Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts

Friday, 1 January 2016

Goodbye 2015 - Hello 2016!

Just a quick thank you to everyone who made 2015 a good year for me - here's looking ahead to a 2016 which will hopefully bring lots of new and exciting adventures. I have lots of plans and ideas, one of which will be a complete overhaul of my blog and website, to better document and showcase my work new and old.
I hope 2016 is a healthy and happy New Year for everyone!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Sending Peace

There are lots of scary and sad things going on worldwide at the moment. Spread love, peace and kindness and remember that a good deed brightens a dark world. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The Rooms/ Quipu Project

On Saturday I visited The Rooms, a festival consisting a series of interactive installations and events (described as "a playground for new ideas") in the old Firestation, Magistrates Courts and Police Station in Bristol City Centre.

As well as the installations, over the course of the weekend there was also a programme of free talks, workshops, film screenings, live music and house parties!

The Rooms was created by REACT, a creative economy hub for the South West & Wales. Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, REACT invests in collaboration, cultural experimentation and creative innovation between University researchers and creative businesses.

In total there were 16 different rooms to explore, each room offered something unique, engaging and innovative, but for me there was one in particular that really stood out which was The Waiting Room.

The Waiting Room was set up as a Peruvian medical clinic where visitors were invited to enter and listen to the stories some of the 300,000 women and 25,000 men affected by Peru's mass sterilisation programme of the 1990's.

Below is an explanation about the project taken from the official website:

"An interplay between a low-tech telephone line and a high-tech digital interface, the Quipu Project enables communities that are politically, geographically and digitally marginalised to tell their stories around the world using the internet.

Victims are able to access the free phone line and share the difficult experiences and the ensuing difficulties they had faced since they were forcibly sterilised against their will.

The phone line then operates like a web forum: the collaborators can listen to each others’ testimony and record a response, meaning they can offer each other support and solidarity, even though they live many miles apart.

In addition, the audience can record their reaction to the testimonies and upload them to the archive. These messages are translated and recorded for the contributors through the phone line, letting them know that people have listened and are supporting them and engaging in dialogue. For many collaborators this will be the first time their stories will be acknowledged outside their own communities. The testimonies are archived publicly online so that they will never be lost, ignored or forgotten.

The Quipu Project is an experiment in ‘living’ documentary – a story that continues to grow and evolve after its “release” online. This approach allows the story to emerge organically and to continue telling itself, as the contributors and people around the world listen and respond to each other. The open-ended structure also reflects the fact that, for the collaborators, this remains a story without an ending until justice is achieved.

From the start, the Quipu Project was developed in partnership with people in Peru who were sterilised. They are our collaborators, in a project created with them, not for them.

The aim of the Quipu Project is to shine a spotlight on the sterilisations by bringing the collaborators’ testimonies to a wider audience. The hope is that this will become a useful tool in the campaign for recognition and reparation."

Prior to visiting The Rooms, I had never heard about the sterilisation programme which was introduced by Peru's government in 1995. Although at the time it was promoted as a means of providing good reproductive healthcare and birth control, the reality was that sterilisation was often only promoted in impoverished, rural and indigenous communities.  
Consent was often manipulated or not obtained, and there are accounts of people being coerced, forced by medical staff, or sterilised without their knowledge while in hospital for another procedure. Many survivors still suffer physical and emotional trauma and suffering.
Listening to the testimonies of the victims in The Waiting Room was both harrowing and extremely moving, it is almost unbelievable that such a cruel scheme could have happened just 20 years ago. In spite of how difficult it may be to listen to the men and women who have contributed to The Quipu Project, it is a great step towards spreading awareness and acknowledged about the pain they have endured and finally give the victims a chance to voice the injustice of the situation.

If you would like to read more about the Quipu Project and listen to the testimonies you can visit the website here  

Why Quipu?

Quipus are ancient systems of threads and knots that  are thought to have been used by the Incas to keep records in their predominantly oral culture . The cords were made from cotton, llama or alpaca hair and were used for everything from tax and census-keeping to storytelling, where the threads and knots were prompts for memory and language.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

'I Will Move Mountains' - An introduction.

