turned out.
I have now had it installed in the reviews section of the NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website. To read it, you need to scroll down a bit as it's from 2007, where you can find the shorter version. To read the whole chapter (lucky you), you need to click on the PDF sign at the bottom of the page.

Friday, 3 January 2014

War Babies

I've been thinking about ideas for my next but one painting (I'm just beginning one called
 'Against The Light') in a vague sort of way. It's going to be about my mother and two of her cousins who were all pregnant before they got married, during the second world war. Although all their marriages lasted, I wonder if they would have married those men if they had not conceived out of wedlock?
At the moment, I've got the image of  a 1940s style wedding cake with three brides on the top and cuts in the cake to represent the babies. I guess my painting is going to poise the question 'Who were the babies - was it the young women themselves?'
Happy New Year!