Thursday, 15 December 2011

Mountain View

View from Beaumaris to the Mainland.

My latest painting, again, not sure whether I like it. But I have learnt to do hide it away for a couple of months before I look at it again.  I used my new paints for this, which are very vibrant and colourful, exactly the sort I love to work with.

I've struggled with this painting, at one point, I whited it out and had to return some of the vibrancy.

I also used a board and not paper, which is out of my comfort zone, I feel very precious about using boards to paint on and it was a challenge to let go of having to produce a perfect piece of work.  When working on paper I am happy to make a mess and remain playful, to make mistakes and not feel that I have ruined whatever I am working on.  I'm still trying to find this freedom when working on a different background.

My two wooden frames have been returned to me today, so the challenge will be to cover them in canvas and make two large paintings in the new year.  

Friday, 9 December 2011

View over Belper

This is the same view over Belper as the blue based painting done earlier, but I thought I would challenge myself by using a different pallete. I usually stick to purples and blues so changing the colours I work with was challenging and fun.  I enjoyed doing this painting, elements of it really work for me.

It feels more traditional in style and colour so is a new departure for me, I'm not sure its a route I want to take, I enjoy the abstract element of painting so this is a bit too representative.  I am still enjoying this experimental process of finding my own style and voice using paint.  It feels good to be returning to it and I still feel inspired by the John Piper exhibition I saw during the summer, a quick dip into the book I bought and the inspiration and thrill of looking at his work returns.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Derby Makers at The Silk Mill Museum

Our Sunrise Pinhole Camera - Beer Tins and Gaffa Tape!

Last night, I took myself and my daughter off to the Silk Museum to play at making pinhole camera's with the Derby Makers.

It was a really good experience, we were given our (empty) cans of beer to gaffer tape, put a hole in, and insert a piece of photographic paper in.  Between us we made three camera's and now have to decide where we will put them.  The plan is to make it a sunrise pinhole camera.  Facing south it will track the progress of the sun across the sky for the next 6 months.  We intend to put ours out on the Winter Solstice and bring it in on the Summer Solstice.  We haven't actually decided the exact spot for each camera, but will be posting the results in 6 months.  I'm also hoping to do this with a class of year 3 & 4, so hopefully will get good results there.
This is all very experimental, I've seen images taken by Sunrise Camera's but its all a bit tricky, subject to rain, wind and if placed in a public place, cleaners, drunks and the curious.

Friday, 2 December 2011

More experiments with paint.

This is a painting I've been working on for the last couple of days, it a view of Belper from the fields near my house, where I often walk my dog.  Its one of my favourite views, showing a vista from the Chevin to Alport Heights.

I'm really enjoying playing with paint, but have realised that I have a preciousness about getting it right.  If I start a painting on a canvas or on a board, I put a pressure on myself to get it totally right.  When I work on paper, I'm more relaxed and often I quite like the results.  However, as the image above shows, paper is not always the best thing to work on as it does not carry enough weight to keep it from becoming warped.

So my next challenge to myself is to become less precious about getting it perfect the first time on a board or canvas.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Exhibition Spaces...

I visited the Brewhoue Art Centre in Burton on Trent on Friday.  I was dropping some work off for their Xmas shopping exhibition and also to take the opportunity to have a look around with a view to a potential exhibition next year.

It is a lovely space, but I find myself wondering whether having an exhibition away from my own area is a good idea.  So some more research is needed into the area and what the art scene is like in East Staffordshire.  Its not that far away, but I'm not known around there and a I discovered yesterday when observing the actions of customers at the Muse Gallery Xmas Fayre, people definately do buy from people.  I am still in the early stages of getting my name and face recognised so have to keep taking these chances to get myself known.

