Art for art’s sake

One of the many things you learn at university (or can learn) is how to be pretentious.

So mixing with an arty and somewhat posh set (some of whom were quite well-off), I sucked up artistic aspirations. Not just that, my degree happened to look at art too. The archaeology aspect of it looked at the most brilliant art and architecture from the glorious period of the Roman empire.

One holiday – one of those lovely endless university ones – I took myself off to London and the Courtauld Institute. Some of my friends had raved about it, so I thought I had better get up to speed. Although perhaps best known for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings it has excellent collections from a number of periods and styles. And truth was, that it was rather nice, so I bought me three Turner prints.

I liked Turner. Moody, vague, ethereal, not all there. Suited me down to the ground.

My new arty self found a local picture framer and I had them framed in silver with non-reflecting glass. Sadly one of them broke at some point a few years ago, and I only had the glass replaced last week.

‘The frame could do with replacing,’ said your man in the shop just up the street from me, a most convenient location.

I’m not sure why he mentioned it when I collected it. Somewhat late in the day.

‘Well yes, but you didn’t have a silver frame like that when I brought it in, and I also have two others that form part of a set and are equally distressed.’

End of discussion.

So it went happily back to the finca this weekend to join its colleagues, or siblings or whatever similar prints are called.

New glass and back on the wall – Colchester
Small companion Turner print – Heaped thundercloud over sea and land
Medium-sized companion print – Dawn after the wreck

Just before we were about to leave for the finca, I remembered I had promised to take another photo back for my neighbours.

In the May Romería, I had taken a photo of their grandson.

One of my internet pals offered to fiddle with it. I’ve written on other posts that I rarely fiddle with photos. I do like cropping some photos, but that’s because I spent a while learning how to get maximum impact from a cropped photo on a sub-editing course. But basically most of my photos are as they were taken, apart from some that I may darken from to time – too much sunlight here! I like the idea that they are a record, a tiny piece of history. Manipulating them is like re-writing history. It is no longer a record but creative art.

Before (left) and after (right)

This was different. To me this was more like a portrait for someone, and getting rid of extraneous clutter was perfect. I love what she did with it. So did my neighbours. When I took the first photo back I thought there was going to be a fight between the mother and the grandmother about who got it, so I needed to print off another one which I finally remembered to do about ten minutes before leaving Gib.

So it cost me some ink from colour print cartridges and some glossy paper. The first time, they asked me how much they owed me. How embarassing. This time, I got seven tomatoes, four huge courgettes and 16 pimientos. Much easier.

Freshly picked pimientos and tomatoes

In these times of economic crisis, austerity measures, global uncertainty (unless you are a rich banker of course) and all the rest of it, it’s important to focus on the big issues in life.

Dog excrement (this is my polite blog hence the long word) all over the pavement is clearly a big one for a lot of people. As we dutifully pick up after our dog, I can honestly say, it isn’t my fault. What annoys me about the people who don’t pick up is that it gives the rest of us a bad name. In fact what annoys me most, is people who think they have to pick up from the pavement, but not on gardens, because people don’t walk on there.

Honestly. Who do they think does the gardening? There you are, meant to be doing a nice interesting job working with plants, trees, flowers, and you spend half your time cleaning up after someone else’s dog. Not good.

But what is just as annoying, and never seems to get any publicity – is cats using MY garden as THEIR personal toilet area. Like the poor old Gib gardeners cleaning up after someone else’s dog, I’m cleaning up after someone else’s cat. And not even getting paid for it.

Having covered the vast majority of remotely bare soil in plant pots with wire to prevent them jumping on there, we discovered the ingenious little wretches had turned their paws to my olive trees. Front paws in one pot and back paws in another. More wiring was called for on Sunday morning.

Protecting the olive trees from pesky cats

However I will end on a sunny note.

Western Beach in Gibraltar as we approached the frontier on Sunday afternoon.

Enjoying the summer at Western Beach

45 comments on “Art for art’s sake

  1. Oh cropping is a joy – I love it! As for crapping [cats in my garden] – I’m not very keen… I try to discourage the buggers with a high power water pistol… What fun!


    • And yes, what a difference a vowel makes to a single word. Like you, I so love a good crop. Cats are fine. Just not in my garden. I think one of our neighbours used to use an air gun….. :(


  2. Good post – A real pot pourri this one.
    Art – I’m such a philistine and the only picture on my wall is the Charge of the Royal Scots Greys at Waterloo by Lady Elizabeth Butler. but I do like some of the Impressionists – especially Renoir.
    Editing photos – like you I will do this occasionally to remove TV aerials etc. but it doesn’t impress me when people boast about how they have e-manipulated an image – a photo should be what is seen by the naked eye not photo-shop!
    Bartering – those vegetables look wonderful!
    Dog poo – I’m not even going to go there!
    Cat poo – disgusting, I used to be a cat lover but I’m getting over it! Have you tried one of those electronic devices or cat pepper?
    Beaches – I am looking forward to my holiday in Corfu!


    • Thanks, there was a vague sense of continuity (to my mind at any rate) but I didn’t feel like spelling it out! I suppose I could have called it, ‘some more of what I did at the weekend’, but that wasn’t quite as catchy. I decided not to add a 10cc clip either.

      I had a Monet poster on my wall at university and later, I bought a Pisarro print but had to leave that behind in our first house as it covered a hole in the wall….

      Your sole painting is quite nice. Lots of life and movement in it. Unlike Impressionist ones which invariably seem to exude sleepiness.

      You fiddle more than I do then, I don’t even bother removing TV aerials. Or whatever. I did think the photoshopping of the portrait-style pic that was done for me was a real improvement in terms of a family photo.

      I do read some photoblogs to find out what people are up to. And frequently wonder what is the added value? I like the ones where they show the before and after so you can see how little difference there is – and not necessarily any improvement.

      As for the veg, all the tomatoes are gone. And I’m halfway through the courgettes and pimientos. Free veg are great. It makes my day!

      Cat pepper is a good idea. I might look at getting something like that. I’ll probably need to get it mail order. Not really the sort of thing Spaniards spend money on. Not where I live anyway. Just did a quick search and found chicken wire (as in the photo above) is also highly recommended. Or stone mulch.

      Beaches are ok for free swimming in the sea and walking on. I couldn’t hack sitting around all day, but it’s nice to see other people enjoying themselves on a Sunday afternoon.


        • Perhaps they did. Mine was pink. As was my bedroom at home. I am so not pink now though.

          Bleach and dogs? I doubt it. Doesn’t sound very animal friendly. Apparently you can use domestic cayenne pepper for cats but it can be toxic so that’s another no-no. I don’t actually want to kill them off, Pippa might, but I have a conscience of sorts.

          We have been known to walk down to the beach with a couple of bottles of beer. Trouble is you need to drink it straight away or it gets warm.. and then, there is nothing left to drink :D


          • My granddaughter likes pink!
            The bleach thing – I don’t think I made this up or dreamt it- someone told me I’m sure. In Spain if you catch a dog weeing up your front door step you spray it with bleach. This isn’t very nice and not something a dog forgets so after that you put a bleach bottle on the doorstep and when it comes by next time it thinks (dogs are quite smart – I concede) F**K that, I don’t want to have to lick that nasty stuff off again I ‘ll hang on & take a piss elsewhere! I’m sure it’s true – I have seen bleach bottles on doorsteps.
            Cats are smart too – if you catch them crapping in your pots just do something to scare them and they won’t come back – cat pepper is better though! Can’t see how cayenne pepper is toxic?


          • Actually my neighbour just has bottles of water on his doorstep. But as people ie women, mop everything daily inside and out, it’s irrelevant in the way as everywhere is full of cleaning stuff :D

            I am not getting up in the middle of the night to sit outside, get bitten to death by mosquitoes, in the vain hopes of a cat being stupid enough to jump over the gate to be scared off by me. Cayenne toxic? I read it on the internet just now. So it must be true ;)


          • I see the vague confusion. We both live in Spain. HE however, has a photogblog, of sorts, but at least it has text. He mentions the water bottles too. I think chucking bleach over dogs is pretty sick. Because that’s what he says, pouring it over the dog (not the step). :( Thanks for the link……


  3. Picasso my fav’ artist if we can say that, and I enjoy editing pictures, but always making sure I keep the original. To me the original is what creates the memory if a holiday pic. But if it is for other then it is always there for future edits….;)


    • I like Picasso too, loved going round the – as was then – new museum in Málaga, not long after it opened. I used to like Dali, but after going round the Dali one in Figueres, I realised too much Dali was not a good thing! Anyway, if you’ve not been to the Picasso museum, well worth a visit if you are ever down this way.

      I’ve not been on holiday since I bought a digital camera, so all my holiday pix from years before are cluttering the place up in tatty old folders and occasionally get scanned in for a post on Everypic.


  4. You can tell its the school holidays for some at least here in Sarth London. I have a nice footpath that meanders up into the centre of town, walking on it you’d hardly know you weren’t in the countryside.

    Usually its not too bad, as adults are quite good at clearing up after their dogs. Now the kiddies are home and on dog walking duties, its just not cool if you are a teenager to pick up s**t, so they don’t, and the path is now treacherous unless you constantly watch your feet.


    • Yes, I have learned the art of exchange in Spain, and must say I like it although it took a while to get used to. When we were at the finca all the time and had 2/3 dogs we didn’t have a problem – apart from them prowling on the roof at night and caterwauling – but now I guess they are trying to claim Pippa’s territory!


  5. I like your prints. They evoke that magic feeling of seaside even in the photos. Mrs S & I enjoy art exhibitions but she buys the prints rather than me (I have a thing for grandma style old floral prints & only so many walls), although I have Picasso postcards on my fridge courtesy of her to remind me of the last exhibition I missed. I’m interested if you find a substance rather than barrier solution to the kitties. At TA we are the object of territorial marking by the LHS neighbour’s cats vying for rights to the food & milk bowls (don’t suggest anything so sensible as not feeding them, as I look forward to their catty company otherwise). I spray with the vinegar/eucalyptus/lavender oil mix or clove oil to clean up the markings, disguise the smell and deter the behaviour – it works for a while. Cats are determined buggers though (I had a laugh at the vision of the cat balanced on your pots). My own cat while we were temporarily living in a 3rd floor apartment would leap across to a diagonal neighbour’s balcony such was the lure of the pot plants over kitty litter in situ. We had to keep her off the balcony when we weren’t home as the only way of stopping her. The photo prints were a good trade for the veges. The image does look better without the power line, and it was a special photo. If I need to crop, I will or sometimes autofix to bring an image up but otherwise my images are pretty much au naturale. Ah, the beach… we were just discussing last night if we’d get a summer this year or not. Fingers crosssed.


    • What I like about Turner is the light, or rather his use of light, and apart from his colours, I seem to remember that is what he is most famous for. I used to think they were meaningless blurs but after seeing more of his work I became quite a fan. (This is years ago of course!).
      I don’t notice any marking, but I don’t always notice their unwelcome presents either. For some odd reason, my partner who has actually lived with cats, always spots it. I will try a few alternatives and report back but it may take some time.
      I liked doing the photos because it was something different and something they wouldn’t otherwise have. It’s nice to give something special that marks a day and an occasion.
      I’ll send you some sunshine. We used to have some Aus friends (from Sydney) who lived in our village for a short while, and I always used to say Andalucía is much hotter than Sydney was.


  6. So much here I’ll just say, “Good Post”..:-)
    (I love the pics you take and you actually label them unlike some who opt to leave us guessing)


    • :) thanks. Sometimes I think a mixture is warranted, because that’s how life is. I thought the art made for something a little different on this blog, and it was current because of finally getting the new glass. I realised I didn’t have the titles of the Turner prints, I’d forgotten to write them down and didn’t think I could see on the photos, but I’ve just peered and finally worked them out! So they are now added. Thanks, I occasionally leave out/forget a caption, but I guess my training automatically makes me think I need to add one.


  7. I really like your Turner prints, especially the first one.
    Dog s***, I can’t believe the amount of folk I’ve seen this last week, just leaving if on the beach.
    Cats? I don’t dislike them, but until we recently changed our front garden to hard standing, I think it was the local catoilet. Someone told me lion poo is supposed to deter them, but I found it rather difficult to find ;-)


    • I’ve seen a few of other peoples’ art choices on the internet ;) so I thought it was time to show what I had kicking around, the others will be added in later posts, two or three at a time.
      Hard standing is an interesting comment, because in my cat deterrent research they don’t like gravel or stones either which is self-evident given they go for bare soil, but I do have gravel on some of my plants. I don’t remember having a problem in any UK gardens but we did have two or three dogs running around :)
      I wonder if chicken poo works?


  8. Turner has always intrigued me. Enjoy the mood he creates. I started a painting of a coast that is a very little bit like the “heaped thundercloud…” several years ago. Did not finish it. Just found it the other day. Glad to see the “barter” system is still alive. Nice photo. We have feral cats about here but have been lucky so far with deposits. Guess they don’t like the interest rates. It is the dog walkers who can’t seem to get the idea of curbing their dogs into their pea-sized brains that bother me. Suzy has no problem in curbing herself on our moseys. The only yard she pees or poops in is ours. Nice beach scene. Any surfing goats? Just saw a story about surfing goats. Here is the link:


    • When I suddenly ‘got’ what he was trying to achieve and the way he captured the light I became fascinated. Looking forward to seeing your heaped thundercloud. Bit difficult for Pippa to restrict himself to the flat… which is why we like to rescue stray plastic bags. Surfing goats were amazing. No, goats just get to go on mopeds/motos in Spain, a bit like dogs do.


  9. Hello, my friend! Quite a mixed bag, this post, and one I enjoyed a lot (I admit, I was completely sucked into that pretentiousness upon entering my first go ’round of university :P…I like to hope I became more wise and less wise-ass as I moved through again, years later!) Always enjoy stopping by your corner of the cyberverse :) Thank you!


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