Making work without pressure – just doing stuff because I can. This may not seem much like a big deal but to me it is. I have 4 people depending on me everyday. I try to encourage independence but it takes time to learn and so I am responsible whether in the mood or not. One of the side effects of having a family is that it’s easy to lose sight of who I am – no one will ever ‘gift ‘ me space to do what I want to do, so I have to create boundaries and be unpopular even to gain a small amount of time to myself ( if I actually know what I want to do). This is  usually preceded and then followed by dealing with the stresses of my emotional ‘work’ related turmoil and being expected to manage the dependents emotional turmoils too. Most often I fall very short of my aim.

So when I am told to ‘play’ or ‘try things out for fun’ it doesn’t come naturally to be selfish  there isn’t the space in my head for it. In fact it makes me feel quite out of control. My whole being is taken up with facilitating other people’s lives from when I get up to going to bed. Thoughts of my own work have to fight for space within this framework. Space/time expansion is becoming very significant.

Pico Lyer said

silence is more than just a pause; it is that enchanted place where space is cleared and time is stayed and  the horizon itself expands

Each week I get to Ashburnham and I struggle to get out of the car even . …ridiculous. But I am facing bigger issues in this physical and mental place because I am here to explore and to find out just what I do in my own time…what choices do I have and what choices do I make? A new word I have come across is Sunyata (the Buddhist concept of empty space or void). A positive void.  The transition from school drop to entering the void is painful.

So I turn up and walk, then I get an idea and try it out. This is as far as it has got and that’s OK. Its not that I didn’t do this before but for some reason everything I thought I knew about me is now up for scrutiny. I feel dangerously small and I can feel myself retreating. So I keep on walking and making things with what I have and tell myself to stop the internal interrogation and just let me be.

I see other artists work at degree shows, read about artists I like such as Peter Lanyon, Sandra Blow or Roger Hilton and get ideas about work I could do but for now I am keeping those influences at arms length and letting myself surface from somewhere deep. I have to make work my own and that has to come from a long perhaps awkward and hidden way in…that’s where I think and feel I’m going…..don’t worry if you don’t really understand – neither do I but I do know  that there is no end in sight and that’s a good thing for now.


Wind gust
Ferns unrolling
Universe expanding
I am expanding
Rain deafening
Black and wet


Coaching Homework = PLAY

‘I don’t want you to do anything or make any work next time you go. I want you to play.’

This sounded like a strange and forced thing to do – but after thinking about it I realised that playing is neither forced or a lack of doing – it doesn’t have to be dancing around or skipping in a playground (where I have plenty of horrific memories of anything BUT play) it’s not sitting with grownups doing puzzles or having to take part in games feeling lost because I didn’t understand the rules or get chosen for the team.

engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose

Play is about doing what I want to do, freedom….I don’t feel I have a lot of this right now because of my choice to have a family (3 boys 6, 8 and 11) and the demands on my time that this imposes, but it does provide opportunities which I think I can make more of by being more aware of my own capability to stop ‘doing’ and to begin playing.

I know my children frequently walk around the room with a plane in their hand imagining I they are the pilot sound effects and all – lining up cars with a running commentary, one said it’s about being mischievous and when the ‘feeling’ comes over you…when asked they said there was a need for playing in a solitary way with objects and a need for connection playing with others both were important.

So playing in Ashburnham was OK, I chose to do nothing more than walk and have no expectations beyond walking around the estate. I came across a low ropes course so had a go! perfect! got a bit lost and found lots of sawn down trees which gave me a few vague thoughts about circles and rings of time building up, recording external changes; traces of what had occurred before newly exposed…perhaps mirroring the self development process as it unfolds.

A few piles of things like logs, earth and  sticks caught my eye and I was aware how I was looking at everything with altered expectations – excited that something new would appear to grab my attention and inspire. I think it is important to walk about with a sketch book and make drawings but equally to walk around and to choose not to record but keep going so that the brain can make connections without interruption. Enjoying a sense of freedom from ‘it has to be something significant’ and therefore made into work before a sense of play has been fulfilled.

I couldn’t resist taking photographs having recently joined instagram (trying to be hip and keep up with my 11yr old) and am intrigued at the freedom I feel just posting an image without having to contextualise  it.

…having made the ash pile last week – after lunch I then went out and made the highest pile of dried out bramble twigs I could without gloves a bit like the game pick a stick. I carried on walking after that but got a bit conscious of time and trying to map read in the woods before having to collect the boys from school.

This week I had conversation with Vanessa Gardiner my artist mentor and she had some interesting insights into looking at my work – she was aware that there are 2 strands of work: quick physical action works like the ash and skating drawings and the more labour intensive series of boards – she suggested I might be able to combine the two facets of my work through the making process…I think this is interesting as I think they interrelate strongly with physicality, time and surface but  through this process of self discovery I will discover how their relationship exists in much more detail.

We talked about residencies and exhibitions and how work should continue throughout rather than be dictated to by these events. Her feeling for me was to work on more pieces at once, more than the 5 Air craft carrier floor series I already have on the go; so there was less pressure for making mistakes (and to have different sets of work in process both in the shed and at Ashburnham) creating freedom to be able to lose a few here and there along the way, she also suggested that the boards were more of an anchor and would sustain me whilst I used the other action based work as play. This resonates strongly and I think that she will be able to help me delve further into the surface of the work with playing with new materials such as trying out mediums, using dry and wet on the same surface and combining straight line with curve (interesting to me after seeing Rebecca’s exhib and the piece on page 7 of ‘Along these lines’ Beardsmore Gallery exhibition catalogue F69 1990)