On Friday I’d arranged to go up to North London at midday to pick up a newly framed piece. This was my week’s one and only, carefully planned outing. A process of mobilization is necessary which starts about 48 hours ahead: food (incl. strategically placed glasses of water all over the flat), crockery, clothes, need to be got ready, as the actual outing usually precipitates a temporary decline – essentially the days I have to prepare for.

Thursday afternoon I got a phone-call that the work would not be ready on time. Mild frustration about the delay (three weeks after I’d brought the piece in) may be a normal reaction, but for me it became more complicated. Unfortunately the newly proposed date would have made it the day before a hospital appointment – impossible as my body doesn’t function even moderately well (within my M.E.-terms) two days in a row. A well-mannered discussion with the staff member ensued, who tried to be helpful but obviously couldn’t understand why I was so intransigent and needed the piece ready on the day specified. Even picking it up just before closing time – the compromise reached – meant that the friend who had arranged to drive me at lunch-time so I didn’t have to fork out 60 – 70 quid for the return cab-fare, was unlikely to be available.

The day(s) after tend to be a challenge. On my day out, wherever I’m going (friend’s house, exhibition, hospital, river-picnic, frame-shop), I will be bubbly, excited, greedy to take in as much as possible en-route: tree-blossom, people hurrying across streets with mobiles pressed to their ears, closed-down shops, yet more pawnbrokers, alas, and as I get nearer the city centre, new (to me) boutiques and cafés, the spectacle of a sparkling Thames, huge olympic rings hanging from Tower Bridge, and on the way home a glimpse of the tip of the Shard appearing like a mirage when we turn a corner… Although the extent of fatigue is not entirely predictable afterwards I am like a carelessly chalked out version of myself, profoundly, consummately tired in body and mind, with varying degrees of blurred vision, slurred speech, uncoordinated limbs, and flarings up of old and new pains which I call my pain-review (the worst of which are the piercing stings I can get in my skull). My standing-up periods, short at the best of times, are further curtailed and I’ll only manage the briefest of crotch-leans against a work-surface in the suddenly far-off kitchen while I pour myself a coffee, say, before I lie down again… Consider this is the edited version. It’s not called pyjama-day for nothing.

With my eyes on the plan I started writing this post right after the first phone-call. In the end I was able to pick up the piece on Friday, just before closing time, luckily with M., who at lighting speed rearranged her whole day to fit in with me, a thousand blessings on her lovely head! The work is shortlisted for 2012 Outside the White Cube Open Exhibition, for which it needs to be framed, which is why I almost bankrupted myself, but I must say, it does look glorious and hopefully it will be in the show and maybe somebody would like to buy it, please pretty please…

Acrobat (2010)
Material: crocheted from zephyr wool-silk

Dimensions: 29 cm x 69 cm (unframed)
43 x 89 cm (framed)

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On Saturday I discovered that my blog has been second on a-n’s list of Top Ten Artists talking blogs for two months running. Couldn’t believe my eyes. I’m not going to be coy about it (although I fully intended to when I thought about posting here today) – I’m chuffed. Quickly grabbed a screen-pic, no: two… Lalala lala lala. I’ve got readers! It seems I’m not holding monologues!

It can appear that way when you don’t much get out, meet other artists and art professionals face to face. These last few years my work travelled to exhibitions (2011: to Brighton, Leeds, Cambridge, Lithuania, and several venues in London) and usually I could not follow suit, which can mean not-much-to-no input in how the work is presented; no idea how it looks in its new environment; how it communicates with the work around it; how it is perceived by the audience; even if it’s an interesting exhibition altogether… Nor do you meet the curators, the other artists, any of the audience, and you crave crave crave feedback which is routinely promised but in the end not forthcoming and you don’t want to keep begging. (When I don’t hear anything I have this nagging, unshakable worry that maybe my work wasn’t put up after all, that it’s invisible too…)

It’s not that people are not well-intentioned – they tend to have too much on and do not really have a sense, cannot have a sense of what it means to be so fully outside. Well, if I wasn’t living it, I wouldn’t either, it’s not much talked about, is it?

