Monday, 10 June 2013

Little Birds

Apologies for my tardiness in updating regularly, I can offer no excuse aside from Life and the various positive and negative merits it holds. 

The Art- man ( and I seem to have developed a bit of routine all of a sudden, and a creative one at that. We have started working together in companionable silence in our little studio, making use of every bit of daylight. The quiet is wonderful after a busy question filled day and I long for our moments like this. We are, for the first time, working on a ‘wedding project’ at the same time and the same project and it’s so special that we are. Although a bit clich├ęd these days, we’re making 1000 origami cranes to hang around our wedding space when we marry in October. It seems to be quite a popular trend these days but being the ‘half-house or Origami’ it seems all the more fitting. The different papers that we fold all mean something or were chosen on colour alone. Some are our letters to each other, some album covers- even photographs we’ve printed etc. I’ve been given paper as a gift from Japan and some sheets have been rescued from the bargain shelves of art shops. They all mean something; they all have a memory, 1000 memories in fact. It’s our intention to hang the cranes behind our headboard once we’re married; not to remind us of patience, care and love in a marriage but mark a moment in time when we sat together ankles linked folding. 

Special mention to Helen ( for such lovely words and post about a little piece I made recently for the said, H. x

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Style Inspiration

Do you ever have that craving to have a succinct style icon that you can look to occasionally to inspire? I’d say I search for this inspiration in every magazine I receive (always second hand and months out of date) but nobody cuts it really. You see real ‘icons’ are never quite me too perfect and never really retro enough, certainly vintage but that ‘retro’ edge is as rare as the cockerel’s wife’s dentures.

Inspiration comes from the weirdest of areas my favourite and most enduring being: Tin Tin from ‘Thunderbirds.’  I kid you not, I really can’t find any ‘celebrity I’d rather look like, accept Lady Penelope maybe….but I’ll forever be a brunette. Now I realise that there is an issue with strings and everything but surely most icons come with a certain number of strings attached. The sixties cool combo of hair/make up / Buddhist-super hero cool makes her the woman for me.

The ‘Art-man’ and I aspire to the ‘Modernist’ ideal and if viewed intently enough Tracy Island house is a positive show home, so really he needs a modernist wife to suit. But can I really go into my uber-posh hairdressers with a pic of a puppet?  I doubt it…oh well.  


Confession: I’m not growing my hair for our impending wedding, I’m growing it for the sheer love of plaits…no really I am. On a practical side, it’ll be really helpful to plait and pin them to the top of my head aka ‘Heidi’ and Florence (of the Machine fame) in the day, for everyone needs an aerodynamic Librarian in their life. But I like the idea of plaiting an array of different textures into the said plaits, tweed, tartan, rolled paper beads etc.  a day-time hat if you like…


Confession, I used to hate those types of questions in the English Lit classroom. ‘Discuss’ suggests that in the first place the lecturer was on the hop following a ‘Guardian spouting’ Merlot slurping evening before with a group of friends so afraid of having opinions of their own they become empty abandoned billboards in a derelict town. A vehicle for another wo/man’s opinions to be projected upon. Anyway…’Discuss’ always feels as if one is doing the legwork for another article, a more critical one, that our work will just act as a series of gobbets.

I’m reminded of the Jim Kirkwood work: ‘There must be a pony!” where two sons are tested by their Father about their differing reactions; one an optimist and the other the aforementioned pessimist. I think its experience that dictates our life rhetoric and in what camp we fall. There are those confused souls who believe that they are one only to be, in actual fact, another. The closet optimist is a very dangerous specimen.  All Jack Dee in the day only to delight in wild and obscure collections behind closed doors at night. I’m the reverse.

