Sunday, January 31

Lucky Dip Dinners

After my last post I thought about how I've often gone to countries not speaking the language at all and have simply pointed at parts of the text on the menu in the hope that I was choosing things that would end up resembling a meal.

This made me go and dig out the sketchbooks where I'd made notes in an attempt to try and learn from these experiences, a way to remember the words for 'cat giblets' or 'face of pig' for future reference. The page above was made during a typical 'point-and-shoot' dining experience. This was in Budapest in 1992, I had just got a degree in colouring-in from Brighton. Not knowing what else to do, I managed to get a grant to spend a term at the Hungarian College of Art and Design in Budapest, they didn't make me very welcome and refused to let me use the school facilities so I spent my days in the city's cheap eating and drinking places filling sketch books and taking photos. I dug them out this weekend and fell down a rabbit-hole of memories:

At the end of my residency, to fulfill the terms of my contract I had to put on an exhibition of my work, so I invited people to come to my room and look at these sketchbooks, one of the college tutors edited an arty magazine called Magyar Narancs and several months after I had left town he put a little feature in the magazine, a photocopy was posted to me along with a translation of the text to the left of the image

An Engish girl, taughened(sic) by the salty air of Brighton, drifted into the Trabant-smoked streets of Budapest. She sat into the low-flying bakelite, tiled Budapest; she was flying as a black butterfly between the battered houses. Her drawings, like the magazine illustrations of the thirties, are travel drafts about the magic. Metaphors, jotted down on mustard-stained grease-proof paper; cooked-sausage-sketches. Espresso-bar tables, Dobos-cake crumbs on them, are sweeped into the sketchbook.


  1. Now we're getting somewhere (I think).

  2. I loved this glimpse into your post-student days, you person of the salty air in Brighton. Just think - you were a student there before it became the trendiest place in the UK. I knew you were a trend-setter.

  3. Ah, nice to met somebody who's been to art college who actually can draw :-)

    I was going to also say that your Hungarian tutor should have stuck to the drawing, but his textual descriptions are actually staying in my head, so hats off to him.

  4. "a degree in colouring in" hahaha... that's fabulous!

  5. I only did two out of four years of my "colouring in" course. I didn't get my degree, not even half of one. Your sketchbooks look delightful; I'd like to flip (gently) through them. I'm actually one of the ones of whom Gadjo Dilo speaks! Ha ha!

  6. I like your drawings. I always wince at the thought of Budapest. A friend and I were passing through some years ago. We could only find a double bed room. I'd been drinking. Rolled over in night. Believed person next to me was someone I'd been talking to earlier. A woman. Not a Burridge footballer. Had some explaining to do.

  7. Fabulous. I love your drawings. Ever thought of picking up the pencil again?

  8. I love the review! I would be enchanted if it was about me; it's like poetry.

  9. That's a funny yellow toy over on the right there

  10. it's a beautiful review. the whole post took me somewhere else. what talent you have.

    do you miss those days?

  11. I need some of that Brighton air to taughen me up. So I can fly like a black butterfly. Between the battered houses.

  12. Still got crumbs in the pages now? I love your sketches too. Have a blueberry swirl cheesecake in the oven - thinking of going back and getting that fig tart recipe. Will need to put my jeans on to talk myself out of it ;-)

  13. PS - have a sneak around the CWH before you go and see if you can find any other toys lying around ;-) Noticed one of your sketches was of a 'lots left' plate - guess you didn't try and point for a recipe to that one... Skippy not bouncing around much at the moment. Do Kangaroos hibernate?

  14. Bill
    Now we're getting somewhere
    Where's that then - should we get off soon?

    Ms Fancy - Trendsetter! - I always feel that I'm the one who leaves a party just before it gets going.

    That is an interesting yellow toy isn't it?

    Gadjo - We did enforced drawing, but I always liked that part of AS.

    I loved those very Hungarian words

    Nursey - intrigued to hear how you'd describe your qualifications.

    Ms Eyeball - I only did two out of four years of my "colouring in" course.
    I think it's quite common to fail to see the point after a while.

    Mr Sanderson - I can imagine that waking up being cuddling by your team mate could be a difficult one to deal with.

    Mrs Mum - I do pick up a pencil sometimes - they're quite good for eyebrows and lips.

  15. Scarlet - I loved that review too! it is like poetry

    Frenchie - just thought that I've been tod that it's a toy for a dog, isn't your place littered with that sort of thing?

    Ms Weight - Thank you - I'm thrilled to have transported you, they were great days but there have been plenty of thers since.

    Mr Red - Flying between battered houses - he does make me sound like a witch, not that I mind that.

    Glory - would battered house and chips replace croutons?

    Ange - I've always had crumbs in my pages.
    Blueberry swirl cheesecake - I'll be right over!

    Do Kangaroos hibernate?
    No he'll be stuck somewhere, get a sharp stick and see if you can dig him out.

  16. "travel drafts about the magic" - poetry!

    Looking back at old sketchbooks is a rush, isn't it?

  17. "low flying bakelite..." Obtuse piece but I love the phrasing.

  18. Great sketches and a marvellous review. Not sure I see you as a black butterfly, but each to their own. Cabbage white possibly.

  19. I'm qualified to raise homosexuals Miss Lulu. Would you like that recipe?

  20. Kevin - Looking back at old sketchbooks is great, but it makes me sorry that I don't do it so much now.

    BB - I love the phrasing too.

    Madame DeFarge - I like the idea of being a black butterfly, a sort of low rent Deborah Kerr

    Nursemyra - and where do you raise homosexuals Nursey? - I imagine a luxuriant hothouse full of orchids and jacuzzis

  21. I only lasted 4 months in art school... but after dropping out I just went to work doing illustration (which I still do). It's so odd that even after 20 years, when I look through the sketches I made in school, all the memories are still there... suddenly I can remember each face.

    I think a short story in that Hungarian prose would be lovely... go heavy on the bakelite and butterflies!


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  24. I love your drawings and the review is very cool. I am an old art school refugee myself and I still enjoy flipping through my old sketchbooks now and again...rabbit hole indeed.

  25. I love these wonderful sketch books! Thank you for sharing them.

    PS: The news reader did not notify me about this post, hence the tardy comment.

  26. I want a pair of those wondrous waitress boots

  27. Anonymous - I kept journals alongside the sketchbooks - but they're rubbish. It's the drawings, even the bad ones that take me right back there.

    I shall try a short story in that Hungarian prose, maybe we all should and post them.

    FJ/art school refugee and photographer extraordinaire - there are so many ways to relive the past - no?

    xl - always happy to share (as long as it's not the last bit of cake)

    commenting holidays are allowed you know!

    Ms Ruby Rose I want a pair of those wondrous waitress boots
    I believe they are sold in most East European countries - get thee hence!

  28. I lived in Budapest for a while, and not only were the people rude, the food was horrible. What exactly did you learn to make there?

  29. Hi Angie, welcome to you -

    Yes to both of those - almost.

    Foodwise - I got lots of really bad things, some edible things and then discovered the joys of salted goose and pigeon casserole with dumplings chocolate and almond pancakes.

    People wise - lots of very rude people, but the nice ones made up the balance

  30. a little more information to add to our vision of you...


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