When many people see the word 'achievement' they will automatically associate it with some sort of monumental accomplishment - running a marathon, completing a qualification, climbing a mountain. As someone who suffers from low self esteem it has taken me a long time to appreciate and celebrate the smaller everyday achievements that are so easy to overlook or dismiss. Maybe I'm generalizing a bit here but it feels in Western society we are constantly being pushed to succeed - to reach that next goal or target (whatever it may be) and we are so quick to forget or dismiss the hard work and effort we put in to everyday achievements, as well as recognizing how hard they can sometimes be to complete. 

I have struggled with mental health problems for a long time and there have been days where it has been a massive effort to get myself out of bed and get dressed - let alone go to work, socialise or do something remotely productive! A therapist I once worked with once instructed me to make a daily list of my achievements. I scoffed at the idea and thought it was ridiculous - at that time I had no job, wasn't in education,  and very few interests or hobbies that I felt motivated enough to participate in. In my eyes wasn't achieving anything day to day! My therapist asked me if I had cleaned my teeth yesterday, if I had showered and brushed my hair. I replied that I had. I was told that for someone suffering with severe depression these were significant achievements and I should feel proud of myself for those instead of constantly beating myself up for all the things I wasn't doing.

It took me a long time to accept this way of thinking and I appreciate that the things I mentioned may seem so basic and routine for some people that it would seem strange to feel a sense of pride for doing them. However it is so important to remember that for some people these things take a huge amount of effort and that they deserve to be recognised as a positive accomplishment.

Now that I am doing a bit better I have new things on my list of daily achievements - things that I'm sure will still seem ridiculously simple or mundane to others but would have once been impossible for me to consider doing. I feel proud of the things I can now do without too much effort but I never forget how difficult they once were and when I'm having a bad day I think about how far I have come and try and pat myself on the pack for those 'little things' 

So onto the point of this post and some more info of how this relates to my mountain project...

I am interested in hearing about everyday achievements. Big or small it doesn't matter - it can be something like managing to overcome a fear of using public transport, getting back in touch with an old friend, leaving the safety of your home to take a quick walk, making eye contact with or smiling at a stranger, completing your degree, getting a promotion etc etc. I would like to know specific difficulties and feats that for you have been personally challenging and you have worked hard to accomplish. What are the 'mountains' that you have climbed?

My plan is to create a series of drawings and embroideries (possibly in the form of an artists book) that illustrates these achievements alongside more abstract mountain landscape studies.

If you would like to help out and be involved in my project please visit my other blog or drop me an email ( with your story. All stories will remain anonymous and please note that you do not have to suffer from a mental health condition to participate - I reckon everyone needs to be a little  kinder to themselves and take some time to reflect on their personal achievements!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Moving Mountains

Today I have been busy writing an application for an Artist residency in Wales I am interested in. As I was thinking about the kind of work I would make for the residency, I was inspired to start a new personal project that I am really excited about. All I will say for now is that it will involve mountains and share a preview of a quick sketch I did this afternoon. 

Expect more information and progress soon!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Using natural dyes

Whilst creating work for my degree piece I began experimenting dying fabrics using natural pigments and products. Years ago I attended a textile workshop where we used rusty objects to dye and stain fabrics which I was surprised to discover produced some beautiful results. Since my latest project focused on the life and work of honeybees, I was keen to use natural dyes to create the fabric used in my textile work since I felt this would work well with the context of my piece. A quick internet search led me to a whole abundance of blogs and tutorials about using natural dyes. From spices such as turmeric to dandelion roots or red cabbage you would be surprised by how many things that you probably already have at home or in your garden that you can use to produce some really effective dyes.

For my honeybee work I was focusing on the symbolism of the colour yellow, so I stuck to using turmeric, onion skins and dried plant extracts from yellow flowers such as weld and madder. If you want to grow plants specifically to use as dyes there is a great website  was able to find a great UK website which sells many different flowers seeds. If you are impatient to get dyeing and see some results, they also sell dyes, flower/plant extracts and mordants. That particular website was a great resource of information for me when it came to getting started with dyeing - they provide some really useful tips and information on which are the best fabrics to use and how to prepare your fabric so that the colours will last. 

