February 24, 2016


What have I been doing since my last post…who knows!  I will try to get with it and back track over the next few weeks to catch up with myself. In the meantime you could have a look at this Patti Smith zine I contributed to – musings on the phenomenon that is the Patti Smith effect – compiled by the ace Cherry Styles or visit me at the 19th Leeds International Contemporary Artists Book Fair in Leeds next weekend.

In June 2013 Manchester Adult Education Service (MAES) cut it’s Arts provision completely. MAES had suffered cuts over 10 years along with most council services and in 2013 offered the remaining 12 tutors of it’s Visual Arts team the chance to move across to Family Learning, IT, ESOL or Jobs Group. Some tutors chose to move subjects, some took redundancy.

Having previously worked in the service for 10 years myself, I was saddened by the cuts and felt moved to make some form of document of a service that had an important role in our local community at the very least.  I also wanted to mark my colleagues, the last of the team, their roles as tutors and creative people.

I decided to take pencil portraits of their hands, the tools they used to teach and create with. Utilising classic ‘learning to draw’ exercises; drawing fast, without looking at the page, drawing with a continuous line, I made several portraits of each tutor. Whilst drawing I talked to them about their time in adult education, how they fell into the work, what they enjoyed about teaching and how the job had changed over their time in the service.

GL.Draw with it..image

After spending a good hour or two with 9 of the 12 tutors it seemed that between them they had told me the story of the development of the adult education provision for arts in Manchester since the 1970’s.  Taking visual cues from the old education aesthetic – old D-file dividers, a random selection of fonts, handwriting and photocopying – I compiled a book using the hand portraits and quotes from each tutor.

Apart from the history of the service, what I got from talking to each of the tutors was a sense of what it is to be a teacher, a creative person and a learner; a person who values people, community and social learning.  Also, what it means to be valued, discounted, be part of something bigger, ways to cope and ways to adapt and make new paths for sharing these skills with others.  I wanted to keep it simple but I hope something of that comes across in the book too.

Each tutor got a copy of the book and copies have also gone to the Local History section at Manchester Central Library.   If you would like to own a copy, or share your own experiences of adult education, get in touch or come along to Manchester Artists Book Fair at The Holden Gallery at MMU this Friday or Saturday. Draw with it, paint with it, point with it  will also be available to read in the Reading Room during the fair.

Draw with it.. cover

Friday 16th and Saturday 17th October

11am – 5pm

The Holden Gallery

Manchester School of Art 

Exhibitions. Artist’s tables. Reading room. Workshops. Suppliers.

see here for more details

I’m very pleased to be showing work alongside Nina Chua, Dennis Whiteside and Richard Shields in the display cases of the Historic Reading Room at John Rylands.

Case Studies, curated by John Lynch is part of Manifest Arts Festival – 10.7-12.7.

Each artist has made work using the display cases as their starting point.  Case Studies continues until 27.9







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some sense of how my work evolved; sketchy photos of work in progress

June 24, 2015

Book Art A5 leaflet front 30_04_15

Book Art A5 leaflet reverse 30_04_15

I should be here with my books next weekend, click web and fb for more details. Also in Liverpool on the Saturday there is a vintage fair, fashion show and the QE2 is departing for New York!

a pattern develops

June 23, 2015

I feel like I’m front crawl swimming. A stroke that, as an adult, I only perform when I’m feeling most brave. Without goggles I can’t see very well; as my head tips up to breathe, the water drips off my eyelashes and if I don’t get the breathing pattern right the water goes up my nose. Front crawl swimming takes up all of the energy and focus. Not bad but not a stroke to be doing when you want to keep calm, feel measured and cast a reflective eye on your surroundings.  I feel like I’ve been front crawl swimming, in circles for months now. Time for a little breaststroke, so here’s some of what I’ve been circling around. Gemma phone_20150209_003 V and A shadows V and A metalwork birds at High Barn, holkham forge Chinese New Year in Manchester, beautiful shadows and metalwork at the Victoria and Albert. Swallows set in an old tree at High Barn courtesy of the wonderful Holkham Forge. GL.longing Gemma phone_20150203_012The Allotment, Crouch and Ward GL.anything the earth Building understandings of home and allotment.  Printing and gathering work together into new books. Books taken to fairs and photos soon to be on the website proper. cherry blossom time lead and light, camden Journeyman, Ewan MacColl Draw with it.. cover A book to be read about growing up in Salford and a book made about the last of the Arts team from Manchester Adult Education. LCR annual subs case

A batch made of this years Little Cracked Rabbit subscription box set.

floor, John Rylands library

Time spent pondering the data, cracks and conservation in The John Rylands Library for marks that have been made and marks to make for a new piece to be shown in the cases July- September as part of MANIFEST

