This month saw loads more zooming, principally because Michael Clarke has moved to Devon. No more popping over to Kings Heath for an hour or so and a coffee! Instead, I went to Devon for three days and we pretty much finished all the recordings. 

I also recorded a podcast for Bill Laybourne’s FIELDWORKS 


show on Black Country Radio Extra. This is a real incidental bonus for the project: another assessment point, and a new audience. It’s basically an interview about me, and the project. A good one for the archive, thanks Bill!


The Drawing Songs exhibition will open in the last week of October so much of the month is spent preparing the gallery, getting work framed and mounted, getting the lyrics book printed, and the cd duplicated. All the publicity and marketing shifts up a gear and I start to feel excited, but also a little relieved that it will be finished soon. The year since getting the funds in September last year has been very focussed, busy, and absolutely wonderful, but also in places rather exhausting.

One of the people I have met through the Discussion Festival is dancer Mel Simpson… who combines dancing with drawing, so she, Bill and I feel there might be some mileage in exploring some sort of collaboration. We have a chat, but decide to wait until 2022 so we can concentrate on it properly. I don’t have the brain space at the moment.

The exhibition goes well, is well attended and very well received. I do a live performance of six of the songs with Michael Clarke (after three hours’ rehearsal! Eeeeek!); a live drawing to sound session with Bill, equally well received but a very different experience for the performers and the audience. 


At one of the gigs I attended earlier in the year I was introduced to Wayne Moseley, a really genuine music lover with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of all sorts of music. He is a DJ for a couple of radio stations. We got to talking about all sorts of things art and music related and he also knows Michael, so turned up at Drawing Songs for the gig, and buys the CD. This lovely man then plays one of my songs 



on Big City Radio in Birmingham, on Hive Radio UK in Manchester, and Smile Radio Online. The audience figures on my ACE evaluation will be at least double the predicted number!

December started with me tidying up the studio for an open weekend. It wasn’t hugely busy, but some lovely people came, chatted, ate cake, and bought some work. 

The Sitting Room (trio, not enough room for a five-piece band) had an appearance on Black Country Radio to celebrate the launch of our second EP “Sitting Room Only”, singing live on the radio is a weird and wonderful thing, a bit nerve-wracking, but fun.




Then I shut down the studio really, in need of a break, and with a desire to celebrate our first Christmas in our new home in style, hoping all the time that we would be allowed to.

It has been wonderful! All my family around me, all tested and safe and well thank goodness. I’ve waved off one son and daughter-in-law this morning… the younger son still here.

I think there’s some cheese left in the fridge…

Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading xxx

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Michael Clarke managed to come to work with me in my studio, we sorted out a few things that we could only do when in the same room, recorded a few bits and pieces, and made a big list of things to then follow up when we were on our own, to post backwards and forwards. The need to work remotely has meant a lot of organisation rather than relying on being able to do it “next time”.

I started recording extra voices for the last chorus of the song BUTTONS.


 A couple of people went to Mike’s studio in Kings Heath, A couple recorded themselves and sent it in to us. But what was really lovely was being able to get Kathryn Marsh, Danielle Cawdell, Carly Buntin and Alice Thomas (yes, related, my daughter-in-law) into my studio to record them. Of course we took the opportunity to catch up, play, and drink tea too. I’ve missed this. 

(Gracie Shaw and heather wastie recorded themselves, Karen swan visited MC in Kings Heath)

I also welcomed Bill Laybourne to the studio to talk about how he might be able to collaborate on some of the sound works for the project. 

Then towards the end of the month Ed Isaacs and Steve Evans visited. They have been so encouraging and supportive of my work over the last few years. They nominated and seconded me for the Candidates Exhibition for the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, so they came over to look at my work to help me choose which pieces to submit. There was much discussion about whether I should submit a sound piece, but then felt that it would not represent my work, particularly in the middle of an ACE funded project if I DIDN’T submit a sound piece. It was a bit of a risk perhaps, but one that had to be taken. I was the first candidate in the Society’s 200 year history to submit a piece of music. It felt like a responsibility, but something I needed to do.


June saw the opening up of the music world and my band co-writers Andy Jenkins and Ian Sutherland returned to my studio for rehearsals, and we looked at several songs we had written remotely over the previous year and a bit, while isolated. They are good songs, they are developing nicely and will sit happily amongst the existing set we think. Steve and Ed invited me to take part in a small crit group they hold, alongside fellow RBSA member Linda Neville. It’s always good to present work to new eyes, and this was also a good way to assess the project’s progress.


During the very first lockdown, I started an online Facebook group of artists who draw, in order to provide a bit of support, some stimulation to keep working and a forum for conversation about drawing, and a place to post the things that inspired us. This group really took off, and I was delighted when many of the group signed up for an exhibition once we were allowed to hold one at General Office. Around 20 artists from across the UK, and also from the USA and Sweden took part too. It was so great to see many of them in real life and thank them for keeping me focussed.

The Candidates Exhibition went up at RBSA, including my five drawings and one song: 



Stuart, Kate and I had been talking about the blog writing and had decided to ask each other a few questions, to compare our thoughts and approach to blogging. These questions were taken up and published by a-n.co.uk news. We also hosted a table on Discussion Festival to further discuss the long term blog in relation to the more immediate forms provided by the likes of Instagram. It was an interesting evening!

The RBSA Candidates show ended, and I was informed my application had been successful! So excited to be an Associate member of this prestigious and historical society of artists. To do so as a “groundbreaking” sound artist made it doubly thrilling!


The Sitting Room (or at least the trio of Ian, Andy and I) have started gigging… a small set in a local venue, and a longer, double set at an event in the local park. Small beginnings, but it does feel great to be singing live again. I also have been to a couple of gigs myself, and it feels warm and welcome to be hearing live music. Audiences are so appreciative that the art has returned. It’s been emotional.

