The stitched hands on the children’s clothes made for Are You Listening? (MA show) showed the marks left behind. One person on another: adult upon child. The stitches on the bras told the tales of Nine Women, their relationships to each other, how they felt about themselves, the stories of their lives. The stitches and patches on chairs showed the traces and tracks left by passing encounters. A fleeting glance that shows emotion, that stays with us: admiration, lust, contempt, confusion… they all leave their marks.

And now the pen nibs scratch and glide across the surface of the paper and mark it physically, reminiscent of those stitches. Cause and Effect, a relationship between one thing and another that stands for all? Some of the marks I make are bold and unswerving, strident, strong, unyielding. Some are tentative, broken, tangled. They are remnants of drawings done before. They hold the touch of leaves, bark, feathers and hair, water, skin, blood, bone and sinew. Those years of drawings have been experienced, held, absorbed. They’ve sunk in, embedded themselves in memory… mind and muscle… they are in my skin, blood, bone and sinew and now they are leaking out onto the paper.

Every drawing is a metaphor for all of the relationships. The pens make noises on the paper and seek places to stay. So they creep into the songs that tell the tales of the broken and the tangled. Every strange time signature tells of an awkwardness. Every unidentifiable sound seeks to remind of the fleeting nature of those encounters with people whose eyes you catch then walk on by, turn and walk away from. Who was that?

It takes a while, always, for me to understand what I am drawing, writing, making. It takes a decade of work to sink in and be absorbed in a way that can be understood and expressed, with a little clarity…

The lines I draw/write/make connect everything that’s gone before. The lines not yet drawn/written/made are reaching out. They reach out in the hope of touching somewhere, someone else. They are plant tendrils waving in the air to find a touching point upon which to be anchored. A trickle of water finding a path down and through the root architecture that builds and spreads to find it.

We are all seeking contact. We are all seeking a point to touch each others lives. In times of isolation and grief we have to be more imaginative to find ways, but we still do.


I find myself playing with scale again.

On the walls of the studio are large drawings with bold broad brushstrokes of ink and watercolour. The lines drawn follow the contours of drying paint puddles, and the texture of the heavy paper.

On my table is an A2 sheet of “practice” paper, not so heavy, not so rough. Brush-lines are painted, in mixed inks, using much lighter strokes. The lines drawn on these are with new nibs, a little finer than those I’ve been using, capable of much more delicate lines and traces across the paper.

Next week I plan to fix a large roll of paper to the gallery wall to enable me to go really big… strokes generated by the whole of my body, not just from the elbow to the fingertips. For this I have collected a variety of charcoal, graphite sticks, compressed charcoal, chalk, pencils and a few pens… possibly paint… but that might confuse the issue.

The idea is to make marks to music. Some of the music will be mine, recorded, played back through wireless headphones so I can move freely around the space. Some will be the music on my “inspiration” playlist (attached Spotify link below) and some will be live… I have a couple of friendly musicians coming in to play with me. We will hopefully take inspiration from each other… sound inspired by marks, marks inspired by sound, simultaneously. I haven’t done anything like this before so I have absolutely no idea of it will work!

But that’s why you get funding right? To explore and take risks, spend time playing with an idea without having to worry about the outcomes or financial rewards.




A long-term, long-form blog brings many rewards… in amongst those rewards are friends that you might never have otherwise met, through conversations held online, over many years. You get to know them, and their work, and a little bit about how they think. You develop real connections… Kate,  Stuart and I have become real life friends, and here we talk about the bloggery that’s gone on:

a-n News article


Thanks to Stephen Palmer at a-n for giving us the platform to talk about it.


I’ve been reading Stuart Mayes’ blog from 13th July 2021, https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/project-me/ in which he is talking about new work made with a bundle of shirt collars and cuffs I passed on to him. They are a remnant of the days when I quilted and patched and stitched. I was given a whole load of them by someone who used to strip down men’s old shirts (or old men’s shirts?) to reuse the fabric. The collars and cuffs were left overs. I must have held onto them for about 7 years, just in a box gathering dust, just waiting for me to have a good idea to use them. It never came. I used the button and buttonhole strips, and a few of the collar points to make bunting… but they didn’t do much for me really. I just kept them in the cupboard waiting for something. 

