This blog has been set up to document my creative journey and to give some background about my practice.

More posts can be found on my blog:

8 June 2018 – Helsinki bound – initial reflections on my trip in February 2018

6 June 2018 – Getting back to the task of blogging – from Firmament to Empyrean

30 June 2017 – The Hive at Kew Gardens

26 June 2017 – Is a sketchbook essential? I always thought not…

10 April 2017 -Raku – exploring alchemy in clay


In February this year I was fast approaching the big Four Oh! Many emotions were in my head about hitting this milestone but I cunningly sidestepped them by planning a trip to Delhi to see an amazing friend and to do some creative thinking.  I (well my partner) had some airmiles just burning a hole in the metaphorical wallet so it seemed to make sense to use them.  As luck would have it the only miles route available was via Helsinki on Finnair. A few years ago this would have thrown me into a bit of a tizz but I decided to make use of it and grab 40 by the horns so planned a three day stop there. It had been on my list of places I wanted to go forever so it seemed that the stars were aligned.

So after negotiating the joys of Airbnb, an evening stop at a functional hotel at Heathrow, and a flight over some beautiful European countryside, I found myself in a distinctly chilly Helsinki. And when I say chilly I mean it – a jolly -7 degrees.  I had of course been totally prepared with a suitcase full of ‘layers’, ready for whatever Helsinki could throw at me, but what amazed me over my time there was that it was a dry cold and so was quite bearable in a couple of layers and a lovely warm coat.  The insidious damp that follows us around in the UK from one season to the next was delightfully missing!   It made for a crisp landscape, lovely crystal blue skies and stopping for regular caffeine infusions at the many coffee shops.

I was excited to see the architecture of Finland as I’d always imagined it to be a mix of simple Scandinavian with a subtle Russian overlay – and I was right.  There is an overarching sense of austerity, but I was surprised that it wasn’t a cold austerity, but welcoming and strong.  None more iconic than the beautiful train station which I arrived at following a super efficient journey on the recently completed route from the airport right into Helsinki.

My apartment was only 15 minutes walk and it was with tentative steps that I began my adjustment to a world governed by ice!  It is everywhere, from the ground, frozen out of drainpipes, dripping down walls and in massive piles of compacted snow.  I stayed in a ‘Jugend’ style apartment and was reminded of the high ceilings and simple architecture of Georgian buildings in the UK.  I had everything I needed, a kitchen, sofa, comfy bed and bathroom and was happy with my choice.

Before heading to Helsinki I’d pored over guides of what to see, what was cool, etc etc and it meant that I got the most out of my few days. I had a list of galleries longer than my arm, some reflective spaces and some nature, so as soon as I’d arrived I was off out to sample some of the sights.  I bought a Helsinki Card which proved invaluable as it gave free entry to most cultural spaces and free use of the buses and trams.

I managed to fit in a lot and over the next few posts I’ll be talking about some of the things I saw and experienced.  It was an intense few days with some monumentally inspiring elements.  These included seeing a show devoted to the reflections of light through glass, cracking ice on a trip to the Suomenlinna fortress, and spending some time in contemplative spaces of which Helsinki has many!


Well after a period of being highly remiss in my blog postings it’s time to catch up with the developments since my show, Firmament, in 2017.  A lot has happened and it feels like the show at Thirtyfive Gamble in Nottingham was the catalyst for a variety of changes in my practice, and my life.

The opportunity to see all my work together in a single place provided an interesting opportunity to take stock and consider where I ‘was’. That sounds quite nebulous however it’s been crucial in letting me get a sense of my journey and where I want to go in the future.  In hindsight I’m really glad that I mixed the petri latex series with the works on paper, these are my two main bodies of work and I was pleased to see how they worked together. I also included some of my drawings, inspired by my sketchbook which I talked about in a previous post, Is a sketchbook essential? I always thought not

The key thing for me was the ability to take a step back and then say “You know what, I’ve achieved a lot, I’ve pushed myself and I’ve got some strong work to show for it”. The value of this simple act isn’t one to be underestimated.  It was the first time since finishing my Creative Practice course at the Manchester School of Art that I’d given myself the space for reflection – yes it was primarily about showing my work to others but the key thing was that I’d got somewhere.  I showed a range of work including some older stuff, and two works on paper that were my initial foray into going ‘big’.  There is something exciting about having a solo show – especially if you forget all the stresses or planning, organising and doing!