I've also decided to persue a line of research that I've been thinking about for a couple of years now.  I read a historical novel (not usually my thing) which was based on a true story.  The story has stayed with me and I re-read the novel, deciding it was time to look further into the truth side and develop a body of work.  Usually I find myself being very open with what I am making, but this feel too precious, too early stages to reveal yet.  I just know I want to make some mixed media pieces.  A friend has pointed out that this would be a good reason to apply for a Grants for the Arts funding, but that feels a bit scary at this stage!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Experimental Paintings

I've been experimenting with painting for the last few weeks and really enjoying it.  I'm interested in exploring mixed media collaged pieces which then have overlays of paint.  These are just two of my small experiments done on watercolour paper. 

I'm looking forward to an art fayre at The Muse Gallery in Heage on Saturday where I'll be selling and displaying my mosaics, still debating whether to take these small pieces along.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Baron Hill Mansion

I've completed another painting about the old mansion house near where my parents live and thought it was about time I put some of the history of the place down.  There are more photo's on this website which has some amazing shots of the inside not long after it was abandoned. I would credit the author of the pages, but they are anonymous.

The original house was built in 1612 and underwent various changes, some of the dates around the gutterings are from 1835 and most of the architecture is from the early 19th Century.  It was requistioned during the WW2 as accomodation for the polish army (tales of polish soldiers bumping into the Stalin moustachioued local look alike caused much amusement). Fire destroyed the building and it has remained empty and decaying ever since, but has become a valuable source for artists and photographers alike.

I spent many hours running around this old mansion frightening myself with anticipation of coming across a ghost (or the very real gamekeeper) and the place still holds a fascination to me.  I once spent a good 30 minutes nervously pacing as my sister and our friend bravely (studpidly?) explored the cellars and basement.  I was far too sensible and timid to join them, although in hindsight I wish I'd been braver.

Rumours about restoring the old house and converting it into flats have been circulating for the past few years.

Above is my latest painting, which is the view from the opposite side of the first photo (above).  It is much more overgrown now,  this is done using dyes, acrylics, collage and pen & ink drawing. There is a lot more to follow!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

SketchBook Project

I have totally neglected my sketchbook project sketchbook.

It has sat in the bottom of my bag while I have been favouring my moleskin book of nicer thicker paper,elastic band and pure loveliness.

I think I need to start taking it out of my bag and drawing in it or the Brooklyn library will have an empty book from me or perhaps I should just write an IOU and stick it on the front cover.

Its hard to get enthusiastic about a thin little book with flimsy leaves, but feel it is time to give the malnutritioned little thing some creative food.

If you want to read more about The Sketchbook Project its all here.  I am going to make a concerted effort to get on with my book...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Work Time

Working in the Studio means life is easier and more fluid.  It means no travelling and no childcare costs, it means being close to school and on hand if anyone is poorly.  It means being able to go and see Gold Badge Awards and going on local walks with 30 children.

It also means being very disciplined.  Saying No to a cup of coffee at the school gates, not agreeing to pop into town for a browse of the charity shops but taking yourself seriously and valueing the time between the demands of being a mother.  I'm still learning this discipline.

My main struggle is when the children are home, the ideas flow and the dreaming about the next painting or the next bit of creative writing, or the next mosaic dance around my brain with letters, colours and pictures and I'm usually well organised enough to scribble these ideas down....

However, when the week begins and school uniforms are washed and dried, homework is done, and stories read, I often just collapse in a heap.  I spend a lot of time thinking and not doing.

This leads to me feeling rather miserable and frustrated which leads to a non productive day such as yesterday, which in turn leads to the circle of depression which is enhanced by being unmotivated.  I then find myself in a spiral which can just get worse throughout the day, I speak less and become very introspective.

On the other hand, being in control of my work time means I can just grab the dog lead and head out over the fields, lifting my mood in time for the school run and before you know it, I'm laughing on the school yard with other parents and cheerful children are coming out to meet me, demanding to be fed.  We can then skip off happily home to play a game and I can let my imagination dream and plan my next time the house is silent of shouts, laughter and distraction.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Quick Catch Up...

Just a quick catch up, I love it when I'm busy but find I don't have time to do posts or updates. 

