Images from studio installation of ‘Small‘; photo collage mounted on A3 Board.

In my current practice, I wanted to present subjective work that engaged with my own unconscious voice rather than art for art’s sake.   

My childhood was full of fairy tales and woodland magic thanks to bedtime stories and encouraged imaginative play, but moments of light must find balance with darker times in order to shine and chaos, fear, and transience also have their place in my memories. 

Among my late Mother’s effects I found a sheaf of 70s photographs depicting my childhood years and I was struck by the contrast of the seemingly happy-go-lucky situations against the facial expressions and all that I knew to be going on behind the scenes.  By dissolving these images through enlargement and colour filters,  I considered how memories become distorted and gain more clarity through aging and seeing them through different eyes.  

Using meditative mark-making, I layered these enlarged images with text and illustration with the aim of describing how they relate to the woman I am today.   Part of this mark-making was made using the elemental energy of fumage to create a visual language for the invisible voice of my inner child through the free movement of the flame.

Although the process itself I found quite meditative, I had not prepared for the emotion of sharing these works with my peers.  Although I sought to produce something that was authentic to my spirit and inner voice, it is one thing to produce it for yourself and quite another to expose these raw wounds to the fresh air and scrutiny of the world.   A group crit within the studio was enough to make me realise these were not works I would be sharing in a public gallery – more disguise will be needed before I can take that step.    



Image source; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmond_de_Belamy

Obvious (collective)


Male portrait

70 cm × 70 cm (27.5 in × 27.5 in




My social media this week has been awash with AI Generated art, causing some caustic comments from those indignant at having taken years to hone a physical skill that is copied at the touch of a button.

AI uses algorithms based on a vast database of human art which is then analysed and used to generate a unique image from random prompt words.  As more and more images are created the AI learns and improves, creating art that fetches eye-watering prices such as the famous AI Portrait ‘Edmond de Belamy’ that sold at Christie’s for an impressive USD 432000.

While I can understand the controversy surrounding such work, for me it seems the logical next step of human art evolution.  I can imagine when the first photographs were catagorised as art and began fetching prices above those of paintings, there were similar voices questioning whether this devalued years of training in oils.  Now however photography, video, sound, and procreate are all accepted as valid media in the art world, with recognition of the human skill and concept behind such work.   Perhaps that is part of the problem, the human concept and skill behind AI may be less immediately obvious, however, it was human hands that have taken generations to develop the coding and programming for the software.   Just as it was human hands that created the many images of artwork that the program used to evolve its algorithms.

Just as the camera did before it, AI widens the audience to art and allows us to explore new media and styles.  Ultimately, as with all art, it is dependent on the subjective response of the viewer.  Some people may be inspired only by brush strokes encapturing a moment of emotion, for others the wonder comes from the advancement of technology, human evolution and the awe this inspires.  Either is valid, and either is worth whatever someone wants to pay for it.

Just as art has evolved from the first red hands on cave walls to plastic acrylics so it will continue to do so.  With an ever-growing population, there is surely room for all?


Last week I was invited to experiment with a pop-up gallery space in the University’s fine art studios.  With my brain full of dissertation research I used the gem of an idea for tapping into the universal creative energies to create a pseudo-seance experience.  Granted the white walls and open space of the room did not give the total experience but as a basic initial exploration, it was an interesting one.

I prepared the entrance of the space with two veils through which the participant had to pass to enter the area.   Black lace gave a nod towards Victorian seances, as did the pencil portrait of Hilma AF Klint placed within an authentic Victorian frame on the desk inside.  The veils were representative of the High Priestess tarot archetype – the idea of going ‘beyond the veil’ in order to reach the spiritual /higher or deeper plane, either subjectively or objectively depending on your view.

