Friday, 27 February 2015

What's your silver lining in bleaker times? (+ blog love links)

a beautiful hand-made card & envelope from my lovely daughter......

There's a little bit of a roller coaster going on right now - most of it in my mind. Because yes, I'm a believer in how we choose to respond to things and how we attract things.

But isn't it ironic how things enter your world at times to test your own theories? (I don't know whether to smile or grimace). How a challenge arises that feels like it's saying, 'so, you believe in that do you, so how would you apply it in this situation?'

Well, its definitely one of those times. Times when I watch one of my babies turn from childhood into..well... 'boyhood'? As the transition from primary to secondary dawns on both of us and how we find a way to navigate the tricky terrain of both.

It feels a bit like a minefield and as a person who often gets a 'gut' feeling or knows what to do intuitively in situations - I will admit, I'm struggling a bit.

A talk with my sister reminded me at times it can be a good thing to lean in to things, just give in, succumb - something I'm definitely trying to do.

I feel certain things have 'blown me wide open' and all I can do is simply surrender - this may not be a bad thing in the end. I recently read that what is perceived as a problem is a pro - blem, a situation disguised as a blessing as we have a chance to explore and make decisions - which ultimately could lead to growth and more positive places. This is what I hope for.

Children can push us to reconsider what is truly important, and what is important to me is the welfare of both of my lovely children - and yes, they are lovely people I am glad to say :) I have dreams and ambitions and need to work and earn, but my children's happiness and welfare come first and really and truly I feel that some of my own dreams at these times need to be put on hold or re-considered. In fact I can get so affected by things at times I lose the capacity to do anything but 'get through' the tough time (as you may have gathered).

It is during these periods I seek inspiration and try to take heart in small things. Often inspiration comes from others: from a kindly word from a friend, from a conversation with my mum on what's best to do, from a book, or art, and right now, seeking out words and images on inspirational blogs of others.

I feel like I can escape into another world for a short while, or maybe dream about an alternative life, or remind myself that whatever tough-ness I feel, I am simply not alone, and also ones that give strategies and remind me that this too will come to pass.

So I share with you today, just a handful of some of the blogs - that have a real personal touch - I enjoy reading, so you can check out too:

What blogs do you read? I would love to hear and discover more inspiration.......


PS. There is still time to comment below for a chance of getting your hands on a papery give-away ;)

Monday, 23 February 2015

#Paper Love Challenge + papery giveaway

Today I'm excited to share a challenge I was set. Yes! I'm normally setting creative and artistic challenges, but I do love rising to them too, especially if they pique my interest.

Recently I was contacted by Rachel Hazell and invited to partake in a mini 5 day challenge. In true me style, I went straight for the one calling me the most - envelope and postcard postal challenge.

On delving in to one of my art drawers with favourite scraps of paper I pulled out bits of card, book and magazine pages and so on and set about making a postcard collage piece.

The result you can see here:

The image is made on 300g acid free paper which I cut to postcard size and has utilised vintage book page, magazine page, super-thick tracing paper and my favourite kraft paper

I then got inspired with making the envelope and made it from scratch with some of my best paper, stitched together on my trusty sewing machine, (yes, I have this out at the moment as I've been attempting to make arty cushions from antique french linen which my sis brought over from France).

Hand-made stitched envelope idea and instructions

If you would like a step-by-step of this simple stitched envelope method with ideas for embellishment, I've put together a pdf for those who are on my arty mailing list here - to get a copy of this pdf, just make sure you're on my list and I will be sending it out super soon along with links to inspiring papery artists I love.


I got even more carried away and made a mini machine stitched book to go with the postcard and envelope and will be sending my #paperlovechallenge pieces to someone who would like these crafted items by me! The idea was to make something to send out to a loved one, however I would love to send it to someone who I know would like to receive it. See below on how to enter and it could be winging its way to you wherever you are in the world, hopefully adding some inspiration.

The postcard can be kept as a piece of art, or re-sent out (the reverse is blank), and the mini book can exist in it's own right as inspiration or could also be added to and made into a mini-artist's book - a collaboration between me and you.

If you would like further inspiration, Rachel Hazell is running her paper love challenge course in March, see here for more:

Thanks Rachel.

