I’ve had a few days to rest and reflect on the exhibition preview and the launch gig.

The preview was the biggest I’ve ever been to. And monumentally bigger than any art event I’ve ever been part of. I was glad to be there and it was important I was there and felt part of it. Surrounded by it.

It was crowded though, and hot. Two of my least favourite conditions. It was at times claustrophobic – even in the huge gallery space. I swallowed down a couple of impulses to bolt. It was challenging. It was lovely though to see my friends there, my peers, and to feel part of this, and feel that I belonged… for fleeting moments at least. I do feel the work is right on the wall. But I still feel a little uncomfortable in this environment… a little shy… I talk to the people a know and I sip my apple juice and check out routes to the exits. This isn’t the place where I am socially comfortable… I feel a bit inept.

I had said I would stay to hear speeches and then leave for my next engagement, only to discover I had missed them completely because there was no calling together, no amplification. I was not in the right place at the right time at all. I had been excluded by circumstance. So, slightly disappointed but basically feeling that I’d been put in my place and that such speeches were not for the likes of me anyway… I left under a cloud of imposter syndrome and made my way outside into fresh air and headed over to the other side of Birmingham.

Still hobbling a bit, with the aid of a stick I have sworn to myself is temporary, I was concerned about parking close by. As we drove down the high street, I spotted the venue on the right, just as a car pulled out of a parking space on the left. My heart beat settled a little, and we arrived just in time to see the end of the first half, and to get a drink. In a much smaller group I felt comforted and loved. I had time to catch my breath, get comfortable and chat during the interval. I was physically and metaphorically hugged.

We did the best set I think we’ve done for ages. It was well received, I was relaxed, in control, and in the words of Elliot Smith

“In the place where I make no mistakes*

in the place where I have what it takes,”

* apart from forgetting the words occasionally, but I’m getting better at it, and nobody seems to mind that much



I’ve got myself going again… slowly… the bruises are fading.

I’ve managed to get back up the stairs to the studio, and had a day with a friend who showed me how to bind my old chopped up drawings into books. So since then I have just been folding and stitching. Because most of the hard work had been done, unrolling and flattening and chopping, I could sit at it and go at my own slow pace once I had been reminded what to do. There’s something quite satisfying turning a load of rolls of paper with old drawings on into a pile of books. The rolled up drawings had done their job and were taking up space, but offering nothing. By slicing them up and making them into books they take up less space, look attractive, and have something to offer; new surfaces to write on or draw into. I am making them into 8” squares, so they make a chunky stack on my shelf. The space I have now gained… and will continue to gain as I work through the pile… is enabling me to see the current work more clearly. I no longer feel like I am working in a glorified cupboard.


Making these books is also a useful cul-de-sac of activity. It needs to be done, is a worthy use of my time, and while I do it I can think about “what next?”

I think I am still consolidating and resting after Drawing Songs to be honest. I don’t think I could ever go from one funded project to the next without this period in between to gather myself, reflect, rest, play…

Much has been achieved over the last couple of years, quietly and slowly… or noisily I suppose!

(I’ve come back in to edit…
I do feel a professional responsibility, after a big project, to capitalise on all the opportunities that arise because of it. I follow up the new contacts, and say yes to things, because in about six months everyone will have forgotten and it might be too late. But if I follow up now, then I can do so again in a few months when I have more energy… and at least people won’t think I’ve been rude, ignored them or whatever…)

This week I have had the opportunity to be a guest on a local radio station, choosing my 7 favourite songs, a little bit, but not quite, like Desert Island Discs… It was really good fun to just talk about my favourite music, why I like it and how it has influenced my own work. Thanks to Mark “Busby” Burrows and James Toft for inviting me and being such kind and generous hosts.

My frantic dash between art and music happens on Thursday evening: 6-7:30 at The New Art Gallery Walsall to see my work hung in the WM Open (it’s on till September)… then zoom over to Moseley (35 mins on a good day on M6/A38M) for the Sitting Room launch gig. Both events deserve an evening of their own, but due to my own stupidity I didn’t have the PV date in my diary when booking the gig.

What’s really great though is I do feel I am increasing my audience. Both for art and music, and the bit in the overlapping Venn diagram is getting bigger, and now people that know my music work also know about the art, and my art audience also know about the music. There have been little spikes in traffic to my website after each event, which is gratifying.

I can’t really think much beyond Thursday at the moment, but once we get to Friday, I feel in need of a large piece of paper, and a few coloured pens to work out the map of where I am and where I am going next.



I’ve got a list of things as long as my arm to do in the studio. But I have stopped. Until today, haven’t even been able to think much about it.

Eleven days ago I fell over. My previous post was almost finished, so I managed to complete and post that, but that’s been it really. And I have so much to do this month!

I was walking out from a gig, loaded up with gear, and I failed to notice a small step down, so the ground wasn’t where I expected it to be, and I took a dive. There has been horrendous amounts of bruising, shock, (relief it wasn’t worse) and a general shook-up-ness that just weighed me down, and left me feeling sorry for myself. My knees are in a bad enough state as they are, so landing on the worst one didn’t help. The physical was really bad, but I have found the mental aspect of it really rather heavy. I have taken a real knock to my confidence, and examine the floor in minute detail wherever I walk. I shall develop a stoop no doubt if I’m not careful.

