Saturday, 15 December 2018

JAGO STONE - MORE IMAGES AND THE BERTIE BARRETT STORY

At present, I am helping the Unicorn design team in preparing the images for my biography of Jago Stone that will be published on October1, 2019. As I looked through the full set, I thought it would make a great Jago post to show together all the images from one particular part of the collection that now graces the walls of our home - the six water-colours that we bought from Bertie Barrett who had been gifted them by his grandfather, Graham Newsom. Here for the first time are these Jago paintings as photographed by the talented Leo Walker of St Ives - press this link for further details of Leo and Larisa and their studio.




Untitled - Jago Stone (1971)




I can best retell the Bertie Barrett story by using the text I produced just over two years ago within two posts that I published then. Here is detail from a blog-post dated 13 November, 2016:  

It was last month, in late October, that I opened the email with the title 'The Rollright Stones'. I knew not what to expect. This time the communication came from a fifteen year old student who had discovered my 'wonderful' website and interest in Jago from a google search and wanted to know the current market value of a Jago 

Saturday, 8 December 2018

JAGO STONE - THE AMERICAN CONNECTION - PART TEN

As I have done before, this post is using material first seen in my monthly Mailchimp Newsletter about the Jago Stone research and biography. Here, the images and text come from the Newsletter for November, published on November 1 - and again, my apologies if you are familiar with the images and stories but for many readers, particularly those across the Pond, this will be a first-time read.

  If you know anyone you think might be interested in these mailings about 'Jago' do encourage them to follow the link to my website. Here it is: http://www.robdonovan-author.co.uk/JagoStone-Biography.html

You can also use this page to access my Jago Stone blogs.

Copies of 'The Road to Corbyn' can be purchased at a discount using this link: http://www.robdonovan-author.co.uk/TheRoadToCorbyn.html



In this edition, first the good news about publication. Last month, Ian Strathcarron of Unicorn Press and I signed a contract to publish 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone' (the new working title) in the autumn of 2019. A long road to get to this point but once Ian had read my submission email in mid-August and decided to follow his publisher's sense that this was worth following up, it's been a bit of a speedway. The final edit was in the second half of November and we are now at the design stage. The pre-press agreement is scheduled for June. The provisional date for publication is September 2019. Busy days ahead - this is a publishing and marketing partnership!


And as the publication trail got hotter, the American Connection links cooled - until early November. Here is the story of what then came my way from across the Pond through cyberspace in the shape of Facebook:

First, Carol Baker left these messages on my repost of 'Jago Stone - The American Connection - Part Seven' using the USAF veteran's webpage, RAF Upper Heyford Brats and Friends:


'From Washington look what I found on my mom's living room … We lived in England 74-78 in Sherington.'  Accompanying the text were these two images:



Banbury Cross, Oxfordshire - Jago Stone water-colour - 1978


How exciting to have two more images to add to the collection - and Jago paintings from 1978 have been thin on

Friday, 7 December 2018

LOUISE DONOVAN - TEXTILE ARTIST - HER 2018 EXHIBITION IN ST IVES - PART FOUR

The first three posts in this series have given a revealing insight into Louise's exhibition in the Crypt Gallery in St Ives. In this final post, I want to share some of the reactions of those who visited the gallery during that week in mid-November.

Louise and I both remember that moment when, shortly after we had opened on the first day, Jason Calder popped in to have a look and exclaimed:

'Wow! We've never seen anything quite like this here before!'

That 'Wow!' set the tone for the week - thank you, Jason. (Jason is the co-founder of the remarkable Boathouse Theatre in St Ives - press this link here for more detail.)


'Hora by Night' (2016) is viewed by our guest, Dr Julia Bush (Photography by Leo Walker)


We had a book for visitors to record their reactions before leaving and by the end of the week forty-seven comments had appeared. Many were from visitors to St Ives. Some were from those resident in

Sunday, 2 December 2018

JEREMY CORBYN MAKES PUBLIC HIS LETTER TO THERESA MAY

I came across a letter from Jeremy Corbyn, writing as the Leader of the Opposition, yesterday evening as I delved into Koser Saeed's Spotlight webpage - always an interesting trawl, and on this occasion what I found is important enough to warrant wider circulation. Hence this blog-post. 