How to get the give-away goodies:

All you have to do is leave a comment and/or link and let me know you've sent a tweet out about this post :) and of course an email address so I can get your postal address if it's you.

I will pick a name out of a 'hat' next Monday (Mon 2nd March) and be in touch about sending you your #paperlovechallenge items.

I look forward to posting my items out to one lucky person ;)


PS. you can be anywhere in the world to enter, I have no country restrictions on this give-away so go for it!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Minimalism & Intervention: Anna Barriball | Featured Artist #2

0.68, 2002, Graphite powder on paper | image courtesy of here

I am attempting to focus on the positive right now. Remind myself about 'creation' and not 'reaction'. Okay folks, what is it you/we/I want?

Write it out. That's what I'll be doing.

I can wax lyrical about my issues with western educational systems - I dream of creating an alternative system or at least, school. Who knows, maybe one day? In my searches I came across this book: Evolution's End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence. I am reading it now.

In the mean time, I intend to create and share the love (and education) of creativity and art in my own way.

Last year I started a 'featured artist' list and started with Skip Shuckmann. Next up I want to talk about another artist whose work I am drawn to: Anna Barriball.

Untitled V, 2004, ink on found photograph | image courtesy of here

I am intrigued by the simplicity, the minimalism, and the exploration of what appears to be the 'everyday' and reconstruction of domestic areas and objects, as well as interventions.

Door, 2004, pencil on paper | image courtesy of here

I am interested in sharing these artists and their works so you/me/we might find our own way through similar concepts and ideas. It is through the vast bank of sharing, insights, viewing and considering others works that our own works can also grow and develop - and experiments conducted of course.

Words can be useful too in the consideration of work/s and how we might progress. I quite often find a single word can be a trigger for an idea or experiment to conduct in my own practice.

Words associated with Anna Barriball's work:

- time

- repetition

- intervention

- transformation

- minimalism

- objectivity

- drawn

- sculptural

- traces

- synaesthesia 

- absence

- memory

- process

- intensive

- discovery

- fragility

Obsessive repeated actions. Small acts of intervention with everyday materials on other everyday objects. How do we record the passing of time? Of action? Or trace what is there or may once have been?

Through the process of transformation and also recording, Anna Barriball's work reveals a heightened sense of awareness and equally depicts a passage of time; a veil or trace of existence; of objectivity. 

Her graphite rubbings simultaneously allude to absence and presence. For me, invisible worlds - of which the domestic world of interiors can be one. What goes on in those interiors, behind those spaces? What is connoted by this transitory recording of a passage from one arena or space to another? Doors are symbolic of a transition from one place to another. The fragility of her work makes me think of connections with people, time, places and histories - whose histories? Mysterious ones and mysterious links. A vulnerability is exposed in the use of her materials, a world of people who we don't know or don't see, quite often using materials that could literally be 'erased' away again (graphite).

A recording of shell-like places; left-overs and remnants until these too become other objects in their own right through her meticulous recording. Materials, process and touch are all key elements to Barriball's work. I am intrigued by how the materials and implements of 'art' can document, record, transform, create, symbolise or be aid to a series of investigations and explorations by the/an artist.


Today I invite you to consider the above. Take the words as starting points maybe for your own work? Think about how you can record, transform or recreate and why?

I am continuing my interest and exploration of the domestic, interior and everyday. Where do these places interconnect with my own work, and do they have cross over's with your work or interests?

How could you experiment or progress utilising some of the ideas here? What objects could you transform, or how could you visibly capture, or document, time or space in your world?


PS. I want to say thank you to for the kind and thoughtful emails and comments regarding my last post. It means a lot. It is true that community is amazing and I love my blog for this - thank you for being there :)

It is in the midst of creativity that I feel alright, that I find answers, that I seek solace, that I connect and find inspiration - those things are invaluable and keep me going when the dark night of soul winds sweep through.

I aim to be back again soon.

*main images courtesy of Frith Street Gallery (kind thanks)

Monday, 16 February 2015

tough life times

Oh, it's taken a turn for the worse here. A sudden plummet into the depths of places I've been before and don't like (and worse - or so it feels).

So strange given the comment in my last post (or maybe it was the post before last?! My mind is a bit mush right now).