Weld - a great flower to use either dried or fresh to create a yellow dye

For a recent commission I was asked to create an embroidery of a sweet pea so decided to use this as an opportunity to experiment with some purple dyes. A quick trip to the supermarket provided me with some red onion skins, beetroot, red cabbage and black beans and after soaking my fabric in vinegar to mordant it, I soon began to get to work with the dyeing! Each dye produced a different colour - all of which were lovely but it was the red cabbage which created the nicest shade of purple. I also used a couple of different fabrics - thin muslin cotton, silk and a thicker cotton/calico which also led to a lot of variation in the tones and shades of each dye. Bear in mind that it is always best to use natural fibres when dyeing to produce good results. Below is a picture of my finished piece. All the fabric used was dyed using red beetroot then layered up an embroidered onto.

I really loved the process of natural dyeing - it may sound silly but it is so satisfying to see such great results so quickly just by using products that are so simple to attain! It is definitely a process I am keen to learn more about and continue to experiment with. The possibilities If what you can do are endless... 
Below I have left some links to some of the blogs and tutorials that helped me get going, as I said there are so many out there each of which describe different techniques and methods. I have also included the website of artist India Flint. A innovative  textile artist who has really taken things to the next level with her methods and use of natural dyes.

Enjoy exploring and experimenting!

Folk Fibers blog -  yellow and red onion skin tutorial


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Degree Show work

After what has seemed like a very long time I am finally about to complete my degree in Drawing and Applied Arts! The last few months have been an exciting and stressful whirlwind of manically making work, meeting deadlines and trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life...
The degree show exhibition opens this Friday from 6pm at the BowerAshton Campus, Bristol. All the arts degrees will be exhibiting final year work at the University so visitors can enjoy every kind of art form - from fashion to photography. You can visit the website for our degree here, it features examples and information about all the students creative practices. Everyone on the course has worked so hard these last few weeks to create an exhibition which is full of diverse and inspirational art.

 In my last post I wrote about the project on bees I was about to begin and my time spent with Skep maker, Martin. Well throughout the year I have been continuing to explore this theme, gathering information and myths and stories about the lives and livelihood of honeybees. I then created prints, embroideries and and a series of sketchbooks and most significantly made a large human sized bee home weaved from willow! 
The structure of the willow bee hive is inspired by the traditional skeps as well as the homes of solitary bees. It took several weeks of working on it until I was happy with the shape and form, I loved working with willow although it did present many challenges and limitations.
I will be posting some photographs of the finished willow dome as it is exhibited at the degree show, but for now here are some sneak peaks of the artwork I have created throughout the year in response to the theme of honeybees.
More images of my work can be seen on my brand new website!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

For the love of books... Part 1

I happened to go to a literature festival on Friday where one of the authors was discussing the merits of  a Kindle over a traditional paper back or hardback book. For me personally there is absolutely no contest. I hate the idea of Kindles. There is nothing more beautiful or precious than a book and I would hate to see them die out. I have many happy memories of reading in bed, on a beach, curled up in a chair. I love keeping copies of my favourite books that have been re read so many times they are dog eared and fat, to share a favourite novel with family and friends.

And what about all the wonderful art and design books that are still available in our book stores? Beautifully illustrated children's stories with colours so bright that they stick in your memory more than the words themselves. 

Photographic books showing nature and all the wonders of the world. I am no cook but even I linger over the huge section of cookery books which always look so appealing with hand drawn illustrations or tempting photographs. 

And don't even get me started on the smell of books! Not just old ones either... one of the best parts of re starting school in September was the anticipation of getting your brand new books with crisp white pages and that new book smell.

Books are for collecting, sharing, loving and passing on.

Some images and wise words of wisdom from other bibliophiles:

"Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar." - Cornelia Funk, Inkspell

"Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic." - Carl Sagan

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Illustration love...

Sunshine makes everyone happier! The bank holiday weekend was a lovely one and I felt lucky to be able to spend most of it outside with friends. Since I have nothing too creative of my own to show at the moment - here is an illustrator who I have followed and loved for a while. I first spotted Mandy Sutcliffe's work in Paperchase where they still sell Belle and Boo greetings cards, however there is also a great website which stocks a huge range of products - from stationery to clothing and homewares and wall decoration. Check it all out here: 

Friday, 22 March 2013

It's Spring!

