Cold grey drizzle over London but in the British Museum’s El Dorado it was pitch black with case after case of gold artefacts shimmering under their spotlights- and security in every corner.

A big exhibition and really immersive given that so many of the objects were basically the same: chest plates, earrings, nose rings, head ornaments…

I managed to come away with a feeling of having been among these peoples for a while. Quotes from the 16th century helped – one described the women paddling canoes with their feet while knitting baskets and transporting fruit on their heads…I could hear the swish of the water….

Given the terrible indignities the indigenous people suffered at the hands of the Spanish because of the European greed and thirst for gold it was extrodinary to discover that the majority of the work is an alloy – 85% copper.

On top of that the people themselves valued the items for their spiritual and ritualistic worth: monetary value had no place in it at all.

Looking at the intricacy that they could achieve using lost wax castings was just humbling. We think ourselves so clever.

I went all the way round the exhibition and my previous life as a jewellry buyer marvelled at the skill and the craftsmanship, but my heart fell for a beautiful clay pot decorated with piercings.

I collect used clay domestic vessels from all over the world – and its shape, decoration, soft colour and smoked exterior just called to me.

Similarly a Jeff Koons in my house would do nothing for me whereas a Giacometti drawing I couldn’t pass without it being part of my day to look at it.

Size, texture, shape, colour, media, the past or the present, the personal story or the impersonal, the dark or the joyful – we artists are wrapped in our own cloaks of preferences and life experiences.

I think they just roll down our arms and into the work.


Well all the artists chosen, all the artists hung and all three of us co- curators are still talking to each other.

I think it looks really good, but then it’s partly my taste, I am part of the decision making and I too have sweated blood over the hang and bit my lip when one of us has got intransigent or bossy. I am quite sure I have said the wrong things too….

Our show has a subtly different feel from the well known exhibitions that Duncan Brannan the Kent Visual Arts Officer puts up in the same space. Ours is also a mixed media contemporary curated show, but with a slightly softer feel. Strange as Tension is quite an edgy concept. Women curators- or just that some of the pieces reference knitting, lace making, and stitching – but in very harsh uncompromising ways? Maybe it is the presence of the domestic that makes it feel so different.

It will be interesting to see what Duncan feels on Thursday.

Given that we were offered the opportunity just before Christmas and nothing much could happen until after New Year I think we have achieved miracles – a curated show of nine great artists.

Work ranges from Will Gould’s Earth Tower, Dawn Cole’s savagely beautiful solar prints through Alex J Wood’s playful sculpture that epitomises Tension, to Linda Simond’s insightful, colourful knitted take on our digital age.

PV on Thursday night and I hope for our artist’s sake we have had enough time to gather a room packed full of buzzy friends to the share wine and popcorn with.

Day off tomorrow – so to London to see the British Museum’s El Dorado gold exhibition……….

Not a single decision to be made.


My oldest friend left to go to live in Spain tonight. We’ve done 40 years time together and he’s my go-to person when my world falls in.

When I found out that he was moving I confess to tears and I was unsettled for weeks.

We were abroad at the time and when I came home the first thing I did, instinctively, was to make work. It seemed the only way that I could settle myself, put pieces back where they should be again and be in control.

I sought out a box of leather shoe soles that I had found on the beach in Dungeness – barnacled and covered in salt crystals they were fragile but recognisably honest working items.

The soles found their way into a work that made itself – truly. It just fell into place and yet still gave me that feeling that you get – that high of knowing that a piece is both finished and good.

It became ‘I let go your hand’ and is on the wall in my studio.

Today I have no frenetic wish to make work – I look back on that fortnight with some amazement- at how strong and urgent my need to make was.

It validated for me in some strange way that I was truly a real artist. Doubtless because its what the artist in the garret is expected to do, but also because I seemed to know what I needed and it wasn’t a glass of wine, but to make work.

Artists are strange beings aren’t we?


Back to earth today – no more Tate and Paul Klee.

The walls of the gallery needed a bit of making good so the gallery curator and I spent the afternoon sanding and touching up the walls of the gallery for Monday. Looking good.

While we were chatting and sanding we touched upon the subject of the MA. To do one or not to do one?

I seem to know instinctively that my practice has reached a point that needs that critical input to move it on again… I keep seeking it out.

However I seem still to be waiting for my elusive fantasy of visually cohesive, coherent work to appear – a practice that I can present more easily than my own at the doors of the MA interview.

What I seem to be learning is that like it or not – and I don’t – that is never going to be my practice. I appear destined to envy from the sidelines those that move slowly and incrementally and comprehensively from work to work. Mine meanwhile; responsive, querulous and analytical fights me each time until it and I come to a final resolution and all is peace. And it is peace. My work has a certain silence at the heart of it.

You would never know from the final outcomes how hard I struggled as my visual response took off in another direction yet again.

Chatting on I mentioned the article in the Times entitled ‘Crowdfunding plan for Masters degrees’. Sadly I don’t have the date but it was recently in the News section. It offered the amazing concept of the Government seeking new sources of private finance for post graduate courses that included crowd funding!

MA fees are set to go up by at least twice in two years time I believe. Crazy. There may be a post graduate premium in the business world and there is certainly one in the art world as far as showing and gallery representation is concerned, but the financial rewards will never be commensurate with the proposed fees.

Maybe artists will have to seek out high calibre critique groups and drive their practice forward that way…

Now or never then……….


Happy New Year lovely people…

Well that’s Christmas done and dusted and back in the attic, and New Year spent in Wales and our river still lapping at the top of the arches under the bridge….

Its all a bit disconcerting isn’t it? Throws you off balance- all that organising, shopping, eating drinking, being social and thankful and nice.

Then its all silent again.

My potatoes are still here although I have peeled the metallic skin off preferring the charcoal underneath. I intend drawing on them now…am waiting for inspiration. I type on the computer; they look at me.

I was much heartened to watch Tracy Emin talking about her collaboration with Louise Borgeoise in which she said she had ruminated for two years before putting her interventions on Louise’s prints. I feel the same about my burnt potatoes.

Just before Christmas I was offered the opportunity to co – curate a gallery space. One of Kent’s good contemporary spaces. Fabulous.

We decided to divide our allotted time into two. No 1 show is a curated show around ‘Tension’ – physically and conceptually. We have worked so hard and so fast to get it all together; the show opening on Tuesday 11th. With Christmas in between concept and opening date it’s all been a bit heroic.

Show 2 is being linked to Sevenoaks Visual Arts Forum – of which I am a founder member and facilitator. We are presenting it as a SVAF concept and asking for artists with links to Kent, hoping to raise our profile and gather new members.[see Fine Line in a-n Opportunities]

Yesterday I spent at the Tate with two friends wandering the Klee exhibition. I visited a Klee exhibition about ten years ago at the Hayward. It was a jewel compared to this one – it’s huge. This man’s output was prodigious, and sexy, and funny, with a constant overlay of ‘niceness’. In the midst of the horrors of the war, losing friends, portentous events all around, destined to die with a terrible degenerative disease he remains nice to the end.

I bought this back with me:

‘The artist of today is more than an improved camera; he is more complex, and wider. He is a creature on the earth and a creature within the whole, that is to say, a creature on a star among stars’

Klee [Ways of Nature Study 1923]

So – that’s me told. I am on a star. Always knew it.