Jeremy Corbyn - PM-in-Waiting


Jeremy Corbyn regards the matters he raises in the letter to be important enough for him to make the 

Sunday, 25 November 2018

LOUISE DONOVAN - TEXTILE ARTIST - HER 2018 EXHIBITION IN ST IVES - PART THREE

In my third post in this series of four celebrating Louise Donovan's textile art exhibition in the Crypt Gallery, St Ives (November 10-16), the focus is on two pieces that have been inspired by the Greek island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.

Louise and I first discovered Patmos in the summer of 1988 when we spent two weeks staying in the Patmian Hotel (now the Patmian Cultural Centre) by the waterfront. We loved the peace of this holy island with its important Greek Orthodox monastery at Chora (Hora), overlooking all. Next year we returned for three weeks. Since then, whenever we could afford the time and money for a vacation overseas, we have come back to Patmos for rest and recovery - and reinvigoration. Our privilege has been to savour nineteen Patmosian summers in the thirty-one years between 1988 and 2018. We have seen the island's bus driver grow old and retire, his hands no longer on the wheel. Instead, the two little children who joined him for the rides in the late 80s and 90s are now the island's bus drivers. By the 90s, the Patmian Hotel had closed and our vacations were spent in the Skala Hotel, a few metres away, where we enjoyed the perfection of being welcomed and looked after and respected, year in and year out.


The view from Chora downhill towards Skala on the island of Patmos

As a couple, we have travelled less widely than many others - but the opportunity to know local people over such a time-span has been such a gift. Michael and Elvira Kessetzis became the jewellers we always went to for a holiday purchase and soon they became our friends. The battering that the Greeks have taken from their northern European Community members has left so many people ruined; Michael has moved his business to Kos to make ends meet. Elvira and Michael's permanent

Friday, 23 November 2018

JAGO STONE - THE AMERICAN CONNECTION - PART NINE


I have a number of audiences for my Jago Stone blog-posts and one of the most important are the American readers - in particular the men and women who knew Jago the artist when they were serving their USAF tour-time in the UK at RAF Upper Heyford in the 1970s and 1980s and their children. I have been granted access to two USAF webpages and I have been reposting my series of 'JAGO STONE - THE AMERICAN CONNECTION' posts on their sites over the last few months and they have been read by over a thousand Americans and liked by eighty to date. 




Here - in AMERICAN CONNECTION - PART 9 - I am using material from an October 2018 blog post  called:'JAGO' - ANOTHER UPDATE ON THE PATH TO PUBLICATION.


This in turn was recycling material from my October Mailchimp Newsletter that had been opened by 34 subscribers. Hopefully, this will be a fruitful way to widen the circle of those who have heard the continuing good news about the path to publication and gives me the chance to tell again the Scheid family story that came my way through cyberspace. Here's the post:

'There are now, as I promised, more Jago stories and images from the other side of the Pond. Here is one that came my way in late August this year. On 22 August, 2018, Gene Scheid made contact through Facebook and gifted me a couple of images of the painting that Jago had made of the family house in West Adderbury, Oxfordshire. In response to my request for more detail and stories, Gene replied: 'Sure! My mother, Roxann Cummings Scheid has a great story how he came about painting this for us and I am sure she would be happy to share.' Here is Roxann's tale (dated 29/08/2018): 
'Absolutely! I've been meaning to get on and tell you! I loved this man. When we moved there wasn't much television. It was shortly after they had added the "Breakfast Shows" and Jago was one of the featured guests on one of these shows. He told about his painting of Sulgrave Manor. He did it for the Flying Tigers to present to the President. My memory is cloudy about this next part but I believe it was for Gerald Ford.' [Yes - the year was 1976 and it was Jago's gift to mark the bicentennial of the founding of the USA. Sulgrave Manor was the ancestral home of George Washington and not far from Upper Heyford.]




