So this week I started my Fine Art MA, a little late but I’m a little late for everything so that’s no real problem.

When we were first asked to maintain a blog for the course I was a little perturbed.  You see I have started a range of blogs.  The problem is [usually] that is just it: I start and then what……. then nothing.

I never start with the intention of blogging and then giving up.  It is more the feeling that no-one is interested in a thing I have to say and so thus my blogging endeavours always seem pointless.  I suppose this is a side project of my anxiety; my fear that I have nothing really to say and anything I have achieved in my life is of no consequence and that really telling people is akin to gloating and boasting and that is a very vulgar thing.


And so……………………..


So I am here the beginning of my MA blog.  The last MA I did was started in 2003 and such things were not important back then.  The www, compared to what it has become was still very much in its infancy.


At least this blog has a point.  The point is that I am marked on it so at least one person cares, at least one person will read it because they have to…. I hope I do not bore them to tears.


So I did it.  I created, designed, organised, curated and ran a pretty big arts festival this summer and as it was our first one it is to be considered quite a stinking success.

Over nine days we had 19 art exhibitions, including the work of over 5o artists, plus we gave away free art in the form of magnetic pieces.

We held theatre workshops for children and had theatrical performances from 3 theatre companies.

We had numerous literature events running over the course of the festival, including free workshops with published writers and a big Apples & Snakes evening with Adam Kammerling.

We ran an International Short Film Competition and had academics, film festival directors, award winning artist and filmmaker Anna Cady and BAFTA winner and Oscar nominee, Daisy Jacobs as judges , and we partnered with the UK’s only remaining working brick museum to show the Lego Movie surrounded by bricks and lego.

We also had various music performances from differently folk artists and choirs, live knitting and a very successful art market.

How do I feel now it’s all over?  Knackered in a word.  I have a chronic illness and so this has really taken it out of me

However no rest for the wicked.  We have the show for the winner of the inaugural Fareham Art Open, opening tomorrow with a private view.  I am glad the judges made a unanimous decision for the winner to be Jenny Tipton, a recent graduate of Central Saint Martin’s whose installation: Projecting Nature’s Image I am very much looking forward to.

Please note I would include an image here but the website is not allowing me to.

I am also in the process of securing several new venues for exhibitions for artists and organising a Christmas art market and a fun palace, I find there is a lot of waiting around in this game and I find that very difficult to cope with, I am a product of my generation, I have at times a short attention span and I don’t like to wait as I begin to worry.

I just wished that I could get paid for the hard work I do.  The only way I could be paid anything for the arts festival was to do all the design myself also and so for 9 months of full time work, doing everything, I only got £1500.  Still I suppose it’s all part of the process.  I am definite that not many people could do what I have done; many people think we had a big team working on the event when in reality it was me working by myself for months on end and then my husband working for the last 2 months with me.

We created so many partnerships during this time and met so many wonderful people that though at times I hated it, I am glad I did it and grateful for the fact my parents brought me up to be tenacious as there were many times I felt like giving up.

Organising a giant event like an arts festival that takes place over a 10 miles radius in 23 venues you do start to see things differently.  I have started to become annoyed by some other artists.  I have encountered many wonderful and talented artists through Live Art Local (the not for profit I run), Sticks Gallery and the festival, but I have also come across those who, even though talented, are incredibly rude and expect to get everything for free.  I even had one artist who had paid nothing to be exhibited and featured in 5000 programs (who had not mounted their work correctly) complain when their drawings moved within the frames and about the venue not having gallery lighting (these were other use venues).

I bit my tongue and did not email a response as I probably would have regretted it but still I was annoyed.







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So as my last post hinted, we recently launched our first show in the new space.

Examines materiality and the affect different materials and stimuli can have on our senses, whether this be positive or negative.

It features the work of both myself and the wonderfully talented Margaret Marks.  It was fantastic to realise some of the ideas for sensory installation I have had in this space and what has been achieved makes me keen to expand on the work….. however to do this I need to talk someone into allowing me to use a disused warehouse or giant shopping centre atrium (I am considering the shopping centre atrium idea).

Anyhow I thought I would share some of the work with you:

To find out more about the pieces you can visit my site or the Sticks Gallery website


Well I had to post this morning as I am ridiculously happy.  I had known that the marks for the first year of my MA were due in soon and being someone who always worries I was not looking forward to it.


I thought my proposed work was something new and exciting in art and that my presentation and research paper was really shifting things for people with autism, in respect to their ability to visit art galleries and engage but then I thought, “no stop being full of yourself, you probably did rubbishly”


Well I got the marks through today and I got a mark of 85 for both of the marked pieces and the feedback was equally amazing with loads of superlatives to make your head swell a little.

