Blog

Yorkshire Exhibition 2017

March 07, 2017

My work will be on show at the new printmaking archive at the Scarborough Art Gallery as part of the Scarborough Museum Collection.

Loosely Bound Exhibition

November 14, 2016

I am taking part in the new PrintMakers Council exhibition entitled Loosely Bound at the Highgate Gallery at the Literary and Scientific Insitute in Highgate. Private view on friday 18th November from 6pm.

Highgate Show 2016

Highgate Show 2016

Pushing Boundaries

October 27, 2016

Pushing Boundaries

Pushing Boundaries

I am showing one of my new ‘Spore’ etchings in the Printmakers Council touring exhibition to be held in Ireland, the year of the Centenary of the Irish Revolution. The exhibition will open at the Farmleigh Gallery in Dublin, on the 27th October 2016 and will tour until February 2017.

Making An Impression

October 08, 2016

Making an Impression

Making an Impression

Am showing a set of four Coastal study Screen prints and one large Lithograph with monoprint dye, in this group annual exhibition of the BBH Printmaking Society. The show is taking place in the main gallery in the lovely Georgian building of the Bucks County Museum in the old original heart of Aylesbury.

On Saturday 29th October I will be attending a ‘Meet the Artist’ day and helping teach a Drypoint Demonstration – so do please drop by!

Fungi with rosette

Fungi with rosette

Exhibition in Margate- In Two Parts

August 23, 2016

Water Garden

Water Garden

I am showing four pieces of work at the Lombard St Gallery in Margate.

IN TWO PARTS

In Two Parts brings two new and exciting collections of original prints to the Lombard Street Gallery in Margate Old Town. While both shows include a wide range of ideas, concerns and techniques, in very general terms Part One tends towards softer and calmer works, while Part Two makes a bolder statement with a predominance of colour and impact.

PART ONE ends on Sunday 21st August so only a few more days left

PART TWO

24th August – 11th September

at

LOMBARD STREET GALLERY
Lombard Street
Margate
CT9 1EJ
www.lombardstreetgallery.co.uk

PART TWO

24th August – 11th September

MEET THE ARTISTS EVENT

Sat 27th August 2-4pm

Join us for a glass of Pimms and meet some of the artists whose work is being exhibited during the second part of this exciting show

Featuring work by Tom Baggaley, Ruth Barrett-Danes, Gavin Iain Campbell, Rebecca Denton, Matthew Egan, Shuxiang Jin Farrall, Kate Fortune Jones, Diane Comte Frost, Colin Gillespie, Michael Griffiths, Andrew Hambleton, Corrine Hills, Tessa Holmes, Elizabeth A Kelleher, Emma Le Blanc, Bethany Marett, Sally McKay, Anthony Millard, Janet Milner, Ros Morley, Rosa Osborne, Richard Peacock, Glynis Porter, Andrea Robinson, Hilary Rosen, Ian Scaife, Francesca Souza, Euan G. Stewart, Nicola Styan




Gallery opening times

Tues – Sat 11am – 5pm
Sun 12 noon – 4pm

Map showing location of venue here

Note: Exhibition changeover will be on 22nd and 23rd August so although the gallery will still be open, the exhibition will be closed

For further information about the artists and about Printmakers Council please see website www.printmakerscouncil.com

International MiniPrint Biennial 2016

April 21, 2016

I’m currently showing two screen prints at the Centre for Contemporary Printmaking in Bangor, Co.Down, NI.

Busy with the Squeegee!

Temporary lack of  printmaking studio facilities – I  continue with the Screen printing at home studio. Two deadlines to meet the International Mini Print Exhibition at Seacourt , Bangor, County Down and the Small Print International at Leicester. The first is 20x20cm and the second is 16×16 paper size.

The final print Little Flotsam, based on the Sea Drift series from my studies from the coast of Northern Ireland.

And the larger print Sea Tangle for Seacourt.

| Tags: , , ,

Fajolles -Pre Christmas

December 15, 2015

A most welcome and beautifully sunny week before the Christmas mayhem, in France. Lots of walking, eating, birdwatching, cycling and did I say eating….

Blue blue sky

Rush hour in Fajolles

Two wheels good!

Super duper homemade bird hide…. and yes,  the Hawfinches came…….result!

Sadly photos of the Hawfinches not good enough to share but here is another find….

Ex hedgehog

Collaboration

December 05, 2015

A little Printmaking collaborative piece with the very accomplished artist Sumi Perera. Sumi handed out dissections of a large relief print for participants to do with as they wished ….print-wise of course! I cut three windows into the piece, screenprinted the flaps to reveal waterless lithograph details of strange organisms below.

Bankside Banner

November 23, 2015

A detail of my V&A mini print, Cast Adrift, is blown up huge for the gallery banner. Nuts!

V&A archive print

November 21, 2015

My mini print Cast Adrift has been chosen for the archive collection for the PmC collected by the Victoria and Albert Museum. An achievement considering I had zero access to any printmaking facilities for the edition of the screen print and had just moved house! The print will be shown as part of the collection on display at Bankside Gallery, London to accompany the main exhibition of the 5oyr anniversary.

50 Years of Artists Prints at Bankside, London

November 20, 2015

50year Artists Prints, Bankside

50year Artists Prints, Bankside

Exhibition information

Exhibition information

I’m taking part in this great exhibition at Bankside Gallery next door to the Tate Modern. I am showing two Lithograph prints, one Direct shell print with mono print dye on Japanese paper and the Screenprint Cast Adrift which is selected for the V&A archive boxset PmC print collection.

