Sunday 27 December 2015

The Dilemma

Dilemma  time.... planning the New Year.

I have so many claims on my time that there is a danger that no matter what I'm doing, I will feel guilty that I should be doing something else.

I have written a novel that my granddaughter (a published author) desperately wants me to finish. There's still a month or so of final editing to do ... and I can't spare the time. 
   My autobiography has been chuntering on for years ... my granddaughters' are demanding it ... and I can't spare the time.

My wife has a list of 10+ drawings/paintings that are 'wanted,' not least the very large drawing of St David's Cathedral, which has miles and miles of work left on it ... and I can't spare the time. 

Then there's the boat!! Seagull !! which I'm building in two parts:

Part 1 is get a ship's bell for Christmas. Done :)

Part 2 is build a boat around the bell :)

I already (all ready) get up early, go to bed late and play work seven days a week.

To compound the situation, every day I see things that I want to do and add them a massively long list ... <sigh>
... not to mention the normal tasks of life.

You can see the dilemma can't you? We have visitors at the moment so I can't do anything mentioned above, which gives me until 2016 to set out my year ...!!!

What do you have planned for 2016?

Sunday 20 December 2015

My Christmas Story

Time for my annual Christmas story:

The concept of 'Pantomime' is one that is rarely understood outside of Britain. Enough then, to think of it as Vaudeville meets funny fairy story, on stage ...with kids in mind.

In 1982 I was in Germany with the Royal Air Force and F4 Phantom Fighter jets. Which meant for the first time in twenty years of marriage (and long range flying) I now got home most nights. Pat, my wife, took full advantage of this when she was asked to produce/direct a Pantomime at the base theatre (theater). The show was to be Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

I became involved with making the costumes  (I come from a family line of tailors). But one costume required was that of a 'two man' camel named Sam Super.

As I made him, Sam Super took on a personality of his own. It was a costume worn by two men and had a mouth that opened and closed by a mechanical device I made inside it. 

Sam was quite a bad tempered character and made his mark on all that he came in contact with: it bit my hand when I was making the mouth; the back-end man was allergic to the fabric and had to be replaced, Sam also scared the life out of the kids in a German Orphanage. 

Sam, however, was to write himself into the history of the station by causing not only a security alert, but for me to be called into the Station Commander’s office. 

It all began when I put a little pressure on Roy the sergeant steward in the Sergeants Mess. Roy was a keen member of the theatre club who had been put in charge of publicity. He responded to my pressure in a way that gained us much publicity. He began one night by putting up ‘mysterious’ posters throughout the station  (base). The posters didn’t mention the pantomime but he thought they would raise people’s curiosity. He also sent, in the internal mail system, small copies of the poster to everyone from the Station Commander downwards.

The next day as the mail was opened, telephones started ringing and blue lights started flashing. I was sent for by Group Captain Palin. On his desk was Roy’s poster, its message glaringly simple:


It seems harmless enough unless you know that SAM is not an expression that is liked very much on fighter stations, it means SURFACE to AIR MISSILE! It took a lot of fast talking to get us out of trouble, but Station Commander couldn’t keep the twinkle out of his eye.

Monday 14 December 2015

The Knights are Getting Shorter!!!!

I am getting short of knights in the gallery, the Knight Templar is on his way to Arkansas. This photograph is a bit skewed, but you get the idea. I painted the knight using a stained glass window as reference ... nothing to do with Microsoft Windows :) 

The Knight Templar       John Simlett
Acrylic on Canvas
32 inch x 12 inch

The Knight Hospitaler        John Simlett

Acrylic on Canvas
32 inch x 12 inch

Saturday 21 November 2015

Whether the Weather be fine ....

Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whatever the weather
We'll weather the weather..
... whether we like it or not.

Storms came and went, but the wind was from the South West, blowing warmish wet weather from the Atlantic and so it was tolerable ... noisy but tolerable with temperatures at  14C (57F).

Then the wind veered to the dreaded North, gales straight down from the Arctic. Temperature dropped to 3C(37F). Storm force winds. Sleet and rain.

The Ferry to Ireland kept running - rather them than me.

Have a nice day! :)

Monday 9 November 2015

What Did We Say Art Was?

You may (I flatter myself) have noticed that my rate of posting on this blog has dropped. Several friends asked if I was producing less art these days ... which brings me around to the old debate ...what is Art? or perhaps more importantly what isn't art, for I consider I am totally involved in art for most of my waking hours. 

Take for example the 'Gatepost' after which this blog is named. When Pat was learning to drive (in the last century!!) she drove the car through the gate - without opening it. I carved up the broken gatepost into Maka Tiki: the Polynesian god that looks after families. We called it a Gatepost Production and it became our logo  and company name when we set up as a professional Art Company in the 1980s.

Maka Tiki
If I said I had sculpted the Tiki, not many would argue that it was n't art. However it is no more, or less, art than the Four Poster and its drapes which I finished a few weeks (?) ago.

So when I'm working in wood, or cloth, I consider it all to be art. Which brings me to the real point I wanted to make ... I'm building a boat and I see it as art. 

