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Business as Usual

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by william blake
Article of the Month January 2010



Leonard Fox paused in his writing to scan the horizon; aquamarine became azure rising to cerulean, a grey lizard crabbed from the shade of a stone to stare at him; it was 30 degrees in the shade. Leonard flipped the postcard over and it showed a remarkably similar horizon, except with dozens of small white plastered cubes, stepping down to the sea; the cubes all had identical cerulean blue windows. The postcard was to send to his mother in New Zealand.


It was another postcard that had set Leonard on the path that found him lying by the pool and owning the luxury modernist villa on the Greek Island of Spanakopita.


After a spectacularly modest career as a landscape painter, Leonard had hit upon the postcard plan. It was a simple plan and all that it needed was courage and time and nothing to loose. He sent postcards to MOMA, the Tate, and various Guggenheims and to all of the top galleries. He sent postcards to all of the big art magazines and the best dealers and then included them in his curriculum vitae.


With this magnificent CV Leonard was a shoe in for a CNZ ‘just let loose- 100% pure Kiwi’ travel grant; which produced more carefully chosen postcards from around the world.  Soon anyone who considered themselves important in the art world hungered for a Leonard Fox postcard.


Now Leonard was rich and was living in exile from his Porrirua roots. It was a burgeoning exile managed by his gravel voiced agent Nigel Healy. Nigel had turned the postcards into cash and then into real estate or as he explained to the tax man the ‘manufactories of the raw production’ and grudgingly secured a fine concession from the revenue. Leonard and Nigel now owned thirteen deluxe properties around the world.


Leonard picked up his Mont Blanc and put his mothers address in the allocated space below the stamp and wondered about a beginning. Just then Nigel appeared, clinking with drinks.

“Who’s the postcard for Len?” he asked casually handing Leonard a tall, icy faintly blue drink.

“My mother back in New Zealand” he replied.

“What?” Nigel choked slightly while sipping on his gin. “You can’t fucking do that!” he coughed,” don’t you understand what an unproductive work like that could do to your stock?”

“…But its to my Mum” he replied weakly in a squeaky voice, as Healy took the card.

“No…no…no” scolded Nigel and flicked the card casually but accurately over the marble terrace into the azure.





Paul Gibbon had just made the breakthrough: it was a small lozenge of paint in the bottom corner of a giant striped painting. The stripes were in tones of grey:  yellow grey, blue grey and light grey. The major passages were applied with  house painting brushes and rollers but the finishing detail was worked up in glazes using the biggest kolinsky sable brush that money could buy. Gibbon had long ago dispensed with canvass had worked through plywood, then aluminium panel and now painted exclusively on titanium sheet which floated exactly 5mm from the wall and was custom made in Finland. The whole work reeked of good taste and considered expression.


He only painted stripes. He saw them as boundaries or horizons, collisions or pairings. He could paint the same work over and over and the small detail of the lozenge could salvage him from the “insanity” that Kipling referred to in his famous quote “as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. He had heard this often enough at his A.A. meetings but preferred Einstein’s version as being positivistic and progressive, “ The world we have made, as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking”


Gibbon had come to the attention of the art world early on with a large work on canvass, three metres by ten, with black and white stripes and a, relatively small panel of gamboge yellow, entitled ‘The Wasp’. Art critic Evan Woodie had cried foul, and sketched a dismissive review; agreeing that the work was committed by a white Anglo male, but lacked a sting in the tale. Gibbon’s next piece identical, except for the panel being layered in cadmium red and being titled’ The Bull” was panned in Woodie’s column with a photograph and the simple dismissive headline ‘Bullshit!’


Woodie was back in his paper the following day with another photograph, this time with a hand to his rapidly closing eye and bleeding nose and a furious looking Gibbon being forcibly restrained by his dealer, Nigel Healy. Paul Gibbon’s career had never looked back.


The breakthrough that Gibbon had made in the latest piece was painting the lozenge in the same shade of grey that surrounded it. It relieved Paul from the responsibility of finding an eloquent colour to shoulder the burden of the work and it was a continuation of the stripe while not being part of it… It was the actualisation of Einstein’s ‘different level of thought’.


Paul lit a victory cigarette with his paint smeared lighter and he poured himself a good measure of scotch. The peaty drink seemed to ease the headache that he got daily from the paint fumes. He wondered what that cunt Woodie would make of this masterful painting.





Nigel Healy adjusted his left shirt cuff by exactly five millimeters to better expose the navette cut ruby cuff link. It was one of the small details that he felt set him apart from the rest. On the right cuff was a link of similar cut, but emerald, of about two carats; he was going sailing later in the day.