I get all these good ideas when I'm happy and life is good. I want to create and the creation explodes off the pages, the paper, the walls, whatever it is that's near to hand. But when the toughness kicks in I am like a retreating wounded animal.

I want to hide and can't write, think, create - nothing.

It's one of the reasons I feel, at times, I'm not turning a cottage industry in to an empire. I read all the right blogs, books, people and know what they are talking about is true, and how if I had many moments of time and good feelings, I would fly.

But when you care for others and when they need immense support, somehow it doesn't feel that there is enough time (even though I believe whole-heartedly life is full of choices), and so I struggle and wobble a bit. Retreat and reflect. I withdraw and need time to heal and be quiet.

Somehow I want you to know this. I haven't run away. I have a mind full of endless projects and ideas and things to share. but the physical reality at times means those things might have to wait.

I know that now is a time for:

- gratitude journals

- for knitting

- for hugs

- for solitude

- for healing

- for knowing and acting on what feels 'right'

- for nature

- for family

- for wholesome good food and smoothies

- for love

- for vast skies that remind; 'that this too will come to pass'

I hope things are at least good for you where you are.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Things I'm loving right now: eco, eating, inspiration, instagramming


How's things in your world today?

Over here I'm still on an a journey to find ways of combining home/living, art + eco-friendly style.

I dream of a home where things are mainly homemade, handmade, environmentally friendly and yet still stylish. From knitting cotton dishcloths to up-cycling reclaimed furniture and having a Wood-burning stove - which it turns out I can't do just yet without digging up my living room floor! I was so close, but that dream is on hold it would seem, for now. 

As someone who always needs to be making and doing something with their hands, I have re-discovered a love of knitting after visiting Loop in London. See some of the juiciness here on one of my instagram pics.

I intend to show you pics (soon) of the fingerless mitts I've just knitted (yay!), a couple of dishcloths too and now onto an Alpaca wolf grey cowl - it's amazing what we can achieve when putting our minds to it.

I was taught knitting as a child, but unlike my sisters didn't get in to it in a big way. I'm a bit of an immediate person, i.e. I need fairly instant results with things which can be unrewarding in terms of not having the patience to see things through - something I'm working on ;)

However, I discovered this book in my local library and find it totally accessible and understandable - knitting patterns and me? I would previously have said NO WAY, but this book has changed that.

On the ambitious side I would love to knit a bed cover - any ideas anyone?

I've also discovered Bamboo Toothbrushes! I think they look great + they come with the guilt-free aspect of being bio-degradable when it's time to get rid of them.

I also love the look and style of

If I had an online shop, I would like something similar. In fact I would love an shop that combined reclaimed, recycled, locally-made artisan items for the home with art. Function and beauty should definitely go hand in hand in my (ideal) world. Maybe an online shop is something to explore as part of my expanding dreams. Sharing my ideas in object-form with the world as well as concepts - what do you reckon?

Thanks to Holly Becker, I also discovered this book: Deliciously Ella

As someone who had to transform my diet a few years back, I now eat really healthily (I felt I had no choice, but thank my body for leading me to a new way of being which makes me feel so much better!) Ella's story is intriguing as a similar - but much worse - condition lead her to embark on this journey into a fully gluten, meat, dairy and sugar free diet. I then walked in to my local bookshop yesterday to see the book staring out at me - the last one too - and it was half price, a sign? So I bought it. Am looking forward to trying out some of the recipes. If you try it too, let me know what you think and how you manage healthy eating if this is what you do as part of your lifestyle?

She also has a blog over here: - full of delicious goodness.

It's frosty and snowy here at the moment. Just light powderings and milky light in the sky and air. See one of my instagram shots from a local walk yesterday at the top.

I am working on some other posts for you and aim to be back soon, involving artists, creative ideas for the home and possibly a give-away (if life doesn't get in the way too much!)


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Books for 2015 (latest discoveries!) eco, interior, poetry, philosophy & art

I am in full swing of taking 2015 easier (one of my new year's resolutions). If you've been reading a while, you may know I've had some intense children issues to deal with that have taken over much of my energies in the past 10 years. I'm happy to say that things are currently much calmer - I cross my fingers they stay that way.