The best element for me was the ability to go big!  I designed a piece for one of the large Victorian windows, something that I wouldn’t have done without the space and time to think about it, and then execute it.  This simple act, for me a massive one, of going big seems to have been a catalyst for my work going forward.  I’m usually really focussed on the small, especially in my work with petri dishes, they are by design small, something that reflects their use in labs across the world.  While I like this ability to be really focussed, I also see the potential of using multiples to create a new larger entity. It gave me the chance to think about presentation.

Was I going to stick to a grid as I had done in the past?  Was I going to use the individual dishes to ‘draw’ something?  Or did I want to allude to something, to suggest a force or movement at play. In the end I went for the allusion and dipped back into my past, when first thinking about whether I wanted to ‘do’ art. I was always really inspired by Bridget Riley’s strong forms, so minimal in their composition but with often huge psychological impacts.  So it was with ‘Fall’ in my mind that I created my large piece – 80 dishes in 10 colour ways.  I won’t go into the fear that it wouldn’t fit, on the day it got in with a centimetre to spare but the finished piece really had presence. It changed depending on the environmental conditions which I knew however, it still felt revelatory, each change in the weather outside altering the colour and the way the individual elements worked together.

Another key step for me was meeting Holly Early, a sound artist, who came to the show with her friend, Ethan, a microbiologist.  I had great chats with them both, which would ultimately lead to me working with Holly on a collaborative piece, Empyrean, for the Lady Bay Arts Festival in May 2018 – more of that in a later post.

The show set in motion a change in mindset, the confidence to take changes and opportunities when they arose.  In the next few posts I’ll talk about my unexpected trip to Helsinki on the way to New Delhi and the task of co-curating All Hallows’ Church at the Lady Bay Arts Festival with my studio mate, Pip Crawforth!


I’ve recently been able to (finally) visit The Hive by Wolfgang Buttress, a Nottingham based artist. The installation was originally part of the UK Pavillion at the 2015 Milan Expo and is currently installed at Kew Gardens in London, a fitting location for a work that highlights the critical role that bees play in our environment and survival – read more about it on the Kew Gardens website.


The multi award winning installation is, for me, the most successful piece of public art I’ve ever experienced. Everything from its sheer size to the minutiae of the structure adding to its presence, simultaneously vast and enclosing. I enjoyed the allegorical nature of the experience, the route up to the structure reminiscent of the journey a bee takes to enter a hive. Once inside with other people I felt like a bee, moving around the space in response to everyone else, a feeling enhanced by the audio feed from a live hive based at Kew.

It would be easy to simply be entranced by the whole but it is the little touches that raise the installation into something sublime. The incorporation of sound and light taken from a live hive, directly from nature is inspired, providing a constant reminder about our everyday proximity to nature even when living in towns and cities, the urban jungle rings true here.

While in the space I felt hyper stimulated but with a sense of calm, constantly looking at the different interactions created between metal, glass and sky. There was always a new thing to see, new shapes, new layers. At one point however, I decided that I needed time to just ‘be’ in the space so I lay down and let the space take over, this was incredibly soothing as I felt a step removed from the activity, just sensing the audio, the people, and the movement of the clouds overhead.

When it came time to leave I felt bereft, leaving a bit of myself in the space, an echo of my experience. This for me is another profound element of the space, the Hive mimics the everyday in so many ways, we move through life interacting with others in different ways, whether by connecting or avoiding them.

I hope to be able to go and experience the Hive again, I urge you to as well! You won’t be disappointed!

Check out Wolfgang Buttress’s website for more detail.


