Onwards, Upwards, Artwards : Not Giving Up


Earlier this year, along with thousands of others, I submitted an entry to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Yesterday, March 15th 2018, this happened:

I’m disappointed by the decision. I wouldn’t have submitted the work if I didn’t think it was worthy of inclusion, and it isn’t, and that’s OK. I’m pushing my artistic practice pretty hard right now – making more works live in front of audiences, making larger works, experimenting. To some extent, the goal of submitting to the RA is part of what drives me on. The Gathering remains a piece I am proud of – it was exciting to make, and having it freed up by the RA means I can now offer it elsewhere. This rejection is just another step on the adventure. Congratulations to Anne McCrossan, a lovely friend who did make the short list, I’m delighted for you.


Yesterday morning, I dropped ‘Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again’ off at the London headquarters of AECOM, where it will be on display until the end of April.

You can read the background to this piece here, and hopefully you’ll see why this is a great place for this art work to reside for a while. The timing of this particular art drop was a great antidote to the letter I received earlier. Thank you to the people at AECOM who are making this possible.

Not Giving Up

Last night I played at the Project B open mic, hosted by Chloe Ray. I first met Chloe a little over a year ago when we collaborated on a joint art/music project called ‘Not Giving Up’. Not Giving Up is the title of the fourth track on Chloe’s Reprise EP, and it’s the title of this artwork, made to celebrate the 50th consecutive week of the free art project.

Serendipitously, Chloe performed Not Giving Up last night, what a joy it was to hear that song, and reflect on a day of rejection and acceptance. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do.

Live Painting At Workplace Trends : Second Hand Daylight

A recurring theme at last week’s Workplace Trends Spring Summit was the importance of natural daylight. It came up time after time during the morning session, and we were fortunate that the conference room at The Royal College of Obstetricians has huge floor to ceiling windows, through which flows a lot of light.

Several people remarked that they thought it odd I had chosen to set myself up as far from the natural light source as was possible. I picked this space to work in, largely because it felt ‘out of the way’, and the irony of the darker corner was not lost on me. This photograph of my temporary studio doesn’t look all that dark – but it gives you a sense of the space I chose.

During the morning I had begun blacking out a canvas which you can see on the left hand side in the above photo. After lunch, I worked on this piece with more intent, applying more paint, scraping and scratching as I went. At some point in the afternoon I decided to have some fun with being in the darker corner, and I took out some gilding paste and gold leaf. I frequently use metal leaf in my work but this was the first time I’d done so live. Gold leaf is thinner than the human breath – and the slightest movement of air causes it to waft uncontrollably. I had a lot of fun relaxing and trying to use the gentlest of draughts to help me move the gold leaf into place.

The reflections from the leaf juxtaposed on the black canvas represent ‘Second Hand Daylight’ and together they are a nod to the darker corner where I chose to work. These two photos are of the work in situ during conference.

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These last two photographs are of the work back at the ranch. Though it may not look like it, I’ve done a lot more work on this piece since the event, adding more and more black to the front and edges of the canvas. I will add a coat of matt varnish soon and the piece will be finished and put up for sale..

Second Hand Daylight

The Free Art Project : Week 101

The free art project was a group effort this week, in the form of an art workshop in The Wallington Arms. We had a full house and after a short art game to encourage our inner artists, we experimented with a range of activities.

I brought along some 10cm square wood panels which people decorated, here’s an excellent daughter and mother combo.

People made large works and small works, landscapes, abstract works, greeting cards and more. I love this 3D panel.

There were luggage tags available for people to add good wishes to. At the end of the session, we tied all the wishes to some bunting hanging up in the pub, leaving the place full of good thoughts for everyone to enjoy.

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One of the artworks made during the day was subsequently auctioned to help raise funds for MacMillan Cancer Research, and as I packed up the workshop, I spotted someone elsewhere in the pub celebrating their 18th birthday. During the workshop I made a panel with a silver and blue leaf design on a white background. I signed the piece and gave it to the person as a small token of celebration. I don’t have a photo of the art work but I consider it, and the workshop itself, to be the 101st week of the free art project.

Thank you to everyone who came along and helped make the event a success, it was lovely to see so many smiling faces throughout the afternoon. Thanks also to The Wallington Arms for hosting us – I couldn’t run these events without their support.