Current sorting and sifting through boxes and files in the studio continues to throw up reminders of past work. Today I came across a series of images of my ‘Sweet Nothings’ assemblage – a collection of altered ceramic female figurines. My intervention four years or so ago involved making the figurines mute – covering their mouths with Elastoplast – silencing them. At that point in time, pre the Me Too* movement, I was thinking about the universal abuse directed at girls and young women – a push from certain quarters to keep them in their place, compliant and impotent.


I remember that there was a powerful response to the work when I first launched it. It was clear I’d hit a nerve with some and that there were deep concerns around the issue of keeping girls and young women silenced. Four years on and this piece of work keeps coming back to me – a harsh reminder not just of the historical abuse that’s still unfolding, but also that which is ongoing. I was pleased to be asked to exhibit the work again this year by curator Aidan Moesby. The message behind it is something that I feel ought to be ‘out there’ – shared and up for discussion. Because it’s a sad but undeniable fact – ‘Sweet Nothings’ has rarely lost its relevance since I first made it and continues to be as timely and pertinent as ever.



In recent days, there’s been a lot of news coverage around Prince Andrew’s past association with the late Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, trafficker and paedophile. One thing that struck me in this week’s publicly broadcasted interview with journalist and newsreader Emily Maitlis, was how common the statement of having ‘no recollection’ has become. There’s a real familiarity to it and the phrase is invariably spoken in relation to specific young girls and women. ‘No – no memory of meeting this woman, whatsoever’ – a phrase so often uttered by men in high-powered, privileged positions, in spite of damning photographic evidence suggesting the opposite. I chose ‘Sweet Nothings’ as my title as it’s indicative of the way so many girls and young women are treated by certain men; viewed solely as decorative beings, sweet but nothing, essentially – other than sexual objects, denied of having any real substance or a voice worthy of being heard. Suzanne Moore as far back as 2015 wrote this in a Guardian article:

The war against women is waged routinely and globally. Equality of the most basic kind cannot exist when a woman’s life and her words are always worth less than a man’s.’ 

Moore’s sentiments and high emotions around the subject of unsolicited exploitation of girls and young women rings as true now, as it did then – a sad and uncomfortable truth. (The full article can be read here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/04/india-turkey-oxford-state-of-war-against-women-sexual-violence )



‘Sweet Nothings’ is currently on show at The Foundry: a place for change, Vauxhall as part of the ‘Contested Spaces’ group exhibition, curated by Aidan Moesby. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate venue for it to be shown in as the building offers office, meeting, conference and exhibition space to social justice & human rights focused organisations. Click here for further information about the show & the participating artists:



* For more on the Me Too movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_Too_movement



‘What percentage of this stuff really is raw material for my art work? How far is the sheer volume of it a reflection of how hard it is for me to let go?’

These questions came to my attention again recently as a memory on Facebook. They’re from a blog post, written here in November 2015 at a point when I’d finally managed to get my entire collections in one place.

Four years on … it’s a long time, but some changes are finally happening. I’ve started the process of letting go, with the question ‘what percentage of this stuff really is raw material for my art work’ in mind. New additional questions include: ‘Will I use it? If it’s not for my art, do I need to keep it? Do I even like it?’

The sorting is all part of my working process and historically, though enjoyable, has caused me a certain amount of anxiety – afraid to throw something away on the basis that it might ‘come in handy one day’ as my Nana used to say. I also often get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff. Over the years, I’ve grown increasingly aware of the difficulty of giving up things that are of sentimental value and in this respect, make allowances for myself. And yet, what do you do with all this stuff? Do you, as so many self-help books suggest, become weighed down by it, so that eventually you’re no longer able to fully exist in the present?

So many questions and so far, not too many answers. But there’s been a definite shift in my approach recently and the actual task of getting rid of things and the willingness to do so, has started to feel easier. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve managed to empty two 30 litre boxes in the studio and offload their contents to a charity shop. I now feel that I want to start reducing the amount of stuff I have in storage. That’s a very different mindset from feeling that I have to and being psychologically geared up makes the process that much easier.