'At the time I saw this broadcast it was still hanging in the White House. I was so taken by his story that I researched how to contact him. I asked him to paint our first home in England - #1 St Amends, West Adderbury. Now we were living on Whitley Drive on RAF Upper Heyford. We commissioned him for this piece, he did it - and 

brought it to our home. Money was never discussed. This would have been around 1982. [The painting is dated 

Thursday, 22 November 2018

LOUISE DONOVAN - TEXTILE ARTIST - HER 2018 EXHIBITION IN ST IVES - PART TWO

In my second post in this series of four celebrating Louise Donovan's exhibition in the Crypt Gallery in St Ives, Cornwall (November 10-16), my focus is on Louise's political textile art. In the first post - press this link here - 'The March for the Alternative' (2012) was highlighted. Now, in this blog-post, there are two more examples of political textile art from the exhibition that warrant closer attention.

First, here is the piece that Louise exhibited in the NEC Birmingham in 2015 at the annual Festival of Quilts: 'Gaza' (2015).


Gaza - Louise Donovan (2015)


The original inspiration for this work came from a newspaper cutting - a Sunday colour magazine page - that showed a devastated urban landscape in Gaza, the buildings flattened, with one piece of red, velvety fabric covering a pile of house debris in an otherwise grey picture of devastation. That image is lost. The picture below carries a similar message of hope and life amid the destruction - red

Sunday, 18 November 2018

LOUISE DONOVAN - TEXTILE ARTIST - HER 2018 EXHIBITION IN ST IVES - PART ONE

Louise Donovan is my wife but put that relationship to one side and enjoy her works of art for what they are - the fruit of a singular talent who combines a striking command of colour and form in her abstract textile art with the traditional stitching by hand that means each piece emerges from many hours of loving work.


The March for the Alternative - Louise Donovan (2012)

This is the break-through piece when Louise becomes the textile artist, creating in abstract form the real events and feelings of an historic event in 2011 - the mass protest against Austerity. 

Her first solo exhibition has just drawn to a close here in St Ives at the Crypt Gallery, Norway Square. It ran from the 10th to 16th of November - seven hours a day for seven days; 49 hours of

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

JAGO STONE - MORE PALETTE-KNIFE PAINTINGS DISCOVERED

Some of the material for this post was first published at the beginning of November in the Jago Stone monthly newsletter. I am, as ever, seeking to widen the circulation of news about the research into his life and the forthcoming biography.

'And as the publication trail got hotter, the American Connection links cooled - until the last few days. Here is the story of what has come my way from across the Pond through cyberspace in the shape of Facebook:

Three days ago, Carol Baker left these messages on my repost of 'Jago Stone - The American Connection - Part Seven' using the USAF veteran's webpage: RAF Upper Heyford Brats and Friends:
'From Washington look what I found on my mom's living room … We lived in England 74-78 in Sherington.'  Accompanying the text were these two images:



Banbury Cross, Oxfordshire - Jago Stone water-colour - 1978


How exciting to have two more images to add to the collection - and Jago paintings from 1978 have been thin on the ground. 



Cottages at Wroxton St Mary - Jago Stone water-colour - 1978


Yesterday, the commentary at the bottom of the reposted American Connection - Part Seven was further enriched by this message from Dianna DAiello:

'My dad has 2 pictures from Jago Stone, one has my name in it. He painted them in our living room. I remember that he was a very interesting man. I will send pictures to you today, I'm at my dad's now.'

And there they were. Two magnificent Jago Stone palette-knife paintings from 1976, the same year that Jago painted the palette-knife now in the collection of Keith and Joan Goodenough in Virginia - see my two palette-knife blog-posts on my website, using these links: 

robdonovan.blogspot.com/2018/03/jago-stone-prize-winning-palette-knife.html






As Jessica Raber, the American artist who appeared in a Jago painting aged 5, commented yesterday when she saw these images: 'Wow! Cool palette knife pieces!'



