The reality of juxtaposition.

It has been just over 3 months since my Degree Show at Wimbledon College of Art (UAL). I had so much planned once this was over, so many projects I wanted to get started but in truth I have been like a fly trapped in a milk bottle – buzzing around wildly but achieving very little. It has been said to me that in order to make progress it is best to focus on one thing at a time.  This is all well and good, but I think for many of artists this is just not viable. I need to earn some income, I need (and want) to produce some art, I want (and need) to collaborate, exhibit and experiment. I also have a family, so hence have all the activities and responsibilities that entails. So my mission in respect to my art practice these days is to try and focus on just a few things at a time, and to try to relax into it more.

I have recently been playing with making small collages, physical and digital. They have tended to try and evoke a sense of place, a quick escape route in my head. One is based in Spain; Andalucia region. I have juxtaposed and transferred images of photographs I had taken on past holidays onto a solid oak wood block that I had previously primed with a mixture of rabbit glue and marble dust. It is relatively small; approximately 27 cm square. In keeping with my usual practice, I painted and drew upon this. I wanted the surface and image to be deliberately rough and incomplete in parts – as if an artefact with the surface showing through in places – like touching the walls of an old city, the heat of the sun bleaching the paintwork and drawing delicate cracks upon its history.

The other is a ‘New Zealand’ digital collage -in a wildish sort of state. I am from New Zealand originally but have not been back there for quite a number of years. Living in London, whilst I love it, there is a reassuring primal ruggedness about New Zealand which I miss and wanted to capture.


I am staring out into the garden at the roses both blooming and drooping in the rain. There is the quiet hum of the fridge in the background and the only other thing I can hear currently is the tapping of my fingers on my laptop keyboard. These are precious moments. The foliage outside is starting to get overgrown, making it a haven for the wildlife. My garden laziness has some benefits thankfully.

This feeling of a hiatus or a reprieve is welcomed. My visits to the studio have been short and sweet without much new work being developed. I am preparing for 2 Open Studio events. One of these is connected to the KAOS Open Studios event taking place in the wider Kingston borough where I will be exhibiting some of my work at the lovely Fusebox Gallery (situated by the riverside in Kingston). This starts the weekend of the 18th May and is on until the 26th May. I have been calmly and diligently sorting through works, painting sides of canvases, adding D-rings and cords; all necessary activities and really rather enjoyable quiet, methodical processes. Then from June 21st-23rd, I will be opening my studio In Hawks Road as part of the wider ASC Open studio event. I am hoping between now and then I can get started on some new work and complete a couple of larger works that I have started.

In the meantime for my display at Fusebox, I am using as the basis, the following piece of text from my Masters dissertation.

‘As I wander, there may be something left behind, a memory, a scuff mark or perhaps a ricochet reminiscent of the beat of my heart. The surfaces I touch, the footsteps I take, bear witness to those who were there before. There is a coming together of nature, the body and of an ‘other’; something outside of and beyond myself. Gestural acquaintances, carved out murmurs, sometimes blended, crossing over in patches and sometimes colliding, creating accidental displacements and disturbances.

Reflections are scattered throughout my day such as in mirrors, windows and in pools of water. Like traces, they are the absence of the real thing; a copy or a simulacrum, like the flickering shadows in Plato’s cave.

There is evidence of something absent and of something present. An altered presence to what was there before. A stain, a residue, the suggestion of something disappearing. The death of what was. Vestiges and spectres, ghostly apparitions that remind us of our own mortality.’

The falling rain outside echoes this overall sentiment.


Progress is slow but I have been carrying on in my little studio playing with watercolour. I am deliberately not looking at tutorials in how to use watercolour paint as I am interested in finding out what I can do with it. It feels right to be playing with this medium as my interest in the fragment, the transitory, interconnectedness and transformation lends itself to this material. Initially I have been working quite small and on paper but I have decided to try working on large canvas which I have prepared with an absorbent ground specifically designed for the use of watercolour.