My public propaganda is ‘little miss sunshine’ whereas my head is your archetypal tragedian, some things just seem too good to be true and I ruin it by worrying things will change. My optimism is for others, I can get extremely excited for another’s goal/quest and even my own but this is undone when the doubt creeps in. How easy would it be to undo this self-conditioning? Is it possible, in the first instance? People do change, they have that potential, I truly believe that- I wouldn’t be able to do the job I do if I didn’t think people could but it’s a lot more difficult for self-change isn’t it?

I worked in a busy public Library for a number of years, a job I really enjoyed for three main elements: variety, books and pace. Quite often members of the public would come in with a referral from the Doctor’s surgery for a ‘self-help’ book. These enquiries were treated with the strictest privacy. This medicating through literature is key; a pile of books cures feelings of cynicism more than the weightiest of drugs, well for me it does. There is hope between those pages.  There is hope in a ‘crafting project’ those moments when you get an idea or are inspired by another’s work gives more of a lift than any sip of champagne or quick fix. I think the key is this act has the potential to exist longer than us, this act of legacy is simple and yet dynamic. The creative gene, if possessed and more to the point, flexed is capable of allowing us to free our heads of pessimism.  One step after another result in something more than we’d expect ourselves to achieve; therein obliterating the pessimistic self….momentarily at least.  

Friday, 1 February 2013


I well an truly had to scratch my head, Stan style this afternoon. I’m pretty new to blogging. This site was formed as a bit of an experiment in connection with other sites I have (Etsy/Facebook/Flickr) etc but friends, without blogs are reading and I’m receiving the most delightful emails. I was forwarded information regarding the Leibster blog award from the delightful Helen ( and accordingly here are my 11 random facts:

I always turn to page 44 of a book I’m about to buy and read it. This is a relative thing but if a novel is of a generic size the plot has started by then.

If you add together the letters (quals) after my name, it sounds like a fart in a bath.

I really dislike walnuts (it’s the squeak business) but adore all other nuts.

I brew Earl Grey tea far too long until it’s the colour of black coffee.

I really like the Terry Thomas gap between my front 2 teeth and sometimes I wish it was wider.

I have far too many Nightmares

Tomatoes are divinity in my book

I always forget about toast, I get distracted so now I’ve become accustomed to eating cold toast and prefer it.

If I squint my chap looks like Humphrey Boggart

I dislike tartan but love tweed

It’s my year’s ambition to learn a ‘Charleston’ routine in full, it reminds me of my Nanna.

The answers to Helen’s posed questions are:
  1. Have you tasted snow? Yes, the recent snow didn’t taste of anything much. The snow in Venice tastes extremely salty.
  2. What was the last thing you ate that you had cooked? “Fishfinger pie” A University staple that I cook for my fella and I occasionally, it’s pure nursery food and an exercise in food strata. A week before I went to University as an undergraduate, my Mum cut out a recipe from the newspaper written by the actress Frances Barber-that is the pie.
  3. Would you rather work on a farm or in a factory? A factory -but in the 1940s. A favourite artist of mine is Ethel Gabain, and I would have loved to have met a few of her portrait women  and listened to their conversations.
  4. What memory do you have about one of your  teeth falling out? I remember laying the table in my doll’s house out in full for the tooth fairies to have a meal when they came to collect my tooth. Each plate had a rather colourful ‘dolly mixture’ and the teacups were filled with cordial. In the morning I found little teeth marks in the half eaten dolly mixtures.
  5. What couldn't you live without? Multiple contact/conversations with my chap and my parents through-out the day- all three are the most delightful company and have the quickest wits.  
  6. Three songs you like? All of me: Billie Holiday, Allez Viens: Bart and Baker and You are my sunshine:  Johnny Cash
  7. Film you think everyone should watch? Brief Encounter
  8. Food staple? Sushi:
  9. Favourite smoothie combination? I’m a green smoothie girl, so anything with apples/spinach/kale/lime.
  10. trousers or dresses? This is a hard question to answer because my staple look is a dress over jeans.
  11. flowers or plants? Fruit plants. I love the look of fruit more than flowers.
I will use the weekend to come up with some questions for you…… x

What could you have named better?

