St Abb's National Reserve

St Abb's National Reserve
View from my office

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Merry christmas, everyone; it is still christmas, and not just an break to tidy before new year! A thought to all who have to work in this season, when the world wants to pause for a long, deep breath...

...before embarking on resolution, new projects, fresh diaries.

The snow has, so far, not given our little corner of the North East more than a dusting; the ice has caused problems. There was, though, the most gorgeous day: sun, snow, frost, ice when I was able to get out for a decent walk:

Monday, 14 December 2009

It may be cold, grey and miserable outside, but my studio is toastie warm; a bijoux 8ft x 10ft with foil-backed lining and boarded out. A halogen heater glows smugly in the corner.

Cosy, hmm? Yes, and very necessary. I have an oil painting ready for a client which WILL NOT DRY!

It has lived a gentle existence in our airing cupboard for nearly one month, with no apparent effects so it is time for a more direct approach. If I had a sunbed, baby, that little bit of paper would have been soaking up some rays, as we speak.

I'm just hoping the pictures recipient will be understanding.

With an excuse akin to 'the dog ate my homework,' I'm not convinced.

I'm off to finish a triptych so I can clear away my oils and face up to another metre-square canvas.

love to all.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Back from Edinburgh exhibtion. I have deemed it a success, and thank everyone who came along to support us.

Back to commissioned work, a list of paintings I hope to finish before Christmas, and now have nothing, bar a little light dancing, to distract me till then. There is the village play, mind you; but the performance is a mere 3 days away, and I will be able stop fretting about knowing the words to 'Throw out the lifeline...'

Please come along, if you are able; performance begins 6pm at Belford Middle School and will keep you an hour, plus raffle time. There are songs, puns and dance, all for a minimal fee, besides, I have spent a week on my 'mad professor's laboratory', and I'd hate it if it went unappreciated.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

I've made a bit of an error, put 'Mon 24th Nov' on an awful lot of invites, for this show, causing a deal of confusion.
Solution: 2 special openings, Monday & Tuesday!
Linda laughed, when I told her.
'Just as well,' I thought; since we'll be sharing the exhibition space for a whole week...

Friday, 13 November 2009

Exhibition in Edinburgh is imminent; visitors most welcome to the preview- please drop me a line and let me know.

I've not made many new paintings, have a lot from earlier in the year that haven't been viewed. I gather my collegue, Linda, is painting like a demon.

I'm having some of my canvases framed by a framer/paper conservationist in Wooler, Vincent Lomenech. He and his Wife, painter and print-maker, Olivia Lomenech-Gill are embarking on a print-making studio and framing workshop on the industrial estate. I think this is so exciting! A step towards a real cultural hub in North Northumberland. I wish them both well, hard-working people that they are.

Meanwhile, I am making my way slowly, but surely, through commissions. I want them all complete before Christmas so I can play, a little, in the new year. I haven't written anything much for ages, or taken forward painting projects. I find myself involved with alot of dancing; workshops, classes, demos and have not resisted the temptation to join in the annual village Christmas performance.

Meanwhile, the sun, it shines on the golden firs, or the mercury trunks glow through the mists and I try not to grind my teeth, greedy to capture the scene before it retreats for another year. I just want to do everything.

And manage a fair proportion of loafing while I'm on...

BTW intended to write about the Spanish Painters exhib in Edinburgh, then the National Gallery exhib, featuring the religious painting that inspired so much fevour and blissful contemplation in Medieval Europe...

...did anyone see them?

Friday, 16 October 2009

Saturday, 19 September 2009

I hit the wall, this week, realising I cannt be in two places at once (see earlier post) and succumbed to a 'wobble' this afternoon.
I am, only hours later, a woman transformed- I am sharing the Hexham exhibition so can flit to the art fair and do my share of standing, at the stand:
The Moot Hall exhibtion from 1pm on 28th Sept-October 4th is now a joint exhibition, featuring
Jewellery by Lucy Clayton
Textiles and paintings by Margaret Kenny
Paintings and Ltd Ed Prints by Sarah Riseborough
Normally we'll close at 5.30pm, but for Friday, when we'll open till 7pm and Sunday, we'll close at 4pm.
Lucy's website is in my links list, Margaret's work is on the 'Crossing Borders' website; flick through my online catalogue on Flickr, again in the links page.
Thank you, L & M
And, a 'Thank you' to Linda, who illuminated me in the terminology of the internet. My now should point to this blog, rather than a 'broken link' message, as the website floats, inert, in cyberspace, for the moment.
Friends, matey, that's what counts. Cash is useful, friends are invaluable.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