Making an Impression

November 15, 2015

The book celebrating the 50th year of the Print Makers Council is out! It’s quite a hefty number and is rather lush!

My spread ….not bad, could have done with a splash of colour!

A Year in the Province! Nature notebook and more:

February 06, 2015

Ok …so not strictly a year, but “18months in the province’ doesn’t have the same ring.  This is a quick photo journal from a vast archive of pictures taken during my stay, under general chapters…… The Land, The Sea, Flora, Fauna, Beach Findings, The Dead Zoo, The Little Visitor, and Days Gone By.

Enjoy!

1. THE LAND

Low tide at Crawfordsburn

The woods to Helens Bay

Bank of ivy clad trees

Boardwalk across ancient peat bog

Twin Peaks?

No, dense fog at Cushendall Falls

The Causeway of the Giants

The Causeway Coast

The Extraordinary ‘Dark Hedges’

Picturesque Mount Stewart Gardens

The fabulous Ballyholme Beach

The equally fabulous Ballywater Beach

Summer walk at Orlock

Late afternoon Belfast Lough

2. The Sea

Crystal clear waters on a summer’s day

Rockpool Jewels -Bangor coast line

The sparkling causeway sea

Rockpool flora

Spectacular sight of a huge Brazillian oil rig being towed out to sea after a year’s refit in Belfast Harbour.

The tranquil evening waters at Crawfordsburn

The seaweed rich harbour at pretty Groomsport

| Tags: , , , ,

In Retrospect! March 2013-Feb 2014

February 02, 2015

Well! There’s been a bit of a hiatus!! So here’s the fill in!

An adventure across the Irish Sea, Scottish sojourns, a rural retreat, coastal living, an amazing new print studio and experiments in lithography. Exciting stuff!!

Where does one start? Back in February 2013 I took an Art Director job in Belfast. After commuting for the first month, I up-staked from London and moved over to Northern Ireland. A huge upheaval and change. From living ten minutes walk from Kings Cross station to living ten minutes walk from stunning coastal scenery, beach and sea. I chose not to live in Belfast itself.

Found a wonderful house in the very lovely Helen’s Bay in County Down, which is near the seaside town of Bangor. Being so close to the sea and an impressively wooded country park complete with waterfalls and resident Dippers, it really was a special place to live and made up for the less positive aspects that the move to NI brought with it.

One of two of my local beaches!

The job, which I won’t waste too much precious space talking about could have been equally wonderful. It was not. An idea originally created by a lovely and talented Scottish artist, was taken to Belfast and translated to a 52 episode pre-school animated series. Unfortunately a clueless, unprofessional and misguided company gave, us, the experienced and skilled crew, from London (and Scotland), an absolutely horrendous ride of it. In my 17 years working in animation I have never encountered anything like it. Such a pity, as I really enjoyed my work and had a great creative team.

Bunch of Asses

What happened during my year on the production was a disgrace and hugely damaging to the perception of Northern Ireland, that we as ‘outsiders’ then take away.

SHAME on them.

However on leaving the job, after 12 months, I had my faith in the people of Northern Ireland firmly restored, via a fortuitous discovery; the artist community at Seacourt Print Studio. So from a corrupt cesspit of a company, to one of the most warm, welcoming, generous and inclusive environments, I spent six very happy months studying and furthering my printmaking ventures.

The Studio at Seacourt……impressive

I met a group of people who were just no nonsense, honest, kind, open and trusting. Genuine creative, intelligent people! The director of Seacourt, Robert has really achieved something remarkable in this Bangor workshop. It was so refreshing to meet someone who had no chip-on-the-shoulder, no ego, no hidden agenda, but who genuinely sought to provide an extraordinary facility which is both welcoming and supportive to people of all walks of life. As I discovered over my time there, I cannot think of any where else like it. My six months at Seacourt were a gift, and truly helped me put my deeply unpleasant work experience behind me. Bravo Seacourt!! I love you guys!!

Delicious!!

All in all, I stayed in Northern Ireland 18 months and during this time I was able to explore much of the stunning scenery, flora and fauna of the Province, and a little beyond too! This and my time at Seacourt made my move over to NI worth all the grief. It was so amazing to live by the sea and feel in tune with the changing seasons, to really get to know a stretch of coastline and be constantly surprised and excited by the tidal revelations and the variety of the colours and textures. It was, is, all so inspiring for an artist, particularly for me in my printmaking.

Post rubbish job, I tried to venture outdoors to the sea every day, even if it was only 15 minutes at dusk and was never happier than wandering over rocks and striding across wet sands, collecting shells and pebbles, observing the tides, the seaweed and of course watching the skies and shores for birds and other wildlife. It was so therapeutic after my depressing time earlier in the year. I love being by the sea and I love being able to appreciate nature’s simple pleasures. The roll and break of the waves, the dainty sea thrift decorating the hard grey rocks in spring, glistening voluptuous mounds of seaweed at low tide,  footprints in fresh wet sand and the plaintive cry of the curlew at the water’s edge. Blissful.

My Local Beach at Crawfordsburn

My local Woods

Birding during my time in County Down was mostly coastal, with a few surprises thrown in. I have to admit seabirds and waders had not formerly been my forte, being a devotee of drier landscapes, woodland and heath, but gradually I learnt a whole new appreciation for the natural inhabitants of coastland and water, and now I’m converted plus much more informed!