This started as a Blog about ‘pet hates’ a question a few people have asked me recently, I must look particularly ‘scowl-ridden’ at the moment. When you ask people what ticks them off, they list a number of things that make you feel self-absorbed for your one selfish pet hate. The masses list: mean people, lost money, crime, hatred, injustice etc.

Mine is, when the tea bag label falls into your tea on a 10 min break. Ok I know this is ridiculous but that’s it I like a dry label to dunk the bag whilst it’s brewing. If it falls in I curse for Britain (grated 1940s swear words but still)
 But, today when brewing a calming camomile tea, the little blurb was quite enlightening, apparently the Greeks inspired by the camomile’s distinct apple-like smell, called it ‘kamia-melon’ (ground apple).  I like this…it’s obvious, it makes sense and you can count on the Greek culture, so much nobler than the Romans. I’m Welsh and as such have never forgiven the Romans. As the Monty boys ask: “What have the Romans ever done for us?” Hmmmmm
But it got me thinking, what would you have named differently if you’d been there at the beginning with the Greeks: Bee-jam for honey? Monkey enigma tree? Empty cake (Doughnut)? 
I love the birth of a word, and if anything that’s the ‘QI’ of being a Librarian in a Land based college, Natural history/Horticulture loves a good root word. Our students are so familiar with Latin terms they throw them about with the confidence of text speak. I’m proud of them for this, it is in my book (excuse the pun) the ultimate street-wise. 

(Coloured) Box(es) Beats

I’m a child of the Eighties, I’m not proud of it but there we are. The ‘Art-man’ assures me it was a very good decade for music but I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s an amniotic thing, maybe the birth pangs of electric pop were keenly felt whilst I was still in the womb for me to think, enough now. No, I begin and end with Billie Holiday and I follow in my Dad’s size nines in the belief that you can only really get to know an artist by remaining loyal. His poison is one, Robert Dylan (the early years).

However, I do seem to be experiencing a bit of an eighties revival, well 1988-89 to be precise.  On a trip to London I saw and was smitten with a ‘Moon collection’ bag from that great fashion concept that was ‘Benetton.’ I loved it on sight, its bold primary colours were/are framed by black piping and I was treated to it by my parents as a holiday treat. 

This Mondrian inspired beauty has lasted in its appeal and look and is now my everyday bag for work. The sapphire blue, apple green and scarlet are glorious first thing in the morning and I do feel like an art thief nonchalantly walking with a painting under my arm. However, anything that makes me think of Peter O’Toole at ten to eight is ok in my book….what a cool cat.

Weekend days will be studio spent and a conspiratorial ‘wedding/Chanel’ lunch with my beloved Mum on Sunday x

Keep it flying dear George…..

‘Keep the Aspidistra flying’ is the novel equivalent of a Valium & Caffeine cocktail.  Whilst the story and characters calm, the prose’s concept makes me feel agitated. Gordon Comstock is a personal hero of mine and I often feel like ‘declaring war’ on what he terms as an ‘overarching dependence’ on most things within my working life and the banalities of mundane things like ‘shopping’ and ‘social convention’ (i.e. not spending my lunch money on a new set of pencils rather than an ersatz sandwich)

When the ‘Art-man’ and I got into the motor this morning we noticed that we’d left our Aspidistra in the back of the car, its leaves clearly visible in the back window of the car.  We decided to leave it there and like a toddler it enjoyed the journey immensely, shaking its leaves with every pothole. But I couldn’t help thinking when I locked the car and walked into work, what an ‘Orwellian’ symbol it was, sitting there in the back of our car until we’re released from the routine of work.

 I think I may have my lunch with it later, that ersatz sandwich and the G2 crossword-for even symbols of Bohemian liberty may get lonely.   

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The (Daily) Happiness Project…..

