Thursday, 29 December 2016

Late Christmas Present?

Daniel has now put all my preliminary studies for my latest painting, ' Bicycle Thieves' on the website. The price and size of each one are directly underneath.
 I don't make them to sell, but to  try and solve problems. However, people seem to like them and I've sold most of the canvases over the years.
They could make a late Christmas present for someone - or even an early New Year one?!
Best Wishes for 2017

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Christmas Blog

The other week I sat for four hours outside in a Gazebo in freezing weather, dressed as Father Christmas.
I gave out over 250 presents and talked to many children about what they hoped to get for on the big day.
As their parents and grandparents hovered around, I felt tempted to also give out my flyers advertising
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits.
But never fear, I know there is a sacred trust when taking on this role, and I took it very seriously.
Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Let Them Eat Cake

I got quite excited recently, when I received an invitation to be part of the Hull City of Culture at the Central Library.
Although I have still no  public funding for my project 'Families Matter', I was tempted, as the Library is within spitting distance of where the Turner Prize is going to be held next year.
That was until I found out that the gallery is also the cafĂ©! So no room to run workshops and the paintings displayed would have to be very small.
 I also pointed out that as I would be working in oil paint on my picture, 'Forget-Me-Nots', this was hardly conducive to eating fish and chips etc.
So no, I'm not going - unless they come up with a better offer.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Another Country

Hazel and I managed to get the Christmas tree set up in time, even though the pot it was standing  up in, leaked and the lights didn't all work.
I had advertised my last  Ted Coney's Family Portraits tour as having a seasonal theme and showed my paintings 'A Christmas Carol' and 'Limners' (about the 37 days of Christmas) as part of the visit. I also made sure that the dolls house lights were switched on, to demonstrate that it was  Christmas in there, too.
However, I knew that among todays guests were some film buffs, so I decided to include in my tour,  paintings which were influenced by two foreign films I had seen recently.
'Bicycle Thieves' was a film made about Italy just after the second World War when everyone was starving and the theft of the bicycle was a symbol for their depravation.
'Rashomon' was a Japanese film depicting four people recalling the same events but from very different viewpoints. My painting 'The Rashomon Effect' does the same sort of thing while looking into various rooms in the dolls house.
Luckily, I had mugged up on both stories before my visitors arrived, as I had mistakenly thought  the first film was made in Poland and the second in India.
I can relax now until I reopen next April.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Not A Switch Off

Last Sunday I had some visitors to Ted Coney's Family Portraits who were particularly interested in my painting 'Dear Reginald Owen' (who was a film actor from 1917 - 1973 and was the brother-in-law of my cousin, Tom)
They particularly wanted to know what happened to Tom after he went out to work in Hollywood in the 1930s to seek employment in the movie business. Sadly, Reginald wasn't much help to him (after moving onto his next wife) and Tom returned to the UK.. Eventually he became an editor of a jazz magazine.
The visitors seemed interested and the wife remarked at the end of the tour that her husband hadn't looked at his phone once during the hour.
Praise indeed.

Not A Switch Off

Friday, 25 November 2016

Not For Sale

My effects to publicise the last two Sundays (this Sunday and next) of
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits before it closes for the winter, have proved rather unsuccessful.
One local paper promised to do a story with a photograph of me with my painting 'A Christmas Carol' and although it did appear in the on line version, the paper edition was less satisfactory. They failed to put in a photograph, which was disappointing, because I wanted to advertise a Christmas themed tour for next week. They also mistakenly implied that I would not be opening again next Spring, whereas I had said just the opposite!
The other newspaper were very disinterested. The reporter implied that it didn't sound very newsworthy but said she might be able to weave it into a feature about Christmas shopping in Ely. When I told her that I didn't sell anything from the house (only on-line) then she seemed to loose the thread and never rang me back.
Lets just hope that word of mouth might bring in a few visitors.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Know Your Place

I donated one of the preliminary studies, made for my painting 'Against The Light' to  the
Timebank charity, recently.
I didn't really do what they wanted, which was to buy a canvas from them, paint a picture and then donate it back to be sold. Luckily, 200 other artists did just that and I hope they sold lots.
Mine was the wrong size (every canvas was exactly the same) so they decided to put my little offering into a raffle they were running alongside the main event.
When I attended the Private View I noted that my picture was the fourth prize. Ahead of me were food vouchers, an Ipad and three workshop sessions with another painter.
Wouldn't it be amusing if I won my picture back?

