Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Final Race Day....

A great finale!...The Sun shone throughout with just a tiny smattering of rain...him upstairs must
drink Red Bull!
Such a unique atmosphere arriving to the track...chaos..hardly any security, although I was
asked to open my briefcase which included two daily newspapers for a friend at the track...
was told I couldn't bring newspapers or magazines into the circuit!...local police law I was told....in case I start a fire!...crazy....just in front were people selling programs...guess what they are made from!
All part of eccentric...curious circuit that is Interlagos.

10am and the grandstands were filling fast, I went to the FOM office in the paddock and was told I could go up in a helicopter at 12-30 to take pictures of the track....fantastic!
I was so pleased..really wanted to at some point this season and thought my chance had gone.
15 Min's up there circling the circuit and vicinity...the track looked so tiny...toy town...what a treat.
I was able to see the and appreciate the sheer size of the city and all the suburbs..
Still on a high after that I ran to the pitlane to wait for the grid walk...no grid girls, not sure why.
I arrived very early just as the teams were pushing and wheeling their gear up the incline to the starting positions...quite an incline too.
The crowd by this time were very excitable ..singing and clapping waiting for the Brazilian drivers especially Bruno Senna.
Earlier I was introduced to Viviane Senna (Ayrton's sister, and Bianca Senna her daughter and Bruno's sister).   So lovely to meet them, they are Royalty in Brazil..worshipped. Bianco wanted to chat after the race , to look for her.
The grid swelled very quickly, so aware that this was my last grid..so I wanted to absorb the wonderful atmosphere..It seemed to pass very quickly...I stayed around the senna car...lots of attention as he waved to his adoring fans..good to see.
I was told to go to the promoters office with 5 laps remaining to meet the City Mayor, State Governor and CEO of sponsor Petrobas.
Knowing that it would be very tight ..not much time to get to the Podium with the snappers, I arrived to the office with 7 laps to go.
Met Tommas the promoter, he explained to the dignitaries and they duly penned their piece...the track officials were getting nervous waiting for them to finish because they were presenting the trophies...........the last lap they finished!...I knew it would be too late for me to make the podium...I rushed to he gate but the photographers were already in position...gate closed!
The only podium I missed...spectacular one too with ticker tape raining down on the drivers.
It was more important to get the writings, I spoke to Keith Sutton- photographer if he would kindly send me some podium pics.

Straight after I went to the Lotus Renault garage to find Bianca Senna, waited a little while and spoke again with Viviane Senna, and said that I would love to give a painting to the Senna Foundation for then to Auction. Said the same to Bianca, she was delighted.

The Paddock was full  busy with goodbyes from various team members...although the break is so short these days...next race is mid march..but all will meet during testing early Feb.
I had a transfer to the hotel with some other people , some beers at the hotel then to the airport...all very odd
King is dead long live the king!!
It seems that the new season has already started in people minds....bizarre!
Saw Mark Webber queueing in front of me for boarding...no after race end of season drinks for him...it seemed people just wanted to head home.

So there we are.....One full season on the F1 merry-go-round!.....quite a ride it was..
So many great memories to reflect upon..the next 6 weeks I will be locked in my studio working on the paintings..its good that I will have a long run and momentum working  but will feel odd not readying myself for another race as I have done 18 times since the end of March!

I will post one more time with my considered reflections of the year...
I will post the final paintings too....watch this space!

There are more blogs to follow next year when the box set of prints taken from the paintings will be distributed by myself......


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sao Paulo Samba Sunday!


Great anticipation...waiting to go to the track for the last time this year!....should be a special day.

Rain is expected..although looking out the window ...doesn't seem true.

You know we have only 5 winners this year from 18 races ..all 5 are world champions.....if one of the 5

wins today that would be a first!

I'd love to see a different winner saying that....yesterday Bruno Senna had the widest biggest smile in the paddock

after quali...think he finished 7th...Hamilton looked very downbeat!...they walked past each other.....

complete contrast!

I was able to walk over to the far side of the circuit during quali..next to a big grandstand that was full and rocking!....it's the closest to a football crowd I've seen all year....so many people wearing special yellow vests commemorating the tracks 40th year...very colourful and very Brazilian!

this race is a snappers dream!

The paddock was completely full..nightmare for the team engineers trying to move gear across the paddock...I really sense this end of term feeling ...it's as if the pressure has lifted temporarily and the teams can look forward to the break...very short break!

Today will be very busy...have to run the  promoters office during the race to catch the City Mayor and local governor and Sponsor CEO...all before I dash to the podium....to photograph Senna with the winners trophy aloft!!!...........

Lot's of drinking in the bar last night....there was a farewell party for Patrick Head from Williams,

He's retiring.
The whiskey measures in the bar...huge! ...not the little thimble size shots in the UK....


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Interlagos.....race weekend..Samba Sunshine!



Sat

Friday was such a full day...very warm too...good to know the Brazilian weather forecasters

are as bad as the Brits equivalent!...rain was expected......brilliant sunshine!

I saw the first signs of the Samba party that awaits!... first practise the grandstands were a third full but very vocal!...singing and dancing..can't wait to see the full grandstands, there are so many dotted around the track, great viewing for all, in each grandstand they can see pretty much the whole circuit....very different sound here too because the track is set in this bowl..different acoustics.

I was positioned on the first corner as the cars exit the pits..so close to the cars..I will always remember in future the very distinctive sweet smell of the burning fuel as the cars whizz pass...

It's certainly a great circuit ...the infrastructure is very dated...nevertheless very endearing...funny to

see the FOM offices in the paddock.....converted toilets!.....glamorous F1!

Looking forward to the paddock today...there will be so many people brushing pass each other.

I sat outside Sauber hospitality drinking a coffee sitting next to two Mexican guys, the head of the Mexican Automobile Club and his friend who is investing into a huge vineyard in Argentina..a lovely

conversation ensued, this is the beauty actually of the tiny paddock ...people are forced to talk to each other...lots of beautiful Brazilian girls brushing past too.....it's tough!!!

Somehow it works here.. so nice to meet lots of different South Americans connected with F1A and interested in my artwork...always sparks a conversation. I’m so pleased.

Last night I went uptown to a very middle class area..what a contrast to the vicinity of the circuit..apparently Ayrton Senna purchased a lot a land around the circuit and built housing for the poor, the Senna foundation are still active in this regard...Senna is a God here!

There may be a chance I will meet his sister today,,,,the lady I was with last night Agnes knows her very well and will introduce me.

I took Agnes out to thank her for being so helpful in introducing me to various journalists whom have written articles.

We went firstly to a villa where her friends live,,,,huge walled gardens,,, had to pass through two big gates to enter...lovely house with security and maids...security is important here...big kidnapping risk!

The restaurant was beautiful... traditional Brazilian food...lovely decorative interior very stylish and attracted the beautiful people!....noticed some Ferrari management there too.

Very much looking forward to the circuit now.....


Friday, 25 November 2011

Sao Paulo.....

Friday

What a day yesterday in Sao Paulo...more cars than I first thought!  fast cars would be completely wasted in this city..which I guess is why the F1 here is so popular...they can dream of changing into top gear!

I had a driver pick me up from the hotel in the morning..thankfully in a standard Chevrolet car, I had a list of various places..I did slightly feel like I was part of one of these coach tours where the people stay on the coach and are allowed 5 Min's to get off and take pics!
The trouble is here there is nowhere to park so the driver would leave me then circle around the block until I was ready...

I get the impression that this city is on the verge of a mass building program..lots of skyscrapers planned downtown, there are a few in the business area.
A couple of stunning buildings...the Municipal Theatre and the main Cathedral..lovely ..curious railway station, built by the British...looks just like paddington!
One notices a city of contrasts still lots of poverty ..went passed the fevelas, network of shanty towns, very poor areas, some fairly central too not just in the suburbs.
One thing that is very striking here is the amount of Graffiti..not just words but many painted figures on walls and sides of vast buildings.....Now I know where Banksy took his ideas from!
Managed to take lots of pictures...lots of parks too where the middle classes live very close to the trees.
Took some great pics inside the main samba dance school with all the colourful costumes..so pleased I discovered that!


Back at the hotel, I grabbed the newspaper to to a nice article in the sports section..very big headline...Mark Dickens Formula 1 artist. next to a pic of Massa.

Went to the track around 4 to catch the CEO of the circuit..wrote his piece straight away..Mr E had spoken to him earlier, also Mr E's girlfriend,  used to work at this circuit, she is from Sao Paulo.
Didn't really see much of the track, will see more today ....

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Interlagos. Sao Paulo. Brazilians of People!


Thursday

Arrived yesterday morning from a night flight...it seemed the whole world arrived
at the same time...so busy.
Hour and a half to the hotel..just the sheer weight of traffic...Sao Paulo has a population of
22 million, so there must be around 3 million cars...apparently congestion is such a problem
here they limit the traffic on certain days, you can only use your car 4 days a week depending on your registration plate.

