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It’s almost the end of the spring term, and the end of the first term of the RDS ODDY. I’m absolutely ready for a break and I’m trying to desist from filling the forthcoming holiday with other commitments, commitments that is, which take me away from undirected time with my own work and reflection on the past term.

I feel my work is reassembling into a form again. I feel energised and driven by re-seeing a route to follow that I had started to move along prior to last year, but I’m also wary, a familiar journey is not necessarily a creative one. I need to explore alternative routes and encounter different terrain. Every now and then I get glimpses of where my work could go, like tiny twinkles of light through a dense wood that disappear as I change position, but I’m happy with that, it’s both guiding and unsettling.

I’ve loved being immersed in the ODDY experience, my drawing is feeling more direct and accurate to what I want to say and there’s a feeling of being wound up ready to go. Sometimes I feel as though work could come pouring out, hopefully over Easter it will. 


I’m five weeks into a year long course with the Royal Drawing School; the Online Drawing Development Year or ODDY.

Last year was filled with the intensity, joy and grief of looking after my father. The practicalities, emotions and changed relationship I had with Dad and other family members filled head and heart. Looking back that time seems akin to the burning passions of youth where everything seemed energised, heightened and pulled to emotional extremes, but I’m not sure it felt like that at the time. When Dad died life filled with grief and relief.

However within the exhaustion and distress, and the humour and love I think that my relationship to the world (the relationship as I perceive it to be that is), shifted in a positive and entirely unanticipated way. Right now I’m excited for the future, I have work I need to make, I have direction, I have capacity.

In committing to the ODDY I’m hoping to immerse myself in my drawing to see what comes out, I’m wanting to renew clear boundaries between studio time, family and paid work and to enjoy being part of an intense drawing community. Dad would be excited for me.


In the weeks since my last blog I feel as if I have been emotionally thrown backwards and forwards like a ball on a parcel shelf in car that continuously takes corners too fast. I have managed to complete a couple of paintings for my next show, accepted a couple that I would have worked on more had circumstances been different and I’ve started to explore new ideas through drawings.

At the moment life is dominated by caring for my father. The structure of day and night unravels as quickly as I try and plan things, lists get left undone and replaced by bizarre conversations that take in the past, the hallucinated and the misunderstood. Under the influence of Dad’s medication and his cancer, his thoughts and ideas come out undeveloped or strangely deformed. My time is not my own and my head space has had its boundaries dissolved.

Dad’s health and and state of mind go up and down, but the trend is always downwards. His mood is both impetuous and unpredictable, but in trying to bring peace to an unsettled mind, I find there are only threads holding my own thoughts together.


Life has rushed past recently stomping over plans, thoughts and intentions, but the momentum of chaos has still delivered me to a good place. I’m in a gallery with new work on the walls and being here feels like stepping free of congealed glue. A sense that despite truly awful global events and challenging personal commitments, my work has gained its own autonomy and resilience, able rise above messy, sticky life.

To keep moving with my work though, I may need to make a new plan or at least adapt. I’m increasingly spending more time caring for my father, its a push pull thing, I want to spend time with him and for the remainder of his life to be what he wants it to be, but sometimes it feels as though my own thoughts and energy are slowly suffocating, eaten away in a reflection of the cancer and Alzheimer’s consuming him. I want too, to avoid a sudden crisis where everything falls into a void, gobbled up by unmanaged care needs.

But the feeling that my work is on its own journey, that it has a life of its own, that it wants to go somewhere, that it has intention even if I haven’t grasped what that is, makes it easier to reserve enough of myself just for that. I may only be able to get in my work space occasionally, but i know that when I do my work and I are there for each other.


I’ve been thinking about names. As the artist, untitled is fine, I make the work, spend time with it, know it intimately and no name is needed; I move through relationship phases, by turns falling in love, hating it, arguing, collaborating, but there’s no need to name it any more than there is to use the name of your lover in bed, who else would you be talking to? But I’ve decided that when my work goes to a gallery it needs a name such that the viewer who has only just met it, has an opener, a way in with which they can strike up a conversation with the work. 

‘Untitled’ is obviously not going to cut it; ‘Boy and Ram’ identifies it, but does it get us any further than introducing someone at a party as ‘Man in a Shirt’? The picture is about parental decisions and shows Isaac, freed, running down the mountain with the unlucky ram left in his place. I was pondering the nature of sacrifice and betrayal and how Isaac and Abraham rebuild their  relationship after this event. My first title was ‘Sacrifice’, but whilst not taking the viewer anywhere, it imposes a fixed concept on the viewer when they need to bring their own meanings, memories and experiences into the conversation. When work leaves the possession of the artist it starts to acquire its own narrative independent of the artist’s intentions and maybe the title needs to be a conduit to that too, even if eventually its identity does become ‘Boy and Ram’. So to send it on its way into the world I would like to rename this piece ‘Isaac, Why do you run?