Sketching and drawing has always been a bit of a challenge for me, I’ve never quite felt liberated enough to just draw for the sake of drawing, and like other creatives I know I’ve never really used drawing to flesh out my ideas. In fact I’ve always been a bit in awe of people who can just put pen to paper and create.

I remember one occasion really specifically, I had just started on a Visual Thinking short course at the London College of Communication (or Printing as it was then) and our first task was to draw ourselves on an A1 piece of paper. The girl next to me got her pencil out and proceeded to fill the page with long confident strokes creating a fair likeness to herself. Me? Well I got my pencil out and proceeded to draw the smallest self portrait possible, think lego man (in size and form) and you won’t be far off to what I created. That experience would influence me for many years.

During my university course I tried having and using a sketchbook for a couple of terms but it was more of a hindrance than a help. I’m quite cerebral and so I will dwell on an idea on and off for days, running options around my head. This can be quite nebulous but it has been how I’ve worked. To satisfy the sketchbook element at university I created technical files. These essentially borrowed from work that I’d undertaken as part of my Environmental Science degree in the late 1990’s. The technical files became a record of everything I’d done, developing initial ideas, looking at outcomes and seeing what the next steps were. This worked really well, especially as my practice is about merging the scientific and artistic, for example in the Petri Latex series

Now that I’ve been away from educational institutions for a few years, working at developing my practice I’ve discovered a freedom that means I’m revisiting the idea of sketching again. I’m not thinking of it as a body of work, more ideas that pop into my head that I record, abstract concepts that just ‘are’. It has become quite meditative, and I’m enjoying the liberation of not thinking of outcomes, nothing matters as such.

That’s not to say that I’ve found a devil may care side of my personality that just goes for it, the drawings are all rather considered with each one being an idea in itself. I see them as quite heavy, each line being definite, they’re not fully free but they are a step away from the norm for me. I’d like to get to the stage of not thinking, just letting the pencil do its work but that will come… hopefully!

I’ve managed to do a few more free drawings but I’ve then done a new version tightening the idea further, bringing into something manageable for me, it’s an opportunity for me to look at connections in how I work and what inspires me. To the casual observer they might be fairly random but as I’m going through the process of doing and then revisiting I’m understanding what makes me tick in a new way.

One thing I will say is that it is actually stimulating ideas, the drawing here was done by folding and scrunching a large piece of paper and then following the folds to make sense of it in some way. This connects for me in several ways, its got a geological element with layering created by the folds of paper, it also to me speaks of energy, unseen and in motion.   This piece is now on my studio wall as a period of nebulous thinking happens until one day I’ll take it further.

So is sketching essential? I think that depends on how ones’ mind works, there is no right way of doing things, it’s about finding the mechanisms that work for you. For me, it now feels right to be thinking about sketching, not just in terms of my creative process but also it provides a welcome relieve from looking at a phone screen, scrolling endlessly on social media, or playing one last game before…another last game. I’m being really clear, if the results are just mind dumps from a given day that is fine, if however they ignite an unexpected spark then that has got to be a good thing…

Read more about my practice on my blog:


I had the pleasure of taking part in a Raku workshop on the 8th of April 2017 at the fantastic Seymour Road Studios in Lady Bay, Nottingham. It was here that my passion for clay began several years ago under the watchful eye of Fran Bailey who is a great teacher! Learning about raku has been at the top of my to do list for a long time so this was the perfect opportunity.

I’ve been working to develop a style for my pottery forms and this workshop has allowed me to clarify my thinking on form and to consider how I transform the clay with surface decoration.

My main focus is on organic hand built forms that are reminiscent of geological formations, a key inspiration for my practice. A new strand to my making has been inspired by the temples at Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India which I visited in 2016. These led me to combine organic forms with a more structural appearance. Examples of my work can be found in the pottery forms section of my website.

