Friday, 24 October 2014

Supreme Court art: crumbs of comfort

Lord Mance comments on the Supreme Court in The Times: 'I don't think that we've become excessively activist as a result of moving to Parliament Square.'

Excessive or not, there are activists out on the square - Occupy, plus the street people who accumulate around any open-air community if it keeps still long enough. A haggard man in black harangues impassive policemen about article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights with more vehemence than is customary in the Supreme Court.

I pop over to Tesco's. What shall I donate to the Occupy larder? (Don't be like that - I've drawn them a lot and I owe them something.) They've got bread and water. I have a limited budget. What would benefit most people in the best way? A chunk of Stilton? It won't go very far and there are a lot of vegans out there. I settle for cherry tomatoes, grapes, orange juice and, in a moment of madness, Jaffa Cakes.

Do the same thought processes go through the mind of the Secretary of State when allocating EU structural funding? R (on the application of Rotherham Borough Council and others) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills is examining his allocation decisions. Did they breach EU principles of proportionality and equal treatment, so close to Occupy's heart? What is his margin of discretion?

A vicious cough and cold is claiming victims on the bench. They are battle-hardened though. At the end, Lord Neuberger congratulates counsel on their performance.

I return to the cold damp earth of the square and draw a weatherbeaten rough sleeper. He writes down his street name, which he says is not to be spoken: STYX. I should introduce him to @charonqc.

The policing style here is inconsistent but they've dropped a hint: a blanket is camping gear, hence forbidden on Parliament Square under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, but cut a slit in it and voilĂ , it's a poncho.

After I go home, someone out there is arrested for feeding a police dog a biscuit. I console myself that it can't have been a Jaffa Cake which of course the VAT tribunal ruled was not a biscuit but a zero-rated cake.

In a departure from the norm for me, the final drawing is fictitious.

I am merely saying that bears are under-represented among the senior judiciary. As Lord Mance asked in court today, 'What is the point of this?'

There will be an exhibition of my drawings in the City next month.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Supreme Court art: the right to occupy

It's easy to mock Occupy when they tweet that one of their aims is 'free pubic transport' [sic], but something beyond a chippy sense of grievance motivates the core group to spend cold nights on Parliament Square without a tent.

I stop in the square on my way to the launch of The First Miscarriage of Justice by Jon Robins. It would appeal to them. 'Can I come with you?' asks Tom, who yearns for the glory days of Occupy camped on chilly cobbles outside St Paul's Cathedral three years ago ('I want to get my hair cut outdoors smoking weed').

The book launch is in high-security Portcullis House. I can't risk it. Tom goes back to playing the guitar under the statue of Lloyd George.
Next morning I'm in Court 2 trying to pin down an iconic profile. Michael Paget is great-grandson of Sidney Paget, the first artist to depict Sherlock Holmes (the deerstalker was his idea).

Reports that the model was Sidney's brother Walter have been denied; maybe Sidney just set up two mirrors to study his own profile. Michael has inherited it.

In 2012 Michael Paget acted on behalf of Occupy in Corporation of the City of London v Tammy Samede and persons unknown, the St Paul's eviction trial in the High Court.

This morning Tammy and the litigants in person from that case are protesting on Parliament Square in the fag-end of a hurricane, one of them with Occupy Baby in a sling.

While a melodrama of kettling, chanting and arrests is going on outside, 'the right to occupy' is a mantra in court. In The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Lambeth v Loveridge, Harry Loveridge was replaced as a secure tenant while on a long trip to Ghana (he'd still been paying rent by standing order). Damages are at issue. 'Have the valuers got a stone which is set or some sort of blancmange?' muses Jan Luba QC.

I never told Occupy that the friend I brought to visit their Holborn squat two years ago was a judge, but I dare say they wouldn't have minded.

For the curious, this blog has many posts about the day-to-day life in the Occupy camps as well as this one about Michael Paget:

More pictures if you scroll down.

Sidney Paget

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Kancer Sutra

I did these eight drawings in response to transcripts of interviews with cancer patients in remission.

The anonymous patients were asked what kind of visual presentation might inform people about how cancer and its treatment could affect their sex lives.

I am particularly grateful to the patient who said: 'Is it in danger of becoming a Kama Sutra stroke sex video? You know what I mean. Because it’s so explicit, it’s not something you can illustrate in a sensitive way. I can’t think of a sensitive way to be honest.'

These pictures, created for Sheffield University's Phoenix Project, are in the current issue of Configurations, the journal of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (and the Oxford comma), published by Johns Hopkins University Press in the USA.

More if you scroll down.