What was noticeable on the journey to the hotel were the masses of hastily built towering apartment blocks all dotted alone the skyline.. a blot on the landscape ..quite unattractive and built to ease the massive homeless problem.

The hotel TransAmerica is quite close to the track, went to the track in the afternoon..what a contrast to Abu Dhabi!

This circuit has been racing for 40 years....well established and well liked..but seems to me that not much has advanced, it has quite an endearing quality...almost like stepping back in time...the team hospitality's in the very narrow paddock are basically huts!

If the paddock gets busy..should be fun and cosy!...it sort of reminds me of a giant scalextrixs circuit.

Just as I arrived  a journalist from the Sao Paulo newspaper...O Estado de Sao Paulo, came up to me in the paddock to ask for an interview and write a piece coming out today.
He knew who I was and liked my work and the whole story of me being here as F1 artist.
Looking forward to seeing that...although in Portugese,,,,
Really nice guy livio, he has been covering F1 for many years..I'm sure he has a few stories to tell!

The track looks similar to Barcelona set in a undulating bowl..good for spectators, not too much advertising in the city ..Didn’t see any banners flying.

Looking forward to walking the track hopefully this eve.
I was speaking to some local journalists who believe a huge makeover is due and will happen with the new money entering the country.

Been warned not to venture out around the city alone..lot of the drivers have bullet proof cars.
I have a driver today taking me around the city....hope he pulls up in an old banger!....not a smart black merc...sore thumbs and sticking out come to mind!!


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sunday afternoon-Yas Circuit Race

Sunday afternoon..
Never seen such a busy paddock, the Paddock club on the top floor of the Grandstand, covers the whole length.could be the biggest Paddock club,so therefore more people ...all invited corporate guests...and guests of guests!... spilling out into the paddock....there is a pit lane walk 2 hours before the race...one couldn't move, so full..great to see though..F1 has really captured the imagination of people in this region,,,admittedly lots are expats..but more Emirati this year too...there tickets also include the
MCcartney concert after the race.......which was amazing..we had received VIP passes for the front area next to the stage,,,so much energy the legend has...singing a medley of wings and Beatles ...even tried to speak Arabic....he's so good at communicating with the audience....I had to leave just before the end to catch the transfer to the airport.

Just before the race the chairman Khaldoon was free to write his piece...great.in English and in Arabic.
The grid was full...busy and very colourful not least the setting sun behind...seemed to be setting earlier this year perhaps because the race date is different,,,turning back towards the end of the grid it was difficult to see.   There also were masses of security guys on there to...lot's of Royal presence also the King of Spain came to the grid being driven in a golf buggy..apparently this was a first...because he is such a close friend to Mr E..and he looked quite frail...saw him climb out and embrace Alonso...nice to see.   So many footballers too.....a very fat Ronaldo- the first one!....wow that was a surprise..there were a mix of  Man City and QPR players and managers....probably just as well MCcartney wasn't n the grid...it would have been carnage out there!....photographers getting there Nikon knickers in a twist!!!

At the start of the race when Vettel spun off with tyre puncture..I did think....fantastic...a different winner in my painting!!!.....sorry Seb!
Directly after that I noticed I had a missed call from the assistant to James Hogen, CEO of Etihad Airways, informing me that he was in their suite and inviting me to come up......
dashed up to meet him...very happy when it all comes together..
.Also met Mr E in the lift after the race..a short chat about the progress....he said we must get the King of Spain to write...hopefully that will happen soon..even if I have to fly to Spain it would be worth ....he is such a huge F1 fan .so it would be perfect to include his words in the Artwork.
What an amazing day culminating in the great concert too....flight left at 2am....back in studio now to prepare painting number 18!....

Next week Brazil, the last race...can't believe it!...time has literally flown by...spent so much time on airplanes..I could have rigged up an easel in the gally!!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Sunday morning- Race Day

Another glorious morning in Abu Dhabi...so clear and bright...don't know of any place I've been to where the light-brightness has this level of intensity. 
It's quite early Sunday morning ..the track is fairly quiet, I've been asked to come early to meet Khaldoon ..It's 10 am ..the teams don't arrive until later .perhaps 11,
The race starts at 5pm so later start for all...actually they love it because the could party last night!..lots going on too...big party in the hotel .
Last night I had a meeting with a sub editor of a new sports newspaper in UAE 360 Sport.
He wants to do a big feature when the paintings are completed...so pleased ...have been introduced to many people in PR and media who are very keen on doing features...ratchets up the pressure a little though!...All this has to go through Mr E, he may have other ideas with regard PR etc.
Lots of names in town.should be a fun grid later today...Paul McCartney ..he's a guest of Mclaren..seeing him perform later..Man city manager Mancini..guest of Ferrari..some players too..after all Abu Dhabi own the team!..funny to see all the posters around the city with images of Man City players with written below...Our Team....
The kng of Spain is here too...it would be great to get him to write a piece...he didn't go to Barcelona..always come here apparently...Have to ask Mr E about that.
Very excited about the grid today....two massive grandstands either side...very gladiatorial look....
I sent a text to a friend the other day..saying I was on my way to Ferrari world...then my phone suddenly changed to predictive texting....In the world of Predictive text Ferrari becomes Ferret!..
Ferret world!...great fun!!

Abu Dhabi- Yas Marina Circuit

The Yas Marina becomes the Yes Marina!..
It's an incredible circuit, only in it's 3rd year, but already so well established and organised.
The stands are imposing but not ugly, there are laced with decorative arabic motifs...love this attention to detail, also there are so many volunteers wearing t-shirts saying Can I Help You.
Even shuttle buses to take you 50 yards if you so disire!
One thing I have noticed here...nobody likes to walk!..never seen so many 4x4 cars.
From the minute I arrived on Wednesday evening there has been so much do and see....some races I seem to have more time..
The Hotel -Radisson Blu is a stones throw away..lovely little walk to the track, which I know well.
This is were the Journey started, I was commissioned by Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management to
make 10 paintings to commemorate the opening of the Circuit in 2009
Made many trips here....really enjoy coming back here.
Went staight to the Mangement offices to meet the CEO Richard Cregan to arrange a time for him to write his piece, which he did next to the paintings of mine outside his office...good to see the work again.....nothing has fallen off!...
Also set the ball rolling to get the Chairman of the Circuit , Khaldoon Al Mubarak, and Chairman of Executive affairs, also Chairman of Man City!..richest football club in the world.
Fortunately I saw him just climbing into a golf buggy..and introduced myself..I'd met him before, he knows my work...I explained the project briefly...he said he would be delighted to write.
He gave me his email, which goes directly to his assistant...It's sat lunchtime..I'm hoping  to see Khaldoon soon....too many O's!
The paddock is so attractive here.. beautiful Team Hospitalities with the Marina behind full of big meaty power boats... although not too many elegant Sailing boats...all infront of the impressive Yas Hotel...a section of the track passes through the hotel...imagine waking up late ...pulling the cirtains back and seeing Hamilton whizzing pass your window!
I felt I had so much to photograph yesterday at the track..didn't want to miss any great shots...this was beore going into Abu Dhabi to take pics.
A journalist and PR  friend Agnes  had put me in touch with a chief reporter for Gulf news. A daily paper. he was keen to do an interview for the paper.
It came out this morning.,. very pleased!
I went to the amazing Sheikh Zayed Mosque....beauty in abundance....just takes my breath away!...
The Floral marble decorations and Iznik turkish designs are stunning...inside huge jewel laden , multi-coloured Chandaliers, and the  biggest hand woven carpet in the world.
Stayed there for a while, then taxi back to track for lunch...walked all over the circuit grounds..really good fans area..lots of events...including this 10 foot robot that fires water through its eyes.
In the eve we went to Ferrari world...huge themed amusement area under one roof..with the worlds fastest roller coaster....not been on it yet!..so many differet rides...strangely quiet for the race week.
Friday
Full day!...Woke up early , caught a taxi into the City about 20 mins away..cheap taxis here...state controlled.
I already have many pics taken from my previous commission, but even with the space of one year, so many tall buildings have shot up!..amazing to see.
Very hot day..compared to mid summer it's positively mild for the Emiraties!  28 degrees.
The Ceo wrote a great piece...very happy about about that...and he is loking forward to the box set of prints from the paintings..already has a space reserved for them.
The teams and managent are so delighted with the hospitality and sevices here.. there is still a great buzz even thought the championship has been won.  The practice sessions were great, especially the secong practice starting at five here, when the race starts on sunday.
The sun just starts to set..one can't fail to take a decent spectacular picture..infact I was darting all over desperate to take more pics with the backdrop of the sun setting behind the Yas hotel with the cars on the track.....you see this is when my little camera can be benefit..no heavy equipment on my shoulders.