I was particularly pleased as it was suggested in the feedback that my improvements for galleries to make themselves more accessible for those with autism and sensory processing disorders were deemed something that would be “easy” for galleries and “something that galleries should seriously consider.

My main project was also suggested to be something that was “exciting” and  “original” which had to the potential to really push “boundaries”.


Praise like this is more than I could ever dream of, although it has been pointed out to me that the logistics involved could be very difficult to navigate…. but I am ready for that challenge.

Anyway I am happy and I am actually quite proud of myself and that is all I wanted to say really


I have not written for a really long time and this is because it has been an incredibly manic month.

Our new temporary contemporary gallery has now opened in Fareham.  It’s quite a big deal for us as it is also the first autism friendly gallery.  To make it easily accessible for those on the spectrum and with sensory needs we have :

low level lighting;

social stories available;

PECS (these are in place of a lot of literature about the work and are simple illustrations and single words stating how to interact with the piece)

Headphones available to cancel out noise and

a chill out area with sensory toys, space blanket and beanbags


We also run drop in art sessions every day we are open so all people can come in and create and on a Saturday we run a drop in autism art session between 1-2:30pm.


To coincide with this being an autism friendly space our first exhibition is also a sensorial delight with installation that calms and engages the senses.  I shall follow up with information about this in another post…….  there are some strange looks at Fareham is more used to “traditional” art and our first exhibition has been confronting people with contemporary installation and some people are not quite sure what to make of it.  I am happy about this though as it forces people to think and to confront what art is and what they think they know about it.

The private view went well.  Thanks to my contacts at regional newspapers we have achieved some coverage (I did not like doing a video interview though, my wheelchair makes me look a lot bigger and like a block).  We have also had some great discussions with a lecturer on a social work course who works with an artist on teaching a creative module on the social work degree and if we are still in the same place in October we will be working with them and their students in the space.

I am really proud of what we’re achieving.  The fact that we are the first autism friendly space is fantastic.  I did a lot of research for my MA about art and sensory processing disorders including autism and found that many artists who have ASD and related problems do not visit galleries for their own private view’s due to the problematic nature of many white cubes.  There is also the fact that “autism friendly” is really only a term used to describe the sessions on offer.  Galleries and museums need to do more than this to be truly accessible.

I really hope our new space provides a new way for galleries to look at making their spaces accessible for little additional cost and with relatively little effort, whilst maintaining the integrity of the space and what it is for.

I would also like to add that we also have an open call out for our next exhibition.  The theme is “hope” (we are seeking work that is inspired by or reflects this word, this can even be the absence of hope).  If you are interested in working with us and getting your work seen, plus the possibility of future collaborations I would love to hear from you.  If interested visit


I have not written here for some time; which is not really good enough I know.

An awful lot has been happening and so I aim to write a series of posts updating you all; but I wanted to start with news that I secured a professional practice fund grant from Portsmouth University’s CCI faculty.

To get the award I had to present the project to a panel (this was very awkward as due to sickness they had my presentation in front of them but I was at home, speaking to a panel of people, over the telephone) and then answer their questions.

The process for me was a bit skewed as due to there only being 2 of us on the MA we were forced to apply together although the projects were very different (mine a community event over an entire borough) and hers’ to fund an installation.  I should point out here that the fact we needed to make a joint application was not made clear to us until after we had submitted our own individual forms having gone through the rest of the process…….

Anyhow when it came to the presentation my dear friend had not supplied me with any material so I had to wing her part of it (I had to present for both).  I was asked about why I thought her materials should be covered when no-one else’s, including my own would be covered and I did my best to argue her case but the fact is they had decided the fund would not cover this type of cost.

Well my presentation went on too long and I was cut off mid speech which is very nerve wracking when you cannot see people’s faces to gauge their reactions.  However I held my own through the questioning process and they seemed pleased but I was still very nervous as that money was essential to the festival.

They told me I would hear their decision later that day: I didn’t.

I went out to dinner as I was too nervous to stay in my home pondering it.

The next morning I was due to have a meeting with the commercial manager of a shopping centre about an art space… he was late.

As I was waiting for him to turn up my phone buzzed.  It was an email from the University.  I had been successful and had secured nearly all the money I wanted and more than I was allowed to apply for when you include my friend’s “materials”.  The only condition was that my friend could not use any of it on materials; although they would love to see her work as part of the shows.

To say I was happy was an understatement; I felt bad for my friend but also elated as I had worked so hard for this.

You can view the presentation at