There have been positive experiences (actually 2011 was a good year in that respect), where people committed, buoyed up by the quality of the art, took into account my specifications regarding presentation of the individual pieces, documented the work in situ and passed on feedback. And once or twice I was able to go and see for myself, talk to people, which is just the best feeling.

Even better: Over the last two years I’ve forged invaluable, consistent, sustaining and mutually beneficial (I hope) virtual and real links with the Arthouse in Wakefield, where I had my first solo-show (2010), and the former Core Gallery (now Zeitgeist Art Projects) where I exhibited with Aly Helyer and Tom Butler in Extra-Ordinary (2011), which I consider the best and most exciting show I’ve been in. I couldn’t do the physical things, like putting up the work, but my trust was well justified in both cases, and I learned so much as otherwise I was involved all round, from home – starting with selection of work to input into press-releases, interviews, artists’ talks… I felt like a professional artist. I was a professional artist. Repeat after me (says self to self): I am a professional artist, even if my work is made on my living room floor.

Now that my initial excitement about being second to one on the a-n list has calmed a bit (still doesn’t feel quite real, just checked if it was, lest the basis for this post was a conceit) I wonder what it really means. Although I’ve had some very interesting comments, which always make my heart swoop, I had no idea how many people do read my blog. If it isn’t a monologue, is it a conversation? Or about to become one? Talk to me!


Just finished! Isn’t she lovely? She doesn’t know yet she’s a she (but I do). She’s becoming… You see, I see my outfits as inhabited. A compact baby bundle this one, polymorphous pleasurepain-time. Before conscious recall, before language. When do we start knowing what we’re going to be? What we are? Even human? Embodiment as the first instance. Mind/emotions catching up, or trying to. What did it feel like? Does my body remember this? Does my body know more than ‘I’ do? I’m interested in what we can’t consciously recall. What is held in us, our bodies/psyches, from those first months/years that we can never get to, but set us up for life.

Even with crocheting the ultimate format of a piece is not as predetermined as you might think. I made a tiny sketch, about the size of my thumbnail, and started crocheting, letting the shape grow under my fingers. If it doesn’t look right I’ll unravel and try again. This one worked the first time. I was led by the colours – had two balls of the beautiful multi-hued yarn that needed to be made into something curly (a friend’s mom sent me a box of left-over wools and hooks and needles, and chocolates – a cardboard treasure trove!). Bought some off-white wool-polyester mixture on-line to go with it. Used the latter for the base (tight stitches so it holds the form, slightly scratchy, giving damp palms), and then crocheted into it, a furry layer of loops – quite pleasurable to do.

She is lovely! Strangely I feel affection for her. She is cute and a bit creepy, her shape so right and so strange, with its proliferation of limbs and limbic too. A rather tame, organized projection, I know, a snoozed moment before heaven and hell break loose again.

Tonight I would have liked to go to ZAP’s talk with Karl England and Ben Street, but alas… And as I write this and check the link I see it has been postponed until autumn. Maybe by that time I’ll feel better. Time too to find funding for a wireless mic – to make that Skype-connection work at ZAP‘s end. Any takers? Givers rather?

Sorry: have not been able to read any blogs since I last posted, longing to, but energy needed focusing. The last touches take the longest and require concentration, hems around openings, sewing up of hanging threads. But here she is.

Working title: Dumpling dixie dawn daredevil spawn’s dream no9

Crocheted from multiple yarns
Dimensions: 28 cm x 22 cm x 5.5 cm


Although I’m a tiny bit better than when I started this blog and have been able to leave the house for brief periods once or twice this month I have spent much of the last few days lying on the (carpeted) floor, utterly exhausted (there’s no good term to describe the almost absolute level of tiredness/fatigue) and barely able to move. Or read. Or peruse blogs, tweets, e-mails. Or… The items on my internal list of things to do have proliferated like weeds in the garden. Can feel like everything is falling from my grip, literally and metaphorically. Not a good time for carrying crockery from one room to another! The idea-machine is always churning though and I’ve managed to crochet, slo-mo, but still, every stitch counts. Did I mention that (before M.E.) I used to be a video-artist? I’ve adapted my art-practice to my physical circumstances – crochet is something I can do lying down.