A great day at the circuit ...finished late around 8 then went to the hotel..cold wine..Britney Spears was playing at the track...not my cup of Arabic tea!...After the concert I did go the The Amber lounge, an exclusive F1 club/ party set up by Edie Irvine's sister, Sonja. Very popular and people pay thousands for a table there!....expensive disco!!
...given free tickets...champagne until 2 in morning. Sophie Ellis Baxter was performing under the big tent.....I used to fancy her mother!!..told the girls we were with..... all twenty something..had no idea who her mother was....
Back to the track now...




Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Race weekend.....A Delhi-visual treat!


Saturday

A great sense of anticipation in the paddock ....don't think there were many people who felt that the track was a disappointment, quite the opposite...fantastic challenge for the teams and drivers.

I got to the track a little later to photograph the beautiful Elephants positioned outside the hotel...I heard that talk was given about incorporating some elephants during the opening ceremony....but it was felt that because the grid surface was new, damage would be caused!...not least the massive droppings!. In this instance one would know which the dirty side of the track was!!

The Metallica concert didn't happen due to a riot!..I was all ready to go with some of the guys and be a guest at the backstage party...but not to be...not sure the exact reason but I believe there were some problems with the band and promoters, so they decided to postpone the concert until the following day, announced this to the audience who were not amused...some had travelled vast distances and paid a lot of Rupees...that was when they wrecked the stage!...can’t imaging Indians doing this, seem very docile.

Apparently the stage was too damaged for the following night’s concert!....disaster.....

Not good PR for F1 Rocks .

The temperature was getting hotter over 30 degrees and always very hazy in the mornings, not sure if it's pollution or just this time of the year, but thankfully most of it cleared by qualifying which started at 2pm, I watched it in the promoters hospitality. Just before the CEO and his brother the Chairman wrote their pieces for the artwork.

So much activity in the paddock after quali...it's so nice now I can speak to so many different people. A real community within the confines of the paddock.

I walked over to the FansZone behind the main grandstand...very disappointing number of fans...there seemed to be more food outlets then I’ve seen at any other race!...a number of things caught my eye though...firstly a huge information sign stating First aid to the left ...lost and found to the right. And below that. Interrogation room to the left!!!...what's that all about!

Just along from that was parked a van...written on the side Mobile food testing unit!...what a job that is..must have pretty good stomach linings.

I suppose it will take a number of years..these fans don’t really know F1 too well..and also the tickets are expensive ..So the middle classes are the only section of society that can afford them.

There was a great piece on the news about a real life Slumdog winner of Who wants to be a millionaire..a humble. Extremely poor guy with nothing to his name. No TV, he watched a previous edition with some friends and answered all the questions so they put him forward ....and he duly won the top prize.

There were a bangra band playing and dancing in the paddock after quali and the press interviews...great to see even caught sight Richard Branson shaking his leg...team members photographing the display...so nice..there should be more activity like this in the paddock.

Sat night around the hotel resort..lots of activity..market stalls were set up ..bands playing a curious combination of Indian and western rock. As I walked through down the parade of booths I was nabbed by this very colourful women who must of just had a dip in a tub full of perfume!...She obviously knew I was from Formula 1, still had my pass around my neck....after telling her I was the F1 artist...she insisted on showing me everything...clothes...paintings...jewellery...saying all the time..'Bring Bernie and his wife...they will love this....they must see this...please go and get Bernie...please...he must see....his wife will buy...she's not doing much!'

Managed to wriggle out of the grip!... they all see this as their one opportunity to make a lot of money.

Sunday.

Always looked forward to Sunday..busy day. First race and a special excitement.

Finally the grandstand were filling , during the drivers parade the crowds were very vocal...but when they caught a glimpse of A huge Bollywood star they all went ballistic!....forget Vettel and Shumacher....

No ceremony on the track before the race, I thought there would be, also disappointed that the grid girls were not wearing traditional dress....sponsors dictate these days what they wear...all very beautiful though!

Noticed Mr Bean shaking hands with cricketer and God here  Sachin Tendulkar...great sight.. Saw one Bollywood star ..the biggest it seems ...made over 400 films...dressed like John Travolta in Sat night fever....including the shoes!...the grandstand were calling and screaming his name..amazing.

.Very busy grid funny to see all the non-Indian TV cameras not knowing who the hell these Bollywood stars were..so they would follow the Indian TV cameras!

Even more bizarre after the race, I left in a car with some other people from FOM back to the hotel.....the same Bollywood star was being mobbed by a huge crowd next to the car...then suddenly our car door was opened he got in!....next to me...a few seconds later was then ushered out and taken to another car...very surreal!

The race was a bit of a parade with Vettel leading every lap...great spectacle though. During the race I went up to the Sponsors Suite AirTel. In the Paddock Club..packed with the wealthy Delhi middle classes. The CEO was waiting to write his piece, because Mr E had introduced me to him previously it wasn’t a problem getting him to write...nice long piece about the long wait for the Indian GP and how the whole of India will be proud....and I think it has been a huge success...huge teething problems not least a big hole that had appeared in the paddock during the race...fork -lift trucks arriving to move containers...that’s when the hole appeared..quite dangerous..but somehow..because it's India...one just accepts it

....On a serious ending the new wealth in this vast country really has to be distributed to all ...but that trip took to Agra has left me with a bitter taste ...never seen that sort of Poverty before .and yet along side this is the new India.... with it's booming economy....fast economic growth..doesn't sit comfortably.


Friday, 28 October 2011

A Delhi-lightful day!

Thursday
Went back into Delhi in the morning in search of more fabric, the driver took me on a little tour,
Great city I was surprised by the open spaces and big parks..very British in many ways.
But never too far from traffic and hoards of people by the roadside selling all sorts .
I was taken to this underground Bazaar-market....very dark ...not a place one would want to spend too much time....thankfully I found some beautiful embroidered dresses to cut up.......
I didn't see many tourists down there...suffice to say I was the focus of attention...'Sir...Mr....Wait.....Stop.....look at this...... this good Mr english' ....and so on!....
Went to the huge Monument India Gate, looks the Marble Arch built to commemorate the 90,000 soldiers of the Indian Army who lost their lives while fighting for the Indian Empire, or more correctly the British Raj in World War 1.
Whilst taking pictures a street seller shadowed me wanting me to buy these ...what I describe as helicopter sticks...fired into the air by a catapult rubber band, then spirals down to earth like a sycamore leaf....good fun!..he started by saying 2 for 100 rupees ( £1 10p)...I walked away saying no.....'4 for 100 rupess'....still saying no as I walked away.....'6'.....'8'  eventually I brought 10 for 100 rupees..hours of fun these sticks!....
Back to the Circuit, lots of movement in the paddock, teams have big hospitality units...I noticed when you look closely at all the buildings either side of the paddock..there aren't many straight lines!.
Thursday ...press day so all the journos were wanting the drivers impression of the circuit and India...with their media skills they batted diplomatic answers back.

A great event took place in the paddock around 4pm...along a  high metal fence were hung many paintings by under-privileged school kids and also kids with learning difficulties and mental handicaps.
there must have been 100 of them,  The kids had come from all over India and were asked to paint their surroundings...all kids between 8 and 16.  Blew me away!...such beautiful honest pure paintings...a real insight!..their dreams and desires were born out in these pictures.

All the kids gathering in front of their works....then all the drivers came and in turn signed all of them...great for the kids to meet the drivers and for them to put their signatures on the works but....somehow it didn't seem the right thing to do...signing all over the lovely works...but in December all the paintings will be auctioned off to benefit the kids directly ..so very worthy..I loved one in particular painted by this girl with Cerebral Pusey...amazing expressionistic piece..loved it..I reserved it!
...although it was signed by Jenson Button..so may be popular....
After that I was invited to drinks in the Virgin Hospitality it was Bob McKenzie's 60th Birthday..he's a good friend of Virgin. He 's the Telegraph reporter and rally driver...and father to the BBC's Lee McKenzie
In the evening there was a big welcome reception at the Hotel with a Bollywood themed show...lots of great food..not too spicy...wine and plenty of whiskey...kept on filling our glasses!
I sat on a table with Ross Brawn , principle of Mercedes...had a chat with him about Iceland!
He loves to fish there....a great hide-away in the off season...also sat next to the new boss of Allsport
David Campbell..he used to be the O2 boss in Greenwich..lots of stories...although we couldn't agree that his mate Chris Evans had once opened an influential art gallery with a naff name.....wellhung gallery!
A really good evening, he invited me to join him tonight(friday) to the F1 rocks concert.  Metalica...quite useful already having the earplugs for the races!!!
Friday,
Just back to hotel, another full day at the circuit, very hot 31 degrees and clear skies
But always very dusty, the track gets dirty very quickly, but it was the dust that stopped the second
free practice....it was 4 dogs!...stray dogs not a care in the world!..this could potentially
be a big problem during the race..looks out for some stray animals!,...how Martin Brundel describe that!!
In my capacity as a photographer with a small lens!  I took to the track during the 2 practice sessions...not many places to takes pics!....the snappers and cameramen are not too happy,,,usually there are holes cut into the high fences to takes pictures...many holes.....this track only has 7!
Seems very odd to me..
The paddock was so busy!..saw the CEO of Singapore track  and the German equivalent ..it looks like the stands will be full this weekend..they look spectacular..you will see on TV.
There was a presentation of the trophies on the Track with Mr E and the CEO of the title sponsors AirTel, Mr E came up to and asked how my work was going and then introduced me to The CEO..how nice...that means a lot to me...good day!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Incredible India!..

