Thursday, 25 November 2010

Changeling 5

This one could roll down the road like a wheel of cheese or hang in the night sky when the moon is tired. She is so cute she'd have to wear a sign saying "Do NOT tickle!" Her chuckle-belly is hers alone.
I crocheted her from the inside out, as if she were spinning into existence from her bellybutton, using two different crochet hooks, one following the other.
Two more to come.

Materials: crocheted from Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool-Silk
Dimensions: 39 cm x 39 cm

PS. The last few months I've had internet problems and haven't been able to look at your blogs, alas. Hope to do just that when energy allows, reconnect.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Changeling 4

This newest Changeling has gone through a multitude of mutations, some of which worked on paper but not made. I crocheted, unravelled, crocheted, unravelled... Curses were uttered, tantri were thrown. In the end I wanted it as simple as possible (last I threw out a little tuft of something), decided to trust the shape.
I have said here before that I consider my pieces inhabited/inhabitable and am asking myself why I make work that evokes a possible body, instead of work that shows the body, like my paper figures (although of course it's always about more than physicality). What I like is the subtlety: my pieces hint at bodies/beings, but there is so much space around them for one's imagination, even though the work is small and intimate.
A while ago I read one luminous chapter in Gaston Bachelard's Poetics of Space, about shells. My brain is like a sieve and I can't recall the details, but it was about how molluscs grow these intricate, beautiful shells around them, kind of exude them. I see my pieces a bit like that, being exuded from the bodies they would fit. All the forces that work on us, in us, affect how we see ourselves, are being seen - my changelings' garments are attempts to make some of that visible.
Materials: crocheted from Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool-Silk. Dimensions: 30 cm x 38 cm

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Mien was here!

My cup runneth over! Not only that I've got work in an exhibition, that I can look forward to another show at Core Gallery in the new year, that so many friends came to the private view and shared my joy in seeing my work out in the world: on Monday Mien and John came to my house. That would have been glorious enough, but my bbf came bearing gifts... The paper-covered egg-shells feel warm in the palm of my hand, as if inhabited once more, with a tiny slumbering being magicked inside by Mien, when she painstakingly put the egg back together. Looking at the seams I'm thinking of a baby's fontanelles...
It was kind of weird to meet in the flesh, but also felt like the natural continuation of the long, ongoing conversation we have had through the net. My work hangs, lies, hovers everywhere in my flat - I showed it off like a mother her little children. Yes, Mien was here!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Giddy 2

The private view at Core Gallery on Thursday was glorious - lots of friends had trekked to Deptford, and Mien and John were really, surreally there. The show (paintings, exquisite drawings, collages, sculpture, crochet…) is beautifully hung. My Gym turtle shines on its own small wall and with a spotlight trained on it. Tickled with love is perfect right next to a series of small, haunting paintings by Edd Pearman.
Great news: My name was called out with those of two other artists, Aly Helyer and Tom Butler. We were offered a three person-show in 2011 at Core Gallery! I am quite excited about this, not only because of the opportunity to exhibit, but by the coming together of three artists who in their very different media share sensibilities (an interest in what lies behind the surface, what creeps out from the unconscious) and can put together a coherent and challenging, vibrant show.

The exhibition at Core Gallery is open until 3 OCTOBER 2010
Mon - Weds by appointment, Thursday - Sunday 11-6pm

Monday, 20 September 2010


My Five perfect maidens, last shown at the Arthouse in Wakefield, weave their magic in a new dwelling, with a very dear friend, and as the five empty pins on my wall pronounced their absence silently but fiercely I decided to crochet a new set. This one leads the way…
Otherwise I've made a tiny wedding present and am trying to prepare for the excitements of the private view on Thursday night at Core Gallery. It promises to be a very interesting exhibition - the list of artists is impressive and I can't wait to see how my work looks surrounded by art in different media. What catapults my excitement to giddy levels is that Mien will be there. Yes, Mien, my lovely blogger-friend from the US, is in England and will come to the private view! We've been visiting each other's blogs for a couple of years but have never spoken or met. Wow. Welcome, Mien and John, and can't wait to see you...

Materials: Crocheted from artificial hair,
coat-hanger made from twig and wire
Dimensions: 24 cm by 30 cm

Friday, 27 August 2010

Lalala lala lala...