I now have work in the Muse Gallery & Art Studio in Heage, a lovely little gallery, full of yummy things all arty & crafty, I would thoroughly recommend a trip out there, I particularly liked Mandy's personalised hearts and they have gone on my christmas list, just got to figure out who to give one to!

The same week, I was accepted as an associate member of Bank's Mill in Derby, which is a studio's owned by the University of Derby, and last week I submitted four paintings for their open studios.  So that feels very exciting and a bit of a milestone achievement for me personally.  I'm doing more paintings with texture and collage, and finding the confidence to put them out there.

Then this weekend, two events, Compassionate Derby on Saturday which was highlighting how to live ethically, sustainably and cruelty free.  I try my best but often fail at this, even though I don't eat meat and try to live economically, next to some of the issues being raised, I look as bad as someone who eats at McDonalds every night, which is a hard lesson on self reflection. I know I could do more.

But all this was counter balanced by the Mad Hatters Tea Pary and the eating of lots of cake today.  This was in aid of Leukaemia and Lymphona Cancer research so all the cake eating and calories was for a good cause...

Monday, 17 October 2011

I am having a very, very full on week.  Last Thursday, my daughter and I went to pick up her french exchange student, who is already a very elegant young lady even at 13.  So the weekend was spent showing her the Derbyshire Countryside and we caught the train to Matlock and walked back over the tors to Matlock Bath.  I took lots of photos of the most stunning views, that I have only driven past, which will provide the inspiration for some new landscape mixed media pieces.  Also found a bonus lovely old door...

I managed to get to a life drawing class last friday and immersed myself back in the flow of drawing.  I haven't done any life drawing for about 8 years, so my first attempt was very small as I had forgotten how to scale up when measuring.  Luckily, my friend who had taken me, hadn't forgotten and was able to show me how to do it properly.  Although the results weren't brilliant, they weren't too bad considering my lack of practice!  Not sure the models leg was really that shape... or that foreshortened, but I really enjoyed loosing myself in the practice of learning to draw again.  I used to be quite good at life drawing so hopefully I can relearn that skill again.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Open For Business 2011

This was my first time at an event like this, I've done art fairs, open weekends and art trails, exhibitions and projects, but never an event that was more of a trade show for new businesses. For me it was a chance to show how I have developed my practice over the last year, I have worked hard and taken advantage of as much information on offer, attended workshops, done emotional intelligence tests, got a business plan, and can now stand in front of anybody and talk about the selling points of my artwork. It has been a very valuable year for me in developing the confidence to believe in my own abilities.

At lunchtime, we had our own glamorous Mrs Overall serving us sandwiches, needless to say, in a room which had several stands of artists, she was mobbed. We know how to fulfill the stereotype of the starving genius's...

I had a wander round after lunch and chatted to a few other businesses, but felt I needed to be at my own stand more, during my walk, I managed to totally miss the Mayor of Derby so he didn't get to speak to me.

By 2.30, Andrew had arrived to take over from me, so I quickly changed my hat from artist business woman to school run yummy mummy, and picked up the freshly educated children. In response to my chirpy questions of 'So what have you done today' I was treated to the usual grumbles of 'nothing, can we have some food?'

So back to the Enterprise Centre, where I instructed the twins to look hungry and go and stare at people with cakes on their stands. It worked and they came back with cupcakes, lollies and sweets. I'm so proud of them. I just need to work on their blagging at the off license skills.

We were home by half 6 and following tea, homework and bedtime stories, packed lunch making, more homework (this time learning french for the exchange student coming on Thursday with my 12 year old), I eventually collapsed into a bottle of red medicinal wine.

I thoroughly enjoyed Monday, I got to catch up with fellow artists I hadn't seen for a couple of years, make new friends, join a life drawing class, eat lots of yummy food and best of all, my ego has had a massive boost from all the compliments. I love Jayne Sanders for saying my work was John Piper-ish nowadays.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Busy doing nothing...

