Posted on June 27, 2016

For the love of badgers!

National Badger Week is here – who knew this was even a thing?

National Badger Week is a celebration of one of the UK’s most favourite and unique mammals. The Badger Trust

I love badgers – their distinctive markings, their nocturnal foraging, their cute but vicious reputation, the secretive social burrow of ‘the sett’, and the verb-isation of their kin.

How do I like ‘to badger‘ people with my chatter? Oh let me count the ways…

Badgers for National Badger Week 2016And a few badger-facts:

  • This nocturnal mammal has distinctive black and white stripes on its face, and can be seen in various areas across the UK.
  • Badgers are large mammals, growing up to one metre long, with a short body and tail. They are related to weasels and stoats.
  • Badger footprints are very distinctive, with five toe pads and visible claw marks.
  • The name badger is thought to have derived from the French ‘bêcheur’, meaning ‘digger’. Its strong, muscular body, short legs and long claws reflect its burrowing habits.
  • Scientific name: Meles meles

A handsome badger for National Badger Week 2016I don’t personally make anything in the representation of a badger, but loads of people do so I’ve made a Pinterest board of finds that I love in celebration of my favourite black and white foragers.

Two of these plates are by Jimboart and I love them! The pink plate was a gift.

Badger plates in celebration of National Badger Week 2016And finally, in case you spot a wild badger, here’s a tip on feeding from the Woodland Trust:

Piling food in a heap on your patio does make life easier for badgers, but you may find it more interesting to scatter food across the lawn.

Quite.

There’s even a video of Bill Oddie talking about badgers. (Weirdly, I have his autograph…)

Let me know if you’re doing anything badger-related this week :)


Posted on June 20, 2016

Glasgow School of Art: Degree Show 2016

I was lucky enough to attend the preview of the Glasgow School of Art Degree Show last week, leaving with my head full of ideas and inspiration (wishing I was back at university myself with access to all that TIME and resource to freely CREATE and EXPERIMENT…)

My favourite part? The textiles, of course.

I was really struck by Rosie Noon’s collection; the sheer embroidery words that look like they’ve been scraped into skin. The details are texturally intricate with so many elements to draw the eye.

I wanted to know more about the themes surrounding this work, and luckily, Rosie details her starting point and inspiration:

My graduate embroidery collection was instigated by the discovery of a photograph album documenting the mysterious life of ‘Silvia’. Inspired by the repetition of women in mid-century dresses standing against blurred, floral backgrounds, contrasted by handwritten annotation of places and dates, I looked to re-appropriate these qualities in creating a new story through collage aesthetic in drawing and textile processes.

This connection to the past through a single photograph is catnip to a writer, textile lover and diarist like myself! Gorgeous work.

Degree Show - Textiles - GSANext I was enthralled by the beautiful tactile surface elements in Penny Hewitt’s work. She describes her collection:

Capturing the repetition and structures within organic form, closely exploring irregular repeat patterns.

The colours made me think of the fashion collection in my fictional novel, and I wanted to take these samples home and pin them to my wall!

Degree Show - Textiles - GSA

Degree Show - Textiles - GSAI couldn’t help but see a buoyant jellyfish suspended here in Niamh Brannan’s display, the clash of colours so riotous, playful, fun and daring.

Her collection puts me in mind of Mary Katrantzou prints in tactile form. Or a statement window display in a European capital? KaDeWe in Berlin springs to mind; a slew of designer handbags in matching jellyfish attire.

Degree Show - Textiles - GSA Degree Show - Textiles - GSAThese sponge-fronds attached to plastic tubing put me in mind of medical textiles and the innovations in that area. They would certainly make for ‘fashionable arteries’!

Degree Show - Textiles - GSAThe crisp geometric folds and stitches in paper, fabric, leather and digitally cut vinyl designed by Rochelle McGuinness really caught my eye, their application mocked up in lampshades and reminding me of some of the Cubist ceramics for sale at the Kubista museum in Prague. Read more


Posted on June 15, 2016

Perseverance, hope & reinvention

I’ve been single-focusing on a passion-project of late which hasn’t left much time for creative play.

