Ok…parrot feathers and concrete.

All done at the kitchen table in the end because I couldn’t contemplate carrying a bag of concrete up two flights of industrial stairs at the studio.

Huge mess and I have no idea if its going to be ok or not. Maybe. The jury is out until it is dry enough for me to see if it will come out of the tray intact. In the end the concrete set so fast that I handled the feathers more than I would have liked and they are rather bedraggled. Possibly reversible.

The work will have to retain sufficient prescence once decanted from its container. I suspect it will feel very different – I am hoping not too diminished.

Like much of my work it already has a title – ‘Holding Ground.’ I am somehow happier when my work has found a title. It’s as if it and I now know where we should be heading; and if we don’t get there it will be my fault.


A day in the studio today….briliant.

Lovely chatty people around. Not so busy in the morning but filled up in the afternoon. Mostly screen printers – and I met my next door neighbour who turns out to be a textile artist. Nice to be able to ask about things. I wanted to know how safe we are if we stay late at night. I looked in the signing in book and some seem to stay until gone 11pm.

Its a huge old industrial building with two flights of stairs to go down, lights that have to be switched back on again and a door release at the bottom.Then a dark alleyway between two tall buildings before a bit of a walk to the car park.

I am a bit of a wuss about these things. Still not sure I want to be there after dark. . maybe I am just too paranoid.

My neighbour tells me that she hasn’t heard of any trouble,and that there are security patrols; so that does make me feel better.

I am the proverbial night owl.[ It’s 1.38 am at the moment], so I get up late. For me to get to London much before lunch time is a struggle. As its now dark at 4.30 that’s not much of a working day …..

I did get work done today though.

It’s a no radio rule -unless you wear headphones -and I can only hack those for a while. So, a real working enviroment. Everyone engaged and only the sounds of machines and concentration. All very good for me.

I did get a drawing done to add to the two that are off to Mile End and then spent an hour cleaning, categorising and packing my parrot feathers. Tomorrow I hope to get some threaded metal rod, washers etc and see if I can make my idea work.

A lot of new things for me here. Working in concrete for starters. Everyone has said to me just do it in dental plaster, but sometimes only one material will do for a project.

You visualise it that way and then that is the only media that will do after that.

In this case it is also something to do with the tension between the brutality of the concrete and the fragility of the feathers. I just hope that it will be reflected in the tension of the space where the feathers don’t touch….

and even more I just hope it works- the feathers don’t sink or capsize and the concrete doesn’t sag or bag or crack …………..


Well – we’ve done it at last – met up with each other. Elena and I met at the Design Council in London and managed to recognise each other without the threatened wearing of the red carnations!

Lots of coffee in coffee bars, drinks in the pub, curry in our local curry house – and we were definitely old friends.

Strange to be able to show her my work and stand there holding Sharon Hall Shipp’s hankie that she sent me to work on, while discussing what interventions Elena might make to hers.

This morning we set off for Hall Place – a big Tudor house with a textile studio exhibition in the stables and the maddest, most wonderful, huge 60 year old topiary beasts in the garden. Both of which I suspected might be up Elena’s street.

Back drinking more coffee we talked about art and about us no longer being mysterious to each other, so we decided to put the mystery back in with a bit of the old Photoshop. So here are images of us retaining our mystery [!] while having a jolly good time.


This seems to have fallen by the wayside a bit …apoplogies all.

The usual autumnal bug that makes you feel rubbish and puts a stop to all the things you wanted to do. In my case hearing Tom Hackney talk as part of my course. Oh well.

I did manage to go to what was billed as a Symposium at UCA Farnham by Unravelled – the organisation that puts site specific and installaion art into National Trust houses.

After recently installing Echo in Knole House I was really looking forward to this. Not as good as I had hoped …what is it with these days. I am getting a bit jaded with them. So often woolly thinking, and speakers who seem to be treated with undue reverence.

This time they started late and the last speaker didn’t show. I want to come away from these days for which I have paid feeling invigorated, refreshed, with new ideas or concepts in my head. This means that the day has to be inclusive of the audience.

Days in which I have listened to endless speakers from an organisation telling me how wonderful they are doesn’t do it for me. I think it’s rude. At least there has to be some form of address to your audience – some indication of that they are there, have bothered coming, how they might become involved.

In this case the main man hadn’t even prepared anything – just bought his huge PowerPoint and flipped through it missing out pages that weren’t relevant or he didn’t have time to cover, or we weren’t grand enough to merit…..

So sad- if you lead something you should be inspirational- to the worker bees as well as the Queens.

The last speaker of the day, Lindsay Sears was really exciting both as a speaker, thinker and artist. She shared her process, and her work and was inclusive and interested in her audience and I will now seek out her work and follow what she does.

That all said the lovely curator who sat next door to me was interesting enough to make the whole day worth it!

So – today.


After all these years of blogging and e-mailing and Twittering and hopes and plans that never quite took off – tonight she and I will be having a drink in our local pub.

Can’t wait.

Hooray for a-n I say.


No new work done yet but I continue sorting and throwing.

This afternoon I was at college to hear sculptor Doug White talking about his practice. I have a passion for listening to artists talk about how they work. I will hunt for videos on the internet late at night and watch Anselm Kiefer in a huge brick building or Susan Hiller talking at the Tate late into the night.

I had thought that this was all good, but I am beginning to think I might just be indulging in a form of displacement activity. Watching someone else work!

Interestingly Doug owned up to having bought a rural shed to house all his past work. He said – and it resonated with me – that he had wondered how he would feel if the whole lot went up in flames. Probably ok was the answer. He felt the old work to be a psychological weight on him.

Driving back I toyed with the idea of ditching all mine.

Where? How?

I should have thought about this earlier. Could have had an arty farty bonfire party…………

It is unusual nowadays to listen to a process lead artist. Doug’s recent ceramic work was wonderful. Having discovered how to make wet clay resemble elephant skin while on a residency in the Netherlands he has gone on to produce monumental works with it. Recently exhibiting in a French Palace he had to build scaffolding, armatures and make clay on site in the midst of a fabulous gilded Louis style room. The resultant sculptural installation was enormous but fragile with overtones of Beuys I thought [ sounds like a wine!]

I have such respect for all that research and hard work.

Anyone who wants to see his work – Doug will be exhibiting in Saatchi December 10th NEW ORDER: British Art Today II

see douglaswhite.co.uk