Collection plate duly delivered to the gallery this morning. I am away for the private view which is a shame. I spent ages choosing the objects to go in the plate. I realised afterwards why. In my proposal I stated that I would offer brown and silver coins and some ‘pocket objects’ [such as hairpins, buttons, trolley tokens etc.] They made a very low key, sad collection and I felt moved to add some colour with some sea glass and bright beads.

I realise now that I had begun to make an ‘art object’; one that satisfied my eye and that I thought would intrigue visitors. It was beginning to move subtly away from the purity of the proposal. Did it matter? I decided to go with the colour and intrigue and photographed the objects I had chosen.

In the gallery the curator and I tried the installation out. The plate stands on a white ecumenical linen and lace cloth on a modern table. Looks good I think.

Visitors are instructed that they may swop items in the plate for anything they have in their pockets or bag.

It will be three weeks before I can get back to see the ‘collection’ again. I am really dying to see what it will be by then. Will the money have been taken or swopped for lesser coins? Will all the ‘things’ have been ‘paid’ for? Maybe everything will be gone.

This afternoon I collected some old monoprints from my studio. Odd to see them again. I don’t think they have seen the light for five years. I have an idea to cut up tiny old maps of Margate and collage them together. I need work for a show in the Pie Factory with thirteen others. We are showing our collaborative artist’s books but we also have a huge space for our own work to fill. Problem. Most are printmakers and I am not – just an occasional monoprinter, so mine are all one-offs and my practice is very slow.

All the same, now they are here I just want to get on with them. I think they could be wonderful – which probably means they will be rubbish. They will have to wait until I get back.


Great. The proposal for a new work called ‘Collection’ using my walnut collection plate has been accepted for ‘Beta’ at the Kaleidoscope Gallery in Sevenoaks. I said I would explain, so here goes – the plot:

As an artist working with memory and loss I appropriate the impermanent and transient, and by way of collecting, archiving and indexing, re-present it in a final memorialised form.

My constant choice of the museum presentation acknowledges the special relationship between collector, curator and exhibit – a contract of permanent care. So permanency of the final solution is important to me.

In this new work I am stepping outside my usual format to look at the collection as a fluid, rather than a permanent entity.

The collection plate is going to be left at the gallery door with an initial collection of silver and bronze money and ‘pocket items’ – button, safety pin, wrapped sweet etc in it; together with an invitation to donate by swopping with the items in the collection.

Doubtless there will be those that just donate or take.

From the first intervention the initial ‘art work’ collection will no longer exist. With each addition or subtraction a new, temporary ‘collection’ will be formed. There will be no stated resting place for the final collection; no curatable final resolution in any form.

Historically a Collections Plate has been passed around or left at the exit door – traditionally in silence. Donations are made in the belief that the Collection will be used for ‘good works.’ Substituting an item for money in the hope that others will think you have contributed is regarded as a cheek. In passing the plate from hand to hand or leaving it at the door the honesty of the public is plainly an issue, so traditionally the community has achieved this honesty by regarding the taking of donations as a contemptible crime.

I shall be interested to see if the following issues impact on the way visitors choose whether to interact with the work or not:

How willing will visitors be to disregard a gallery taboo and disturb an artwork?

What does it mean in today’s world to disturb or ‘rob’ a donated collection?

In this time of recession and riot does swopping/ taking money have a different resonance?

Does an item such as a sweet have an intrinsic worth – would a visitor feel that to swop it for a hairgrip would be to accept something lesser or more?

Does the fact that there will be no advertised end place for the donated money and items prove problematical for the giver?……..Now I find myself embroiled in trying to find the right table to place the plate on….with only three days left before I go away………hmm………..


This morning the postman bought me a parcel – with a box wrapped in the old fashioned way with strong brown paper and string in it.

Inside – a beatiful nut brown wooden ‘Collection’ plate, the kind used to take the retiring collection in church. It is wonderful – a chestnut patina of love on the front, and on the back two wooden oblong patches held in place with wooden pegs. A repair to something regarded as precious, done many, many years ago.

It makes me wonder. Surely it would have been simpler to ask the local carpenter to make another wooden plate in those days…..the skills must have been in every village. What made them patch it rather than replace it?

It also marks my first Ebay purchase. So now I have joined the merry band of artists all hunting for a small press. What my husband calls me being in truffle mode – nose down, tail up, on the scent…….deaf to everything else. Another thing to eat into my art hours.

The Collection plate has been purchased in the hope that a proposal might be accepted. Will tell all if it does.


I am still painting my moth wings, snatching time from other things and occasionally getting a few consecutive hours to work. It’s so intense that to be honest I can only work well for a few hours anyway. For some reason focused working always makes me hungry, so I tend to roam about, sandwich in hand, restless to get back to my paintbrush. I wonder if the Victorian botanical artists felt the same.

The Farningham Hobby Horse Project has hit a moment of technical hitch. Try as we might we haven’t come up with a cheap, successful method of standing the horses so we can exhibit them indoors. Many are very top heavy, some – like the mosaic one – dangerously so. I have a vision of them either standing in a contraption that allows us to move them about singly, or in a contraption that allows for say ten horses to be stood in a line and shown in lines. Nothing works. So frustrating.

Tomorrow the builders come to knock out an old loo in the room my PC is in. Now it is empty and about to be enlarged the room seems suddenly to have real possibilities as a work space.

So now I am trying it on for size in my head………..do I want to give up my big studio in a studio block? I never liked it there; no window but a big space, with a big electricity bill to go with it and freezing in winter. I never felt settled or safe there and it’s become a huge store room for all my installation components and past work I should find the courage to throw. Can I still justify the expense in the present straightened times?

How many of my art books can I contemplate parting from? Could I get the plans chest in the new room and maybe get a small press on top of it? Maybe I could swop the big studio for a small one and try working from home for a while before giving up a studio space entirely.

All this has made me consider closely the path of my work in the last few years….does the present flurry of small drawings result in part from my reluctance to spend part of my week in the big studio? I am happy in this space but for the future? I was the one who always claimed I would use whatever media the work requested of me. I am beginning to think that I should go with what will work for me now and trust that the future will take care of itself………….

Escaped tonight to a funding lecture. A good evening but not enough time to chat to those I know or connect with those I don’t……I did bring home a handful of buisness cards so I suppose that’s the next job.

So many facets to this art malarkey.