So familiar friends on my daily walks would be the noisy Oystercatchers, the orange stockinged Redshank, the buoyant chubby Eider ducks, Black Guillimots, Razorbills, plump Curlews and the cheeky Turnstones. The change of seasons brought different birds and in varying numbers. All year Stonechats were frequently seen along the coastal paths and gorse strewn headlands, alongside Meadow and Rock Pipits, a healthy population of Bullfinches in favoured hedgerows, Sky Larks, Linnets and Goldfinch familiar sights with numbers swelling over the summer months. Autumn Winter brought the impressive spectacle of vast flocks of migrating Geese, Brent and Pinkfooted arriving on mass to the shores of Strangford Lough. Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Knot, Dunlin, and a whole host of waders joined the winter visitors.

The Fisherman

Spring delights would be the sudden appearance of the perky Wheatears, showing up on the rocky shorelines all along the Down coast. The milder temperatures and the warmer waters would see the return of the dainty balletic diving Terns, particularly the lovely Sandwich Tern to nest in noisy colonies with Black Headed Gulls in local harbours such as Groomsport. Best of all the Gannets would be back, such awesome impressive birds, jet fighter-like birds plummeting with aerodynamic precision into the rough waves, so thrilling to watch.

Apart from the birds I enjoyed getting to know the typical flora of the coastline, again all changing with the seasons. In the Crawfordsburn Country Park the woodland would herald spring with the Wood Anemone carpeting the banks of the fast running stream, alongside Wild Primroses followed by the Bluebells in May. Spring would also make pretty the dark jagged rocks on the shoreline with delightful pink fluffy Thrift, giving way later to the dainty Sea Campion and tiny Blue Gentians. Yellow Flag were profuse in the more shaded interludes whilst the golden Gorse would waken up the wild heathy fringes from their winter slumber. Come early summer a mixed abundance of Wild Dog Roses hedged the scenic paths, Cow Parsley would bloom and the adjacent meadows would be full of Orchids.

Sea Campion

Helens Bay Woods-Summer

The seashore itself, the waters obviously brought its own wealth of sea flora- the abundance of fabulous seaweed.  I loved discovering all the different specimens to be found and in which locale. Learning the particular preferences of the different varieties. This was the same for the myriad of seashells – so wonderful  to collect these little cast off jewels of the sea. I soon became addicted to roaming the shorelines collecting pebbles, driftwood and the occasional oddity.

Rainbow claw

Highlights over the year:

Being repeatedly buzzed by a low flying kamikaze squadron of Snipe at a freezing Portmore Lough. Close views of a resting flock of Golden Plover at a lagoon in Groomsport. Not one, but two Merlins up the coast at Kinnlock, the cheery company of numerous Stonechats, the early summer appearances of Wheatears, families of Ringed Plovers, scuttling round the dunes, two fantastic Cuckoos at the Mourne coast. Spoonbills at Castle Espie, Peregrines at Scrabo, the superb views of Gannets fishing ten minutes walk from my house and the mysterious skimming Shearwaters in Belfast Lough.

In addition, non birdy top delights were several sightings of the gorgeous Irish Hares, especially one occasion, a playful fellow hiding amongst the seaweed and rocks of the Killard coast.

Irish Hare peepo

I particularly have a soft spot for these beautiful creatures, not the least that they have lovely red hair just like someone I know….!

Hare here

Mount Stewart revealed Red Squirrels in the tall treetops and at various locations along the coast Grey and Common Seals were always a treat to see.

A seal at Bangor

| Tags: , , , , , , , ,

February

February 20, 2013

Jar of Moles

Jar of Moles

Not a terribly familiar sight on your average grocery shelf, nor even in the most fancy deli…… this jar of pickled subterranean tunnellers is one of the star pieces at the wonderful Grant Museum in London. It is part of the University of London, near Euston Square, and houses some really extraordinary zoological specimens and artefacts.

These lovely moles and some hand made glass replicas of marine creatures like an Octopus and Sea Slugs were amongst my favourites. Its a must and a very educational way of passing an idle afternoon.

Glass! Handle with care!

Glass! Handle with care!

The museum

'dem bones!

wee manatee

wee manatee

Wormy things

Wormy things

Anyway I spent a very enjoyable afternoon/evening with good friend Tanya at the Museum, followed by an essential  tea-stop, then on to the Wellcome Centre’s excellent exhibition on Death(!) ..the Otto Dix suite of etchings are very powerful, and concluded with a wee drinky and light supper in a hidden away watering hole in Kings Cross. Perfecto!

********************************************************************************

Finished my Plate Lithography course at City Lit, I was only one of three who finished all the colour stages, hard work but so rewarding. Even if the final result, ie. my artwork is by no means my best work …being over drawn and far from subtle, I do feel pleased with the learning experience and my introduction into the exciting process.

The results

The results

Now back at City Lit doing more Collography. Keeps me off the streets!!

******************************************************************************

They’re here! The Waxwings have come to North London! At last I join the party – the party that is the 2012/13  bumper Waxwing Winter ! Found the Scandinavian beauties high in a poplar tree by the Sanctuary pond on Hampstead Heath. A flock of nine, they sat trilling and quietly preening or nibbling buds against a glorious clear blue sky. It was Valentine’s day and such a treat. Better than a bunch of roses and box of chocs any day.