I've just got work into an exhibition at The Eastgate Theatre, Peebles. It begins on 20th Sept and ends 5th October. I'm submitting 3 abstract works. The Moot Hall exhibtion, in Hexham, begins on the 28th October. (running almost parallel with NewcastleGateshead Art Fair). Life is quite exciting, at the moment!

Oh, and, doing some preliminary sketches for commission work, as well as finishing work on the easel...

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Inter-dimensional matter transporter...

..well, across the North East will do; I've double-booked. Call me greedy, but after I booked The Moot Hall in Hexham for an exhibition from the 28th Sept to the 4th October, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to have work at the NewcastleGateshead Art Fair, at The sage, from 1st-4th October.
Give a choice of puddings, always prefer a little of each, quite frankly.
I don't actually have to be at Gatehead all the time; both Mick Oxley (whose gallery is to host my work) and collegue Michelle Milburn propose to attend, all the time- only, it's daft not to show my face, it being such a good opportunity to network, and more importantly, to help!
I am at the preview, for sure, so it would be lovely to see anyone who makes the night. I will have some tickets. Get in touch if you want some. Or, come along to Hexham, it is pot luck, I will be there some days, or it will be my good friend, Tanya, (who, I suspect, will represent my work better than I).
And, of course, if anyone comes up with a matter transporter in the mean time, let me know?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Friday, 21 August 2009


I feel I have to write a little blog to publicly declare my support and appreciation for staff in the NHS. I could extend this to include education, emergency services, care work, but recently, the NHS has suffered so much critisism I have to speak up:
I have great admiration for the people who work for the NHS; individuals who cope with so much trauma, crazy work directives, and long, unsociable hours; people who are dedicated to caring for people and deserve a good rate of pay and due credit.
I gave birth to my 2 children in hospitals, my appendix removed, various health checks, plus both my parents have had operations and treatment. The people who helped us deserve thanks, and thanks again.
Tirade ends.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Progress in work

Posting an image because I had a good painting day, today.

