Journalling my AHRC funded MA in History of Art (leading to PhD)… Focusing on Agnes Martin, art and theory of the 1960s… I also write on contemporary art, draw, paint and am setting up a gallery in West Philadelphia, USA…


This blog has lost its purpose a little – partly as my own writing and studies have gained more purpose and focus. Something to be celebrated.

I’ve decided to set up a new blog at Artists Talking, and to engage more with the artists and writers contributing here.

The blog is going to be called Art, Philosophy & Faith: Tracking my Doctoral Research on Agnes Martin

I’ll get it started soon!

Becky xo

1 Comment

Launching…. My Writing Service for Artists

It’s a commonly held idea that art needs no words. But, as contemporary artists, we know that isn’t quite true.

Historically speaking, from Marcel Duchamp and Rene Magritte’s surreal, verbal experiments, to Mark Titchner and Lawrence Weiner’s concrete poetry (above), the nuances of art and language are closely connected.

Then, of course, there are the practicalities. Publicity, funding, opportunity and public interpretation.

No artist I’ve met looks forward to writing artist statements, press releases or application forms. You want to focus on your work, stay in the studio (or get out of doors!), not get distracted and held up fretting over text.

Writing Service for Artists

That’s where I can help. In my Writing Service for Artists I work with artists, designers and curators to produce creative, descriptive, theoretical and explanatory text.

Wall texts
Catalogue essays
Artists statements
Press releases
Critical responses
Application forms
Web sites

I listen carefully to your vision and insight in order to produce words that work with your art, positioning your practice within contemporary, theoretical and historical contexts. As an artist and published art critic qualified in Fine Art and History of Art, I can translate art into words for exhibitions, proposals, web sites and publicity. I know how important the words are: too important to entrust to generalist copywriters who have not shared your experience.

To find out more about how the Writing Service for Artists can free you up to focus on your work and transform its public presentation, email me today (becky @ Take advantage of my 20% discount for new customers: offer expires 31 January 2011.

*Also… if you have texts already written in German, I can translate them into beautiful English for you!

This page’s web copy was produced with the marvellous assistance of Gabriel Smy / Smyword.

Read more:
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution


While I was neck-deep in dissertation stress, my Dad told me a tale about a man, an axe and a river. For the last, mad weeks of my Masters, the story was a lifebuoy, calmly bobbing in my mind while I summoned the courage, each morning, to face writing and editing, and to quell the rising panic that (despite my weeks of research and passionate drafting) I had nothing to say.

The story goes something like this,

In ancient times, there was a man engaged in building a temple. Breaking up stones, he swung his axe with such gusto that the heavy axehead flew from its wooden hilt, soared down the grassy hill and plopped into the fast-flowing river. He wrung his hands, tore at his hair and burst into tears. Rather a fuss for a burly stonemason to be making.

At this moment, the prophet happened to be walking by. Taken aback by the tradesman’s howling, the prophet asked him what the matter was. The man told him, between giant sobs, that the axe was the prized possession of a friend, loaned to him for the sacred purpose of temple-building, and now the axehead was gone forever, churned up in the wild water.

The prophet had a think, then told the man to pick up the wooden axe-handle, walk down the hill and wait by the water’s edge, holding the hilt out over the surface of the river. As the stonemason did so, the axehead floated into view, as if magnetically attracted to its other half. He was, naturally, very happy and continued with his work.

What I took from this is that creativity, particularly under pressure, is a flimsy, flyaway thing. If we lose it for a time, it’s best not to panic. Instead, wait at the place we last saw it. It was there all along. It we wait quietly for a little while in front of the laptop, notebook or sketchbook, inspiration, ideas, the ability to see, words, whatever it is that we’ve been missing, will gently rise to the surface of our minds. And we can get on with our work.

By the way, this vignette is adapted from the Bible, my Dad’s go-to book (2 Kings 6:1-7), but I think it’s useful for those of us with different, little, or no faith of the conventional kind.

Read more:
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

1 Comment

While I catch up with my new, fully freelance life, here’s a snippet from my ‘professional’ blog. More personal blog notes coming soon here…

Interview with Lucy Adlington, The Parlor Boutique Dec 2nd, 2010

Having just taken the leap into full time self-employment myself, it was wonderful to chat with Lucy Adlington about the trials and pleasures of her work as a designer-maker.

I profiled Lucy’s gorgeous gems a while back for a local magazine and have always been impressed with her DIY attitude, high aesthetic standards and super multi-tasking ability – as well as being a mite envious of the woman’s ability to look flawless whatever the situation! Here, we talk about her motivations, challenges and inspirations…

How long has the Parlor been running and what made you set the business up?