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Fish And Chips Preferred

We've just been visiting the Holbourne Museum in Bath and I made a sketch of some beautifully painted buttons (in a painting) which I thought would be a useful reference for my new work,
 I was interested in the way the objects seemed to partly dissolve into the background.
Fifty Two years ago we used to paint in studios very close by and I must confess that I never visited this wonderful museum in the three years I was there.
At lunchtime, the students used to rush passed it, to buy fish and chips and eat them in the Abbey square.
Ah, the folly of youth!
We nearly had fish and chips this time, but went for a rather indifferent Indian meal, instead.

Friday, 4 November 2016

It Must Be Her

People visiting Ted Coney's Family Portraits are always treated to a short film introducing my work, when they arrive.
 I always joke that they are been watched over by six generations of the Coney family while they view. The display comprises of framed photographs, which are tightly packed around the walls of the hallway, where everyone is standing.
Recently, while watching the film, someone mentioned that one of my Aunts looked just like the Queen (I think it was the hairstyle). The visitor then turned to a photograph on the wall and exclaimed 'AND THERE SHE IS!!'
This was a picture of me with Her Majesty, when I visited to Buckingham Palace, several years ago.
Infact, you can see a video capturing the moment on  my website. Just click on MEDIA.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Finally Made It

Fifty two years ago I tried to visit the newly opened Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol but, as typically disorganised students, we arrived just as it was closing.
Now Max and Sarah have moved to the area we were finally able to visit the gallery last weekend.
We went to see an exhibition by the sculptor, Daphne Wright and I picked up some interesting references that could help me with my next painting, 'Forget-Me-Nots'.
I made a sketch of some very faint drawings on white paper, mounted on a white background, surrounded by a white frame. This presentation could be useful.
Wright had also produced a video piece of an elderly woman making sounds, showing the gradual deterioration of language through Alzheimer's disease.
I hope to do the same in my painting, but using the disintegration of objects to represent memory loss.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

When visitors come to do a tour at Ted Coney's Family Portraits I always tell them that if they see a seat while I am talking about a painting, then they are very welcome to sit on it.
There is nothing worse than feeling tired while looking at art and I always want people to feel relaxed and enjoy the experience.
I had a lovely couple the other week who said they felt so comfortable that they could easily fall asleep.
That was not quite what I had in mind. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Proverbial Bus

Giving my lecture was like the proverbial bus. I don't get asked to do it for ages, then I end up doing it twice in the same week.
I gave the talk about my work entitled 'On The Edge' to two W.I groups recently and I think they went down OK. (Look at the Art Lecture page on my website, if you are interested)
One member she said she felt very moved by the description of my painting
 'For You - In Loving Memory' which came about after the still birth of our second daughter. The same thing had happened to her daughter over fifty years ago.
And as she said 'You never forget'

Friday, 7 October 2016

Not Going Anywhere

Yesterday, I attempted to cycle to the station in Cambridge, only to find that another bike had been padlocked to mine. In the end I had to abandon it, as I was working at the cinema in Ely and the show was about to start.
I was worried because I had heard of a scam whereby someone clamps your bike, so that they can steal it later. I thought how  ironic it would be, if my bike were to be stolen in the year I did a painting entitled 'Bicycle Thieves' (which you can see on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website). Although the painting is about marriage, I had used my old bike to make studies from, to form part of the image.
As luck would have it , it turned out that the culprit was an old colleague from school, who had forgotten to tell me  what he had done, having nowhere to chain his machine to.
 (Cambridge is like that)
Two bottles of wine later I had quiet forgiven him and now my bike can be in it's usual place at the end of the lane when visitors arrive for Ted Coney's Family Portraits on Sunday

Thursday, 29 September 2016

What A Treat!