Culture Vulture

I've had two lovely trip out, this week, and feel I have recharged some batteries in the process. On Monday I went to Edinburgh, mainly to look at The Gladstone Gallery, off The Royal Mile, (where I'm sharing an exhibition in November), but there was an opportunity to see some art, so my friend and I went to The Gallery of Modern Art on Belford Road.
I can be left feeling angry and dim, in the presence of installation work; I have to work to turn round this idea and blame the artist for not communicating well enough. The justifications I have attempted to read get up my nose. Maybe I begrudge the artist their generous fees, maybe I am not clever enough, but I think public art should speak to the public, bridging a gap of understanding; an artist as communicator, as medium. Hirst's work smacks of 'clever' to me, that ideas that were considered a joke, in the pub, have been unwittingly funded, on behalf of the public when a sketchbook and maquettes would have sufficed. Perhaps his BIG IDEA is to channel money from the witless and opportunist capitalist? Ha, ha! what a joke! See them all queuing up to buy it! I think the work is made to serve his purposes, only, though and I worked my way through 3 rooms from sheep to pill boxes fairly quickly. I do love the stature he made for last year's RA show, but I much prefer the plasticised bodies Gunther Von Hagens prepared and displayed, as they (for me) celebrate and wonder at the incredible machine which is the human body. Damien Hirst seems to say 'Look! I'm not scared, here's a corpse, euugh!' Perhaps someone with real knowledge will sidle up to me, one day, and explain Damien Hirst's work to me, an I can flush with embarassment, then look sidelong at all the poor twits who bang on about how the amount of money public galleries are willing to spend on his work.
I loved Vija Celmins' charcoal drawings of the night sky and sea woodcuts. I understand aesthetic, I appreciate good drawing, methods of production and even some narrative, you see. I'm on safe ground and can leave aside the feeling I'm being laughed at, fooled, taken for a ride. There was a room of surrealist work which led me to a poet, whose work had been illustrated by- Man Ray, I believe; he is predominantly known for photography and sculpture. The poems, by Eluard, sent me, my dears; I loved them, and the fact I happened upon them by way of an exhibition of work that did not touch me; I appreciate, but feel nothing for surrealist works and I think it's okay to say that. I'm a student of art history, see the big picture, but it don't float my boat, okay? Anyhoo, after a dreamy poetic trip in a special, temperature-controlled room (for the reader, not the pages, I have no doubt!) I was happy enough to perambulate through the rest of the building, coming to land in front of 'Pink Roses, Chinese Vase' by S.J. Peploe. I do love the Scottish Colourists for the brushwork, the vibrancy, confidence and sense of their era. Peploe's image wasn't doing anything to change the world or make a conscience-changing statement, but, for me, sang out in its beauty and lit lamps in my brain. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe beauty is an under-appreciated quality in modern art-making; appreciation of nature of re-awakening importance.
Across at the Dean Gallery, paintings on long rolls of paper by Greg Creek were divine (Darling)- meandering, impulsive, images randomly placed and precisely executed; a joy to see. I didn't understand the purpose to them, but the aesthetic and quality of drawing let me off the hook. I'm afraid I had 'gallery eyeball' by then and had to go lie in a darkened room and sip green tea, so cannot finish my description of the exhibits.
Yesterday, I headed to Cragside with another friend, my son and his friend. I went in search of some distantly-remembered face; a Millais, perhaps, or Rossetti? A pale Pre-Raphaelite portrait that had stared wistfully over my head as I wandered around the house as a student, all those years ago. I found the many Wm Morris wall papers, sighed at the stained-glass, but could only see chubby children and kittens, sorrowful dogs and slaughtered stags on the wall (not-to-mention family portraits and landscapes). I'm not making any judgements, I'm just curious as to where my mysterious lady went? Was she just on holiday, from the Laing? Is she loaned out, or sold? Was I dreaming? It was a very enjoyable visit, all-in-all and whoever put the children's quiz together, clearly has a sense of humour!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

I'm very happy:

I've been asked to perform (with fellow dancers) at Spittal Gala on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon. We'll be dancing on the prom, prom, prom from 1.15-ish.

I've almost finished decorating my daughter's room. She's away, this week and I'm excited about her returning AND seeing her new room.

I've finished a short story and am really quite happy with it.

The greenhouse tomatoes are nearly ready.

I get to paint (paintings) on Friday (my son will have company so I can go in the studio)

Yoga was just what I needed, tonight.

Just had to tell y'all.


Thursday, 30 July 2009

Belief is a force we attribute to religion. It is commonly accepted, though often unacknowledged. I know intelligent people who question given facts and think creatively, yet either willfully, or near-sightedly look over their own belief patterns. I'm not on the brink of a Big Question blog, I'm talking about what a person believes one is cabable, or deserving of.
These are simple beliefs that become strung into an equation that might mean a person gets to chuck in the job and run a bar in Acapulco, or lose their job and end up a drunk in The Angler's Arms. These beliefs have roots, and often they need to surface to be questioned, and sometimes dug up and turfed out.
Beliefs can often staunch the instinctive life, for fear, of course, that the common man (human) is an untamed beast capable of unspeakable acts. It is heartening to hear of archaeological discoveries which credit the pre-christian, pre-classical human with a gift for creativity, an instinct for nurture and working, cooperative society- See Bamburgh Archaeological Project and 'Dogger Land' (R4 Programme).
I run along a fence, myself: I hurtle (sometimes painfully) between a fatalism, which I now manage if I hold on to the belief that The Universe is looking after me (B******* to Thanatos) and then, there is the notion that we create our own universe, and unwittingly will manifest a right old heap of dung for ourselves if we don't start believing we deserve better, right this minute! This is, I admit, a far more exciting cerebral life than worrying about the global economic climate.
So, if I have a point, is it time to get to it? My point is, there is no point; we achieve something and another horizon is discovered. No 'getting there' no status quo, no 'striving towards', no 'trying to', just 'being' is a transformative process whereby thousands of cells are created and perish in an instant, and the 'now' is always a memory, past control, beyond belief. With that in mind, I have a deadline to work to, better get to it...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Beach Walk

Last night, according to reliable sources there was an eclipse, visible on the other side of the world. By invitation, I walked on the beach, in celebration. These are my morning-after notes. It was about 10.45pm when we set out from the car park.
It's a far from perfect piece of writing, but serves, I hope, to deliver a few snapshots of a magical, but perhaps potentially dangerous outing..!
Walking between the light and the dark, caught between the breaking sky and its own reflection; between advancing sea and the safety of the land- not quite the sea and not quite the land; our wet foot prints melted away behind us. Took cautious note at the feet of fallen giants; their forms made seductive shapes to draw us further from the dunes.
Lindisfarne's sea-facing shore; the distant waves caught like horses in the stalls; impatient to race the course and cross the high-tide finish line.
We saw a dragon-cloud bring his night black wings across the sky and chase retreating blue and orange to the West.
We woke the birds who called out 'Who is that, who is that? Disturb the neighbourhood, would you? This is our time now. You visitors; haven't you got beds to go to?
To the friendly embers of early evening, we showed our backs and stumbled into someone else's dream:
As if the Island had declared its office hours closed, the friendly guides and pilgrims paths all vanished and the mainland lights twinkled, devilishly.
The Island said, 'you are on your own, now, kids.'
Our feet found the treacherous pits and sea-filled ridges. Fear found measureless depths, twisted ankles, drownings. We weighed our common sense and abilities against the stampeding tide; imagination conspired to put a spring in retreating footsteps.
We headed back toward the light.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


So, in the knowledge there's a blogging crown of social networking to be had I'm after pimping this page with all the bells and whistles I can find, only- my link list doesn't link- why, why, why?
Anyone have an idea?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Birds & Beds

