Exhibition Blues…

This coming weekend I’m taking part in an exhibition of artists’ work in Bedford. It will be the first exhibition I’ve done for over a year and part of me is quite excited.

But I’m going to be totally honest and tell you that part of me is also wishing I wasn’t doing it. The problem isn’t the exhibition itself, I love meeting people and talking art, but I just hate the whole process of getting the artwork ready to show –  mounting, framing, labelling, wrapping… arrrgh!

Stained glass detail from the windows in the Design Museum, London.

My difficulty is that I’ve always loved the process of making the artwork, but once the final stitch goes in, my mind is off to something else. Framing? It can wait for another day…

But there you go, it has to be done and I’m well on the way with it now. Everything is pretty much under control. The exhibition is open on Friday evening May 12th from 7.30pm to 10pm and on Saturday May 13th from 10.30am to 5pm, at the Harpur Suite in the Harpur Centre, Bedford.

There will be about 50 artists taking part so If you’re in the area and fancy seeing some original art, I hope you’ll pop in and say hello, it would be wonderful to see you there and put some faces to names.

Of course I know that most of you reading this aren’t anywhere nearby at all, (not even on the same continent!), so if you can’t make it, here’s a sneak preview (shhhh, don’t tell)…

Dream Mapping

Inspired by the layers of history, patterns and textures in the English landscape. Sometimes when I’m dreaming I soar above the fields and woodlands and look down on my imaginary landscape.

a bird’s-eye view…

A Celtic Mystery

If you come here regularly you’re probably sick of this one, but just in case, here’s the link to the post I wrote about it a little while ago. (It’s inspired by the Celtic Bann Disc).

As Above, So Below…

This is the piece I made over the winter of 2015/2016, you can read the story of its creation here. My very dearest friend died in the autumn of 2015 and I found myself deriving enormous consolation from the meditative process of making this textile. It will always feel special.

Nature is a constant inspiration – colour, texture, pattern, form… (‘my oak’)

Rose Window

Where does the fascination, even enchantment with stained glass originate? I have no idea, but I am that woman standing in front of the stained glass, transported through the colours, the play of light, being led into a dream world. I try to bring some of that transience into the stitch work I make. Silks and metallics lend their mercurial nature, but they are tricky characters, sometimes they cooperate, but it’s always a game and I’m never sure who’s going to win.

So, there you have it, these are the four pieces I’ll be showing ‘in the flesh’ at the weekend. I wonder if anyone visiting will feel a connection with them. I wonder if there’s someone out there who’s just waiting to discover them, or who knows, who might just want to take one home. Oh well, we’ll see.

Happy Stitching…







Back again…

I really must begin by thanking you for bearing with me over the last few weeks. I know I’ve always maintained that blogging should be done as and when you feel you have something to say, not to some self-imposed schedule, but even so, I have been well and truly off-piste since November, so I do appreciate you sticking with me.

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The last couple of months of 2015 were pretty full-on for me. A mixture of dreadful lows and  gorgeous highs, set against the unrelenting onslaught of Christmas. I’ve learned now just how much energy this kind of ricocheting takes and discovered that I can now say ‘no’ fairly effectively (I recommend it!). I’ve also been humbled by the tremendous care and help my daughters have offered over this rocky time, they’re growing into extremely lovely young women and I’m proud of them.

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I want to apologise to all you wonderful bloggers who I’ve failed miserably to keep in touch with lately. My one and only resolution for the New Year is to get this back on track. Blogland is a wonderful community and I love being here with you.

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And so, 2016 – what’s happening?

I’m hoping to use 2016 as a year of exploration. The old loves, history, nature and landscape continue to fascinate me – more than that, they have me enthralled. I think I’ve always known that these threads were calling to me, this year I hope to weave them together in a way I hope will begin to express their importance to me.

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Last year was an enormous learning curve for me on the practicalities of being an artist. For this year I’m intending to protect more time for making art. I’m going to brush the rust off some of my old organisational skills to help me achieve a better balance – in fact I think I might adopt balance as my word of the year.

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When my dear friend died last year, far too young and with far too much still to give, it really brought home to me how precious life is and how important it is that we use our time for the really important things, and so that’s what I intend to do.

May you all have a wonderful, happy and productive 2016 – be you!

I continue to photograph the oak most days on my morning walk. The shots in this post are from the end of December and beginning of January – too much grey, not enough sunshine!

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Putting into words…

I was delighted to read the latest post from artist Stephanie Redfern this week, where she explains her decision to work in needlepoint. Stephanie understands completely the slow nature of this process and rather wonderfully refers to it as ‘slow motion magic painting’ – I love that!

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I smiled as I read some of the comments on her post – mention needlepoint, and patience is always the word that people associate with it. And yes, like Stephanie, my own patience does not extend far beyond the stitching.

When I talk to people about the pieces I make, so often there’s amazement at anyone being prepared to take the time to create in this way, they generally ask why I choose to do it. And this is where I struggle to express myself adequately.

Because however clichéd it may sound, hand stitching is one of those things you have to do, to appreciate the why.

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And then, with serendipitous timing, today I read the latest post from my stitching hero, Judy Martin. I’m sure Judy’s work is familiar to you, but if not, I urge you to see what she does, because I don’t know a better or purer expression of the power and beauty of hand stitching.

