Fifteen days since the knee op. Can’t drive yet… another couple of weeks probably before I can get back behind the wheel. I am climbing the stairs, one at a time, good leg first, like a toddler. I can walk a couple of hundred yards at a time, that’s all. But I’m getting there. Every day it is a little bit stronger and I can walk a little bit further, and it hurts less.

oh but I am stir crazy now… the Arts Council success means I have a real project to get my teeth into, but can’t quite get there yet… haven’t yet got the money, the energy, or the legs for it, but my brain is fizzing!

My diary is filling up…planning… recording sessions… meeting radio people… visits to galleries and other artists…

I have some sewing here, a lovely red bra… tiny… highly padded… one wonders why this woman would bother… but I’m desperate to be doing it in the studio, instead of at home with my feet up.

It doesn’t feel like proper work sat here…


The congratulations still streaming in, I’m actually starting to believe it now.

It is a weird process… or it was for me…

Having given up my salary and my proper job, I was highly motivated to get this right. And with plenty of help from pretty much everyone I know that has had anything to do with the arts council, I filled in the form. It took about three weeks. People would suggest I talk to other people who might be able to help, either with publicity and marketing, or installation or finance, or support in kind. I sent out emails, met people for coffee and a natter. Loads of people read and re-read different parts of the form. The calculator was hammered to make the numbers work. Eventually, when I pressed send, I was absolutely confident that this application could be no better. I didn’t even have that post-exam stress type thing. All the way through the five weeks I waited. I knew that my application was a good one. Problem is, there is only so much money, and some people will get it, and some people won’t. All you can do is the best you can. Mine was a stonkin’ application… but I’m sure all the others were too!

Anyway. They said yes. (actually, I would love to know why… what was the thing that made it a yes…?) I will be getting the money. For a year’s work…and the effects of it will be felt far beyond, and will be spread about as far as I can – they will get their money’s worth from me!

The week before the yes came in, I was talking to my friend Dan, who will be supporting my songwriting, recording, producing and everything music related for this project. He will get a chunk of the money too of course, but what he said last week will stay with me. He said it was a great project and he wanted to work with me on it anyway, and that we’d work something out. What this little snippet of conversation did was set my head in the right place. So when the letter arrived, I knew that Dan was my partner in crime, that he was in it for the love of it too. Oh we all need money of course, but to go into this knowing he’d have had a part in it anyway (less hours, longer period of time, and way more DIY and barter going on I’m sure!) is just mind-blowing. A real emotional, creative commitment to it. I don’t know if he realises how great that is… yeah… he probably does… he’s probably been on the receiving end.


The project is due to start at the beginning of January officially. What I/we do now is plan. I would like one of the songs, already part written, sketch/demo recorded, to be part of the launch, maybe an open studio thing, start us off with a bang! (oh do come, there will be cake!)

I have a laminated wall chart with stickers and coloured pens. I have a notebook, an online diary, and I have a spreadsheet to build. I have a folder. I’ve set up the blog. I will open another bank account to work from. This is the Proper Job I have wanted all my life.


(There’s a thing I want to insert here about PAYING ARTISTS… The money isn’t just about living is it? It’s about being appreciated for your skills, talent, aptitude for a given profession. Differentiation in percentages granted for pay rises aren’t fair… why should politicians get 30% and nurses get 1%? We want people who choose to care for us in our most vulnerable times, to be in it for the love, not just the money, we need them to have a natural aptitude for that work. We don’t want our politicians to just be in it for the money either, we want them to be our voice, to represent us, to see that as a vitally important, underpinning aspect of the job, not in it for the expenses claims and the self-awarded 30% pay increase. I know some people find the “need” for artists a bit more nebulous, but the principle is the same, appreciate people for who they are, aptitude, talent, natural ability, whatever you want to call it. Pay a proper wage to people who work for it, whatever the job is… society finds use for it all, because society IS us! Obvious!)


There are times when working as an artist feels self-indulgent. But all the time, up until this year, I have been something else… mostly in education of some sort or another. My creative skills are not just used -then or now- just for my own pleasure… this isn’t masturbation. It is at last, now, an acknowledgement of who I am. My own creativity is as important as the creativity of those children and adults I have taught over the years. How can I have told them over and over throughout those last 35 (ish) years that I value their different ways of thinking and creative contribution to our society as they grow, without now being an example to them, and valuing my own?




This afternoon I’m sat with knee recovering in the recommended elevated position, with the sun streaming though the french windows.

I have a sense of calm about me, a love of the free world we are fortunate to live in, and creativity abounds!

The Arts Council have just offered me a research and development grant which will keep me going for a whole year. I am to develop the musical and sound parts of my practice, working towards and culminating in a project and installation called “Nine Women” next summer and beyond.

