Wednesday, 28 August 2019

q club

Spent the last two Fridays at Derby QUAD facilitating workshops with the wonderful Q Club participants. We made two colour screen prints onto book bags & created wire sculptures & photographed them in the gallery & public spaces at QUAD. Both activities were sparked by Megan Broadmeadow's exhibition SEEK PRAY ADVANCE.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

book botany

I've begun a project I'm calling book botany, inspired by forgotten flora found in second hand books. Around twenty years ago I discovered a collection of four leaf clovers in a book bought from Scarthin Books of Cromford, Derbyshire. Delighted with my find, I left the clover between the pages, knowing it was there, safe keeping. 

Recently, I bought a book in a Matlock charity shop and discovered a beautiful ivy leaf pressed between its pages. My thoughts returned to the clover and an idea formed to bring these precious nothings into the light and lavish attention upon them while painstakingly drawing & painting them. When painted I'll return these forgotten keepsakes to the dark of their book...

There was a moment once, when someone picked and kept part of a plant, placing it within the pages of a book. A memento, a good day, a nice place... Everyday, fleeting, a human story.

I'm looking for more to paint, I'd like to build a collection of forgotten flora. 

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

summer lodge 10 - carry/hold

I've carried these reels of thread around with me since 2003, they were bought in a box of odds and ends from the Constance Howard collection during my MA at Goldsmiths. While packing my bag for Summer Lodge at Nottingham Trent University I gathered the rust/blood ones from the box - just in case

Like many, I hold the beginnings of ideas/unresolved work/instinctual work as thoughts and objects. Summer Lodge provided the perfect opportunity to sit with this (reels and button handkerchiefs in particular) and allow space for it to speak.

Rust was my mum's favourite colour. I've yet to meet another for whom this is the case and I'll be delighted when I do. The eight reels became one thread, and after a painstaking and frustrating two and a half days I worked out how to knit them together to form an umbilical type cord. The process took most of the Summer Lodge and surprised me, I'd not planned to make a cord, yet here it was forming and becoming in my hands. 

The work was emotionally painful and I've not yet processed it. I thought about the women before me who birthed daughters and then I, childless, being the last of the line. The women before me are Doreen, Ada and Hannah and I plan to trace back the mother of Hannah and beyond so I have eight names, including my own. As I knitted another work appeared in my head, a series of eight connected dress forms in red organza - an idea to carry for a while.

I suspended a handkerchief and let it surprise me each morning. I've held the idea for many years of stitching buttons to a bedsheet and this was a maquette of that. I wonder at the weight of a bedsheet, of how it would feel to lie under, could it be cool and comforting? Might it suffocate? Unprompted, Milly, one of the wonderful studio assistants lay under the handkerchief and looked up at the buttons, remarking on how beautiful some of them were. 

Summer Lodge provided a space in which new work formed, ideas emerged and old ones were reaffirmed. The support and positivity from particular studio assistants and participating artists was also most welcome. 

Friday, 5 July 2019

#Five2Watch: Sculpture

Had a lovely email this morning from axisweb, letting me know I've been selected for this weeks Five2Watch: Sculpture.

summer lodge 10

Summer Lodge 10 is go!

My first lodge is proving to be a surprising and opening experience. Looking forward to gathering tomorrow for the Symposium - Diagonal practice.

 Work in progress - possibly titled What we had in common

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

aa2a exhibition - in common

My exhibition space: Homesick, showing with Lubna Din, Maud Haya-Baviera & Pippa Pixley under the group title, In Common at Markeaton Street, University of Derby from 1st July to 16th August 2019.

In Common is a culmination of the 2018/2019 AA2A artist residency programme at the University of Derby. The AA2A (artists access to art colleges) is a national programme funded by Arts Council England & participating universities.  

Thursday, 20 June 2019


Next week I'll be hanging my exhibition Homesick, at The University of Derby, alongside Lubna Din, Maud Haya-Baviera & Pippa Pixley. The exhibition is a culmination of the (aa2a) Artists Access to Art Collages 2019 residency.  