Happiness exists in the working life within the quick glance at other people’s blogs/pinterest/Flickr accounts etc. I’m overwhelmed by people’s industrial commitment in recording inspiration throughout and at the end of the day.  Creative life, as hinted before, starts when I leave work and quite often these blogs make me feel frustrated to be in work and not working.
However, they provide a welcome cleanse of all things monotonous within the day with ideas I’d have never even thought of before-such a buzz.

Today’s viewing has been an old favourite, the beloved Jen Corace’s work and a series of artistic stepping stones from one blog’s favourites to another. The tea soundtrack today started with the beloved ‘Earl Grey’ (Empress), Green (Pure) and finally ending with a Smokey Lapsang which made me crave a bacon sandwich made by the art man.

Designing an art studio:

The ‘Art-man’ and I are getting married this year, but before that ultimate date we are designing and committing to the ultimate union of….possibly, sharing a studio. We are lucky; our new 1960s abode has two conservatories, one a little bit smaller than the other and yet perfectly formed. It would have been perfect if these two spaces had been made into one but alas no. But maybe this isn’t a bad thing due to our subject areas being so different: Sculpture (paper) and Mark-making (albeit, Graphite/Watercolour/Oil).

As artistic individuals, we respond to having our own space. I think if we are honest with ourselves, most creative pursuits need a certain amount of physical as well as creative head space. So, the wedding surfing is on hold momentarily whilst we settle our heads into our new ‘arty’ homes.  Is it wrong that the ‘studio’ porn on pin interest and Flickr is so much more exciting than wedding planning right now? I do think it’s a little bit of Ostrich syndrome but still, the ideas/pictures of how to organise art supplies make me weak at the knees.

However, and note the delusion here, we need to organise the studios as a lot of our wedding is going to be handmade….there, knew I’d find a way around it!

Happy Monday all ………..

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Diagram-atically different

O.k. so I maybe on my own with this appreciation but, Japanese diagrams make me giddy with joy. Alright, so the majority of Japanese diagrams I’m looking at daily are origami ones and they’re inherently aesthetic but the beauty relates to their design.

Most diagrams within the West follow a linear grid fashion, and whilst there is a time and place for such a display - information is all the more beautiful when it has a shape/design.  Consider the design below: the meandering instructions keep the brain interested and alert and the very colour use is tantamount to diagram fireworks.

Japanese food is by far a favourite of mine, clean/ healthy flavours with an artistic element at the core of its formation. We try to eat a Japanese inspired meal at least once a week and take care to arrange the ingredients to keep both the head and palette happy. But, this sometimes slips and I get drawn in by authentic Japanese ‘pot’ noodles in the supermarket, I blame the packaging. The instructions are so beautifully realised that I think they make the food taste better. The fact that the little boxes contain just enough to feel satisfied but not ‘full’ is equally a joy. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Everyone’s got at least one in them…maybe a couple

As the saying goes, most people have at least one novel in them. I have been fiddling around with a piece of writing, on an optimistic day it pertains to being the start of a novel on a bad day it’s a collection of witticisms that are so secular in their appeal it’s untrue.  I nearly always have a word document open on my screen, trying to pencil certain ideas and observations that I think, sometimes, may add to the characters I’ve known/developed for a few years.

These characters are as familiar as friends and quite often I will have a blindingly obvious connection (usually in Sainsbury’s) between our everyday life and an imagined day. But in truth I’ve lost confidence in the idea of somebody reading what I’ve written. To counter this I’ve started dropping abstract scenes into conversation with the ‘Art-man’ or Mum and oddly they’ve liked what they’ve heard up to now, which is such a thrill.

These dual approaches, coupled with a lack of sleep (I drink too much caffeine) often results in odd scenes in my day. Imagining a protagonist’s activity within my daily routine helps with the writing but doesn’t aid my consciousness.  This sounds terribly pretentious, and please believe me it’s not. Rather, it is a confusing set of scenes that I take home with me each day, wondering what happened and what I imagined…..yes, after typing that I agree I need committing.