I could put a song on about this... but I posted it to facebook instead. I started my sketchbook for the sketchbook project this week, only done one drawing so far, but it is started. I've also done some painting, not happy with one of them, so I've done my usual thing, put it away for about a year then I'll get it out and think its not so bad and redo it. I've also transferred my website domain to a new provider which I've been meaning to do for at least six months, so I'm very pleased with that. I can now have a much more intuitive site to use, I've found google sites hard to navigate and clunky to use, so I am heading over to wordpress. I've also finished another mixed media painting. I'm enjoying applying myself to old buildings, I wanted to go up to Wingfield Manor and do some preliminary sketches, but they are only open for guided tours nowadays. I'm wondering whether to contact them and see if I can gain some access.
I now have to go and put all lovely art materials away, they may be too tempting for the hoards of children coming home for a birthday tea tonight!

Friday, 23 September 2011

New Sketchbook!

Just received my sketchbook for the sketchbook project, I'm looking forward to getting on with it, I chose the subject 'fold and stitch', so will be doing some new experiments in it. I may take it with me to the Tin Ladies Non Birthday Meeting today... it would be good to do some scribbling and eating non birthday cake at the same time.

I've been drawing and using dyes a lot lately. I really enjoy doing this and can loose myself in that flow when drawing, that I can't achieve in other ways, the above image is one that I did last week. I've joined a website that is an artists community and had to pay to subscribe, this is forcing me to produce work as I am inherently quite tight with money, so I want to get my full use out of the site. It's also brought out my competitive side, which I usually keep dormant, I find myself wanting to be at the number 1 spot!

The second image is my interpretation of a photograph I took of some rocks. I enjoyed playing with Oil & Acrylics last weekend and this was the result. I'm enjoying working with mixed media for now.

Friday, 16 September 2011

I've just done the online application for The Sketchbook Project. I'm quite excited about it, I've opted for the subject 'stitches and folds' and will be experimenting to see what happens. I'm already trying to figure out how I can get a sketchbook into my embelliishing machine... I will have to fill this sketchbook by January 2012, and post it off to the US, where it will tour around the world with other artists sketchbooks. I heard about it last year, but didn't take part, so this year have taken the plunge. I am setting myself achieveable challenges that will get me out of the house over the winter months as this is when I tend to withdraw and hibernate, which isn't good for me. I really looking forward to getting my sketchbook.
The above image is my first experiment with mixing the two mediums of textile and mosaic. Over the next couple of months I'll be developing these pieces into abstract images and seeing what comes out. Its a way of combining different techniques that I really enjoy using and hopefully make something that is aesthetically pleasing with some context.

Busy September

Its been a busy start to September. I could write a list, but its too long. Needless to say, the first things that get put at the bottom of the pile is the artwork and creativity. Which makes me feel like an adminstrator and not an artist. But I have just cleared some headspace to be making again. I also have a commission so that will force me to start making again. To make sure I keep doing something creative in between all the paperworky stuff, I have joined a website that I can post images to, I have had to pay for this so it forces me to do it because I don't have a lot of disposable income, so I want to get my moneys worth. I've submitted two funding applications for Corridor Arts which feels quite exciting, more on how that progresses. I had an attempt at John Piper style of working after the exhibition in Eastbourne, of course the outcome was nothing like his, but I quite liked my outcome.
Part of supporting my creative inspiration, is to get out into the countryside, which is abundant with foraging opportunities and after making the sloe gin, blackberry brandy, damson vodka, I've still got enough fruit to make some jam. Ah domestic bliss.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Summer Travels

Its been a wonderful summer holidays. As I have 3 school age children, obviously I have to stop working for 6 weeks over the summer when they are off school.

Actually, I don't know how to stop working, its integral to my lifestyle.

I've had a child free break when we travelled down to East Sussex to visit some friends, and discovered the wonderful Towner Gallery. There's a John Piper exhibition and I managed to contain my excitement and look grown up, staring at paintings thoughtfully, while secretly my heart was thundering inside my chest and the urge to stroke and lick the paintings grew stronger with every image. I managed to contain myself though. Also on show was a piece by Claire Morgan, who is evokes a thought provoking visceral reaction whenever I see her work. I don't have the words to do either of the artists mentioned justice, so heres a link to the Towner Gallery. Its well worth a visit.

