An intense, overwhelming summer,  good and bad, in which being has been enough, no time or energy to blog. I’ve missed my a-n fellow bloggers and friends, the support and conversation I get here, so I’m back after almost 6 months away.

Here’s a few things that happened over the past few months.

I did a two week residency at a stall in Oastler Market in Bradford in July, exploring connections between the ‘I and and ‘we’ . Being at the market blew my mind in so many ways I’ve still yet to know and can’t yet fully express. It takes me a long time to reflect and articulate things sometimes and this experience was so rich. In short, I learnt a lot . Maybe in the coming weeks I can write more and my blogging brain returns (here’s hoping)  but for now here is a link to the  microblog I did during the period of the residency  ( which might help to give a flavour.  I also  produced a zine of collected responses – if you’d like a free copy email me and I’ll send you one  – [email protected]

I got tired. I took a few weeks off doing anything art related and just did the part time catering job, and watched some very bad TV.

I applied for a Leverhulme residency to work with the International Centre for Participation Studies ( at Bradford University. Putting the application together with the staff there, talking and planning how we could work together has been an inspiring experience – I really really hope I get the opportunity to work with them. Have to wait to December to find out. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I got fully immersed in the campaign for Scottish independence  – like thousands I hoped (and still do) that independence would take us a step towards a better, fairer Scotland. I wallowed in despair at the result. Family came down from Glasgow (I live in Bradford) and we drowned our sorrows. It’s heartbreaking but I’m trying to  see the very significant positives – the birth of a huge grassroots movement of Scottish people who have become politicised and are not going away. I’m following the post referendum discussions and actions with great interest,  particularly the Common Weal, whose imagination and practical ideas for creating a better Scotland – “All of Us First”   have inspired me and many others – here is an article written by Commonweal member Robin McAlpine just a day after the referendum –

This week I lead a session on ‘Artful Activism’ with a group of Bradford activists. We made a collaborative zine together,  everyone making a page responding to themes of power and change. Talking to these thoughtful passionate people (who are involved in a wide range of local and global activist activities), and also seeing their contributions has galvanised me and given me a much needed kick up the backside. I need to stop with the navel gazing and get involved with what’s going on around me. As Jo, a 17 year old climate change activist said to me, there’s so much work to do.

I thought now might be a good time to resurrect MAKE UGLY BEAUTIFUL, an online participatory photography project I started a couple of years ago. It’s a simple project, done on Facebook, and it’s open to everyone. Already lots of people have made photographs.They seem to be acts hope and imagination –

Would you like to get involved? We could all use some more hope.

“Make or write the words MAKE UGLY BEAUTIFUL wherever and however it makes sense for you to do so. Write them, type them, draw them. Scribbled in a notebook. Chalked on the pavement or a park bench. Written them in condensation on a window. Make a badge out of them. Write them at home, work, out and about. Wherever and however it is meaningful to you.
Take a photo of your action.  Upload your image to the Facebook group here Together we might MAKE UGLY BEAUTIFUL; by transforming our minds, lives and environment through creative actions.”

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