I’ve been in the ‘dark forest’; lost in the details of my debut novel. That’s how my new fav creative guru Jessica Abel might describe it, anyway – ‘the dark forest’ – (I’ve spent the last few days ingesting her podcast).

But all the while a little miracle has been unfolding right outside my window.

Reinvention, Perseverance & Hope: Bob the Christmas miracle to be

His name is Bob. Don’t ask me why. It just is.

I’m a personifier. I’m a bit crazy (a lot crazy). It brings me comfort to name things (and to know/admit I’m crazy).

Last Christmas was Bob’s second year with us, and until then he flourished, but a few months back I noticed he was constrained by his pot. It was like I could hear his desperate, silent screams.

I decided to move him. It was a struggle. He scratched and clawed. There was blood.

I made a new bed for him; a bigger pot, half a whisky barrel in fact.

I tucked him into rich, earthy folds of fresh compost and lovingly fed and watered him. I felt like I’d rescued him from the brink. But instead he began a steep decline, shrinking into himself and turning brown.

I tried talking to him. Nothing.

I tried prodding at him. His needles began to shed even faster, the ground literally littered with his skeleton, the spindly broken bones of his body.

I felt bad. I left him alone. I kept watering him. Still nothing.

I realised the move had finished him off (similar to my transgression with the seedlings, but I can’t even think about that just now).

I realised it was time to get rid of Bob.

He was taking up valuable real estate in the whiskey barrel. I had other fish to fry. I would drop him into the depths of the garden recycling bin and we would talk of him no more. My tools were at the ready, gardening gauntlets primed for the fight.

Reinvention, Perseverance & Hope: Bob the Christmas miracle to be

But then.

I noticed signs of life. Little green shoots sprouting from the centre of his uppermost branches: Bob was alive.

I kept on watering him, caring for him, waiting to see what would happen, wondering if I was imagining this stunning reinvention.

Almost daily more green needles appeared: bushy and smooth and strong and healthy. Bob flourished. Bob is flourishing.

Reinvention, Perseverance & Hope: Bob the Christmas miracle to beReinvention, Perseverance & Hope: Bob the Christmas miracle to be

He’s reinvented himself from the inside out. He’s shed the ghosts of Christmas past, he’s shed the memory of his time trapped in the too-small pot. And now he’s king of the whisky barrel; king of the whole garden!

It feels like a message of hope to us all but to me especially.

Just keep on doing what you’re doing. Don’t give up. The seeds you’ve sown are growing, growing stronger and more visible. Your time is yet to come.

Reinvention, Perseverance & Hope: Bob the Christmas miracle to beReinvention, Perseverance & Hope: Bob the Christmas miracle to be

I’d like to thank Bob for this little lesson. He’s going to be this year’s Christmas miracle!


Posted on May 13, 2016

Striving for Love: Jump, don’t jump

I’ve had a chaotic week.

I’ve lost all the photographs from my phone.

I’ve missed having creative time.

I’ve dedicated my afternoon to art journaling, aka ‘getting messy‘.

Some pages are finished, some aren’t. Friday is a good day to get creative isn’t it?

Getting Messy Art Journal Pages

There’s a lot of mess on the floor. I’m owning it. It inspires me.

Getting Messy Art Journal PagesThings that I love? That’s easy:

Tea, teapots, pretty soap, Geisha-faces (read what I wrote about my love for Japan), fashion, stripes, the colour red (though I’m not saying it’s my favourite colour or anything), flowers, stamping (with wooden stamps and ink as well as with feet. Sometimes.)

And I’m always ‘Striving for Love’. Love for life, self-love, romantic love.

Getting Messy Art Journal PagesThis is the second ‘Striving for Love’ page and I continued the theme with a girl in red, heart-centred jammy dodgers and the words, my hand-written words.