Then last week, a return to my family home on Anglesey, where we got soaked in sea fully clothed one day, soaked by the rain up a mountain the next and by the third day, I gave in and took my clothes off for a bracing but liberating dip in the sea. It had become obvious that the water wanted me to join it, so I thought it best to give in and keep my clothes dry.

We also visited the old mansion house that is hidden away in the woods near my parents house, its in a dangerous and dilapidated state, but that doesn't stop us trekking through the mud and trees just for some photos and to see what gifts the patriarchal stone wants to bestow on his prodigal visitors. This old haunt always gives me treasures, bits of victorian glass, plasterwork, slate. And this time, a piece of very old speckled mirror. Who knows how long it was buried in the gardens that nature has reclaimed before being pushed to the surface for the serendipitous moment when my family and I meandered past.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Safe Art

We all sat in the Black Swann, revelling in our hard work in setting up the Art Trail, ideas were flowing, philosophical debates between the others were binging around the table. I sat and tried to absorb the intelligence that flowed around me, and not let the negative thoughts that so often determine my emotions creep in and whisper 'you're not really an artist'.

Then Jay turned to me and asked the immortal words 'how's the residency going?'

I paused, then launched into a diatribe of how I'd been feeling...

And while the words decided to network around the room and stop off at the bar for a bag of crisps, they slowly wormed their way back into my mouth, my tongue flapped around a bit more, lapping at my drink to wash away the salty crisps.

'I hate my work because its too safe!' The words jumped out of my mouth and danced mockingly on the table.

And then, with one swell foop of creative inspiration, Jay swept the contemptuous letters off the table with a vaudevillian hook.

'Hacksaw, cut em up and see what happens, do something free, thats what I'd do...'

And with one simple sentance, the audience were blown away and the show transferred to the West End.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Artist In Residence - The Arboretum

I'm currently half way through my first residency at Derby's Arboretum in Normanton. It's a beautiful busy park full of wildlife and old trees. It was the first free park in the UK, and has undergone a restoration over the last few years.

I'm working out of the Orangery and spent last week drawing and just getting to know the park. I enjoyed the opportunity to just draw, instead of worrying about answering emails and all the usual day to day things that get in the way.

After a few days of not being in the Orangery, I've returned to today with a new sense of vigour!, and spent a few hours bending wire and covering it in modroc, I'm not sure the forms are exactly how I want them to be yet, but they will be dry enough tomorrow to put a covering of plaster on and the form will grow and develop further.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


A recent shift in how I view the world has happened.

It has left me feeling more secure and stronger in my roles as artist and mother.

1 the art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other. the appearance of viewed objects with regard to their relative position , distance from the viewer, etc.:
a trick of perspective[count noun] a view or prospect.
Geometrythe relation of two figures in the same plane, such that pairs of corresponding points lie on concurrent lines , and corresponding lines meet in collinear points.

2 a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something;
a point of view:
most guidebook history is written from the editor's perspective;
true understanding of the relative importance of things ;
a sense of proportion:

And looking up the Oxford Dictionary definition, my attitude towards life and my way of regarding how the world works has recently been altered. I've never had to question this which I now find surprising when the two definitions include sculpture and life...

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Wonderful Derbyshire Art

I went along to the re:place symposium last week. Where I got to hear lots of artists speak about how they had approached their residency in Derbyshire. It has made me really consider how I will approach my upcoming residency at Derby Arboretum. My proposal was fairly safe, and although it is clearly thought out, it feels very much in my comfort zone, so I'm hoping to be able to push that when I get there. I think my plan may be, that if I think of something I'd like to try, and it gives me butterflies and I'm scared, then I'll have to at least have a go!