Although nowhere near as close an encounter as my first experience of Waxwings in February 2011, (* see blog post ) when I happened upon them in my neighbourhood, feasting off berries in a front garden, when they were only a few metres away, this was a most welcome and happy sight. I went home and started an ipad sketch of my sighting, composed from memory. Pic included below, made with the Brushes app.

Hampstead lovelies

Hampstead lovelies

January 26th… Litho-mania

January 28, 2013

At the beginning of the month I started to learn Lithography, at the excellent City Lit Printroom, under the expert guidance of tutor Simon Burder. We are doing plate lithography and I’m hooked. I’ve always had a sense that it might suit me, lithography being so painterly and reliant on the pure pleasure of drawing and mark making.

We began with an experiment with kitchen litho, using aluminium foil and coca cola! Yes indeed, and it worked quite well. I did a messy abstract in class and a subsequent ones at home, which were half decent. Pics below:

Cola litho

Cola litho

Fungi of course!

Cola litho no.2

Cola litho no.2

I had my third class last week and printed my first ever litho print, rather exciting! It is unbelievably complicated, with the different stages of chemical process but I’m not put off. Not yet anyway! For my first piece, I perhaps would like to have done a more considered drawing with finer lines and I certainly would have done more fluid washy ink areas, but awkward practicalities of sharing and not having easy access to the wash ‘tusche’ ink in the class, meant I rather over egged the litho crayon drawing. Still its only one’s first effort and I can already see from my print what I would like to explore more, edit and do better.

I did my drawing of fungi from life, taking an assortment of rather lovely wild specimens purchased from my local grocers and took them into the studio. I drew straight onto the plate. I was the only person in the class to do so, and bring a live subject in! Hence the rather ‘lively’ and admittedly ‘crude’ drawing I delivered! I did however get to eat them the next day, they were very delicious sauteed in butter with pasta.

First litho

First litho

The Plate

The Plate

January 22nd

January 24, 2013

The Snow came:

After a modest snowfall on friday and saturday the big stuff came on sunday, when it snowed consistently all day. A flock of  Scandinavian Fieldfare flew over the house and headed northwest, Hampstead direction. So the following day I set off to explore the snowy heath and hopefully find some interesting birds. The Fieldfare were indeed present, crossing the white icy slopes and woods of the heath, audibly alarmed at the amount of people around and the lack of greenery. I saw the usual flocks of Goldfinches, a few Greenfinches, assortment of tits, Treecreeper, Nuthatches and woodpeckers a plenty. Oh and some wonderfully resounding drumming from one of the Greater Spotted. No sign of the Kingfisher I often see on the various ponds or the Grey wagtail of the previous week and missed the many Siskens that have been present.

What I did see was several sightings of  Sparrowhawks, a couple soaring high and pestered by crows, another careering through the hedgerows and wooded dells. One sly male flew right into the canopy of young beech trees i was standing under and rested on a branch only 7 or 8 foot above my head. Got a great view of his golden eye and his long skinny yellow legs!

The scenes from the Heath, Monday January 21st.

The Lido

The Lido

Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill

Snow in woods

Snow in woods

Men's Bathing Pond

Men's Bathing Pond

Snowman on Poop bin

Snowman on Poop bin

Very Philip Larkin

Very Philip Larkin

***************************************************************************

Back home and sorting through ‘stuff ‘ amidst old sketchbooks and diaries I found a couple of 1987 Berlin bits, a very interesting DDR ticket allowing entry to the Fernsehturm, an Autumn guide to the Art Galleries of that year and a rather rough sketch of the station at Friedrichstrasse where Jo and I, as students had accidently taken a train across to the East and expected to be let out. I had tried to take a photograph of the impressive station and got shouted at by armed DDR soldiers on the gantry way above the entrance. Bit scary! We were sent back west, as it we did not have our passports!

I include a picture of the 1987 souvenirs below, followed by the modern day ticket to enter the Fernsehturm. Bit of a change in price and currency!!

Sketchbook scribble 1987

Sketchbook scribble 1987

Terrible perspective! Please excuse, I was only young.

Then and now

Then and now

January 2013

January 08, 2013

Happy New year!

A trip to Wicken Fen and the Cambridgeshire lowlands started my birdwatching ventures for 2013. We were lucky  with abnormally mild temperatures, dry and occasionally sunny weather for our few days there, but thank god for our wellies! Normal walking boots were a no-no.

The reason to return to Wicken Fen after our first visit back in October, was to witness a very special phenomenon that only occurs in the peak winter months… the roosting of the extremely rare, but stunning raptors, the Hen Harriers. After spying  a female ‘Ring Tail‘ at Cley marshes back in the Autumn, which caused great commotion in the hide, I knew I had to get better acquainted with this superb bird of prey.

Wicken Fen did not disappoint. We arrived for our first exploration of the outer perimeter of the Fen about half two, and soon began to enjoy the ornithological bounty the winter months bring to the area. A Jack Snipe was spotted flying across our path, huge roosts of Wigeon, Teal, Lapwings and Blackheaded gulls created a thronging backdrop of noise, Little Egrets were in every lagoon and several Marsh Harriers circled the wetlands below them. Cetti’s warblers occasionally rang out their explosive call from the winter reedbeds along with the piggy squeal of the secretive Water Rail.  As the sun slipped lower on the horizon huge murmerations of Starlings filled the sky, one large flock swooped low ever our path, the collective sound of the swoosh and so many wings beating was amazing and strangely moving.