‘Jump, don’t jump’ came into my head when I found this image, and I like the idea of there being a gap, a ravine, a chasm to finding love, to finding yourself, to getting what you want, and there’s a decision to be made as to whether to cross that gap, ravine or crevice, or not. Jump, don’t jump.

Because… striving for love.

Something I love: yakking on the phoneSay it! Say it! Say it!

That’s the thing. I just can’t stop saying it. Everything. I love talking, chatting, communicating, yakking on the phone. About anything. About everything.

Talking is my poison.

Communication is king.

(hysterical laughter) – imitating the additional subtitles you can activate sometimes on films that strive to communicate every nuance of sound, every rush of traffic noise, every laugh, every cough (inserts random background chatter).

I LOVE vintage telephones. My phones at home are actually very modern. One is a crystal encrusted skull, the other is a red stiletto.

Unfinished art journal page: green, floral, woolOne last page. This one is a mash-up of themes and ideas, and it’s not especially seasonal with the knitted jumper, but I like it.

I think my message here is about constructing outfits like we construct our life.

“This outfit is tried and tested. It’s OK. It’s ‘safe to use’. PASSED.”

And I like the bright shade of green that matches perfectly between the jumper and the stickers.

The florals on the dark background remind me of period dramas and burgeoning gardens and sitting on the grass with a picnic (or maybe the biscuit tin). Random pages, random associations. Or flowers posed (poised?) in a vase for a still-life art class.

Maybe I’ll journal these words onto the pages? They’re transient, a bit like life, because the wool won’t let itself be glued down in one place (but then, neither will I).

Art journaling frees my creativity and expands my mind. Or maybe it frees my mind and expands my creativity?

Join the Get Messy Art Journal community.


Posted on April 29, 2016

COLLAGE CLUB: YELLOW

Yellow is the colour of sunshine, Spring and Summer.

Yellow means hope and happiness and buttercups and a host of golden daffodils.

Yellow is egg yolks on a winter morn, new ideas at dawn.

Yellow is the great communicator and loves to talk.

Yellow is the color of the networker and the journalist.

Yellow is the scientist; methodical and decisive.

Yellow is the entertainer, the comic, the clown.

And YELLOW is the April theme/prompt for The Collage Club.

YELLOW themed collage

I had lots of cuttings and ideas when I first sat down to make this collage, but somehow I couldn’t bring them all together in a cohesive image. Today was the day. A golden beam of sunshine helped.

It ended up about photography, specifically that of models for portrait shots, ‘Empire Studios’ touting for business, the camera finding little jewels of light, the magic in the moment, and yet does it ever really capture the truth of beauty or the beauty of truth?

Let’s at least put our best foot forward…

YELLOW themed collage

My second collage for YELLOW is again inspired by fashion, by models on the catwalk and the glamour of it all.

It’s all a ‘Pursuit of Happiness‘ – of looking good, finding the right angle, the perfect smile, of inspiring emulation and adoration. Yet all the striving turns the final ‘model shot’ into a falsehood, the flash of the camera projecting an unreality.

Models have freely admitted ‘they couldn’t look as good as themselves‘ in their off-catwalk life, without make-up artists, hairdressers, airbrushing, photoshopping, primping, preening.

I also read in a ‘vintage’ Vogue fashion book that at one time the colour yellow, or specifically a yellow dress, was something suitable for wear only by a whore, a prostitute, a hooker…

This quote from Andy Warhol’s POPism seems a fitting antidote from it all:

Now and then someone would accuse me of being evil – of letting people destroy themselves while I watched, just so I could film them and tape record them. But I don’t think of myself as evil, just realistic.”

Click! Click! Snap!

POP goes the weasel. That’s a wrap.

Who knew yellow could get so dark?

(There’s a donut and a parrot though. And a yellow Biba dress…)

Check out last month’s collages on the theme of URBAN.


Posted on April 20, 2016

Making a moment for Matcha

I don’t care what they say about Darjeeling; for me Matcha is the champagne of teas.