It's as if my body knows it can be still now for a while and it's gone in to a state of stasis - is that the right word? I am going with it. Re-assessing what it is I need in this world/life at this juncture.

On my journeying I like collecting books I'd like to buy. Here is a little list of my latest finds to share with you:

- Junk Genius: Stylish ways to repurpose everyday objects, with over 80 projects and ideas

- Beautifully Small: Clever ideas for compact spaces (I actually bought this and love it)

- God's Message to the World:: You've Got Me All Wrong - I love the CWG books by Neil Donald Walsch and the reviews on this seem good too

- John Stezaker- nice book full of strong collage images

- Men Explain Things to Me: And Other Essaysinteresting writings by Rebecca Solnit

- Complete Minimal Poemsby Aram Saroyan (I now want to write minimalist poems - maybe I will!)

Just taken out the library:

- Decorate Workshop: A Creative 8 Step Process for Transforming Your Home

- Urban Eco Chic

And just bought from my local charity shop:

- The Thrifty Gardener: How to Create a Stylish Garden for Next to Nothing

Hope you enjoy too!

I'm having much fun exploring and considering my home as a continued art project and how art projects (themselves) might reflect this concept - more soon ;)


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Creative Inspiration for 2015

Ah, it's now officially 2015 in the world.

A good break over the festive period has got me all inspired.

One of my favourite loves: where art and life meet. This was perfect then for a visit to Kettle's Yard in Cambridge. LOVED visiting Jim Ede's house. Ede was Tate curator in the 20's & 30's I believe. He then travelled and lectured and in the 50's found and restored 3 tumble-down cottages in Cambridge to create a living place with art. He had 'open house' daily for students to visit and tour his living space filled with art. How EXCITING!

Regular readers (and those who've done my e-course) may well know about my passion for where art and life meet. It intrigues me, and this was such an intriguing spectacle. One knocks on the front door to be let in to what is still the original set up and living space of Jim Ede and his partner Helen. There is his work desk and bed and a beautifully open and extended house filled with objects from nature, art and design works, furniture and carefully curated windows of light.

It is beautiful and fascinating. Each chair is an invitation to sit, and once sitting you will see something in your line of sight. There are pictures hung high and low; works hung on top of each other; craft objects with splashes of colour (a single lemon making a pewter plate sing and echoing splashes of yellow in art pieces and other objects). The careful curation of colour, image, tone, texture within this living space is something I wanted to come running home to do in my own house.

I realise this is happening already, but there may need to be a different level of consciousness to it.

I often dream of opening my downstairs as an art gallery space. It is white, light and spacious enough. There are pieces of art that already adorn the walls from friends, family, others and myself.

There are circles of stones on some of the tables at Kettle's Yard and glass works hanging in the window. Handmade things with love. And I loved it.

Ideas for you and I to experiment with:

- what textures in the home?

- what colours? And where/in what?

- where does the light bounce or reflect in your space and how could you use it or 'play' with it? what could hang in the window or shafts of light?

- could you have multiples of things? If so, what?

- could nature be arranged to have a dialogue with art pieces?

- where and how could you curate your own family's works within your living/studio space?

- what do you see when you sit down somewhere? could you see that space differently now and do something conscious with it so others see what you've put there?

- what about reflections and materials to use? How could they relate or 'speak' to other materials?

One day I dream of a living space built with nothing but upcycled, recycled and reclaimed materials and home to art works I love. And I'd love to be able to share that space with others too in a similar fashion to Kettle's Yard. I wrote a blog post about it once here.

This year is ripe and fresh and ready to be filled with ideas and creativity - what will you fill this year with? What concepts? What dreams? What hopes and desires?

I'm a great believer in dreams coming true and this month's Workbooks has touched on goals and ambitions for a new year :) I will be running this subscription again soon. I've loved writing them so much.

I can feel new ideas brewing. Lots of things for the home. Interior fashions seem to have taken a turn for the 'natural' and 'eco' vibe. I'm down with this indeedy :)

I hope 2015 is great for you. Full of creativity and inspiration. I aim to be back here soon with more.

The image at the top is from Kettles' Yard. The living space with art works (collages) by Italo Valentini.