The term 'break from work' seems synonymous with piecing together Swedish flat-pack furniture, non? Oui:
All the meant-to jobs got done in a post-paintbrush flop after (on retrospect) quite a busy, non-stop first half; luckily, (or the result of steady training and a regular chomp on an orange footballers still do that?) I like to think I scored a few goals and perhaps set up a few more. Back to me; upside down under a wrought iron implement of torture- oops, sorry, day-bed, on my mother's sitting room floor. There is a slowly seeping sensation like- like someone left the window a teensy-bit open all night when it wasn't really warm enough and now everything's a bit damp and all the enthusiasm has gone from, I'm not directly blaming my mother, but I should have known...
SHOULD HAVE KNOWN I could not make her life more comfortable; the woman has specialised in her own brand of self-denial and flagellation for years, even the Giant Shed of Domestic Dreams is not going to get Mum to kick back and enjoy life through the flat screen on a 'so-nearly-a-sofa-no-one's-going-to-know' 'This will solve all your problems' sodding 'Yanka' day bed. Or whatever it was called.
It is too large for the room, or was, till we threw all the furniture into the garden, apart from the TV and D.B. (I dare not say its name)
Fine, fine, and there's space to put the clothes airer (mum doesn't do outside- winter, too cold, summer, flies and pollen); fair enough, you cant actually see the telly from the high-seat chair where she usually sits, but, she says she'll manage.
Actually, technically, she can't use the D.B. yet because the mattresses are too soft, and simply eject her from semi-recline position to 'It took me 2 hours to get off the floor' position. Still she's had a lot of fun fretting about it, where it is, what people might think about it (The Furniture Police are in your area) and how much she's put everyone out, which of course, is her biggest worry.
That, and not having enough to worry about.
So, like a giant white elephant (only black, and made of metal, and not an animal at all) the D.B. squats, a memorial to well-intentioned children everywhere; I should have listened to my partner (and may have done, had he proffered the little gem before I began this whole sorry debacle); He said 'You should have bloody known.'
Sage words indeed, as the muscles in my back contort painfully with guilt when Mother announces on the phone she's moved the D.B. plus 2 mattresses 4ft across the floor, to get to the windowsill, and she's well on her way to a speedy recovery- she just needs to have a little lie down. On her bed.
Still, mothers; who'd live- no, can't go there, yet; only, I went out for a run, t'other day, nothing too athletic, I thought, a trot for 1/2 an hour; gets me out of the house an' all that, well I was on the road leading away from the village, just at a point where there's a green belt of trees between the road and the houses; a small burn runs under the road. I saw a bird a-fluttering along the bottom of the wall, clearly in distress. I could not run by, ladies and gentlemen, the clock was running, but I trapped the creature (only adding to its trauma, no doubt) and thought, after seeing it had lost most of the feathers on both wings and its tail, that I would pop it over the wall where it could find a little shelter, in which to die in peace.
I did not reckon on the feisty spirit of this little blue tit, and (it did try to peck me several times) after I deposited it over the wall, it gamely skeetered across the grass and dropped over a steep incline into the burn. Well, I could not run on, knowing this dear little thing had become the victim of a vicious double attack, by predator, then artless human ,so I heaved myself over the wall and followed the bird into the water. It was not deep, in fact, our little hero was clinging to a tiny twig in the centre of the waterway, perhaps 6 inches from the surface, It's little chest heaving with effort. I splashed towards it; it must have thought 'Oh F**k, not you, again.'
It took a while to get back up the sides of the ever-so-steep bank; I was muddied, a livid green streak up the back of my sporty shorts. I searched in vain for a little nook to place our blue tit in.
'Mother' I thought, 'She likes a lost cause.' I negotiated the wall once more and strode on with purpose.
Well, to cut a long story short, the birdy stayed with Mummy till I returned from my exercise, giving my dear old mum a chance to really fret about the dietry requirements of an injured blue tit; by the time I had returned, Ma was on the phone reporting an escape attempt and the little fellow was i her kitchen sink, pooing on the dish cloth.
I took the little champ home, where he upgraded from a teabag box to a shoebox, even survived the night, despite an enthusiastic cuffing from our pet cat. Hemade his final journey as a sought out a lady with a wild animal sanctuary, not far from where I live. She was out so I made my mind up to borrow a cage (I kid you not) from my Mother-in-Law and nurture little bluey till he mended and the bond between us was made good and he flew off, only to return and perch on the windowsill, every spring...aah, okay, took the lid off the box there, folks sorry; no what actually happened was, I took the lid off his box, to transfer him to his new, luxury 2-story wooden apartment and he'd bought the farm.
It is only by the grace of God I have two strong arms with which I can pick up sticks and beat myself around the head with both at once; saves time.
So, time off, yes, lovely, thanks. Back to the studio, phew.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Well, the postcard is complete, the exhibition on the High St over; time to collect the pictures and get back in the studio. The Seahouses Festival seemed well-attended, well-received and the weather was good for us folk unable to bolt for cover, in the event of a downpour.

Thank you to everyone who stopped to have a friendly word, took an interest in the paintnig, shared their stories and kept me fed and watered. My only regret is not keeping a visitors book handy, which would have been a good record for the festival organisers.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Hey! I'm going to be painting a giant postcard on the side of the limekilns, Seahouses Harbour this weekend, drop by if you are in the area.

Me? I'm off to find my crampons....

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Monday, 25 May 2009

Pre-London art fair 'do I really know what I'm doing?' doubts are banished, no time to worry about that anymore, wrap those piccies, write that 'to-do' list, lose the the 'to-do' list and write it out again...

He says, 'stop worrying'.

Oh, okay, then, ooh, that's better; wish I'd thought of that. I am, apparently, making a big deal out of the driving- coming from a man that needs sat-nav to find which shelf the pepper grinder's on I think it's a bit rich-

Drop in and see me- stand B5 at Untitled Art Fair Chelsea Old Town Hall- there's a preview on Friday, then open Saturday and Sunday- I can email tickets, info, etc. or google 'untitled art fair' and grap some tickets from the front page of the website.

I'm looking forward to the experience, to showing my work to a new audience, to feeling the London buzz, to too many Costa coffees on the way down, and seeing some lovely folk when I'm there.


