A Life of Magic

Monday, 6th March 2006

A Life of Magic

scalesWhile John and Helen hurtle about, rustling up a vegetable curry and a nutty, cinnamony version of traditional custard, I sit drawing their kitchen scales, useful dinner guest that I am.

We're all off to the private view of Bookmakers Inc. in Castleford, which features the work of eight local artists including me but, oddly, ommitting John.

John (Welding, that is) has just published the second in his latest series of visual diaries, A Life of Magic, 'his new project which has become his personal affirmation of change in the New Year.'

Life of Magic

Out of the Box

Finding real magic in Wakefield in the cold but dreary grey winter we've been having could challenge any artist but in this edition, John's alter ego escapes the confines of the comic strip box on a trip to Edinburgh. I like the way the story goes from crisp graphic clouds to gentler, sketchbook clouds when he and Helen get on the train and head north.

Arthur's SeatArthur's Seat

'Climbing to the top of Arthur's Seat in strong wind and freezing cold but I don't care. The views are tremendous and the sky is bright blue.'

His drawing from the summit comes over as hugely panoramic, a big glowering landscape, by comparison with his linework life in Wakefield.

In Wakefield not only are his characters bound by frames but they're often also looking through frames, like Jack, the ginger cat, on the cover, or into frames or screens, constrained by the obstacles and frustrations the city puts in your way. It's the light touch and keen eye with which he describes familiar frustrations that makes his insights, inspiration and occasional escapes feel so real. Something we all need.

As he mentions in this edition, he arranged some of the orignal sketches from issue #1 in a large frame and put on the wall in the living room. He describes it as the closest thing to 'art' he's ever done. When you see a whole frame of his drawings like that you don't initially focus the individual frames; your first impression is of jagged movement within the rhythm of the grid; the whole thing looks like the score for an jazz improvisation (well, an improvisation wouldn't have a score, but you know what I mean). Next Page


John's limited edition handmade journal is now available from OK Comics, Thornton's Arcade, Leeds, or you can contact him via his website: www.johnwelding.comix.org.uk

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk