Tim Rushby-Smith: June 2008 Archives

Exhibitionist

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The weekend Open Studio event drew to a close yesterday with a set by Cambridge-based band Delphi playing in the yard. The great and the good of Stoke Newington society turned out in numbers, and it was nice to catch up with a few people we haven't seen in a while. But what's the work that you've been showing? I hear me ask. Well, there's a website for the studio that gives you an idea of what we're about, but I have taken the liberty of shoe-horning in a few out of focus snaps taken in haste.


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These four came as a result of learning to use some Japanese calligraphy brushes that I was given some time ago. For some reason I seem to set myself restrictions or challenges before I start work at the moment. So this one was to learn how to mix a smooth ink from a sold block of pigment and a slate slab, before getting used to the way the ink flows from the brush, etc. All very Zen I know (or possibly all very Stoke Newington), but I got quite absorbed in the process, which reminded me of why I feel the need to draw and paint in the first place.

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These two are a reflection (geddit?) on the passing of my beloved Highbury Stadium, sadly no more. Progress, huh?  They have preserved a wafer thin facade of the East stand, as this was listed. I find it rather bewildering the way that the Grade II listing only seems to penetrate about six inches of the front of the building. We are in danger of only preserving a Disney-style pretend version of our architectural history for future generations.

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Finally, here are two pieces that were inspired by a page in Forward, the magazine of the Spinal Injuries Association. The piece consisted of an excerpt from the regular newsletter produced in the fifties by Lyme Green, a residential care home for injured service personnel. The whole newsletter seemed to be full of 'who's copped off with who at which dance, etc'.

The page also contained a black and white photograph of a man in a wheelchair snogging a woman who was is sat on the arm of the chair. I was struck by the sense of passion revealed in the position of their hands, and also how positive it is to see someone in a wheelchair caught in the throes of such passion. It is an image I will no doubt return to in the future.

So that's that. Now we're busy preparing for our forthcoming camping trip to France. What's that you say? A damn-fool thing to be doing? You betcha!

Oh, and just to add a bit more of a challenge, I'm going to have another tattoo first. Right in the middle of my back. Two days before we drive 1200 kms across France. Hmmmm, comfy.

Tempting fate

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...so last night, my cold (oh, stop being such a blokey wuss, etc.) turned ugly. My temperature crept up. This I knew before reaching for the thermometer, as my inbuilt system for telling me when something is wrong kicked into action. And I mean kicked. Like a donkey. Suddenly I felt as if I was being trampled by several donkeys in fact, with twinges and belts of pain up and down my legs and all through my lower back. This is not good. Knowing when something isn't right with my health? That's good. But surely a more subtle and user friendly system could be installed? One where perhaps my index finger glows orange and flashes intermittently, or the spasm in my toes taps out a message in morse code. "What is it, little piggy? Is Tim in trouble?"

Pain is, without doubt, the most difficult facet of my disability. It's ever present, usually in the background, but often demanding attention, and lurking in the back of my mind should I ever attempt to make plans of any kind. Occasionally, when it gets really bad, I knock myself out, and that can sometimes reset the clock.

So, this morning, having rested through a combination of my normal meds, a sleeper and a decent single malt, I found myself under water, wafting at the day ahead, and still showing a slight fever. Paracetamol helped to get things back to snotty status, but I do still possess an unnaturally low voice.

Still, while I have been doing the brave soldier routine, P has been rushing hither and yon with R in tow.

 And she has much more to deal with, especially after the advance copies of a certain women's weekly magazine arrived. We did an interview for them, and they have put us front cover. Only thing is, as well as the cheesy strap line, they have photoshopped P beyond all recognition.

It wasn't the only disappointment with this particular encounter with the meeja. Despite and agreement that they would read the copy through over the phone before it went to print, some kind of holiday/voicemail/missing note scenario caused this particular aspect to be overlooked. And the end result is a quattro formaggi of a telling. It's not use of invented conversations that grates, so much as the nature of those conversations. I for one feel that our story is 'dramatic' and 'moving' enough, without having to sound like an episode of Dr. Kildare.

On other, more positive subjects, we are having another open studio event in a couple of weeks. Only trouble is, I haven't done any work yet... Still, there's nothing like a deadlineto hone the creative process. I hope.

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Death's door.

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No, not really, just a cold, but as a man I am suffering way more than anyone else who's ever had a cold ever in the world. Ever.

So, I'm back down to earth with a bump. After the dizzying heights of tennis success, it's back to domestic routines. Suffice to say, my tennis has also taken a severe downturn. On a positive note, my friend Adam pointed out that I must have got my training spot on to peak at the right time.

I went to be background scenery at the presentation of official paralympic training venue status to Brunel university last week, and it's just as well I did. Were it not for myself and three other wheelchair tennis players, there would have been no sporting activity of any kind for the cameras. As it was, we were reduced to hitting foam balls over a lowered badminton net, in order to provide something sporty for them to film.Hurrah for 2012!

My latest Ouch column just went up today (ouch!). Inevitably, it is on the subject (ouch!) of pain (ouch!). It had to come up sooner or later, so I thought I'd just get it over with. Still no developments in terms of finding any improvement, although I'm sure that being active helps to keep it at a more manageable level.

 It seems like one distraction after another so far this month, as P had jury service for two weeks to start. Many people have asked if she couldn't have got out of it, but from my own point of view, were I ever in front of a jury, I would hope that it was comprised of people who would be as considered and fair-minded as she. It's a funny thing jury service. We, most of us, see trial by jury as a vital part of our legal system and a benchmark of justice. But when it comes to being selected to take our place, we consider it an unpleasant chore and try to duck it. Which leaves who exactly?  people who are not canny enough to dodge it, or have nothing better to do?

This said, P did point out that they could make the whole experience less painful. Simply improving the area where jurors are required to spend many long hours waiting to be called would be a start. Maybe a juice bar?  Or some books and magazines? And perhaps old reruns of Crown Court showing on big screens to get people in the mood.  Apparently the jury box wasn't wheelchair accessible either...

Now my focus is on planning our possibly foolhardy camping trip in France later in the summer.  But then, if we're going to holiday with a wheelchair user and a toddler, it seems only natural to want to include a language barrier in the equation. Still, it will be a huge box to tick, and testament to the little ways in which my experiences on the BackUp multi-activity course have helped me to view things like camping with less anxiety.

Finally, I thought I'd best slip in a mention of the football, especially after tonight's demolition of the Italians by Holland. Did I mention my grandmother was Dutch? Now would be a very good time to read David Winner's most excellent book on Dutch football, called Brilliant Orange...

Ah well. Back to the tissues and throat pastilles. Nurse! Nurse! I'm fading fast! etc.

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