The talent behind the homepage of this very website and the cover of my last album I Will Love You at All, Wendy Heldmann is a wonderful visual artist.
Meeting her long ago through her sister who’d hosted shows for me at a Kansas City women’s knitting club, I’ve since spent many nights on a surprisingly comfortable fold-out cot in her artist enclave near downtown Los Angeles. And every time I’d visit some kind of minor personal disaster would strike me – lost luggage, horrible flu etc – but Wendy and her husband Chris would still let me return again, choosing to ignore that I might be some kind of bad luck harbinger. When they weren’t driving me around various underground bars and galleries in their jeep whilst playing me good music I’d never heard (eg The Feelies!), Wendy was always working on something or other at home and I pretty much loved all of it. Over the years I’ve watched with keen eagerness her work evolve. I find it inspiring in a musical sense for its vivid colour, chaos and latent narrative. She even names each painting like they’re songs.
Having just moved to Eugene OR where Chris has been installed as Assistant Professor of Art at University of Oregon, Wendy has just released a new series called Fragile Kit which you can check out on her website, along with all the other stuff.
We met at Bjork tribute night I played in Paris in 2000 when he followed me to the venue after hearing me ask for directions in my foreign accent at a nearby bar he was drinking at, thinking to himself, “this might be interesting.” It sounds creepier in theory. After the show he introduced himself and dragged me, and some visiting American flautists who were there as well, out on the town and I woke up the next morning in a palatial apartment he was sitting, with a crushing hangover and not knowing where in the world I was. Having lived in Paris for years and knowing it intimately he took me out for a brunch of red wine at Charlie Chaplain’s once favourite watering hole and we’ve been friends ever since.
Bob talks in an endless stream of one-liners and weird invented impersonations, punctuated by a wicked-witch cackle. His emails to me are like miniature poetic works of art and I’ve kept every one of them.
Bob is a Bronze caster foremost – though his cartoonish Paper Mache animals can be found hanging in various bars, shops and galleries around Paris and London – and his works include discarded socks, sausage-stealing dogs, and assorted-crème bickies. He once ambitiously and unsuccessfully tried to cast waves in the ocean.
Having recently moved back to the UK to be nearer to family and foundry, Bob also works to commission and can be found here:
With some friends it’s hard to think of a time when you didn’t know them. I’m pretty sure I met Lucy at a Woolstock Festival in Canowindra some year or other, and we might’ve bonded over a discussion about some obscure Australian County Music star or simply how many cat-heads we’d stepped on that day. Whatever way it happened, we’ve made up for lost time, sharing many long hours of dazzling chatter (as it happens with all her friends), mostly across her kitchen table in Glebe. A master conversationalist (probably a reaction to all the long lonely solitary hours she dedicates to her craft), tea and porridge maker, sewer, letterpress printer, fearless rambler and writer, sago chef, and the warmest soul you’d be lucky to find.
I do remember though, after we’d just met she sent a copy of her novel each to myself and my mother with the simple creepily scrawled inscription ‘Read Me,’ and whilst I felt uncomfortable at Mum reading the sex scenes I was blown away by the writing of this loquacious little yodeler.
She also writes songs like no one else, fearless, funny and insightful, and plays guitar like no one else (she says this is a bad thing) the way she kinda thumps the bridge with the ball of her thumb, and strum/picks in downward staccato. As Bob Ellis says Six Hours West could be one of the greatest songs ever written! It gives me chills when I hear it, as with others of hers.
But here’s two of her blogs you might like, randomly updated, which tell personal accounts of her journeys through music and literature. The book one is more intensive, she copies out long swathes of text, which she says is actually a good exercise for the brain and hand get used to how other writer’s words fall together.
If you’re interested in the wellbeing and functionality of this planet and its diverse inhabitants, but don’t have the time and energy to keep a watchful eye on all its problems let these guys do it for you.
Even though they can sometimes seem ambitious in the diversity of their causes, they’ve had many successes across the field, politically and environmentally. Their missives are brief and informative and often all it takes to make a difference is for you to sign an email petition which takes 7 seconds:
Check back from time to time, I’ll add more links…