From the dense tangle of Hawthorn shrubs came the loud gurgling and throaty alarm calls of dozens of Fieldfare, my first sighting of my favourite thrush this winter. Flocks of them  gathered from the surrounding meadows up into the tall trees bordering the main fen. We then spotted a Barn Owl hovering low over the same meadow, always a treat to see. As we continued on this exciting start of the evening roost we were blown away by our first sighting of a steely grey male Hen Harrier!! I nearly lost my footing in the deep muddy troughed trail, as i excitedly tried to follow the view, as the bird silently glided across the path ahead. It was maginificent. Then it was gone. We were happy.

Day two on Wicken Fen, mud caked walking boots abandonned, wellied up, armed with flasks of hot tea and a couple of pastries, we set out for the serious business of sitting out the afternoon and incoming dusk at the top of the Tower Hide, the number one observation spot for the show of the Hen Harrier roost.

Inside the Hide

Inside the Hide

Looking out from the front of the hide over the main fen and the stage for the roosting Harriers.

View from the back of the hide

Rear view

Rear view

Same view photographed back in October 2012

Autumn

Autumn

Its more beautiful in winter I think! Anyway we started with three in the hide, then we were four and then joined by two more! Cozy indeed and certainly not alot of room to swing a Goldcrest, not that any of us would of course! The Hen harrier drama began quite early with a lone female coming in from the southeast corner, gliding across the sedge and reeds to nestle down for an early night. That was half three. Over the next hour we were treated to the incoming spectacle of three more females scanning the fen for the perfect bed for the night then after circling, the birds would drop and disappear from view. The same birds occasionally rose again and had another survey of the reedbeds and settled again. One of the females dropped to chase out a splendid male bird which must have been hiding there long before we arrived. This was the first male of the day, so rather thrilling and then came another gliding in from the west, he circled several times coming close to the hide, affording us fantastic views, before retreating and dropping down out of sight. I was sooo chuffed! And i think its fair to say all of us, huddled in the rickety wooden hide on stilts were grinning like idiots at the end!

I must mention that whilst waiting and watching the Hen Harriers we were treated to two Barn Owls hunting the edges of the same fen bed. We saw them hovering and dropping to catch prey and even having uncomfortable run-ins with the incoming harriers! One of the owls flew close by the hide. Cool. Also seen from the hide were a pair of Bullfinches moving around the shrubbery below, a flock of Fieldfare who came to roost in the hedge below were dramatically chased out by a darting female Sparrowhawk. An exceptional birding experience I would say.

The next day we returned to Wicken Fen to the outer surrounding fields and farmed areas in search of the Short Eared Owls that frequent the area. We did not have to wait long before we spotted one, being harrassed by a crow. This was a first for me, so again …big smiles! We carried on our walk around the muddy paths and passes around the fenland. Unfortunately we did not view the Short Eared again, which was a bit disappointing, but on the scrubby path back to the car we met a pair of lovely Redpolls feeding on the seed heads of the path’s border. Pretty birds.

The following day the fog and mist descended, visibility was atrocious. We still went out and attempted to find the Short Eared Owls again, despite not being able to see much further than a few yards ahead. A forlorn mission, but incredibly atmospheric and spooky in the dense mist. We abandoned our search and drove on to Ely to visit the cathedral and have lunch.

No owl to be seen

No owl to be seen

Lost in fog

Lost in fog

Ely impressive

Ely impressive

December 2012

December 30, 2012

All about Hoopoes:

At the beginning of November I re-visited the archives at Tring, where curator Hein Van Grouw kindly provided me with study time and specimens to make accurate drawings and photos for my Hoopoe commission.

..a bird in the hand....

..a bird in the hand....

My watercolour sketches:

After several sessions at the London Print Studio, and a bit of  a wrangle in the newly re-arranged Screenprinting dept, (ho hummm..) the Hoopoe is finished!

Hoopoe Screenprint

Hoopoe Screenprint

November 2012

November 29, 2012

November brought a surprise trip to Berlin.

This was a rather a big deal, as I had not returned to Berlin since 1989 when I was a young art student and the Wall still stood. The art college trip had a very profound impact on me. It was an icy, cold October, two weeks before the Wall came down. I had never before experienced cold like it! A special time, that left such a lasting impression of an extraordinary city, steeped in so much traumatic political and social upheaval. It was in parts, like a living document of recent history, bombed out ruins and vast flattened areas still existed, bullet hole puckered buildings brought to life the horror and strife of the Second World War. We witnessed first hand, the legacy of an occupied, divided city in the brutal reality of the wall, being able to experience the stark difference between East and West.

The art and the various museums were of course exceptional, and that’s what we were there for, guided by our long suffering Art History lecturer, the late August Wiedmann, an exile and expert in the German Modernist era. Artwise it was wonderful, but it was also so much more. Memorable moments included filing through strict passport control at Checkpoint Charlie, sharing lunch in a huge communist canteen with the East Berliners, riding the long escalators and wandering around the vast halls of the Palast der Republik, (now demolished) with its East German insignia, the Hammer and Dividers, the centrepiece in the bronzed glass facade and viewing the whole city at dusk from atop the iconic Fernsehturm Tower.

So returning after 23 years to a reunified city was a big deal. So much change and still changing, Berlin is a city almost incomparable in its ability to rise from the ashes, the spilt blood, the lives suppressed, to rebuild and reassert itself in bold, strident steps into the 21st century.