Monday, 4 May 2009

I've been to a residential course; a regular occurrence; an annual pilgrimage in fact.

Ford Castle is normally packed with school children on geographical field trips; on this occasion it was transported back to a time of princesses- no, further back; to the era of the matriarchy. Goddesses walked the ramparts.

Egyptian (Arabic) dance has transformed, embroidered, informed, dominated the lives of women for years without breaking through into popular culture. Perhaps this is just as well; perhaps the images of 'Carry-On' style chest-wobbling nymphs, or harridons was a clever ruse by the Goddess to keep this delicate bloom of female empowerment protected from the cynical eye of market forces. We don't 'do' labels, Darling, unless you count Eman Zeki, costumier extraordinaire; dancer of a classical tradition, whose aim in life is clothe each client, no matter what age or shape, in a costume that will make her feel beautiful- Goddess-like.

The weekend brings together teachers and students from all over the U.K. and further afield. It is an opportunity to learn: techniques of old, or the latest in Cairo; Folkloric traditions; Belly dance flavoured with latin, with flamenco, hamming it up, or a generous potion of cheese (belly dancers do have a sense of humour!) Not only style and technique; good practise, safe dancing, performance issues; how to stand-

A willing student can be drawn down a road of enlightenment and self- awareness by a pantheon of mentors offering food for the soul. The dance can be an hour a week in the company of women, moving to nice music, blocking out the humdrum world, simple as that, no more, no less, but it will throw challenges a woman can accept and move on, or deny. By coming forward and sharing her dance with her fellows, a dancer shows an aspect of herself, allows herself to be praised, appreciated, admired; accepts these gifts and gives, in return, to the next dancer. The aspect on display might be a comfortable persona dressed for the public, but she might be a long-forgotten, or a forbidden friend who maybe has the audacity to have a mind of her own, or a repution for having an opinion. She may not even have the capacity, yet, to accept deserved praise, or permission to like herself. A student may fall at the first hurdle, to allow herself time to dance.

So, what am I barking on about The Goddess for?Well, she, to me is resident, she holds the keys to the cell, will stand up to the critic, make a gesture to the One, to the authority, the sleeping policeman. I'm not talking about parking on yellow lines or smoking behind the bike sheds, I'm talking about the spectre of body image, of body ownership, of personal responsiblilty which were all issues, mostly unspoken, present in the castle, for this weekend.

An example, just the one, before I go; a class billed as roots of the modern form of dance, the teacher moved to relax her keen and pensive students began her warm up:

'We are here,' she put her hand below her belly button, 'and 'ah' we are home.' She softened her knees slightly, her shoulders back, and down; spine aligned and feet in parallel.

Home; inside, she talks about, being present in the body, secure and centred; she is powerful but not dominant, not great by the weight of a hip belt jangling with the corpses of the vanquished, but comfortable in her own skin, safe in her knowledge, able to love.

From the castle, filled with warmth and humour, sparkling costumes, sweat and tears I return with a few aches and a folder of handouts.

Pah, I feel the magic weakening, the pull of chores and the awful prospect of the weekend suitcase. I'm going to make some notes, and, um, maybe have 40 winks to freshen up before teaching tonight.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

A few months ago, a freelance cameraman phoned me to ask if I'd take part in a local film project about the environmental heritage of North Northumberland. Well, I've met Jimmy before, through promotional work for Alnwick Garden, and thought, 'Hey, why not?' There would be, I knew, an opportunity to showcase my painting, and the project sounded worthwhile; a lot of the work included children at a local school and I think it is important to feel good about the area you live in, and feel proud. The media works to convince people that the party's always somewhere else in order to sell ideas. If you feel good about yourself, and where you live, you can take or leave the barrage of advertising angled at pressing the self-doubt buttons. Kids growing up in rural locations can be made to feel they are missing out on a shinier, more sophisticated 'lifestyle' and will be very negative about their patch. Having felt that myself, I'm very happy to see projects that celebrate the area...ANYWAY, off the soapbox, I was on the beach on Thursday afternoon, madly mixing far too much cobalt blue and alizarin crimson, fretting about painting an en plein air oil in front of camera and two programme presenters. I may have chopped every comment with a hideous self-depreciating statement as my Lindisfarne seemed less castle-like and more a table jelly, the sea was so flat it was practically concave, I ran out of 'sand colour' and dropped brush after brush into the sand. What a palaver I made, what a fuss. The idea had been that the couple interviewing me would happen upon me as I was taken by the muse, exchange a few pleasantries and say their goodbyes. This was to be linked with a piece already completed, in my home, featuring some more talk and views of the paintings. It all sounded so easy, so professional; no doubt Jimmy will edit the bumbling (on my part, both Nina and Bob were relaxed and focussed) fool to appear (briefly) cohesive and interesting.