I'll be showing a series of linocut prints, a hand embroidered pillowcase & this series of watercolours, balanced on old fashioned knick-knack shelving. 

 12 watercolour paintings of found pottery shards & pressed flowers

 You're not broken you're grieving (detail) 
Drawing pencil, watercolour on paper, 2019

Drawing pencil, watercolour on paper, 2019

Friday, 31 May 2019

first month at haarlem artspace

The 1st of May was my official first day as a studio holder at Haarlem Artspace in Wirksworth. I'm sharing studio 15. Haarlem Artspace is at a point of growth and transformation - expanding into the ground floor as gallery, communal kitchen and studio spaces and rearranging/rejigging the second and third floors, with new creatives joining existing Haarlem artists. Along with a palpable unease around such changes, there's also an expansive, outward and welcoming energy, of invitation, of question - who are we? What do we stand for? What could we conjure within the walls, beyond these walls?

Haarlem Mill is a building with presence. It was built by Richard Arkwright in 1780 and was the first steam engine powered cotton mill in the world. Haarlem sits in beautiful surroundings, green space footsteps from the door and Wirksworth, a short walk away is an attractive ex-mining town, with shops, cafes and a cinema. I get the bus to the studio and watch the landscape roll by, during the 20 minute trip the realisation that I live here creeps into me again and again... I've not quite landed yet, having moved from London nine months ago. 

A week after moving into the studio Haarlem hosted 'Collectivism', a four-day residency and one-day Resilience through Collectivism Conference, bringing people together for an exchange of ideas on the themes of collectivism and collaboration. The residency was jointly facilitated and co-curated by artist Alice Gale-Feeny and artist and Haarlem Artspace Director Olivia Punnet.

The ground floor space was so new, having just been made useable the weekend before. It was wonderful to see the space animated and full of people, greeting each other, sharing the pick and mix breakfast on offer and beginning to create a shared space. We each introduced ourselves with an image of our work, and I loved that, connections in practice were revealed, links tentatively formed, potential given breathing space. As well as Haarlem studio holders and associate artists, there were four selected artists who'd answered a call out on Arts Jobs (Arit Emmanuela Etukudo, Hayleigh Longman, Penny Newell, Adam Moore) plus guests from Instituto Procomum from Santos, Brazil - Haarlem's partners on the British Council's Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies programme.

Memories that have lingered since the residency/conference are 'dialogue and ways of meeting staring from a fishbowl conversation format' a workshop led by Alice. Five chairs were placed in a circle within a larger circle of chairs surrounding them. People sitting in the inner chairs were invited to talk about the 'spaces they share', and people sitting on the outer, larger circle of chairs were asked to listen. 

There was an air of tension as the inner participants began the conversation. There was one empty chair in the inner circle and a number of empty chairs on the outer circle, everyone had the choice to move from a speaking chair, to a listening chair. As the discussion flowed the room became dynamic with movement, then stillness, as the group shared and listened with intent. The conversation took fascinating/unexpected directions, more so than if everyone had been allowed to speak at anytime. It also meant that at times, those on the outer circle might have a response but the opportunity to move into a speaking chair would be missed, or the conversation had moved on by the time they got there...

A highlight from the morning of the conference was the 'On Resilience' workshop with Lottie Randomly, leading to deep sharing and connection with conference participants. During the afternoon it was fascinating listening to Georgia, Marilia and Simone, directors from Instituto Procomum share the work from their hub in Santos, and their new Colaboradora project. Introducing the idea of the Commons and commoning as an institutional practice, a way of seeing, a framework.  

Haarlem Artspace created a space of care, with a variety of food and drink available during our time together, releasing the group from a mundane daily task... The indoor and outdoor spaces around the mill building provided breathing space, communal space to share informally and be together, to wander and wonder.

Such a precious gift.           
Watercolours in response to our fishbowl conversation

Thursday, 30 May 2019


On a spring walk with my sister from Matlock to Cromford we spotted broken crockery at the edges of a soil path. I've sometimes watched my sister on a beach, crouched down, contentedly searching through shells and stones for hours and we had a mini version of this on our walk. Together, fingers picking through soil we collected pottery shards - of plates, bowls, cups - domestic stuff, now broken, once precious (maybe), once whole. Blue/white patterns emerged as we gathered and I rejected brown shards, returning them to their soil resting places. At home I carefully washed the chosen shards and lay them on a paper towel to dry.

