Blog Archive

Monday, 18 November 2019

Listening to podcasts and remembering our old garden.

I went to collect my pictures from the Garden Museum today.  My show is over now.  It's been a really positive experience. I sold 2 pictures, which is grand.  One of the buyers sent me a lovely email to thank me for my lovely picture. She seemed really pleased with the purchase.  I have had lots of lovely comments, which is always encouraging.

I then went to the studio (which is getting colder and colder!) to continue working on my next project.

Just recently, I have found instagram to be a good source of information!  Through various trails via Gardener's Illustrated, I think,  I have found a blog called "Gardens, Weeds and Words", by Andrew Timothy O'Brien.  There is also a podcast, which is rather nice to listen to when I am in my studio.  Poetry and thoughts about nature and gardening, with guests; writers, artists, gardeners and other interesting people.

I notice that he asks all the guests about their early gardening memories.  It made me think about mine. I'd forgotten I had any!  I wasn't a gardener as a child or anything like that, but when I was little I loved to be in the garden. Like most children do. We had a sandpit under the apple tree and my mum and dad grew vegetables just next to it.  There were always runner beans and I love them to this day.  In the end they stopped growing their own vegetables because we always went on holiday when everything was coming to fruition and we missed it!  Those were the days when everybody went on holiday for two weeks at the end of July into the beginning of August.  Well you did if you worked in a factory.  It was called the Industrial Fortnight.

My dad built a pond to replace the vegetable patch.  It was lovely, with a little waterfall at the back.

Here is a picture of my dad's garden in the 90s. Two of these boys have kids of their own now and the tiniest one is at Manchester studying Physics!

This was mostly my dad's work, he shaped it and planted the shrubs.  My mum planted flowers.  At least, this is my memory. My brother might have another story!!  Pinks were the ones I mostly remember. I have mentioned pinks before.   When I next visit my brother's, I will find some older pics, some in black and white and maybe of me in the sandpit!

Saturday, 12 October 2019

My exhibition is up at the Garden Museum.

 A couple of views of the Garden Museum and my work.  I am pleased to have some sketchbooks out on display.  The exhibition is running until the 18th November, so there is plenty of time to see it. 

My work is a celebration of the relationship of the bees and the plants and of the sanctuary that the (Roots and Shoots) wildlife garden has provided to help these pollinators survive.

Another reason to go is to see the Katie Spragg installation in the space above my work. It's absolutely gorgeous and resonates with my work.   We are thinking about similar things I think. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Looking forward and looking back.

I have been looking at my old sketchbooks.  I will be displaying some of them at the Garden Museum exhibition that starts next Tuesday.   So many memories in these sketchbooks!  I was thinking about Tidemill Garden and the lovely times we had there.  An oasis in Deptford.  I haven't been down that Road since Lewisham Council cut down all the trees in this delightful garden.  I can't bear to.  It could have been different, but they dug their heels in and cut down some very old trees.  Only to declare a couple of days later their support for the climate emergency.  Oh the irony!

2014 was a difficult year for me. The abrupt end of a longish relationship (should never have started really, but that's another story hah!) and the death of my mother.  I discovered the lovely community at Tidemill Garden in about June of that year, (just after the breakup).  I started going there every Tuesday to help with the garden and to enjoy the cooking sessions that happened every week.  People from all walks of life came to join in with the "green gym" and to cook the food that was grown there.  It was very inclusive and felt supportive and was a wonderful, positive distraction.

It was in the September of that year that my mother died.  At the time I was putting together an exhibition at the garden with Carol Wyss.  It was part of the Deptford X fringe.   I was working on a group of drawings of wildflowers, some of which I had found in the garden. I also started writing about the flowers.  I found that this helped me remember their names.  The sun was shining and the September was warm.   It's funny how you live parallel existancies. On one I was having a lovely time.  Putting my exhibition into the greenhouse along with the tomatoes and on another I was feeling sad because my mum had died.  The private view was the day after my mother's funeral.   It was a good thing to be looking forward to.    The cob oven was fired up, the beer was on tap.  And there was lots of wine.  It was a lovely warm evening. The garden was full of lovely friends and I felt happy and grateful to have the exhibition and them at this time.

Here are some photos of the lovely garden.  No longer there. 


Going forward, I have an exhibition to put up.  I need to go and pack up the car with my new work, the seeds of which were sown in this garden.   Click on the link about the exhibition.  All being well, I will be back in the Garden Museum in March but again, that is another story!

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Works in show. No words. Not all of them.

After Open Studios....... with a little video

 It was a great weekend!  Lots of visitors and lots of positive and interesting comments.  I also sold a few, so everything is good. 

Of course I put my collections into the exhibition. People seem to be interested in them and like them.  I have also added a couple of glass bell jars to my "nature table". 

Here's a little video of round my studio.  It's only half of it.  Might do some more.

