Thursday, 31 March 2011

Art is Hope

Photographed at Ground Zero NYC, HH March 2002

I watched Channel 4 News' coverage of the funding cuts.  They seemed to be the only channel giving more than a cursory summation of the Arts Council funding cuts.  I'd been aggravated during the day by comments dismissing the arts as unnecessary, attributing cut backs in the NHS to overfunding of the arts.  Channel 4 News had a guest who thought there should be no public funding of the arts.  In that case, there should be no public funding of the banks, or the privatised rail network.  But we pay taxes, and those are spent by the government for the greater good.  Though not life saving, culture can be life enhancing and life affirming.  It can provide welfare and can build cohesion and understanding in our multi cultural nation.

Yesterday, I think the Arts Council did well with their much cut budget, and coverage showed the diversity of the arts in our country.  I just hope that with a government so hell bent on reducing everything to its economic value, and so short sighted with its planning, that we don't through away arts and culture.

When Margaret Thatcher said "There is no such thing as society', she cursed us all with her prophesy.  There must be society, and civilised society should allow people the fundamental right to express themselves creatively and find well being, solace and beauty.

Making all culture only valid if it has commercial value leads to dilution of creativity and plagiarism.  We must continue to support arts education and arts funding to nurture the best talent to keep growing our creative industries.  Without financial input, there won't be a high quality creative output that will allow our creative industries to flourish.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Arts funding cuts

It's decision day for the Arts Council funding cuts.  From the coverage I've seen, there are wide spread cuts, and combined with the education minister's plans to wipe Art from the exam curriculum, it's a bleak day for the future of art and culture in our country.  That said, I was pleased to see that of the groups that I have direct links to, funding has not been drastically effected.  North Kesteven District Council, who fund Design Factory have secured 16.4% more funding.  The Leicester Print Workshop have a massive 85% increase in their funds.  Wirksworth Festival will be sad to lose 10% of their funding.  I hope that the festival can continue to flourish in spite of this and that the shortfall won't need to be met by the artists involved.

This artist's fortunes have just received a boost.  David has secured some work.  Temporary but much needed!  That Orla Kiely book will be mine!

New course details

The details of my next course at Beans Coffee Shop Gallery on September 25th have now gone online and the lovely Karen is taking bookings.  Karen will be promoting her coffee shop and my work at the Food and Drink Fair at Hardwick Hall on May 21st and 22nd, so pop along if you can!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Featured Artist - Paul Bailey

Here is the next instalment of featured artists on my blog. Paul Bailey is an artist I came across on folksy, and have been following for  a while.  His landscapes really appeal to me.  There is a sense of space, and I love his ability to capture the light.  Often featuring houses in the landscape, they are symbols of domesticity against the rugged land.  I suddenly feel the need to book a cottage in the middle of nowhere!

I got in touch with Paul to find out about his inspirations, and how he runs his creative business:

Red Earth. Paul Bailey

What is your background?
Well, I loved art at school. I wanted to do an art degree of some kind, but my A-level Art tutor wasn't encouraging. "Even if you get a degree (in Art) the best you can hope for is to become a teacher. Only a few can become professional painters" was her general refrain when I told her about my artistic ambitions. OK, most likely true, but not very inspirational. So when I was lucky enough to gain a chance to become a trainee commercial illustrator, I thought it was imperative that I took it. Anyway, I'll get paid to do something I really love doing. Unfortunately, in reality, the job wasn't quite that idyllic, and I left after a year. I stayed in the graphical industry, so to speak, albeit at a less creative level.

What mediums do you work with?
At the moment, watercolours exclusively. I have used oils, acrylics and pastels in the past, but I have found that watercolour is the most dynamic and versatile medium of all.

The Bothy. Paul Bailey

What other work do you do?
None. I just paint watercolour landscapes. I have painted a portrait of my wife and child, but that's personal and will never see the light of day.

How do you market yourself?
I think marketing for an artist is just plain exposure more than anything else. I try to sell myself in my blog and my tweets, not just the item, thus I give a lot away, in terms of my thought processes, influences and techniques. I believe the way you handle your promotion should be a reflection on oneself, thus, in my case, I put the emphasis on my art not the marketing. Art comes first. I have found that art buyers want to have more that just a 'pretty picture', they want a story behind it too.

