Destination: Allenheads, Northumbria

Days: 5

Activities: Drawing mainly, some painting, reading, blogging ;o)

Weather forecast: Rain

From Monday to Friday Next week I’ll be staying at Allenheads Contemporary Arts for a residency where I plan to focus intensively on drawing and painting the landscape. I’ve bought a bivvy to protect me from the elements. I didn’t know it was called a bivvy until I got one, it’s like half a tent and I can sit up in it. I tried it out in the bedroom yesterday (see photo).

I’m so excited about drawing! I’m not planning on making any finished work as such, more hopeful that I will learn something. I’d like to focus on the sky and how it really looks.

I’ve just finished reading ‘A Bigger Message’ by Martin Gayford. This is a link to the book in ‘News From Nowhere’ bookshop because I don’t want you buying it from evil Amazon.


It is made up of his discussions with David Hockney about all sorts. Hockney talks a lot about seeing and how the world really looks but also about photography, technology, other artists’ work and the work he’s been doing in Bridlington. It’s a good read, I think he’s a very clever man. In fact I would say that Hockney is my all round favourite. I think he sees things differently from anyone else and I like the things he says. I think I might write him a fan letter. My friend (another artist) told me that if you like an artist’s work, you should write to them and tell them. I don’t know why I’d not thought of doing that before, probably because I thought I’d have to say something interesting, but all you actually need to say is that you like them. I followed his advice and wrote to an artist called George Barber. I had seen a video he made in an exhibition of work inspired by Kurt Schwitters at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle. This is the video. When I saw it in the gallery, it effected me so much I had to stop watching, which I was very suprised about as I usually find it difficult to connect with video art. (I think there are varoius reasns for this but I won’t go into it now)


George Barber replied to my email within 20 minutes. I was really suprised and even more so when he was so open and continued to discuss the video with me.

So I emailed another one. There was a great painting in the last John Moores Painting Prize by an artist called Paul Collinson. You can see his work here:


I had looked him up after I saw the show and noticed he was based in Hull (where I am originally from). Paul Collinson replied immediately and then he offered for me to come and see him in his studio some time. Of course I accepted. He is in the JMPP this year as well. I hope he gets some recognition, I love his work. I want to know what his painting process is, hopefully he will tell me about that when I meet him.

So there you go, today’s tip is, if you like an artist’s work you should tell them and you don’t need to say any more than that. It turns out that artists are generally very nice people and of course, everyone enjoys a complement.


Actually I think writing a blog will be a very good thing as, unlike Facebook where you inflict all your boring ramblings on your poor friends, who haven’t figured out how to change their preferences to remove your posts from their news feed and are too polite to unfriend you, no one actually has to read this. If you’re here it’s because you’ve looked me up, which is very nice, but please don’t feel obliged. Blogging is really very self indulgent, except I will try very hard to say something interesting because there are a lot of things that interest me which I’d like to share with you and sharing is a lovely thing.

Also, I am on a path of discovery at the moment so it’s a very interesting time for me to be writing.

It’s my work leaving do tonight. I left my permenant job 2 months ago (yes a bit of a delay on the leaving do front, I won’t go into why that is, in fact it’s probably best to make a note to myself that that sort of thing comes under the heading of ‘boring ramblings’ referred to earlier, which I realise need to be left out or you will stop reading, which would in fact be a shame, dispite my earlier minimisation about whether I want you to read my blog, as there is going to be some really important stuff in here, about art and life and all that).

Yes, right, leaving do – so I’ve worked in homelessness and supported housing services for almost 10 years and had finally reduced my hours to two and a half days a week. To be honest it wasn’t the amount of work that was the problem, it was the stress of being a manager, having to be responsible and having to reserve bran space for it. First tip for any budding artists who are wondering if they should be getting a ‘propper job’, yes go ahead, you need the money, there are no two ways around it, just don’t be flattered into climbing the ladder because someone tells you you’re good at what you do, if it’s not what you really want to do.

I don’t know if I would have had the courage to leave if I hadn’t won the Valeria Sykes award in the New Lights Art Prize last year, but it has really helped. In fact the prize money is to be spent on activities that will help me further my career as an artist and I am still going to work two or three days a week, but I’m working as a relief worker, doing all sorts, but not as a manager. I’ve already done 5 hrs cleaning at the YMCA. I will tell my staff at my leaving do tonight and they’ll think it’s really funny, except they’re not my staff anymore they are now my colleagues, which is strange but fabulous!