I felt slightly apprehensive before last weeks tour of Ted Coney's Family Portraits.
I had a family of four booked in with two teenage children. They turned out to be all very nice but when I learnt that my tour was the daughter's 16th birthday treat, I did feel a bit nervous. She was very interested in Art and was doing GCSE at school so was keen to find out more about the paintings and my ideas behind them.
I am not convinced that the son was so enthusiastic, but as his mother remarked,
 'He has lots of other treats - and it's not his birthday'.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Forget - Me - Nots

I have decided to call the new painting, featuring my grandmother and her four sisters,
 'Forget- me-nots'.
 It is nearly fifty years since I did the last one about them (and my first family painting) and now I am doing a new version - so they are not forgotten!
 Also, the painting will hopefully demonstrate both the power of objects to help reclaim past memories but also  forgetfulness, as we get older.
The objects I will use are those I collected on a recent visit to five sea-side towns in East Yorkshire.
 Quite how I am going to paint the objects remains to be discovered, but I have begun work on the images of the five sisters. I was inspired by some wall paintings  in a church at Winbourne Manor.

Friday, 16 September 2016

After I'm Gone

I had four visitors last Sunday who came to Ted Coney's Family Portraits in response to my recent article in the Cantabs. newsletter. (you can read it in my website on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page)
One of them asked me a really good question at the end of their tour. They remarked on how interesting  my ideas were, to make the paintings.
Their questioned however , how  people would  know what these ideas were, after I had died?
Ofcourse, the lucky ones who had bought Tour Guides (50p each or £3 for all eight) will have most of the answers, but I also offered another point of view.
If people still enjoy my paintings in the years to come then it will be a bonus and I don't really mind what interpretation they put upon them.
A good example might be my painting 'Another Year' (which you can see on my PRINTS FOR SALE page). For me it is about the death of two female members of my family and the birth, a year later of two others. Though it  could  merely be seen as dawn and dusk falling on Ely Cathedral. 

Friday, 9 September 2016

Almost An Installation

I've shown the five small, battered suitcases to a few friends and relations.
 I laid them out on a table, each suitcase with it's own label, so they could look inside and marvel at what I'd collected.
Each suitcase represented not only one of my great aunts, but also one of the five sea-side towns that I collected the objects from.
Although I intend to do a painting from them eventually (more on that another time) the suitcases themselves did seem almost  like an art installation. At least I thought so.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016


I've been working alot on my current painting 'Bicycle Thieves' over the summer and it may be finished - or maybe not?
My method of working is to leave the piece for a while and then see how I feel. I glance at it occasionally and see if I get any fresh ideas to improve the image. An unexpected glance surprises me sometimes into making another mark (or rubbing one down) which hopefully improves the look of the painting.
To see my progress so far, go to the NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website, where you will see my progress.
Underneath, in the Reviews and Articles section, there are also two press stories. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Brief Encounter

Last word (for now) on my East Yorkshire trip. After our visits to the five sea-side towns, we spent the last two nights at the Royal Station Hotel in Hull. Although we had always thought of this as very upmarket  (Queen Victoria had stayed there), it had obviously seen better days. It was also incredibly cheap.
I was reminded of the last time I was there some fifty years ago when my grandmother reluctantly arranged to meet an old flame she had been engaged to, seventy years previous. My mother had accompanied her and I called in to get a lift home.
I used this story as the basis for a painting entitled 'The Rashomon Effect', where each of the people involved looked at what might happen if the old couple had got back together again.
You can see the painting on my Ted Coney's Family Portraits website, on the CONTACT US page.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Feeling Blue

I had a suspicion that I was not going to be successful.
When I read  that one of the grants awarded by 'Hull-  City of Culture'  had gone to an artist who  persuaded 1,000 people to strip naked and paint themselves blue to create a large sculpture, I knew it was going to be difficult.
And so it proved. 670 people had applied for grants and only a fraction of them received any money, and then only for large community projects. I can quite understand why, because Hull needs to make an impact during 2017.
What was disappointing was that I had already managed to bag a venue - Hull University, for my month long residency.
I can apply for funding elsewhere, but I expect it will be very competitive.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Objects Of Desire