Before the workshop I made several pieces that I would use as part of the raku firing process. Three of these are an evolution of my original hand built forms. I’m gradually reducing the more random forms and trying to add a subtle structure that adds a sense of calm to them; this centres around creating a balance and flow resulting in three evenly weighted views of the piece. The final piece I made was one of the Indian inspired forms.

The raku workshop was led by Andy Mason, a ceramicist and eco chef, whose enthusiasm for the process was evident from the very start. The introduction to the process was fascinating and it gelled with my recent thinking about the Japanese aesthetic and view of artistic practice – more about this in my recent blog post – Emerging themes, embracing shadows!

Two things struck me. The Japanese translation of raku is simply ‘enjoyment’, something that the workshop would ultimately deliver. The second is wabi sabi, an intriguing concept that mirrors the way my practice has developed, blending order and freedom, creating boundaries while embracing chance.

wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics constituting a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.1


Coincidentially, “Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence” by Andrew Juniper is currently on my bedside table.

The process of raku is similar to the usual way of working in clay in that there are two firings. The first bisque firing, using a specific stoneware that copes with thermal shock, takes place preparing the pots for the raku process. It is after this first firing that the process diverges and alchemy ardently takes over.   After glazing, the pots are rapidly fired in a highly insulated dustbin kiln. Reaching the required 1060 degrees seemed to fly by in an instant! I loved the immediacy of this as well as the mild sense of peril!

After being held at this temperature for a short while the pots are removed and placed in another dustbin filled with straw.   Once the lid is put on a process called reduction takes place whereby the flames remove all the oxygen from the air inside and the glazes. It is this process that is unpredictable and leads to the beautiful smoked marks, blending of the glazes and the colouring of the naked surface in a deep black. An hour later the pots are very carefully removed and immersed in cold water, rapidly cooling the form and setting the patterns on the surface.

Over the course of the day I was able to fire all four of my pots. The image here is just before firing and shows one pot from everyone involved. At each step along the way I was learning about the process and what, at this early stage in my raku journey, was achievable. I was completely beguiled by the glazing and how the application of them could have such a huge influence. I approached each of the pieces organically, and to an extent, without planning, however I found as the day progressed my need to control reasserted itself .

The glazing of the first piece is the most instinctual and, because of a lack of reference, free from any expectation. Seeing this piece finished was astounding as it far surpassed any expectations I had of it and to me demonstrated a level of freedom and spontaneity. It reminds me that sometimes I don’t need to think but simply to act!

It was difficult to plan a structure of how I worked as the pieces were in different stages all through the day so I wasn’t able to complete one before beginning another. This was quite freeing as I had to keep working and I feel that I’ve learnt a lot about how to approach the glazing process. On this second pot I began to think about how different layers of the glaze would interact, revealing different layers after firing.

As time passed during the day I began to use more layers of glaze, working into the surface and scratching away at various points. On the third pot, this has created a really deep intense surface that appears more metallic than clay, moving it around in the light changes its intensity.

On the last piece I experimented further with layering the glazes but feel that I pushed it too far. The finish is intense and dark, the glazes melding to create a rich surface, substantially different to my initial expectations. I’d been hoping for a different kind of surface and this pot is a great reminder that raku can’t be controlled. The surface density detracts in my mind from the pot because there is a lack of distinction between the outside and the obscured space inside, a good lesson in pushing things too far!

The workshop has opened my mind to a new realm of possibility, one that combines my love of creating reactions with the tactility of clay. I’ve begun the process of living with my current work, as I often do, and I have found that my relationship with each pot changes as I see it in a new way, either in the light or when I hold it, all the time thinking about what I will do next!

My aim is to keep making and to develop new forms that I can then take on to the firing process. The combination of the planning and order perfectly at odds with the freedom and chaos when firing is a good place for me to be in my practice with both sides working together. I hope to learn to replicate the forms and interactions that I strive for in my other work in clay, bringing the different strands of my practice closer together.

You can read more about my creative journey on this blog or you can follow me on social media using the buttons below this post.  If you’d like updates then please do sign up for my newsletter which will give more information about me, my work and also the launch of my new shop!