I am blown away by being gifted these images and seeing yet more of Jago at his 'post-prison expressionist best.

I obviously hope for more detail and stories and sharper images - but I am so grateful for what I have got - and the opportunity I now have to share this find with you, my Mailchimp readers.' 

And so the news is recycled to wider audiences still.  

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

THE ROAD TO CORBYN VINDICATED

This post has been inspired by an article in the London Review of Books (LRB). Regular readers of my posts will not be surprised at this link between the LRB and my blogsphere. James Meek, for instance, is a LRB contributor who shaped one of my posts in 2016 - see this link here. Getting on for three years later, his anger at Tory misgovernment and mine still meld well. As does my anger and the academic analysis of Simon Wren-Lewis, emeritus professor of economics at Oxford, whose review article of Adam Tooze's 'Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crisis Changed the World' appeared in the LRB edition of 25 October 2018.




Simon Wren-Lewis provides a number of statements of economic understanding that are shared by many other academics. They deserve as wide a currency as possible. This post is one instrument in addressing that need to circulate the truth. Only the other day, I read the words of one Tory minister who had been programmed to repeat the lie that the financial crash of 2018 was due to Labour misgovernment and excessive public borrowing. Fake news, as they say these days, and here's a summary of Simon Wren-Lewis to show why:

  • What the West experienced in 2008 - the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) - was a global bank run, a complete collapse of interbank credit. 'Never before', as Tooze writes, 'not even in the 1930s, had such a large and interconnected system come so close to total implosion'.     
  • It was only the often frantic interventions of central banks and governments that mitigated the impact of the crisis. [RD - The Labour Government with Gordon Brown as PM and Alistair Darling as Chancellor of the Exchequer were vital to that rescue operation]
  • The implosion was triggered by events in the US, but … the more fundamental reason for the collapse was that the transatlantic banking system, which is in practice a 'tight-knit corporate oligarchy' of around 25 global banks, had left itself without buffers sufficiently robust to cushion it against local shocks. The banks had become highly leveraged: they had loaned far too much money compared to their capital and so they couldn't cover the total amount of loans going bad.  

  • It is taken for granted by many [moulded by Conservative ignorance, or misjudgement, or simple lies] that the collapse of the UK banking system reflected a crisis originating in UK borrowing, and that people and governments before the GFC must have indulged in overspending. That is simply not the case. 
  • The UK banking system got into trouble because it had far too little capital compared to the size of its loan book, and the loans that went bad were not to UK residents or firms. Northern Rock collapsed because it got its money for loans from short-term borrowing on the global interbank market rather than from domestic savers, and in 2007 those loans dried up. 
  • The GFC was a regulatory failure not just in the sense that an overleveraged transatlantic banking system was allowed to develop in the first place, but also in the sense that the warning signs in the mid-2000s were ignored - by the Bank of England and the national regulator and politicians of all parties. 

  • The Fed and the US Treasury did respond through bail-outs in a way that rescued the system across the Atlantic. In contrast, European politicians talked and acted as if it were a government debt crisis rather than a banking crisis and there was a widespread adoption of austerity policies in the Eurozone. This in turn was the main cause of a second Eurozone recession in 2012, which - in Tooze's words - 'through wilful policy choices ' drove up unemployment across Europe. 'It is a spectacle that ought to inspire outrage. Millions have suffered for no good reason. ' [My italics]  
  • In this story, the UK mirrored the worthwhile policies of the United States from 2008 to 2010. The UK economy was beginning to recover from the GFC under the guidance of the Labour government. Then, the newly elected Conservative-led government switched the UK onto the Eurozone's path of austerity. [As Jeremy Corbyn has said time and time again, 'Austerity was never an economic necessity, it was always a political choice'. Remember - millions have suffered for no good reason. Be outraged!] 