One of my main objectives on the East Yorkshire trip (see last weeks blog) was to collect objects from each seaside town to represent my grandmother and her four sisters.
These objects were in  the following categories;
1) objects which represented the sea-side, for example - rock with the letters 'Withernsea' running through , a plastic crab, a model fishing boat etc.
2) objects which would have existed when my great aunts were around in the 1950s.
These I bought at charity shops and included a coronation bowl, a teapot and a metal 'love' spoon
3) One piece of beach material from each place. I enlisted Hazel to collect these for me as she is a great beachcomber. These included stones and shells - and a rusty bit of metal.
4) I also bought a sticky label with the name of each place on, to put on the five, small suitcases I had been gathering over the winter, to keep my collections in.
Finding the objects was fun to do until day three, when I was struck down with a tummy bug. I had to keep going as we were only booked into each resort for a day.  Walking past  fish and chip shops did make my stomach heave, however.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Dead Aunts Society

I've just been on a research trip to East Yorkshire for a new painting I hope to start later this year.
My mission was to visit the sea-side towns of my childhood, making drawings and collecting objects (more on them, next week) as I went.
As each of the five towns (Whitby, Scarborough, Bridlington, Hornsea and Withernsea) represented my grandmother and her four sisters, I decided to post each of them one of my five, painted postcards I had made on the journey.
Although I wrote to the sisters as if still alive, being dead, I obviously sent the postcards to our address.
 I am pleased to say the cards have now all arrived and have become 'objects' for my research.  

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Like Hot Cakes

Since showing  preliminary studies  which are for sale, from my website, I have managed to sell five canvases out of the nine, displayed.
 They don't make masses of money (as if!) but people do seem to like the real thing, even though they are just little experiments, in which I am trying to work out what to do next.
To see what is still available, go to Ted Coney's Family Portraits
and click on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page, where there is a link to the paintings.
When I finish my current picture, 'Bicycle Thieves' later this year, there will be another seven studies to add to the list.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Eel Trap - In Wales

Whilst visiting Wales the other week we stayed with some friends in a remote farm house. I hadn't met Hilary's partner, Nick, before but it turned out that he had lived in the Fens and done some work on the Ouse Washes. As a gift when he left, someone had given him an eel trap.
I spied this quite rare object in the barn  and decided to make a drawing of it.
I was especially interested in the trap because for my next painting (or next but one, we'll see how it goes) I want to show how Leo has gone to live in New Zealand and I worry about him not making it back to the UK.
Whilst visiting New Zealand last year I made a drawing of an eel trap there, as I was intrigued to see that Ely's fishermen weren't the only ones to use them.
I realise that our eels don't come from that part of the world, but artist's licence will allow me to use them as a symbol  for being trapped.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

French Connection

When I first conceived the idea of Ted Coney's Family Portraits eight years ago, I had the notion of doing three tours a day, with a fifteen minute break between each one.
That very quickly morphed into the model I use today, which is giving one tour only and letting the visitors have as much time as they need to look around and ask questions (and sometimes buy a postcard or tour guide!)
However, on the hottest day of the year so far, I agreed to give three tours to a group of French teenagers, yesterday. As they were rotating between me, The Babylon Gallery and Waterside Antiques, I think they were as exhausted as I was by the end. We started at 2pm and finished at 5pm.
Did they enjoy it? Well I guess, as much as any young person could in the circumstances, given that they would rather have been beside a pool.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Remembering The Somme

We've just been on holiday to Somerset, Devon and Wales. Whilst there, we visited Exeter and saw a very moving piece of artwork which was laid out in the Northernhay Gardens.
The installation commemorated the Battle of the Somme. The artist had represented each of the 19,240 soldiers who died on the first day of engagement, as a plastic doll covered in a white shroud.
All the figures were laid out in straight lines on the grass, which made for a very powerful image.
It really brought  home to me, how many families had lost sons, brothers, husbands and fathers on a single July day, a hundred years ago.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

