Discernible is on. ‪ZAP’s Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley invited a motley crew of artists, all part of their forcefield, to submit one or two pieces no larger than A3 and managed to shape a marvellous little show from 89 offerings. Threads run through it, hold it together: narrative compositional stitched drawn painted found created animated crocheted… Of course I was keen to see how my work was placed. Found it looks good, makes interesting formal and conceptual links with its neighbours and all sides benefit from the encounter.

I did get to the private view for a while (veni vidi smily…), arrived early to get a real look at the art before it got too crowded. Saw work by old favourites: Rosalind, Annabel, Graham Crowley, Kate Murdoch, Ben Cove, Shelley Rae, Nick Kaplony (with the last four I’ll be working towards a small group exhibition which will take place in winter – exciting!), love that moment of recognition, and the detection of subtle shifts in direction, of transformation. Made new discoveries too.

One piece stood out for me, so unlike anything else and by an artist I hadn’t heard of before: Rachel Russell, who has her own space for a small video-installation which bowled me over: inventive, intelligent, knowing, funny, wild&contained, gender-bending, art-history challenging, weirdly beautiful, emotive… and simply glorious.

A preview with lots of people milling around is not a good place to lie down, so I had to leave when it got too crowded and I ran out of sitting. Missed Rosalind’s speech*. Was lovely to chat with some of the artists, and esp. to reconnect with the lovely Julie Henry with whom I studied years ago. Thrilling to see how her work holds/has changed. She cooperates with photographer Debbie Bragg now. As Henry Bragg they produce images and exhibitions imbued with the humour, down-to-earthness and clear-eyed, discerning community-oriented sensitivities I remember her for.

Next few days I felt as if a whole mountain range grew from my shoulders, pinning me firmly in the horizontal. I mourn that these ‘outings’ are so few, so brief. I’m like an island that is submerged most of the time and occasionally juts out from the waves. Never long enough to grow green grass, to burst into flower; maybe, just maybe, long enough for a little connective something to sprout.

Nothing for it. Started crocheting a small sleeve, pondered change of medium, sent choice tweets and made notes for a post, not all of which make sense now. Illness as exile, yes. Dragon’s crest? Falling? I realize again how much I (try to) tie myself into the world through my art – it feels good to know that my work is out there, has presence. I made this. Not all is lost.

Unfortunately I will miss the artists’ dinner on Friday as I’ve got something else on this week, but look forward to joining the Artists in Dialogue on May 11th, all being well.

Can you believe it? A year has gone since I started posting here: I had my first blogiversary. I keep wrestling with the same questions – How do I connect into the art-world? How do I get my work seen? How much do I disclose about my state of ill-health? I’m still ambivalent about the latter: when I talk about how M.E. affects me and my art-practice I often want to suck the words back in, as if I’d spoken to myself aloud and discovered that someone heard me. Writing here has challenged and sustained me. I’ve learned a lot, made tentative connections, enjoyed finding comments and suggestions or leaving mine on other blogs. I’m not sure I feel part of a community, but at least I hover at its frayed edges. Need to start somewhere.

* Here you can watch two short videos filmed during the private view.


Tonight Discernible will open! It’s going to be a gorgeous show, no doubt about it. ZAP’s Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley have a way of putting together pieces, taking their cues from unexpected connections, teasing out correspondences, disparities, complexities.

I’m looking forward to seeing my work next to drawings, paintings, photographs (glimpsed a little preview on Facebook). Something happens in the interactions between media, adds layers of interest and inquiry.

My contributions are Urn and Veteran’s girl (briefly known as Hand-me-down). You’ve seen them here first! Titles are important to me – it can take a while to find one that feels right. I often look at poetry, sometimes to appropriate half a line; mostly to put me into a certain frame of phrase-spinning mind. With both pieces I went on elaborate detours, initially lacking the courage to heed their urgent calls: Say my name, say my name!

For Urn I combined two colours of my favourite, rather precious yarn, a wool-silk mixture which seems to glide through my fingers on its own volition. I’m thrilled by the title’s sound too, the way its vowel churns in my mouth – there’s girl, earn, spurn…

Whereas Urn hovers on the brink to abstraction (those lines and arches) Veteran’s girl seems to have an air of authenticity which stirs me and requires further investigation. It also sets the scene for my new project. Go see!

Urn (2012/13)
Dimensions: 20 cm x 30 cm
Materials: crocheted from JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk

Veteran’s girl (2012/13)
Materials: crocheted from wool/polyester yarn
Dimensions: 45 cm x 26 cm


On a bad day even the garden is beyond reach. Often feel like I lead pretend life as it’s spent mostly indoors, supine. Worry that my physically shrunk world has also diminished my ability to let my imagination roam, to think big, to push beyond my narrow boundaries. I want to do large scale – make sweeping gestures, splash colour on huge surfaces, cut deeply, fill things with weights of salt or sand. And while I can’t: will I make my small, intimate work count?

