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.'
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.
'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).
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, email@example.com