Monday, 12 December 2011

N16 Pop-up: open now

It was a betting shop, and now it's a pop-up gallery, handily placed just around the corner from where we live in Stoke Newington. It's currently showing the work of 11 local artists, including mine, and open right up until Christmas, and late on Thursdays.

In the spirit of keeping it local, I have some unframed prints of our much-loved local pub The Shakespeare in Allen Road on sale inside.

Pay it a visit if you're around. It's next to Mother Earth health food shop at Albion Parade.

And follow their tweets at @n16popup.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Built in Miami

I'm back from another week working at Art Basel Miami Beach. It's the tenth fair and the years have gradually bestowed a cultural and architectural legacy on the city. At one end of the pedestrianised shopping street Lincoln Road is Herzog & de Meuron's carpark at number 1111 (right). I drew it last year, and didn't think it was finished. I drew it again last week, and still wasn't sure if it was. (It is.) Apart from the shops and the distinctive, irregular carpark, there is, apparently, a residential element, a floor for installations and a restaurant. But is there a way in?

Just off the other end of Lincoln Road, towards the beach, is Frank Gehry's New World Center for the New World Symphony Orchestra (below). Again, I haven't been in (Art Basel Miami Beach's video programme was screened on the hall's exterior during the warm evenings during fair) but it's unmistakeably finished.

Over its entrance and on its roof there are rolling forms that recall Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but otherwise its exterior has clinical straight lines. The paved footpaths across the palm tree-lined park before it are straight too - in time, the public will carve more direct and natural lines across its lawns.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

On sale this Christmas...

How about a limited edition print for a Christmas present? I have works on sale, framed and unframed, at Skylark Gallery 2 at the Oxo Tower Wharf, right next to the gorgeous River Thames (above), at the Art Agency, Esher, and at Printroom, Hampstead. More details of another venue for my work will be posted here as soon as it is confirmed.

Or you can contact me directly for more information. See more examples of my work here:

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Still showing at the Art Agency, Esher

I still have work showing in the inaugural exhibition at the Art Agency's new gallery in Esher, Surrey, which continues until 10 November.

The Art Agency
93 High Street
KT10 9QA

Right, Regent Street, digital print, £120 unframed

Sunday, 30 October 2011

My stolen bike

My black Marin Kentfield, stolen, padlocked, from the bike shed in our garden in Stoke Newington today. I'd say it was a much loved bike, but I haven't had it long since the last one was stolen.

This one I have security tagged, photographed, insured and burdened with padlocks. Will I ever see it again?* Let me know if you see it.

Frame number JB11640GJD037

* Let's face it, no.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

At the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park, 20-23 October

My work is showing on the Skylark Gallery stand (F4) at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park, London, from Thursday 20-Sunday 23 October, along with the work of nine other gallery artists. I'll be at the stand over the weekend if you're passing by. There are two Affordable Art Fairs in London this month: I'm showing at Battersea, not in Hampstead.

Need more information? Visit

And a reminder: the Art Agency's launch show at its new Esher gallery also continues until 10 November. More details here.

Monday, 10 October 2011

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

The new St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, George Gilbert Scott's mesmerising structure in north London. It's amazing what you can do with bricks.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Art Agency gallery launches 11 October

I'm exhibiting a selection of my prints in a group show of work by six artists at the launch of the Art Agency's brand new gallery in Esher, Surrey. It is having a special launch week from 11-15 October, with 10% off the price of all works. The private view is on Thursday 13 October: see details on the right to receive an invitation. The show continues until Thursday 10 November.

The Art Agency,
93 High Street,
Surrey, UK
KT10 9QA

Tel 01372 466740
Open Tues-Sun 10am to 4pm

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Featured artist at Skylark 2 until 9 October

I'm the current featured artist at Skylark 2 in the Oxo Tower Wharf on London's South Bank, until 9 October. There's more of my work on display than usually, and I'm at the gallery on Friday 30 September from 6pm to 8pm, and on Sunday 2 October, from 11am to 6pm, if you're around. Need directions? Look here.

I'm showing at the Art Agency and the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, in the next month. More details soon.

I'm tweetable: @jameshobbsart.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Port d'Addaia, Menorca

The family holiday to Menorca was thrown into doubt by daughter number two breaking her arm the week before we were due to fly out, but after an hour spent at check-in while the airline made its mind up about whether it would let her fly with her arm in plaster, we were away to the heat. Port d'Addaia, a yachty sort of place on the north coast of the island (a bit too yachty for me, to be honest) was one of the places we visited on our trips around the coast. There are fantastic, remote, unspoilt, sandy beaches around Menorca if you're prepared to walk to them.

Now it's a case of preparing for a featured artist slot at Skylark 2, a group show at the Art Agency's new gallery, and the forthcoming Affordable Art Fair at Battersea, all in the next month or so. More details here soon.

The eye is fine now, by the way. Thanks to people for their kind messages.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Blurry in Moorfields

With the arrival of some unusual floaters in my right eye on Sunday afternoon, I headed to Moorfields Eye Hospital yesterday morning, which happens to be about ten bus stops down the road from where we live. It was an eye-opening experience in more ways than one: I sat in a succession of waiting rooms (never for too long, and sometimes only for a few minutes) as I worked my way through the system, and was eventually told that my eye is only acting in the way that it may when it's been around for half a century, and that things should settle down over the next month or so. I'm heading back for scan results in about 10 days' time.

