Tablets, Mazes… and Chicken Kiev.

Now that royal wedding fever, which unaccountably united much of the nation and the more impressionable parts of the wider world in a mass outbreak of fawning, cap-doffing servility, has passed its delirious peak, the sane among us can raise our republican heads above the parapet and look forward to the much more proletarian pleasures of the Brighton Festival.

The announcement of Burmese human-rights campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi as guest director has raised the profile of this year’s festival even higher than normal. Ongoing events in the Middle-East and North Africa that have kicked-off in the meantime have made this brave and unusual choice, together with the themes of human rights and freedom of expression seem truly inspired.

My own role in this month-long carnival will once again be as a guest artist-in-residence at the Pop-up Restaurant on Whitecross Street. Last year’s experiment was apparently a huge success and, as predicted, the decision was made to repeat it again this year. As you’ll see from the restaurant website, there will be a 70s theme this year, with modern takes on classic dishes from that rather unlamented period of our culinary past. Should be interesting.

My slot will be on Saturday 21st May. I’ve been invited to work the lunch or dinner slot or both, if I’m feeling so inclined. Right now I’m thinking I might go for both. With any luck I’ll be eschewing the easel this year and instead utilising that most zeitgeisty of tools – the iPad. I say with any luck because this does depend on my device arriving from Apple in time. After much wittering on about the joys of touch-screen drawing apps on the iPod, the release of the iPad 2 finally broke what little resistance I had to shelling out for yet another gadget and now that it’s on order I can’t wait to get my grubby hands on it. It could be as late as 16th May before it finally arrives however, which would give me only four days to get set up and acquainted with the new apps before giving it a very public airing. The artistic banana-skin potential could be enormous but might also lend a certain frisson to proceedings! The idea is to then have very limited-edition or possibly one-off giclee prints made from the resulting images to go forward into the charity auction.

In preparation for my initiation into the world of the iPad, I picked up an Alupen stylus the other day. This is going to make on-screen drawing feel much more natural than using a finger and also a good deal more accurate. I intend to give it a thorough work-out on the iPod Touch over the next few days. Early impressions are very promising – it seems to do exactly what it says on the tin although the jury’s still out on the longevity of the rubber tip. We’ll see. I’ve also been playing around some more with the Quill vector-drawing app although its limitations quickly become frustrating.


One of the first apps on my list for the iPad will be Ink Pad – a vector app that from what I’ve read and seen on YouTube is much closer to a fully-functioned programme such as Adobe Illustrator and dirt-cheap to boot. It’s probably the app that’s got me salivating most copiously. Nice visual image, eh?

Work-wise, I’ve recently completed a very enjoyable job for Kellogg’s that seemed to generate more rough sketches and general paperwork than any I’ve done for a long time. It involved producing four mazes for the backs of cereal boxes. Each one had to work in its own right but all four also needed to interconnect and thus encourage Junior to pester his Mom for the other boxes in the set. By rights I should feel some sense of shame at being party to such a manipulative piece of marketeering but hey – it’s what we do. Here’s just a fraction of the resultant studio debris:

Try to make it along to the pop-up restaurant on the 21st (while I try to avoid falling flat on my face) or failing that, on some other date. The beneficiaries of this year’s artwork auction will be the Alzheimer’s Society.

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