I’ve been following Stuart’s blog for years now, and we have become friends. I even met him in the real world once, in Stockholm, where we greeted each other like long lost family across an open square. (I didn’t run though, that would be unseemly.) Recently he has been using ties and shirts in his work. I won’t presume to describe the reasons, but it’s beautiful work… go look it up! In using these ties in work reminiscent of heraldic shields it occurred to me that it was so “male”… my textile work was so “female”… I’d used bras and children’s clothes and domestic textiles. I said out loud to myself in the studio “Stuart needs these shirt bits!” and I posted off four stuffed parcels to him in Sweden. His first instinct was just to simply connect them by buttoning them together into a long chain and hang them in loops. This very simple act had not occurred to me, because I don’t do that. That buttoning action is not part of my everyday experience. I had been trying to think of a way to use them that required them to be stitched together, to sort of obliterate their former use, whereas Stuart just did with them what came naturally. They look great. He has titled the work Rest. A great word. Implying the left over, and the stillness… the support of one by the rest? Perfect title Stuart! I’m glad I sent them. They have found their appropriate home.

In another part of my studio lay a box. A rough hewn box, made from some sort of packaging wood reclaimed from elsewhere, that had mysterious and unidentified calligraphic Japanese(?) markings on the side. Inside were a series of compartmentalised trays, fitted snugly with ribbon tags on the edges to lift them out. The inside wood was smooth and worn and carefully crafted. Smooth on the inside, rough on the outside. I was given it more than ten years ago, and it did contain a few sea shells, because the giver thought I might like to draw it, or give it to classes of children to draw. I think I did a couple of times, but it never really sparked anything. So it sat on my shelves gathering dust, waiting. I have come to know an artist who lives and works much closer than Sweden, just across the other side of town, who has a penchant for limpets. I say penchant, but that implies a vague, passing fondness… Helen Garbett’s relationship with limpets in much deeper than that – again look her up: https://www.facebook.com/limpetsthroughtime/ her work has museum-like qualities, collections, assemblages, constructions, drawings… supported by continued anthropological research into the human use and significance of limpets. So this box, rough on the outside, smooth on the inside, just like the limpet shells, has been donated to Helen’s Limpetarium. It will sit among her work perfectly, far better than on my shelves.


As an artist, I’ve been given all sorts of things that have added to my work, from bras to bits of furniture, materials, equipment. It’s good that these items find the home they belong in. 


I have a strange relationship with my sketch book(s) I think…

I have two on the go. One is A5, a tie-up Muji thing, with things poking out of it, receipts, photos, cards and envelopes. It is written in as well as drawn in, and is carried around in my handbag. Just in case.

The other sits at the side of my armchair at home. A3, hardback. In this are page after page of drawings, tested ideas, mark making samples… colour combination trials maybe… bits of collage made from newspaper, magazines and packaging paper, the other sort of paper that gets left about within reach. But it’s not a messy sketch book. I’m actually not a messy artist, I hate working dirty, and when it comes to materials, I’m a bit of a purist and I don’t like mixing too many things together. This is a book of ideas and tests that might get used later on a larger piece, once practiced sufficiently. It is also a place for mindlessness drawing, while watching tv or listening to music and talking in the evenings (this is why I have to be in the right mood for things with subtitles, because I can’t draw at the same time!) 

Thing is though… (in this large sketchbook) I don’t like working both sides of the pages. I think this is partly to do with the messy thing… I like things to sit cleanly. But is it also to do with the fact I might be able to tear the “good” pages out and sell them? (Not happened yet)

Recently I took some photos of these works for instagram/facebook and people seemed to really like them. That’s great, but there’s a mismatch in my brain that these are effortless, thoughtless works, throw away (ish). I wish I could get my head straight about this, that sense that there has to be great effort, time, thought/theory behind what I produce for it to be of worth. These pieces are play, playful, casual. Elena’s drawings without the posh frock on. They DO have value, the act of doing them in itself has value, I know that, I would certainly tell other people that. So why can’t I tell myself? I am trying… to figure out the whole tangle of worth/effort/time and have been trying to for years. I have put time and effort into these drawings in the book, but probably not at the time of making. Maybe that’s it?

When I am looking at other people’s art, I love to see the compulsion, obsession, attention to detail, and the effort that goes into making something. And I love the pieces that I make that show that too. The pieces that really work for me on a level of sensitivity, to the marks and materials, that have a level of repetition, dedication… the ones that felt good to make, during the making, those are the ones that make me satisfied. The sketchbook work is a different thing. A counterpoint. So there is a contradiction and tension and a cognitive dissonance here: No they are not worthy, they are just casual sketchbook pieces… but yes, you can buy one, let me tear it out carefully for you… how much? God knows!!?

If anyone has any insight into what is going on in my head from the outside I’d be glad to hear it.


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