Feathers and concrete are now ensconced at an exhibition in Mile End-eliciting some comment as people go round. Feathers are something that people seem to relate to – on a fairly superficial level I suspect. . Not sure that they are an emotional signifier. If they are – of what?

It’s the concrete that forges the dialogue and forces the work out into a bigger space than it actually inhabits.

The piece has made me start thinking around this ability of some works to have greater presence than others. It is of course completely unrelated to size – which makes a work monumental. Some monumental works have this presence, some don’t.

I ruminated en route that feathers are of course – like all found objects from the natural world – not something that one can upscale. Next week I am hoping to get back into the studio for two whole days. By then the work will be back with me and I have an itch to paint around it …the deep blues and reds just say oils to me and I haven’t painted in oils for about ten years…so in the spirit of ‘go and play and bring back what you’ve done’ I will see what two days will bring.

Even thinking about painting has started me doodling and sketching in my Christmas shopping list book.

Maybe they will all end up with concrete and feathers this year.



‘Holding Ground’ [an area of sea which will hold an anchor] is decanted from its tray.

Bit of a struggle, even though several jars of Vaseline were sacrificed in the making of this work….

I said that it would have to have a presence for me to be happy with it. I had been expecting fragility in opposition to the heft of the concrete. I thought maybe the feathers would be just overcome.

I have got something quite other – the feathers are visually very strong. Fascinating. I can’t quite work out why.

I am really pleased with it. I love the gritty greyness of the concrete, its imense weight and the fact it is so powerful even when broken.

Both pieces are an identical shape and size but because of the placement of the feathers, look and feel quite different. I have spent several happy hours offering them up to each other in a myriad different combinations. Every time a shift in mood.

Maybe this work should become a series of photographs….

Having been sent off to ‘play’ by my tutor I am intending to paint and draw ‘around’ the work and see what comes next.

I am beginning to enjoy not having a project on the go and to be able to immerse myself in making for the sake of it – even if I know my first seminar and crit is coming up far too soon ………..

Now how do I get this to college? Weighs a ton.


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.