Wednesday
Such an apt word to describe India ...it's glory..colours...contrasts!
It's Diwali festival this week, today (Wednesday) is the main evening..lots of fireworks and firecrackers filling the air with smoke and a very distinctive smell..unlike fireworks back home...they must lace there's with spice!

Not sure where to start...well in the fine words of Julie Andrews...although not her own....
At the very beginning....I flew in Monday evening arriving at the Indira Gandhi Airport Delhi ..very modern with new terminals.

The journey to the Hotel took one and half hours, the Hotel and resort Jaypee is owned by the same family and company that built the new circuit...so as with the circuit the resort has the look of being completed five minutes ago!....
 But what an amazing new complex, lots of private villas, serviced apartments where I am and a big hotel where I am not...drew the short straw this time...but nevertheless..5 star service.. A huge golf course opposite...2 massive real life Elephants outside the main gates!..I have seen many animals since I arrived!   wild cows and monkeys co-habiting with humans... amazing..if the cow wants to cross the road then all the traffic stops...the monkeys seem to spend there time on various rooftops....I say rooftops... most of these roadside buildings...shacks....don't have roofs!

I took a trip to see the Taj yesterday, booked a car from the hotel. The trip to Agra took 4 hours..wow what a journey!
 I must say I have never seen such poverty and desperate living conditions, we passed so many townships all by the roadside...so hard to describe the appalling squalid nature of these places.......buildings in total ruin yet inhabited by so many.... directly in front of many a mass of household rubbish ..strewn across pools of effluent, often with a makeshift little plank acting as a bridge to get to the roadside....next to this sits the vendors selling fruit and veg and other items to celebrate the passing of Diwali...then the  animals can be seen just idly wondering.....
Many of these people have no money..but all have big booming smiles ...curiously the seem content, happy....in control in many ways...an utter paradox!

They all have curious forms of transport...took some amazing pictures of...families astride a motorbike...5 members...then there were the tut tuts...think that what they call them....these little piaggio 3 wheel mopeds with a shell and seats...I had no idea so many people could squeeze in one!..speaking of squeezing ..it's just accepted that 6-7 people can hang on to the rear of these vehicles on the highway!
Arrived to the Taj....so beautiful! everything you imagine it to be..and not masses of people either..
A tour guide tagged me..but actually was a good move ..although he did try to get me to buy all sorts of Taj crap!....doesn't matter what monument... building you find yourself at...you can always be sure that crap merchandise is never too far from the place!!
He also led me to the Diana bench!..as it's known here..well the queue to sit and be photographed was enormous...not sure what the guide said or did..but suddenly he led me to the bench ..the crowds parted!..there I was having my picture taken...funny!...
I learnt today that Mr Ecclestone went to visit the Taj by helicopter...if only I had known that...could have sponged a ride!...we could have both sat on Diana's bench!..I hope he did ....perhaps you will see that in the papers.

Only there 2 hours then the 4 hour journey back...but really worth the visit..suffice to say the Taj will appear in my painting..

This morning (Thursday)  was taken to the circuit, FOM has access to some drivers to chauffeur us back and forth, the track  Buddh International circuit of India is 20 mins from the Hotel, lots of roadside banners and hoardings advertising the race...new roads built to service the circuit too, as we approached one could see the main grandstand getting bigger and bigger!...by far the biggest stand I've seen...enormous...with a roof thats fashioned like a wave...little like the new silverstone pit complex.
The circuit is designed by Herman Tilke....inevitably!...I must say it's an amazing circuit!
This afternoon I took a walk around the track...always love doing this..it's a real treat,,and knowing that being new ..no drivers have accelerated in anger yet!...half way around the track I was met by the Sutton brothers very famous photographers- Sutton images...really nice guys...not at all the stereotypical snappers I have mentioned in previous blog!....the 3 of us were then met on bicycles by Massa and his race engineer Rob Smedley, we all had a chat ..as one does in the middle the circuit!.Rob was saying that the drivers will love the track...there are many duel racing lines for the drivers to take..this is unusual...makes for an exciting race..
.all the drivers walk, cycle or run the track with their engineers, but because this is the inaugural race they of course spend much more time..great to watch !
Met the promoter and CEO of the circuit Sameer, I had previously met him in Mr E's office in London, so knows all about the project, said he would line up some Bollywood celebs!..cool!

My driver took me to a Fabric shop, he pulled up outside...these guys sitting outside the shop ..saw me get out the car, then immediately rushed inside preparing the shop for the tourist!!...funny to see...but I'm a canny shopper now...haggled them down to a price that suited us both...it really takes so much time...but actually I quite enjoy this....although I made the fatal error in telling them that I was the F1 artist!....bought some lovely fabric..so pleased!
Back at hotel, there's a big reception tomorrow night...not sure if I'm invited yet...hope so!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Red Bull....Heart and Seoul Winners!!

Sunday –Race day

Red Bull clinching the championship..Great day for red bull…great season!...

Taking pictures of the podium the two faces either side of Vettel, Hamilton and Webber .. tell a sorry tale of woe and frustration, Hamilton just about mustered a smile when he was given his trophy and webber in hurry to leave the podium …not before cheekily spraying the Prime Minister with Champagne!...I ‘ve noticed he likes to do that..cover the suits in  bubbly!.

The race started at 3pm local time so this morning woke up a little later…just as well ..had a late session in the Hotel bar..really enjoyable and relaxed chatting to Mark Webber, Herbie Blash, Charlie Whiting…and Martin Donnaly who had that horrific near fatal accident not long before Senna died…It was great to meet him, he’s a steward at this race…..sorry..you can’t see me picking up the names I keep dropping!

With each race of course one gets to know more people…and they are genuinely interested in what I’m doing…also chatting to the journo’s is always enlightening !...some of these guys have been treading the F1 boards for years and years…most stories are not blogable!!

And they do drink!..John Button was also at the bar..very entertaining.
Another busy race day for me, always enjoyable.  There was a very colourful vibrant opening ceremony before the race, lots of traditional costumes and instruments, They like to do this at Asian races..not so in Europe.
Then there was the drivers parade, so funny ...all the snappers were gathered on the track and myself to take pics of the drivers in front of the main grandstand when some of us noticed this Korean couple in amongst us..bold as brass taking pictures, no passes, just very bright outfits ...hilarious security all around ..didn't notice!
After the grid I had to rush up to the Government suite in the Paddock club where I met the Prime Minister of Korea..the protocol here is amazing ..very efficient
The PM ,Minster of tourism and the Province Governor all wrote a piece for the artwork...so pleased...nice suite too.  All this happened half way during the race, so no mad rush.
The PM wrote about the race in the future being an iconic symbol of Korea's excellence in bringing Sport and Culture to the Republic.
I must say there has been quite a mixed response to the event , what is not in question is the drivers liking of the track..perhaps everything else takes time to bed-in...how diplomatically put!............
This race I was able to see parts of the de-rigging, my transfer didn't leave until 8, 3 hours after the race. What an operation and mostly working in the dark....fork-lifts all over the paddock lifting the huge containers into position, these guys will work all night, some of the containers are as well treated and looked after as the cars, quite a sight. The team riggers and FOM riggers change into their work gear, although the whole of Red Bull had changed into their victory t-shits with world champions written on the back...Christian Horner was still doing many interviews in the paddock, I managed to take his photo asking him to do the Vettel finger salute!
It's an odd time in the paddock, Lot's of people rushing to get their airport or hotel transfers.
Caught my transfer bus to Seoul at 8....5 hour journey to the Airport Hotel, Hyatt,..travelled up with  quite a few photographers....not sure what the collective noun would be for then....maybe  a 'del-boy' of photographers!...Why are their not any women snappers!..It's all testosterone and tripods!! ....5 hour sleep then Flight to Hong kong....which is where I am now...waiting to board the final 11 hour flight back to London........

Friday, 14 October 2011

Talk about a Korea change!........

Friday

Change in the weather!...yesterday glorious hot sunshine....rain all today and much cooler..

but the weekend should be dry they say.

So first and second practice didn't really have any relevance...cars with the extreme wet tyres...good

for photographers with the cars sliding all over, managed to take a picture of Rosberg dislodging his front wing ending up under his front right tyre, I was in a spot so close to the cars...glad I had decent earplugs!

So much to say about today...apparently at the beginning of the week organisers had sprayed green dye on the trackside grass and mud...making it more greener for the TV....but with all the rain today..the dye had washed away with huge green pools of water and green puddles everywhere!

