Do other artists find themselves obsessing over small things? I’ve been away from the studio for family and the festivities, so these things are milling around in my head, in my notebook, even in the occasional song lyric. I’ve been thinking about fog. The literal and the metaphorical. Brought about I think, by the general election and the effect it has had on my mood. The thick, pea-souper sort that keeps you trapped. As a child I remember the fog, and being trapped in a field for some reason… I walked the perimeter trying to find the gate, having lost all sense of direction. I felt frightened and sick. I am convinced I walked the perimeter twice, missing the gate to the lane. I think I was around ten or eleven. I was alone.

I left a drawing on my table, half done, probably. Fog. Amorphous shapes and shades and texture driven by the feel of the paper beneath my pencil. This still is about the same themes I think, but the sense of touch has become more elusive. Disconnected somehow. I can’t breath in it, it’s tight and smothering at the same time as drifting. I found myself holding my breath a little for fear of inhaling it.

And after a night of fitful sleep, waking several times in pain* that defied painkillers and cream and meditation and music… I find that the fog is nailed to me. I feel like I have a bed of nails. So this morning the drawing in my head is one of nailing fog. I won’t be in the studio until probably Tuesday or Wednesday. This vision may lose its potency by then. Or it may be desperate still to appear on the paper. By then I might feel better. By then I might have had some sleep and the obsessive nature of my thoughts will have subsided.

Or not.


*I have Osteoarthritis that seems to have flared up over the last couple of days


I’ve started a new blog…






I entered a bit of a time warp yesterday. It served as a timely reminder too.

I took a table at the Festive Makers’ Market at General Office, alongside my fellow studio holder Louise Blakeway. It was a bit last minute for me. Louise had a stall full of beautifully coherent paintings and prints, and I had a bit of a jumble going on… old drawings, new drawings, a series of small scale works just simply mounted. I also had a few old textile things. Some little felt brooches and some vintage fabric bundles. I sold a few things across the range, not enough to go on holiday with, but enough to cover costs, have a take-away in the evening and a lunch out somewhere nice tomorrow… I might buy some new pencils… but it was a long day for small pickings really, and I was having flashbacks!

When my sons were young, from about 1990-2005 maybe, I did loads of craft fairs alongside assorted part time and sporadic teaching in the local FE college. It all fitted in nicely, kept the wolf from the door. But yesterday reminded me why I decided to stop. At least yesterday I just moved my stuff, already made, nothing specially made for the event, from studio into the gallery through the double doors, threw a cloth over the table and set it up. Easy.

I used to spend hours speculating on what would sell, and believe me I’ve done all sorts: jewellery, bags, home textiles, collage, quilting, embroidery, clothes, painting, toys, children’s clothes… only to find the thing that everyone wanted was the thing I’d only got three of. The one hundred specially made items might as well have had a sign on them saying fuck off. (That might have sold better actually!)

I’d load it all into the back of the car with an assortment of stands and rails and display devices, lamps and clamps, a flask, and never enough food to stave off freezing cold and boredom. I had special clothes, shoes, emergency hat/scarves etc… have even resorted to wearing the stock.

Then there’s the interaction with the jolly old general public. If you smile and say good morning, some of them run like you’ve told them to fuck off. Then there are those who want to tell you that they’re not going to buy anything because they can make it themselves. Then those who take not so surreptitious photos so they basically have a pattern to go home and make it themselves. Those you REALLY want to tell to fuck off while retaining the smile you’ve stapled in at 7am.

(But I should also remember the lovely people who have interesting conversations, and buy things too!)

Anyway…It’s a tough way to make money. And if it hadn’t been easy I wouldn’t have done it. And I can’t say I’ll be doing it again, because for most of the day I wanted to run away into my studio to just draw.

I’m sat here thinking I’ll draw all day Monday. But it’ll take me most of the day to put away all the stuff I dragged out. I dumped it all unceremoniously on my big table. Louise and I then ran away into the night. I think I’d rather do an Open Studio, because although there’s the whole tidying and staging thing, at least I can still draw when it’s quiet.

So… if you are visiting a craft fair or similar running up to Christmas, have sympathy, they’re like silent buskers. Maybe offer to watch the stall of a friend while they go to the loo/Greggs/take a break/have a fag or whatever. Bring cake. Tell them it looks magical, and try to buy something, even if it’s just a card. A few cards sold can make all the difference.

The experience reminded me how far I’ve come, how things have changed, and how fortunate I am to do whatever the hell I want, to be able to make whatever I want, that organically emerges from my thought processes.

Thank you world.


I always say goodbye to the summer with a sense of relief. September and October I love. Low sun, bright blue sky and the occasional frost, the turning and falling of leaves. The old October days turn to November and the clocks go back and suddenly the days are short. It seems a brutal snap.

December has arrived and I have a cold. I don’t get them so much these days since I stopped working with children!

The damp November days have tugged at my arthritis and I start to hunker down. I’m reluctant to go out, especially in the evenings. I fear I’m turning into my mother (too late, I hear my family say). I have vague plans to travel, but at the last minute I call them off. I’ll go in the new year (maybe). At this end of the year I feel old.

My drawings don’t feel dark enough. I feel like a fake, because it all seems a bit level. I feel I need to find a way to plumb these depths and dive into the abyss. I want deeper water on the paper. I need blacker purples… blacker reds… blacker blacks…

I need to carve something into the paper, not draw on the top of it.

My lyrics are not for public consumption really. They speak of very dark places. 

This personal slump is not helped by the sense of impending doom I feel about the General Election. I protect myself from crippling disappointment by feeling as grim as I possibly can now, so that the shock isn’t so extreme.

I live in a bubble of like-minded folks, I am aware of this… and so I am wary of feeling that everything will be fine, because, let’s face it, everything is far from fine. I am European, and I am an old-fashioned socialist. I feel we should hold hands with our neighbours and work closely with them. I feel we should be kind to those less fortunate. I feel that all people regardless of socio-economic background should have opportunities to fulfil their potential. I’m not rich by any means, (it’s all relative) but my life is rich. I have what I need and am surrounded by love and kindness. I feel then, that I am in a position to spread it around. I have huge difficulty understanding the help only yourself mentality. Surely we all benefit when people reach their potential? We all benefit from having a well educated, healthy society? Surely?

So having a general election just before Christmas fills me with dread. It is a difficult time for many people. I have this knot of black dread that sits in my chest. If the conservatives win again, people will be in deepest despair… and I don’t know what I can possibly do about it. 

All I can think is that the charcoal and the ink just aren’t dark enough to express it.