 But he needed to earn his keep this morning and so he was representing a sculptor by the name of Brigitte Castle, an older woman but still strikingly beautiful, even if she was dressed like a mechanic.


They were in the grubby offices of Kitschen Engineering, a failing manufactory only just keeping afloat by the good sense of the foreman who had insisted that they reinvest the meager profits of producing stainless steel kitchens into the latest technology and so just keeping ahead of the Chinese importers. It was for this technology that they were here.

 Brigitte looked unimpressedly at the ageing lad manager,Dave Kitschen, a migrant from the North of England, shaved head, black and white striped soccer shirt, smoking a taylor made; she was reminded of a mangy whippet her father once owned.

 “You want fookin’ what?” Dave fumed.

“We want a whale Dave” Brigitte patiently explained. “A sperm whale, made out of stainless steel”

“ I suppose you will want that life size an all” laughed Dave sarcastically.

Nigel thought it was time to straighten things out before they got out of hand.

“ No Mr. Kitschen, not life size; twice life size actually. Oh and we will pay handsomely. It should get your er.. business out of the doldrums”


Jimmy, the ferret eyed alcoholic foreman who was leaning against the doorjamb interjected.

“ We can do it, no worries, with the cad-cam cutters, epicycloidic rollers and the nitrogen-plasma welder, we should be able to knock off a project of that scale”

“I know, that’s why we are here” said Nigel through his teeth.

 Dave observed the ill matched couple for a moment and then asked the seemingly dumb question. “Why?”

 Brigitte  began her story, which was polished by use to a deep luster. It described other work made by other factories, her philosophy of form and, in this instance, a deep distrust with the still dominant patriarchal hierarchy, in society.

“..and that’s why I’m calling the piece ‘Moby’s Dick’; it’s twice the size of Melville’s .”


That was a couple of years back and Dave thought back to how much of a wanker he was then, not up for it, it was Jimmy who saw the opportunity. The whale job was a good earner for the company but did little for the artist if he remembered correctly, she made hardly any money from the job but that agent guy seemed to do ok.

 Dave looked out from his new office at the recently installed promotional orca at the front gate, business was booming, whales, pods of dolphins, seals (with or without balancing balls), schools of tuna, swordfish: the whole marine world was his oyster.






1 to 13 of 13
4 articles & 201 comments since 14 Jan 2010
Good one, Mr Blake, keep it up! I like.
137 articles & 705 comments since 12 Feb 2005
Fantastic stuff.
Sam I am
4 articles & 37 comments since 10 Jan 2008
like, wow.
4 articles & 201 comments since 14 Jan 2010

Way like, but time to change the picture...


4 articles & 201 comments since 14 Jan 2010

Oh no, not again.

12 articles & 418 comments since 25 Jun 2009
Brava. Brava!
3 articles & 67 comments since 7 Jan 2010

Hyperventilating into a paper bag of promise. The obstruction and the perilous folly settles upon thee. Not to mention these idle wings that follow, inevitably sending for one little green light on a makeshift radar. So much a warning as a savior as it flashes like a fire tower in the fog. It is Hermes fast approaching on the horizon, his purpose like the vicissitudes of time is as clear as the waters he arrives in on.

To confiscate thou vessel.

And so he does with a tortoise in one hand and a cock in the other. He takes it sailing on a joyride, spinning, laughing, into a glorious pink sunset. It is sincere he sweats for thee on these rainy nights of truth, like the necessary priest set to marry thou thoughts and verses together. And all is for the greater good.

william blake
29 articles & 728 comments since 15 Aug 2006
...radar and sonar: lucky.

We went to the estuary where Hone Heke saw out his days and we got bushed. When we made it to the flats the tide was way out and a strong sea breeze was blowing. At the tide line we saw kahu kiting in the wind, fishing. I said to the dog that's unusual. Lil' dog said she must be pretty hungry and ran away and barked at some oyster catchers and made them fly.
3 articles & 67 comments since 7 Jan 2010

If it is our problems that guide us, then is it likewise a problem that a carcass floats to the surface after three or four days of sinking. Kahu knows this and so does the Lil' dog, but he doesn't let on because he wishes to roll in it, once your back is turned.

So far art must reach to temple the forces beyond these moments of obstruction. And it wouldn't be difficult now if it were not for the moments cursed by the rhapsodies that give way to it. Ironically the anticipation of a floating cadaver is a challenge no artist could do without, and I think an experience no artist has ever or will ever fail to comprehend.

4 articles & 201 comments since 14 Jan 2010

Floating cadaver? laura Palmer?

3 articles & 67 comments since 7 Jan 2010


"I have to make what I see, whether it's a painting, a table, or a movie, or it's like a death and what would be the point of that?" - David Lynch

3 articles & 67 comments since 7 Jan 2010
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