The Parlor opened in June 2007 officially, online, but I’ve been making and selling jewellery since 2002. The store took over a year to put together as I did everything entirely myself! It was a huge learning process along the way and I made sure I took my time as, ultimately, it felt more satisfying that way. The jump from hobby to business came from a desire to create something more tangible that I could work at part time whilst the rest of my life was in hiatus when I was diagnosed with M.E.

Talk us through the inspiration behind your latest pieces.

The site is updated constantly with new pieces, as I tend to come up with designs sporadically and sometimes work a collection through that theme. My main inspiration for pieces like c’est la vie rose was to create a huge statement piece that was both heavy and full of grandeur harking back to the silent film era. It’s my favourite piece as it always gets noticed. I have a couple of collections coming up next year around one of my ultimate inspirations but that will remain top secret until its finished!

Why vintage?

I’m a huge collector of 20th Century pieces of costume clothing and jewellery: the fact that these pieces are incredibly intricately made and have lasted the test of time is why I look to the past to bring back the ‘built to last’ ethos. I have a few costume jewellery pieces from the likes of stores like Woolworths that were made using brass and beautiful faceted glass stones, and they’re still in mint condition today. I aim for the same quality with my own pieces.

A lot of the charms and cameos I use have an incredibly story, the origins of which started in West Germany – before the Second World War the jewellery store owner re-located to the U.S.A and brought his stock with him. For whatever reason it was left sitting in a barn and, after a fire, his wife decided to auction off the remaining pieces and, as such, a fantastic array of pieces became available (all in near mint condition) to the market. I then re-create them into simplistic, quality jewellery that’s either created in very small numbers or a true one off. I love to be able to sell my customers unique pieces with a story to tell.

What is the biggest challenge you have had to face in being a self-employed creative?

To keep going. We’re living in a recession and also an independent creative age thanks to the internet, so there’s a lot of competition out there and the high street can be ruthless in latching onto designs and reproducing them for considerably less. Also, working solo means there’s no one backstage to take the reigns when it comes to time off or holidays. And you have to be incredibly self disciplined as well as driven, particularly if you’re having those moments of self doubt!

Read more:
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution


Becky blogs for Arts Professional… Nov 29th, 2010 by Becky. [Edit]

I am delighted to have been invited by Arts Professional’s editorial team to be one of their brand new creative bloggers. I’ll be writing regularly on how to manage and grow an emerging, freelance arts career – like mine! – as well as publishing plenty of revealing interviews with bright, successful women in the field. Here’s my first Arts Professional post…

Five Tips for Portfolio Career Success

‘Portfolio career’ is such a deceptive phrase. For me, those two words bring to mind a finely tuned array of innovative projects, managed with airtight and formidable efficiency.

I must admit, however, that my ‘portfolio’ is a little too much like the one I heaved around, aged 19, on the tube and in cabs between various art school interviews: overstuffed, unwieldy and containing work on an assortment of somewhat arbitrary themes. Despite this, I remain passionately committed to intertwining art, criticism, public speaking, academic research and blogging, in pursuit of creative integrity and a satisfying alternative to the 9-5.

To extend the art school carry-case metaphor, every scuff, bump and torn page, while disappointing, marks an opportunity to polish up and redraft. In other words, even career mistakes highlight opportunities for growth. The tips below have emerged from my personal freelance setbacks.

1. Ditch the perfectionism. I find this helps with finishing projects on time; working only my planned number of hours in order to preserve a decent hourly wage within my flat fee; and having the self-belief to take on new, more complex projects as I allow myself to take creative risks.

2. Value relationships. Rather than viewing each new contact as a business opportunity, I try to enjoy and to cultivate the friendships that crop up in my various lines of work. This way, I appreciate people for their personality as well as their skills; work collaboratively instead of competitively; and have some fascinating friends.

3. Be realistic about pricing. When I started getting unsolicited enquiries about my art writing, a chat with a more successful writer showed me that I was drastically underselling myself. New clients were happy to pay more because they recognised my strengths -perhaps more than I did.

4. Sleep. After years of late night deadline scrambles, I now know that I do my best work when I’m well rested, so I make bedtime a priority (arts careers are often less than glamorous!). This is especially important when dealing with the hectic travel schedule that often comes with multi-project work.

5. Set new, exciting goals. One major advantage of a freelance career is that I can dream big about my future and make step-by-step plans to get there. Right now, I am working on a business plan for a contemporary art gallery and studio complex. By identifying concrete goals, I am also able to propose and select projects that will best equip me to get there: my portfolio therefore becomes more coherent and my motivation soars!

Do you have any top tips for arts career success? Do share them in the comments…

Read more:
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

1 Comment