  • And now for the Trump and Brexit conclusions to this story of appalling misgovernment. In the US, although the policymakers succeeded in preventing an outcome worse than the Depression, they did so by fixing Wall Street much more than Main Street. There was modest growth after the crisis, but much of it went to the 1 per cent, not the 99 per cent. 
  • In the UK, Tory austerity also led to the weakest economic recovery in at least a hundred years. [Keep seeing this sentence whenever you see and hear a Tory minister boasting about what a wonderful state the economy is in because of their policies.] 

  • All this provided the fuel for populism to emerge as a serious political force. The implementation of austerity meant denying help to millions of people. To carry that off required politicians and influential parts of the media to ignore or actively suppress expert consensus (as well as the overwhelming evidence on which it is based) that austerity is harmful and unnecessary. In other words, a political deceit with huge costs to the economy was enacted in order to achieve a political or ideological goal. 
The consequences have been the people's revenge. Alienation has produced Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK. 



And at every stage, Jeremy Corbyn and like-minded socialists have been calling it right - speaking words of truth to the wealthy and powerful. Do get a copy of my 'The Road to Corbyn'. Give it as a present to young people you know. Read it yourself. Spread the message. Expose the lies. Here's the link to press:
   

Friday, 19 October 2018

'JAGO' - ANOTHER UPDATE ON THE PATH TO PUBLICATION

In this post I am recycling material from my October Mailchimp Newsletter that has been opened by 34 subscribers to date. Hopefully, this will be a fruitful way to widen the circle of those who have heard the continuing good news about the path to publication:

'There are now, as I promised, more Jago stories and images from the other side of the Pond. Here is one that came my way in late August this year. On 22 August, 2018, Gene Scheid made contact through Facebook and gifted me a couple of images of the painting that Jago had made of the family house in West Adderbury, Oxfordshire. In response to my request for more detail and stories, Gene replied: 'Sure! My mother, Roxann Cummings Scheid has a great story how he came about painting this for us and I am sure she would be happy to share.' Here is Roxann's tale (dated 29/08/2018): 
'Absolutely! I've been meaning to get on and tell you! I loved this man. When we moved there wasn't much television. It was shortly after they had added the "Breakfast Shows" and Jago was one of the featured guests on one of these shows. He told about his painting of Sulgrave Manor. He did it for the Flying Tigers to present to the President. My memory is cloudy about this next part but I believe it was for Gerald Ford.' [Yes - the year was 1976 and it was Jago's gift to mark the bicentennial of the founding of the USA. Sulgrave Manor was the ancestral home of George Washington and not far from Upper Heyford.]




'At the time I saw this broadcast it was still hanging in the White House. I was so taken by his story that I researched how to contact him. I asked him to paint our first home in England - #1 St Amends, West Adderbury. Now we were living on Whitley Drive on RAF Upper Heyford. We commissioned him for this piece, he did it - and 

Saturday, 29 September 2018

A PERUVIAN ADVENTURE FEATURING BERTIE BARRETT - WITH A JAGO STONE LINK

I explained about Bertie Barrett's part in the Jago Stone story in a couple of blogposts back in November and December 2016. Here are the links to them:

robdonovan.blogspot.com/2016/11/jago-stone-news-of-oxford-discovery-and.html


robdonovan.blogspot.com/2016/12/jago-stone-more-on-oxford-discovery-and.html




And here is a section from the second of these posts:

'I promised to put more flesh on the bare bones of the story of the Oxford discovery I told in the blog on November 13 a few weeks ago and now I have permissions. The enterprising teenager whose Peruvian adventure holiday is being partly funded by the sale of Jago Stone paintings is Bertie Barrett. Louise and I have had the pleasure of meeting Bertie in person, with mum and dad and younger brother. A lovely family! We wish Bertie well in his future and hope and trust that he follows his dreams and achieves his ambitions. Watch 


Sunday, 23 September 2018

'JAGO' - THE BOOK - AND PUBLICATION

Louise and I returned yesterday from our Greek vacation on the island of Patmos in the Aegean - and there will be a post on that regenerating experience in a few days. This post is designed to widen the circle of those who know what happened with respect to my yet-to-be published biography of Jago Stone in the fortnight before we left for Greece at the beginning of September - and to whet the collective appetite for more updates. Here is what the subscribers to my September Mailchimp Newsletter have read:

'AND SO TO THE POSSIBLY VERY GOOD NEWS:
At the beginning of last week - on Monday August 20 - I dispatched Submission No.28, the last in the long list of attempts to interest first literary editors and now publishers that I have been conducting since March of this year. Six months of frustration. Now it would be self-publication - not ideal but at least the story of Jago would see the light of day.