I have just accidentally discovered (I admit it: googled my name!) that I am one of the artists chosen for an exhibition at the Core Gallery as part of Deptford X 2010. My little Gym turtle is pictured on the website. More details as I get them.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

When I grow up I'm gonna be a suffragette (Changeling 3)

My artwork is around me again, which is lovely because I like living with it, but also a bit sad, one: because I didn't sell, two: because it's the full stop to the exhibition in Wakefield. Yes, the show is over, and I'm feeling very tired and a bit empty, but I'm hoping it is a step into a professional future.
This is the newest piece for my changeling series (see posts of 20 June and 21 April). Underwear ruminations are the formal starting point - I'm having fun with the proliferation of shapes. A new one is in work already and a few more are making a clamour in my head, wanting to be made now.

Dimensions: 39.5 cm x44 cm
Materials: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


I should have posted these photos ages ago! Now the show is over and this artist feels like a tired straw doll with big button eyes and no memory of green…
Ten days ago I was in Wakefield once more. As I was unable to the Arthouse had asked artist Carrie Scott-Huby to give a workshop which took my art as its starting point. I talked about selected pieces in the morning, right in the gallery, focussing on how I delve into childhood memories and look for their emotional essence and make work from there.
Everything to do with the workshop amazes me. That it happened and that I was there. That people wanted to do it in the first place, because my art had moved them. How they responded to what I said. How they felt inspired to make work and share some of their own experiences. That Carrie and I worked well together in spite of me having to disappear in bed for longish periods.
It may sound strange, but I felt whole. Everything seemed to make sense: My artwork, my poetry and short stories, the writing and recording of "Lying low and reaching high", my presentation on opening night and how I communicated during the workshop - not lost years after all, even if mostly spent lying on the floor and speaking to myself.
I can't even begin to say how much I have learned - there's a lot to process. Suffice to say that the seeds were laid here: writing my blog, communicating in virtual but real ways with other artists was a first step out into the world.
Back to bed.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Gym turtle

I've been thinking more about childhood memories - mine are few and far between and usually bare of dialogue or movement - not really the stuff for stories. They come as still images, but their emotional weight is considerable. I see my artwork in that vein, each piece a compressed snapshot of being. Lately I've been trying to write stories. Initially I got bogged down in a literalness that was not only restrictive but diminishing. Poetry, like art, allows a different approach, in the concentration of language, but with stories I worried about how to be truthful when I remember so little. It took me a while to understand that here too it's not about the factual recording of an event down to the smallest detail, although that has its place, but that its distillation takes you to its centre, its emotional truth. Just in time I read a conversation between Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich, where AL talks about how it has sustained her to trust her own perception at any point in life, and I realised that I am only starting to do that. The sensory details that I recall when I allow myself to fall into the stillness of a memory breathe life into it, and slowly, steadily I feel the girl I was, and she, who often seemed off, just not quite right, and oh, so silent, has a voice.

Dimensions: 23 cm x 38 cm
Materials: crocheted from black cotton and white wool/synthetics mixture, bit of fur

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Growing pains (Changeling 2)

While I was gearing up for my exhibition in Wakefield - writing a presentation of my work which I wanted to deliver on opening night, organising the minutiae of stay and travel that need to be in place when you've got M.E. and need lots of help, and getting a bit feverish with it all - I crocheted these underpants as part of my Changeling-series. It felt right to give them this shape: they are like a comfort blanket (the material is very soft, a splendid wool and silk mixture). Working on them in bed calmed me. I started at the top and crocheted my way down, thinking back to the woollen pants my great aunt knitted for me when I was small, in baby blue. They were a bit scratchy and to my relief shrunk in the wash and only fitted one of the dolls I didn't play with much.
The show at the Arthouse is still on, go see!

Dimensions: 21 cm x 74 cm
Materials: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Between a smile and a grin

It has happened - my show at the Arthouse is up and running! The exhibition is tiny but finy and the Arthouse is something else: I've never seen a building where every last detail has been considered carefully to make access and inhabitation as easy as possible. I was given a room for the days leading up to the exhibition and after so I could rest, see my show and present my work in person - exhilarating for this artist who normally sends her work by parcel post.
I can't tell you how much help I had along the way: the art and texts are all mine but without my friend Agnes hiring a car and driving me to Wakefield and back I wouldn't have been able to go, and other friends, Anna, Lindy, Linda, Nicola, helped in all kinds of practical ways. Never mind the belief of so many people in my art and in me...
I loved presenting my work to an interested audience (about 35). It made me feel part of the world again! I wore a sumptuous red velvet jacket which I'd designed and Tessa B. made for me in exchange for one of my pieces. Actually, my 'design' was a two square inch pencil drawing and Tessa enhanced on it - just gorgeous! Of course you'll know what it was inspired by… I certainly did not have the impulse or courage for extravagance before I fell ill, but I really wanted to mark this occasion with my very own visibility cloak.

