Blog Archive

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Ivy Broomrape - in which I get to use the phrase "sex-aid pink".

Orobanche hederae.  Ivy Broomrape.  I assume that the "rape" bit of the name refers to its taking over the host plant.

Etymology of rape 14c: past participle of Latin rapere "seize, carry off by force, abduct". 

We found this plant on Greenwich Peninsula in June.  We went looking for it specifically (it had been spotted the year before), as I was slightly fascinated and intrigued about a plant that grew, parasitically, on ivy.  Ivy being the bane of my life.  One day I might need to be cut out of it, like Sleeping Beauty. It threatens to cover my garden, my house and is probably heading for my car!

There was fine specimen on this ivy.  Just next to where they have pulled down the former Sainsbury's. The one that won lots of design awards, but apparently is no longer fit for purpose.  But that aside, the plant was there.

It is, as I mentioned, parasitic.  There are a few Broomrapes, most of them are host specific and this one will only grow on ivy.  These parasitic plant lack chlorophyll and are therefore, lacking in colour.  They vary between sex-aid pink and pinky-cream.   Adding the description I found on the internet  "reddish purple, glandular hairy and swollen at the base" it makes them sound unspeakable.

The seeds will germinate when they are contact with the host roots.  The seed grows into the root and develops an underground tuber, from which the plant develops.  The hairs are sticky, which is thought to detract non-flying insects.  Bees are encouraged, though, for pollination.  Here is a rather  magnificent picture I took.  I think it looks quite pretty, despite my description above!

I have sketched a few of them and am hoping to make some prints of this fascinating plant.  There are many other Broomrapes, and something called Toothwort that appears in early spring, parasitic to hazel, apparently.  I'll be there next April, looking for it!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Marsh Woundwort and how I am botanically challenged.

I'm embarrassed.  I drew this plant, which grows prolifically in my garden, a couple of years ago.  I was sure it was Purple Loosestrife.  However, I visited Dungeness Rsbp reserve yesterday.  I came upon a tall purple plant that it appears is Loosestrife, and mine isn't.

I have since i.d'd it.  It is Marsh Woundwort Stachys palustris. I looked at it more carefully and realised it looked more like a member of the nettle family.

Still it has a long and illustrious history as a healer of dressing cuts and wounds.  It is also supposed to help aching joints, when made into an ointment.  Goodness knows, I have enough of it in my garden and of course, I have aching joints.   How do I make and ointment, I wonder?  Culpepper, the famous herbalist, said that Stachys will protect the liver and preserve us from witchcraft.  An all rounder then!

I feel I should find some purple loosestrife to draw now.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

More open studios. Brockley Open Studios. SE4 Saturday and Sunday 2-8

Only a month after the last open, here's another one.  This time at 97 Manor Avenue Brockley SE4. You won't miss us.... we are in the front garden.  Fingers crossed for the weather.

I have been busy in my studio, making new work, but you will have to wait for the next exhibition for that!  I only had time to finish one, which was shown at the exhibition at St Peter's Church that is running alongside the Brockley Open Studios.  I have sold it already.
This is a print made with my new gelli plate.  It is an experiment that I think has worked very well.  Storksbill and Groundsel.


The Sweet William Series.   I will be showing one of these today.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Open Studios...... A good time.

We had a great open studios last weekend.  Lots of people came and were very positive about my work and the work of the arthouse generally.  We have a rolling programme of exhibitions coming up so pop in and see the place.

For those of you who didn't make the event, you missed a good one.  We had tours around studios, to give the public a chance to talk to the artists about their work.  We had jerk chicken and music in the yard in the evening.  It was a great day and night.

The yard on the Saturday night.  Full of people, lights, music and food.  What's not to like?!  Credit to Conrad Ellam for the photograph here.

Here is a picture of my studio wall and my collection.  This is what was on offer on Saturday and Sunday last week.  I sold three monotype drawings, so I am very pleased.  The response was very positive.

 Rose drawings. Small and large.

Wild flowers and collections.

These are pictures of in and around my garden.

These are things I have collected. Some natural, some not.  Shells, fossils, stones, abandoned crockery, washed up on the shoreline.  Seeds and flower heads.  The little glass bottles contain seeds or bits of "stuff".  Some of them are filled with plastic.  I was working on a project a couple of years ago that highlighted my concern when I found out that the sea was full of plastic.  The glass bottles on the bottom left are filled with tiny micro-beads that are sold for nail fashion.  Where do these go when washed off over-decorated nails (really, why bother?) ?  Well into the sea of course.  Here, they are eaten by fish and other creatures.  Below are a couple of photos from this time.  And a link to the appropriate part of this blog.

Installation of plastic soya bottles.  I think I might start collecting these again.

These are some ink and watercolour drawings I made at this time.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Open Studios starts today. Lewisham Arthouse 2016

This year my garden has, as ever, brought me great joy! Some of the prints on show are studies from my garden, of both cultivated plants and interlopers.  I love the interlopers. The dandelions are there, in early spring, to encourage the bees. The Sweet William was bought into the garden from Lewisham market, to sit on my garden table in a vase.

