Riding on the track at the Olympic velodrome


Yesterday I had the chance to ride on the track at the Olympic velodrome at Stratford. In summary: it was fantastic.

I hadn’t ridden on a velodrome before, or indeed on a fixed-wheel bike, so I was quite apprehensive about the whole thing. What if, in a moment of absent-mindedness, (to which I am prone), I forget to keep pedalling and come crashing down the banking? That kind of thing.

But it was all fine. The instructor was very good, and took us through one step at a time, so that at each point I felt ready for the next stage. So, first of all understanding about the bike and the rules of riding on the track, then learning how to clip in, how to start off and how to stop, how to ride on the safety zone, how to ride on the ‘côte d’azur’, (light blue section at the bottom of the wooden track), then riding on the boards themselves.

I was grinning from ear to ear for much of the time. Well, inwardly at least. Complete euphoria at actually riding on a track tinged with a hint of nervousness thinking that it could all still go horribly wrong at any moment. But it didn’t, and I absolutely loved it.

At the end of the session I was given the go ahead to progress to Level 2. And you know what? I think I will.

Some photos are below. Please excuse the fact that they aren’t all that sharp – the light is comparatively low and my speed was incredibly fast. OK, not really that fast, but fast enough to be blurry.

Thanks should to go to my family who bought me the ‘taster session’.

If you’d like to have a go yourself, or perhaps buy a taster session for a cyclist you know, you can do so on the Lee Valley Velo park website. I’d say that ideally you need to be fairly competent on a bike. It would help to have ridden a road bike before, but probably isn’t essential. Do ask me any questions about it if that would be useful.

Choosing a bike.
Being fitted for a bike. Struggling to get on it because the cranks don’t just turn to where you want them.
The coach explains how to ride on the track.
The coach explains how to ride on the track while we all hold onto the banister*. *It may not be called a banister.
Riding around for the first time, on the 'safety zone', the blue flat bit.
Riding around for the first time, on the ‘safety zone’, the blue flat bit. I can ride a fixed-gear bike – hurrah!
Riding on the 'côte d'azur', the light blue strip that is part of the track, but not steeply banked on the bends.
Riding on the ‘côte d’azur’, the light blue strip that is part of the track, but not steeply banked on the bends.
On the track.
On the track. I can feel the wind in my face and am very happy.
Riding at a great velocity.
Riding at a great velocity.

Interactive cartoon: Reading the Past


I have done an interactive cartoon for the Lawrence Sterne Trust. You can see it in all its interactivity here: Reading the Past.

An explanation, from the ‘About’ page:

Reading the Past, Writing the Future is an educational project, devised by The Laurence Sterne Trust, which aims to encourage primary schools to visit their local church and to stimulate creative work inspired by the stories that can be found there.

The Reading the Past project is a good example of how educational visits can benefit pupils. The North Yorkshire village of Coxwold no longer has a primary school but St Michael’s church serves as an excellent example for children from surrounding villages. After a visit to the church with the staff of the Laurence Sterne Trust, the children then return to look at their own local church to explore its own individual history. Through these discovered facts and stories perceptive teachers can find a rich resource for many curriculum subjects.

Rather than restricting the interpretation to a single pair of eyes, the Trust commissioned experts in different crafts and disciplines to examine the church from their own particular standpoint and ‘read the past’ in their own particular way. The films of the visits to St Michael’s Coxwold can be used as a template for observing churches in any town or village in the country.

(Read more)

The links on the image take you to videos by four different craftspeople. If you have a bit of time they are well worth watching.

Fishermen’s Chapel launch day and new website


Over a month since the last blog post – goodness. So, what have I been up to? Well, after the excitement of four Church Times covers and a week off making bad pottery, I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks making a new website for The Fishermen’s Chapel in Leigh-on-Sea. This, if you remember, is where I have my cartoon studio, and I am also part of a steering group relaunching the Chapel as an arts/music/events/creative-goings-on-space as well as continuing to be a church. Anyway – the website is here: The Fishermen’s Chapel

On Saturday 29 March, a week today, we’re holding a launch event for The Fishermen’s Chapel at the Chapel itself. I’m doing a cartoon workshop, a cartoon trail, (no, I still don’t know exactly what that is yet either) and exhibiting some of my work. There will be all kinds of other performers – musicians, poets, a choir, and even some tyrannical yarn-bombers. See the post programme below for the line-up. There will also be a cafe serving cake. Lots of cake. And afterwards, at about 6 or a bit earlier/later, the plan is to go to the pub (there’s about 5 within 5 mins walk).

I would love it if anyone who could would like to come along. If you want to look up the location – the postcode is SS9 2EA. It is fairly easy to get there from London, but unfortunately there are engineering works on the railways that day, so you will get to see a bit of Basildon by bus – but it is still doable (approx £11.70). Why not make a day of it? Walk along the promenade, sample cockles from Osbornes, climb the hill to Leigh itself and look at the shops (book shop, the splendid stationary shop, the fabric shop, etc etc), eat an ice cream, take photographs of the state of the tide… It will be fun. I know this is a million miles away from lots of you, but if anyone can make it then that would be super. Do ask me if you have any questions.


Church Times cover

7872_31 January 2014_cover

Over the next four weeks or so the Church Times is running a series on the health of the Church of England. I’ve been doing quite a lot of work on this – today’s issue has one of my cartoons on the cover, as well as my usual weekly one, a few extras to illustrate the features (one is here – click blue cartoon to enlarge), and a few other bits and pieces (including a stethoscope, lettering on graphs and, for good measure, a new advert for the Bloxham Festival).