I made reference to using the finished article to light my fire, later, so neurotic was I, by the time the filming ended. Jimmy suggested we raffle the offending (my term) article at the showing of the film, and during Seahouses festival to raise money for a local charity. I stepped back from the painting and the four of us contemplated as a low black cloud hid the last rays of warm spring sun from us. 'It needs distance.' said Bob.

'About three miles?' I thought.

Then I took my s**t-tinted spectacles off. Yes, the painting's fine.

'You need to stop saying such negative things about yourself, you aren't doing yourself any good.' The wise, good-looking, twenty-year-old Nina proffered as we said our goodbyes in the car park.

Thank you, Nina.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

I've had an ecclectic bunch of visitors this weekend; artists, tourists, cyclists and a trainee minister, an agreeable chap who stayed for a good hour and enjoyed the exchanges between my guests and I; hearing and contributing to the opinions, the histories and dramas that inevitably unfold when a group of people are thrown together in a different environment (I mean my studio event). He's after a rural placement and his safari of North Northumberland doesn't seemed to have put him off. I gather he'd stayed at Haltwhistle and Kirkwhelpington, too. Something of a Merchant & Ivory costume drama there, I think; modern-thinking Cambridge graduate visiting a rural backwater; I see the train pulling into the tiny station, him alighting in a cloud of steam to be met by a surly taxi driver. He is introduced to the community amidst the tutts of disapproval from the conservative local gentry, superstitious suspicion by the lumpen proletariat. On a lonely hill trek among the sheep- embroidered hills he spies a magnificent ram, horns held aloft, proud gleam in its eye; the beast moves off, stage right to reveal Miss Connie, sweet and pale, shepherdess and only daughter of the infamously fierce hill farmer; Terence Backwithers. Will the two find love in the lonely peaks? Will our young hero find his place in the country? Will the audience nod off before the end of the film? Well, I made it to the end of 'Room With A View' so I don't see why not-
He ( the real Minister-in-Training) was off to commune and roll eggs with the congregation at dawn today, then back on the train to Cambridge- Ah! Northumberland will be a strange dream by tomorrow; perhaps I'm more of a mood for a good TV comedy/sci-fi/drama- a 21st Century cleric is rocked back to 1950's England, he must find a way back to his own time or can he bear to leave the grotesque, yet compelling characters he discovers? Can he abandon Coldplay and live with the raw and plaintif crooning of Buddy Holly? Will the need for Costa coffee keep him looking for a portal in the time and space, or are the heady charms of Miss Willa and her ample stocks of Carnation condensed milk be enough to convert the misplaced Minister to a simpler, less sophisticated life? Has he a role to play in this close-knit, yet narrow-minded community? Will his outlook be an inspiration to his reluctant parish, or will his own field narrow to a mere one-acre strip, in his new, old-fashioned waking dream life?
Tune in after songs of Praise!
I think, maybe not.
He was a nice chap, though ( The real Minister-in-Training, that is.)
The reason he was at the exhibition was his hostess (the wife of Belford's URC minister) had introduced him to a series of people to sample rural Northumberland (read: out from under her feet!).
A real melting pot of folk, a web of cross-referenced associations, strangers, accidental visitors have made it over my threshold this weekend, thanks to all.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

So ,off to Thirsk on Saturday to deliver to UKYOUTH exhibition, then keep the momentum to get enough work together for Canterbury in May/June.

Meanwhile, April 10,11 & 12, a small open studio event at 21 West St, NE70 7QB 11-5pm.