These last few years I’ve come to draw on memory more and more. I don’t think I have nostalgia for childhood, unless maybe for its energies and natural inquisitiveness; actually my memories are few and far between, my recall mostly about moods and atmospheres rather than events, at times with flashes of images. And now with M.E. short-term memory has become an issue. This may partly be what pulls me in that direction, attempts at unearthing and holding on, at making links, and creating from there.

Lay on bed for quite a while earlier, literally unable to move a limb. The fatigue seemed to concentrate just behind my forehead, a muddy, swampy sensation, as if the rest of my skull was a huge empty dome. Stopped wanting.

Brief garden walk yesterday, with shoes. Like how they change against different surfaces. Also played around with pix a bit this week, getting interested in the quality of drawing through hair.

I realize there’s pathos in this work, these little girl shoes overgrown with (shrouded in?) a crocheted web of old woman’s hair, and wonder if I should be suspicious of that.

PS. G4A-application is finished – my thanks to Elinor Utwin from the Arthouse who is off to South America now for her invaluable and much appreciated work. Could not have done it without her. Had e-mail from Arts Council, 39.5 % of applicants successful. Cross your fingers.

PPS. Have got two pieces in Discernible which opens next week at ZAP and will certainly be gorgeous. Hope I’ll get to be there too.


Last month I bought a tiny pair of very old Mary Janes on ebay, brown, well-worn and too scuffed to be sold for much. Just what I wanted: traces of wear and tear, illegible beyond the idea of a small child’s tottering steps, runs, falls, get-up-and-go-agains – decades, maybe generations ago.

I’ve got a thing for shoes, own more than is sensible for a person who doesn’t have a lot of steps in her, incl. a red pair and a sky-blue one which I hope to wear soon, on a day with mellow air and the sun out. After I fell ill aeons ago some of the first things I made were tissue-paper shoes – the material accidental (a birthday present’s wrapping) and not: at the time I could hardly hold anything in my hands – lightness led the way.

My work is memory work. I’m still making outfits from scratch but want to look at (second hand) objects too, to attempt a different kind of connection and recall beyond myself, beyond my life-time. With children’s clothes nostalgia beckons. The cuteness of these wee shoes which easily fit into the palm of my hand
…and/but… those images of heaps of shoes, incl. children’s, clothes, glasses, hair in Auschwitz. How does a brain/heart transverse from terror to banality in a couple of paragraphs? I’ve always found it difficult to perceive and accept that these things exist alongside.

I wanted to just present my little shoes and their delicate crocheted hair cosy, but in the light/in the darkness of things

Untitled (2013)
Dimensions: 10 cm x 11,5 cm x 5 cm
Materials: pair of leather shoes, encased in web crocheted from artificial hair

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To touch base between hospital appointments I went to APT-Gallery to see This ‘Me’ of Mine as soon as I was – temporarily at least – upright again, hoping I’d have enough steps in me. I absolutely needed to get out, at least for a little while, see something, think something different. Jane Boyer, who curated the exhibition and invigilated that day found four chairs and placed them strategically throughout the space – my glorious vantage points. Thank you, Jane!

With this M.E. of mine I have to scrupulously calibrate my thimble-full of energies. Each and every day. I’ve described some of the physical consequences of those rare ‘outings’. One after-effect, when I’ve stretched my limits too far, is that I don’t remember much of what I’ve experienced. Short-term memory is one of M.E.’s many cognitive calamities which grieve me more than the physical effects, incl. pain. To counter-act I set out to write notes about each piece. Fingers lost faculty before I’d finished my round but I’ve got a few almost legible scribbles to go back to.

I like concept-driven exhibitions. This one is touring, so go see when it’s near you, or check out the fine website if you can’t. What stayed with me, even through the floundering faltering fatigue-clad days that followed, was Annabel Dover‘s Iris’ Stocking, a piece where process and subject beautifully, memorably join force. Can’t stop thinking/feeling about it. The story behind the piece illuminates and gives foundation to what is in the work – its mournful air, the sense of pain and loss, the image of the stocking floating ghost-like against the blue background, its ‘presence’ seemingly on a threshold between emerging and receding. I looked up cyanotype on wikipedia and found something that makes the choice of medium even more interesting: ‘… prints that have faded due to prolonged exposure to light can often be significantly restored to their original tone by simply temporarily storing them in a dark environment.’– the processes of remembering emphasized, questioned, undermined.

Encountering Iris’ Stocking has helped me restore tentative links to and enthusiasm for my own work, not least because memory handed down over generations, explicitly/tacitly, is what I’ve been thinking about these last few months and forms the basis of my G4A-application which should go out to the Arts Council soon.

Finished a month ago:
Urn (2012/13)
Dimensions: 20 cm x 30 cm
Materials: crocheted from JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk

PS. My application for membership with Contemporary Applied Arts was rejected.

PPS. The little hairy thing I re-discovered the other week is growing incrementally – crocheting with strands made up of three hairs is slow work. But I think it’ll be worth it.

PPS. Have a ook at artist Liz Crow‘s thoughtful instructive courageous Bedding In Bedding Out