Please follow the link to the project blog. I have no idea whether this one will continue alongside, or whether the project will be so all-consuming, all my writing will be concentrated over there… we shall see!

Feeling pretty damn good to tell you the truth.

Thanks Arts Council!

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I’ve been talking to a young friend about balance.

Actually, she is the daughter of friends of ours, but recently, through Facebook, across the oceans (she is currently in Australia) this bright young artist and I have found we have things in common, other than my memories of hysterical laughter at her dressing up as a very young child, to “entertain” us!

A small detour… this is one of the absolute indisputable joys of being an artist… the people I count as friends range from 20 year olds to 85 yr olds. Their age is immaterial, race, gender, sexuality, class, employment, income, where they live, all are immaterial.Their brains however, are the thing… the way they talk, fast and loose, funny, creative, political, subversive… I bloody love it, long may it continue!

Anyway… said friend is due to come back to the UK after a few years travelling about and looking at the world through her eyes and her camera lens, and is looking at her options. I’m not sure if I am the right person to ask, and wonder if her parents would be that chuffed about advice I’m offering – actually, I’m careful not to use the word “advice”, and repeat at regular intervals that this is just an opinion, and others are available, and should be sought!

Balance is the key though. She requires a certain financial stability – don’t we all – but does not want to lose sight of who she is in a job that could consume her… she is looking at teaching among other things. She is at the other end of the lens of this to me… I have given up the salary for the freedom, she is looking for the salary to give her the freedom…

She would be an amazing teacher, I can just see her in front of a group of recalcitrant teenagers… she is funny, intelligent, wise, open, trusting, brave, creative… she would be great! But… when I look at other artist/teachers I know, who are also those things, they are now exhausted, cynical, fed up… and I would hate to see this happen to my friend…

So what do I offer up? Just an opinion, and a bit of world-weary experience, along with hopefully, a load of enthusiasm for the freedom to think how you want to. What sort of advice would I give to the 25 year old me?

A small amount of financial security goes a long way, if you’re not that bothered about spending money on “stuff”. We are so fortunate in this country, to be so free to be who we want to be. Free (ish) to get an education that can get us where we want to be, do what we want to do, with the people we want to be with…

So, my young friend… I watch with great interest and pride as you throw yourself at life! I can’t wait to see what you do, how you do it, and what you do along the way.

I can’t wait to see the artwork you produce – I don’t know what it will be, but I love it already!



It was predictable really… A basic character flaw.

Although I spent a whole day in the studio last week, with the explicit idea that I should sort materials and equipment for the coming couple of weeks when I wouldn’t be able to drive to Dudley or climb the stairs when I get there, I still don’t seem to have what I need here.

I have the pens to do some ink drawing, but have left behind the tissue, tracing and layout paper I want to draw on. I have brought home the bra I want to embroider, but the materials I wanted to use on a different bra. I have my current song notebook here, but the lyrics to the song I want to record are in the old book, on the desk.

It’s like when you spend £100 in Sainsbury’s, then realise when you’ve unpacked it all into the cupboards, that you still don’t have the makings of a single complete meal, and end up with one person having 3 fish fingers and the other person having an omelette, but with no cheese.

(So you text the person who is still out and tell them to bring in a curry at 10:30pm.)

I’m thinking I should just draw a load of bra hooks and eyes on the leaflet I brought back from the hospital telling me how to avoid DVT. It might prove to be a nice sketchbook diversion, marking the event, but not really very useful.

The question on my mind is…Do I send Mike in with a list and EXPLICIT instructions? He is terrified of this and backs away from me, shaking his head, holding his hands up, palms facing me, furrowed brow… muttering “no…. no…. not me…..”

I’m not going to shout if he gets it wrong? Why would I shout?


But who else? Any volunteers?


My brain is in that state of limbo again. Waiting. My body joins in, waiting for bits to work again, get stronger. I do the physio, feebly bending my knee, leaning on the dining chair, counting, while counting the amount of days it has been since I sent in the ACE application. I make a decision to increase the amount of bends according to the number of days. It isn’t going to be a particularly effective way to go about things, but the sense of symmetry appeals to me.


Because I currently have no money, the limbo brain is being pushed to think of ideas to raise some cash. I want to make things allied to my current practice, that might inform it, in process or outcome, but that are saleable. Totally impossible. I neither have the “status” to do this (by this, I mean a ready collecting audience that flock to my exhibitions and strip the walls) or the ideas at the moment. If I had the right paper, I might experiment with the layered drawings… small pieces … little keyhole/eyeful bra drawings… stick photos here and Facebook and twitter and my website and see what happens….


I’d better send someone into the studio then…

Promise, I won’t shout – I just need some see through paper – how hard can it be?




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