It is great to have an opportunity to do a cover. I really enjoy doing larger pieces of work, but don’t usually get the chance. I’m doing more cartoons for the next three papers in the series, which are for the next two weeks, then a brief break for Synod, then the final one. This will mean a lot of pacing to and fro and late nights, but I’m very pleased to have been given the opportunity.

If you’d like to read more of the ‘C of E health check’ features they are here. There are four that are free for anyone to view, but the rest are subscriber-only.

Thanks to everyone who subscribes to the Church Times – it is the first place you’ll see most of my church-themed work, and by doing so you are helping to support what I do.

Being a cartoonist

Being a cartoonist from Michal Dzierza on Vimeo.

I’m really pleased with this. I think Michal has done such a great job on the video.

The location is my studio at the Fishermen’s Chapel in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, along with the hallway (note the church umbrella) and the waterfront in Old Leigh, just across the railway tracks from the church.

The video (in case you’re somewhere you can’t watch it) is 3 minutes long and shows me drawing, talking about my work, including how I started and my drawing process. Also there is a shot of carrying tea. I am a bit nervous when talking, but I’m hoping you won’t notice that…

Included in the video is a cartoon that hasn’t appeared anywhere yet! Watch this space.

If you could share this video then that would make me very happy.

A huge thank you to Michal for doing this. You can see more of Michal’s work, including other interviews with people doing creative jobs, at Meehow Media.

My new studio

New Road Leigh-on-Sea - The Fishermen's Chapel

Yesterday I went to see my new studio space in its completed form for the first time. Three days a week I’m going to be working at New Road Methodist Church, known as the Fishermen’s Chapel, in Leigh-on-Sea. I’ll be a kind of a ‘Resident Cartoonist’.

There’s a lot I could say about it, but in summary: the church is reinventing itself a bit, and I’m getting involved by a) renting some space, and b) being on a steering group to consider the way forward. It is likely that, alongside church services, etc, the building will become more of an arts venue, used by people in the local community, churches, and others.

I need to say thank you to the people at the church, firstly for allowing me to use this space, but also for the hard work over the last few weeks transforming the room from a vestry into a studio / office space – there is a before and after photo by Juliet Kilpin here (larger size).

Here are some photos – descriptions under each one.

Read moreMy new studio

Greenbelt 2013


So, another Greenbelt Festival is upon us. Here are some things I have done or will be doing for it.

Reasonably accurate site map

I draw one of these every year. It required a bit more work this time around as the site has changed more than usual – no tracing this year. You can get a copy in the ‘Guide to Greenbelt’, available on site from the Bookshop on the Friday night, or there will be people giving them out on the thoroughfares. Also this year there is an app (free) that has the map too. It is for Apple devices, but I am told an Android one will follow in the future (not for this year’s festival). And if you are a Greenbelt Angel you should have been sent a map. Thanks to everyone who supplied me with jokes.

Ten minute talk on ‘How to be a cartoonist’

I am doing a very short talk. This is the only talk about anything that I am doing anywhere this year, it may in fact be the first talk or speech I have done anywhere for two years, I’m not sure. It is on Friday evening at 6pm in the GTV tent, which is called The Treehouse. I am told (I don’t really look at the programme until I get there) that it clashes with Milton Jones. The title is ‘How to be a cartoonist’ which is, shall we say… ironic.

2014 calendar, teatowels, books, etc

Greenbelt is a great opportunity to buy various church-themed cartoon whathaveyous. If I am around ‘helping out’ in the bookshop, which I will be some of the weekend, I will gladly sign or draw on things.

Launch of ‘Rules for Reverends’

As I posted yesterday I have done some illustrations for a book. There is a launch and signing on Saturday at 6.30pm in the bookshop / Church Times tent.

Making badges

I have a badge-maker and will have it at the festival. I may make some hand-drawn badges for people. I don’t know how, where, or when. The main problem is that I don’t have a place to do it. And also the badges are small so most things won’t fit on them. In fact, if the truth be told, my badge-making plans are an utter shambles. I will post more about them on Twitter, possibly. (This is an entirely unofficial operation by the way.)

Milling around

I’ll be loitering here and there, so please do come and introduce yourself, let me buy you some tea, etc. Please don’t say after the event ‘I saw you but was too shy to say hello’ as that makes me a bit sad.

Rules for Reverends


I have done some illustrations for a book that is just about to be published. It is ‘Rules for Reverends’ by Jeremy Fletcher. In summary: it is a book of humorous advice for clergy. You can read the publisher’s information which tells you a bit more here. My illustrations focus on particular ‘Rules’ – the one on the cover (above) is an example of the kind of thing.

The book can be pre-ordered / purchased in the following places:

‘Does God LOL?’

does god lol

I have done a various cartoons for a few people over the last few months, including some for a book or two. I have a cartoon in this book, entitled ‘Does God LOL‘, compiled by Frankie Mulgrew. The book asks whether God has a sense of humour, and there are contributions by people like Milton Jones, Tim Vine, Jo Brand and others. It is published by Darton Longman & Todd and costs £7.99. All proceeds go to the charity Mary’s Meals.

I have done one cartoon for it. One is not that many, but it is more than none. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the book anyway.

You can buy the book here if you’d like to do so – I’m told it should be available very soon.