We had this debate before when I was drawing ships in pen & ink. I called it techno-art. Do you remember how I said I was building the ship on paper: drawing up technically the view of the ship from any angle I chose. Here, for example, the beginning of  the Susan Constant:

As you can see its construction in graphite soon vanishes when the art, in ink, brings the clothes of modesty to the dear ship: 

Similarly the good ship Bellonia

So if I can convince you that building my pen & ink boats on paper is Art, albeit techno-art, then it's a short step to convince you that converting my drawing into wood ... is also art.

Welcome to the Seagull.....

She should end up looking like this (ish)

As you can see I have not retreated in the slightest from art, and if you want to keep half-an-eye open on Seagull's progress over the winter you can track the build here    BUILDING SEAGULL

Friday 30 October 2015

Bad Photo

We all say this...but... the painting is so much nicer than this awful photograph!

                                         Girl 1                    John Simlett
10inch x 14inch
Acrylic on Stretched canvas

Thursday 22 October 2015

Zorn's wife

Just thinking how often Emma has been painted. My feeble attempt must count among thousands

Thursday 1 October 2015

Don't Look now ... but...

..... I might start painting tonight! You may recall these paintings below were large, by my standards. Well they are required again but only half that size! I wonder if I can do it again, but smaller?

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Two Years Flew by!

Two years ago 'today' a dancer in Connecticut bought the original of my drawing of Cologne Cathedral. After she had hung it she sent me a photograph of it, which was very considerate of her. I just received a reminder of the event.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

SO!! What have I been up to?

Well I've all but finished the workshop....


... I'm about to build a wooden boat

Celebrated 56 years of marriage


Saw my granddaughter announce the publication of  her first book (

Monday 14 September 2015

The OTHER blog

I haven't run away to sea, but life keeps getting in the way of art and blogging.

To make things worse/better I've started another blog to cover my new Project Fishwall.

Here's a clue:

A Linocut by

Shipwrights Yard by James Dodds RCA (1957)

Here's a link - Project Fishwall -

please leave a comment there, as the new blog feels unloved!   

Saturday 1 August 2015


I am proud to exhibit the work of a fellow artist, Abbey.

Abbey is Twelve Years old and visiting us from Yorkshire, with her grandparents and cousin Sophie.

Abbey is, as you can see, an accomplished and imaginative artist.  On this occasion she has captured the view from our sitting-room window across the rooftops of Fishguard (Abergwaun in Welsh). Here you can see the harbour with the breakwater, and its lighthouse which shines green at night.

             Fishguard Harbour        
 Abbey Corker
Coloured Pencil on Paper
(7 inches x 6 inches)
Abbey and Sophie leave today. We have really enjoyed their sparkling company and look forward to their return.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Painting Again!

As the rainy day jobs come to a conclusion, I managed to slip in a quick painting. The first in months.

For those who don't know it, Wimbledon is the British premier tennis grand-slam venue. As it is the oldest lawn-tennis tournament  in the world it has taken on many very formal traditions. For example, Lewis Hamilton the world champion Formula One racing car driver, was refused admission to the VIP box, despite his invitation, because he wasn't wearing a neck-tie.

You can image the shake up then when German born Dustin Brown turned up on the famous Centre Court to play Rafeal Nadal who was expected to be in the final. Dustin Brown was an outsider in all respects: ranked 102 in the world, a Rastarfarian with body piercings, earings, necklaces etc.

The British have a tradition of cheering the 'underdog' on. Dustin rose to the occasion and won the admiration of a nation, and the hearts of the ladies. It soon became obvious that this young firebrand was a gentleman, a good sportsman and entertainer. His tennis set the place on fire and he beat Nadal. 

I've tried to draw out the 'red hot' nature of the man his tennis and the image he left burnt in our minds. I also tried to set it on the backcloth of a cool formality.

I hope you like it.

 Dustin Brown - Wimbledon 2015       John Simlett
Acrylic on Canvas
(30 inches x 18 inches
765 mm  x 460 mm)

Tuesday 14 July 2015

RAIN = Four Poster

It rained a lot and so I finished the mahogany Four Poster Bed instead of continuing to build my workshop.

I also took a rain-check (pun intended :)  ) on Saint David's Cathedral in order to paint a portrait which I hope to post in the next day or two.

Monday 29 June 2015

WORKSHOP (3) and Four Poster

I am getting on with the workshop. It takes a longer time when you're working totally on your own, and getting old. 
   This is not a studio but a workshop for lathe, pillar drills, grindstones etc etc. It will also incorporate a small 'potting-shed' for garden tools and where Pat can pot-up her plants. The far door way will be to the potting shed and the near door to the workshop.

On wet days, progress continues on the latest Four Poster.