Not many spectators today...in stark contrast to Japan last week, I guess because here we are 3-4 hours from Seoul, and a fledgling race..takes time...

The track looks very impressive, the drivers seem to like the many turns...huge paddock area, with large Team hospitality..the longest walk from one end to the other..even longer for me now I know people and stop to chat ....it's great to feel part of the community now.

Yesterday was a mixed day in the morning I went to the sea port , fish market...amazing sight fish everywhere all packed into wooden boxes and many frisk gutted and laid on netting to dry out in the sun....quite a smell the netting!...

Statistically at some point during my travels I knew I would succumb to a dose of Delhi belly...well ..the Korean equivalent...suffice to say yesterday was that day!...I'm sure it has increased my immunity for when I do go to Delhi in two weeks.

I managed to go back to the circuit for a meeting with the assistant to the race promoter and explained my project...she was so helpful and excited about my requests..she has lined up the Prime Minister, the governor the region, A government minister and the Chairman of the Korean Automobile Association....fantastic,,,they will write their lines on Sunday in the Paddock Club during the race, hopefully a little earlier than last week in Japan.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

wednesday- circuit bound

Sitting on the train waiting to leave Seoul heading to Mokpo, to the circuit hotel...aptly named
Hyundai...What a lovely day I've had in Seoul...didn't think yesterday that would be possible!
Picked a hotel in a less than attractive part of the city, matched by the manners of the hotel staff!
Couldn't find a restaurant near by ....room srvice in the hotel comprised of a list of phone numbers for take away services from various dubious outlets!
Hopped in a taxi and found a very nice Korean restaurant, beef strips still cooking as it arrives on a hot plate...lots of side dishes....thin strands of squid with seaweed....delicious!..wasn't taken with the korean beer though.
This morning I decided to find some galleries that I had seen at various Art fairs in london and Abu Dhabi, 30 minute taxi journey to the district....refreshing to find out that Korea is so mch cheaper than Japan.
What a delight to find  a very long street packed full of galleries....artist studios, great coffee houses too...I guess it's the hoxton equivalent with a dash of Chelsea thown in...A good find!
Not only that but on the other side of this street housed the Royal Palace set in many acres of grounds with lakes and temples...so beautiful to see.....and not overun with tourists either...Great decorative pictures for my Korea panel....
As I walked through the park there were many school kids on trips ..one lad came up to me and asked if he could take a picture of me...in pretty good english he said.....'It's for a school project to take a picture of person from  different country'....no problem I said.....he then shouted with such a high pitch something in Korean...to which many kids came running towards us ...then more....out of nowhere!....I was the pied piper of Seoul!!
I was suddenly surrounded by a swarm of very noisy loud korean kids all wanting there photo of me...just because I was foreign!...It took a while to exit that park, then went back to the galleries,
some very nice shows, local and international including a big Anthony Caro exhibition.
Managed to find some great fabric too..all very cheap.....bought masses!
A very enjoyable day in Seoul...trains are very cheap too so I'm sitting in first class free wifi on board ...all very civilised....recognise a number of F1 Photographers in carriage....funny breed!..no acknowlegement from them...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Race day..and beyond!

Sunday- Race Day
 The peoples republc of Suzuka!
The day for me was all about the fans...so many, patiently queuing in line.
So colourful and the sheer exuberance and excitment of the fans was something to behold.
They like being photographed too wearing their creatively designed outfits....the best fan zone
by far!....so much for them to do at the circuit....the entrance to the paddock was 10 deep with fans..amazing.
I had receiced a note from the General Mangaer to meet him during the race at 3-45 to take me
to the backstage podium room, to meet the Mayor of Susuka and the Chairman.
They were presenting the trophies...I waited some time ..not many laps to go..knowing that I had to
get to the Pit lane and wait to photograph the podium....I finally saw them with 5 laps to go..
They wrote their pieces in the small room that you see on TV....infact I had to move the watches and water and the winners cap ...I hope Alex didn't mind..he's the guy you see giving the watches and caps to the drivers..water and towels.
I thought only two would write a piece but there were 5 dignitries in their and they all wrote!..
Minister of Tourism ..president of the Automobile Assiciation..I had half an eye on the TV...
2 laps to go!...
They had written heart-felt thankyou to the world for helping Japan...these pieces are real gems..very moving!
I never rushed so fast to get to the queue of photographers....but they had already been given the nod to get into position...I manged to get past a steward...following Jake Humphrey...just as the Drivers took to the Podium...Good shots of Christian Horner balancing precariously on the pit wall.
As Button walked onto the Podium the crowd went wild!...they love him here..maybe something to do with his girlfriend!
A really good day...And a very enjoyable evening in the hotel restaurant, invited to Join friend from Allsport , with Alex and Bert Myander the Saftey car driver...lovely evening with them.
Also at the table was a charming Japenese girl there on business with Allsport .she very kindly offered to take me around Kyoto the following day, knowing that I was going there...so kind of her to do that...it really is so special having a local showing one around...beautiful ancient temples...One of them// ..the Golden Temple....covered in gold leaf....in the centre of a giant lake..with water lilies all around and trees changing into Autumn colours....beautiful!!!
Kyoto is a delightful old city and come alive at night with the glowing lanterns, found a great authentic restaurant on the river with Ayako..Japenese tapas!  What is it with the wine prices here.....£40 for a bottle of white..decent bottle around £20 anywhere else..the circuit hotel was like that too...evening capped off with me introducing Ayako to a glass of Guinness.....odd...


Tues
I'm in Seoul, just checked into hotel.spending a day and night here..staying at the curiously named Hotel Dodo...I go down to the circuit tomorrow afternoon after being told by many people in the paddock to stay in seoul as long as you can..as the track is very remote...built on reclaimed marshland...4 hours from the city...should be an adventure...
One other oddity I found yesterday...I checked out a big Paper shop in Kyoto...lovely traditional hand-made papers..so many...but I see the same in london but far cheaper!...I sort of expected it to be cheaper here where it's produced!..but had to buy something!
Flew into Kimpo airport seoul , had a brief chat with Herbie Blash from FIA...talking about his love for Japan,,I can see why...lovely people , very fiendly.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sizzling....Saturday....Suzuka......

What can I say about the crowds here.....mad!...fanatical....and so many!  100.000 are expected this weekend!...900,000 of them all carrying furry toys!!...and these finger puppets of the drivers...
Just walked out of the circuit briefly ....there is a tunnel from the paddock to the fanzone...this is for paddock passes only...an escalator takes you up from the tunnel into the masses of fans around the exit..well just behind me walking down the tunnel was Button's girlfriend and some friends.....she had no idea what was awaiting  her ....mobbed!...they love her hear...all very odd because no security to protect her...the crowd just swept her away!
A great quali too...I managed to find a great spot following some photographers to a grass bank in the middle of 2 bends,,,great shots looking down on the cars..
Sarah from FanVision, (the company that provides little TVs with live feeds and audio) kindly gave me one..so I was listening to Radio Five Live...managed to get back to the paddock just before Mclaren and Hamilton blew the chance of taking pole...Hamilton's face!....well if it was gunpowder...the explosion would be seen on the moon!!...he wasn't a happy bunny....
He didn't stay long in the interview pen...it's quite a sight seeing all these different emotions directly after the session with a load of Mics shoved in their faces...
Another lovely day started by meeting the President of the Circuit, He was very happy to write a piece in Japanese, the management have lined up the Mayor of Suzuka and a local minister to write tomorrow during the race...when Vettel will be crowned King again.
Yesterday I was interviewed in the Mclaren Motor home by a Swiss Journalist..she had heard about me and saw the inking of the tyres . She brought a photographer to take my pictures...very funny because Button was behind me with his father John..for once not being photographed.
I've come to realise during the course of the season so far that F1 is all or nothing..all encompassing...
A world outside reality...drivers are perceived as demi-gods..gladiators...fighting to reach the summit of their sport..such heights mortals can't even contemplate!....
Ultimately one is reminded of the real world...the earthquake survivors have been invited...Mr E brought 3000 tickets for them...this is the real world...but for a few days at these race meetings I feel this incredible buzz, that hangs in the air....an amazing feeling...I had no idea sport was capable of creating a different reality!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Suzuka...Japan's home of Motor Sport