It's Me Calling

I've just been on local radio again to advertise the reopening of Ted Coney's Family Portraits for the new season.
 I was interviewed by a  nice chap called Craig, who asked me about my latest painting . As I was explaining the ideas behind my picture, 'Bicycle Thieves' (different views on marriage) I also told him about my old bike which had actually been stolen . However, after five days of searching Cambridge, I had managed to track it down.
He joked that  it would be ironic if my bike was taken again today, while it was parked outside the Star Radio studios. I gave a hollow laugh, but was very relieved to find it waiting for me when I returned .
You can hear the interview on the MEDIA page on my website. It's just below the film and TV stuff.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

In Giant's Footsteps

We've just had a brief holiday in Northern Ireland. A beautiful country with lots of interesting scenery to enjoy. On these sort of trips I always pack my sketchbook and a few art materials as I find by making  drawings it helps me to 'see' much more clearly than if I was taking a photograph.
The drawings  aren't particularly good but I did enjoy making a few studies at the Giants Causeway of the basalt stacks, which looked like enormous curtains sweeping  across the landscape.
I probably won't use them in a family painting - but you never know.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

In Control

Did I tell you that the  film maker, who made the  programme about my work, also plays the Fat Controller in Thomas The Tank Engine on TV?
It came up while he was interviewing me and I told him about my picture, 'Young Lives'. The painting uses the Thomas characters to visualise the various attributes of my children , nephews and nieces. I imagined the DNA  as railway lines, carrying ephemera the children had gathered through their lives. This was transported by various trains, each of which has its own single personality trait, 'greedy' , 'grumpy' etc. as described in the Thomas stories.
As we humans are much more complex, the children could be represented by more than one train.
It will all make sense  when you visit.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Ship Of Fools

I do seem to have done a lot of family paintings  involving boats.
 My painting 'Encore!', produced after Arthur died, has ships sailing through the air. I was inspired by model  boats I saw in Norwegian churches, which were strung high up above our heads in the nave.
In the painting, 'In Three our Kingdom', I placed a tiny sailing boat in Richard's wine glass to represent the boat he and Arthur used to sail in, many years before.
A more recent piece, 'If The Boats Come In' shows our toy boats on  the pond at Sheringham, with several more out to sea, as if  knitted from wool. Are they unravelling or being drawn towards the shore?
There is a lot of symbolism connected to sailing, so the most significant moment for me last weekend at Max and Sarah's wedding , was our ride by boat between the official ceremony and the reception.
It could spark off another idea for a painting in years to come. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Life In The Raw

I try to be flexible about the opening times of Ted Coney's Family Portraits. The other week I opened on a Friday for some very appreciative visitors before rushing off to Max's Stagg weekend in Devon
I also had some bookings this Sunday but about a couple of hours before, Hazel began to feel sick. She seemed to get  over it, but then began again.
The thought of her being ill while I was trying to talk about pictures seemed inappropriate so I had to cancel.
I know my work is about family life but there is a limit!

Friday, 27 May 2016

Chicken And Egg

It's all very frustrating. I am applying to be  Artist in Residence in Hull as part of their City of Culture 2017 celebrations. (I lived in Hull for the first twenty years of my life)
 My plan is to have an exhibition/ work on a new painting/ and run workshops, give talks etc. while I am there.
I  put in my application but I am not hopeful. They say it helps your chances of getting funding (I am applying for £3,000) if you have got a venue in the city secured as part of your bid.
I have also applied to two venues who are overwhelmed with eager artists. The venue people say it helps them decide, if you already have your funding in place, first.
It really is a classic chicken and egg situation.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Yaga-Bombs and Rattlers

I went  to Max's Stag weekend in Devon recently with some trepidation, but I needn't have worried as I had a lovely time.
I have morning coffee looking over a sparkling sea while the others went Coasterneering which looked terrifying. They all wore hard hats and wetsuits and proceeded to hurl themselves into the sea . I joined them for a BBQ later.
In the evening I was introduced to Yaga-Bombs (very strong shots of every colour) and Rattlers which tasted like lemonade but was infact, cider   (rats nibbling the apples at the bottom of the barrel?)
I even managed to produce one drawing of  jagged rocks as I gazed over the sea-side sports, secretly thanking my lucky stars that I was considered too old for such madness.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Remember Me?