The roses were as a result of a gift of 12 Valentine’s roses. That was a first for me! They were so beautiful, I just had to draw them.  They are dried roses now and still stunning. Still being drawn.

Flowers from my garden to decorate my open studios.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Lewisham Arthouse Open Studios 2016 June 4/5th. This weekend!

Pulmonaria or Lungwort.  This is a plant I have had in my garden for a few years.  It wasn't doing very well, but this year it has blossomed.  Lots and lots of lovely flowers.  I love this family of plants - Boraginaceae. 
In the early 1600s a theory known as the "Doctrine of Signatures" took hold.  Essentially this was that the plants resembling certain parts of the body could be used to heal these parts of the body.  Lungwort was thought to look like the tissue of the lungs. 
Come and see the finished print at Open Studios!

4th June – 5th June 2016
Lewisham Arthouse Open Studios 2016
Part of Brockley Max Arts Festival
Explore over 30 studios, talk to the artists, buy art at affordable prices or just have a look around. There will be a children’s activity map and guided tours of selected studios will be at 2pm and 4pm each day. If you get hungry we have a cafĂ© and a jerk chicken stall.
In our gallery we are very excited to present the exhibition “Two Minute Studio Visits” speed selected by Jeremy Deller. For more information click here
Come and join us!
Saturday 4th June, 12-8 pm, with DJs and a bar from 6 pm
Sunday 5th June, 12-6 pm
Free entry
Step-free access


Thursday, 19 May 2016

"Two minute studio visits" show and open studios. LEWISHAM ARTHOUSE 2016

We have a group show coming up at the arthouse. It opens on the 27th May 6-9. The work represents everybody who is showing at the Open Studios on the 4/5th June.  Please come along to either of these events!

I have been drawing my garden.  At this time of the year it is particularly lush.

Below are a couple of photos of flowers in my garden and an, as yet unfinished monoprint.  Still thinking of a title, but Pondlife will do for the moment!

You will have to wait and see what is in the group show.


Monday, 25 April 2016

New work, open studios imminent. Hope you can all come on June 4th or 5th.

Just been finishing off some new pieces that I will be showing at Open Studios on 4/5th June.  At the Arthouse.  Will be telling everyone again and again I expect!  We have exciting things planned.  You should hear about it this week.  

 The large rose print I have been working on for a while.  Using my gorgeous dried roses that were a valentine's gift.

I have a few prints of these roses now.  The picture below is my studio wall.  I have been busy and hope to show lots of new work in June.

These are prints I made back in January/February.  It was grey and miserable and I was cheered up by these lovely spring bulbs.  Bulbs are so exciting, I think, and so good to see them bursting with life during cold, winter days.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Wildflowers and L.P.s - it's a thing.


I'm showing some work for the next couple of weeks.  In Deptford.  A lovely little bar called Vinyl, where you can look at my work, enjoy a glass of beer, coffee or wine and browse some old school gramaphone records.  There's new ones too.

You can come down on Friday night to the opening.  I expect I will be drinking wine.  Let's have some fun.

Here is the facebook link.

I will be showing some drawing of wildflowers from around the local area.
I might include my accompanying writing too.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Green can be a problem and some greens have more integrity than others.

I've had a busy couple of weeks, finishing off some prints I started a while ago.   These were mostly green.  Different shades of green.

I suppose mostly I have been thinking about colours.  I thought green was hard but the reds are proving challenging too.

Maybe this is the time to introduce Ken Nordine, who released a brilliant album called "Colors".  I give you a link:

Follow it through and you will be amused, I hope.

The roses I have been photographing and drawing ......they have gone from blood red to a deep and beautiful crimson.

I was going to say scarlet.  I see that scarlet can mean both sin and redemption, but the colour appears to be between red and orange on the spectrum, there is no orange in the red I am trying to describe. No sir.

"Scarlet is also often associated with immorality and sin, particularly prostitution or adultery, largely because of a passage referring to "The Great Harlot", "dressed in purple and scarlet", in the Bible (Revelation 17: 1-6)."


To be fair I think they are more crimson.  Crimson meaning the "celestial love of good" or the "good of celestial love"  The bible as ever is confused.  Crimson has a hint of blue, inclining towards purple. It's difficult to describe these colours of nature, for one thing they change from day to day, depending on the light outside, the light inside, the mood, maybe?

Maroon was another colour that sprung to mind although the word comes from the french for chestnut - "marron", which is a browny red.  Some of the dried parts are definitely this, but mostly crimson.

Who you calling common?

Who you calling common?

starling sketches

starling sketches
Ongoing work...waiting for a breakthrough!

The Waters of March

The Waters of March

It's the joy in my heart.

It's the joy in my heart.

Collected Items

Collected Items
the broken, the wrinkled and the uneven