This shift in my thinking is undoubtedly to do with what life has thrown at me over this past year or so. Being ill and in hospital last year, followed by a long period of recovery, is one of them. I had a lot of time to reflect and all the concerns associated with my ‘stuff’ being a burden to others resurfaced. Very little has changed since I wrote this four years ago:

‘Besides the obvious issues that come up when thinking about the end of one’s life, for me, the what happens if I die question raises, in particular, issues around the amount of stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. Selfish, unfair, inconsiderate are all descriptions that come to mind …’

Coming to terms with the death of a friend has also had an impact and nudged me towards reevaluating what I currently own. My friend David and I shared a love of collecting, would regularly bump into each other in local SE London charity shops and flea markets and compare our respective finds – ‘treasures’ as David referred to them. I found the wonky-faced ceramic cat he persuaded me to buy in my sorting last week, held it close and thought of him, acutely aware that this daft, wonky object had outlived a brilliantly vibrant man. When I heard news of David’s death, I thought about all the wonderful times I’d spent in his flat – always beautifully curated and adorned with the amazing weird and wonderful objects he’d collected over many years. We could spend hours ooh-ing and aah-ing over the latest acquisition. Such fun! But ‘you can’t take it with you’ (another Nana-ism) and David’s collections were confined to his home and didn’t include over 100 boxes stashed away in a shed!

The whole process of letting go is a fascinating one; I’ve been looking back at times in the past when it has felt more manageable to wave goodbye to certain things. Specific objects often remind me of other people and I always feel an urge to unite them with the person in question. I have at times offered these things to people as gifts – it somehow softens the blow of parting with them, knowing that certain things can go to people who might appreciate them. I’ve also offloaded things through my work, by creating various events that invite people to take something away with them. ‘Going for Gold’ for example, during the 2012 Olympics and more recently, ’30 pieces of silver’ at the Collyer Bristow Gallery and ‘102 pieces of glass’ at the OVADA Gallery in Oxford.

Some things are inevitably easier to part with than others – specifically those to which I have no real emotional attachment. There’s also the fact that there are quite a lot of objects that I don’t particularly ‘like’ any more. There was undoubtedly something that attracted me to them in the first place, but as time has passed, their appeal has diminished. I’m not the same person I was four years ago after all – let alone all those years since I first started collecting. My taste has changed as I’ve grown older and my work, largely autobiographical, is changing too. My preference is clearly for old, used objects – things that carry a patina of age and signs of being well-used. I’ve also accumulated things that people have given me – objects that were never ‘quite right’ for me, but that I’ve been too polite to refuse. Any collector will tell you that the things they collect are very personal and very specific.

This extract is from a post written four years ago. It seems as relevant and pertinent now as it did then and so it feels appropriate to include it here:

‘… all questions that I will continue to address as the cycle of sorting, re-evaluating and making decisions about what to keep/let go of persists. For now, at least, I can see more clearly what I have and while it occasionally overwhelms me, I never seem to tire of the sorting process – from writing about it, to the actual physical sifting itself; what the sorting unearths in terms of past memories and how I respond to the feelings they evoke. Some items just make me laugh, while others can stir up a whole host of deep rooted emotions.

Small wonder then, that I have a tendency to flit from one piece of work to another, the butterfly approach to it being as much about survival as it is about maintaining a keen interest in what’s going on around me; not getting too bogged down in the past, especially the sad parts – and maintaining a keen interest in the present; what’s here, right now, in front of me. A couple of weeks ago, I rediscovered a pair of my late Father’s pyjamas, carefully packed away, momentarily forgotten. They will be the subject of a future blog post here one of these days, I’m sure – once I’ve allowed myself time to properly digest and process the impact of finding them again, that is …’

Back to the present, and the memory of the rediscovery of my late father’s pyjamas is as pertinent still and I feel comforted by the fact that such significant moments and finds are recorded here. Even objects of such huge sentimental value can get ‘lost’ in the midst of so much stuff and so it feels important to stop and take stock from time to time – stay on top of what’s what and where it is – and to keep listing the individual items in order to have easier access to them when I want to use them in my work. If I manage to get rid of just a fraction of my collection, I’m confident that I will still have a lifetime of materials and ideas to work with. And while the general cost of living and specifically, studio rentals in London continue to increase, the fact that my raw materials cost me nothing is a very comforting thought … my hope for the future is that I’ll never be short of ideas or raw materials.

1 Comment

Yesterday was Sylvia Plath’s birthday. I picked up this information from social media somewhere and it played on my mind while in at the studio. Being reminded of Plath at this particular point feels pertinent as I’ve been thinking about motherhood a lot recently, both in personal and universal terms. Plath’s ‘Morning Song‘ poem must surely be one of the most powerful ever written on the very real experience of becoming a new mother. For me, re-reading it is a timely reminder of the massively complex nature of the mother/child union.