Bizarrely, one of the re:place commissions is based at Longshaw, near Grindleford, in the Peak District, where I spent 3 days as part of the Derbyshire Open Arts, unfortunately the only parts I got to see, were the views from the car as I drove home exhausted at the end of each day! But wow, what views, and I did take my camera (yes, a proper film one!) and stop and take some pictures, so I can look forward to developing those soon.

A weekend is planned with a sketch book, studio dog and some walking shoes, to go back and do some drawings. This will have to be soon, as the Snee-Snaw project starts soon and I'm evaluating it for Andrew, and I suspect it may take over our lives.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Busy Times..

Its been very busy lately, I took part in the Draycott Arts & Gardens Festival, which was great fun, lots of yummy cake (again) and some really good conversations with people.

The area where the studio is going to be built has been cleared and a skip was hired which we managed to fill within a couple of hours, I really should've ordered a bigger one!

The developments with the studio feels very exciting, it means that I will have a workspace where I can walk out of the house in the morning and straight into work, with no travelling, no fuel consumption, and very, very convenient.

I've also started working on some new sculptures of animals, which I'm quite motivated about, despite comments such as 'oh you made a goat' and 'I like your dog mummy' this being about a hare and a rat....

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Claymills Victorian Pumping Station

I've just spent the weekend at the Claymills Victorian Pumping Station, just outside Burton On Trent. It was their first craft fair, organised by Hayley, of Forever Forged, who is the Blacksmith at the Station. We were also joined by Jayne Sanders, their first Artist in Residence, This is Bazaar, Samantha Eynon and a Jeweller, whose name I didn't get, and a wood turner, who was called Paul.

This has made for an enjoyable weekend and a good trial run for next weekends Draycott Arts & Gardens Festival, it gave me the chance to put all my work out and see how it looked together, luckily, it looked ok! A few tweaks and it will all look much better.

They also have THE BEST, Beetroot and chocalate cake, which sounds wrong, but tastes soooooo right!

Its well worth a visit when the steam engines are up and running, if not for the noise, then definately for the smell.

Come Home Soon Preview

Tonight was an informal get together at The Arboretum in Derby, Diana Shepherd organised an evening of Poetry, Music and Art in The Orangery as a preview to her exhibition opening. It was a wonderfully hot evening and we made our way to the hub of Derby's more culturally diverse area, rich in smells and tactile colours. The Arboretum is a central point for this eclectic community to meet.

Diana was showing her latest works in Charcoal and Ink, beautifully sensitive drawings hung on the walls, surrounded by the poetry of Stephen Vaughan Williams, who stood up and performed some of his poetry to an accoustic guitar accompaniment.

And in response to the poetry, participants were invited to draw on large sheets of paper in charcoal, I found myself surrounded by people absorbed in drawing images on the walls. It all added up to a very calm, rather surreal atmosphere, an area of serenity nestled amongst all the noise and energy of the park surrounding the Orangery. All in all, a very lovely way to spend an evening.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Jaume Plensa at the YsP

Last Wednesday, I visited a pre private viewing of Jaume Plensa's exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, this was all thanks to keeping a blog, as the invitation came through facebook and was aimed at using social media in a positive way to promote our culture. So having jumped on a train up to Wakefield, then a short bus ride out to the park, we were met by the very silky catalonian who talked about his work. I have to admit to not really hearing the words, just the sounds.

Feeling slightly reminescent of being herded, the group of about 50 tweeters, bloggers, facebookers or whatever social media they connect to the world with, followed the curators and Plensa down to the Longside Gallery, where the bull fight for photos and a few words with the man himself were challenged and consequently won by the more confident with their own words than me. After a short while we wandered into the first gallery where 3 gormley-esque monkeys were positioned on the walls, and the great man bathed us in his charimatic voice, again, didn't really hear the words, just the sounds but the words 'caress' and 'communicate' did stick in my brain... why oh why didn't I record it!!!

If Plensa's voice was chocolate, it would definately be Green & Blacks... But I really should be concentrating on his art...

The art, was a mixture of wonderful sensitivity and text, while inducing the viewer to really think about what the piece means. The sheer size of some of the pieces gives them a sublimity that is breathtaking, while the figures sat holding desperately onto trees invoked a feeling of urgency and determination to grasp out surrounding environment and keep it safe.

