"Not all those who wander are lost" JR Tolkien
I've wandered quite a bit this last year, and I still feel as lost as I did a year ago - actually no, I have progressed - a wee bit less lost I reckon- so maybe JR has a point. It's exactly a year since I left the tranquility of Spanish life for a bigger challenge and it hasn't disappointed.
I started in Delhi, an incredible city, full of road cows, no laned semi-cars, motorbikes and general human flotsum and jetsum carrying 20 feet towers of rubbish which stinks and honks like a rarely changed cat litter tray and sounds like 7th Avenue New York traffic in the middle of a herd of cattle trying to get through.
From Delhi, I went on a bit of a pilgrimage to Varanasi, allegedly the oldest city in the world. Hindus believe that if you die in Varanasi, you will be given the gift of eternal life, certainly that you will escape the eternal cycle of birth and re-birth, and that is where they go to die.
To me it seemed a little contrived to get on a train in the final days of your life in search of the eternal, but hats off to forward planning.. It is where the families cremate their (dead) relatives and the famous steps are the stairways to heaven. Really an incredible sight and smell - and not as freaky as you would think - it all seems quite normal once actually there.
The Ganges allegedly has the power to cleanse you of your sins. There were hundreds of pilgims there bathing in the river - I dipped my toe in, didn't go the whole hog - it looked truly filthy, which may have contributed to my occasional sinning this year, and a distinct impression that those sins of previous years are still with me.. Next time I'm going in - all the way...
From the holy waters of the Ganges to the not so holy waters of the River Spree in Berlin, which has probably witnessed some of the biggest debauchery on Earth. I had a wonderful time in Berlin, setting up studio for a few months in a puppetmaking workshop and living in a very strange street called Man Devil Strasse, together with an electric organ and a shrine - ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies...
From the Spree I traversed the Atlantic to the Hudson in New York, where I still am, snow mountaining outside, drinking a Manhattanly overpriced Merlot in a Manhattanly overpriced very dark apartment. However, the city has been a constant source of energy for my work and a constant source of inspiration life-wise. It is a city of endless human possibilities, and I fear something of an addiction. Being something of an addicitive character, I'm not sure if I will be able to leave it behind..
Although extremely restless as ever - I drink too much diet coke and smoke too many fags not to be - I am looking forward to a big fat rest. My first engagement of 2010 is as a bridesmaid in South Africa - an unusual thing for me, my motto being "Never The Bridesmaid, Please God Never The Bride". However it is a very special bride, so I shall rise to the challenge and try to restrain my wilder side up/down/over/from behind the aisle..
I would like to sincerely thank all my readers, my amazing friends around the world who deal with all my shit and most of all, those who follow and collect my work and whose continued support enables me to continue to travel, learn, develop and, most importantly, keep on producing work.
I would be delighted to see anyone that can join me for a glass of champagne on the evening of February 4th - you should get there early, I may have downed it all.
Flying Colours Gallery, 6 Burnsall Street, Chelsea, London for my latest offerings, "New Drawings from New York".
I will be in the posh bar nextdoor afterwards to see if I can get kicked out again like I did 2 years ago for unsuitable behaviour. I don't go down well in Chelsea - it should be a good night. Can't wait!