I took the last piece of art work down from my studio wall on Thursday. Moving out has been a major undertaking – much greater than I’d imagined – and there have been many times over the past few weeks when I’ve felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff I’ve needed to shift. Friday at 2pm was the deadline for having the studio emptied and left in a good state for the next artist; today I returned the key fob to head office and have now completely signed off from a studio that I’d rented for three years.

Leaving my studio this time round feels very different and is a million miles away from my last experience. That move was a complete emotional upheaval – abrupt & sudden, with only 48 hours notice given. Alongside a small group of artists, we had no choice but to simply react. We had decided to make a stand against rent increases imposed by the landlord and we lost. It was that loss that got me first started on writing a blog here – Keeping It Together.

This time round, moving feels significantly different – namely because this move is about making a personal choice to leave. I’ve had more time to prepare and consequently feel more in control of the situation. That’s not to say that I haven’t felt completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have, but at least I’ve had the chance to properly acknowledge the sheer volume of what I own.

It’s been an exhausting process, but a positive one nonetheless. I’m amazed that I’ve managed to fill one hundred 35 litre boxes. It’s the first time since coming back from living in the States that my possessions have been in one place at the same time. I’m going back 26 years – I left Ithaca, New York in 1989!

My sister’s house sale fell through right at the very last minute and ‘that’ garage I’ve been writing about and hoping for since last February is no longer at my disposal. For now, I feel really lucky to have the tremendous support of a friend who has loaned me space in hers.

Moving has taken up pretty much all of my spare time over the past couple of weeks. Being involved in creative work has been low on the agenda and as usual, I’ve had that uneasy feeling I get whenever I’m not actively making work. This will all be rectified tomorrow when I’ve carved out some time for continuing to work on the carefully preserved pieces from my studio wall, currently laying on my bedroom floor. I’m itching to get back to this new body of work on the theme of domesticity – centred around repression and restriction.

On which note, I’m really pleased to have had one of my pieces of work selected for Disturbance, a show featuring some amazing artists whose work I love, curated and organised by Paula McArthur and Wendy Saunders. The piece, Sweet Nothings, features 21 gagged ceramic female figurines. I’m looking forward to talking about the work more as the show progresses.

Details of the show are here: http://www.atomgallery.co.uk/exhibitions/disturbance.html



Taking 10×10 to Colchester was a really positive experience for me. There was a great turnout with over seventy exchanges made in all and I had a lot of animated conversations with people who seemed genuinely interested in 10×10 and its history. In fact, I hardly stopped talking throughout the entire 5 hour exchange!

I was in very good hands from the outset, of course – the Hunt & Darton Cafe having been such a positive force in the town before I arrived. I was lucky to be invited into the midst of this upbeat atmosphere, where there was a real sense that something fun & exciting was happening. This positivity spilled over into the people who interacted with the 10×10 cabinet.

There was a real buzz when I arrived last Saturday morning to remove the perspex from the cabinet and I’m grateful to the generous Hunt & Darton team who had encouraged a good crowd to come along and take part in the exchange. An article about 10×10 in the local paper, together with the ever-helpful Anthony Roberts (Director of Colchester Arts Centre)’s mailing list and some much appreciated retweets on Twitter, all contributed to getting people along to participate.

People, after all, are what make the project happen. And people from all walks of life came along – from young children and teenagers, through to the elderly.

And if so much of what happens around 10×10 – the conversations and the exchanges – can be considered ‘a comment on humanity’ then I think the event in Colchester showed humanity as pretty colourful and diverse. A whole manner of objects were brought along to be exchanged and the way that people interacted varied greatly. Some people really wanted to communicate and were keen to tell the story attached to their object, others chose to say nothing, and on the surface at least, simply made straightforward swaps.

One person on arrival told me of her decision to leave something ‘nice’ in the cabinet and only to take something that she considered to be throwaway. In the event, she left an amazing hotdog brooch and took away a business card – a sweet gesture which echoed another act of generosity, when someone left an onyx vase that he had bought in China as a memento of proposing to his girlfriend while on holiday there. In exchange, all he took was a cheap pen. I was really pleased to see one of the (to my mind!) surplus supply of pens taken away – quite a number have been left in the cabinet over a period of time and, whilst one or two have been well thought-out exchanges with stories attached, I can’t help but feel pleased to see them go.

One of the most interesting moments for me was when someone decided to Google to find out the monetary value of two South Korean coins which had been exchanged and left in the cabinet earlier in the day. On discovering that they were only worth 36p, they decided to take something else instead. It was a classic example to me of the issue of value and worth, a theme that is at the heart of the 10×10 project.

There were some lovely moments during Saturday’s exchange, some interesting objects left, and there are plenty of stories and photos still to share. The cabinet changed a lot in its appearance as the day progressed and I will add the photos and document the changes in due course. Huge thanks must go to my partner Pete for his patient and thorough documentation of the exchanges. I really couldn’t keep such an accurate record of the day’s exchanges without him and this project certainly wouldn’t be alive without his amazing generosity and enthusiasm for helping.

Many thanks again to the fantastic people of Colchester who came along to participate so positively – Jude, Rose, Ally, Dolly, Rosie & Alice, Amy, Gina, Jak, Alan, David to name but a few – and also to Jenny, Holly, Jess, Gemma and the rest of the Hunt & Darton Cafe team, as well as Anthony at Colchester Arts Centre and Charlotte and the other staff at Firstsite – for inviting the 10×10 project in and making me feel so welcome.