I feel as if I have had a rush of blood to my brain  induced by looking at – and talking about  – a lot of art in the last seven days.

An art students dream really! Monday – drawing symposium at college with Dr Natasha Mayo,  Amelia Johnstone and Catherine Wynne-Paton

Thursday – The recently opened Sigmar Polke exhibition Alibis at Tate Modern;

and Saturday – Clare Woods show at Oriel Davies A Tree A Rock A Cloud.

Head explosion time! Why ? Because I’m attempting to consider what the artists are saying and why they are making the work they do. Absorbing information and processing it and then developing my opinions takes time. Right now I feel as if this mass of new information is simmering away in my subconscious and (hopefully) at some point soon will start to make connections with my understanding of things.

So I’m going through that insecure stage of thinking about the work I’ve seen and looking at my own and thinking – ‘agh – what am I doing?’

I put myself in mind of what our tutor repeatedly asks of us: GO TO EXHIBITIONS – look at work  and ask yourself what you find interesting and challenging and confusing and good etc and relate it back to your own practice. Then ask – why am I making work in the way I do?

And her other regular comment during seminars – NOW GO BACK TO THE STUDIO AND FAIL! With ideas in mind get to work with your own ideas and be prepared for things not to work, not to be the way you imagined and keep pushing through with the results that disappoint you and figure out why.

Its like accepting yourself all over again ( which every artists is in a constant state of doing to some extent). In my case as a student I’m trying to figure things out and a big part of this process is risk taking, failure and honest refection. So I will be back in the studio next week doing just this!


Dr Natasha Mayo is Head of Ceramics at Cardiff School of Art and Design  

Amelia Johnstone is Head of Illustration also at Cardiff  

Catherine Wynne-Paton graduated from HCA with  BA Fine Art (Hons) in June this year. 

Sigmar Polke Alibis Tate Modern until  8th Feb 2015

Clare Woods  A Tree A Rock A Cloud closes on 5th November.


I got to an interesting point during the summer where my painting was moving on. My tutor had encouraged me to be more confident and I’d begun making stronger and more simplified marks with paint. A pause from painting during open studios for Herefordshire Art Week (h.ART) and currently with the group show in London has given me time to reflect on this work and a hunger to get back to it also!

Open Studio is very helpful – if you are brave enough – you invite visitors to look at and comment on your work in progress. I suppose this is quite a risky strategy as you are creatively vulnerable: at risk from negative feedback or from opinions that may actually confuse your sense of clarity. So with this in mind I always have a good think about revealing work in progress – am I happy for people to look at it and am I ready to deal with feedback from people I don’t know and trust (in terms of their opinions)?

I felt confident about the paintings I showed  – I knew they exhibited the birth of an idea rather than anything established but they are the result of a few months of development and their ideas are going somewhere.

So I’ve been testing them and the feedback has been encouraging – they seem to convey what I was intending.

I have since had two days in the studio with them – and a tutorial with our course leader – and I’m immersing myself in the work again. Thankfully I still feel inspired and I am picking up where I left off.

I’m interested in the figure I am using (studies from a small ceramic figurine of a seated child) as a vehicle for exploring the reality – in hindsight of course – of my childhood experiences – a looking back; a consideration of events with my now adult sensibilities. And in order to express my responses to this I’m weaving painting, drawing and collage together in a spontaneous and direct way.

The figurine that is the focus of my thoughts continues to intrigue me. I have known it since I was a small child and I feel it holds truths and memories that I am attempting to reveal to myself. At the same time my use of materials feels like a game of strategy, a series of steps – as if I’m maneuvering through a visual landscape with new and exciting possibilities.

I tend to reflect and photograph my work as I make it and for me this is a really effective way of analysing  and evaluating the aesthetic moves I make – my use of line and choice of colour; overlapping and redrawing; filling in with solid areas of paint.

I’m engaged with my process and the intellectual dimension of my work and look forward to my next studio day.




I’ve had the best 24 hours. I found Sonia Boués blog ‘The Museum of Object Research’ on the a-n blogs page and quickly got in to conversation with Sonia.