It’s dark and green and brooding, all those bubbles bursting with antioxidants, mysteries swirling around like in a bottom-less fairy-tale pond. It takes time to make and I love the slow, meditative process of warming the bowl, adding the water, mixing up an effervescent paste. Sometimes I add a splash of milk.

Making a moment for matcha tea #japanloveI think I’m in love with all things Japanese and I didn’t even realise until now.

Geisha, sushi, Sake, Matcha, origami, kimonos, haiku, Murakami, Muji, SuperDry… I even drive a Toyoto! (I draw the line at the ‘Kawaii’ phenomenon.)

Then last month I spotted this beautiful tray in the window of a charity shop. The shop was shut. I was sad. The tray would be gone by the time I could visit again…

A few days later my Mum handed me a ‘belated Easter gift’, and it was the tray! I was delighted.

Making a moment for matcha tea #japanloveOK it’s old. It’s a bit stained. But look at the delicate hand painting and the inlaid mother of pearl?

I said to myself that the next time I serve Sake, I’ll serve it on my Japanese tray. I might also use it for serving Matcha. In fact, I definitely will.

And I’d love to hear the stories this tray could tell, of drinking games and secrets disclosed as spirits freed the tongue…

The pale wood matches the mini-hockey-stick scoop and bamboo whisk, the accoutrements (which I discuss alongside the hand-thrown Matcha bowls in my New York City Art Journal post) are so much part of the experience; the trees just a few shades brighter than the tea.

I like to whisk in the shape of an ‘M’ or a ‘W’ for maximum frisson of the powder.

Day 47/100 of #100daysofhaiku 2015

I can picture myself working away in one of those little houses across the yellow bridge, soft rain pattering on the roof, watching the sail boats as I glance up to the snow-capped mountains, listening through the rain to the haunting call of the birds.

I’ve written about trays before, and Japan is definitely on my list of places to visit…unless of course, it turns out to be a Chinese tray?

Even so, the story is the same in my head and I’m sticking to it #makingamomentformatcha


Posted on April 14, 2016

Addicted to Lists: Week 1 & 2

Lists are a big part of my life. Words equally so.

But lists are always so provocatively there: calling, shouting and screaming for attention. To-do lists. Shopping lists. Bucket Lists.

When I heard the latest Get Messy season was all about LISTS, I was excited at the idea of making fun lists, creative lists, arty lists and listing as an insight into my life right now.

I knew straight away I would use this spotty-covered notebook with its creamy pages of handmade paper.

Season of Lists: Get Messy Week 1&2I bought it circa ten years ago and was too ‘scared’ to use it in case I ‘messed’ it up.

But that’s the whole point of Get Messy art journaling. And what if I never got around to using it? What if no projects were ever special enough for these handmade pages?

‘You need to make a mess to create art’ – that was my first crucial lesson.

One of my favourite Get-Messy-mantras is ‘use that special paper/book/washi tape/art set/insert-name-of-any-precious-thing-being-saved-for-a-rainy-day – THIS is the special project. YES!

My lists so far:

Season of Lists: Get Messy Week 1&2It was strange to write down a few things I am good/best at, and this page isn’t so journal-y, it’s literally just a list. A literal list.

But I also loved the simplicity of it with the striped washi tape, something which I think the beautiful paper of this notebook inspired.

Meanwhile, mysteries to me are definitely things that I have no real experience of such as ‘under the sea’ and ‘SPACE’ and ‘death’.

But they also include the beautiful mysteries of the natural world:

The short life of a butterfly, the solitary life of a shark and the disappearance of bees. The Inca Trail is a mysterious place I’d love to visit one day.

I added ‘the mind of a man’ because, well, they are from Mars.

These pages turned out lively and colourful and I love that the butterfly crossed the page…

Season of Lists: Get Messy Week 1&2My second spread is all black and white.

I love the black ‘mountains’ of ripped paper and the ideas that flowed through my head when I thought of those colours.

