Back to my tutorial with Freddie Robins at ZAP, which I found very productive, albeit in unexpected ways. I’m so glad that I’ve got an audio-recording to review, thanks to Rosalind Davis (whose name I’ve never mentioned before … bazinga!). It meant I didn’t need to take notes – as a consequence the conversation flowed and we covered a lot of ground. I almost didn’t ask if I could borrow the equipment, felt awkward about needing yet another thing when Rosalind was already plumping up the sofa-cushions, promising tea and smiles and to wheel me to the studios once the cab delivered me at ZAP’s door, but ask I did and all was gracefully delivered.

I hung comfortably on said sofa, with the pieces I brought laid out on a small table, and a list of questions in my head. Apart from feedback for my work I mostly hoped for pointers to galleries/curators/collectors who might be interested in the kind of art I produce. After all it sits on the threshold between fine and applied art, which I quite like – in-between seems a good place to be, but things are more complicated. I see myself as a visual artist, with a conceptual bent, who crochets lying down, because crochet allows me to frame childhood memory in a very direct, tangible way. When I show work the feedback tends to be really good but I never never never ever sell.

Looking at exhibition opportunities I often don’t know what category to tick, as usually the media of drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, maybe video are specified. I tend to go for multimedia, if that’s an option, but of course can’t be sure that crochet will be at all considered. Occasionally I apply under the tag of textile art (last year I had work at a Kaunas Biennial), but it’s also a label I’m not comfortable with, as I find it too restrictive. During the tutorial it became clear that it’s not easy to place the kind of work I produce. Disappointing but also constructive in that it’s a realistic assessment and hopefully I can develop a strategy from here. We agreed that my work needs and deserves exposure and considered what kind of environment I’d like to see my work in, incl. a couple of public places where I’d thought my work could shine. Freddie was a bit shocked when I didn’t much respond to names of applied artists who make concept-driven work. Fact is, I’ve just not looked that way – time to change that. Need to do a lot of googling. I also need to stop excluding opportunities to show in craft contexts. A kind of opening up, really.

We touched on other subjects too, but I’ll keep that for another post. In some ways the tutorial has thrown up more questions than answers, but questions are good. It’s become clearer to me what I need to focus on to work towards a professional art-future. Do you know of The Arthouse in Wakefield? Their ethos is to include disabled artists in every possible way, without labeling, by making the art produced the centre and taking the artist’s circumstances into account, offering unobtrusive support if and where needed – in the most natural way. I had my first solo-show there in 2010 and am now getting gigantic help towards putting together a Grant for the Arts-application, to find a curator/mentor with whom I can work and develop my practice, make connections for me/with me, get my work into the world, find and engage with new audiences. And at the same time researching the barriers disabled artists can face, help consider and in the end different ways of linking into the artworld. Cross your fingers!

By the by, this week I’ve been feasting my eyes on Maria Nepomuceno’s work after seeing a tiny image of her work at Frieze, printed in the Observer. Fits right in with what I’m thinking about…

Changeling (2010)
Materials: polyeste, mercerised cotton
Dimensions: 25 cm x 37 cm


Before I post here about my tutorial or show off a new foundling I’ve got a few other things to share, happily: my thrill on Saturday, at being able to follow part of the Memory Marathon at Serpentine Gallery from my sofa, through a live video-stream from, whose slogan is live, free and on demand. Way to go! I listened/watched for several hours in the afternoon, and was blown over by the multitude of disciplines represented: visual arts, film, music, architecture; writing and sciences of all hues, including a mathematician; a practical theologian, a scent expert, loosely stitching together a wonderfully profound, wide-ranging and ever dynamically expanding mesh… Everybody seemed generous, undogmatic and genuinely interested in what the other speakers had to say (why doesn’t politics work like that?). So this time not being able to go where I really, really wanted to be was much soothed by this opportunity to partake through the internet.

Unfortunately I missed the conversation with John Berger but as far as I know he also read from The time we live, written after last year’s riots:

“On August 8th the kids were rioting because they had no future, no words and nowhere to go. One of them, arrested for looting, was eleven years old. Watching the pictures of the Croydon riots I wanted to share my reactions with my mother, long since dead, but she wasn’t available, and I knew this was because I couldn’t remember the name of the Department store where we regularly went before hurrying to the cinema. I searched persistently for the name and couldn’t find it. Suddenly it came to me: Kennards. Kennards! Straightaway my mother was there, looking with me at the footage of the Croydon riots. Looting is consumerism stood on its head with empty pockets.
Strange how names – even a distant one like Kennards – can be so intimately attached to a personal physical presence; such names operate like passwords.”

We all have our different entry-ways into childhood memory. I find that he grasps for a name to evoke the almost physical presence in his mind of his dead mother touching and telling. And he safeguards against the pitfalls of nostalgia by showing how the personal is charged by and inseparable from its social, political, historical contexts.

And here’s a piece of memory-work too: LR’s boy, sibling to the little dress presented a few posts ago, was crocheted from a 100g-ball of wool (which is all I had) – it’s important to this project that the wools were given to me, remnants of someone else’s knitting. I love those variegated yarns. And you could say I’m in my blue period…

Miranda Vane‘s piece about my work, written after her art-visit at my studio-home has been published on rookie creative. Thank you, Miranda!

Good news all-round!