Go see if you can, the exhibition will run until 21 July 2010
I have recorded a presentation "Lying low and reaching high:
On practising art and living with M.E.", which will be available for viewing during the exhibition.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Coming up: My first solo-show!

Between a whisper and a hiss -
Hairy things and steps and stitches

at The Arthouse in Wakefield
from 26 May - 21 July 2010
Launch Wednesday 26 May 5-9 pm
Artist talk 7 pm

I have recorded a presentation "Lying low and reaching high:
On practising art and living with M.E.", which will be available for viewing during the exhibition.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


If I wanted to define an overall theme for my work I'd chose 'the Changeling'. Its concept in myths and fairy-tales points towards anxieties about difference and otherness, subjects that remain ever relevant while changing over time - there is always somebody to be excluded, marked as other. But we can also become strange to ourselves, at different stages in our lives, say when our bodies change (through natural processes as well as illness). The imperfect changeling always has its perfect double, absent, imagined, but no less real for that. Or is it the other way around?

Materials: two kinds of fibre
Dimensions: 25 cm x 37 cm

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Dandelion dream

smile burn, tickle turn
pleasure peal, hormone steal
yolk yawn, lemon dawn
golden chill, compass spill
free fall, summer call
spinster's song, crochet pun
eye rhyme, flying blind
hopscotch halo, cross crawl, yellow
double dose of underpants
envelope for the sun

Dimensions: 28 cm x 29 cm

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Words and wings

A while ago I posted a poem, Sister of swans, and now Lesley Bricknell, whose blog and artwork I admire and feel inspired by, has used the poem as a starting point for some beautiful, haunting artwork. I feel honoured, delighted, humbled! The poem has disappeared off my blog as I'm not quite happy with it yet and may edit it at some stage, but for those who'd like to have a look: you can find it under comments to this post. Thank you, Leslie!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Leaps and bounds and belly laughs

My tired hands are refusing service with delicate thread and thin needles, with the result that a couple of minute fairytale dresses are lying around unfinished. Energy still comes by the thimble-full, but hooray, I found that my hands work with a crocheting hook thick as my little finger.
To keep costs down and to stop the overflow of wools from boxes and baskets I've introduced an embargo on buying new materials until I've worked my way through them. No thick yarns around, so I strung several colours together, first for the mittens, and now for this piece. It is fast work and gratification is almost instant: each stitch is as big as my small toe. I'm craving fun, laughter, lightness, and got some making this piece. Nothing gets your friends hooting like telling them on the phone that you're crocheting a mass of curls for armpits and other places. So here we are. Hope you enjoy them too. Oh, and writing this a German proverb came into my mind, "Langes Fädchen, faules Mädchen", which translates literally as "long thread, lazy girl". I'm sure there is an English version, but can't think of it. Any ideas?

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Hand signals

A tired conversation about winter flung me into the memory of wearing mittens on a string as a toddler. I don't actually remember wearing them, mittens on, but am stirred by the slightest sensation of something dangling off my wrists, and of stingingly cold, red-raw fingers, wet from forming snowballs. Tugging at recall's slack fabric the string became a rope, long and firm enough to draw up all manner of things as from a deep well. Hearsay only that the river was frozen over when
I was born. Is it true that winter unfailingly covered the promenade under our windows with a thick white blanket? Maybe I can trust the ambivalence of feeling, of experience: the exhilaration of snowball fire, pelting those icy missiles, hardened by rolling them in bare hands, is set against the fear, no, terror, of being hit in the face, which also marred any ballgame I might participate in, and my shame about that fear and how it made me awkward, past and present.
All the while the word 'heirloom' was throbbing at the back of my mind, with a question about one of its constituent parts: does 'loom' here refer to the weaving of memories and relationships, or to something from the past looming large?

The mittens are oversize, each 26 cm x 44 cm,
connecting string 220 cm long, 2.2 cm thick