remains of an old town

September 12, 2016

Photos from a day spent at the old Fortress of Stari Bar in Montenegro this summer. There is plenty of information around the web about this site, abandoned after an earthquake in 1979 took out it’s aqueduct. Now an open air museum, work is being done to restore and conserve, key buildings have had their roofs replaced, one building appears to house an artist studio and performances are made in the amphitheatre. On the day of visiting music wafted across the site, the hot sun drew out the scents of the wild herbs all around while the small windows and nooks that remain in the thick stone walls provided respite from the heat for us and Stari Bar’s many cats.





reading buildings

August 10, 2016


In a lovely village in Norfolk.  Trying to understand how things stand up, how they have worn and how they’ve been fixed.

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

Just over a year ago we flew into Heathrow, the birds chirping loud and clear as we rolled into London on the tube, I realised I had not consciously heard bird song for a month. Were there no singing birds in Russia, Mongolia, China or even spring time Japan, or had I just not noticed over the ‘noise’ of everything else.

train from Osaka

After a 2 day ferry took us across the sea to Japan. We passed through Osaka on our way to Kyoto where the Sakura parties were in full swing. Wandering through the night streets full of people in high spirits, visiting temple gardens. Filing past dramatically lit landscaping and bamboo. Kneeling in our socks alongside business men and women at the edge of a raked gravel garden ‘ooh and aaahing’ at a full bloom weeping cherry tree, lit like fireworks, centre stage. Blossom trees spotlit in a park full of darkness and smoke. Wading into the darkness, towards the chanting, to find groups of people huddled together under the trees, drinking, eating, singing, intoxicated by but seeming to forget, the blossom all around them.

weeping cherry tree

bamboo woods

Sakura Spotlightjonny no. 5 cables

We took one train then another, up through the centre of Honshu to Yudanaka, a small town at the start of the Japanese Alps. This whole area seemed used for agriculture, fruit and nut trees as far as I could see, their wiry branches stretched out along supports, too cold for blossom yet. In peoples gardens the ground was worked right up to the back door, not much space for flouncy planting and landscaping, all the land is made use of, it seems like a simple thing, but I’ve never seem it before.

Shrine at Temple in Obuse

Twenty minutes down the trainline Obuse is well known for its chestnut growing with which it makes puree and sweets and tiles it’s pavements with chestnut wood. Here also lives a temple ceiling painted by Hokusai and an old school house museum full of things that we visited in a storm that flapped the windows and pelted the roof.


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Chestnut paving, Obuse

From sleepy gentle countryside to Tokyo, which blew my mind. Whether it was the enormity of city itself or the cumulative effect of 3 other countries and cultures in 3 weeks, once we entered Tokyo I was very grateful to be lead around and looked after. The train and underground systems are excellent, I managed to walk around in a daze for most of the visit without getting too lost.

Tokyo transport map

Tokyo UndergroundTokyo night

The city is layer upon layer in a constant state of rebuild. To be a twenty year old building is a rare thing apparently.

Tokyo day 

And old Tokyo buildings are resettled in a park museum on the outskirts of town.


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a month away…

April 27, 2013

..moving slowly through landscapes and occasionally stopping, letting the delayed motion sickness subside whilst wandering through city streets soaking up the details of architecture, people, ways of being. Communicating in a mixture of unfamiliar languages and gesture, benefiting from the kindness of strangers. Constantly challenged, stimulated and well fed.

It turns out after all that, I took few photos and most underwhelming compared to the actual. Still, here’s a few, just for the record.

moscow metro

st basils

Moscow, very cold. The metro stations elegant and grand…in the middle of a vast shuffling crowd I look up to see a mosaic stretching across an arched ceiling. Lenin and colleagues detailed  marching in the other direction above us.  St. Basil’s Cathedral… there is nothing quite like the cold held inside an unheated building, but it was a treat nonetheless to meander through the small chapels and walkways inside. It reminded me of the crypt at Canterbury and much of its original wall painting did too, there are some images that fade in and out of the patina just like those in Canterbury, that you can only see if you stand in the right light. Other parts of the wall painting are bold and wonderful,  starting a theme to continue through much of the trip- pattern pattern everywhere.


tobolsk old town river

tomsk 4

Tobolsk and Tomsk colder still. Snow up to here, ice and more snow and ice and we begin to learn to walk in new ways, after the first few falls. These towns are full of carved wooden buildings, beautifully made, painted and loved, some are sadly falling apart as they fight the extremities of Russian seasons and the poverty of their owners trying to hold them together.

tomsk 2

tomsk 1

Finally Olkhon Island, the sacred centre of Lake Baikal, an awesome and ancient island where many fish are eaten and Shamanism is practised. We only saw a tiny portion of the island, dense pine and birch woods, cliffs and sandy headlands, under the snow. During the winter months Olkhon is accessible via an ice road mainly travelled by 9 seater minibuses and camper vans. The ice itself is a whole other post.

olkhon rock

olkhon woods

to be continued…