I realise I need to do some more writing. I have added a couple of new flowers to my drawings this year.  Lupins, Field scabious and Sainfoin. I might have mentioned these on my blog but I haven't done any proper writing about them. 

Monday, 16 September 2019

Open studios are here again - this weekend.

It is our Open Studios again this weekend.  This year also part of Open House, London. 

The studios are housed in an old Carnegie Library. It is said there is a ghost. 

It will be lovely to see you.  It looks as if it's going to be a lovely weekend, so come and see our outdoor bar and enjoy a cold drink.  Or visit the vegan cafe and have tea and cake.  

A lot of us will be showing work.  

Some smaller prints. I have typed onto these. 

Friday, 23 August 2019

Quick update and put open studios in your diary!

Summer holidays are great!  Time to see friends and time in studio.  Having fun with a typewriter at the moment.  Lots of old prints that I can play around with. 

Also, some prints I have shared before, but better photographs. 

And.........OPEN STUDIOS coming up at Lewisham Arthouse..  21st /22nd September.  Be great to see everyone again.


Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Three important books, the power of language and the greatest marketing campaign in history.

I have three books on my desk or on my bedside table, depending on what time of the day it is!  I haven't finished either of them, but dip in and out.  They are "How to enjoy your weeds" by Audrey Wynne Hatfield (1969).  "A Sting in the Tale" by Dave Goulson (2013) and "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013).  

If you haven't read "Braiding Sweetgrass" I think you should.  It's about the relationship we have with the earth, its ecology, the relationship the indigenous peoples of North America have with the living world and how plants and animals are our oldest teachers.  She is a botanist and a poet.  The writing is beautiful. 

We are all so mindful of the fragility of the earth now; that we seem to have ruined it and it's not looking good.  One of the chapters in this book is called "Learning the grammar of animacy".  Language is interesting isn't it?  In fact it is powerful.  It can be used to lift up and to degrade.  We should be aware of how making someone less, dehumanising them by calling them names (vermin, rats etc) leads to genocide.  Stephen Fry sums it up in this clip, which  might seem to be off point, but the same applies to our attitude to the world.

I quote from Robin Wall Kimmerer: "English doesn't give us meany tools for incorporating respect for animacy.  In English you are either a human or a thing. .... Where are our words for the simple existence of another living being?"  So does this gives us the permission to disrespect nature and therefore just get rid of it when it gets in the way?  Of course it does.  We have put a barrier between us and the living world, "absolving ourselves of moral responsibility and opening the door to exploitation. Saying it makes a living land into 'natural resources'.  If a maple is an it, we can take up the chain saw. If the maple is a her, we think twice". 

(Lewisham Council recently chopped down 70 trees in Deptford.  Two days later they declared their war on climate change. Oh the irony, oh the cynicism). 

Another book to recommend is "The Hidden Life of Trees. How they feel. How they communicate. Discoveries from a hidden world." by Peter Wohlenben.  Trees are not 'it"  they are somebody.  Somebody who cleverly communicates with the next somebody to protect themselves from disease and predators. 

If you have been following my blog recently, you will know that I have been enjoying watching the solitary bees as they fly in and out of their holes in the bee tower at Roots and Shoots.  I have made collographs of these bee hotels and they feature in my work, a lot.  Not being a scientist, I don't know that much about evolution but was really excited about how bees and plants have evolved together to help each other out and continue to do so.  From "A Sting in the Tale":

"So began the longest marketing campaign in history, with the early water lilies and magnolias the first plants to evolve petals, conspicuously white against the forests of green. The first pollinators may have been beetles, which many water lilies still rely on to this day. With this new reliable means of pollination, insect-pollinated plants became enormously successful and diversified. Different plants now began vying with one another for insect attention, evolving bright colors, patterns and elaborate shapes, and the land became clothed in flowers. In this battle to attract pollinators, some flowers evolved an additional weapon — they began producing sugar-rich nectar as an extra reward. As these plants proliferated, so the opportunities for insects to specialize grew, and butterflies and some flies evolved long, tubular mouthparts with which to suck up nectar. The most specialized and successful group to emerge were the bees, the masters of gathering nectar and pollen to this day."

I am working towards open studios now and I have an exhibition coming up in October.  I will write more of this at a later date, meanwhile I have been trying to gather my thoughts.

I have plans for these many prints and am hoping to include writing.  I have a new typewriter, maybe I can use it? 

Monday, 10 June 2019

Some new work, some new inspiration and some irritation.

 Actually this isn't that new, but I love the way the leaves have been eaten away and the stem left.  I am waiting until late summer until the same thing happens with the hops that are growing in the arthouse garden. I hope that they are still there this year! 

Irritation: I lovingly cropped these photos on iphotos and then couldn't share them with my blog.  I used to be able to do this, why can't I now?  Oh, I know!! I've upgraded the operating system and nothing works.  I hate Apple, as I have said a number of times.