Later, in a Bakewell charity shop I saw a boxed flower press. Thinking it may be useful for lino printing I paid £2 for it. At home I unscrewed and opened up the press, revealing green blotting type paper and to my joy, layers of flowers, placed by an unknown someone.

An idea began to form of broken pottery and pressed flowers, things that were once whole, alive but now hints, shadows, suggestions of what they once were... 

I decided to paint them in watercolour. I'd always been nervous of watercolour, hearing that it was an unforgiving and difficult medium... I've found the opposite, it is forgiving (except when the first layer is too dark) and joyful to work with. Dried mixes on the pallet awaken with water, the colours blend beautifully and with my smallest brush are straightforward to work with.

I'm painting to scale, my drawing, textile design knowledge and colour mixing training kicking in... taking me back to a younger self, building on what she learnt during a HND in General Art & Design in the late 1980's - a lifetime ago.


Paintings in my studio space at Haarlem Artspace

Friday, 24 May 2019

uncle fred

Since beginning my Close Knit project in 2009 I've been searching for my Uncle Fred's burial place. Yesterday I visited his grave in East Finchley Cemetery! 

Fred was the oldest son of Frederick and Ada Furmage, there were three daughters before him, two sons after him and my mum, Doreen was the youngest. 

Fred had a mischievous twinkle in his bright blue eyes, always ready for a quip or joke. I remember him as a neat and dapper man with carefully combed dark hair. The life and soul of the party. People liked Fred.

Every now and again I'd have another try at finding Fred. In March I joined for a month and discovered a family tree by a man named Kevin which had Fred's wife, Auntie Marge on it. I emailed Kevin and hit the jackpot - he knew where the grave was!

I'll finish Close Knit: a body of work this year. I'm currently re-knitting George's yellow gravestone cosy after it got damaged, and have Henry and Fred to knit for and then Close Knit will be complete. When I began knitting in 2009 I never imagined it would be a decades work, I'll think about next steps when I've completed the knits - how to share the project? Where? With whom?   

Friday, 10 May 2019

summer lodge

I'm excited to share that I'm participating in this years Summer Lodge at Nottingham Trent University. 

For ten days each July, the Fine Art studios and workshops of Nottingham Trent University are transformed into The Summer Lodge and play host to a gathering of thirty diverse artists. It is intended as an opportunity to think through making by being able to work for a while without many of the usual constrains and distractions. It is a collective space in which to undertake experiments, pursue new ideas and allow unexpected leaps of imagination.

belper arts trail

My first arts trail went fantastically. Visitors were so positive and I enjoyed many interesting conversations about linocut, print, dry stone walling and hedge laying. I sold a good number of prints, and it's heart warming knowing my work depicting local landscape is in local homes.

Below are images of my stand, showing inspiration, linocuts and prints of various sizes and colours. If you would like any further information or wish to purchase a print, please contact me at

 Sketchbook & linocut

Boundary lino prints

 Square lino prints

 Peak Tor & Essex Hawthorn lino prints 

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

a rock and a hard place

Two and a half months of hand sewing, swearing, pricking my finger and bleeding have resulted in this beauty. Time lavishly spent on an old, much washed pillowcase. This work has a very personal story behind it... It brings to mind a postcard I have somewhere by David Shirley with the cheery message 'good luck in the strange and brutal kingdom you call home'.

a rock and a hard place

limited edition linocut series - it's all about the boundaries...

My boundary linocut series will be available for sale at the Belper Arts Trail on Sunday 5th and Monday 6th May. I'll be exhibiting at Attic Batik next to the Market Place on the Upper Trail. 

Limited edition of 25 each on either white or soft white (cream) Somerset satin 100% cotton 300gsm paper.

Dry Stone Wall/Cromford

Hawthorn Hedgerow/Bakewell 

 Dry Stone Wall/Castle Top

 Hawthorn Hedgerow/Matlock