I've only ever been to Venice three times in my life, It was never the plan that two of those visits should be this year, within a month of each other. But that's how it worked out.
You'll remember, back in September, Heather and I went to Venice, just for four days, two of which were taken up with travelling, and squeezed as much Biennale into the two remaining days as was humanly possible. When we returned we'd taken so many photos I assembled them all into a 200 page Blurb photobook, and we had another year's worth of great art memories to be going on with.
At the same time, Hev was hoping to be part of an art thing that was still in the process of applying for funding, and she wasn't getting her hopes up about them getting it. But, only a couple of weeks ago, they did. And so it was that, at short notice, Heather was to be paid to go to Venice as part of ArtEmotion and The Venice Vending Machine (two art projects that overlap in a way I've never quite understood), for some sort of career development and recce-ing work, meeting art curators and galleries, that sort of thing, and exhibiting in and helping with the Vending Machine.
And, since I happened to be free that week (no gigs or school visits, that is) I joined her. Hev was there from Friday to Friday, I joined her from Sunday to Thursday. (For the history books, this happened at the time of the notorious Ryanair pilots scandal of 2017, when flights were being cancelled at short notice. So Hev flew on Easyjet, at 3 times the price, and I flew on Ryanair for £38 return, taking the gamble. It paid off.)
Of course I couldn't go when she did, because first I had to spend two days at the Isle Of Wight Literary Festival where I did two days of classes in schools, took part in a pub quiz (they call it a Fizz Quiz, don't cha know) with my fellow writers, in which our team came 5th, and very briefly met Val McDermid, a long time Socks fan who can now put a face to the footwear.
Returning from the Isle, Hev was already in Venice, going through interesting times with her fellow artists, about which I was to hear much more in the coming week, and the next day I was up at 5am and driving to the Nottingham Comic Festival where I did a quick Comic Masterclass demonstration, and sold some comics and artwork. I'd hoped, when agreeing to this event, that my Women Of The Bible comicbook would be published by now, but it's stalled at the moment, so I ploughed through some back catalogue and waved goodbye to two pages of Beano art.
On Sunday I journeyed to Venice where I promptly got stuck into two solid days of colouring the CII artwork I'd brought with me, and that I'd been struggling to find time to work on for over a week. meanwhile Heather was having meetings with her artist colleagues who, let's just say, have their own particular ways of working that can become a bit hard going at times. Participating in an artist run project seems to be a cross between The Apprentice and Big Brother, with all that suggests. But Hev's really grateful for the opportunity and has got a lot out of the trip.
Not least was the return of Anubis Other World Tour. The most visually stunning of Heather's work, the Anubis figures haven't had much of an outing for a while. But through the canny technique of dissembling his body and squeezing him into our cabin baggage, Heather and I were able to bring an Anubis Schoolboy to Venice, and spent a night and day photographing him in various locations. This will form part of her next wave of exhibition work, so frustratingly I'm keeping some great photos under wraps, which is so not me.
Here's Marina, the creator of the Venice Vending Machine, with her creation itself, which sold out of its supply of artists' work on the very first day.
Of course, in the remaining days of our time together, Heather and I got to see tons of artwork, which we'd not managed to see on our visit last month. Truly it takes a week, or more, to do justice to the work in the Venice Biennale. We got "arted up", ie visually and mentally exhausted by the amount of art we were taking in, more times than we could count. At the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, which we were seeing for the first time, we were so arted-up there that, just as we were heading for the door, I had to stop and do a double-take, realising that I was blithely breezing past a Duchamp, a Braque, and a Picasso, just hanging there over a sideboard, acting like they weren't worth tens of millions each.
I returned home Thursday, Hev came back Friday, and here we all are ready to face Hurricane Brian. And on Monday I fly to Glasgow. And so ends just another average week of Travels With My Art.
Oh yeah, there were deer in the road on the way to the airport. And on the way back there was rain, dear. Oh yes, and it was my birthday on Wednesday.