Wilson, Keppel and Betty

The things you find when researching — from the V&A:

The term ‘eccentric dance’ on a music hall programme hid a wide range of styles. One emphasised the dancers’ legs, high kicking or out of control, often referred to as ‘legmania’.

In the 20th century Max Wall was known for his out of control lanky legs. Wilson, Keppel and Betty, also qualified as eccentric dancers. They were two decrepit, extremely thin men who performed a spoof sand dance, in vaguely Egyptian or Oriental style, wearing what appeared to be short nightshirts with tea towel headdresses or a fez.

When they performed in Berlin in the 1930s, wearing shorter skirts, Goebbels complained that their bare legs were undermining the morals of Nazi youth. There were several Bettys (the original, her daughter and her daughter) who always had to appear glamorous, but Wilson and Keppel became more and more decrepit.



Word of the day: Garniture

I have a bit of a thing for words for elements of architecture, decoration and whatnot. Today I happened across garniture, “a number or collection of any matching, but usually not identical, decorative objects intended to be displayed together”, most commonly three matching pieces for a mantelpiece, e.g. a clock and two vases. And if you ever wondered about the word for towering ornamental crap on a table that you have to peer around (or blow to pieces with your trusty shotgun) to talk to the person on the other side, it’s a surtout de table.


Little by little

The Marquis:

Delicate Donkey lifts a hoot. I wasn’t quite happy with his pose, but when I put him back on his support rod his foot was lifted a little, and now I think it looks right.


WIP: Delicate Donkey

He was going to be holding a unicorn mask, but after trying it I prefer him without. Why the camera has turned him pink I don’t know, but it suits him.

And a still very rough friend, Not a Sausage:




WIP: Le Marquis

Mary had a little goat
As hairy as a comet
She dressed it in a little coat
And christened it Baphomet

I’ve been doing an open studio for the Castlemaine State Festival, working on three pieces. This one was originally a maquette for a planned larger piece, but as I liked how he was turning out I decided to finish him. When he’s naked he’s a rough shadow in the woods; dressed up, he’s Monsieur le Marquis. Here are some in-progress shots. Looking at these, I realise I’ve lost the original shape of his coat tails, which I want to restore.









Via Gillian Polack


“…a lot of our narratives push the punching. Our TV, or books, our online chat – they all have more narratives that push for immediate emotional response than ones that push for the more complex reaction that puncher needed.

There’s another thing they give us, however. They leave out how to handle hate. They tend to favour certain groups (the white hero, for instance, the male protagonist). When they have non-white, non-male, narratives tend to have a limited range of virtuous characters, and those characters have a tendency to not carry the really debilitating emotions, the ones that so many of us carry that prevent us from playing an active part in halting the dissolution of the difficult to the dangerous to the disastrous.

I’ve begun to notice a change in this. This change is where I place some hope for the future.”



A bit of Knights Out

A bit from the start of WIP novella Knights Out:

‘Then how admirably mad,’ Gwynn amended his opinion. His look had grown a mite abstracted.

‘Indeed. Of course, Mattie sees her as a nice little windfall, though she thinks she could choose a better class of gentleman to get disenchanted with. Bless girls and their little ways, eh?’

Gwynn nodded in agreement, reaching for his cigarettes. He wondered, thumbing open the silver case, if he had not just been offered the solution to a problem that was lying on his mind.

Lighting an Auto-da-fé and inhaling at thoughtful length, he let his eyes drift up the steep hill above the street—with all the humid smog, coloured yellow by the lamps of the city, it was more an impression than a view—piles of bumptious marble and stucco blunted like ancient dolmens, traces of domes and balconies and narrow stairs, the farther up the further lost, drowned in an iodine sea—and on the other side, where the low parapet followed the edge of the terrace, with shabby palm trees spaced along it, the valley was filled with a golden gloom in which cupolas and statues on the roofs below were pasted like specimens pressed in tissue. In the road ahead were unknown companions—looking lost, too, as if they had until recently been part of a larger life form which had come to an incomplete end—shuffling along by the parapet, or groping forward with its support—one or two proceeding humbly but nimbly on all fours, like leggy novelties of the sea bed; not to disregard those over whom the promise of day held no power and who remained with the night, lying down under the palms in the truce and refuge of sleep; a humid breeze stirred the fronds above the stubborn bodies; an early rising bird cried out its heart to a vanished shore. Something beautiful was washed up, naked save for a sequinned mask and a saintly smile.

Of course it was the hour for inspiration to show up, gliding by on hypnagogic wings.

Reeling himself in, Gwynn questioned Jasper: ‘Have any of her recent affairs not ended in murder?’

Jasper gave a shrug of bullioned epaulettes. ‘Mattie didn’t mention any.’

‘Did she happen to say how the room mate rates?’

‘High enough to make her greenish—not that that takes much.’ An note of suspicion entered Jasper’s voice. ‘Planning a tragic love story?’

‘In my mind,’ said Gwynn, waving his cigarette for emphasis, ‘it’s more of a comedy. I don’t suppose Mattie would mind a little help with matchmaking?

‘I don’t suppose she would. Who’s the lucky punter?’

‘No one to worry your pretty head about. Just bring this wondrous Pharice along on a night out and I’ll call it a favour.’

Jasper turned on him with a deep scowl. ‘Aye, I’ll bring her, and kiss your pisspot too. I thought we trusted each other. I must have been thinking of someone else.’

‘Jas, I trust you with all my heart,’ Gwynn protested, laying a hand over the sparkling mineral layer to the fore of that organ, as Jasper continued to look disgusted. ‘I’m only trying to spare you a tedious exposition.’

‘Maybe I like tedious expositions. Who is it, you cagey fuck?’



When the World Was Begun

Group title: First Dance
Individual pieces: Morning (Lord of the Dance), Evening (The Magician), Midnight (In Times of Peril)
Bronze, edition of 12, 2017
32 cm /12.5″, 38 cm /15″ & 27 cm /10.5″ tall

(Pic from before I put colour on the birds and mask)