Although it's hard to believe when there is snow and cold weather across the UK, but yesterday was actually the first day of Spring! My housemate planted some bulbs in the garden a long time ago but we had completely forgotten about them so it was lovely to see some Crocus flowers emerge and open up in spite of the cold. Fingers crossed the weather will improve soon so we can start enjoying some sunshine!

Here is a quick study I did of the flowers in our garden which I made into a card for my Grandparents.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Why I love Handmade

Found this quote today whilst looking for inspiration in the University Library which pretty much sums up how I feel about handmade art and craft!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Sea of Love

Happy Anniversary to my parents - this is the card I made them. Unfortunately they are going to get it a day late as I  missed the post on Saturday...

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Life of a Bowerbird

A little while ago whilst having a browse in Waterstones, I stumbled across this book and have since dithered many times on Amazon nearly buying it. I've decided to ask for it for my birthday now so roll on April! 
A bower-bird may be a fairly ordinary looking bird but their mating rituals and behaviour are so interesting! The males  will build a nest or structure and then collect and decorate it with sticks and colourful objects to attract his mate.

Sibella Court's book encourages readers to take a similar approach when creating a home - collecting miscellaneous trinkets and treasures and organising so they become a precious and vital part of your home. 

Sibella Court is am interior stylist, creative director and author who has also worked for Anthropologie as a stylist. I actually visited an Anthropologie shop in Sloane Sq last week and had a hard job leaving without buying anything as all the products were so lovely!

Anyway I am looking forward to owning this book as I am a bit of a Bowerbird myself so I can pick up a few tips on how to arrange and transform my collections so they don't just end up stashed away in boxes and drawers of my bedroom.


Whilst looking for photographs of Court's book I also found a good review on it over at Decor8 blog so be sure to check that out for more photos and information about the author.

I also remember that David Attenborough did a feature on the Bower bird in one of his documentaries for anyone wanting a bit more information on the curious and unique creatures.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Mosaic Woodpecker

I am creative because I have an equally creative Mother. She made this in just one day! She has been going to mosaic courses for a while and has made some amazing creations. Anyone who assumes that mosaics are tacky should see some of the beautiful things that have been created by my Mom, her class mates and tutor - they are works of art.

Friday, 25 January 2013

An untouched apartment in Paris...

Hm I have been a bit slow on the blog posts this week which I can only blame on my own laziness.  This is an article that a friend posted on Facebook that really appealed to the hopeless romantic in me though so I thought I would share!

A few summers ago, A Parisian apartment that had been abandoned and untouched for 70 years was discovered in the quarter of Pigalle. It's owner - Mrs. De Florian left Paris just before World War 2 broke out, locking up the apartment for good and eventually passing away in the South of France at the grand old age of 91. When her heirs called on professionals to take an inventory of The Parisian apartment, it was unlocked and the treasures inside re-discovered.

The team described unlocking the dusty apartment as an experience similar to 'stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty'

To further add to the romance of this story, a painting of a beautiful woman dressed in pink was also discovered. One of the team members suspected it may be of some value and was proved right when an expert historian confirmed that the calling card left alongside the painting was that of Giovanni Boldini - one of Paris' most prestigious and important painters of the Belle Epoque. 

Alongside with the painting was a stack of old love letters tied with coloured ribbon. They revealed that the woman in the painting was Mrs de Florian's Grandmother, Marthe de Florian, who had been a famous French actress and socialite. She had been Boldini's muse and lover (in spite of him being married!) 

The story inevitably caught the attention of the art world and later sold at auction for $3 million!

Overall an enchanting and intriguing story of two women and the revelation of a great love affair. Of course there are many questions that remain a mystery in spite of the room being now unlocked. Why did Mrs de Florian flee such a beautiful apartment never to return? What other secrets did both women keep locked away?

Original article found here
and in The Telegraph here

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Wild Cockatoos - Leila Jeffreys

I stumbled across this project by photographer Leila Jeffreys today and fell in love with these cockatoos. They all have such character and personality! Their names are perfect too! Now I want a cockatoo for Christmas as well as a kitten and a whippet... Here are a few of my favourites:




Commander Skyring


For more cockatoo photos and other work visit