time spent

July 21, 2014


View from Cheetham and Crumpsall Allotments


A view into Manchester from Cheetham and Crumpsall Model Allotments. A morning a week was spent working in this lovely setting.

eastern electricity building

Seen whilst walking the river in Norwich. Apparently artist Rory Macbeth painted the entire text of Thomas Moore’s Utopia (44,000 words) on the old Eastern Electricity building. Searching will bring up internal photos too of rooms painted in red text.

Maurice Carlin at Bluecoat

A scroll piece of printing, physically scanned from the floor of the space, made over the duration of The Negligent Eye at the Bluecoat Arts Centre by Maurice Carlin.

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A view from part of the DLA Piper Series: Constellations at Tate Liverpool. The exhibition covers 2 floors and shows work grouped together by association. I enjoyed the opportunity to see the backs of frames and to view many works arranged together within space rather than crammed on a wall.


Plans for a new project come together. Making escape paths out of patterns in a pond with Helen Mather.


Two small exhibitions of wide reaching projects exploring the Yangtze River in China. At Touchstones in Rochdale, Yan Preston’s work was intimate and communicated directly. Trying to reconnect with her homeland through simple creative processes Yan’s work is physical, performative, poetic and clearly documented. Though Yan’s exhibition at Touchstones is now over (sorry!) her website is well worth a look if you are interested in ‘landscapes, myths and values’. The image above was taken from Corridor 8 where you will find a review of Yan Preston’s show.

In ‘Normal Pool Level’ by Jorge Mañes Rubio at the Chinese Art Centre, Manchester  the artist explored the impact that the monumental Three Gorges Dam had on the Yangtze River and valley. Jorge presents objects collected, adapted and created over his 2 month residency that speak of the industrial processes, cultural shifts and economies he encounters. Presented with photos, drawings and lots of informative texts. This exhibition continues on until September 7th. I have just noticed that earlier in the month both Yan and Jorge shared a discussion at the Chinese Arts Centre, damn. I will get better at this!

Liverpool Central Library

Another weekend in another wonderful library redevelopment, this time Liverpool, where the domed Picton Reading Room and the arching hall of the Hornby Library housed the casts of books and keys made by Aiko Miyanaga and the Artist’s Book exhibition that saw people I know show work alongside that of Picasso and Goya, what a treat.  My favourite time was spent looking at ‘Averting Your Fate’ by Andrew Morrison of Two Wood Press, an excellent use of print block and text.



And finally, after 2 years of watching the leaves grow, the flowers come and they don’t seem able to stop. A metre and a half for each year waiting.

Solander box for Little Crackd Rabbit

Another batch of solander boxes made to store the 4 yearly releases from the Little Crackd Rabbit label. The newest release ‘Peaks’ by P.J. Philipson, that takes it’s cues from the Derbyshire district, sits snug inside.


An afternoon spent sharing the work so far. In the last week I’d installed the prints and furniture blocks up in the loft space at Islington mill. I’d always had this space in mind for it’s intimate scale and timelessness, the sense of wonder that climbing the stairs induces, layers of marks, dust, glimpses of construction and former use. It allies well with the implicit life and memory of the furniture, the projected dreams, the ghostly apparitions of the prints onto fabric. In this I felt that the space was half the work and without the space, the work would be less. I’ve been assured otherwise. It was useful to see and hear how others responded to the work, the space, the work in the space.

A brief tour of the loft installation below. Photos of the individual pieces will go up on my website in a week or two.

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Some comments, all anonymous, left in exchange for an -in between- book (more of an exchange than a bribe):

tastes like burnt toast, bittersweet, peat, wood, sulphur, tea

smells like a story, a forest, linseed and memory, woodsmoke, water,

sounds like yesteryear, ambient, ‘whispers, laughing, eavesdropping, the stories you would tell the furniture’, the low drone of a road and moving air,  sanctuary from the world, normal life

feels like ‘somebody’s sadness, loneliness, just beyond the veils – but utterly peaceful’, haunting, damp wool, wondering and wandering, another world, mirrors

I would like to see it in a forest, more, in a national trust property, with spiders and butterflies, no one else,


in the loft

I had a wonderful time cutting the wood, making the prints, sweeping the floor, rescuing butterflies, following the flow of the soundtracks coming from the floor below, installing myself and my work in the loft and sharing it with those who came to see. My thanks to Islington Mill  and all who helped, saw and shared.

