When I first began writing my autobiography I naturally began at Chapter 1 which is here on my website titled ‘Memoirs of a child in care’.
I wanted my story to be as honest as possible and so one of the first things I needed to do was track down my birth mother which I did to a small flat in Uttoxeter. Bizarrely she had quite a lot of photos dotted around the flat of me as a small platinum haired little boy and pointed at them saying ‘That’s Alan’. However she did have occasional lucid moments and during one of these I asked her why she had put me in a children’s home.
She replied that in those days everything was means tested and that she was only given eight Bob a week (40pence) to keep me. One day she walked into the Social Services office and plonked me on the counter. “I can’t keep him on eight Bob a week, you do it” she said, and walked out.
At the time of that conversation I was in a very different psychological place to where I am now; my sense of humour could be particularly cruel and to laugh at something like that then was a coping mechanism for me.
Naturally these days I wouldn’t see a scenario like that funny at all and as a children’s worker for many years I have often actively prevented adults saying things in front of youngsters that I feel may cause them emotional harm? This ink painting was how I coped with my feelings at that time.
I’ve finally uploaded 120 of my (J.L.) cartoon strips and decided to leave that project alone for a while; there are many more but I want to look at what else is in my art collection to showcase a bit of diversity’
Pushing 60 I get the feeling that my rock and roll days may now be fond memories of the past and so I’m needing to focus on what I can feasibly do with myself in the future. Just digging through my back catalogue of art has been very inspirational, so much so that readers may see my website change to become a bit more Arty through the year; and without giving too much away I have to say I’ve begun sharpening my pencil because sometimes I get the feeling I know where I’m going.
I’d promised myself that I wasn’t going to delve into my old Art suitcase but curiosity got the better of me and when I opened it I found this little gem. It’s a piece of quarter inch plywood about eight inches by four inches, smeared with poly-filler and then scratched into while still wet.
I remember the day I made this clearly; Carol and I were youth workers and we took a group of disabled children to Chatsworth Park in Derbyshire for an art taster day. This activity was one of several we facilitated but the kids particularly enjoyed the tactile element – some used their fingers to make their painting..
Historically this art work is very poignant for me because it shows me that the idea for my cartoon strip J.L. was in my mind two years before I began to draw it. For those readers who haven’t seen that cartoon strip and would like to just click on the link below (or above) where I am uploading the stories.
As a working artist for the past 35 years I don’t get too excited when people ask me if they can publish my artwork; if something to the good is going to happen then Jai Ho it will and it is always nice when it does. With retirement coming ever closer I must say I’m not adversed to picking up a pencil again and honing the old skills – after all a guy has to earn a crust.
Strangely enough my last post on here was about some old artwork of mine that I had dug out and said that I was going to digitalise although my reason for that was purely personal in that I could add said work to my on-line gallery. It seems that post must have pushed someone’s button as you can see from the pasting below. Maybe the natural flow of life is that as you get older you end up back at where you started from; those who have read my biography will know what I’m talking about – the boy with the crayons?
Anyway this particular magazine based in LA USA looks like a really great opportunity for friends on the other side of the pond (and beyond) to enjoy the scribbles and splashings of an auld Geordie Boy so I’ve replied to their mail. As soon as I know anything – you will.
Over the past week I’ve been having many conversations with the residents of a little village in Northumberland which I always refer to as my hometown called Stonehaugh. The chatter has been very heart warming for me and even though I have never met any of them it’s almost as though we speak a language all of our own. By that I mean we have that very special thing in common which almost defines the difference between a community and an extended family – affinity.
This painting is a self portrait depicting me during my time in children’s homes after having been taken into care from Stonehaugh in 1956 at age 18 months. As a Child Care Professional (now) and having studied childhood attachments I have a greater understanding these days why I make my regular pilgrimage back to Stonehaugh and even now when I look at this painting (57 years after the event took place) I know exactly what I was feeling – such was the pain that transition caused.
The painting is called ‘Boy from Stonehaugh’ and if you’d like to catch up on the conversations I’ve been having with the residents of this beautiful little village just click on the Stonehaugh page above.
I think I’ve done all I wanted to with this now so I’ll just wait for it to dry and then give it a spray of varnish. I hope my friend likes it. Since the sun has now come out I feel a spell in the garden coming on. Hope you all have as nice a day as I’m anticipating, and don’t forget…even turtles need love x
Today has been really relaxing. I’ve spent most of it with my beloved Mowgli who seems under the weather and quite low. I think he is missing the stimulation and freedom he had on our recent trip to Wales. He’s not bothered about walks and is eating very little so I’m keeping a close eye on him in case something more sinister is going on. I pray not.
Out in the garden I’ve planted a bed of dahlias which should be up sometime in August I would think. It was so sunny in the garden that I also managed to base a painting I have promised for some friends by June 1st.
All told I’ve had a really chilled day which finished with me winning an item I bid on on eBay. I’m glad it’s been so nice because tomorrow I have the dentist 😦