The Art from London Markets Project is a project exploring our relationship with people and trade in London. I started working on this project in 2014, and it involves painting, print making, story collecting, socio-economic and historical  research, blogging, and community projects, all investigating London’s trade.  Our markets say a lot about us, and we have a lot to say about commodities.

The relationship between trade and people in London is complex, it reflects all our diversities, cultural, geographic, health and economic, as well as taste.

I started off this project looking for the beautiful in the everyday: The simple gorgeousness of natural produce. I now find myself exploring the human story behind  markets and ideas of transience,  the fragility of humanity in flux and change, and of memory and identity.




So at the end of Roy’s People Art Fair I had a bunch of leads, things to follow up, and so I did.

On Monday I will be installing work for a 3 month exhibition at Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London EC2N right in the heart of the City.  I will have a cabinet including two sculptures:

Phoenix Egg


Mr Equiano’s Scales

along with 4 of my Small Experiments in Colour and 4 of my Tiny Experiments in Colour, in addition I will be installing one large work in the downstairs lobby on the wall to the right as you go up the stairs a few days later.

In addition to this opportunity there are two others in the pipeline.

So as well as following up with these I was off to Corby glen for the sheepfair, recruiting people to share their memories for the project.  I have over 30 volunteers, I have been in touch with the gallery for available days for recording which they have kindly provided, so the next job is to allocate them all a slot which I will do after Monday.


Today I am spending the day making sure all the frames, work and even sugar lumps are in perfect condition, and wrapping things to take on Monday.  Got to make sure there is some family time this weekend!



Last week I had the pleasure of meeting up again with Lizzie Cannon, who has just started an artist blog on a-n too. I met her at her beautiful show “Liminal Matter” which is currently on at Greenwich University. We were engaged in an artist crit. and one of the things we talked about was the process of creating as a resistance to mortality.

During the summer I had the chance to go to Pech Merle caves in the south of France and see the work of artists who lived 25,000 years BC. You are prohibited from taking photographs in the caves for obvious reasons, so the image from inside the cave I have here is from their postcards.

The pigments used include manganese black and ochres.

I always get a frisson from seeing a work of art I have met before in art history books, but the feelings I had here were beyond that. To stand in front of the work of people from so many thousands of years ago, the first humans, and know that they too looked at their environment and felt the need to create images reaffirms me and my understading of the universality of humanity.
The caves here are already painted by nature, the natural pigments seep about of the limestone and create gorgeous shades of colour across the surfaces. I don’t know whether these sites had religious significance, or if that theory comes from the fact that third person to see them, and the first adult, was a curate. What I do know is that just as now the people who went into the caves were inspired by its intrinsic beauty and used what was there to build their own additional images. And the size of the hands in the hand stencilling shows that the artists were both men and women. The images appear to be those of different artists over time, some more abstract than others, some painted like those above and some etched into pigment covered limestone surface. Some deliberate, and some accidental like the fossilised child’s footprint.
So to make that link with the artists I decided to retrieve some of my own pigment….

sand pigment mix dug up from Paul’s building site

filtering the sand from the ochre pigment, the pigment is soluble, the sand is not, and the pigment is in smaller particles so a process of dissolving and filtering then drying

dried in the sun, the filtered ochre

So while I was in the region I experimented with extracting my own ochre from the soil. Well, actually from my bother’s place, so when I used this particular shade of ochre I will be calling it Paul’s ochre. My brother is in the process of rebuilding a ruined building in the Lot, and one of the techniques used locally is to mix ochre laden sand into the grout in order to for the grout to closely match the stone.

matching grout

My Paul’s ochre next to Sennelier French ochre,
mine is alot greener and darker .

So I had a go at extracting the ochre from the sand, I still have a final filtering to go as I think there is residual fine sand particles remaining, but the process was incredibly satisfying.

It is possible to see the pigments seeping put of the rocks wherever the limestone has been cut, these same pigments that were used at Pech Merle and the other local cave art sites. Next year I hope to collect some of the darker reds. And I intend to play with heating some of this to see if I can get the transformation to red and darker.

Sarah Needham will be at Roy’s People Art Fair this weekend 14-17th September and she will be happy to talk to you about her experiments in colour.


So today you will find me off my usual instagram account @sarahneedham1965 and taking over the @royspeopleartfair in an instatakeover. Come and find me there, like, repost and comment!

The fair is on 14th-17th September and Id love to see you at Stall 38


Between September 14-17 I will be taking part in Roy’s People Art Fair in Islington and on October 8th the Corby Glen Sheep Fair: From urban Art Fair to rural Sheep Fair. I will not be selling sheep! At the sheep fair I will be recruiting people to join in with my Corby Glen project collecting oral histories, and will have a screen showing of “Corby Glen Walk” a series of local photographs in the Willoughby Gallery on the Sunday and I will be asking people to sign up to share their memories of the way in which agricultural trade has impacted on their lives.

At Roy’s People Art Fair I will be showing some of the work that I have produced in the last year engaged with evocative abstract spaces. I have been working on a new piece combining earth pigments; ochres and their artificial antecedents mars red in combination with poisonous Cadmium Red. Mixing rust colours with poison feels apt in the current global political climate. Naturally occurring earth pigments produced by iron deposits in the soil are the oldest pigments used by people for mark making along with charcoal. I combine them with industrial revolution colours, mars red an artificial red ochre, viridian an artificial green initially produced for ceramics (to colour earth), and cadmium red a poison: I will be showing “Mars Red” so long as it is fully dry, and the other works I will be selecting from can be found by clicking this link, if you like, let me know which ones you’d like to see the most of all.

Mars Red
Hand mixed oil on canvas, 100x100cm, 2017

My profile for Roy’s People Art Fair can be found on theRoy’s people Art fair website in the  Artists Section:


Using ochres, and industrial revolution colours, Viridian, Mars red, and Cadmium, from  earth to poison.  Layering and taking away.  The next stage was to turn around the painting and wait….