Welsh Farmhouse. Paul Bailey

Where do you sell and exhibit?
I sell on-line through my folksy shop and exhibit and sell at a local gallery (Maeldune Centre, Maldon). I should be exhibiting at a couple of local art trails this year too.

How do you see your work developing?
Well, it will either become more abstract and, possibly more realist. A contradiction, perhaps, but nature is very abstract in its basic forms, isn't it? And, yes, I would love to make a living out of painting – that is my goal.

Who are your heroes?
John Blockley really 'turned my head' more than anyone else. You've got to check out his work!

John Blockley

If you could steal one piece from a gallery what would it be?
Autumn Cannibalism by Salvador Dali. Its small enough to be smuggled out under a jacket and make me a few bob too. More importantly, its a fantastic work of art, both in the artistic sense, and the meaning behind it too.

Autumn Cannibalism by Salvador Dali

What books and blogs can't you live without?
Country Landscapes in Watercolour by John Blockley. I don't own this one, it's quite rare, but I do have some others of his. I occasionally borrow it from the library. Just flicking through the pages re-energises me. 

Monday, 28 March 2011

New Course

David is running life drawing evening courses at Chilwell School, Nottingham NG9 5AL.  Those of you who have been taught by David before at Nottingham University will know that he's an inspiring teacher, adept at drawing and communication. This course is for all levels and the aim is that it's sociable and enjoyable, with no fixed curriculum to adhere to.  Great if you're looking for a place to further your creative practice in the company of like minded souls.


Quilted HH2010

I had a great weekend at Sock in Loughborough.  I said a sad goodbye to Quilted.  It was a favourite piece;  I hope it's happy in its new home.  I also sold Love Song as well as a good selection of ceramics.

Love Song HH2010

Sock was really well organised and advertised.  The marketing session they arranged before the event, and the supper for the exhibitors, were both helpful and gave time to share ideas and make contacts.  I'm really pleased to hear that there will soon be a Sock Gallery at Loughborough Town Hall, and hope to exhibit there soon.

I spent the weekend in the company of Helen Rhodes who was exhibiting on the next stand.  She's a fellow alumnus of Loughborough College of Art and Design.  We'd met before, in fact it was the very same day as the storm that I captured in the piece Journey Through The Storm.

Journey through the Storm HH2009

That piece was the first I did mixing ink, collage and stitch, and the start of my journey to now here.  So, for me Helen is somehow a part of that story and feels like a good omen in my life!

Other designers from the show whose work I admired were Gillian Lee Smith, Kate Thornton and Helen Shere.  

Thank you to all those who came to see me, and hello to those of you I met over the weekend.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Simple details

Hooray it's Spring!  The switch has been flipped and the lights are back on!  Suddenly there's a world outside again. I took these on a trip to Hardwick Hall, but everywhere I look I'm seeing the details of life, as if for the first time, baptised in the Spring light.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Recording Memories Workshop

There's been a bit of technological melt down here this week, so sorry for the delay in posting up the pictures from my first workshop last Sunday at Beans Coffee Shop Gallery. Here's an array of images from the day, everyone hard at work, and some of the beautiful work that was produced.  It was great to see how each individual interpreted the techniques that I use and applied them in their own way.  I was really pleased with the outcomes.  Such talented ladies!

Well done to Rachel who won one of my tiles in the raffle; we raised £12 for Comic Relief.....I rounded up the donation, so together, we donated enough to fund an operation to save someone's sight.

I'm really looking forward to my next workshop at Beans on 25th September.  I had such lovely feedback comments and really enjoyed sharing my ideas and inspirations.  And, as expected, lunch was great!

Monday, 14 March 2011


I've been accepted to show at the Holmfirth Art Market on Sunday June 12th.  Planned to coincide with the Holmfirth Festival, it'll be lovely to be back up in Yorkshire in such a pretty setting.