I hope to move the work on to another space where it can grow and be shared some more.



On Landscape # 1

March 3, 2014

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Fenlands, a book of etchings, letterpress titled and coptic stitch bound. Held in an embroidered slipcover. I made this book in response to the weloveyourbooks call for books on the theme of Crop. I was thinking about the art of cropping and using reeds in the fens and the time I first learned about this. Being taken out in a little boat along the narrow channels of water as the reeds cut towers above our heads. I was thinking of the texture of the dense reeds and the channels cut into the land to work with the water in the fen landscapes.

Fenlands is to be included in a presentation of Artist Books at On Landscape #1, an exhibtion at Guest Projects in London, based on a dialogue between 3 artists Minna Kantonen, Dafna Talmor and Emma Wieslander that aims to challenge traditional representations of landscape. I’m really pleased to be able to contribute work to this dialogue, hope to get down there too. So, there will be photography, installation and artists books all about landscape, it has to be a good thing. It starts on Friday 7th and runs til the end of the month, more info at the link above.

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In and around Sukhbaatar Square in Ulan Bator. A large space surrounded by an opera house, a culture house, the palace, a massive sculpture of Genghis Kahn….but also some lovely street lights.

choijin museum 3 choijin museum 2 temple grounds

Lots of the Buddhist Temples in Mongolia were scrapped during the Communist era, Choijin Lama Monastery, above, was lucky enough to be allowed to stay on as a museum. The Temples were a feast for the eyes and a proper celebration of life in all its forms. Walls and ceilings full with lurid painted patterns and images, ghostly prints hanging from the rafters, stuffed textile spirits, hundreds of cast Buddhas and deeply dyed banners, the smells of smouldering incense and the whir or prayer drums.

Wherever you look in Ulan Bator you can see the mountains that surround the valley city. You can also see building sites. Old and new budged next to each other.

choijin museum 4

From the top of the hill crowned by the Zaisan Memorial you can see the city growing as it pushes against the sides of the valley.

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The Zaisan Memorial was built to commemorate the lives of Soviet soldiers in World War II. The mosaics also nod to Mongolian independence, relations with China, Japan and space exploration. I wonder how much the teenagers who hang out up there know or rate the sentiments expressed in the graphic style. The Mongolian language, full of sounds that seem to get turned over and around the tongue many times before being let out of the mouth, was a little too nuanced for me to pick up enough to have this conversation.


Walking over patchy snow and ice that is melting away to reveal the sandy, dry grasses of the Terelj National park on a day late in March. A change to the more familiar-slush mud puddles of Russia.  Some lovely dry brush trees and hills to etch at a later date.


Something about Ulan Bator was really wonderful. It seemed to me to be the people, who walking down the street would meet your eye with an open smile to share a joke or to simply acknowledge that we are both here together in this moment. I might have been naive or overly romantic, but Mongolia and the Mongolian people felt open, warm, full of interest and playful curiosity. Maybe this is down to their nomadic souls, perhaps it was just how I was feeling at the time. Ulan Bator is a developing city with all the potential unknowns that this status brings, whatever path it choses to take I hope that warm and open feeling remains.


May 1, 2013

baikal ice 2

The frozen Lake Baikal has an ice road with actual road signs that is used daily between the freeze and the thaw. The road is replaced by hovercraft when it becomes unstable and a ferryboat in the summer.  We got to drive over this twice on our way to and from Olkhon Island late March. At times the van’s wheels spun and the driver moved off the road and back again while we held our breath, but of course it was perfectly safe, they have been driving the lake for years. From afar the water seems frozen mid-wave; in the shallows it looks like shallow waves, further out it looks like deep water, perfectly normal, except it’s frozen. If anyone can explain this to me please try.  Here are some close ups of the ice I took while walking around the edges of the lake near Khuzir.