At the end of her post, Judy says…

Hand stitching.
Evidence of time.
Evidence of thought.
Evidence of connection.

And really, there, in a nutshell you have the whole story.

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There’s a wonderful article here by Martha Sielman, about Judy and her work which sensitively expands this expression – I’m sure it will resonate with all hand stitchers.

Pictures are details from the stitching of my latest piece of needlepoint embroidery, completed this week.

A Day In The Life…

There was a short series of programmes on the BBC a while back, called ‘What Do Artists Do All Day?’ Be honest, you wonder about it too don’t you...

I thought it would be a fun thing to describe a typical* day in my arty life.

So, here’s the answer to what this particular artist does all day…


Oh how delightful it would be to rise before dawn for an early mediation as the sun rises, to soak up the peace and quiet of a new day, write 3x A4 Morning Pages** to clear the mind and after 20 minutes of yoga, to eat a breakfast of mixed berries…

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My Grannie’s flat-iron, my mum’s enamel jug and my steam iron…

However, in the real world, I do get up pre-dawn, but then it’s straight into the ‘getting the girls off to school’ routine, which you’ll be familiar with I’m sure, (that or something similar). It generally involves the domestic pleasures of making packed-lunches, coffee, ironing, vacuuming, taxiing and if by some chance I’m very organised, deciding what we’re going to eat for dinner…

After that, my day begins again

I don’t write Morning Pages, but for me, the daily walk with the Delinquent Dog is a form of meditation and the time when I clear my mind. We take the same route every day, which is a wonderful way to tune-in to the changing seasons, watching subtle changes and feeling the immediate connection with the weather. It’s simultaneously grounding and relaxing.

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Followers on Instagram may remember that I photographed the same oak every day last year, an exercise that taught me much more than just how an oak changes through the seasons.

I pause most mornings at my Thinking Gate – sometimes I am actually thinking when I lean on the gate, sometimes I’m just listening, just being.

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The ‘Thinking Gate’…

I’m not consciously looking for inspiration on those walks, but I’m sure something seeps into my unconscious which probably finds expression in my work.


Back home, and I try to do the things that need brain power…

My trusty accomplices are the Mac, my Filofaxes, my pencil and my smart phone (with which I take all my photos – I don’t own a camera).

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And then, it’s time to stitch…

Stitching is wonderfully meditative. It isn’t long before I’ve drifted off somewhere in my mind. Most of my work is only lightly planned, with the details coming as I go along. If you’re familiar with the Druidic concept of Awen, that’s very much how I feel about inspiration and connection, which for me expresses itself in my stitching.

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I’m fuelled by coffee, strong and black, which I take a break for, every couple of hours or so.

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Once the family are home again, I slip back into the domestic routine.

Working from home can make it difficult to separate work from home life, and I used to suffer a lot from feeling resentful at having to keep stopping to change roles, but gradually, I’ve found the balance that works for me, and now I try to give myself entirely to family matters until after dinner, when usually I’ll have time to relax with my stitching buddy and embroider for a couple more hours.

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My stitching buddy – the Delinquent Dog – he likes to help me by putting his head on my lap while I’m sewing…


Finally, I’m an avid bedtime reader. I’ve recently acquired a bookshelf to go right next to my bed, which is better than having huge piles of books teetering on the bedside table. I have a postcard picture of Bess of Hardwick which I use as a bookmark. I love Bess, she’s my historic heroine, a strong woman living in a man’s world, a loving mother and a brilliant needlewoman – I often wish her goodnight when I turn off the light…

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* Obviously there’s really no such thing as a typical day – just typical elements, but you know what we mean.

** Morning Pages, as many of you know, is part of Julia Cameron’s Artist Way. Although I don’t do them now, I did do something very similar a couple of years ago and found it extremely helpful.

Rock, Water, Cloth…

Being a slow artist has its challenges – not the least of which, is how to blog about a ‘work in progress’. I quickly realised that a weekly update here on my stitched tapestries would end up more like a ‘spot the difference’ competition.

In recent months, I’ve gravitated towards Twitter and Instagram as the places to share occasional stitchy updates, where it feels more natural to post a simple picture as I settle down to stitch with the Delinquent Dog curled up alongside.

If you use these platforms, please do keep in touch that way – it’s always lovely to receive messages ‘in real time’.

But today is one of those special days – a day to share for the first time, a work no longer ‘in progress’, but finished! 

Very often I find it difficult to know where the inspiration for a particular piece comes from, but at least with this new work I have a pretty shrewd idea.

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It all begins with that ages-old fascination for watching water moving over stone. I wonder how many generations of people have felt transfixed by watching waves glide over a pebbly beach, or have felt the hypnotic power of staring into a pool of still water at the edge of a river flow, or indeed have been caught up in a fountain’s magical dance.

I for one, can easily lose myself, simply staring into the water.


Now, clearly only a lunatic would attempt to capture that watery, mercurial sensation in a medium as distinctly static as thread – ahh well…

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But as ever, the process of stitching has itself been a meditation, a way to drift into a flow of sorts, an escape to another realm, if not a watery one…

Stitched between June and September 2015. Wools, linens and silks on linen scrim.

29 x 39 cm

If you’d like to see it ‘in the flesh’, I’ll be showing it at the Discover Original Art Fair on November 28th & 29th 2015, at the delightful Ivinghoe Old School Community Hub.