There is something very peaceful about Plensas work, it demands quiet contemplation and reverie to enable you to interpret the meaning in a subjective way.

It is definately worth the effort to head up the M1 to the Sculpture Park - - while this exhibition is on and spend the day absorbing some wonderful art in the best gallery setting ever. You can also read more on The Culture Vulture blog at for more information on the exhibition.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

More Happiness Experiments...

As part of my happiness experiment which is exploring what happiness is and different ways of achieving it, I have also decided to address the physical aspects of my life. This means tackling the fact that I am incredibly unfit, overweight, drink too much and smoke. Not good when put down in cold hard facts...

But perhaps a few excuses are needed. I have cut down on the alcohol over the last 6 months, I was very fond of any bacchanialian activities and would use any means to achieve the heady state of loudness and removal of inhibitions. I also used it to stop the whirrings in my brain, to slow the thoughts down, to stop. You can't do a lot on a hangover the size of Everest. Tai chi has provided me with a calmer alternative and is much more affordable.

I have also signed up to take part in a programme to look at my diet, the first task was to drink more water. This sounds easy, but when you're used to viewing it as a dilutant to whiskey, its harder than you thnk, and to steal the words directly out of WP's mouth.. 'Simple but not easy'.

My first challenge was to add more water into my daily routine and I have found myself drinking so much fluids my family were in danger of thinking I had another kidney infection. Makes the prospect of the tipple, trampoline and tena lady party a stong possiblity... So I have had to cut down on the amount of fluid intake, and chose to cut back on the coffee (1 coffee a day from now on, got to be fresh and a treat) and no more than 5 cups of tea (Although in practice this is down to about 3) Clipper Teas were recommended to me and are proving to be delicious. This has made me very tired, as my energy has basically been running on caffeine. And then in the second week, things are looking different, I am starting to feel refreshed after a drink, the need for a cuppa to get going in the morning has been replaced with a glass of water. I am able to even manage a few words before 8.00am instead of the odd drooling grunt while I wait for my drug to start the metamorphoses from Zombie to yummy mummy.

So the intake of water has been a good thing. Its working for me and I have more energy and hopefully this will improve as I move towards being caffeine free.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A strange week...

This week has started off rather strangely, on Monday, workshop that was not all together great and left me with a very uncomfortable feeling. Its a two day workshop and I'm not sure whether to go back for the second one, still undecided on that.

Tai Chi on Tuesday and this week my arms and legs weren't so unco-ordinated, they seemed to actually realise they were related to each other! So my body is remembering what to do, even though my brain doesn't.

I also had an opportunity to be assertive, which felt fantastic. Really standing up for something I believe in which in turn leads to me feeling a stronger person within myself and my own practice.

What a pity I didn't use the assertiveness on Monday at the workshop, next time I will use it in my feet and leave!

Next week is going to be busy and has lots of meetings which I'm quite excited about.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

And Relax...

Bit of a reflection...

I have been trying several things on my pursuit of happiness. So far there have been a few disasters, which have just caused me stress. And some successes, swimming has set a whole course of ideas and is possibly leading to a collaboration involving lots of technical things. The demolition of my ramshackle and dangerous asbestos garage has helped immensely, especially with the memories that it was tightly holding onto, these have therapeutically been driven to the nearest recycling centre. The garden has opened up and suddenly my head no longer has a domineering dilapidated building sitting on the left.

Its also willow pruning season. So a couple of trips up to the labyrinth in the Derbyshire countryside have led to long stretches in the cold sun hadve put paid to my SAD and put it away for the winter. I also went along to the Green Hare Willow Group at the local school and while the gardening experts pruned, trimmed and did sensibly stuff, one of the mums (also an artist) and I made stars and moons to counteract the predominatly christian teachings of school. This has also led to talking about partnering for community projects with the lovely and talented Emma Carr.

