In The Land Of Hockney & Blake

sunday pub

Any time I come to the UK, I immediately want to buy every new book, see every movie, know about this band or that artist. There are a thousand beauty products I must try, fashions I can’t live without. It must be the media, how everything is so concentrated. At gas stations, in cafes and supermarkets, I stand transfixed in front of the newsstand – grabbing papers, gorging on words and photos. Knowing that by the time I leave the country one month later, today’s latest thing will likely be on its way down, forgotten, or even more fun, something to be scorned and reviled.

That was all diminished a little last week thanks to the Jubilee. The Queen’s image was everywhere, on the front page of every paper, and I can’t look at photos of that lady without going into a coma. Jubilee coverage was promised (100 pages of celebration photos!) and that was enough to warn me off.

So, without papers to read and in between settling and playing the first gigs, we visited Eric’s family. We played with his granddaughter and bundled up against the wind and rain – this is June in England after all. Then I found myself drawing. It’s something I always wish I had more time for. Maybe it’s simply having a few days off, unlike at home where if I’m not working there’s always work to do on and around the house.


But there is also a huge interest in visual art in this country. Everywhere you go there’s an “Art Trail” and “Open Studios” sign. A whole month is devoted to a nationwide drawing festival. In the middle of the jubilee there was an affable gent called Rolf Harris on TV, encouraging the nation to pick up a paintbrush or pencil. Next up was Grayson Perry, the transvestite sculptor, exploring class and creating a massive tapestry based on his visit to the clubs and pubs of Sunderland (working class). For the second time that evening, I found myself tearing up watching “regular people” appreciating and participating in art.

We were staying with Eric’s mother who in her eighties began pursuing an art degree. She paints and draws and the house is full of art materials and books. For those few days we stay with her, I always feel like it’s possible.

Then we get busy again. Brighton was a full gig and fun as it always is. London was hard work getting set up, as it always is, but what a night. City folk in business suits, Southend rowdies, friends from New York and Houston and all over the world really. A London audience gets every joke, follows anywhere you take them. I only wish we could’ve played longer but maybe it was better to quit while we were ahead.



Now I get another day or two in the countryside with my goddaughter Daisy. We went to a castle ruin yesterday and talked about fairies and deer in top hats. I tried to sketch but the wind made it too difficult (it’s June in England after all). Wednesday we’re back on the road again. The papers say, so it must be true.

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby in the UK
Wed June 13 BRISTOL The Croft
Thu June 14 WINCHESTER The Railway
Fri June 15 MALTON Milton Rooms Studio
Sat June 16 HULL New Adelphi
Sun June 17 BIRMINGHAM Kitchen Garden Cafe

touring england

10 thoughts on “In The Land Of Hockney & Blake

  1. fly in the web

    There’s a tremendous interest and participation in the visual arts in the U.K. – it’s not seen as a fenced off preserve…
    You sound as if you are having a great time…

  2. dinahmow

    Oh! I wish I’d still been there – I’d have come to see/hear you! And Fly is right about the accessability of art over there. No one minds if a group of artists set up their sketching kits. And there are some brilliant buskers, too.Not sure about deer in top hats.:-)

  3. Chris

    Speaking as one of the city folks in business suits – the one who bored with an interminable anecdote about the Len Bright Combo dancing on window ledges – we had a great night. Thanks, can’t wait to see you back in London again.

  4. Amy

    Not at all Chris – I was only surprised Eric didn’t remember, as he seems to have (as I do) total gig recall. It really was fun last Friday!

    Free admission for art museums, Dinah – that just occurred to me. (though maybe it’s no longer the case)

    Thanks Fly, looking out over the Somerset hills towards Bristol right now…it is lovely. Though I feel a little homesick for our new place and it’ll be a whole other season by the time I get home.

  5. JP

    you seem to having such a great life,i am enveious,
    -and soo happy for you,it’s magic when life comes together. jp

    1. amyrigby

      That’s very sweet JP – from out on the road it does feel like I have it pretty good. I need to remember that feeling when i’m back home trying to accomplish something, pay the bills, and thinking”what the hell am I doing with my life?”!

  6. mick

    Busy gardening and rehearsing The Shadelovers V2.1.
    Back in the spring I thought of you two a lot – every time I lit the garden bonfire! Good to hear things are going well in Catskill. All that plasterboarding – I’m jealous!

  7. amyrigby

    hi Mick, think of you often (every time I see a chainsaw, ha ha!) Glad you’re working on new Shadelovers. Hope you see some lovely sunshine in France this summer.

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