This month, I’m recommending the work of my neighbour, who lives just a couple of boats down from us with his lovely wife Abby. Many’s the time in summer when I’m cycling past and the path is blocked by Mani, attacking some enormous canvas. And inevitably he’ll say “Hey, James! Wait a minute…” And then he’ll scrabble in his pocket for headphones and say “You HAVE to listen to this…” And some psychedelic funk headfuck will ensue.
In fact, running the gauntlet from my boat to the road can be something of a challenge when I’m in a hurry, as my boat neighbours generally are fairly chatty, and I’m chattier than all of them put together. Except Mani. Both of us can talk for hours without breathing. In fact, I can only assume that the maker of the video above must have hit Mani with horse tranquillisers beforehand, because I have never seen him so chill in my entire life – he is permanently like a walking double espresso.
He’s also a serious artist. His style often reminds me of a sort of 3D Van Gogh, with the paint so thick it forms layers stacking out of the canvas, and he uses an extreme colour palette, as though everything outside the frame is on fire. And his paintings are everywhere — if you live in Oxford you will almost certainly have seen a number of them. He’s currently exhibiting in the Jam Factory, and his paintings of luminaries like Nina Simone hand in the room that the Catweazle club takes place. He’s even painted a giant mural just off Cowley Road, so if you hang out in East Oxford his work is particularly difficult to miss.
He also has a website, and is available for children’s parties: https://www.thebigorangem.com/
(He is, of course, not available for children’s parties — I’m just messing with him. Although… who knows, maybe he is. Nothing surprises me with this guy.)