I managed to spend a bit more time in Michael’s studio too… things are coming together slowly remotely, then take a big leap of progress when we can get together. I am feeling confident at this point that the work will be done, and it will be good! We recorded a really picky and particular vocal for 



It’s a really tricky one to sing, and required accuracy and an attention to detail that Mike is famed for. 

At the beginning of August I hire the gallery space for a week, staple a huge length of paper round three of the walls with the idea that I will draw to music on a large scale. I invite in a few musicians, including Andy Jenkins from the band, and Robert Lane, who is not just a musician, but an actor and improvisor too… I thought his input would be interesting, and it was.

But the big deal game changer was Bill Laybourne. He came in for a whole day, with a packed lunch and so much gear! He set it all up and we had such a fun day, making weird and wonderful sounds and doing weird and wonderful drawings. It was while doing this I had the idea to commission Bill to do a live drawing sound piece which we would do live, with an audience, then I would use recordings for future Drawing Songs workshops.



We moved house, so the month was taken up with sorting, packing, signing, and taking boxes and bags of stuff to the studio “for now, to keep it safe”… ending up on the top shelves, still waiting for me to deal with! (I still haven’t)

It’s been a busy year, focussing almost totally on the Drawing Songs project.


In amongst it all has been covid testings, vaccinations, staying in, working from home, working outdoors… it made things more difficult, but I still got things done.


Looking back at my diary February seemed to be the month of zooming. After moving house, I needed to refocus on the project. So I had mentoring sessions with Sarah Goudie, chats about the music with Michael Clarke, about the project photography and video with Laura Rhodes.  I also was well supported by my a-n blog writing peers Kate Murdoch and Stuart Mayes, and we started talking about long term/long form blogging, as my tenth blogging anniversary approached.


I had my 60th birthday. None of the planned celebrations could happen. I think I had a bit of a slump. But I was kept going by the prospect of the half-way point online show for Drawing Songs, hosted by Glitterball Showroom in Sweden. So chuffed to be asked to be the inaugural online exhibition. It was a great way to assess how things were progressing, I uploaded a few songs in progress, and several drawings… a really good milestone… thank you Stuart!




The Drawn In exhibition was launched, and I hosted a table on The Discussion Festival to discuss it. My table was well attended, and much conversation about mixing up the media and having a broad practice.

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It’s Boxing Day, early morning and I’m the only one up. Insomnia strikes less often than it used to, but when it does it is always when I could do with a good night’s sleep.

I feel I need to acknowledge my good fortune in having all my family around me this year, that Christmas has felt like a real celebration not just of the day but of the circumstances. We are together, and we are well. I know other families have not been so lucky.

It’s been a good year, and with the turkey leftovers still in the fridge, and many chocolates left uneaten, I find myself contemplating what to do next. Weirdly I feel the need to draw from observation.  It is a thing I have always done, and the abstractions I draw I think betray this history. But I’ve not really done any for at least a year. I did a little at the start of the very first lockdown in 2020, but that was for different purposes I think. This time I feel it as research. I want to draw twigs and lichen… so today… I think we will all have a wander up to the park to blow away yesterday’s cobwebs… and I will take a bag in my pocket to collect a few things.


December Days

December is always the month where we spend a little time looking backwards to look forwards isn’t it?

This year is made doubly so as I look back at Drawing Songs for my own sake and for the sake of the Arts Council Evaluation form. That is a more formal approach that compares what I proposed to do against what I actually did. Fairly straightforward really.

But in terms of doing it for my own sake, I am looking towards the reactions of my audiences. The drawings are more predictable… I get regular feedback for them, as they appear on social media and are easy to respond to immediately. 

The music however, takes a bit more effort for people to access, a few more clicks, in the right environment, possibly with extra equipment such as headphones. It makes me feel more exposed and vulnerable as most of that making goes along behind closed doors until it’s done – although there have been a few times when I have released a few tastes, that have had positive responses – the release of a whole body of work, 12 songs all in one go, one album’s worth – is a different matter. But people are definitely listening!

I have collected responses, and have been lucky that those who thought negative thoughts didn’t feel the need to express them (to me)!

Here are a few edited highlights:

“Drawing Songs is an intimate collection, embraced by soundscapes”

“interesting, emotive lyrics and atmospheric soundscapes. Plenty of earworms here!”

“evocative and delicate and warm.”


“standout vocal performance”

“really interesting songwriting and lovely production”

“the lyrics engaged me immediately and I enjoyed the chord sequences and the way it goes on a bit of a journey”

 “a nice eerie feel to it”

“music that’s patient and takes its time”

“lovely chords when they hit, and such a direct lyric and emotion”

“Arresting space”

“Beautifully disturbing soundscape that emerges and re-emerges”

“This is stunning … Beautiful strong lyrics and production”

“inspired lyrics …Love the soundscape too”

“This is remarkable work”


These comments have come from people I admire and respect, not all of them people who love me and feel obliged, although a couple are! Lovely words thank you xx

So I feel satisfied that these songs have hit their mark, as songs, not just as an accompaniment to the drawings. It is important to me that this is the case, that I have a Venn diagram of work and audience.


Some people I know have only looked at the drawings, some have only listened to the songs, but I do have a slowly growing audience of curious people who like to experience both at the same time. As the work was made, so it is starting to be viewed/heard. That feels great, it is what I wanted to happen, and I’m hugely grateful that it is happening.

I have only a few of the limited edition CDs and lyric book packs left. I intend to publish a second edition later, in 2022, to coincide with the digital release of the songs… probably with another installation of the exhibition too.