Yesterday a trip to one of my favourite places.. Romney Marsh. A flat silt plain that until the 1950s was inhabited only by sheep. Across the long, flat vista can be seen Dungeness Power Station – promising me the wonders of Dungeness beach and the flotsam and jetsom that I love collecting so much.

Yesterday was the last of four weekends when five of the medieval marsh churches are open for Art in Romney Marsh which takes place each year. A mixture of site specific and curator invited art.

On a wet, windy day the glorious churches were a welcome haven and jewels in their own right. Two or three artists in each church and an invigilating artist to chat to. A highly recommended way of spending a Sunday next year.

Of the work, Michael Healey’s floating pink globe that reflected the pale pink box pews of Old Romney church was a favorite. The pews were painted in the 1960’s when Disney filmed there. Somehow it caught the gentle absudity of it all perfectly.

Julian Rowe’s tiny sculptural installation reduced the historical coastal Martello Towers to a Hornby sized layout. Reducing these massive, confrontaional, military defences to a defenceless plan at my feet moved me.

My main reason for going was that Ros Barker – my art partner in the Farninghham Hobby Horse Project -was showing in St Mary in the Marsh church. Her finely worked boxes and pillow looked quite different in the ecclesiastical setting. They semed to hold some of the reverential silence. Maybe because they are so pale. Maybe because they speak of the past.

Extraordinary sometimes how work can feel so different in another setting. I wonder if the Tate curators sometimes look at something famous in its new exhibition space and feel it to be a different piece of art to the one they saw in New York/ Hamburg/Berlin?


To Margate to Margate to visit the Turner…and collect my work from the Harbour Arm Gallery.

Dropped in to see my work in situ before it all came down. I thought it looked a bit bland, although I am told it doesn’t. I’m rather confused. It has just had a double oak frame on it and the space and light couldn’t have been better for it really. Odd. Needs thinking about.

Spent some time in the Turner with the new Alex Katz show. I do find this type of flat ‘fashion shoot’ art problematical…I feel the lack of emotion, poetry and darkness keenly. Even in the more painterly recent works – of water – they seem to lack some form of integrity that would have made me happy. Oddly in his choice of other artists – Sickert, Stubbs, Kleine… and so many dark, 1950’s brown oils it was as if their darkness atoned for the lack of it in his works in the next room.

Best bits…a couple of wonderful Marlene Dumas and a John Hoyland crouched glowing in one corner. and a Turner hung so low that you could really study the way he held his brush.

In the foyer Maria Nepomunceno’s woven installation had everyone clambering over it and lying in the hammock. It seemed so un-English to invite everyone to play in it; she is Brazilian.

In the town Bob and Roberta Smith’s banners.

Then on to the Pushing Print exhibition run by friends of mine. Gets better and better every year. Really contemporary work out there. Enough to make me want to print again.

No new making going on here yet.

Daren’t look at that or I will panic.

Having read Ruth Geldard’s blog I shall take up a bit of leaf darning I think… maybe that will lead to something…..

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Back to Hastings this afternoon for our artists talks in the gallery. We were going to film it but for various reasons that didn’t happen. Probably a good thing as these things sometimes are. Everyone was very relaxed, honest, and generous in their talks and the audience happy to ask questions.

It feels very much as if TS has forged a group for ourselves. Maybe filming would have changed that dynamic.

Listening to the artists was fascinating. Cathryn Kemp has been the director and curator throughout and invited her artists purely on the previous work she had seen.

Investing an amazing amount of trust in us all she then waited to see what we would all bring to the table under the banner Telling Stories:Hastings.

Incredibly the show works beautifully. I am told it was easy to hang and you realise why when listening to the artists talk. So many, many similar themes, parallel strands, empathetic connections, interwoven stories…

Lucinda’s video sea piece raging against the death of a brother and the confusion of adoption, the perfection of Martins silent, cold, light filled interiors sliding round the family dynamic. Grace’s beautiful images immortalising her models enacting their own deaths, Helda’s lyrical video of his salt effigys with its strangely spiritual presence pervading the room. Cathryn’s Victorian nightdress worn during a long, long spell in hospital – buried and unearthed in a archeological, forensic dig – a monochrome archive laid out with loving care. Xaverine’s turbulent shredded personal photographic history knitted into a calm, silent relic in a museum case….

Every artist talk wound us closer and closer; Pat, Ray, Helen, Alex, Samantha, Tracy, me….

Actually a film of it would have been extrodinary. Writing about it makes me want to re-run it again. To feel again that sense of excitement as everything meshed together.

Before we did the tea and cakes….



a sock arrived in the post today.

Small size childs sock

With dinasours

And an added crochet top.

I love the bright green/red colour clash in it

But now I have to do something to it..

I hold it in my hand turning it over and over…the sock feels very small and rather vulnerable. Holding it begins to remind me of my own childrens clothing and of washing, rolling up and putting away all their little socks in half sized chests of drawers.

Then it comes to me- I work with memory and memorial. I will re-make the memory of sewing endless nametapes on their clothing.

I hunt for a name tape. Surely there must be one somewhere in the muddle that passes as a sewing drawer in this house. We used to have hundreds.So expensive were they that I used to order them HENRY SWANN OLIVIA – so I could tuck one name under and not have to order two sets.

I found one.

Inside the sock or out? I decide on out. It feels as though I am memorialisng part of their childhood and that the name tape should sit on it like that.

So I sew it on – with bright green thread which is art not school and chain stitch which is art not school. Intuative choices, only thought about that afterwards.

I photograph the sock again.

On the image it looks as though I have claimed it for my children. Name tapes saying of course that something is yours. Not their sock.


In time as its worked over that unintentional claim will look less brazen and I shall feel happier. Their name tape will still be there, the ghost of all those evenings in front of the television……


Having met up with Clare Smith and posted a photo of her on my blog she has returned the compliment..hmm…bit like being tagged on Facebook – there you suddenly are looking parboiled and eerily grown up for some reason….

It was rather special to meet after following Clare’s blog for years. Not something that has a parallel elsewhere in life really. Now it feels quite different when I read her blog. Connected of course. If we had been able to adjourn to the pub I think we would have talked all night.

Clare also introduced me to her DAD partner Joanna whose beautiful tempera abstracts were on the gallery wall. We too could have talked all night finding common interests in the first few seconds and only being silenced by the final bell.

Maybe we should organise a Christmas meet up in a London pub for all the a-n bloggers who fancy meeting their pen pals? Lunch time maybe so people had time to get there/ do other things/ meet other people….carnations in the button hole…

Perhaps others could do it in Liverpool/ Bristol….etc?

Elena’s comment has made me think about the photos again….I find it hard to get past the Richter/Boltanski treatments which resonate with me.

I think its their respect and the subtlety.

Another barrier to buying vintage photos and seeing what comes is the fact that painting seems to be my instinctive reaction to the images….not sure why.

I haven’t painted seriously for a long time. Also have exchanged my big studio for a small one so making a huge mess is now harder. Feels constrained before I have started.

Or me just making excuses. I know once I start a new road it becomes all consuming.

Bit like being on the diving board looking down.

Easier to keep wandering round the PV’s for a while……

Then again I inherited a few tiny black and white negatives – most very damaged – of Berlin during the Nazi era…..hmm…..