And then yesterday morning, a Tai Chi class has left me feeling centred and calm despite the fact that my hands and feet do not work in conjunction with one another.

But at the heart of all these activities? Friends and children. They are the main things that have brought me happiness. So simple.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


This piece is about memory, how some are set and solid and fixed, you can confirm them with dates and photos while others are floating and fragmented, snatches of something, then when you try to share that memory, someone else has a totally different perspective. I grew up by the seaside, surrounded by sea, woods and mountains, this is just a fraction of those childhood memories.

The New Studio

I may have mentioned it, but did I tell you the studio is moving? Its very exciting, to clear the new space, I had to get my old asbestos 1970's garage pulled down and had the exciting fun of men in blue suits wandering around my garden with big sledgehammers. What an ace job, smashing stuff and pulling it down....

So here are a couple of pics of the progress. I've also been researching what to put in its place which is the fun bit. Studio Dog had a practice sit down to try the space out.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Mattieu Ricard

I found Ricards talk very inspiring and relevant to my own current research, he uses the analogy of being at the bottom of the ocean, with the hard rocks as the depression and the being on top of the waves as the high mood, I have been thinking about collaborating with a friend and artist who is a film maker, to do something in a swimming pool that can relate to the halyconic feeling that swimming gives me, that weightless feeling of freedom as you settle our breathing into a rhythm and get into the flow of happiness. So hearing Ricard talk this morning as I cleaned and scrubbed the kitchen, was a welcome relevancy. Does this give the idea of filming in a pool a more critical edge because I can reference a philosopher and buddhist monk? Having never been very big on the criticalness of my own work, it makes the whole happiness project feel more exciting, and ultimately contributes to my own long term happiness.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Pursuit of Happiness or the Happiness of Pursuit?

I have been looking into Happiness, which the government is now copying me on by doing a well being study of Uk residents.... I've been interested in this since hearing Martin Seligman's Ted Talk, and consequently reading his book. I have to live with episodes of depression so this makes life incredibly hard for my family and myself at times, but between these periods of intense bad feelings about myself, I enjoy pursuing the elusive happiness.

I've taken Seligman's 3 levels of happiness and started applying them to my life, I have the short term happiness (glass of wine, decent food, the shallower things in life. I have the flow nearly sorted, I can loose myself in a book or making artwork for hours. And I've recently started on possibly the hardest, the happiness gained from longer term projects, gained from helping something outside of yourself. This has led to me volunteering at the local RSPCA as home visitor and home visitor co-ordinator. I've done the initial training (one morning in a room with very old videos, yes video...) and have a meeting with the branch manager next week to start the actual work. I'm looking forward to putting Seligmans recommendations to the test.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Lots of thinking...

I have been thinking lots, about life, happiness, what makes it all worthwhile? I keep going back to the desire to be within some sort of artistic community, I have been very isolated in my work area recently, my work doesn't feel like its challenging me and maybe I'm missing the feedback from other artists. I will probably be moving out of the purple shed at some point (the owner is selling up and moving in with his girlfriend! Very inconsiderate...) So I will not have a specific workplace. Do I build something in my own garden? Or do I look into setting up a studio space that can be shared with other artists? This is a scary prospect, as it involves money. And I have none.

I like the idea of the shared studio space, but how would it work? Seperate work areas? One big room? Would I be able to get a wage from it? I may need to do some investigating...

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Playing on Scribble

I've been having a little play this morning, a bit of a break from all the serious stuff of setting myself up as an artist (business advise meetings, sustainability workshops, re-vamping websites.... all that sort of thing). I was exploring the redbubble site and came across a link to the scribble website, uploaded a photo (courtesy of AMS as I'm using his computer, so I borrowed one of his mountainous images of Japan) and what fun! Really simple, but looks ace. I think there will be more scribbles appearing in the future...

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Icy January

We were out on a family walk last week, when we came across a still icy pond, so as usual, I ended up taking pictures, I'm going to experiment with them and make some prints, which I haven't done for at least five years, so feel rather excited about it.