Saturday, 26 April 2014

On not drawing at the hacking trial on 24 April 2014

Outside the court
'Everyone's at Max Clifford,' says a journalist who, like me, is at the hacking trial in the Old Bailey. A sign in the lift says DO NOT TALK ABOUT CASES IN THE LIFT.

It is illegal to draw here. Proper court artists do it from memory.

So what does an improper non-court 'artist' with no trained memory do?

David Spens QC, cross-examining Andy Coulson, refers to a news editor talking about trying to pinpoint the Lotto rapist by triangulation (based on the locations of his phone signals).

Coulson seems indignant at the use of a long word and says he'd have remembered it. 'If anyone had used a phrase [sic] like triangulation I would have been incredulous.'

I know what triangulation means (stupefying as that might be to Mr Coulson) but here in court I lack the wherewithal to do it.

I could still get a more accurate drawing, however, if I split the scene mentally into triangles and write a description (top right of counsel's wig, tip of sword, bridge of defendant's nose, 40°, 90°, 50°).

I'm too distracted to do that, so I have to rely on memory. And, to echo something which is said in the witness box a lot today, I don't remember. I don't see the point of drawing from memory (and I'm far too posh to draw from photos) but I haven't reached the important stage of creating something new from memory.

Meanwhile, casual scribbles seem to be the most reliable way of tapping into blurred memory.

When the day's hearing is over, I go to life class. Before kick-off I ask the model to pose briefly in one of Rebekah Brooks's default attitudes.
Life-class model in Rebekah Brooks's pose

The aura around Rebekah Brooks reminds me of two pre-Raphaelite images:

'Hope', Edward Burne-Jones

'Hope', George Frederic Watts

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Supreme Court art: true colours

I awake to an email from a stranger: 'I've just seen the fantastic drawings you did on Friday night. Wow! I was wearing the pink eyelashes!' 

This morning it's a welter of charcoal suits - except for that of the solicitor Mark Stephens, in a mysterious blue which sits half-way between Cambridge and Oxford via cobalt.

He is at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for Landmark Ltd and Woods Development Ltd v American International Bank (in receivership), a case about an unpaid electricity bill which has wafted in from Antigua and Barbuda. The hearing is despatched before lunchtime. 

In the café I choose a blokey microwaved bacon roll even though I know that 'microwave' and 'bacon' don't go together.

The emblematic carpet, designed by Sir Peter Blake, divides opinion. I love it.

In the basement, two women are comparing a fresh carpet sample with the original, which is wilting. Heavy staircase traffic is a problem.

I think of H. Rider Haggard's She, who eroded her private stone steps: "I can remember when those stairs were fresh and level, but for two thousand years and more have I gone down hither day by day, and see, my sandals have worn out the solid rock!'

In Court 2, where the heavy velvet curtains do a moody fandango, I try black paper to counteract the whiter-shade-of-pale walls. It doesn't work.

Hounga v Allen and another asks if a race discrimination claim arising from employment is barred if the employment contract is tainted by illegality. The appellant was an illegal immigrant working as an unpaid servant, having been spirited into the UK by her initial employer.

In this safe-seeming courtroom, the words 'trafficking' and 'slave' can be used without emotion, but counsel are arguing with veiled vehemence while they watch the remorseless clock and, as Lady Hale concludes, 'It is a difficult and an anxious case.'

More pictures if you scroll down.

The colour swatch box at the end is giving me repeated pangs of job envy.