In reply to Sherry, Linda and Minnimie: The foundation platform all ready existed. It's basically a concrete base with stone slabs cemented on. 
   There is no crawl space: the building is being built on a damp-proof membrane which covers the whole 'floor area' and extends up inside the wall for two strakes of planking.
  The floor joists lie directly on the mebrane (and hence the concrete base) and are jointed and screwed to the wall beams (photographs when they appear). 
   The flooring that goes on top of the joists is a wood composite stuff (new to me). I prefer to screw the flooring to the joists, as nail holes tend to get bigger over time, through the constant movement on them, this causes the floor to squeak!
   Electricity will be 'installed' by a professional electrician, as I don't pretend to be an expert in all things. Heating will probably be by wall mounted electrical heaters. 

Monday 22 June 2015


TIME LIFE magazine did not mention the construction of my workshop (which is going really well) but it did have an article on my hero, WSC,  last month:

(AFTERTHOUGHT - Time Life should have said have said Great Britain and not England. Great Britain comprises England, Scotland and Wales; Churchill was Prime Minster of Great Britain)

"Churchill would, of course, ultimately help lead England to a brutally fought, costly victory over the Axis Powers in World War II. But in the early years of the conflict, England stood alone against the Reich after Nazi forces swarmed across border after border in Europe. Churchill’s defiance in the face of what seemed, at the time, an invincible Wehrmacht juggernaut earned the aristocratic, independent-minded PM his enduring reputation as one of the greatest war-time leaders in history."

But there was another side to Churchill that my good friend CELESTE BERGIN knows all about. He was an artist.

All his kit and many of his paintings can still be seen in his studio at his home, Chartwell, which lies to the south-east of London. It's open to the public and well worth a visit. And don't forget you Americans, he's half American so you have a claim :)  

Saturday 20 June 2015

Workshop Build (2)

Got the damp course in. Put in all the cross bracing (to strengthen against the winds) and fitted the last of the framing.

Start Cladding tomorrow.

Thursday 18 June 2015


Three and a half working days into the project, and things are starting to come together. To remind you, it's  10 feet (3 metres) high, 16.6 feet (5 metres) long and twelve feet (3.5 metres) wide.

Yes, they are cows in the field behind, and sheep in the next field. If you look South from here you think you are in the middle of a Rural countryside. If you look North or West you are in a Maritime world, whilst to the east: the Presili mountains. 

Pembrokeshire is a fantastic county populated by the nicest people. It's a privilege to live here.

Saturday 13 June 2015


No sooner do I begin work on the workshop than the British weather runs true to form ...RAIN!

Luckily I have my inclement weather programme (program) in place, and I can get on with another Four Poster bed and the large drawing of St. David's Cathedral.


Friday 12 June 2015

Starting the Workshop

Here's the location

Here's the First Delivery of Timber
And, for those that missed it, here's the plans I drew up of what I intend to build. 

The timber in the top photograph will make the 'skeleton' at bottom left of plan.

Friday 29 May 2015

Saint David's Cathedral WIP

Works progresses slowly on Saint David's Cathedral. It's quite a big drawing for pen and ink: 21 inches x 16 inches.

As the drawing is taped down horizontally, on my large drawing board, it is difficult to photograph so I stood on a high stool. 

I thought I should post something to prove I am working. Truth is I'm being slowed down by my heart which is messing around again. 

The ceiling I'm leaving to last as it is what the drawing is all about.

Sunday 17 May 2015

END OF AN ERA, 'Dona Ferens' RIP

CCXXI DONA FERENS (216 Bearing Gifts) Love the humour

The Royal Air Force was formed in 1918 by an amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the flying squadrons of the Royal Navy. 

Naval squadrons had their origins preserved by placing a 2 in front of their original number, hence No 16 Squadron Royal Navy became 216 Squadron. Always pronounced 'Two Sixteen.'

I was fortunate enough to join the squadron at a young age, in 1963. We were flying the very first military pure jet transport in the world, the Comet. Whilst we cruised at 40,000 feet and 600 miles per hour the rest of the world trundled along below. Boeing was still designing the 707.

We mainly flew in the passenger role along the routes to Singapore and Hong Kong, Aden Cyprus and Australia with a regular schedule to Washington DC. 

Our Other roles were Aero-medical and Casualty evacuation, where we carried two doctors three nursing sisters and a nursing team. Here we carried 12 stretcher cases and 60 sitting cases. Often from nasty places that didn't like us very much, Aden, Yemen, Iran etc.

I left the Squadron in 1967 for three years on 10 Squadron but returned in 1970 until 1975. In this period we were flew purely in the VVIP role and carried the Royal Family, Heads of States, Ministers of State and 'anybody who was somebody'. We only flew long range and we went everywhere. For example: The Queen around Africa, Princess Alexander to Brazil, Princess Margaret to Nepal, Prince Charles to Australia and Canada. We were the envy of every other Squadron in the RAF and were know, sarcastically, as 'the flying club'. 

"You could always tell 216 Squadron aircrew," it was said, "they were always dressed immaculately   and would, to a man, stand when a lady entered the room."

I accumulated a little over 5000 flying hours with Two Sixteen... and last week they 'laid up the colours' in the village church at Brize Norton. The end of an era. Most of my pals from those early days have slipped the bonds of earth but would be pleased to have never seen the laying up of the Squadron Standard (the Colours) with Battle Honours embroidered on it!