I did think I was going to write a sort of review of the year, as that seems to be the done thing. But then I realised I just couldn’t be arsed. It was a bloody good year, I got given a big wheelbarrow full of unexpected money by the Arts Council and I spent it doing the most amazing things with other artists and musicians. Pretty damn good. There’s only a tiny bit of it left out of the initial payment, and at some point soon I’ll get the final 10%.

Everything I have done has turned out even better than I thought it would be. I come out of it with more skills and a clarity of vision about what happens next.

I’m grateful ACE said yes, humbled that they thought my project worthy, that I was worth the risk. The after-effects of having that money will be felt for many years to come.

I won’t have a studio after December 31st, but I am at last able to see this as a good thing, and that moving out of the other space was required for my practice to move on. A steadier, calmer approach to finding a new space has sort of been thrust upon me, but pragmatism has taken over… it’s all ok.

I am often frozen by inertia. I am held fast by my comfort blanket. Although the world seems to enjoy throwing stressful changes at me… I have had enough of them over the last couple of years to make me realise that they are the catalyst for me getting my bum into gear. So this is the latest… I have various options… Starting small or throwing caution to the wind…. which?

In the new year, I am going to look at a few places, some cheap, some expensive, some that might be able to generate income, some that won’t, some I can share, some I can’t… some close to home, some daringly close to the city centre… there will be weighing up of possibilities.

But I think it will come down to the first thirty seconds. It will come down to that unquantifiable thing that makes your hairs stand on end.


 Apologies to those who like my Audioblog… the house is full of noise and people at the moment. When it goes quiet I will catch up – promise!



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Drawing can be an intimate act.

I’m now feeling desperate to start the task of drawing my chairs. When I think about it my heart beats a little faster and my pupils dilate.

There is a part of my brain connected to my eyes and my hands that can’t let go. I need the ink to flow in steady lines beneath my fingers. I want to feel the texture of the papers… Tracing paper… Layout… Tissue…. Anything that lets the light and truth through…

If I close my eyes I can imagine the lines appearing as my hand sweeps across the paper. Cool fingers make creases and smooth them out again. Caressing the tissue into a smooth plane for the ink to flow across. The line is even. The line has a slow rhythm. I have to keep the ink moving… If I stop, it blots…

I imagine the close surface of the layout paper… Ink gliding across gracefully, there’s no grab at the ink like there is with the greedy tissue… The touch is sleek….

The tracing paper has to be a virgin surface. I use gloves sometimes… And I remove a sheet from the Middle of the pack. If I get greasy finger marks on it, ink resists… I need it clean…

My brain, in that state of flow keeps the line almost continuous. Errors in observation of line only matter if I falter and stall. What matters is a confident line…

I can keep the line going for hours once I start. I forget to drink and eat.

A sigh escapes as I finish… A deep breath… I close my eyes and put down the pen slowly… As if commanded by the FBI at gunpoint….

I put up my hands… Surrender…

Fantasy drawing porn……
Is it just me?



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I had a gentle afternoon with a fairly newish but very lovely friend Sarah Goudie.




We had about two hours of earnest conversation over pots of tea and assorted things to eat.

We have enough in common to understand each other, and enough differences to make life interesting.


Being Earnest is a good thing. I like the word earnest. It implies trust, honesty, seriousness, but not stuffiness I think.


We had a few laughs, certainly. We talked about studios, work, earning a living, students and teaching, and what we would like to get out of this artistic life we both lead. We didn’t talk of ambition, but the ambition was implied. We are both striving for something. The something might be fairly modest in the scheme of things, but it is there nonetheless. We discussed mutual support, crits, outings, and generally making time to let other people into the processes. It is important to share, to express, to hear myself saying things out loud is vital to discovering what the work is about, and what I am about.


I’m hoping, as I mull over this conversation, that I didn’t totally monopolise it… I can remember talking about Sarah’s work too (which is beautiful by the way, do go and look) Sorry if you feel harangued, Sarah!


We talked quite a lot about my impending lack of studio, and how this state can be “handled” so that I can feel positive about it. I also talked about the stage that my work is at and how that can easily be done at home. Until voicing my concerns out loud to another artist, I hadn’t actually realised that I have quite a lot to do with these chairs before I need a studio. I’ve been going on about how I need to spread them out in a line, together, in a real space… but actually, I’m a way off that yet… I will need it… but that need isn’t imminent! Once I had actually said these words, another little weight lifted, another bit of sensible calmness settled upon me.


