Saturday, 2 November 2019

Haarlem winter exhibition

All welcome!

workhouse graffiti

There is one spot in The Workhouse, Southwell with graffiti. It's in the outside space for men, a design flaw that was noted at the time and led to a redesign of layout for subsequent workhouses. In this tiny space hidden from the masters window, men have scored lines that could be a record of days passing, what looks like a game and two sundials. In this tiny space these men have left their mark, a record of their lives and presence. They took a great risk in doing this but the lines are not rushed and care is obvious.

Friday, 1 November 2019

the workshouse, southwell

Last Sunday I visited The Workhouse, Southwell, a National Trust property in Nottinghamshire. This particular workhouse, though harsh from the vantage point of today was well organised & considerate towards those under its roof, providing hot meals, medical care, immunisation & an education for its children.  

Much time & money has been invested in the visitor experience on the 1st & 2nd floors but I found myself drawn to the upper floor, encountering breathing space after information overload. Each layer of paint held a story, sunlight traced time across walls, the floors revealed rows of bed sized shadows: the past in the present, ripe with my projections and romanticism. I thought about the people who slept in these rooms but they are were impossible to conjure from the safety of today.  

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

clean slate

As I walked through St Pancras and Islington Cemetery my eye was caught by the erosion and resulting texture of these now blank headstones. Running left to right across the surface, harder strands of rock gave the effect of fluttering draped organza. 

Over a century of weathering has done to these gravestones what I achieve with knitting in Close Knit: A body of work. The interred are concealed, any clues withheld. What remains is a shaped slab of memorial stone, a presence, a solid from.      

This natural effect reminded me of Victorian carved drapery and I marvel at the trick of transforming stone to gauze. Gauze led me to think about Halloween drawing near, when the veil between the worlds becomes thin.


I have a soft spot for these aged floral tributes, showing their guts in some cases, fading, becoming brittle. As I walked to mum's grave to give her a birthday spruce up I searched for MUM on others graves. Plastic font, plastic flowers endure, real, live flowers die, their stems cast in pierced green oasis - showing that once their were flowers, once upon a time their were flowers.  

row upon row

These paths invite, eyes led to their vanishing point. The last people to visit these graves are long gone, they, their interred anonymous. What lush green, what growth! Years marked by ivy, bramble and branch. 

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.