With some goop put in my eyes to numb them and to dilate the pupils, I couldn't devote my waiting time to reading the small print of the Guardian I'd naively brought with me, but drawing was surprisingly enjoyable, and the haziness of the results I can put down — in part, anyway — to my blurred vision.

This morning I awoke to a wonderful soft focus effect through my right eye, lending a romantic tinge to gritty Stoke Newington, and giving the effect you'd expect if viewing gorgeous, love-struck couples running through wheatfields hand-in-hand to soaring orchestral music. Film noir continues unabated through the left eye.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Heron Tower, Bishopsgate

While I am sitting drawing in one of the many cafes on Bishopsgate, younger daughter is on a school trip to Heron Tower, the modern tower with the zigzags in the centre of my drawing. She was whisked up with her year 5 class to the 21st floor where they met two architects who had been working on the recently opened 46-storey building. They showed them their drawings, before the children drew their own views of the city through the windows as they lay on their stomachs on the floor.

I saw some of their drawings in the school corridor a couple of days later as I waited to meet her teacher for the end-of-term report. They were great, really excellent (as was her report). Why didn't I get school trips like that? When did I last make a drawing lying on my stomach?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Coals to Newcastle

I'm back from a few days in Switzerland, where I'd been working at the vast Art Basel fair, and where business seems to suggest that the economic uncertainty of the past few years never happened. The park at Claramatte (above) is just around the corner from the exhibition halls, and filled with families and children that make me miss home in London.

Heading home, I'm going through security at the airport before I realise, too late, that I haven't transferred my penknife from my hand luggage into my suitcase. They pick it up on the scan, as they should, and then they take it from me, also as they should.

But I'd had that knife for years, a gift from Ms S. The irony is, of course, that it is Swiss customs that take from me my dear old Swiss army knife. As if they didn't have enough.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Online at BBC Your Paintings

The first 63,000 paintings from the nation's public collections have just gone online on the BBC Your Paintings website (see update below). My painting, which found its way into the Hampshire County Council Contemporary Art Collection some time after I sold it at my degree show in 1988, is among them. You can see it here.

It's still being called An Island Near the Shore on the Your Paintings website for now, a name given to it, I expect, by the mysterious A Smitt, who was credited with the work for too long. I'm hoping that it will soon return to the title I originally gave it, after due consideration and contemplation: Untitled.

I gather that the painting hung for many years in the main reception area of Hampshire County Council in Trafalgar House, Winchester, until the building closed last year, and is now in Hampshire House, Eastleigh, which is used for Children's Services staff and public meetings. I'd quite like to pop in and pay it a visit sometime. I bet A Smitt never did that.

Update: it has now been captioned correctly and BBC Your Paintings has become Art UK. Still no news of A Smitt though.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

From sea to sea

The newly opened Way of the Roses cycle route goes from Morecambe, Lancashire, on the west coast, across the Yorkshire Dales and Yorkshire Wolds to Bridlington on the east coast, 170 miles away. Ron and I had set aside four days to do it, so there was no huge rush, but it's gruelling enough in parts.

Gruelling, but fantastic. On day two, travelling from Settle to Pateley Bridge, we had 27 miles of up up up (and a burst of very fast down down down), and the several occasions we got off and pushed gave us plenty of opportunity to admire the dales in the sun.

The Way of the Roses, which opened in September 2010, follows some off-road sections and lots of backroads. Near the village of Clapham we somehow lost our way, heading off into the sunset when we should have been going eastwards (seeing, in the process, some of the most memorable landscape), and we missed a sign on the way to Driffield having come down a hill too fast (when the momentum is with you the temptation can be to go with your hunch on the right direction), but the signposting is generally great, and there's the usual sense of camaraderie and support from fellow cyclists.

On day four we set off for the coast with a severe weather warning ringing in our ears. But the wind was at our backs. This was a good way to finish the journey at Bridlington seafront, even if it was hard to stand up in the wind. Branches may have been falling from the trees, but when wind and bike are going in the same direction you enter a wonderful world of calmness and speed. Don't do this route east to west.

This blog is also posted on the Way of the Roses website.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Found in Hampshire

An email arrived out of the blue the other day from somebody at the Public Catalogue Foundation asking if I was the artist called James Hobbs who had painted the work they had attached as a jpeg (above). The disappointment at finding out I wasn't the James Hobbs they were looking for would only have been compounded by finding out there was another artist called James Hobbs, so it was a relief to find out that the painting was mine.

It was an odd sensation to see the painting again, because I hadn't seen it in nearly 23 years, since my degree show when I had sold it. I'd sold a few works at the show (although not as many as Ms S, and only on a small scale compared to what was going on at the Freeze show that was being arranged by Damien Hirst at Surrey Docks at about the same time).

