Imagine a huge pair of doors… in my mind they are the scale of the baptistery doors in Florence. I have no idea what is behind them. A key has been turned. I search in my memory to find when, but the actual moment is elusive.

But I can hear the tumblers shifting, slowly. It is a complex lock. It will take a while for the doors to open. But they will. It’s too late now to stop them…


Over the last 300+ posts, sometimes I have written twaddle, just for the sake of it. I have treated you to a whole new level of mundanity.

Today dear reader(s) I have a proper reason for posting, A proper artist’s reason for posting.


I’m sure some of you know how HUGE this is. Some of you perhaps take it for granted.

This blog platform doesn’t allow me a big enough, red enough, shiny enough font to express how excited I am!

I’ve just driven back from Wolverhampton in the rain, in the knowledge, via email, that I have a studio. I sang loudly all the way, in a high and squeaky voice to Loney Dear’s “Hall Music”. I hope I have driven slowly and safely, because I have no recollection of the journey, the roundabouts or the traffic lights.

It is in Artspace Dudley, well, above it really, above the “empty shop” it occupies in the town centre. The studio is big enough, light enough and clean enough for a textiles person. I have a big window from which I can ignore Farmfoods and the bus station, and see the castle and surrounding views… Dudley is quite high up. Compared to other studios I have visited, it is in a good state of repair. It’s not a great area, but artists studios generally aren’t are they? It is cheap, I get the opportunity to mix myself up a bit with other artists and get involved in stuff.

I have no idea how I am going to occupy this space. I’m going to move some stuff in. I’m going to pin stuff up on the white walls. I am going to have some books, a comfy chair (maybe two) and fabric and thread and old clothes hanging all around me…. Then we will see.

I am going to have some sort of event to mark this. I will have music and wine and nibbles and tea and cake. I’m more of a tea and cake person I think… I will have an exhibition that is all my own. I will open the studio and invite people in.

THEN I will tell them all to clear off, because I have work to do.



I have to be reminded, by other people who throw my own words back at me.

Jo Farnell Brown, recently, and Bo, constantly.

I have to have faith in the work, move confidently with it, allow it to do its own thing, allow my brain to chug along as I work, and all will be well.

There is often a gap though, between one piece of work and the next, when a bit of panic lodges itself at the back of my throat and asks the question: “what is the next thing then?”

Given a sufficiently complex piece of sewing, and a conscious effort NOT to panic, something always pops up… the next step becomes obvious… no… not obvious… clear. “Obvious” makes my mental, inner Bo whisper “comfort blanket” and I have to guard against that don’t I?

I have these 200 dandelion seeds to work… I have done about 120 now. The meaning and reasons for them have now settled, they are sitting well on the coat and in my head. They have grown in emotional depth since their conception, which is gratifying… and this is what I aim for. This is the thing I need to have faith in.

Happily, as I stitch the remaining seeds, the next piece of work has germinated. It stems from the work done for ONE with Bo last October, stretches from the pieces I had already started to make before the coat intervened.

I don’t know how some artists work in isolation. I couldn’t do it. The developments in my work come directly from the collaborations and conversations with other artists. I might be trying to explain to them my own work. They might be talking to me about theirs when a phrase resonates and sticks with me. All of these nuggets of conversation gather, ferment, put out shoots of growth. I might say it is Rhizomatic, but some of you already know I am allergic to Deleuze, so couldn’t possibly….

I feel compelled to make more and more clothes, children’s clothes, out of nothing. Well no, not exactly nothing, but out of the useless bits that couldn’t become anything if I didn’t use them for this. So far I have the dress I made for ONE, the vest I made during ONE and the pants and shoes I have made subsequently. We think there will be a ONE(2), as both Bo and I have begun a new strand of work since the show. As yet, I don’t know the why, but I can see it in my head, this collection of clothing… familiar shapes, familiar fabrics that relate, are used repeatedly from one garment to the next until they run out. There’s lots of sewing to be done, and during that feat of endurance, the why will turn up. I know it. I feel it in my bones to be an absolute truth.

Bo and I have decided we need to do some real-time, same-space collaboration. The long-term email exchange was great, but want to see how it works when we do it up close and personal. While we did the 2 year MA, we had once-weekly long conversations about all manner of things. Then that stopped abruptly and we had a different sort of communication for a year. We want to push on, a year after that, and see what happens if we do it this way. I’m curious to see how it will work. I don’t think we have exhausted this collaboration yet. I fear/hope we will be collaborators for a long time… the work might not always look that way, but the support of the conversation and influence will be there. We have enough in common to make it feel easy. But enough not in common to make it interesting.


Myself as template… I started out fitting it, after all, I made it for myself….then bit by bit I push bits over the edge… Stretch out from it or pull back from it… Until I notice I have grown and no longer fit it at all and the shape is unrecognisable… I have become a different person. Sometimes people notice and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they are happy for the change, sometimes not. Or they insist there has been no real discernible change. Sometimes they don’t notice, and sometimes they don’t care. They carry on using as if you were still the template you used to be. Because that works better for them. This will never work for me. Find a new situation where the new template fits… then push out again!

My haircut as mentioned in a previous post, is the physical manifestation of the changing template. That and my recent penchant for wearing dresses. My hair used to be one of the things that polite people used to describe me to others. What will they use now? Maybe they will be less polite, and just say short, fat and old.

This has been wandering around in my head for quite some time. Marion Michell brought the word template to the front of my brain, where it slotted in nicely, and gave shape to the thoughts. Thank you Marion. Maybe that is why your work always finds a deep point in me, and pokes a sharp stick at it.


(To my readers, THIS is my 300th blog post… so I shall be like the queen and have an official birthday! Thanks for reading my twaddle)


I feel a little on the edge again…

At a sort of leaping off point. I should read back over some of this blog, because I’m sure I’ve written about this before.

A couple of posts back I wrote of being on the cusp… I’m teetering on the edge now…

Don’t you think there are moments in life, those “straw that broke the camel’s back” moments, where suddenly you just have to do it… whatever “it” is? I’ve had several, where I suddenly realised I should be doing something that I’m not…

One more thing and I’ll push myself over…

I changed my job, I did the MA, I had all my hair cut off. Some people might see the last as a trivial thing, but I had a hell of a lot of hair… it formed a large part of how I saw myself… and I suddenly discovered I was hiding under it. (I looked like one of those sheep that stay out on the moors for three years and don’t get sheared.)

I stand in front of all these possibilities: collaborations, journeys (actual, not the X-Factor variety) exhibitions, a studio, challenges, work that I can’t wait to get my teeth into…

And I think I need to make a leap at all of it, invest some faith in myself for a change. I tell my friend Bo that I don’t think I have faith in God, but faith in people. I think I am a natural collaborator, despite my lack of social skills and occasional insensitivity (at least one of my friends (Helen) has just spat out her tea). I have faith in others: their ability, humour, patience and skill.

I think I will always need someone else to bounce off, argue with, ask for advice, teach me, laugh at and with, who will laugh at me too. Someone with a different view to stop me becoming isolated and inward looking. It is precisely because of my anti-social nature and insensitivity that I need this. How dreadful would I become without the practice?

Don’t get me wrong, I can be fairly sociable, amiable for the most part. But as I get older I have become more selective. Sometimes, I can’t be bothered with people. I like peace, quiet and solitude, space to think properly.

It’s all about balance I suppose. Surround myself with the right people, and then tell them to leave me alone! Ha!