I was of course quite disorientated for the first day or so, not knowing whether I was in former East or West, an irrevelant issue in 2012, but it had been my formative imprint and understanding of the city. There was much to recognise and obviously so much bewilderingly new, alongside ongoing rebuilding, sky high cranes and construction sites everywhere.

Despite the new face, its smart new affluent confidence and the friendlier open perimeters, Berlin for me, still retains its unique character. It is a noble, elegant city that carries its historical legacy, scars and shame in its soil, bricks and mortar, alongside a brash defiance and anarchic vigour, in its boundless ability to embrace momentous upheaval and reinvention. I think it is a city for artists, where historical gravitas collides with unbridled creative expression in all aspects of its cultural life.

Der Mauer

Der Mauer

I could witter on about Berlin for pages, but I will spare you,(as those who know me well….”don’t get her started on Berlin.!!”) so here are a few photos instead!

The Fernsehturm

The Fernsehturm

Former East quarter Mitte

Former East quarter Mitte

A visit to the old Natural History Museum with some very contemporary exhibits:

Mr Hirst eat your heart out!

Mr Hirst eat your heart out!

Feeling a bit flat

Feeling a bit flat

Pickled Hammerhead anyone?

Pickled Hammerhead anyone?

How to stuff a Squirrel

How to stuff a Squirrel

Birdies!

Birdies!

And a rather stunning exhibition on feathers:

***********************************************************************

Back in London I get ready for the next printmaking exhibition:

Proof Perfect, an exhibition with the Printmakers Council, brought together an exciting and diverse collection of small prints,  at the lovely Framers Gallery on Windmill Street. I showed Heart of the Matter, a collograph etching with screen print and dye. My screenprint Stripe with Plumbirds features on the invite card, was one of my three prints included in the browser. The opening private view was packed, thanks to the friends who came along for what was a very enjoyable, lively evening!

October 2012

October 25, 2012

Norfolk Autumnal Birding Trip

On the way up stopped off at Dunwich Heath, Suffolk to check out a favourite birding spot. We did well and amongst the usual Green Woodpeckers, Kestrels, charms of Goldfinches, Linnets we spotted possible Twite, one Whinchat, several Stonechat and 4 Dartford Warblers and a low hunting Peregrine Falcon.

At Blakeney Point, Norfolk we targeted the sea, the beach shingle, the coastal flats and water meadows and at Cley Marshes the deep reedbeds and beach/dune area.

Blakeney Point – sun set glowing on the bog grasses and time to watch the resident Barn Owl hunting as the light fades.

Birding at Cley Marshes:

A spot of sea-watching revealed Gannets mostly juvenile, Guillemots, a Arctic Skua, a Great Northern Diver , Red Throated Diver and possibly a Little Auk.

Along the beach and shingle we saw Goldfinches, Skylarks and Little Egrets playing with crabs, very white Pied Wagtails, Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, and around the whole nature reserve Curlews, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Whimbrel, Lapwings, Marsh Harriers and fantastic views of flocking Bearded Reedlings, all very restless and flitting about in gangs, rising up into air and calling, all very vocal and showing well. It was a pleasure to be able to see these little treasures without much effort and to spot them repeatedly on the main path to the beach.

From the hides we saw Snipe, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Ruff and best of all, the star sighting, a ‘Ringtail’ - a female Hen Harrier hunting low over the reeds. My first!

Seal watching at Blakeney Point

Inquisitive seals

Inquisitive seals

The Beach at Holt

The Beach

The Beach

Into the woods

Down on the ground

Down on the ground

Ameythst Deceiver

Amethyst Deceiver

On the journey home stopped off at Wicken Fen, the country’s oldest Nature Reserve

Working water pump

Working water pump

The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk

We didn’t see very much, it was all a bit quiet apart from a few herons, the calls of a few Cetti Warblers and a single Marsh Harrier on the horizon. We did though discover a pair of Stonechats in vegetation in one of the ditches surrounding the main fen. Bit unexpected.

Empty Nest

Empty Nest

September 2012

September 30, 2012

Works on Paper, Recent Prints by members of the Printmakers Council opens at the RK Burt Gallery in Southwark. I am showing two pieces, a Screenprint entitled Durer’s Tree and a Collograph hybrid print called Composition with Amber Spiral.

I enjoyed my day invigilating with fellow printmaker Eileen Martin. Her beautiful abstract collograph really impressed me and we spent the whole day talking about printmaking! I learnt much and it was nice to meet a long standing member of the Council who had much experience under her belt.

August 2012

August 30, 2012

Olympic Fever and a sweltering trip to deepest darkest Surrey heaths:

Olympic Torch Relay N1

Olympic Torch Relay N1

First trip to Lord’s Cricket ground to see the Archery.

Archery

Archery

***************************************************************************

August also brought a trip to the dusty heat baked heather and gorse heaths of  Surrey’s Frensham, Thursley and Oakley Commons. We saw some beautiful views of Redstarts, Stonechats, Linnets, and an exciting evening hike to wait for nightfall to reveal the wonderful churring of the Nightjars…and were treated to a close up view of one crepuscular chap perched atop a dead pine trunk. What a treat, but too dark to take a photo.

We also saw an incredible range of dragonflies, chasers and damselflies, rare bog plants and some jewel like lizards at Thursley Common nature reserve.