 Thursday
Here I am in Japan....a country I was always looking forward to visiting..what a journey nearly 20 hours.
Good things comes to those who wait....and wait ...and wait...finally arrived after a brief stop in Taipei.
Flew into a heavy rain storm....but awoke this morning to a glorious sunny morning and apparently all set for the good weather staying with us.....I'm sure Vettel has a hotline to him upstairs!!....speaking of Vettel.......
As I checked in last night to the Suzuka Circuit Flower Garden Hotel..flanking me.. also checking in were to my right Alonso and to my left Vettel....all 3 us signing the forms...and I was treated the same by the staff...although they did say ..'yes Mr Vettel ....yes Mr Alonso....I was Mr Mark.....
This Hotel is in the circuit compound...I think this hotel is closer to the track then any other.
It;s a hotel with  lodges circling the reception...I'm in lavender house....family house!...with kids toys in my room..also a potty!...and kids posters....lots of Bubble gum colours!..
All quite endearing though....best thing is the loo....heated toilet seat!....with lots of buttons attached the the loo....too afraid to press one!.....
Speaking of Bubble gum colours..I took a taxi into Suzuka town about 5 miles away...big industrial city..I was dropped off outside the huge Mall....one is confronted with a whole host of posters and signs all designed in a sort of animated fashion with these bright colours ...pinks and yellows...
I walked through the first floor...the food hall...what feast for the eye....all the dishes aren't just written on boards but all laid out on plates pinned to the wall as if ready to serve....but set in some sort of resin to preserve them...quite bizarre
Found some very typical Japanese fabric courtesy of a half Japanese half Italian girl working in a coffee shop......never thought I would be asking for fabric in Japan speaking Italian!
After leaving the mall I took a walk down these very long straight roads..curious place...some real gems hidden down tiny side streets...old restaurants with beautiful ultramarine blue tiles..these tiles were evident all over..perhaps a local factory
I eventually found a cab back ...took a while...went into a small hotel ...called Business Hotel...but the B was missing on the sign...when I went inside it seemed there were many things missing!....
thankfully taxi is a universal word.....but the lady pointed to a phone with a number for the taxi.......how would that work!!...eventually she called for me...
nice lady very helpful..although she gave me an almighty slap on my back....alerting me to the fact that the cab had arrived...perhaps this is the local custom....ABH!
The short walk to the circuit was amazing, through a big amusement park....all for kids ..fantastic..lots of mini race tracks with funny looking Karts..and high rides snakng the park...and  big bears entertaining the families...incredible to see...piped music all around..and talking waste disposal units!!
of course I didn't know what they were saying....probably cursing me for not putting my plastic water bottle into the correct hole!
Fans here are indeed fanatical...they know not only the drivers but other members of the teams...so funny at breakfast this morning seeing some fans approaching team personnel for their autographs!
I felt left out!!...
The paddock is very wide and long and on a slight incline..I noticed the grid was too..apparently the circuit is in use pretty much all year round..they love their motor sport here...motor bikes are very popular too.   the FOM offices are all very smart ..its amazing seeing the differences throughout the year...some tracks they are temporary huts!
looking forward to spending more time at the track tomorrow..and seeing the fans zone too..should be colourful!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Singapore race day(night)

There is certainly a unique atmosphere during the night race....the track takes on the appearance of one almighty arena under floodlights..there is a giant park adjacent to the track with a big stage belting out music all night...the only time one doesn't hear the music is when the cars take to the track......
What a Stella line-up of acts on stage...Boy George!....Rick Astley!...you think the organisers found an old 80's manual....and thought......yes get them!!
But there are some more contemporary acts too....Shikira...linkin Park..shaggy!...shows my age..don't know these!....somehow it seems right for acts to be playing at night.
There are so much for the spectators..all very civilised..apart from the Security....each time one goes in and out of the paddock, there is an airport style detector to pass through..with x-ray searches...this is the first race I have experienced this.
Met the CEO of the sponsors Singtell, nice guy had time to compose a piece for my book...he was quite nervous about the prospect of waving the checkered flag at the end of the race....he'd just been invited to do this..'What if I drop the flag!' to which someone replied.....'It hasn't happened yet!....
The quali took place quiet late at 10pm..the stands were full...one thing I have noticed compared to other races the fans here don't carry or wear flags from their nations or teams..they don't really dress up...not sure why it would be different here..
I managed to walk around the inner circuit and find a spot to take pics...not easy taking taking good pics under floodlight....another Vettel pole...this could be the day when he secures his back to back Championship....still with 5 races to go!.....would be a good party if he wins..that's for sure!....

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Weekend under lights- Singapore

Friday..
Just had breakfast at 2pm...the hotel is catering for the teams..although I was the only one in the dining room.....six waiters all looking at me , watching my every move and very keen indeed to tell me about their encounter with Schumacher yesterday...
Yesterday was a full busy day in the City and the track.
I needed to find some fabric for my paintings, was told to go to Arab Street area near Raffles Hotel...wow  what a beautiful street laden with fabrics from all over Asia..I found one shop with local material..although local....this means a hybrid of  Malay and Indonesian..a very rich material of colour and beautiful floral designs, had a lovely chat with the lady owner.. who I must say wasn't happy when I told her I was going to cut up the fabric for my artwork!  Sacrilege!...she said....
She had many opinions about the Grand Prix too..saying that the cheapest tickets were too expensive for the locals..around £75.
Opposite her shop was the Main Mosque in this old part of the City..doesn't seems to be in evidence much ...just like Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai..the old quarters are barely noticeable...I cant help feeling that the spirit of the City dissipates with the suffocation of these historic ares of the City.
Hopefully in my Artwork I can show a little of this spirit alongside the impressive modern architecture and the beauty of Formula 1.....that's my note to self!..
When I arrived at the track the crowds were amassing...every fan seemed to carry the biggest camera!.
As I walked around the inner track wearing my Tabard as an official photographer...I could feel the crowds long lenses almost touching my face...now I have lens envy from the spectators!!
So funny they are a creative lot these F1 crowds...because it's a street circuit the barriers are all blacked out with sheeting so the non paying citizens cant watch for free...one see lots of holes cut in the sheeting with lenses poking through..with 2 little holes for the eyes!...
I received a call from the CEO's office to come straight away....not easy sprinting down the track..especially with these long lenses poking me in the face!!
So nice when all goes well ....Managed to get the CEO and Deputy Chairman of the circuit to write there piece first..they spoke about the unique atmosphere the night race has....absolutely correct!...amazing..Then the Dep Chairman Mr Syn....great name!...took me upto their suite in the Paddock Club where I met Mr E's girlfriend..told her about my work ..she had seen some before with Mr E...that's always a nice surprise when people know your work!...I was then introduced to the Minister for Trade ...he's also the Minister for the PM's office...they call him Mr 2M!...
He wrote a nice piece too..just as his food was getting cold!...
Mr Syn was so helpful..so nice!   ...Syn can be good!!
His assistant Joyce..curiously English name was also great..infact this eve she will introduce me to the CEO of Singtel, the Main Sponsor of the race.....
Well it's 4pm now..time to go to the circuit......

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Singapore...

Friday.
More like Singarich!...very wealthy state, there is a big rising growth in the Arts ...very important in this multi cultural country.
I arrived early Wednesday morning around 7am after a 12 hour flight...straight to the sumptuous Mandarin Oriental Hotel and to bed...to keep with UK time...Managing to stay on UK time..all very weird waking up at 1-2 o clock in afternoon..then having lunch for breakfast!
The teams arrive at the circuit around 3 -4 in afternoon, as all the activity ..free practice and quali all take place around 10pm local time.
It's a beautiful mini-metropolis...all centred around the main Marina with the towering sands hotel ..3 towers joined at the top..quite spectacular, especially at night...this city come alive at night..amazing display of lighting..heavens know what happens when they have power cuts!
The track is so much part of the city, street circuit that snakes around the marina..I overlook the track from my hotel room..at night the lit track looks amazing...very powerful lights..I walked the circuit on Wednesday night..what stuck me as with many street circuit ...they are quiet unforgiving in terms of crashing...the barriers are concrete...the drivers will shave these at 200 mph...didn't see any tyre barriers...quite a sight...like a giant scalectrix!
The security here is quiet intense too...my hotel is inside the circuit...not easy to get back sometimes!..had to climb some barriers..all seems a little odd...most of the major hotels are inside the circuit....yesterday ..prime example.  I walked back from visiting the sands hotel over the main bridge across the Marina bay..half way down I was met by 2 stewards and a barrier. I had my pass to the circuit and paddock, there was another German guy with his pass too.....but they refused us entry saying we needed an all zone pass and that we should turn back...he wouldn't listen to us saying we have full access passes...the other guy was guest of Charlie Whiting Race Director....he had to call Charlie to allow him through...10 Min's later Charlie arrived....but still the steward wouldn't let us through...what a mad, surreal funny situation...there was Charlie Whiting saying to the steward..I'm the bloody Race Director....let these two people through!!.....the steward just kept on saying ..I can't!!....finally we were let through...this happens often ..takes the phrase Jobs-Worth's...to a whole new level!
I've been staying up until 4 am taking pictures around the city at night....lovely restaurants and bars...not cheap...As with Malaysia...there is a Strong British colonial presence here..walked past the Singapore Cricket Club....Famous Raffles Hotel..beautiful and the Fullerton Hotel..nice coffee there!
It's a sort of health farm work-out here...one sweats so much...very humid and always feels that rain is never too far away....like many previous races!
As a spectacle the Circuit is quite remarkable..I went on the Enormous Singapore Flyer....huge wheel much taller than the London Eye...wow!..what a view...took some great pictures up there
There are many spas and massage parlours here especially in the shopping malls.
I may try out the local fish spa...there is one place near the hotel...Fish Spa and Internet cafe!!
So funny.....you place your feet in this pool with tiny fish nibbling away at your feet!...apparently it's amazing reflexology....all this as you surf the Internet too!!
Meeting the Circuit management today...looking forward to taking pictures during the first free practice.....