As part of my advertising strategy to advertise Ted Coney's Family Portraits, I wrote a piece for Great Shelford Village News, where we used to live before we moved to Ely.
It's ten years since we left, but do go back occasionally to see friends and I've had quite a few from there in the past to do one of my tours.
The article is entitled 'From Ely - With Love' and you can read it in the 2016 section of my NEWS AND REVIEWS page.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Brain Working

I always tell my students that one can see their brains working (or not working) by the preliminary  studies they do in their sketchbooks.
I have always thought through  ideas for my own painting in sketchbooks and small canvases.
The other year I  donated three of these canvases to charity for auction and they all sold.
Feeling a bit braver, I put seventeen preliminary studies on sale during my exhibition at the Babylon Gallery and they all went.
Well now you can buy one as I have just displayed some on my website for instant viewing.
Just click on the gold writing at the bottom of THE COLLECTION page on my website. More will be added as I do them.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Hobbit In A Hood

The programme made by Cambridge T.V. about my work has recently been shown and   in case you missed it, Daniel has now put it onto my website. Just go to my MEDIA page, click on the top item and click on the gold writing to the left.
Do I like the end product? It's always fascinating to hear what one has said (and a little horrifying) because you have no recollection of saying such a thing during filming.
Visually it looks OK, but it was a big mistake to have put my duffle coat hood up for the opening shots of me on the bike. This was to link into the sequence about my latest painting
 'Bicycle Thieves'
 It was very cold and I did have to hang around for an hour, though I do look like one of the hobbits.

Friday, 22 April 2016

All Fall Down

It has been a hectic few weeks getting Ted Coney's Family Portraits ready for visitors. Everything seemed to go wrong with the house, including one inside wall beginning to crumble?!
We haven't sorted it out yet (just don't touch it) but not sure why it's happening.
In the same weekend the following also occurred: armchair broke (IKEA sent a replacement bit), photo crashed to the ground (frame and glass replaced), garden arch broke in the wind (chucked it away), cafetiere cracked, spilling hot coffee (replaced) and the doorbell stopped working (but miraculously started again ).
The trouble with opening the house to the public is everything needs to appear  OK., even if it isn't.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Suits You, Sir

For my birthday the other week, I asked for small battered suitcases as presents. I have one but need four. Hazel and David managed to get me one each, so now I only have to find two more.
The reason for this rather strange request is because I want to use them in my next painting.
It will be nearly fifty years since I did my first family painting, 'Life Cycle' which is about my grandmother and her four sisters at three stages of life.
For the new painting I want each of them to be represented by five East Yorkshire sea-side towns of my childhood. I intend to do some research in the area over the summer.
And the suitcases? Each one will hold the objects I collect, from each place and the opening of the cases may very well be displayed in the painting.

Thursday, 7 April 2016


I have been working on my latest painting ' Bicycle Thieves' quite a lot, recently. I am now at the 'Unpainting' stage, having put in the brides and the non brides.
By 'Unpainting ' I mean I gradually taking off some of the paint I have put on, using a shaper (a sort of wedge shaped bit of rubber), some tissue and cotton buds.
This is because I want to make the bicycle shapes translucent so that you can see the figures underneath.
You can just begin to see this happening if you go to the NEWS AND REVIEWS page on my website. Daniel will keep updating my progress every month, as I work on the painting.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

An Eye On Ely

One of my paintings made the front cover of a local magazine, 'Ely I' this month. You can see it as the top story in the reviews section of the NEWS AND REVIEWS page in my website. (complete with inside piece about  reopening on 10th April)
Although it is a painting about my family, the images are of Ely Cathedral in a circle, so it almost looks like an eye of Ely.
I just made it in time though, as from the April edition, they are changing from an image of an eye in the title (very 80s according to Bridget, the editor) to the letter 'I' .
My painting wouldn't have worked so well, then.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Message From A Snow Angel