Heath boardwalk

Heath boardwalk

heath bog patterns

heath bog patterns

Lizard with regrown tail

Lizard with regrown tail

July 2012

July 20, 2012

Survival of the Fittest show opens at the Olympic site at the Lea Valley Nature Reserve. I am showing two pieces: Heart of the Matter and The Cuckoo.

Survival of the Fittest

Survival of the Fittest

Also this month, when not slaving away on the new Snowman animation for Channel 4′s 30 year anniversary, I attended a three weekend advanced printmakers workshop at the excellent City Lit college again. I pursued my collograph and hybrid print techniques as well as doing my first Spitbite etching. Partially successful!…

It’s a bird!!

June 2012

June 21, 2012

A trip to the fair Isles of Scilly, included a rather exciting trip on a helicopter. Despite initial poor foggy weather, we were blessed with three days of gorgeous clear sunny weather and one wild storm.

Tickets

Tickets

My first Heli-chopper ride!

My first Heli-chopper ride!

We stayed on the very picturesque main island of St. Mary’s, near the lofty Garrsion so we had excellent views over the sea and the surrounding islands. I even spotted my first ever Gannet from the breakfast table, venturing into the harbour for a spot of fishing. On our initial walk about on St.Mary’s I searched  hedges and woods for any of the bird rarities that frequently turn up on the islands. A Wryneck had been seen the week before at the church yard, but after thorough inspection I was not lucky. Which is just as well really, because seeing a Wryneck would be so momentous and significant, (a lifelong wish, no less) I would probably explode, and have to retire from birdwatching.

Churchyard seat

Churchyard seat

I did however spot a Peregrine falcon, lots of warblers,  Blackcaps, Linnets and crazily tame Song Thrushes. Also came upon the town’s Golden Jubilee tea party celebrations and shared tea and cake with the locals.

Jubilee Street Party

Jubilee Street Party

'Royal procession'

'Royal procession'

Our first island hop was a short boat trip to Tresco, and a visit to the glorious gardens, a subtropical paradise of exotic flora. We were blessed with superb blue skies and bright sunshine.

palm paradise

palm paradise

Tresco Gardens

Tresco Gardens

South African Proteas

South African Proteas

Startrek landscape?

Startrek landscape?

Tres exotic

Tres exotic

We wandered around the rest of the island, walked along the beautiful sandy beaches, paddled in the water and searched for Hoopoes and Golden Orioles that had been recorded earlier that week. I saw a pheasant instead… on the beach, like you do!

On our third day we took the boat to the island of St. Martins re-known for its stunning beaches. And indeed they were. We watched seals bobbing around in the warm shallow bay and they watched us. On the boat crossing we saw Razorbills on the water, tiny rocky islands clustered with Shag and many Gannet airborne and diving like fighter jets into the water. Superb.

wow

wow

St.Martin's

St.Martin's

Cheeky Bird

Cheeky Bird

We shared our picnic table for lunch with this very assertive song thrush who somewhere amongst the exotic shrubbery had a fledgling or two to feed. He, or she was very partial to a piece of cheese.

Costa del St.Martin's?

Costa del St.Martin's?

The following day we were island bound as all the boats were cancelled due to high winds and incoming bad weather. We therefore did an exciting walk around the garrison and coastal paths of St. Mary’s, being thoroughly battered by the approaching gales. We had hoped to take another trip out to see the puffins and kittiwake colonies on some of the more remote islands but this was not possible. Still, our walk rewarded us with some spectacular scenery.

Big boulders

Big boulders

Storm a-coming

Storm a-coming

St. Mary's Flora

St. Mary's Flora

ps. RIP the Penzance Heliport…..sadly soon after our first trip we learn that the helicopter flights to the Scilly Isles had to end, leaving the only alternatives, the ‘spew express‘ ferry or a rather unreliable light aircraft flight from Land’s End. What a shame and a major blow to the inhabitants of the Scillys. This is sure to damage the tourist industry on which the island depends. boo hoo

May 2012

May 02, 2012

I have a new smart phone with a rather excellent camera. A spell of fine May weather gave me the excuse to go out to the country to take some snaps. A picnic at Langley Park, Bucks brought some uninvited guests:

Peepo cutie

Peepo cutie

bunny visit

soo cute

The villain

The villain

One after the other little baby bunnies popped out of a hole, which we hadn’t even noticed was there and quietly hopped by the picnic rug. Then a minute or so later the reason for the bunny exodus…. a very naughty looking weasel. This did actually follow the grim sound of a few squeals and screams from beneath our grassy bank.

Langley Park is fantastic for its tree and plant specimens, with impressive avenues of giant Sequoias, amongst woods of ancient oak and beech, alongside a stunning garden of mature rhodedendrons and azelias which being May were a riot of colour.

Blooming lovely

Blooming lovely

Scots Pine

ScotsPine

sequoia slice

sequoia slice

A trip to the Chilterns brought the familiar site of low flying redkite, spectacularly scouring the chalky pastures below. At Little Marlow Gravel pits we were greeted by a chorus of migrant warblers freshly claiming their territories, and best of all the resounded call of a cuckoo. A wonderful sound. We caught fleeting glimpses of the bird and then patiently tracked its calling route through the little wood and to the side of the lake. We waited and we were suddenly directly below the bird. He continued to call happily above us flying from the same chosen trees and branches. It was a real treat to observe the calling behaviour of this charismatic and special bird.