But as you can see I’m ‘up’ again. And learning. After the twitter-feat described a few posts ago was found wanting it was time for experiment no 2, with the indomitable and ever supportive Rosalind Davis, who suggested to connect me to the talk given by Cathy Lomax and Alli Sharma, artists, curators and directors of independent artist led-gallery Transition Gallery via Skype. Exciting! Of course I checked out their art beforehand – gorgeous: two painters who explore the modulations of desire through popular culture from their different vantage points… Rosalind introduced me to Dropbox and made the artists’ powerpoint presentation available to me: photographs of artworks, exhibitions, locations. Oh yes! We tested the connection half an hour before the talk started – I could hear Rosalind alright (but then she was close to the laptop/mic). The Skype-image on my screen was very blurry, but enough to let me identify which pic was projected at ZAP to follow the talk. Kept several windows open on my computer screen – Skype, powerpoint, the artists’ websites… Ready!

Unfortunately the voices were completely broken up. I could not make out more than the occasional fragment of speech, a word here, another there. But it sounded lively. Tantalizing, when the images were so interesting. And the laughter! What’s so funny? Talk about being outside! Kept hanging on for a good half hour, keen to catch every word and stretch it into a wider context, then tweeted to Rosalind that it was no use.

My consolation prize came the next day – Rosalind sent a two page-summary of the talk (grabbed me, made me want to teleport to Hackney straight away) and promised to continue thinking about possibilities to link me and others in who for their own reasons can’t get to these talks. Maybe speakers can be fitted with a wireless mic so it doesn’t matter that they’re not right in front of the laptop’s? Would that be expensive? Could someone sponsor it?

Facit: another learning experience. Learning is good. Have got Skype now, and found out about Dropbox and Transition Gallery. What was that mobility pageant like? Need to plan an outing. But now the floor is calling…

PS. Call to anyone who can sponsor or donate a wireless mic to Zeitgeist Art Projects for their briliant DIY-Educate programme run on a shoestring-budget.


I can’t wait to present new work but it’ll have to wait as I’m working on several pieces simultaneously, which rather slows down the finishing rate… A series of four, one of a series of three, and two stand-alone pieces are about to reach conclusion – a gluttony of ideas wanted to be taken up all at once, with more waiting in the ranks.

I’m reading an essay by Siri Hustvedt (Three emotional stories) in her engrossing collection Living, Thinking, Looking where she explores connections between the processes of memory and imagination: For her “Writing fiction is like remembering what never happened”. And “I am directed by the story, by the creation of a narrative that resonates for me as emotionally rather than literally true.” I too think of myself as a kind of story-teller, although one who narrates and comes to a core of emotional truth through visual means.

This is a piece I live with, and although it is utterly familiar its meaning keeps changing, as if every time I look at it anew, really look at it, I find a different kind of focus. Today it seems to touch on the sense a child might have of their parents seeing right through them, of their penetrating gaze following them into the furthest hushful hidey-hole. They see you even when you can’t see them! The overwhelming awe of this, feeling protected and irreciprocally exposed. Subject to.

Makes me think of an incident at primary school: In my form was a second girl called Marion, who the (female) teacher once slapped because she kept speaking dialect. This was the only time I ever saw a pupil hit by a teacher. It shocked me profoundly to see M. punished for something that I could not link with naughtiness in any way. I didn’t tell my parents – we (still) grew up with the notion that adults were always right. This memory swims up in me rather often, with some shame, as, while I felt the injustice strongly, I watched in silence and was glad that I didn’t speak dialect. There’s something about the unpredictable and unfathomable nature of adult judgment that wounded and worried me too, maybe all of us. After all you could be punished for what you were, the place you came from, not just what you’d done.

Every day we tried to be good (2011)

Materials: crocheted from Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool-Silk
Dimensions: 35 cm x 35 cm and 34 cm x 35 cm