an annual blog charting my opinions and experiences as i continue to work towards understanding myself as a person better and how this underpins my practice.  there might also be some discussing and documenting my practice too.


what is it about the coming of the new year that makes new so nervous ?  i can’t put my finger on it.

it might be that my diary has things happening in the first two weeks of the year and this year on year is an improvement.

all that’s left this year is to show you some freshly made predictions for 2018 and wish you a happy and prosperous new year.




with football matches happening all around the uk i make myself comfortable to make a reflective post about this year.

kicking off i feel a little unsure to to pass the thought to next, there have been some highlights of the year and also some low.

this time last year i wrote quite a raw post about being kind to myself.  in 2017 by about june i was being able to be kinder to myself as i was feeling happier and connected more than in the first 6 months.

something that evolved over the course of the year has been my attempt to create a forest school for men.  i think i experienced the difficulties in trying to make something for the benefit of others.  eventually the idea morphed into a more generalised well being concept that i hope to explore in 2018 with the potential for forest school for men remaining an ambition.

in february this year i spent time updating my main website to reflect where my multidiscipline practice is.  during that time i also featured on the a-n instagram feed, part of their featured bloggers of 2017.

our forest school remains popular and we’re starting to see the benefits now for those children we hoped would benefit from the process.  in july i lead my first whittling workshop at the derbyshire forest school day.  it was successful and i would welcome the opportunity to lead other workshops.  looking ahead into 2018 i want to expand my whittling skills through the practising of ideas from the three new books i have.

my summer was an amazing experience at derby museums trust while jointly covering the life long learning commitments of the museum while staff changed over.  i learnt so much through the experiences and am happy to say my facilitation of sessions has moved on through the confidence gained and experiences i had.

one of my absolute highlights of the year was being part of the team to install (newly knighted) richard long’s cornish slate ellipse at derby museum and art gallery.

the year has been a year of two halves.

the second half saw me create another tranche of the non linear film for the derby silk mill museum.  it’s nearly finished and i’m so happy with how it has evolved and how it now looks.

in the first half there had been the digital drawing machine.  starting as a bit of a public trying out of an idea it evolved into an exhibition piece at the big bang  as as part of the opening night entertainment of the finding lines exhibition at the museum and art gallery in derby.

this year has helped me realise that i need to feel part of something alongside having the time and space to play and follow my own lines of enquiry and interests.  going into 2018 i have more things in place to feel part of than i did a year ago and i think this is helping me to feel less anxious about the year rolling on.




in looking back through the images i’ve uploaded this year i feel proud and a smile forms at what i see before me.  i have to admit to you that sometimes i generate my own bad feeling for myself when i don’t actually appreciate what it is i’m doing and have done.  it’s difficult to put into words – this feeling i have.  i think the closest i might get is an analogy of the professional dart player.  they speak of playing the board, not actually following what their opponent is doing.  at times i stop playing the board and take a massive step back and look at the other players all playing their boards and being in awe of their scoring, even though we’re not in the same game.  if there’s one thing i need to tell my future self it’s keep playing your own board and be more diligent  – be inspired rather than down beat.


for my future self i ask :

how’s the mentoring of the young person progressing ?

how’s your understanding of the play process going? do you remember how you wanted to revise your knowledge of how play leads to critical thinking so you can apply that within your work within the ios and ?

what whittling practice have you done ?

how were the richard long exhibition based workshops in january 2018 ?

how will you move tranche 3 on from 2 ?

how did your interview for the learning support position go ?

what inspired by forest bathing walks have you done ?

how have you coped with steam tots in the smaller space ?

did you submit shimmering place to doc fest ?

what have you done to move your artistic practice forward ?

are your cv, linked in and website up to date ?


there’s something about this time of year that makes it difficult for me to stare productively out of the window.  what i end up doing instead is looking for a mirror to hold in front to make me view myself.

momentarily i do find the mirrors and reading parts of this years blog has made me feel sad about myself.

the early part of he year appeared to be a struggle, yet knowing i had the potential to do better.

as the year went on i made some decisions that started to positively impact on realising my potential.

bravely i look out of the window.  the scene i see is set to improve.



i sit and get myself comfortable.  above the laptop is a view into the garden, the naked strands of willow are being toyed with by the ebbing breeze.  with great excitement i edit and upload the images from last week.  i grab some tea and prepare to reflect.

the dog settles next to me and i can no longer put off the beginning of reflecting about my time in the derby museum and art gallery.