BLACK is witches, voodoo, spiders, hackers and space (and magic). WHITE is purity and minimalism, doves, daisies, pearls, milk, paper, Tippex, swans and snow.

Read more


Posted on April 4, 2016

COLLAGE CLUB: URBAN TALES

When I started gathering bits and pieces for this theme, I wasn’t sure which direction I would go in, but I soon found a route-map through the ‘URBAN’ landscape.

Collage Club: URBAN“You are HERE.”

Having recently returned from a trip to New York, I know first hand just how manic, busy and fast-paced urban environments can be.

Colours and lights and skyscrapers and buildings and people and buzz and rushing around to meet deadlines and communicate through time zones.

Time is precious and seems always to be in short supply in the urban landscape.

The edges can become frayed between reality and fantasy, and when I read about Skignz, it reiterated to me how technology and the invisible ‘noise’ of data connections are infiltrating every area of life, augmenting our own personal reality and the visual space around us, a la Minority Report.

Collage Club: URBAN“Is everyone ‘GONE’?”

The image above conjures the idea of ‘all the world being a stage’, of places and spaces having a voice, of desertion and diaspora.

I love the empty windows that appear derelict, the statues and horses posed in stone, almost caught mid-sentence yet preserved forever, through art and as art.

Cities and urban environments are places where information and knowledge is stored.

They are financial centres of the world.

They become the hearts that send pulses of knowledge rippling out to other hearts, other centres.

They are LOUD with the voices and accents of a thousand languages, and yet the universal language of the world can be navigated through recognisable brands like Coca Cola.

Collage Club: URBAN‘COOL GEOMETRY’ was a fashion trend I designed a collection around at college, circa 2001. Read more


Posted on March 24, 2016

New York City Photo Diary: Streetscenes, Sights & Signs

Exactly one month ago I was in New York City.

Exactly one month ago I was walking across the Williamsburg Bridge (give or take the 5-hour time difference…)

Exactly one month ago I was feeling the ferocious cold of the wind-chill factor right up there on the bridge, #fresh.

New York City: A Photo DiaryBelow I’m sharing some of my favourite photographs snapped hurriedly on my (android) phone as I traversed the sidewalks of Manhattan, Long Island City, Roosevelt Island, and all the NYC districts in-between.

New York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo Diary Read more


Posted on March 11, 2016

New York City Art Journal

I’ve just returned from my first visit to New York City and as my head explodes with ideas, plans and words as I try to express and capitalise on all the inspiration I’ve been exposed to, I thought I’d share my attempt to art journal my day-to-day experiences while I was away.

New York City/Manhattan Skyline in a fish bowlI’m part of the Get Messy Art Journal collective and my trip meant missing half of the Season of Happy.

Luckily I found my own ‘happy’, channeling an ‘Empire State of Mind’.

New York City Travel & Art JournalIt started with this cute Sukie Travel Journal that has a mix of lined and blank pages with little envelopes (some brown, some transparent) to keep tiny, delicate things in.

I glued in my trawl of papers, receipts and flyers every few days and wrote down some of the things I’d seen/visited – when I had a spare moment.

New York City Travel & Art JournalI visited both MOMA and MOMA PS1 and loved the little stickers they give out as entry tickets at PS1.

New York City Travel & Art JournalThere was a visit to one of the many speakeasies – Beauty & Essex.

The entrance is disguised as a pawn shop with all sorts of treasures to browse and a vintage cash register. It was a bit busy when we went and the smuck of maître d‘ were snippy and confusing so it wasn’t quite the full experience, but the interior looked suitably expensive and fabulous…

Meanwhile, I wanted a Kate Spade New York bag, but managed to resist. (It’s still a lot cheaper than a Chanel 2.55.)

New York City Travel & Art JournalI knew that Victoria had a secret because everyone had a shopping bag bearing her name. I was lucky enough to receive a surprise birthday gift from there though which made my day. Read more


Back to top