31 July 2011


Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw.
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 

I love plain, uncluttered white rooms, such as this one in the Museum of Modern Art in Bonn.

It was an hour before closing time when I arrived (one day in September 2008) and I had most of the white rooms of portraits to myself. There were many German Expressionist paintings and contemporary conceptual pieces. The gallery itself was perfectly plain and clinically white, with white daylight evenly illuminating the rooms from scientifically arranged windows above, so that the well-spaced canvases in the deserted rooms looked as if they had been taken from the hurly-burly of the artists’ studios and sectioned under some benign Bonn Mental and Artistic Health Act.

The stout man in the red jumper was a security attendant and kept emerging kinetically round corners as he kept his eye on me.

I encountered more clinical white galleries and ‘sectioned’ art in Munich.

I have designed theatrical shows for minimalist white rooms, though I have never possessed one in life. Yet one unremarkable, far from white room, in which I spent an hour or so once, seemed to have been the spiritual home that had been awaiting me and into which I had stumbled without a search. I was preparing for an appearance at the custom-built amateur theatre in Bradford, which I knew well from my amateur days, a pearl amongst ‘little theatres’. I knew where the small paint shop and scene dock was and, needing to touch up a piece of my scenery, I nipped down and found some scenic paint and a brush and got to work amid the general scenic clutter of ladders and flats, stored props and cans of paint, and felt suddenly that I could make a life’s work in this room.

23 July 2011


Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
                                                                                             Oscar Wilde

As promised, a new cinematic concoction:

18 July 2011


                    My purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
                              Tennyson, Ulysses

I can’t decide whether the Brushes app is a red herring in my career as a part-time painter or not. The iPhone ‘paintings’ I did, partly whilst travelling on the Tube to and from London Bridge and Antigone, were absorbing and made the time fly. I think my attempt on iPad to realize an illusory childhood vision of mountains, which I was disappointed to learn were ‘all clouds and sunset’ as my mother explained, is one I should make again in real paint. (N.B. As a boy soprano at Rehoboth Methodist Chapel I would sing Mendelssohn’s ‘Oh! For the wings of a dove’.)

My gallery seat [in the Alhambra Theatre] afforded me the best view of Bradford, and indeed of life, I’d ever had – not counting a magnificent range of hills and mountains bathed in pink and golden light, which had revealed itself one evening a year or two earlier, down the cobbled road at the corner of our street of back-to-backs, soaring up on the other side of the railway lines and beyond Bowling Park. I fully expected to be reaching the foothills next morning and exploring the streets and lanes, where, I imagined, donkeys pulled carts up through quaint mountain villages. I was thrilled that, after all, the great and beautiful world I’d become aware of by repute had turned out to be only a tram ride away. But no; the journey was impossible, as my mother explained when I persuaded her to come out to the corner and look: ‘It’s only made of clouds and sunset, Edward.’ (From Slim Chances)

This partial preview of Sara Kestelman as Coco may seem coy, but I am saving up the whole iPad portrait to accompany a written piece.

15 July 2011


This is not the foreshadowed new film, but a pithy sequel to my first good-humoured urban lament, which seemed to strike a chord. Once again filmed covertly on location.

11 July 2011


Thank you for your warm appreciation of last week’s excerpt from my National Theatre Platform in March. Here is another, from the final few minutes:

‘Comedy’, after I had just applied the final brushstrokes.
Kathleen and I have a new film ‘in the works’, which we hope to share with you soon.

05 July 2011


The National Theatre Archive has made available to me a recording of my Platform in March to launch Slim Chances. Two cameras were lurking in the upper reaches of the Cottesloe as I performed ‘in the round’ to a full house.

Was it in the attic that I bumped the back of my head? The evidence should have been covered with make-up, but I had no dresser to check me front and back before I went on in improvisatory mode at six o’clock … onto the set of The Holy Rosenbergs due to be performed that night – a living room in Edgware, North West London.

Here is an excerpt or two from the forty-five minute Platform. (As the volume is slightly challenged, the video might best be heard through earphones or external speakers.)

I would just like to say in closing that I read all your comments each week and find them touching and encouraging by turns.

Just a reminder that signed copies of Slim Chances are available from Edwardwebsite along with a limited-edition pack of postcards and greeting cards produced for his Burgh House exhibition.