Now as we live in the midst of a strange and turbulent summer, let me take a moment out to praise the delights of black and white, that crisp, graphic contrast that underlines any glorious love affair with colour. I love the contrast of newspaper typography and rhythmic lines of print, alongside the stunning beauty of lino cuts, chessboards, Victorian tiled floors, Mary Quant mini dresses, charcoal drawings, and dazzling Bridget Riley Op Art paintings. Look how it's simplicity and contrast immediately cuts through the woolly fluff of fleeting fashion and sharpens the eye. I long for the discipline of wearing a black and white outfit - maybe houndstooth check trousers with a black or white linen shirt, patent leather shoes and a plain jacket - I can visualise it, so pulled together and elegant, and I recognise it on others, but inevitably my love of colour runs away with me and bang goes the reality of a classic combination once again. I seem to require both colour and the contrast of black and white to feel truly content.
My own graphic love affair began with documentary photography exhibitions at Amber/Side discovered during my student years, allowing me the opportunity to explore the stunning Ansel Adam landscapes of Yosemite, the stark American Depression photographed by Walker Evans and the migrant farm families by Dorothea Lange to the Easington images of the 80's miners strike from Keith Pattinson and Appleby Horse Fair movingly captured by Dave Thomas. I think too of all the graphic novels, illustrations and comics artists whose work I love, and the classic black and white movies that can still stand the test of time, Ealing comedies, film noir crime, Hitchcock thrillers and the joyful Marx Brothers howlers that picture the past in grainy, monochrome tones. We are surrounded by so much visual detail and cultural richness to enjoy.
So I find myself drawn to black and white as strongly as the equal pull towards colour - at once enjoying the delicacy of a tea set with plates and cups trimmed in a tiny black and white design, while I scribble in a sketchbook using a favourite Ticonderoga pencil to capture the shapes lurid pink and yellow french fancies make on those plates, but they beckon to me because it's already teatime. Using delicious black charcoal sticks would create a bolder drawing on the paper, but inevitably mess up my white linen shirt and today I'm content to be here eating cake and praising the beautiful contrast of black and white.