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Bella Italia!. Monza Grand Prix

Always such a pleasure returning to Italy, first time into Milan Linate airport.
Arrived Wednesday eve, picked up by a driver in a grand Mercedes..getting very blaze about this!
Still after 13 races seeing a driver holding my typed named on a card amuses me a little...
Straight to the hotel, curiously named Cosmo Torri..It does have a cosmos theme but in a very small way..shapes from a distant galaxy are dotted around the walls and carpets!

Back to earth...the drive to the Monza circuit around 15 minutes was so beautiful through the Royal
Monza Park, with the very grand palace. Very big park quite UN-Italian in a way ..informal quite British like.  The early morning dew glistened before the warm sun would burn through the clouds.
I didn't realise that Monza was quite a large town..I was expecting a tiny village like Spa.
Another great sight of the big crowds walking and cycling through the park towards the circuit...knowing that the crowds would grow and grow throughout the weekend.

Greeting us at the tiny main entrance were many devoted tifosi-fans waiting to grab an autograph...I can say it was chaos!..this was just Thursday morning!....the levels of chaos would ratchet up with each morning..but somehow being in Italy one expects that sort of contrast..all good humored madness...its amazing how the crowds just block all entrances and exits and not move!...
I was a little nervous about the Inking of the Tyres that day at 6pm in the paddock.
I was carrying the big roll of cartridge paper 10 metre. and all the inks weighing my down..the first two cups of coffee settled the nerves..
Had a meeting with Mr E's No. 2, about the press releases that Pirelli were due to send out..all approved.
Went the the Monza Autodrome office to introduce myself to the Director of the circuit, aptly named Mr Ferrari..saw him briefly and explained the project, said he needed time to compose his words and also at some point over the weekend he would find others...and he did..another full set!
He took me up to his suite overlooking the Pits on the Saturday to get the Mayor of Monza to write a piece, then the president of the Italian Motor sport.  On the Sunday Mr Ferrari called me to introduce me to the Minister of Sport..he wrote his piece in the middle of the Paddock..think it looked like I was an autograph hunter!
Very happy with the responses from these executives..nice people these Italians!
Not such a positive response from Santander who again declined to write something, I believe they may have misunderstood the brief. I will speak to Mr E about that.
Around 4-30 (Thursday) I arrived at the Pirelli Motor home in the paddock situated halfway down.
Brought the big roll and inks, and proceeded to layout the roll with the help of Alexandra from Pirelli whom I had worked on this collaboration with and Christian .the chief of Security in the Paddock.
I laid a bigger sheet of Plastic under first ..knowing that the paddock is hallowed ground!
Alexandra was a little nervous about the printing ink not taking to the tyres and therefore not printing...'Trust me ..I'm an Artist!' ...I said...
Think that made her even more nervous!
As the time turned to five thirty I started rolling the ink on the 5 tyres...3 colours blue , orange and black..it was a very hot day day..I knew that the ink was slow drying with a vegetable oil base but water washable..clever,,smart ink!
Rubens Barrichello was the first driver to arrive 5-35 precisely for 10 minutes, by this time lots of press had circled the paper and TV crews..butterflies were flying around inside my belly..hundreds of them..though they were a disappearing species!
Rubens was given some latex gloves and I explained to him I wanted him to make marks and patterns with the inked tyres and to regress....go back to your childhood!
He used the entire length of paper to spell out his name with the tyres.....fascinating..I was expecting him to just make abstract marks.just after he signed Jarno Trulli came with Kobayashi..I sort of wanted all the drivers to come together but actually it created a different dynamic...
So I explained the brief to them both..Trulli proceeded to bounce the tyres down the paper..fantastic!..as he was doing this kobayashi instinctively helped me roll ink onto the tyres....he then started snaking the tyres creating nice marks...by this time Myself and 2 other Pirelli staff were frantically inking the tyres..then Timo Glock arrived ..had fun too..although wouldn't shake my hand...perhaps due to the fact they were completely covered in ink!..so shook my arm instead!
Mark Webber came after a few minutes ..I noticed more snappers when he arrived...He was great fun..
Although he did say to me....'I been asked to do some crazy things and this is up there!...
well .....flipping a car at 200 miles an hour ...flying into the air..then getting back into the car...that's pretty crazy !!
Mark made some great snaking patterns and even did a doughnut with the tyre spinning it...lovely markings!
So the result was a great 10 metre piece of Decorative Abstract printmaking..very happy with it!
Pirelli will make a special presentation in Brazil and donate to a Charity for Auction.
Suffice to say I was covered in Ink...clearing up took a while
Lots of people came to watch ..so pleased because it's always good to have something different in the paddock and I was told it did create a buzz.
Looked forward to a big cold glass of wine after that!

Friday I went into Monza and around the royal park..lovely pictures..just outside Milan. then drove into Milan with a driver who had what what I can only describe as a nervous twitch..head and hands were constantly dancing around..arrived in Milan. Spent 2 hours taking pictures around the Duomo and La Scala...masses of people...amazing encountering two huge Temples in one day...
Monza circuit and the Milan Cathedral.
Beautiful pictures.
Friday evening I was invited with Formula one management to eat in the Mclaren Motor Home..very nice indeed.chicken the size of a small country!
Sat evening we were invited to eat in the Ferrari Motor Home..spoiled rotten..is the phrase!
Lovely tiger prawns and wine.
Walking around the Monza circuit was such a delight..there were traces of the original track too..Monza celebrates 90 years next year.  The sense of history and legend is definitely palpable.
The weekend I have never seen so many fans ....all wearing red!...singing ..dancing..a real sporting party..they love their motor racing and also know how to enjoy themselves.
After Vettel's victory on Sunday the crowds all fled the grandstands and took to the track..this is unique here because the podium is on a platform across the pits , above the starting grid..so the fans ware so close to the drivers on the podium...millions of them..such an amazing sight!..completely mad!
What an a great week...lots of good memories already...

Monday, 29 August 2011

Sun.........Was it an IneVETTELble victory!

All done Spa the shouting!....sorry I'm in pun heaven today.....must be something in the water!
Now Vettel is 103 points ahead the deed is almost done, but all very exciting with lots of incident
and overtaking. I hear that some say overtaking is too easy now.....these were the same people
in previous years saying overtaking was too difficult!
Sunday is always a hectic fun day for me, pleasure again walking to the circuit past all the temporary bars..all full at 9am!
Lot's of English ticket touts too, I noticed this at other races also. Such a party atmosphere with tents pitched either side of the road..,.very dubious Euro music belting out from the speakers which in some cases look bigger than the tents!
I received a message from Shell (title sponsor) to come to their hospitality at Eau Rouge, made my way down there pass the steward who had refused me entry earlier...we had a smile....
Firstly I spoke to an assistant of one of the assistants to the CEO Mr Voser...the assistant said he had to speak to the other assistant.....and so it went on!...finally they both agreed without speaking to the CEO, that he was too busy to write his piece!...this has happened a few times..if I speak directly to the CEO's they are more than happy to contribute...but these assistants know better!!!!
Anyway they agreed that he will write his piece this week with a photo and send it to me..all fun and games!..
I then ran back up to the paddock through the GP2 and GP3 area to catch Eddie Mercx...but missed him unfortunately.   Mr E was due to arrive around 12-30, many people thought he would stay in Italy for his daughters wedding.
I wasn't able to see him, hopefully he will watch the Art Event in Monza, which will happen in the paddock...5 drivers making a series of prints with the Pirelli tyres...and making a mess too...will be great..
Watched the race in Sauber Hospitality, they have the most beautiful red mugs for tea with chocolate biscuits...very civilised!..
Queued up with 5 laps to go for the Podium..I must say there was no stand or elevation for the snappers...some brought ladders..and the Lovely Podium spoilt by the Scaffold pole barrier in the front which totally got in the way of the photography looking up at the drivers....not good!...
Also I would love to see different faces on the Podium!.....
Can't wait for Monza.....back to studio now..managed to make a lot of progress on the paintings during the ..so called break..noticed all the drivers sporting their new sun tans..obviously didn't spend their break in the UK!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sat- Who put the Spa in Sparring!?