This is a large monoprint I started a couple of months ago.  It is a response to the wild geraniums that grow at work in the wildlife garden.  The background are the solitary bee homes that have been put there.  I quite like the way they look as if they are blocks of flats.  I left the gaps and was originally going to fill them, but have decided to leave them.  Urban nature, afterall I do live in London.  My garden and the garden at work are important to me.  It's so important to have these urban green spaces in the built environment. 

These are grasses that I picked up, either in my garden or from around the perimeter of the arthouse, growing happily through the cracks in the pavement.

They are printed on chinese calligraphy paper.  WIP (Work in progress) as they say. Haven't thought through what I am going to do with these.  Need to do some reading and writing now. 

At the weekend I went to a fantastic exhibition at The Drawing Room in Rodney Place.  Completely inspiring work by Christine Odlund, who is really fascinating. She composes music and paints using plant pigments. 

Mark Dion and a lovely piece of work entitled Herbarium. 

Some lovely watercolours from David Thorpe and a great talk about Derek Jarman's garden by Jonny Bruce.  Really interesting.  I have copied and pasted the information here, mainly to remind myself of a good Saturday morning out.

"Join Jacqui McIntosh (Exhibitions Manager, Drawing Room) and horticulturalist Jonny Bruce as they talk about the evolution of Derek Jarman’s now famous garden at Prospect Cottage, Dungeness and Jarman’s continuing influence today.

Artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman (1942-1994) was one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century British culture. His practice included a variety of media, including paintings, poetries, diaries and nature writings. A passionate gardener, he created his garden between 1986 and 1994 in Dungeness, a desolate coastal corner of Kent and a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Having graduated with a degree in Art History, Jonny Bruce immediately turned to horticulture - honing skills at Aberglasney Gardens in Wales before spending two years gardening at Great Dixter in East Sussex. A passion for plant diversity and sustainable growing methods led to his current work at the innovative, organic nursery, De Hessenhof, in the Netherlands. Alongside the practical demands of the nursery Jonny works as a freelance writer, sometime botanical illustrator and is currently coordinating the new maintenance schedule for Prospect Cottage in Dungeness."

I bought a book "Botanical Drift - Protagonists of the Invasive Herbarium" which is a collection of essays that I will probably struggle to understand, but hope that it will provide some basis for further reading and have since ordered Modern Nature and Chroma by Derek Jarman. 

Back to Sweet william.  I wanted to make a cardboard print or a collograph....  This was the first print. I have added colour to it since. I think it might work! WIP again.

 Lots to think about and lots to learn. There is so much to read out there, it's knowing where to start. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Geraniums not pelargoniums.

I've become slightly obsessed with Geraniums this summer.  I have a very shady garden and they seem to thrive in the shade.  There are 422 different species. I think I have 10 at the most.  They are also called Cranesbills because when the seed head forms, it is long and thin, like a crane's bill.  When ripe, it springs open and casts its seeds far and wide.   They are not to be confused with Pelargoniums.  The bright coloured pot plants that brighten up our gardens and steps in summer time.

The leaves are circular in form. The flowers have five petals and are coloured white, pink (varying shades), purple or blue often with viening.  As usual, I have looked up the health benefits of wild geraniums. They are many and varied and although don't seem to be any use where snake bites are concerned, the leaves when squashed and rubbed into the skin, can relieve mosquito bites.  

The root seems to be the main benefit and I give you a quote from a North American website  

"An infusion of the whole plant, or of the roots alone, is used in the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome, cholera, kidney complaints, bleeding and a wide range of other ailments."

"Boiled root was also used for toothache and crushed to a paste applied to piles."

Another all rounder.  I am going to have a look at that website more thoroughly.  


It has taken me awhile to find a way in the studio.  I have been working on various prints, using collographs, gelli plates and monoprinting and some nice things have happened.  It's all very much "in progress" though. It has been nice having the Easter holidays, which has given me time to work more consistently.  Helps with the old thought processes. 

 This is Geranium rotundifolium (Round-leafed cranesbill).  We found this growing by the side of the road on the way to Lewisham.  We thought it was Hedgerow geranium, but on further research, I now think it's Round-leafed.  Flower identification is hard, especially when there are 422 in the family.

Surrounded by cleavers, goosegrass or sticky willie, whatever you like to call this straggly plant that is horrid to touch.

A view of my studio wall, which is getting more confusing by the day.  Hopefully I will be able to capture some of it and make some sense of it.

I have been working on a very large piece, which is unusual for me and I am finding it quite hard. 

Meadow cranesbill.  This grows prolifically in the wildlife garden at work.  It's lovely and I haven't managed to grow it at home yet.  I thought I had one but it has disappeared.  I took this photo last summer and am looking forward to taking more when I go back to work after the holidays.  It grows next to the solitary bee homes that will be buzzing with new life about now.

Although I thought that about my Geranium phaeum (dusky cranesbill) which has come back this year. Looking foward to it's dark velvety, maroon flowers. 

Confused now as to why the text type has changed during my writing.  

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