I created the painting 'Snow Angels and No Angels' in 2008 to commemorate the death of Queen Eleanor of Castile in 1290. I followed the same route by bicycle from Harby, Lincolnshire to Westminster Abbey in London as her cortege had done, all those years before.
 Her husband, Edward 1, commanded that crosses should be erected at all the stopping points on the journey, to celebrate her passing.
I laid flowers at the site of each cross to celebrate the lives of fifteen women in my life - all of them members of my family.
I was reminded of all this recently by Julia, as she wanted to place a typed history of Eleanor and my ideas for the work, behind the framed print she had bought of her section of the painting.
 Julia was one of the five 'snow angels' (which I saw as a negative image) to symbolise relations who had either died,  lived along way away or we hadn't seen for many years.
You can see the painting - all fifteen canvases, from my PRINTS FOR SALE  page, on my website.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Strangers On A Train

I was returning to Ely by train from Cambridge after work, the other afternoon.
 It was while having to stand, that I got talking to a middle aged lady, whom I didn't know but had  just moved to the area. Although I told her all about the delights of Ely, I  modestly refrained from mentioning my pop-up gallery. As I bade her farewell she asked me for my name.
'So you're Ted Coney!' she exclaimed in surprise. She then explained that a friend had been telling her about Ted Coney's Family Portraits that very morning.
 I swiftly gave her my business card, so maybe she will visit.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Opening Soon

I've just announced on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page that I'll be opening
 Ted Coney's Family Portraits for the eighth season on Sunday 10th April. I will be taking bookings for the tours from next Monday either by phone, Email or from the website.
As I can only take six visitors at a time maybe you should make contact soon!
This year I will be working on my new painting 'Bicycle Thieves', so you get to see how it is progressing at the end of your tour.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Finding Mr. Toad

It has always been said that E.H. Shepard used Ely's courthouse  for the inspiration for his illustrations of Mr Toad on trial in 'The Wind In The Willows'. He is supposed to have made drawings of the forbidding courtroom, which was built in 1821 - only I can't find any proof that it actually happened!
Everyone (including a local author of a booklet on the subject) says it's true but after an exhaustive trail through his sketchbooks, which are now kept in his archive at the University of Surrey, I can't find an evidence to substantiate this.
This is a pity, as I have a vague idea for a painting in the future, which would require me to make drawings of this wonderful interior. I've got various ideas of who in the family could be symbolised by Toad as 'on trial', only I can't use this material unless it really happened - or can I?.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Sound Of Silence

Yesterday began the filming of a T.V. programme about my work. They had me cycling in the park for footage to go with my new painting 'Bicycle Thieves'. It was pretty cold waiting for the signal to start cycling again while they did a bit more filming.
I had warmed up the studio to a reasonable temperature  as I knew I would have to turn off the convector heater when the interview began.
However there was a problem as the sound system wouldn't work. Urgent phone calls and a trip back to base to get other equipment meant that we got going later than expected. By then I had moved the interview into the house where I knew I could guarantee a much warmer environment. It's very hard to think straight if you are cold. I'll let you know when the film gets it's first public outing.  

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Colour Green

I needed a certain sort of  green for my current painting ' Bicycle Thieves'. I could picture it in my head but it was difficult to pin down. I imagined it as an old fashioned peppermint green, the sort you used to get in children's sweets.
As we have a wonderful traditional sweetshop in Ely and a fabulous Chocolatier (is that the right word?) I decided to try both. The sweetshop had peppermint creams but they were to pale (I guess the clue is in the name) so I tried the Chocolate shop. PERFECT! Just what I was looking for and it's now pinned in a bag to my wall.
How do I want to use it? Well, it's for the colour of the wedding cake and three brides - don't ask.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Another Door Opens