I’m very interested in the area of the meaning of objects and their place in our lives particularly in relation to our pasts.

Sonia asked me to write a guest blog post. I wrote about my approach to the subject and my interest both through my practice and through cultural context.

I’m so pleased to have found a place to discuss and share ideas around objects with other artists who are equally involved with the subject. I really need to talk about the subject – to figure things out and develop my ideas and I think I’ve just found somewhere to do just that – thank you a-n!

Watch this space



In yesterday’s blog post I was recounting the threads of my ideas within my work to help put a proposal together for my last project at college – ‘resolution of practice’.

I have recalled a few more ideas I was thinking about yesterday.

Scale: I’m wondering if scales works as a metaphor ? If I make a drawing of a child which is far greater than life size and in fact as big as or larger than an adult what does this say – that childhood is more important than adulthood, that the child within us remains? I’m playing around with these ‘larger than life’ ideas.

Dismembering the figure: what happens when I paint a figure without the head – does it summon up ideas of lack of thought? Or a disassociation with the subconscious? Is the personal with needs and a voice overlooked?

Repetition: I have a need to repeatedly draw the figures – I have 5 drawings that I use. Why  am I doing this? To reinforce the idea of childhood? To be in a constant state of comforting recollection? What effect do this repetition have? I’ve been thinking about creating many figures in 3D _ how would this work?

And here are the other elements I was considering in the last post – just to have it all together

Negative Space: to suggest relationship dynamics;the spaces between us; as a way of shifting emphasis within the work.

Simplifying visual information and developing a system of signs and symbols : to develop a language and to work with the complexities of human relationships.

Creating ‘uncomfortable’ compositions that challenge the eye and help question the works’ content.

I’ve got to put  all this together in the form of a proposal for a tutorial next week – I wonder if there are too many elements to talk about – I always have loads of ideas going on – we’ll see.


Started back at college today and our tutor was talking to our year group about the importance of always having your journal to hand – to capture your thoughts as you think them! She pointed out that by the time you have got to a computer they may have disappeared.

On the way home I was thinking about my proposal for work for the coming year  – my thoughts were vivid and clear – but I was driving so couldn’t just jot them down.

I’m going to try and recall them here – it may be a little random – here goes –

I’ve made some large drawings/paintings recently which I originally constructed in the form of a frieze. I highlighted the negative spaces with the addition of black card. The dynamic between the black card, white background and the paint and pastel creates tensions and relationships; and  plays with the idea of concealing and revealing histories, of controlling the space/personal story.

This is in the light of my interest in my relationship with my own past, the recall of memories and the truth and lies within family histories – concealing and revealing.

I intend to make more work like this using the black card as a movable element capable of exacting change to the figures, representing the emotional space and  dynamics within relationships. I’m interested in the idea of blocking things out and of redirecting a personal narrative – which in turn adapts.

Through this work I’m attempting to pair down the visual information – and playing with the irony that surrounds the emotional power of a simple personal object. Almost like the trace of something being more significant than the object or person itself . Because the trace contains a response – a loss, a longing or perhaps a resentment.

I’m also trying to force my compositions  from flowing and pleasing to the eye to awkward and uncomfortable; as a reflection of elements of family relationships and of the difficulties of dealing with the past.

I have been looking at work by Peter Stilwell and Rose Wylie and notice how their use of negative space sits uncomfortably and how I try to re-arrange it in my head into a more flowing state. But their work is made so much more interesting because of this characteristic. I want to explore this idea in my own work.

My smaller collages with tracing paper allow me to play –  and make me realise that I need this tactile element in my practice – where I feel that I am ‘making’. Within these collages I want to continue with the theme of creating codes and signs through the repeated use of certain marks and colours. The use of thick pastel outlines, the sun ray halos and the use of highlighter to define certain areas of the body are all developing as ways in which I can express ideas about states of childhood.

All in all – I’m developing visual metaphors to deal with the complexities and intricacies of our relationships with others and   the perceptions of our pasts.