Blog Archive

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Sketchbooks and afternoon zoom

I thought that being at home would mean that I would be constantly drawing.  Sketchbook in my hand at all times.  The first few weeks were taken up with gardening. The weather has been beautiful and my garden needed a lot of attention.  It now looks very good and I am pleased.  It's lovely to sit up there in the sunshine before work starts.  How different life is for all of us.  If you are reading this from the other side of the world, you still know what I am talking about. That is just weird.

Back to the sketchbook, it has been a struggle, frankly. The motivation hasn't really been there.  I find it really hard not being in my studio and trying to work from the dining room table, and I think that has contributed to my lack of interest.

What has really helped is our Wednesday afternoon art sessions on Zoom. 😀 It has been great actually.  It means I have started drawing again.  The garden is a major inspiration and so are my local parks.  Yesterday I went for a walk in Ladywell Fields just after the rain had stopped for a while.  It smelt lovely, everywhere looked lush and green.  I took my camera and took a few pictures of trees and noticed how this is the time of the year the trees start setting their seeds.  I have a new book called Seeds by Thor Hansen too, so it was a bit of synchronicity, I suppose.  I have only just started the book. I expect I will come back to it soon.   

The marsh marigolds are in my pond.  I started the sketch when they first came out in all their sunshiny glory and only finished it today.  They have gone over now but the leaves still look great.
There are so many Water Avens flowers at the moment.  This year they have done brilliantly.  When I did this sketch they had only just started.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Giving thanks for my garden and other stories.

So here we are then, in the middle of this pandemic.   I am at home, and so I have been gardening.  How grateful I am for this luxury.  I can sit in the spring sunshine, watch my plants coming back to life and see the birds on the feeders.  I think we have long tailed tits nesting in the conifer in the garden next door.  I also think there are blackbirds in the ivy.  Such a lovely time of the year and so sad that we can't go out and enjoy this lovely spring weather in the countryside. 

 I have been for a few local walks, making sure that I don't get too close to people.  It's very odd talking to people from a distance of 2 metres.  Slightly unnerving.  The buds are just bursting on the trees on Hilly Fields and the blossom starting to appear.  In about three weeks the hawthorn will start to blossom and I don't suppose I will be able to go up there to see it.  I wonder how we will cope with being cooped up?  I hate the thought of not being able to go outside.  We are, after all, social animals.
Of course, the art fair I was supposed to be  taking part in at the weekend is cancelled.  Postponed until October.  Hopefully we will have pulled through this time and will be there to celebrate. 

So many lovely things cancelled over the coming months. 

Oh well, time now to do some drawing and reading and all that cleaning I never have time for........ 😁
 The blossom and the horse chestnut are coming to life again. 

At Roots and Shoots, the bee hotel has been updated.  We have our very own Shard now!
I am so sorry not to be at work at this time of year.  It all starts to get exciting now. Some beautiful plants and the solitary bees will be starting to come out now.  At first I thought it would be great to be at home for a while, with time on my hands, but I think I will miss my job, the students, who often make me laugh and constantly surprise me.  I will miss my colleagues too, who also often make me laugh and constantly surprise me!!!!

Oh well, as everybody is saying ...... stay healthy everyone. Look after yourselves as best you can and I'll see you on the other side. Hopefully 😳😧

Monday, 2 March 2020

Waiting for illumination, the incubation has been going on for too long!

I've been working hard in my studio. Feels like 3 steps forward and 3 steps back half the time.  Sometimes it feels like hard work and as if I'm getting nowhere.  This is the creative process I suppose. 

I have just 'googled' The Creative Process.  Blimey. There are videos, graphs, websites, keynote speakers, life coaches you can pay to help your through it, it's endless.  Some talk about the five stages, some the four stages.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it now!  I'm waiting for the Illumination stage.

I am working on a few pieces in the studio.  This is normal, while I'm waiting for one to dry, I can get on with something else.  I am hoping to produce another collage, similar to the Bee Home one in my last show.  I sold one of them so am hoping to replace it.   I have also been cutting up old prints.  I find cutting out very therapeutic and listen to podcasts whilst I am doing it. 

Hope to see people at Super Nature art fair at the Garden Museum at the end of March.  Link in last blog entry. 