My workshop yesterday went really well, with some lovely work produced.  It was inspiring to share creative ideas and processes.....and lunch at Beans was wonderful.  Karen has set up such a personal space for a coffee shop and gallery.  Lots of handmade touches, tables adorned with flowers and herbs in her own pots, and the smell of biscuits....mmm!

I'll post some photos later.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Left or Right?

Left or Right?

I've been having a delightful weekend.  You know that question, 'Which famous people would you have at your dream dinner party?'.  Well, for me it would have to include Monty Don and Ken Robinson.  I'm so glad to have Monty back on Gardeners' World.  With his inspiration, I've been out there digging, pruning and redesigning the garden.  The delights of my lie in this morning were heightened by listening to educationalist Ken Robinson talking to Fee Glover on Saturday Live.  This man speaks nothing but sense on the subjects of education and creativity and I find him so inspiring to listen to.

The 'Left or Right?' reference may only be understood by those who have seen The Social Network.  Watching that this week made me realise just how recent are the social changes to the way we communicate.  I'm really looking forward to my workshop tomorrow and sharing my creativity and inspirations face to face!

ps.  I've discovered pinterest, and have added a pinboard for people I'd invite to my fantasy dinner party.   Who would you invite to yours?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A date for the diary

The Sock Makers' Market is approaching fast.  Billed as a celebration of quality artists and makers, I'll be exhibiting at Loughborough Town Hall on both the 26th and 27th March. Entrance is free and there is a free workshop for children aged 4-16 on the Sunday.  It would be lovely to see you there!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


I treated myself to Angie Lewin's beautiful book, Plants and Places.  Well known as a printmaker and owner of St. Judes Gallery, I loved discovering that she also works with collage. The piece above is layers of Japanese papers on a found piece of 1950's formica.  Like me, she collects and uses the patterns from the inside of envelopes.  I recently found a wonderful source of papers here.  Falkiners sell beautiful papers, including some designed by Eric Ravilious, cited by Angie Lewin as an inspiration.

Monday, 7 March 2011

The sun shone!

Polly Dunbar illustration

I hope it was a good weekend.  I really needed the sun to shine and it did.  It was wonderful to be in the garden, getting ready for Spring, the boys playing, chickens having a grub-up and the cats looking non-plussed with it all.  Not the best day to escape to the cinema, but a promise is a promise, and Tangled delivered in all the right, Walt Disney ways.  I know it wasn't me who needed the parental guidance, but that witch really was scary!  I also found a grown up moment to sit with a coffee and read the new Selvedge magazine.  Bliss.

I really enjoyed this interview with Tad Carpenter, especially the images showing design development from drawing to digital artwork.  I'm endlessly fascinated by creative process, from inspiration to realisation.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Design Factory Spring Collection

My products have been featured in the Design Factory Spring Collection.

Whoo whoo!

It's been a busy week!  I've been getting design work ready for my agent's trip to the US next week, curating the Folksy blog (see below), starting some new work for my exhibition next month, AND, working on my new website.  David has worked at record speed to do all the coding in Dreamweaver.  Lots of late nights, but here's the fruit of our labour..... (gallery pages still to be added).

If you need a website to match your blog....or vice versa....get in touch.  David is great at interpreting what you want, can use all the visuals that you create, and charges really favourable rates!

Tree of Life

I was asked to curate this week's Folksy Friday for the Folksy blog.  What fun!  I went into all the corners of Folksy....spent a bit of money along the way.....and came up with these beautiful tree inspired pieces.  I particularly like Artwork by Angie's Family Tree print.

Thursday, 3 March 2011


On the Breeze HH2010

I've just found out that I've sold this piece at Opus Gallery, Ashbourne.  Just wishing it a fond farewell.  I'm busy working towards my exhibition there in April.  Hopefully more sales to come!

ps.  Great news!  I've sold a small piece at Thoresby Gallery!

Hibernate HH2010

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Full House

Yippee!  My workshop on March 13th is now fully booked!  Ten people will be joining me to share my techniques and inspirations.  I'm really looking forward to meeting all of you.

If you'd like to know more about future workshops, send me an email and I'll add you to my mailing list.  Beans Gallery will be having me back in September.  Please register your interest with proprietor Karen.
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