Whewwww I can’t believe it’s been ten whole months since I last wrote a blog post. Life has changed, the world is upside down, and I’m still making little linocuts to soothe the soul, inject humour in the day, and explain to myself what I think is going on.

horro scroll colour

The first few weeks of working alone, isolated in my flat in East London, were a mix of relief at stopping my commute, tinged with fear of the virus. I would spend hours looking at my phone, wading through pages of horror stories, like an unending river of disaster and dread. I couldn’t really do much but worry about my parents.

pray to blossom colour_e

The tree outside the bathroom window became a wall of blossom and I would open the window really wide, and stare out into the breeze, and pray that everyone I know would stay healthy.

Bracken House garden print

Likewise, the communal gardens were bursting into leaf, and it was just so nice to sit under the dappled shade, even though my thoughts were of death and destruction.

blue mood_e

Sometimes I’d make myself extremely sad by wishing hard for a hug. Then I’d think, that as no-one had seen my face for days and days in real life, that perhaps I didn’t have a face anymore, and that I was in effect just a paper bag ghost.

dream lunch colour

My paper bag ghost would still be hungry. I’d think of my dream meal, inspired by mum’s mackerel with belly stuffed full of curry powder and onions, with blistered skin and sweet sticky rice. The sun was shining every day and I would set the table on the balcony and make myself a bowlful of raspberries with sweet vanilla ice cream.

send help in colour

Somedays I didn’t speak out loud all day, and my train of thought would start to crumble, as if my sense of identity, without a listening ear, was optional.

I'm doing fine

Somedays I would start drinking at 4pm to see if it made anything better. Somedays I tried video conferencing parties with friends. It didn’t really help…

covid zoomin_e

There are undoubtable benefits to working from home. I can now attend zoom meetings while sitting on the floor of the bathroom, with no trousers on, if I want to.

two metres colour_e

I can go for a jog in the neighbourhood and terrify the locals by infringing on their two metre zone.

yoga bum_e

Facebook Live videos of exercise classes have become my favourite moment of the day. With all the isolation, inactivity, stress baking and comfort eating, my bottom is getting bigger, but at least it makes mum laugh.

home studio at night

Anyhow, this series is ongoing: I have many more prints that I would like to make. My tiny desk in the corner of the living room is a lot more than I would have had if I were living in rented accommodation in one room, as I did for the past 20 years. And the best thing about a handmade print (oh! actual ink on actual paper!) is that you can chop it down, scribble on the back, and post it to wonderful people, like an old-fashioned talisman.

I'm doing fine blue

PS.

I gave a talk on my print series a couple of weeks ago, and mentioned some of these prints towards the end. If you are interested, have a watch here (it’s 23 minutes long, and was a seminar hosted by the Centre for Fine Print Research, University of the West of England, Bristol.)

https://vimeo.com/413495704

 

 

 

 

 

Buckingham Palace is beautiful, golden, sparkling, opulent, baroque, rich. If it were a dish it would be molten duck egg yolks, velvety on the tongue… However, I was thinking how even though it’s filled with life-like marble statues, their ghostly pallor and illusion of softness might make one yearn for the reality of a living, breathing, messy, optimistic dog.

throne_e

So I made this print, which is of my friend’s ornate chair in her living room, one that kind of resembles a throne, and her happy dog, Lily. It was a lovely experience to sit in such a grand chair, and have Lily leaning on my legs. In way she was half mascot, and half protector, fully present.

I sent one of these prints to The Queen to thank her for inviting me over. I hope she didn’t think I was being blasphemous…

dance_couple1_red_grey_img_1350_e

Around November 2014 I started to make this series of works about bodies

dance_double_green_img_1363_e

dancing

dance_two_pink_indigo_img_1379_e

intertwined

dance_purple_lovers_img_1343_e

tumbling, blurring, merging

img_0778_orchisfive_7a_e

colliding

img_0777_orchisfive_7b_e

diagonal lines signifying cuts in time

img_0776_orchisfive_7c_e

faces hidden in the forest.

My works are often stories told from the heart; I think the colour makes them more emotional. In the above prints I used colour blends and irregular shifts of the paper to make playful variations: each one is totally unique. They are screen prints 112 x 76 cm large, so each was the absolute limit of my arm span.

The studio is shut at the moment, so this is a strange time: thinking rather than making, reflecting rather than doing, planning over running. It’s probably good for me!!!

 

Colour pencil drawings have helped me to make colour prints again. I was keen to make new prints for a show in Southwark that opened this week, so, telling myself there was nothing to lose, I threw myself wholeheartedly into the process, like a (very) rusty jazz musician.

IMG_0995IMG_1031

Layering colour is a bit like playing a visual version of jenga. At first you feel like you could put any colour, anywhere, but after a while the game gets dangerous, one layer too many and the whole thing comes crashing down… Some of these prints were just nasty, but it was interesting to see what the subconscious mind would produce so I kept on making… And some of the prints are completely unexpected and surprising and make me smile.IMG_1013

IMG_0993

IMG_1027

IMG_1032

IMG_1024IMG_1050

Mid hang chaosIMG_1067

It’s been an interesting journey making work with no idea of what the end outcome will be. My carving is generally about concept, narrative and structure, so bringing in colour makes the prints more about emotion. I’ve enjoyed the freedom of making monoprints, and throwing together all the colours in my box of inks. (Now thinking it could be good to get in some more blues and greens…)

For those who live in London, the show is up til the end of Sunday 6th Feb, at Café Gallery, Southwark Park, London, from 11-4.

“Swallow Span” is a long narrative book made of 20 linocut monoprints arranged as a concertina, within a book cover that measures 180 cm when fully open. To turn the pages the viewer has to use the full sweep of their arm span, echoing the title of the book.

The story is about a girl’s dream. From her sleeping figure spills a strange nighttime sequence, where birds inhabit indoor spaces, and shadowy figures float and meet each other in a dark garden. The perspective lurches and tilts matching a bird’s swooping gaze. The imagery and storyline in the book becomes folded into pages, and we realise that it is a book within a book, with the creative process including ink, notes and sketches depicted at the end.

Image