I felt inspired and scribbled away on my ipad that night. I decided I would add another artwork to the group show Survival of the FIttest, which would of course feature the Cuckoo. Below are the scribbles:

In the painted woods

February 29, 2012

Sunday began in the ancient beech woods around Pulborough, scanning the tall tree tops for that naughty little woodpecker again! Another gloriously sunny day, the woods were full of song and drumming. All the usual suspects though – but still always a pleasure to see. On a mossy tree stump found the leftovers of a Sparrowhawk’s breakfast, a curious collection of feathers – some green tipped, some orange and other wing/tail feathers with pied spots.

We stayed in the area until lunch time and following a hearty sunday roast at the White Hart pub and a short walk up the hillside scanning for the LSW all the while, we decided to begin our journey back to London. I had a rather important date to keep that night!

Riverside view at the White Hart pub with ancient bridge

After a quick change of clothes in the car I was ready for the Friends and Family evening of the Hockney show at the RA. From the real countryside to the masterly painted lanes and woods of Hockney-scapes.. Thanks to Jean-Pierre yet again, me, Jo, family and a few buddies were able to view the entire exhibition after hours and in total peace and quiet. It was wonderful. David Hockney was present and happily walked around the galleries chatting to people. I shook his hand and exchanged a few words, as I thought it was rude not to! Suffice to say a most excellent end to a very enjoyable weekend. Why can’t all weekends be like this?

Weekend in the Woods

A wonderful weekend was had down at Pulborough Brooks, in the lovely Arun Valley, Sussex, the sun shone and the birds were in full song. Target birds for the weekend were the Crossbills, Short-eared Owls and the infamous LSW, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker!! Visiting the excellent RSPB reserve of Pulborough Brooks, we were greeted with a chorus of song thrush from every stand of trees, we checked the visitors log book and the crossbills and a LSW had been spotted earlier that morning! How exciting!

Our walks through the scrubby wooded area of the reserve revealed dozens of tiny Goldcrests, a possible Firecrest, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and always a delight, a stout male Bullfinch. Plenty of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers populated the area alongside the laughing yaffle of several Greenies. The lagoons provide excellent views of Lapwing, Snipe, Shelduck, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Bar tailed Godwits and the odd Little Egret. A walk along the sandy wooded bank path between hides provided a real treat, a cheeky weasel popped out of a burrow and happily ‘weaselled about’ just infront of us for several minutes. Lovely. During lunch outside the cafe we viewed ‘the reserve Water Rail’ – creeping between the reeds in the pond by the outdoor seating area. Another treat!

Photo of the lagoons above – they were full of birds, honest!

After lunch we ventured out into the heath and wooded area opposite the reserve centre. Apart from a few annoying dog walkers and noisy families we enjoyed a peaceful ramble discovering Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, many Greater Spotted Woodies, a million nuthatches but despite our best efforts no LSW. On our homeward bound path through the main heath in the late afternoon sunshine we struck gold though – with our speciality finch!! Yep two stunning Crossbills, male perched up high and a female lower down atop a magnificent Corsican Pine. They obligingly posed up high for us for a good while, it was rather thrilling. The colour of the male seemed to move from glowing red to shimmering orange in the late sunshine, awesome ….and we heard their distinctive canary like tweetering. So chuffed with this sighting we returned to the cafe for a well earned cup of tea and slab of cake!

The superb male Crossbill ( RSPB illustrations).

Post tea we set off to the lagoons again via the meadow walk to see if the owls might show. On our way we discovered large flocks of handsome Fieldfare and a scattering of redwing probing the damp worm rich pastures. A possible Merlin was spotted by Nick but I could not get a good view, but could have been! On the lagoons Ruff, Redshank, Godwits and plump Curlews foraged in the mud. Sadly no owls showed. We left in the dark, however still elated from our Crossbill ‘firsts’ and an all round superb birding day!

A Bigger Picture

(photo by Jean-Pierre Gonclaves de Lima)

Friday 20th of January, I joined Jo and family with Jean-Pierre to attend a quick tour of the friday opening preview of the new David Hockney show at the Royal Academy. As we ascended the crimson carpeted staircase to the main gallery, I realized I was walking with the curator Marco Livingstone, whom I had met years ago as a sixform student. Rather alot of years have passed since then, so it was no surprise I did not recognise him, until the penny dropped after Jean- Pierre had repeatedy said ‘Marco this , Marco that…etc.

Well, I had to re-acquaint myself of course! I had not, until then, realized that Livingstone had curated the show… duhhh ..( on form that night! ) Anyway I reminded him that I had interviewed him as a seventeen year old, for my A’level art thesis on David Hockney. He was then curator of the Moma in Oxford and I travelled by train to talk to him, about his key text of the time, the Thames and Hudson survey on Hockney. I think he was rather amused by the tale and pleased that I was still a devout follower of ‘David’. I am happy to report I received an A grade for my art A level with distinction for the thesis.

Very much enjoyed the personal tour Jean-Pierre flamboyantly orchestrated through the many galleries. Heads turned, ears pricked up as JP disclosed anecdotes to this and that on such and such a day, as we passed canvas upon canvas, digital print out and drawing of humming, buzzing colour. A superb show, bringing the verdant, woody outdoors of East Yorkshire into the centre of stuffy Piccadilly. Thank you Jean-Pierre for a great preview. I shall return!

| Tags: , , , ,