I always tell my students when  rejected by a University for a course they have applied for, that they have 24 hours to feel sorry for themselves and then  need to get working again.
Well, I was rejected by  Ferens Art Gallery recently, so I tried to apply the same rule to myself. It was quite hard to do, as they did seem  interested in having an exhibition of my work. In the end they said that it was too difficult in these straightened times to get outside funding. What they didn't say (but meant) was that no one had heard of me and I wasn't a 'name' who might attract grants etc.
Ted Coney's Family Portraits is yet to go global!
I shall keep trying by sending my portfolio to other galleries but in the meantime another interesting offer has come my way.
There is going to be a TV film made of my work. It's for a new, local station but you never know, it could be scooped up by the BBC.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Brides Head Revisited

Readers of my blog may remember the disaster when my wedding cake started to melt and one of the three bride's heads fell off (see Sticky Fingers - 30th December 2015)
I had originally commissioned the cake and the three brides as models for my current painting 'Bicycle Thieves' and although not a cake you can eat, it does have real icing. However, to my horror the cake started to melt and bits began to drop off.
I had thought it must be too warm and it was melting, but I was wrong - it had got too cold in my studio.
Happily, the bride's head has now been reinstated now and I can begin using it for the painting.

Friday, 29 January 2016


I've been working on my new painting 'Bicycle Thieves' recently. I have stained (that's rubbing the paint on with rag) the background  colour of each of the two canvases, with a dark blueish purple.
However, I wanted to try to create a sort of 'bicycleness'  feeling to the surface before I put the other images on top.
I came up with the idea of laying tape across the wet paint, giving the edge a rub with my hand and then peeling the tape off to reveal the surface underneath. I found that if I rotated the tape it suggested the spokes of a wheel. Does that make sense?
You will be able to see my efforts soon, once Daniel has uploaded the images I take at the end of every day's painting, onto my website.

Friday, 22 January 2016

What You Wish For

I always hope I'll get a few interesting Christmas presents which will be useful for
Ted Coney's Family Portraits or to help me with my painting.
This year I got a beautiful miniature set of wooden kitchen utensils from Emily for the dolls house (which appears in the painting 'Fools Gold') and a stamp with Sooty on it from a family friend, (commemorating 60 years of Children's T.V), which I'll display in the Sooty Pyramid ( used in the painting 'Ofrenda').  .
Leo sent me a book on Maori meeting houses for a painting I'm planning, after our visit to New Zealand.
I also mentioned to my brother, David (when he asked me what I wanted) that I'd like him to find me a very small suitcase, as the beginning of a collection of five, to represent five great aunts for another painting I want to start researching for, in the summer.
 I did say, if it proved too difficult, he could always buy me a bottle of wine instead.
I got quite excited when I saw the suitcase shaped parcel under the Christmas Tree. Inside it was a bottle of wine!
However, I did manage to purchased my first suitcase today, from our local Antiques Emporium.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Be Like You

I received a 'round robin'  letter from an old college friend of mine from fifty years ago,  she had sent out over Christmas. In it, she stated that she intended to have an exhibition for her 70th birthday in the gallery her husband had built her last year in one of their farm buildings.
She sited me as someone who had organised an exhibition for his 70th - at the Babylon Gallery, two years ago, so maybe she is following my example.
I wish I could copy her  and create extra gallery space for Ted Coney's Family Portraits, as I have many extra paintings and no space to hang them.
Perhaps 2016 will be the year I am able to acquire a few more walls?! 

Friday, 8 January 2016

That Man Again

One of my jobs as a volunteer is to keep the 'What's On In Ely' stand filled up with flyers and leaflets at the Station. I started doing this a few years ago so I could promote Ted Coney's Family Portraits by putting my flyers there.
The stand is in the ticket hall and although undercover, the damp makes some of the material (not mine) curl up, sometimes.
The original stand has now been replaced by Ely Perspective (a group who  promotes Ely) with a more enclosed one and it was decided that a photograph should be taken of all those involved, and sent to the newspapers.
It seemed only natural that I should be holding my flyer (with it's distinctive keyhole logo) in the photo and you can see the resulting press story on my NEWS AND REVIEWS page. Our photo was only small when it appeared in the paper, so maybe the press are getting bored of seeing pictures of me?! Well, I was featured rather a lot in 2015.