My subject matter is very ordinary; so far a potted plant sitting in an abstracted interior environment. I want to try to convey the idea of something not settled, but changeable and malleable in space.

The painting shown is unfinished. It’s quite a large artwork (121 x 91 cm) and I want to loosen it up more but need to disconnect from it for a few days before I try again. The other painting I show here is very small (21 x 14.5 cm) and is an imagined (rather hallucinatory) view from a window of a balcony and a tree.


It might be very chilly out there but I have been wonderfully ensconced in my little studio quite a bit. I have managed to fracture my toe quite badly which meant my plans to work at the theatre over December and early January all fell by the wayside due to lack of mobility. However, I can make art and this has led to a new development of work and ideas.

I have always had a fascination with courtyards and for years have been inspired by the courtyard scenes in the film ‘The Scent of Green Papaya’. I like the idea of a space that operates as both an interior and exterior, where it is private, enclosed and has multiple purposes. This could be a place to potentially dine, read, rest, work and also be a garden and a structure at the same time as well as a home and visiting space for different kinds of wildlife.

I have been playing with watercolours, pen and ink and have started creating imaginary courtyards. Sometimes I might introduce an insect or another aspect into the scene to emulate the thoughts and imaginings that float across my consciousness.


Oh dear. I still haven’t managed to include all the bits I have wanted to in my latest series of collages and painting. I have been easily distracted lately. This includes illness, my work in a theatre and the stress of having mice in the house (which I am ashamed to say I am ridiculously affected by). Anyway, these all contribute to the interruptions that affect my art work and perhaps that’s the theme for today’s blog post.

I have continued working on my series of small works involving people and pattern and have been trying to merge to some extent both the pattern and the images of the people. These are very much experimentations with varied levels of success. It often doesn’t feel like a merging but more a disruption of sorts. Is it that the collage of the person interrupts the pattern or the pattern on the surface cuts across the person? Is there perhaps an equal tension between the paint and the collage or maybe because a person is involved, it automatically triggers a recognition within myself that I cannot undo and detach myself from. There I am trying to disintegrate the idea of a person within the pattern, trying to get this idea of how we as humans are just part of an overall pattern but I find there is a natural resistance that I cannot ignore. I have managed to produce one piece of work which includes foliage and architecture as well and I am happier with this one, so I shall (hopefully) forge ahead and try to do more work like this and see how it goes.


There are various things that happen when I create my art, a place where my brain goes to, a kind of daydream. These imperfect patterns I have been creating which not only act as a backdrop to the collages I produce, but exemplify for me the various tropes and themes associated with philosophical ideas surrounding the fragment – juxtaposition, interconnection, absence, transformation, unity, exactitude to name a few.

I also think about other visual artists which my art may have been informed by. It is not as if I consciously make work trying to incorporate other artist’s ideas. It is more that as I make my work, another artist’s work may spring to mind as I think ‘oh, so and so likes to explore this kind of thing too’. An example of this is Sonia Delaunay. One might look at her art and see it’s a far cry from my own but she clearly used to get obsessed with creating patterns with lots of colours. Another is Paul Klee, especially his little block patterned watercolours.

I was intending to concentrate on pattern in my recent work but I also have become rather focused on colour. I have been scouring interior and building design books, specifically the icon style series (from different countries and cities) and looking at the variations of colour combinations – walls, accessories, doorways, plants for example and these have influenced the choices I have made. Interior design is my own particular fetish and ironically fetish is yet another trope associated with philosophical ideas about the fragment.

I have started to include collages of people within these patterns and colours. These are of people I have photographed as I make my journey on the bus to and from my art studio. Most of these people are on a journey themselves. The moment of their capture is transitory and elusive (I think of the photographer Saul Leiter here). Yet there is still a connection with the environment, with their surrounds, with other people and wildlife passing by. I like the idea that we are all part of the overall pattern and fabric of life, part of the ebb and flow of what exists and what doesn’t, no less or more important than anything else.