Dan Woods 1957 – 2019 Goodbye old friend :-(

The celebrated Brighton artist and musician Dan Woods died peacefully in the early hours of the morning on 7th January 2019 after a couple of bad years with terminal cancer. He was stoic, cheerful and positive even during our last conversation not long before he died.  His bravery in the face of this horrific terminal illness and the hellish pain and disability he suffered was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

He is sorely missed by family, friends and fans of his art and music over the many years he has been creating artwork and music. As the Fish Brothers guitarist for many years (often under the name of Chesty Charnsworth) he is especially missed by fans who remember his blazing technical solos worthy of Ollie Halsall or Allan Holdsworth while at the same time the band, who were all very competent musicians as well, proclaimed themselves to be “totally crap”.

I met Dan at school when we were eleven years old and only one person outside his family has known him longer than that. Howard has known him since they were eight years old at junior school where Howard claims he regularly beat him up … in the face of overwhelming evidence that this never even happened once.

What is known by very few people is that Artists UK would not have existed if it had not been for Dan. An odd coincidence had me out of work in 1994 just when Dan had published some prints that he was having some trouble marketing and selling. He was an artist through and through and selling himself or his work was, as it is to many creative people, a rather distasteful and almost dirty occupation, far away from the sublime inspiration of art and music. Being at the time plunged in that dirt and mire and unable to find a convenient spitirtual shower I said I’d have a go at selling them. This I did and then branched out adding in other artists and merchandise to end up with the massive portfolio of over 2,000 products today. But Dan’s section has been there all the time during these 25 years for fans of his art to collect his great art prints and we will continue to keep his section live as long as we still have stocks of his prints.

Personally, I owe more to Dan than just Artist UK though.  For my 13th birthday he gave me a book that changed my life.  It was ‘Day of the Triffids’ by John Wyndham and that really kick-started my love-affair with science fiction that arose naturally after buying the comic FANTASTIC! around the time we met.  That comic contained reprints of American Marvel comics although we didn’t know that at the time.  Dan and I both developed a fascination for fantasy and science-fiction as well as for all sorts of music and spiritual practices like meditation and yoga.  We took different directions in life but in many ways it was the same inspiration that he expressed to me in our teens that saw him through one of the worst kinds of illness that anyone could suffer with such positivity, dignity and maturity.

The first band (Dan on left)

RIP Sir Terry

A very sad day today as Terry finally meets his old friend DEATH and wanders off for a final chat with him.  Like many people I have read everything he ever wrote and have been reading Discworld novels since they started.

I was wondering what other Discworld characters might say about it.  I was thinking Granny Weatherwax might say, “He aten’t dead!” and Rincewind would undoubtedly ask what he had been running from and more importantly where it went to afterwards.  Commander Vimes would probably order him back to life with a threat that he’d not live to regret it if he didn’t do it.

Have you any other ideas of what other characters might say?

Great art or arty farty?

I had my birthday yesterday and we went into Liverpool to visit the galleries in the morning. At the Walker Gallery there is an interesting exhibition of black and white photography on at the moment. It isn’t usually my thing but these are exceptionally good and many of them are very interesting and often also very amusing. These photographers definitely had a remarkable sense of humour and a quick eye to spot these often extremely transient phenomena. We also saw the John Moores prizewinners. Some of the winners seem so ridiculous it makes you wonder how they arrive at a result like that.  I recall that one of the entrants was a truly magnificent massive watercolour work that caught the attention of many local artists but that was , naturally, not to be found amongst the prizewinners.  Why that piece and some others were not “deemed worthy” is beyond me.

This morning as I sat down with a coffee I burst out laughing as it suddenly hit me (I don’t know why I never saw it while I was there!) but the John Moores competition being held at The Walker Gallery is unbelievably ridiculous. If it was at the TATE, fine, but at the Walker it actually shows something utterly ridiculous.  All these works of art in the Walker gallery have been collected over many years as great works of art including many of the country’s most loved artists and yet not one of them could possibly win the John Moores competition. So are they all rubbish and redundant in the face of the John Moores competition? Or is the John Moores competition a load of self-serving twaddle and redundant in the face of the great masters of the past? In the context of the Walker Gallery as a whole I do not see how one or the other conclusion is not applicable. Anyway, the absurdity of the whole thing certainly made me laugh. Maybe you can think of an answer to this dilemma but I can’t.  Let’s see what the comments show, if anything.

Urgent appeal by the Daily Mail for some real news

Apparently the Daily Mail newspaper is in urgent need of some real news to put on its front page so if you have some please do let them know.  Like many other online retailers we are not best pleased with today’s front page where the Daily Mail is clearly scraping the barrel in trying to get people to buy their newspaper.  Alleged problems at Marks & Spencer and John Lewis are blown out of all proportion into a frightening nightmare of nobody getting their online orders in time for Christmas.  Do the Daily Mail journalists think their readers are really that daft?  Probably.  Are they?  Hmmmmm.

Well, as we work a seven day week and use a variety of shipping methods calculated to ensure that none of our customers are left disappointed by the non-arrival of those special and hard-to-find collectibles, out-of-print books, limited editions, prints and posters let’s all feel some sympathy for those poor Daily Mail journalists who must truly be at their wits end if they have to scrape the barrel like this.  But enough of that Daily Mail nonsense, just come visit us and see what you can buy without rushing around in the wet and the cold by clicking here.

Phew! That was close!

When I started Artists UK over 20 years ago I was aware that the fortunes of various art and artists might wax and wane over time but I always thought the UK would remain intact so it was quite a shock to see the possibility of Scotland going independent. After all, Artists IWANI doesn’t quite have the same appeal or brevity does it? You did work that out, didn’t you – England, Wales And Northern Ireland. So I’d like to say a really big thank you to all those lovely Scottish folks who voted to stay in the UK and stopped us from being renamed Artists IWANI. I’d come and give each one of you a hug if it wasn’t going to take so long to get round you all and I’m not much good at running up and down highland hills nowadays. But leave a funny comment and you might just get a very nice discount coupon back by email …

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