My previous post talked of the danger of containing the work within the sketchbook. Little drawings, with notes and plans of installation is one thing, but taking the drawing out of the book and into the larger space is another…

My intention, as I did initially with the bras, is to document the chairs as they are. I will perform a sort of archaeological dig on them. I will draw, using a similar method to the bras, on translucent papers, layering up details and different views. Gathering the information. Record them as they are, as they came to me. I can’t do this within the confines of the sketchbook. it’s different:

As I spoke to Sarah, I came to understand more deeply the importance this part of the process holds for me. My relationship with these found objects, be they garments or furniture, starts with this. This close observation establishes my position as care-giver. Call it arty-bollocks if you like, but I feel it is part of my responsibility to do this before I begin working on them.

I have four chairs. That’s a lot of drawing. So these first couple of months of the year I can spend at home in the warm, drawing. Meanwhile, looking for the right studio space, for the right amount of money, in the right place… without the mad panic.


My afternoon of earnestness was joyful. I’ve talked before about certain people who charge my batteries, enthuse me, inspire me, challenge me, but also reassure me… Sarah is one of those.



Merry Christmas, thank you for reading.


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If you’re not careful, practice stays imprisoned in the sketchbook.

Because of the impending “no studio” situation, and the fact many of my things are packed into boxes already, visits to the studio are not now about practice. Until I move everything back home just after Christmas I won’t have a space to get on with what is in my head.  I am intending to re-appropriate the dining room…. But things have changed in the intervening two years, my practice (and equipment) will no longer easily be contained on the top of a four feet by five feet table. I’m going to have to set it up properly, because I don’t know how long it might be for.

Meanwhile… My sketchbook exists to remind me of these thoughts I have about the chairs. These four oddly proportioned chairs are drawn over and over…. Placed in order in a line… My intentions drawn upon the line drawings in a different colour…

The problem is, if they stay there on the paper too long, they may reach some sort of conclusion, some sort of resolution before I make them. It won’t be right, necessarily, but right enough for the paper, and I will move on. The resolution reached will be that which concerns drawing. It will be about the lines, the colour, the forms depicted and composition. These are the wrong resolutions. I need to constantly remind myself that what I’m looking for isn’t a drawing but a relationship.

The relationship between these chairs is a little bit Goldilocks. One is too small, one too tall, one is wide, but low down…. One is the right size, but not comfortable. My plans for them are about the relationships with each other and the people who might sit (or have previously sat) in them. This work can only be done in the physical world, with my whole body. It’s not an end of arm with pencil thing. It’s not proper to confine it within the pages.

So I write this blog to remind myself that I might be able to move on in terms of the sketchbook, but I must return.

I have to make the chairs how I want, in order to leave the gap for the chair that isn’t there…

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I was surprised that another artist was surprised when I insisted upon a certain level of professional conduct.


It is, for me, another aspect to the Paying Artists campaign. If I behave as a professional, I will be paid as a professional. Fair’s fair.


I try to behave in a professional manner. I like to get things clear, I like things written down, signed. I like receipts. I like everyone to know what is expected, what will be paid and when, and for how much time the payment covers.


These are the things that worry me greatly. I became self-employed about two years ago, and it terrifies me. I am worried about tax, national insurance, allowances, or not-allowances. So therefore, to cover all the bases, I keep every piece of paper. I write things down. I do this in the hope of keeping things straight, but also, should something go wrong, someone else will be able to make sense of it all.


Numbers don’t come easily to me. I have to triple check and get someone else to check, because even when using a calculator I have been known to transpose 7s and 4s particularly. I know I am not so good at this, which is why I am like I am. My husband can spot my mistakes as if they are written in red and have a neon arrow pointing at them. I am like that with spelling mistakes. Everyone has their “thing”.


But I think we artists have to start with each other. I have learned many things from the Master (Dan W). When we first worked together we didn’t really know each other. We had this conversation about the work and how it would be done. He insisted that everything we wanted was written down and signed and paid for. He insisted that we would be open and honest because when you’re paying by the hour there’s no time for pissing about and being polite. We had professional respect, we were organised, and we said what we thought. Actually it was liberating. This man wasn’t a friend (yet), so it didn’t really matter if I disagreed with him, or vice versa. It was my work, so I had the right to speak up. It was his professional standards we were working to, so if what I was doing wasn’t good enough, he said so. The friendship has followed on from this.

When we embarked upon Nine Women, we did the same. Talk about it, make notes, write it up, agree it, sign it. Then get on with it. I believe whole heartedly that our working relationship is excellent because of this.


So now, this is my working model for projects I embark upon. Who wouldn’t want things clear, up front, and open and honest? I would think twice about working with anyone who didn’t want clarity and professionalism.


Well, as I said, I have been surprised… shocked even. But then, as I have written before, I am really quite naive and idealistic. But if it carries on like this, my cynical and paranoid self might have to come to the fore, for self-preservation purposes.