I have got so much work to do… the main things being to prepare for a book-making day with friends, which requires me to have a clean clear studio, and a large amount of old drawings cut to size and flattened ready for Tuesday. I need to go junk shop trawling to find a sort of frame or box to assemble some of my wrapped twigs in, ready for the RBSA members and Associates exhibition. 

I have also been told I have been selected for the West Midlands Open at New Art Gallery Walsall. The work is already framed and delivered, but to my dismay I discovered the preview event is on the same night as the band’s CD launch… so, with the support of my lovely band mates, I am able to do both! They will do my sound check so that I can be in Walsall early evening, then I shall hot-foot it from there to Moseley in time to sing later in the evening (warming up as I drive) Of course, I am hoping I will be able to drive, hoping that I will HAVE the drive! If not I’ll drag my husband to Walsall so he can escort me! (Art events are not his favourite thing).

I have some writing and sound work to do, both for the Radio Public project, and for my retreat/residential songwriting week in July. 

Anyway… there are other things but they’re not really relevant, as what I wanted to write about was the complete stop. I just couldn’t think straight, and it was a bit scary. All I could think about was the pain, and how to get from one room to the other, and I started worrying about how to get up the stairs for bed from about 6pm. No room for art, and I didn’t care. It was only really over yesterday and today that I have gently started to think about it again. And now I am stressing about getting things done in time. I’ve wasted nearly two weeks and I have nothing to show for it. 

I know it is not long, but I don’t like the feeling. I know people who have had a “stop” for much longer than that, in some cases for years! Thankfully it has come back, but they too have the worry about wasted time, but until the urge returns, there’s not a lot you can do about it. And more to the point, you don’t care. When there is extreme pain, stress and worry, your creativity seems to vanish. Just at the point when one might think it was most needed. 

And then, gradually, it comes back (If you are reading this and you have stopped, I hope you start again soon). I am often aware of how my own brain works, but I haven’t felt this before. It did scare me, because this is who I am. When I am in the midst of creativity it feels invincible, strong, a force of nature. But it turns out it is as fragile as my body. 

Or maybe it just hides until it is safe to come out again?

This afternoon I have sat in the sunshine and wrapped a few twigs. A gentle, caring, repetitive activity… occupational therapy perhaps?


I’m still reading Tim Ingold’s Correspondences.

Today I am reading The Mountaineer’s Lament. In which the mountaineer sees all the peaks as conquered, so there is nothing left to explore. Whereas he says the walkers and artists see it differently. Their mountain is not a thing to be conquered, ticked off a list and then moved on from. The mountain is to be explored and inhabited and there are different discoveries to be made every day, hour, minute, second. Heraclitus is alleged to have said that you cannot tread twice into the same river. Cannot the same be said of the mountain? The mountaineer might say this face has been climbed, so there’s no point in doing it again. But no day is the same as the one before. The weather is different from hour to hour. The condition of my joints is different now to the last time I climbed. So can we say that the mountain is like the river? Every time is a different experience, and my experience of it is different to yours.

Stuart Mayes  and I had a wonderful 3 hour zoom conversation this week, in which we both sat sewing. I can recommend this, rather than the thing where we stare into each other’s faces intently. It made for a more relaxed morning, similar to if we had been in the same room, or coffee shop, where it is never the done thing to stare at someone’s face for so long. That is exhausting! Our chat turned to how we (he and I certainly, and I’m sure other artists too) churn over the same problem, topic, area of expertise… mountain? I was talking about how I had done a studio talk in which I had explored my shifting practice over the last ten years, only to discover that it hadn’t really shifted much at all. 

I have been circumnavigating the same mountain, and that actually, in ten years I have spiralled around, to find myself looking at the same view. Except the weather has changed, the ground beneath me is a different terrain, the people around me are different…

I find myself again looking at children. Ten years ago I was looking at how they fail to develop so well if over-protected. That way we create scared and vulnerable children, who develop into scared and vulnerable adults. In recent weeks I find myself considering a set of statistics – see blog post from April 1st: 760 children 

Again I am looking at how we have failed our children. I look at the vulnerability, the fragility, of a child malnourished and cold. I fume at the injustice, am driven to make work about it, while acknowledging the endeavour is probably futile, and in ten years time, once I have circumnavigated the mountain, I might be looking down at the same thing again, from a slightly shifted perspective. This mountain will never be conquered, certainly not in my lifetime.

But there is a satisfaction in inhabiting the mountain, rather than ticking it off as “done”. I have a hope that one of these days I might see a glimpse of something different, from a familiar but slightly different angle, that might show me something I haven’t seen before. It is that that keeps me scratting about in the soil and picking up twigs and drawing the same things over and over again, with a different pen, a different colour ink, on different paper. Or I stitch another stitch, similar to the one before, on a different fabric with a slightly different thread, just in case this time something useful is revealed.

As I spiral up this mountain, actually, possibly around/down/over/along/through… I wonder about the connections I can make to shed light on what I do. I can work with other people, not just artists and musicians, and I can keep shifting my perspective. The knowledge gained is important in itself, for its own sake. For my sake.The wandering around gives me the opportunity to make those connections. Not like the mountaineer hammering spikes into the rock to hang ropes from to scale to the top as quickly as possible, but to deepen my understanding of it. 

I wonder if my presence changes the mountain?

Probably not.