Sunday, 9 February 2020

There's a storm outside but Spring is on the way!

I am sitting here in the house, looking at Storm Ciara outside.  Last week was Imbolc, which I have never heard of until this year.  It is the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The days are definitely getting longer and I am always cheered when I notice that there is light in the sky before I leave for work and after I come home.  Such a relief.

This spring I am part of an art fair at the Garden Museum called Super Nature.  It is a curated art fair and all the artists are inspired by the joy of plants.

I am making some new work for the art fair.  As always plants are at the heart of my work.  Working through the winter, I have been remembering last summer, which was very hot.  Funny how you can't quite recall what it was like, that heat.

So here is the link:

And here is the link to the exhibition that will be on at the same time.  Looks great.

Hostas  and white willowherb.  Inspired by a visit to Juliet's garden last June on a very hot day.  We could barely move and had to wait until sunset before going for a walk.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Another Poem. This time by Mary Oliver

I went out on Sunday to visit Ann-Marie and Kristina's vineyard in Hellingly, East Sussex.  Beautiful location with lovely wintry trees.  Check them out.  In the summer you can visit and find out about the wines.  On the bus this morning I saw this poem on  Brain Pickings.
Definitely check that website out.  Full of  marvellous stuff to cheer you on your way.  Today I found this poem.  I have added a couple of photos from Sunday.  The bottom photo is a Wishing Tree.  An old Sussex custom apparently.  

by Mary Oliver
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
The Wishing Tree

Vineyard through the trees

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Welcome to 2020 and a poem by Joy Harjo to take into the new decade.

I've moved a computer into my studio which will be great for me!  I use my photos a lot and now I will have them just here, just in the right place.  It's also been an excuse to look through and remember a lovely 2019 and lots of lovely places visited.

Globally, it's all started a bit scarily.  Australia is on fire, Indonesia is drowning and it seems that Trump bloke is determined to start World War 3.  My meanderings about being in touch with nature and all that seem a bit superfluous.  Oh well, let's hope for better days and that Australia get some of our rain.

Her is a poem by Joy Harjo.  Take it with you into the new decade.  I have copied it from  I think this ok.  Poems are, after all, for sharing.

For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet

 - 1951-
Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that bottle of pop.
Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control.
Open the door, then close it behind you.
Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel the earth gathering essences of plants to clean.
Give it back with gratitude.
If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars’ ears and back.
Acknowledge this earth who has cared for you since you were a dream planting itself precisely within your parents’ desire.
Let your moccasin feet take you to the encampment of the guardians who have known you before time, who will be there after time. They sit before the fire that has been there without time.
Let the earth stabilize your postcolonial insecure jitters.
Be respectful of the small insects, birds and animal people who accompany you.
Ask their forgiveness for the harm we humans have brought down upon them.
Don’t worry.
The heart knows the way though there may be high-rises, interstates, checkpoints, armed soldiers, massacres, wars, and those who will despise you because they despise themselves.
The journey might take you a few hours, a day, a year, a few years, a hundred, a thousand or even more.
Watch your mind. Without training it might run away and leave your heart for the immense human feast set by the thieves of time.
Do not hold regrets.
When you find your way to the circle, to the fire kept burning by the keepers of your soul, you will be welcomed.
You must clean yourself with cedar, sage, or other healing plant.
Cut the ties you have to failure and shame.
Let go the pain you are holding in your mind, your shoulders, your heart, all the way to your feet. Let go the pain of your ancestors to make way for those who are heading in our direction.
Ask for forgiveness.
Call upon the help of those who love you. These helpers take many forms: animal, element, bird, angel, saint, stone, or ancestor.
Call your spirit back. It may be caught in corners and creases of shame, judgment, and human abuse.
You must call in a way that your spirit will want to return.
Speak to it as you would to a beloved child.
Welcome your spirit back from its wandering. It may return in pieces, in tatters. Gather them together. They will be happy to be found after being lost for so long.
Your spirit will need to sleep awhile after it is bathed and given clean clothes.
Now you can have a party. Invite everyone you know who loves and supports you. Keep room for those who have no place else to go.
Make a giveaway, and remember, keep the speeches short.
Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark.

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!

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