Bristol and back

April 17, 2015


And with a blink and a rub of the eyes Bristol Artists Book Event was over for another 2 years.  As I had a table to myself this year I had very little chance to get out and see and speak to all the folks I might but I sat and watched and folks came to me and so did wonderful tea and cake, they are such very good hosts, the Bristol Artists Book folk.  Thank you to all of those who came and stood (one even sat) and took the time to free their hands to pick up and look, first one page, then another, through my books.  I know how thoroughly overwhelming a book arts fair with 80 stands can be. Overstimulating, exciting, exhausting. It’s a rare being who can give all 80 stands equal time and value and must be superhuman…a strange new sort of superhuman, purely evolved to cope with such a concentrate of book and art….I realised most of my books do need 2 hands to look at them, they rarely shout in colour or mark, they do need a bit of time. Sometimes people look indifferent, sometimes the books make people sad, sometimes I hear a little joy. It’s a strangely intimate experience and unlike showing work in so many other art forms. I cherish the moments I have shared at the book fairs and wonder if there are other ways I could do this more.

and then it was spring

March 22, 2015

And I wondered just what I had been doing since January…Well, among other things I’ve  been printing and gathering and now I’ve started compiling the books I intend to take with me to Bristol Artists Book Event in April and Turn the Page, Norwich in May.

Today I finally returned the box to the allotment after spending last summer cutting the one in the other or cutting the other into the one on the other….are we all following?!  I also brought one of the full textile prints I had taken of the box and hung it between canes to photograph. I’m making a book of the box prints on paper, these will be housed in a portfolio which should also include one of the stills I took today, to offer a little more context to the piece. It turns out that whilst taking stills my camera is also, without my knowledge (I really should have downloaded the manual) able to take film. So here is a brief preview of what stills may be available!

boots with Ursula Von Rydingsvards' work

I spent the last day of the year walking the grounds of Yorkshire Sculpture Park. One of my favourite day trip destinations. I’d been led there unknowingly, I hadn’t known what was showing and so I arrived at the work of Ursula Von Rydingsvard with few expectations.  I’ve never even heard her name before. All the better for being wowed and wowed I was. The show finishes on the 4th January, so if you happen to see this, like large wooden sculpture and have a day spare now, go visit. I’ll post more after that.

May the new year be full of wonderful surprises and glimpses of genius that get your minds and bodies whirring into action.

Scarthin Books sign

on a hard seat over winding roads through the Peaks past Matlock Bath with it’s arcades and  motorcycle tours to Cromford and Scarthin split by a road whose traffic echoes up into the valley, competing with the crows that nest up in the rock face opposite the hotel on the hill. An afternoon spent with the sun on a duckpond and burrowing into books at the wonderful Scarthin Bookshop. A wonder around winding roads, snug bridges, run down mills, sturdy stone houses with leaded windows, killing time watching fly fishing in the river, more crows overhead, to the accompaniment of trees shedding beautiful colours, to meet a dear friend for a drive home talking of how to live and how to die and how to help mark it all, sharing stories and songs of love and family.

In Norfolk I’m introduced to 2 large cedar trunks and conjure plans of woodcuts to note and hold High Barn, a family home thats held some magic space for decades. Long chats and journeys, trying to make sense of what’s come before and what’s to come. A visit to the Morgan car factory, watching everyday people do wonderful things with wood, metal, leather bowing to their hands. Ash is used to make the modern day carriages.
In London a walk around the new serpentine building, Sackler as Cerith Wyn Evan’s neon sentences lead me along the outer perimeter, past sculptures that illuminate the words from the corner of my eye. Internal dark arched brick spaces where flutes play the air.
Cerith Wyn Evans, flutes
Anslem Kiefer at the Royal Academy. A a revelation in wood, paint, thick materials, heavy marks and thoughts of the body apparent in it’s absence, the tall brooding sunflowers, a huge pile of canvasses, wedges, dust, boulders of clay in a circular room, meteoric, wonderful.
Parsifal III 1973 by Anselm Kiefer born 1945
Large solid books, printed and painted, from board, from lead, from plaster skimmed card with print and watercolour and electrolyte, an object unapologetic. Landscape engulfing, looming large.
Wood everywhere along my journey, in a printed leperello room in the RA and at Sutton House in a panelled room full of carved trunks and chairs where Stick in the Wheel sang out London’s song and it felt as if they were singing the furniture and the walls and all of the house that has stood through so many years and stood there still as sirens flew past it’s old glass windows.
We stayed in a beautiful house full of care, it being made good for over 3 years now, sandstone, zinc, brass taps, wood, wood, wood, soft light, slept sound with dreams of singing wood.
trees somewhere