Answer....Hamilton and Maldonado!...certainly the talk of the paddock after their coming together
during quali..the consensus seems to be, Pastor was in the wrong...and he has form!..
Seems to me when something like this happens it's good for the press and teams..
I positioned myself on Eau Rouge firstly at the top then at the bottom almost within touching distance of the cars..fantastic..great shots.
During the final free practice in the morning..... looking towards the other side of the circuit from the paddock, way in the distance, one could see the cars disappearing into the forest, because of the heavy rain the spray from the cars soared high above the trees....like an old locomotive steaming through...beautiful scene.
The grandstands were full, also the huge grass banks..they love their racing here, lots had come to see Schumacher..20 years in F1...there was a drinks party in Mercedes Motor Home plus other presentations to the old man!
With every race that passes I know more paddock people..I get stopped and asked how the painting is going 'looking forward to seeing them ,they say'.... no pressure then!
Every time I see Eddie Jordan walk down the paddock....well actually he doesn't walk because he  stops every other pace to chat with someone...he know them all..and their families..probably their dogs too!
Saw him come into the hotel restaurant last night and gave the lady owner a big hug!
My table was positioned next to a table of 12, all invited guests of Red Bull..a real insight as to how their PR machine works...as impressive as their cars!
Then Christian Horner arrived to chat with them for 15 minutes before going to another function, the time was around 9pm...Basically he was telling them what they wanted to hear.
It was great..I had a ringside seat with good food and wine.
Then another special guest arrived...just flown in. The Chief Car Designer for Nissan. As he was introduced..they revealed an exclusive.....not yet to be released until next month.....
A new car designed by this Nissan big wig...in collaboration with Christian Horner and Sebastian Vettel... a road car ..on sale to the public soon.
Amazing what one hears sitting eating at a restaurant!.
Looking forward to the race...and the stewards response to pastor and lewis. one of which is Nigel Mansell ..I see him a lot at the races.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Friday- Spa 1st and 2nd free practice

They said expect rain...they didn't mention the wasps!..masses of them, walking towards the circuit this morning I passed a waffle cabin with a lot of waffles laid out on the counter with hundreds of wasps all over them..who on earth would buy one...why they didn't think to cover them up!....

It's been one of those days...a steward refused me entry as a photographer to the inner circuit even though I was wearing my tabard...photographers have either a jacket with F1 photographer or a tabard...the steward said my tabard was for GP2 or GP3...not F1 ..even though F1 was written on it!...he still refused ...as I walked away I took a picture of him to complain to security...he then grabbed my camera wanting my memory card..the security soon marked his card!
Stewards are often told one thing yet do the other!..give them a radio...they change!

Rain and sun had equal billing today..very warn and humid too
Because the hotel is within walking distance I didn't have to leave so early in the shuttle car. Big crowds were walking past the hotel, unlike previous races the spectators were wearing many different team colours, not one team seemed to be favoured.
Lovely meal in the hotel last night, although I couldn't put out  the fire on my creme brulee!...nice to see Mark Webber relaxing eating with his family.
The paddock is so close to the track, great view of the circuit.
Because of the rain, the drivers tended to run  from the motor homes to their garages, frustrating the eager snappers!...
Waited in Pirelli hospitality for a final meeting about the inking of Pirelli tyres in Monza, we agreed to get 5 drivers making Prints, rolling the tyres out on a long sheet of paper.  Very excited about this, BBC will film this and come to my studio also. All the press will be informed.
I have a busy weekend coming, need to find the CEO of Shell to write his piece, and other dignitaries.
looking forward to taking great pictures of the cars speeding up Eau Rouge..and the iconic corner called Bus Stop...not sure why...bit different to my local Bus stop in Kennington!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Spa-Francorchamps...thursday

Here I am deep in the Belgium countryside in a little hamlet dedicated to Motor racing....this tiny village lives and breathes Motorsport...infact when a tree is felled and cut in half ....like a stick of rock..written inside is Grand prix!....what stories these trees would tell...if only we could communicate with them!..actually some do!
In many ways this is the home of Modern racing..the corners and turns are as famous as the drivers,,,when I first approached the circuit this morning... ..the first thing I noticed was the imposing presence of  eau rouge..an elegant steep climb with banks of trees to the left, far steeper than one is aware on TV.
My Hotel . Du Roannay. 800 metres from the track, infact its on the old track from 50 years ago.
Such a treat to walk to the circuit with the big crowds.
I spent the morning with a guide showing me around the bigger town of Spa..10km from Francorchamps.  First big building I notice was the big Casino in the town square.  I was told that the worlds first casino originated in Spa 1763. Not on that site but a place not too far, in a now derelict building called Waux Hall...  very interesting indeed..my studio in London is in Vauxhall..which in the 18th Century displayed similar qualities and layout as Spa.Beautiful buildings...beautiful maidens..lakes..wealth ..and a spa..so perhaps the name Vauxhall comes from Spa....Belgium...
Saying all that..couldn't find a spa anywhere!...although rain is expected over weekend so water water everywhere!...
I like the layout of the paddock...split level, higher than the circuit with amazing views of the track and grandstands,, I also like the mix of old and new, there are parts of the track that haven't changed for years giving a great feeling of nostalgia..I'm sure the spectators love that too.
Not sure if I will see Mr Ecclestone ..maybe  on Sunday...he's giving his daughter away in Italy...so to speak!
Met the promoter Mr Maes..charming man wrote his piece straight away...wants to introduce me to the Belgian legend Jacky Ickx over the weekend to get him to write about his passion for F1..and curiously Eddie Mercx too..who will be presenting Schumacher with a Bicycle on Sunday.
Looking forward to meeting these guys.
Great Meeting with Pirelli and FOM about the Art event in Monza...Can't say which drivers will be involved yet ..
Back to hotel now for some traditional Belgian food.....

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Hungary...what a feast!

Race day Sunday..and Hungary for more!
I knew it would be a challenging day..the two executives of the circuit hadn't written their pieces yet.
I'm getting used to them wanting time to compose their lines...it shows that they take the project very seriously ......with the exception of one or two!
After better weather on Saturday and a great qualifying session, Sunday was set up for a thrilling race.
I was able to walk most of the inner circuit in my capacity as a photographer!...I have been watching the snappers..and their particular way of standing enabling them to take judder free shots!...also in order for me to blend in with these guys..one has to look the part..which as far as I can make out...not saying hello but just acknowledging with a slight tip of the head!
Cameras these days make life so easy, great quality digital pictures.
Manged to take some great pictures of the cars with the huge yellow backdrop from the ENI advertising boards.
I have been eating some delightful simple Hungarian dishes..but Sat' nights dish was far from delightful!
Previously we had some lovely goose liver. This restaurant listed it in their menu, so myself and one other  from Formula management chose it again...to our horror..the liver was deep fried!..battered liver!..then Lucy Mr Ecclestone's PA  ordered sea bass....deep fried!!.........glad we didn't order dessert!
Sunday's weather not so good..very grey but dry with the threat of rain...seems to have been a pattern of many previous races.
Met up with Tomas CEO, early ..told me to find him during the race in his office ..then he will write and get others, to also...very encouraged by that!..
I was a little late getting onto the grid, taking some good pictures around the circuit..fantastic natural banks looking down over the circuit..perfect for spectators...loads of Russian and Polish flags..all wishing Kubica well..nice to see. Also a lot of Ferrari flags with birthday greetings for Alonso...30 years young.
The stands to the side of the grid were very close...the spectators almost within touching distance..really added to the atmosphere..also the colour ..the title sponsors ENI colour is yellow...grid girls looking very bright in their tasteful outfits...I really do feel privileged to be able to take a spot on every race grid...I really enjoy ..sensing the nervous anticipation of the teams although their professionalism shows through ..one still senses their human side..wanting their man to do well.
Straight from the grid...fast dash to the CEOs office...he wasn't there..what do I do ..wait or go to the Paddock club to the ENI suite to catch there CEO??...just as this thought passed through my mind Tomas appeared..great!...with his daughter who helped him with the spelling, he wrote his piece in Hungarian then English.  It all then got even better..Tomas took me to see the Chairman of the circuit who wrote his piece...he then led me into an office where the President of Hungary was watching the race, explained to him who I was and what I was doing..he wrote a piece...of course in Hungarian...so could be about anything!...could be a shopping list for all I know!
Sitting with The President was 100 m sprinter Asafa Powell..well I couldn't waste the opportunity to ask him to write something...He kindly wrote a lovely piece . His first visit to a GP...and liking the explosive burst of speed from the starting grid...to his sport..
Delighted with all that...time was passing too quickly..I then had to run up the the Paddock club ..into the ENI SUITE, to find their CEO. ..knowing that I had to queue up for the podium shots. They were waiting for me up there...how nice!.
..Great  coffee up there too..all beautifully laid out for their clients...strong aroma of flowers and perfume....and money!
Another dash to the Podium....good to see Button on top!...I wasn't quite close enough to feel the spray from the bubbly...hopefully I will at one race.
A great time in Budapest...found some lovely fabric too...great shots..great food..(Almost!)
3 week break now..Factories have to close shop for 2 of these weeks...
Not for me though... happy to spend the time in studio catching up and cracking on with the work...11 paintings on the go now.....
Belgium next...travelling on Eurostar..should be fun.....