It’s now approaching the 7th week since my sons left for their respective university towns and I’m starting to feel the pull of wanting to see them again. It’s momentary and completely unpredictable, but when it comes, the yearning can be powerful and visceral. And of course, it’s all tangled up with the knowledge that both sons have been ready to leave the proverbial nest for some time and I’m keen to respect their wish for independence and autonomy. But that’s not to say that I have to deny how much I miss them at times.

The subconscious is a powerful thing – no surprise then, that the objects and images I’ve gravitated towards in the studio these past few weeks are associated with motherhood. A new body of work, ‘Babes in Arms’ has been developing gradually and as well as assembling objects together, I’ve been making short films on my phone of vintage photos of babies in the arms of adults.

Working with mother themed objects has also arisen in response to a beautiful ‘Mother’ brooch which was left by artist Paula Fenwick Lucas amid the 102 glass objects when she visited the ‘Neither Use Nor Ornament’ (NUNO) exhibition in Oxford in spring of this year. At the point Paula left it, I was getting excited about visiting both my sons, following on from a brief visit to Oxford for the launch of the NUNO exhibition.

Being ill last year significantly affected my role as their Mum: I was in hospital when my sons went to their respective new shared student accommodation and for several months, though I had their addresses on paper, I had no sense of where they were actually living. This year was different and I’m so grateful that I was able to be with them as they settled into their new homes and come away with a picture in mind of where they are.

I’m not sure where this latest work will take me but for now, I’m enjoying the process of making it, consciously slowing down the pace at which I would normally work and doing everything I can to ensure I stay as well as can be.

1 Comment

But in the darkness of the night, what haunts us are not broken systems but the faces of the broken girls. So, so many. All the time.’  Suzanne Moore, The Guardian, 2015


I looked back on my blog posts recently and realised that it’s four and a half years since I wrote about the ceramic figurines that make up the work of  ‘Sweet Nothings.’ My intervention was to gag the mouths of the figurines with Elastoplast, demonstrating the way in which young girls and women are so often silenced and made to feel powerless. What struck me upon re-reading this post from 2015 is how pertinent it is – still.


The ‘Sweet Nothings’ ceramic figurines are set to make it back into the public eye again shortly. It seems pointless to write another blog post about them – nothing sums up the sentiments and high emotions around the subject of unsolicited exploitation of girls and young women more than the Suzanne Moore article, I feel. It coincided with making the work and Moore’s observations ring as true now, as they did then – a sad and uncomfortable truth.


From my blog post, March 2015:

‘Sweet Nothings‘ is a piece of work made up of small china female figurines. The figurines are of girls, not women – all bows & frills, sweet & subservient-looking in their stance; placed on a dressing table, faces turned to the mirror. It’s not obvious at a first glance, but all the mouths of the young girls are taped up – gagged and silenced by a strip of Elastoplast. Just like the girls and women Suzanne Moore discusses in her article, they have no voice.’


To read the entire post on my ‘Keeping It Going’ blog, click on link below:


And to read Suzanne Moore’s full article, click here:



1 Comment

Split – definition:  divide, disunite, separate, sever, bisect, partition, tear asunder, cleave, rend

Last week I checked on the current state of ‘Bread and Roses’ , an ongoing piece of work which is encased and protected in a plastic box in my back garden.

I first laid fresh bread and roses on a wooden platter in 2015, in response to the election result of May that year. As the months and years have passed, and the effects of austerity have increasingly been felt, the bread has now completely disintegrated and the roses have all but gone, though their stalks are still intact.

More recently, a small crack that had formed on the side of the wooden platter has got bigger and developed into a definite split in the wood.

Just as the deterioration of the bread and roses reflects the shameful & neglectful impact of austerity, the split for me is symbolic of the deep economic, social and political divides that have worsened in this country over the past few years. Disagreements over Brexit are at the forefront of a great deal of the overall dissent felt by many, while cracks and divisions have grown deeper within the various political parties.

‘Bread and Roses’ has acted as a visual reminder of the consequences of neglect over the past four years and it’s been a fascinating process documenting its gradual decay and disintegration. I’m curious to see what will eventually happen to it and while there’s sufficient space in the garden, I’ll hold onto it – continue to monitor the changes and keep an eye on the split, too.