After crossing through the veils the participant encountered two empty chairs – representative of those no longer with us and aiming to give the idea of an absent audience, sheets of paper, drawing materials including children’s wax crayons (a nod to the inner child), ink, and coloured pencils in primary colours (considering Klint’s and Houghton’s theory of the significance of colour representation in mediumistic art).  Alongside this was a table offering various tools to tap into the spiritual plane – namely a spirit box and headphones, a scrying mirror, and a planchette, along with basic instructions for their use.

Participants were invited to use these tools in making unconscious or conscious choices in mark-making on the paper provided.

The take up on the experiment was a little sparse, but the duration of the lab was short and there was little promotion other than posters on the entrance to the studio so that is to be expected.

The imagery created by the few participants is largely representational and I was quite surprised by this.  The drawings are created with a narrative that a potential viewer can interpret rather than abstract movements, which would indicate that this was not an immersive experience for the participants.  If you look at the automatic drawings/writings of artists such as Georgiana Houghton the marks feel much more unconsciously dictated, aiming for no clear representation.  They are simply impulsive movements.

I wonder if by providing more of a sensory deprivation experience, where participants had no harsh lights, outside commotions, and others wandering past, the results would be different?  I also wonder how much it depends on the sentimentalities of the person at the desk and their level of cynicism.

Interestingly, nearly everybody went for black ink rather than using colour, and the childish crayons were avoided altogether.    Following the herd perhaps?

The thing that most caught my attention however was the group crit at the end of the pop-up.  Upon entering the room the group of students all avoided sitting in the two empty chairs, choosing instead to lean on the wall or stand.   Esoteric, occultist ideas were staged on the table in the form of the planchette etc and this seemed to transfer to the chairs -as was my original intention.  Who exactly were the group leaving these chairs for?  Or did they perhaps wonder if someone may already be sitting in them……………….




Striping all my research into Surrealism and the spiritual in art back to it’s fundamentals and combining it with my connection to the Tarot, I am left with the four elements; Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

For reasons I have yet to investigate in any depth I am currently most drawn to the element of fire.

There is something cathartic about releasing authorship of the work to the will of the element and my own unconscious energy in the movement of my limbs to facilitate it.  A release of control, a moment on the precipice of moving too close and watching the whole page float up in ash and flames, the magical emergence of unknown imagery and visual triggers in the marks of the soot.

Does this image come from me, from the elemental energies of the universe, from the hand of spirit, or just from the pure chance of all these things coming together?  What is to be read in the visual outcome?  Ultimately the narrative can only ever be that of the subjective viewer and the power of it dependent on their own system of triggers and beliefs.


This week I was privileged to attend an online lecture from the very knowledgeable Richard Shillitoe in conjunction with The College of Psychic Studies on the symbolistic work of visionary artist Ithell Colquhoun.

Having a fascination

with the art of Tarot and currently attempting to write a Dissertation on the place of the Spiritual in art practice Ithell Colquhoun is a name that I have come across several times in my recent research.  Below is an extract from my dissertation notes;

The work of Colquhoun visualises the idea of transformation, although her work went beyond the surrealist call to artists to transform the world to the alchemists’ transformation of matter and the subconscious urge to transform the self.

For Colquhoun intuitive responses had primacy but the source could be external as well as internal. In Scylla we see a surrealist interpretation of the artist’s legs whilst laying in the bath, rearing as rocky pillars from the landscape of the water, identifying herself with the rocks and iterating the close relationship between the female form and Mother Earth and the universal connection between all living beings.

I also see in Scylla an interpretation of the two towers as depicted in the Tarot’s High Priestess and Hierophant.  A symbol of duality, passive and aggressive, yin and yang, and of course femininity.

Like Freud and Breton, Colquhoun believed in the power of dreams to access the unconscious mind; indeed, her own dream diaries influenced many of her works, however like Jung she also attributed this inspiration to shared ancestral memories. Messages from a higher source and memories of astral travel were also inspirations for Colquhoun.

Here’s hoping I can tap into my own unconscious inspirations to influence my future practice.


Ithell Colquhoun 1938 Scylla Oil on board 91.4 × 61 cm

Untitled Oil on Board 42 x 24 cm