  Monday afternoon, an email appeared from the Chairman of Unicorn Press - the recipient of Submission No.28 - saying my proposal looked interesting - please send 'what I had got'. A WeTransfer sent him my completed biography - 'Jago'  - in a file. He downloaded early next morning, did a publisher's read on a train journey that day - and emailed me at teatime. The communication was headed 'Jago Lives'. I opened and read: '...read enough to see … it is a good story well told, and I like the use of images and the cyber angle … No reason for it not to do well if marketed properly.'
We arranged a meeting in the cafĂ© at Waterstone's in Piccadilly, London, for the following Tuesday. Thus,  two 


Monday, 27 August 2018

DEATH, GRIEF, AND ART - PEDYR PRIOR AND MARY FLETCHER

Around three months ago, in May this year, I was canvassing on behalf of Pedyr Prior, our Labour candidate in a St Ives town council by-election. In the end, the Conservative vote was too strong. But we in the Labour Party locally gave it our best shot and Pedyr came close. Pedyr was our man - respected and seasoned and tough. Chair of the Cornwall Labour Forum. He had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy, even as he led his team of canvassers. The medical prognosis looked good.

Suddenly, the word came that Pedyr had taken a turn for the worse. He had had an adverse reaction to his fifth session of chemotherapy. Three weeks later, Pedyr passed away. On 25 June, we attended with many others his funeral at Treswithian Downs crematorium.




This blog-post is my tribute to Pedyr through the paintings and poetry of his wife, the St Ives artist Mary Fletcher. Mary has expressed her grieving through these images created on her iPad and in the words of her poems. I hold these images and word in high regard and am so pleased to play my part in helping them reach a wider audience.

                                     
                                     I  wake alone



                                     heart thumping



                                     pain through all my veins



                                     wobbly



                                     uncertain



                                     likely to pitch over



                                     can't drive



                                     can't survive

                                     can't see a way



                                     without you and don't want to



                                     Grief won't kill me though




                                     I asked it to.





                                                                                   Bagatelle.





                                    In love for so long, two sides of a calm quiet arch all held together, all happy and dancing.

                                    Balanced and sure, sweet and strong 

                                    Aware of this fragile fortune.

                                    And

                                    Now 

                                    He is dead so quickly, three weeks of suffering and hope and longing

                                    I'm left,  a loose marble shot out in a moment to rattle around so painfully

                                    Ricocheting stupidly, salted with crying
                                    Lost and lonely

                                    Afraid of everything 

                                    on my own.






                                    The palliative care team, the death squad

                                    invite you to choose a day to die.

                                    But we hung on to hope two more weeks.







                                                 Yes I hear you talking
                                                 something about plants
                                                 watering
                                                 or something else
                                                 Its like a film in the next room
                                                 Its like I'm behind glass
                                                 screaming
                                                 and you go on talking
                                                 about your happy life
                                                 about how life goes on
                                                 and I am behind glass
                                                 stuck in grief
                                                 drowning
                                                 hating it.





                                                    We made a circle

                                                    a strong fortress

                                                    and now its broken

                                                    and I am toppling.



                                                   A ruined broken circle

                                                   demolished

                                                   salt soaked

                                                   bombed

                                                   perilous

                                                   terror.





                                                       Tell Richard Gere I'm free

                                                       My husband died quite recently

                                                       I need someone to dance with me

                                                       I need someone to love me who I love

                                                       So much it makes me want to die

                                                       To whom I cannot say goodbye.

                                                       But if Richard should call by

                                                       One short waltz will do

                                                       I can pretend it's you.