The email went on to tell me that my painting was in the art collection of Hampshire County Council, and the Public Catalogue Foundation charity are in the process of photographing and recording all the paintings in public collections in the UK. It's estimated there are about 200,000 such works in buildings including council offices, hospitals and fire stations, the vast majority away from the public eye. Colour catalogues are being produced but, inevitably and essentially, they are going to be shown online too. My painting, along with all the others, will end up in time in a catalogue and on the BBC's Your Paintings website.

Four years ago I had a similar email from the Berardo Collection in Lisbon asking if four works in its collection were by me. I like the idea that you make these works and then they go off and have a life of their own. It's like bringing up children and then seeing them leave home. (I hope ours don't disappear without trace for 23 years, though.)

The most bizarre things about the past couple of decades the Hampshire painting has spent is that it has acquired a new title — An Island Near the Shore is definitely not the title I've given any painting, although my records from that time are not all they might be and the hunt goes on in the attic for its true title — and that it was apparently attributed for a while to an artist called A Smitt. How did that come about? Who is A Smitt? That's something my hunt in the attic will not sort out.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Showing with the Art Agency soon...

I'm very happy to say I'm going to showing work for the first time at the Art Agency's forthcoming Spring Show, which takes place at the Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington, Middlesex, over the long bank holiday weekend later this month (29 April-2 May). The Art Agency organises exhibitions in a range of venues in London and the south east. I'm one of five new artists being introduced at the show. For more details, see here.

Landmark Arts Centre, Ferry Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 9NN.
Open from Friday 29 April-Monday 2 May, 10am-5pm (4pm Monday).

Directions to the Landmark.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A statue for Mary Wollstonecraft?

On International Women's Day the other week a green plaque was unveiled in a square down the road in memory of writer and educator Mary Wollstonecraft on what is thought to be the site of the school she set up in the 18th century. Wollstonecraft packed a lot into her 38 years. Her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is considered one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy and led her, eventually, to be called the mother of feminism. (Is there also a father of feminism? I think probably not.)

By coming to live at Newington Green she came into contact, through Richard Price, minister of the neighbouring Dissenting Church (still functioning next to the tasty Belle Epoque patisserie), with such figures as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and Adam Smith. If you weren't radicalised before meeting this lot, you would be soon afterwards, wouldn't you? Her life was short, unconventional, and more inspirational than she could have possibly imagined.

The new plaque, which looks over the southbound bus-stop on the east side of the green, is perhaps just the beginning: a campaign is underway to erect a statue of Wollstonecraft in the square, and this recent letter to the Guardian is proof there's a lot of support for this plan.

I have a few drawings on this blog, A Vindication of the Rights of Mary, which is a good place to find out more about Wollstonecraft.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

St Pancras to Paris

There's a milestone anniversary for Ms S and I, and in a surprise and uncharacteristically romantic gesture (a surprise for me as much as for her) I arrange a short, child-free weekend away for us both, which we all somehow manage to keep as a secret from her. Once she'd made the rendezvous at St Pancras it wasn't too difficult for her to guess where we may be heading (Corby or Northampton, two other destinations from the station, for all their probable charms, were unlikely contenders), and three hours later we are in a hotel in Paris.

There isn't time to draw this on the way, or on the way back. I head back later in the week for a few hours to draw. Railway stations don't often have quiet corners, but on the upper level there are acres of space, quiet cafes and the statue of John Betjeman, the poet laureate and founding member of the Victorian Society, gazing up into the arched roof that he helped save from the demolition mob. The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, the old Midland Grand Hotel designed by George Gilbert Scott, opens next month.

Monday, 31 January 2011

The Shard: London's newest tallest building

London, Britain even, has a new tallest building. The Shard is still on the way up - this is how it looked last week - but it has already gone higher than One Canada Square at Canary Wharf. This may sound ridiculously obvious, but it really is incredibly high: to stand beneath it and look towards its disappearing summit is to look into a place where nothing, apart from the occasional feral pigeon or police helicopter, has any right to be.

Its designer, Renzo Piano of Pompidou Centre fame, has said that its top "would come to almost nothing", by which he means, I think, a point, above which will be exactly nothing. After 72 storeys, including a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck, there will be another 15 "radiator floors".

It is difficult to pass judgment on a building that isn't even finished yet, but the Shard does look a little remote from the rest of London's high-rise architecture, and I get the feeling that its glassiness and straight lines will mean it ages quickly. As I draw it from London Bridge, people continually stop, stare and photograph it. And from an unrepresentative sample of a couple of conversations with them, praise was not immediately forthcoming.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Getting ready for 2012

"Getting ready for 2012," says the sign on the hoarding around the centre of Leicester Square. There's no mention of the Olympics, which start in London in July next year, but there's the obvious implication that that's why the work is in progress. It feels as if the city is in a state of limbo in the run-up to its opening: scaffolding abounds well away from the Olympic park in east London. Quite what needs to be done to the small park of benches, and statues of the likes of Shakespeare, Chaplin and Newton to make the square suitable for spectators of synchronised swimming, beach volleyball and archery isn't obvious. But if as much attention is lavished on it as a painter is lovingly giving to putting the final touches to the black screens erected around the square, it will be worth the wait.