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.


….. talking of images that are unreadable as emotional signifiers and new media and unusual juxtapositions [which we were] I think I may have something that ticks all the boxes:

Two potatoes left in the Aga for two days – yes I know- but you can’t smell anything burning in an Aga…..

they are black and gorgeous and metallic. I have seen burnt fruit used in work before, but these have a deep charcoal black under the metallic coating and a dark, mysterious interior.

Concrete and charcoal potatoes………..it calls to my soul.


Sharon Hallshipp and Rob Turner have kindly left comments on my last blog where I mused that viewers seemed drawn to feathers and I wondered if they were an emotional signifier of any sort.

Sharon bypassed the feathers and felt drawn to the concrete – as am I. It’s surprisingly vulnerable for such a heavy material. I like its weight and the fact that it is what it is. Its solid and heavy, its colour is reminiscent of unloved 60’s buildings and of building works……take me as I am, no pretensions, not asking to be admired or loved. No poems to concrete.

If I choose to continue by interrogating concrete it would be an exciting journey – of continual revelations I think.

Rob offered the Indian brave and the feather headdress that signify warrior status. Now of course all I can see in my piece are Indian feather headdresses! Maybe why I felt the piece was strong where I had expected vulnerability.

Images are just so complex aren’t they?

As artists we adjust and adjust until the medium, shape, colour, frame, placement, lighting give us back the emotional charge we were searching for – and then along comes the viewer with their box of completely different Life Experiences packed with images signifying emotions quite other to ours….

As human beings we do seem to have a culturally agreed encyclopaedia of symbolic images and colours that we share and that allow us to ‘read’ non functional objects from an emotional standpoint. Only so good so far though. White being the colour of mourning in much of the Asian world it is instantly obvious that as an emotional chart and primary reader of an object/image its worth is pretty limited.

Maybe that’s why we are so interested in images and objects that are ‘unreadable’ on that scale?

Objects and images rendered in new media, in new ways, new ideas, out of scale, objects in juxtaposition to each other in ways not seen outside art………..