Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Iraq inquiry

I was passing Westminster the day before Tony Blair appeared at the Iraq war inquiry, and instead of crowds of demonstrators, there were just a handful of people putting up gantries for the TV crews on the lawn in front of the convention centre in Westminster where it's all taking place. It's a hideous, modern building, slap next to Westminster Abbey - what was there before to make way for it?

I'm cycling past the centre again on my way home from work the following day. The film crews are lit up ready for the news at six o'clock and there's an end-of-the-day weariness about the place. Discarded "Bliar" placards litter the pavement. I stop and watch for a bit, not that there's much going on, but there is the suggestion that soon there might be. I ask a policeman, who tells me Blair has already left, and he gives the impression everyone else should too. People linger, seemingly reluctant to go home.

It's a few weeks later now, and Blair's appearance was typically assured enough for it to have faded into history, even if the Iraq war hasn't.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

From the window

The view from the window. It's often where it all starts and finishes, especially in a winter like this. It may not be what you'd usually stop and draw but you do, because it's there and because you can stand and stare to your heart's content in a way it's not so easy to if you're just standing on the pavement. Views from our homes and places of work become eroded to our eyes so that after a while it's not so easy to see what's really there. The apparently mundane nature of the scene can take it over that threshold of what makes something worth drawing.

On the road, travelling in foreign countries, everything is fresh and the sketchbook hardly ever goes away. At home, the flats across the road gradually become almost invisible. It has little to do with the quality of the scene. A friend waxed lyrical for hours about the scene from her new rural Devon house after they'd left London a few years ago. The hills, the trees, the sky. I couldn't disagree, but I know, having grown up in lovely, essentially rural, surroundings, that in time that would fade so that she would be no more aware of the view out of her window as I am out of mine. Drawing what's outside the window revives the view, brings it back into focus. These are two drawings made through windows.