I’ve just spent three days in Devon, in the recording studio with Michael Clarke, my co-writer and co-producer. I feel a bit weird about claiming a co-producer title though, as he does all the technical stuff, I am the one that has mad ideas from the sofa, and makes more tea. But there it is… they are my ideas and our ideas.

A little recap… when I started filling in the ACE application and asked Mike if he would help me, we had a heap of “stuff”. We had already written a few songs together over the previous few years, that had just been parked. Some of these have made it into this collection. I had some bits of looping; a selection of half finished lyrics; some phone recordings of ideas, and a heap of recordings of sounds and humming, just waiting for the right time.

So having got the right time, and the money, I sent ALL of this heap to Mike and we started to listen to things and sift through them. What we have ended up with is the sound element for Drawing Songs. They have developed at first slowly, (Covid-19 restrictions prevented us spending studio time together at the start) then quickly, into 12 songs, joined into a vague but satisfying narrative that sits alongside, and is interwoven through the drawings. The sounds from the drawings sit in the recordings and have formed obscure and peculiar rhythms. The lyrics have set the moods and the culture for the drawings… there’s a back-and-forth, a cause and effect. There are occasional bits of text sat among the lines of ink too… these might make it into future songs.

We worked pretty constantly over the three days, straight into the studio after breakfast, a break for a quick lunch, then back until dinner. Then a chat over dinner about the next day’s priorities. We finished the last song on the last day, then after lunch we listened through them as a whole. To be honest there was a lump in my throat. I’ve left them all with Mike now, for him to trim and tidy, mix and master.

It’s only now that they all exist, as a whole piece, that I can begin to think about what I will do with them.

For the first exhibition (October 23rd to November 7th, General Office, Stourbridge) they will play into the gallery space with the drawings. I am thinking it would be nice to make a limited edition run of 50 CDs… and possibly a lyric book to go with them.

So this week I need to do this planning… images and words…

There is always the question of the digital launch of music these days too. But I think that can wait a little time. I’m thinking if I have another exhibition in a different venue in 2022 I will use that as the digital launch event.

We had such a wonderful time creating this together, I think we will be making a date to write some more… maybe next year…

I’m feeling a little tired now. I have a great big push to get to the exhibition, then I can rest for a while.

Until I get bored and want to start again!


There is a sweet spot I think, in the middle of a project, or perhaps closer to the end, when activity is high, one becomes a little more visible for a little while. During this period, I find it’s really good to get the word out, spread the goodness, and actually capitalise on that fleeting higher profile to make connections and inroads into places you don’t dare to do on an ordinary day. When confidence is high, strike while the iron is hot! Mix your metaphors or get out of the kitchen!

This is the time when you feel able to send speculative emails, because, when the project is finished… (in terms of funding, and the evaluation has been done and submitted etc) you need something to look forward to. Not immediately, because, you know “The Slump” will undoubtedly hit once the adrenalin has subsided and you’ve stopped grinning. But something a few months ahead. Perhaps a small collaboration, a conversation, a little self-indulgent self-review when the dust has settled.

So this is what I am doing at the moment. I call it The Business of Art… I’m not that good at it, and I’d rather be drawing and singing, but if I am to get anywhere (whatever the hell THAT means) then it has to be done. I have to neaten the edges, make a plan. I’m quite good at getting an idea for, and planning the project and delivering it, but I can only do one thing at a time. I can’t look at the next thing until I’m nearly at the end of this thing… I shall hopefully find a small island of something to aim at, while I rest, before thinking of the next BIG thing, or series of little things.

The initial plan will be to allow The Slump, enjoy Christmas, allow for a bit of shitty weather and then, come Mid February, I will be wanting something else…


Yesterday evening I was presented with my certificate for being elected an Associate of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

During the speeches by the president of the society Steve Evans, and Brendan Flynn, RBSA Professor of Art History, they spoke about the society and its archive. It was listening to this and seeing examples of object files of other artists that it really hit home I’d become a part of this fairly small group of artists, selected and elected for “Professional standing and distinction of work”… and that from now on an official record would be kept of my work and achievements, alongside all the other members since  the early 19th century.

I was also called a “groundbreaker”… I am the first artist in those 200 years to have submitted a sound piece in my candidates’ exhibition.

It does feel a little unreal.

I was brought up in a time when one didn’t “boast” about ones achievements… whilst also being told not to hide ones light under a bushel.

So I wanted to write this post, not as a boast, but as a statement of fact. I belong to this group, I feel part of it, have been welcomed with open arms as the artist that I am right now, doing the work I’m doing right now. Acceptance, acknowledgement and validation for what I do.

I do feel emotional. It feels great. I’m sure there will come along inevitable feelings of self-doubt any time soon, but for now… I’m sat on the top of a big hill looking around me. For a while I wonder how I got here, and then I remember how hard I’ve worked.

Huge thanks to Steve and Ed Isaacs for their nomination and continued support.

(Pictured with RBSA President Steve Evans)



Sometimes the next logical step turns out to be very disappointing.

I have had in the back of my mind that maybe I should be very specific about my drawings, and that I should do a drawing from each song, reacting to that song, and just that song. 

I’d been avoiding doing it as quite honestly it seemed like a bit of a chore. Prescribed rather than organic. But today I gave it a go. Now, it was an interesting exercise, but I don’t think these will be exhibited or published works. They’ve turned out to be rather too illustrative, representational, rather than my preferred response which tends to be reactive and emotional. What they are, I suppose, are visual scores. Anotation. This is not what I am after at all. I am reminded of Tim Ingold’s “Lines” and the discussion about music lines being performed, in comparison to music lines on the page. 

What happens when I allow myself longer to draw, with a mixture of music, is a much deeper, possibly lazier response. Lazy isn’t the right word, but something less directly purposeful…?

Aiming for an exhibition is a wonderful thing, and very useful for me, for many artists I’m sure. You start to find the language to surround the project, to express verbally, as well and in terms of the visual and the audible… It will mark a point of reflection. The view from the top of the hill, looking back at what you’ve done, how far you have come (maybe?), so you can start thinking about where to go next perhaps.

I think what will happen post-project is that I will calm down a bit, and stop trying to tie it all together. I think, having done this project that proves to me it IS all tied together, I don’t need to try so hard, but just let it happen.

I’m really looking forward to the exhibition and the events I have planned to go with it. But I am also starting to see life beyond it, and look forward to relaxing into what I’ve learned over the last twelve months.


My last blog post showed me doing loads of stuff, these things are now done, and things have settled down a little bit. Maybe. To be honest it is a bit of an illusion. Because I have now started to think about what my final show/event/exhibition thingy will look and sound like, and what I need to do to get there.

The dates of this will be 23rd October to 7th November if you want to make a note now, although it will be all over social media like a rash when everything is confirmed. 

The drawings are the easy bit. I need to get a few more of the recent works mounted, and/or framed. So once decided, off we go. And I have quite a few done already, that have been previously shown at the RBSA, but it will be good to put all sorts up together too, to show a progression and the development of ideas. 

The songs are coming along nicely too. Eight out of the proposed twelve are finished: Mike and I have a list of things to do in order the finish the remaining four.  This will undoubtedly require a trip to Devon, which I’m really looking forward to! A working holiday/mini-break thing. Fab.

I have decided to commission Bill Laybourne to create a sound piece, using the stems of the song recordings, for me to draw to LIVE! With an audience … if people do indeed want to come and watch such a thing. I shall do a Drawing Songs workshop, and an Artist Talk too. That’ll do I think. 

And then no doubt the post project evaluation and subsequent slump. Just in time for Christmas!