LR’s boy (2012)
Materials: hand-me-down wool/polyester mixture
Dimensions: jumper 29 cm x 15 cm, pants 16 cm x 13 cm


Just a quick post to let you know I’ve been out! art-out! this week, for a very interesting, as yet to be processed tutorial with Freddie Robins at ZAP. Sofa-to-sofa transfer. Arrived with a small entourage – a changeling, a foundling, a little dress and a new old-wool outfit (I wanted to bring all my crochet-work – unfortunately it’s only in fairy tales that you can pack three ball-gowns into a nutshell).

M.E. can feel like a kind of shipwreck, one’s whole life submerged under waves of fatigue, but this week I came up for air and had a tutorial with Freddie Robins at ZAP, or have I told you that already? I’m still in aftermath-mode, which is never pleasant, and the following night was a bit unspeakable, but even from that a small piece of jetsam floated to the surface: so happy to have made it and too wound up and pain-stricken to sleep my shoulder blades became strange to me, suddenly jutting out from my body, metal-made, sharp and heavy like an anchor’s prongs, only out-turned and not boring into the seabed but my mattress. There must be an idea in there. Nothing lost, nothing gained…

That’s all for now. Daggers in skull. I’ll tell you about the tutorial when I’ve listened to the recording (thanks for that and everything else to the ever supportive Rosalind Davis who sent the loveliest tweet ever).


M.E. has sewn me into its tired skin and lately I’ve come close to despair about it, yearning to go places, do things, see people, and envious of anybody who can. Too often my brain is as dim and dour as my body, but today is better and I’ve walked in the garden for a little and smiled back at the sun and peeked at a book. This week’s hoped for outing (a brief appearance at a birthday do) became supplanted by a challenging ill-health appointment, the efforts of which left me depleted and depressed. Just now I’m tentatively glad though: that tired skin seems slightly looser and the sharp, piercing pains in my head have given over to prickling, tingling sensations, as if the top of my skull were open or at least porous, with the tiniest downiest feathers unfurling in the round, a bit like a peacock’s crest – thin stalks topped with trembling blowballs.

As no amount of wishing or will-power lifts me out of being ill, and that wanting to be elsewhere when I can’t only heightens my frustration, I am trying to learn to meditate (not for the first time). Occasionally during these moments of nonjudgmental presence to myself physical sensations become distinct and mysterious and utterly intriguing. And make me laugh. So I’m thinking – my body is an adventure. Strange and maddening and wonderful in ways I didn’t much think about before I got ill. Despair not, I whisper to myself, so much of your body is working, albeit very very very slowly. And those rarefied moments of energy aren’t just reminders of how ‘I’ used to be, but glorious in themselves. And they are! Of course I will forget this when I’m back snuffling in the deepest dregs of fatigue.

One of this week’s pleasures was listening to Edna O’Brien reading from her autobiography Country Girl. In an interview Mariella Frostrup asked if she was going to keep writing and was told: “The inner impulse, compulse, hope, prayer, is of course supreme. I love words.” Yes, yes, yes!

Another pleasure was to be contacted by Brick Lane Gallery – it was gratifying to be found through axis-web, have my crochet work complimented on and found good enough for a solo-show, but it’s an offer I had to refuse although I’m endlessly anxious about not exhibiting. I don’t have the dosh, not even £ 500,- for part of a curated group-show, no matter what professional services are included. Something else will come along, won’t it?

P.S. For every today or just now in this post, read yesterday as that’s when I started writing. Yesterday is the new today!

Figure with lumpy hands (2004)
Materials: paper and masking tape
Dimensions: 25 cm x 23 cm x 36 cm


I had another art-visit last week, yeah! Miranda Vane, who heard about me and my work from Julia Vogl, came to informally interview me for rookiecreative.

So lovely to talk about my work with another artist, and how much I’ve missed it. How good to show physical work, not just pix (the folds of LR’s girl’s skirt spring away from the wall like bouncy curls on a child’s head, which doesn’t quite come over on the photo). How good to share ideas, processes, inspirations. Although I ended up lying on the floor I enjoyed every minute of it. Such gifts of enquiry, curiosity, enthusiasm. Sensations were scrutinised, artists who might interest me mentioned, a book too (W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, which I’ve ordered and can’t wait to get into). It’s the kind of easy-going but committed communication I remember from art-college and imagine taking place wherever artists share studio-spaces. And of course I’ve explored Miranda’s work too, in fact I keep going back to look at my favourite diminutive little piece of two nails forming a tender relationship…
Maybe I should strive to have more art-visits. Two people have expressed an interest: Kate Murdoch and Rosalind Davis. Ha! And thinking about it now, I’d love to see them come with a small piece of work, a sketch, an idea.

Some nights ago when I couldn’t sleep I longed to creep into the garden and howl at the full moon, but my limbs were heavy with fatigue and the bed warm and while I lay immobile my foundlings woke up and made a din in my head: make us, make us, make us… Time to go back to them. It’s too easy to fall from one idea to the next when my brain revels rollicks ruminates rouses and reveals new directions.

Miranda asked me how I arrive at my shapes and I showed her a few of my tiny sketches, no bigger than the print of my index-finger, through which I let forms subtly mutate until I find something that interests me. Then I start crocheting and just before I get to a more complicated shape, a special curve, say, I cut out a template from any old paper I’ve got lying around and measure my stitches against it. It doesn’t always work though: I may have an outline in mind, but that doesn’t mean I stick with it and unraveling and trying again until it feels right is part of the process. That’s exactly when new ideas jostle for space…

Will let you know when Miranda’s post is up.