in the summer i’d been really cheeky and asked to be part of the installation of richard long’s cornish slate ellipse and thought no more of it.  the ellipse was to be part of an artist rooms show coming to derby complete with a crew from the tate.  at least that was what i was told.

in reality there was an opportunity to be a volunteer involved in the process and i grabbed it with both hands.


i sip my tea and ponder the memory of being first in the gallery, looking at the first four pieces of tape on the gallery floor and the 9 large containers of slate.  the team of four set to work to recreate the work.

the beginnings of that recreation involved aspects that were very obvious and aspects that would appear to us.

our guide from the tate had images and instructions and i loved james’s manner and gentleness, it was a pleasure to work with him.  in seeing the notes and images we all had questions and ideas about howto begin the work.

i found myself responding to the notes, images and the approach in the room.

i have to add that at the beginning of laying the slate blocks for the ellipse there was an unexplainable energy in the room.   what was it ?  i can say it was a feeling.  it wasn’t there to begin with.  it emerged.

we all worked together to begin the ellipse.  i felt we were learning from each other about the conventions as described in richard’s howto document.  i started to get how in placing the blocks we went from uninformed to informed and while informed were able to make more interesting decisions about placement of the next block.


the action of placing the slate blocks produced a feeling of rhythm and once with that rhythm the placing became easier.

working together made the whole process easier.

i loved the feeling i had when i had the rhythm.

a confidence developed in me about it was ok to go back to an area and edit it to make the visual aesthetic more pleasing and to release smaller blocks.


in total the slate weighs somewhere close to 4.5 metric tonnes.  it’s physically demanding work.  i developed a bit of a sweat.  curator jonathan spotted this while i was near the slate.  i improvised a bandana.



we all noticed how mentally draining the process was too.  part of our coping was to take time to stand back and review where we’d got to.  this standing back also helped to check over the visual aesthetic and there was great trust amongst the four of us to go back and edit to get the feeling to fit with the overall feeling.  i see now how that checking in with each other became a mutually supportive part of the process.



i went to the opening event. richard was there and said a few words.  in the wanderings that followed i noticed my fellow volunteer installer chatting with richard, even getting a selfie with him.

after chatting with colleagues from the museum i plucked up courage fuelled by their advice about what to say and went to chat with richard.  i’m glad i did.

our conversation concluded with a sincere handshake form richard and i left feeling great and toddled off to find those who’d helped me to tell them of my success.



returning to watching the willow through the window, i pause to think about the installation of cornish slate ellipse.   my experience has given me a deeper insite into the work of richard long and look forward to situations where i can draw upon this to help me in my life and practice.


the exhibition is at the derby museum and art gallery until march 4th 2018.



having persuaded the dog to let me type i turn my thoughts to creating this post in which i catch up with the last few weeks.  i glance over to the dog who has taken up her spot in the window to survey the passing world.  i can see patches of blue within light grey sky.

another long look out the window while i contemplate the post.  i’m trying to find a way in which to link back to the holiday and then reflect on the weeks since then.

for our holiday we travelled to northumberland and our week away was spent walking and taking in the stunning beaches.  i played and made and enjoyed trashy tv at dinner time.



since the holiday i’ve started voluntering again in my local park, the first day included clearing some low branches of an english oak tree and i kept a little of the wood to practice more whittling.



our forest school sessions are now being run in partial darkness and this proves to be an extra level of excitement for the children.  this year we’re starting to see child led ghost storey telling and i’m enjoying this alot



i’ve been working more at the museum and art gallery in derby.  recently i was invited to deliver a music instrument making workshop, part of the world cultures project sharing day.  i explored if a thumb piano was suitable to be made in a drop in session and after consideration and conversation concluded it was best suited to a bookable session.

for the sharing day i proposed shakers based on the shaker within the collection.  i made sure that each visitor was able to make choices about shape, decoration, filling and number of shakers they made.  this is in keeping with my on going practice of steam based activities. steam is pivotal within the silk mill museum of making project and  i’m looking forward to taking the conversations about steam and it’s implementation further.




to finish with i have some fantastic news.  last week derby museums trust achieved runner up in the heart of the community category of the east midlands heritage awards.  the award was for the silk mill museum in miniature project in which collection objects were taken into a derby hospital for patients to hold and be the the starting points of conversations.  the project was investigating if well being of the patients could be improved for the visit of the museum in miniature.  i was part of the team that created the project and delivered the sessions on site in partnership with the air arts practitioners based at the hospital.


i so wanted the project to be the overall winner.


after processing my disappointment i realise the project is an award winning project.