'Swim to the Other Side of the Pool', Fiona Curran at Touchstones Rochdale

‘Swim to the Other Side of the Pool’, Fiona Curran at Touchstones Rochdale

I managed to get to two great exhibitions in Manchester in the past week, both inspiring in the making things in space sense….

Firstly, Waiting for The Perfect View, Fiona Curran at the Touchstones Gallery in Rochdale. I delighted in Curran’s painterly selection and assemblage of found and made objects (old woven and printed fabrics,hand tapestry, rubber, perspex,painted woods, rocks, feathers) that make each other’s textures and colours sing. The work arranged around the house shaped room (looks like a house when you draw it from above) used repeated and reinterpreted motifs and materials that prompt the viewer to consider the work and as a consequence, one of it’s themes…our relationship to landscape,how it’s disrupted, mediated and obscured by media, interpretation and memory….. from all angles.

Secondly, Head to Head at Castlefield Gallery with Hayley Newman and Emily Speed.

Both artists work with the body in space.I always enjoy Emily’s work and in this show I especially liked Wedged and Build-Up… that seem to focus on the tension in balancing materials and bodies. I’d not seen Hayley’s work before, it made me smile, I’d love to see her perform. I don’t have much time to say more and the links above and below say it better anyway…there is an essay here. 


making a space

March 4, 2013

I’ve been pontificating for far too long over what kind of space I want to work in and how I want to work, finally I’ve just spent 3 days in the space that I currently have and did some of the things I’ve been meaning to do. It was fun.


I cleared away my table and some of the many boxes of stuff that fill the studio. I knew I wanted to make a 3-dimensional response to a collage I’d done last year and that I’d also like to make some larger clay pieces of previous samples. I decided to keep things simple and only use what I could find in the room. I suppose I then cheated straight away as the sun came out and I spent half of the first day playing with the shadows it cast into the room.



Later on I used objects to displace the clay I’d thrown into blocks. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but it’s coming from looking at canal basins and locks…places where we have taken chunks out of the ground to channel water, effectively creating sunken vessels..this links to a post I never made last year about contained water, the photos never posted are now below the clay pieces.

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The second day the sun didn’t come out to play so I got on with moving furniture about to reflect the space in the collage into the room…I used previous drawings to depict the foliage and made floor rubbings to mimic the strata of rock, the window was my door and the table my water channel. It’s not so easy to show in one picture….


A small space full of angles. The third day the sun returned and I spent time photographing the shadows that came around and making a drawing.



Drawing on paper of a drawing in a space from a collage/drawing. In spite of the cramped angles I’ve relished the process of working within a space and short block of time, only wishing I’d moved the desk and boxes earlier in my relationship with this present studio. Although it might make it harder to work with paper, next time I’d like to work outside so I can add water to the object, shadow,space, drawing equation.

Places and Perspectives

September 12, 2012

From tomorrow evening I will be showing prints and books in an exhibition at The Gallery at  St.Georges House, Bolton. Click on the link below for more details.

Places and Perspectives Exhibition

saw us catching a bus across a causeway to hideout at Roa Island, scoffing nut roasts and chips til the skies cleared and we could sit in the ‘ferry’ without getting toowet.  Off we went to Piel Island…..

wind worn windows

the castle, built in the 1300’s , stands on the shore, not far from the pub and a terrace of houses, the only buildings on the island, apart from the camping toilets, as far as I could see. The stonework was pretty well intact but the windows well showed the years of wind that had blown through them.

Piel Island was presented to the people of Barrow in 1920 as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the First World War. You can get a boat there and back from Roa Island for a fiver and if you get a  permit from the pub you can camp anywhere on the island. A tent was very snugly set in one of the fortress’s towers.

Roa Island used to be an island, now it is part of the mainland, joined by the causeway that passes through the flats and marshes that I guess have developed since.

This structure and the marshes it sits in brought to mind the start of Great Expectations, the prison ships, the hiding place…the door was padlocked and there was no interpretation  plaque in sight so I might just keep that story in place. Either that or it was an early lighthouse, now very much inland.

many chimnies