Monday, 25 March 2019

a rock and a hard place

When my mother died in 2017 I kept the sheets and pillowcases stored in the large drawers under her bed. These textiles felt significant at the time and are significant still. They retain the scent of her fabric conditioner and breathing it in brings tears to my eyes.

Within my AA2A placement at Derby University I'm working with my childhood memories of Mum reading fairy tales to my sister and I in bed. She joined us, sleeping with us for safety from my alcoholic and violent father. So sheets, pillowcases and storytelling hold an added complexity for me, and again lead me to notions of safety and danger. Is the dark wood dangerous? Is my home safe? 

The fairy tales I loved were written by Alison Uttley, who was born just three miles from where I live. I visited her farm birthplace last Autumn and became fascinated by the dry stone wall and hawthorn hedge boundaries around the farm. The notion of boundary and bedding became linked for me.

With this in mind I am over halfway through hand stitching a dry stone wall from Uttley's farm onto a charity shop pillowcase (I can't bring myself to use my mothers bedding yet, it's too precious). Night after night I stitch, much like the protagonists in Uttley's tales. Will it say what I wish when finished? I'll only know when it's complete

Haarlem artspace

Very excited to share that I have a studio at Haarlem Artspace. I've found Haarlem Artspace to be an incredibly welcoming place since my move to Derbyshire and have enjoyed their exhibitions, talks, workshops, monthly crits and general hospitality and support. 

Its the first studio I've been in that is warm and the plants are alive and flourishing. Bodes well!


A week or so ago I found this embroidery in a Matlock charity shop, and bought it for the princely sum of £5. It measures 10.5 x 8.5 inches and is densely packed with skilful stitch depicting flower, tree, leaf, bird, path and sky. I find it remarkable. The directional and repeated stitches remind me of the cuts I've been making in lino to suggest form and surface of dry stone wall and hawthorn hedgerow.

I opened the back of the frame hoping to find information about the maker, and discovered dated 1980's patterned kitchen roll, carefully folded as padding behind the work. I tenderly replaced this treasure, a time capsule, hidden behind stitches. 


Wednesday, 6 March 2019


My work tends towards the time consuming end of the spectrum... at times ridiculously so. Last year I completed and photographed an acid yellow 'gravestone cosy' for my Uncle George's headstone in Slough. The images were perfect.

A couple of months later my MacBook Pro expired, having not backed up these photographs were lost. The following August I relocated from London to Derbyshire, making traveling to Slough a bigger challenge. In December 2018 I took the trip, photographing the work on a sunny winter day... The sun revealed a deep crease in the knitting (having been folded during my relocation) that I just couldn't remove by pulling the knit into shape. The shadow was so obvious on a majority of the images that the trip was in vain.

This week I traveled again to Slough, having washed and gently ironed the knit. I'd checked the weather forecast daily, hoping for an evenly cloudy day and I got it! Placing the knit on the headstone my heart sank - it had grown by inches and no longer fitted the stone. It turns out you can't wash these knits!

Today I ordered five balls of acid yellow wool and will reknit the work and at some point travel to Slough and photograph for the final time... 

Audiences don't witness this side of an artists process and in my exasperation felt the need to share my frustration. This is the third knit in the series that I've re-knitted, the firsts not fitting as intended. There are many hidden hours within this work, each stitch made by hand, using the first stitch my mother taught me.

I back up once a month. Lesson learnt.  

George (crease not visible)

Tuesday, 5 March 2019


Family lore is that my maternal grandfather was buried in a communal grave. Mum was 9 years old when he died in 1945 and I wonder if she ever visited her fathers burial place, I imagine not.

My intention is that Close Knit comes to a end this year, a decade after I began hand knitting 'gravestone cosies' for my ancestors. I've been searching for the site of my grandfathers burial, wondering if there may be a distinct area, a marker. Unable to find any record and with the end of my tether fast approaching I enlisted the help of a friend who's brain works in a distinctly different way to mine - she is the most un-dyslexic person I know!

The evening of the day I asked for help an email appeared with information that led to the discovery that my grandfather had a grave! Grave 360 in area Y6 at St Pancras and Islington Cemetery. 

74 years after his death I found a forest, undulating with burials without marker or headstone. Checking the backs of the headstones framing the forest I attempted to understand the sites layout, wondering if I could get near to where grave 360 might be... It was impossible, the passing of time erasing any order.

Maybe it is appropriate that my grandfather rests in a forest, my dear forest. Canopied in green, amongst his London contemporaries.   


Sunday, 10 February 2019

derbyshire hedgelaying

This weekend I learned basic hedgelaying. We learned the Derbyshire and Midland style of laying at Carsington Water in Derbyshire. It was great working outdoors and using tools such as bill hook, axe and hand saw to pleach small trees and lay and stake a hedgerow.

This experience deepens my understanding of the local hedgerows and I wonder how this will inform my drawing and print.

 Clearing away outward facing branches

 Pleached hazel and hawthorn

 Left to right, working along the row of small trees


Staked hedge 

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

the first cut is the deepest - limited edition linocuts

It's all about the boundaries...

Since moving to Derbyshire last Autumn I've become fascinated by the dry stone wall and hawthorn hedgerows that delineate the landscape. Within my current AA2A (artists access to art colleges) residency at Derby University I'm re-exploring linocut and print as I consider these edges/boundaries and what they represent to me personally. 

My linocuts received such a positive response on social media that I decided to offer them as a limited edition... If you would like to buy either a dry stone wall or hawthorn hedgerow print please email me at 

There is a choice of paper, white gives a bright contrast to the black print, soft white is actually a pale cream colour and echos the faded paper of my childhood fairy tale book (see below).
Price per print: £40

Prints are supplied unmounted & unframed, each print is backed with cardboard & wrapped in cellophane

P&P within the UK: £6 (first class signed for)

Edition: 25 of each linocut on either white or soft white paper (please choose)

Print size: 15.2cm x 20.3cm

Paper size: 28.5cm x 37.5cm (a touch under A3)

Paper: Somerset Satin 100% cotton 300gsm

Ink: Dense black

Hand printed in Derbyshire on an 1886 Albion press

Somerset soft white (pale cream)

 Somerset white

Somerset soft white (pale cream)

 Somerset white
Alison Uttley was born in Cromford, Derbyshire in 1884. I loved this Fairy Tales book as a child and still do. I'm hoping, within my linocuts to echo the illustrations by Ann Strugnell, they had a deep effect on little Karen and set me up to see the magic and wonder within the everyday and familiar.

The Bird of Time

The Field that Didn't Wish for Company

One-Strand River

Thursday, 17 January 2019

testing testing 1 2 3...

The world of linocut is opening up to me... Was thrilled with the print quality from my first two linocuts below. I'm learning about papers, rolling out ink, inking the lino and registering the print. There are simple tricks to help with this and the t'internet provided fruitful search results - particularly Nick Morley at Linocut Boy. I'm now coveting a set of Pfeil tools plus this little beauty and will be borrowing Linocut for Artists and Designers by Nick from Derby Universities library.

I've been using such basic tools, I wonder at what could be achieved with grown up tools!

This Monday (21st Jan) I'll be in the printmaking studio at Derby University bright and early to hand print a limited edition of 25 of each lino on lovely, heavyweight Somerset satin paper. I've had a positive response on social media, so I'll see if this turns into sales. 

It's all about the boundaries...

Dry stone wall (A5)

 Hawthorn hedgerow (A5)

 1st print on newsprint

Varied papers

 1st print on newsprint

 Varied papers