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.




This week I went with @alexmcintyre and her friend Karen first to see my work at Tower 42
and then to the Jasper Johns at the Royal Academy.

I suppose that until now I had only really thought of Johns and his bright flags, and not really thought much about him. However current events in America make his darkened flags and targets seem really relevant and contemporary. These works were made in the 1950s, another very right wing era in American politics, with McCarthy, and pre the 1960s civil rights movement.

And the thing that struck me the most was the image of a target as an eye. The way that any target you focus on is looking back at you. Every target I looked at after that peered back at me and made me nervous. And then it allowed me to also see them as tunnels, like an eye, a space through which it is possible to see.

It got me thinking about American gun culture, Nationalism, and at a personal level the goals (targets?) we set ourselves.

No photos allowed, so you will just have to go and see for yourself!

After clearing the mess that was the flood in our house, (I am just about at the end of the back log of washing) peering up at water marked ceilings, waiting for things to be fully dry, I am relived that I was at home when it happened. So that while at the time of the flood the anxiety about getting everything out of the way of the water was panicky… the fact that I was there to turn off the stopcock means that the damage was less than it could have been. And this and a visit to Alex McIntyre’s studio this weekend had me thinking about the advantages/disadvantages of a home based studio….

Advantages: no travel time, the possibility of ruining pyjamas as you stroll in and do a bit of work before you are even dressed,

the glance into the studio in the evening as I go to brush my teeth and see what I have done…

is a real motivator.

The fact that I can use an hour here or there, and above all the fact that it is not an additional cost. Ability to stop work the moment I am needed at home.  And the fact that when the studio gets over crowded I can use the rest of the house as drying space!

The disadvantages: no peers,(however this can be planned for by networking outside of studio time), distraction of domestic tasks (which do after all have to be done) , size (see above) , no Open Studios (but I plan to apply to a local artists open house so that will be solved).

So I had set myself a target of getting a bigger studio by next year, but Jasper Johns has me reassessing my targets, and when this one looks back at me I think maybe I got it wrong and there are more important things for next year. I’ll keep them to myself until they have looked me back in the eye.
And just to say Alex McIntyre has probably put herself in the perfect position by having a studio within a short walk across the fields from her flat…


This year has been heavy on administration and a bit light on making. Having had some success with the promotion I have decided to have a concentrated period of making, and have started on a series of works under the working tile of Spaces In Between. There is still admin to be done but I am going to make an attempt to go back to my earlier resolution to limit it to one hour a day max. Today that is this blog plus twitter and instagram, and then the next few days will be the Corby Glen appointments. It is also prime competition entry time so I will have to be picky about what I enter.

Work is progressing well with this approach and I have a whole selection of work in process which is necessary with my drying times for reasonable productivity, and when I am in a flow state I love it, and when I am feeling like a complentitive session I’ve got lots to look at and think about.



I am also researching and thinking about ship building, black pepper, butchery and the footprints of Kings.


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