Monday, 9 March 2009

I decided not to participate in the Art Tour this year; a difficult decision as I've had an open studio event twice a year since 2002. I felt I was getting into a rut and with hindsight, the summer deadline didn't really suit my pattern of working. I decided, if my thoughts about the forthcoming event were less than positive I should give it up; for the moment, at least.

Saying that, I'm having my own little 'thing' on the 10th & 11th of April, a smaller scale do; give folk a chance to see the work I've been producing lately-

Because I have been working. Nothing like a deadline, is there? Where the absence of Art Tour left a space, opportunities have arisen. First, I booked space at an art fair; Untitled has been sending info since it began, and I bit the bullet, despite my fear of driving down to LDN myself, fear of driving back myself, car still packed to the rear view mirror- all the doubts, excuses have been swept away; I'm exhibiting on the May bank holiday weekend. We shall see how that goes.

My second opportunity is an exhibition at Stark Gallery in Canterbury. I dimly remember sending envelopes of images and information out last year without any response from the galleries I contacted; till now, that is. The 10-15 pieces of work have to be at the gallery before May 3rd. Life has just got exciting. I do have a lot of pieces of work at home- I do need, I feel, to send a cohesive collection of paintings so I'm signing off to go into the studio; but not before mentioning UKYOUTH with whom I'm exhibiting 4 canvases (or is it 6?) at the end of this month...and a commission.

I'm not complaining, you understand, just (gulp) saying 'bye for now'!

My website will hopefully be back up soon, too.

OOH it's all me, me, me...

Monday, 23 February 2009

Thank you to everyone who attended the dance workshops on Saturday, and the hafla in the evening; especially thanks to Ali, a fabulous teacher who we hope to see more of. Thanks, too to Mags for leading our erratic drumming. Our post-workshop food was fab, too, so thanks to Paula, too!

Altogether a successful event, here's too the next!

Meanwhile, a few paintings from the last few weeks, mostly on quite a small scale, which is very satisfying to work with and gets me away from worrying too much about details that, in hindsight, mean little to the finished painting.

I enjoyed, very much, the palette of an early morning walk in the snow; the golden sunshine picking out the dried grass, the blue shadows cast on the white. So glad the spring is coming, though. I'm ready for the sun to warm my bones.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

On 21st Feb I've organised a dance party, a hafla, which is an opportunity for local Arabic and Tribal-Style dancers to perform (that is, both teachers and students) and for folk to come and watch, see what the whole thing is about. So what I'm saying is, 7 for 7.30 at The Ferguson Hall, Nursery Lane, Belford and £5 per ticket; feel free to bring your own refreshments.
I teach 5 hours a week, at the moment and getting into the swing of it is challenging; a few more early nights are necessary to prevent burn-out! (A collegue of mine teaches 10; I need to take some notes.)
It may seem a little confused, a little unfocused to split my career up into three (counting writing, too) but I find, if I'm organised with my time, painting, dancing and writing compliment each other perfectly; (I'm a lucky old blighter, aren't I?) It probably means I'll never be exemplary in any of my chosen disciplines but I'd have a difficult job choosing one over the others.
Point is, I've not begun painting, yet, this year (too dark, cold, wuss!) but I have sorted out choregraphy, reviewed some of my stories, so I'm not really juggling, just doing the things that are most appropriate for the time- sap is rising now, though, and the studio mucked out. I'll post any new work, meanwhile, enjoy a few class photos...

Friday, 9 January 2009

Happy new year.

Let's all agree now to have a good 2009, shall we? I'm feeling moronically optimistic and don't want to be in a club of 1.

I've not got back in the old shed, yet, in fact I'm looking for bigger premises as 8x10ft has limitations for my messy creativity.

Warm, light, spacious, cheap, if you are asking and within walking or cycling distance, running water and mains electricity. Don't want much, do I? But there's no harm in asking, I reckon.

Ideally I'd have a place where I can leave more than one project out, have plenty of wall space to pin up sketches and photos and storage for an embarrassing collection of art materials, which probably will get used, ahem.

Oh, and I wouldn't mind getting my writing published, this year, please, Universe, since I'm making a list.

And yourselves, what's on your wish list? Go on, tell me...