But on a linked point, I seem to have developed an already simmering interest in Biblio-fiction recently and when going to ‘Blog-press’ I have a beautiful gift of:  The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger winging its way to me…eek, can’t wait!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Planting/Changing bulbs….

Well the ‘Art-man’ and I have moved house. It’s taken longer than we thought (over four months) but we are settled in our ‘haven’ of a house. The beauty of the house is that it has two ready-made spaces that are perfect for studios. We do feel terribly spoilt with this gift of space and creative potential but we’ve promised to work twice as hard on creative pursuits to even out the ‘spoilt’ karma. 

The wait for the property allowed us to dream (endless post-it note designs in work) and imagine what it may be like to produce art works in a new and unfamiliar environment. The longing and recent organising of the space has left, well certainly me, a little shell-shocked….I sat at my desk (what a luxury) last night and like a small child after too many ‘Barley sugars’ I didn’t know what to do first. Creativity, up until now has consisted of piles of paper being shuffled (croupier style) around our ‘bijou’ living space. Projects being lifted and moved from time to time to make room for supper, tea drinking or, more recently form filling. But now….wow wee!

I think I may have posted before that the ‘Art-man’ and I sun-light (as opposed to ‘moon-light’) as Librarians. This work is busy and enquiry led,  meaning two days are never the same but during the Winter months it is frustrating to return home ready to continue on art-work only for it to be too dark to appreciate subtle light nuances. It is refreshing that the evenings are steadily, if not infinitesimally, lightening with the promise of being able to push open the studio doors into the garden soon.

Really looking forward to Spring……..Happy New Year!

Filmic doppelgangers

Over the Christmas Break I would tease the ‘Art-man’ with the phrases: ‘Has he been yet?’ and ‘I can hear something can you?’  Now, the ‘Art man’s’ affection for me resulted in him either running to our new front window or cocking his head in a spaniel fashion. He’s stoic in the way he plays along to my silliness. Of course, all these questions were in relation to St. Nick’s arrival.
Remembering the feelings of Christmas anticipation through these phrases are some of the loveliest memories of Christmas 2012, especially as we had our house keys on the 21st December , Christmas activity was somewhat frozen.   

This activity of packing/moving boxes altered the dynamics of our conversations too. Rather than long chats about all things, it started a series of Q & As posed when carrying a box for the answer to be returned on the trip back into the house.  The famous question of: ‘Who would play you in a film? Or which character is most like you? Much debating resulted in the answer: Dick and Anaugh from ‘High Fidelity,’ we do the nerdist chic rather jolly well we think.

So who would play you? 

Smart(ie) Pants

I have always been curious about the idea of a ‘Key text’ for a course. Expectant students are poised with their sharpened pencils ready to make notes for the term ahead. The ‘Key Text’ reveals more about the lecturer in some ways than the reliability of the tomb.
Over 10 years ago I was privileged to meet (somewhat vicariously) the author of the greatest ‘key text’ for my undergraduate degree, his name was Ninian Smart. Smart’s dimensions of religion are burned upon many a trainee-Religionist’s brain, World faiths are divided into:








It is possible, according to Smart, to see these dimensions in most belief systems and philosophies. Quite often when I have to do something horrid:  vaccination, leg wax, boring meeting, CAT scan, waiting in traffic etc.,   I try and remember  the ‘dimensions’ and what we remembered through route in University.
Sad I know but this is how I roll….
I typed earlier that this was a somewhat vicarious meeting and it was, during his inaugural lecture I happened to sit next to his wife, Lubushka, who was, even more of a delight than her inspiring husband. She sat so neatly at the back of the lecture theatre, hands crossed in her lap and as her husband talked, she moved in the musicality of the anecdotes, supplementing information I’d never have known. It really was one of the most interesting lectures I’d ever been too.