Since I was a little girl I've been making dens....and don't think I'll ever stop..........

Sunday 29 November 2009


Been thinking about using colour in my work recently....mostly because I've had a commission for a drawing using a small amount of colour wash. I'm not averse to colour, in fact I love it.....but for some reason there is a lack of it in my work!!

The Cloth Shop

Whilst rooting around Portobello Market last Friday, I came across a really cool shop whose window display drew me across the road, whose open door with tantalising glimpses of fabric subsequently enticed me inside....even though there was obviously very little room to maneuver as it was so jam packed with interesting things!

It was full of beautiful linens and woolen blankets and fabric from Hungarian grain sacks, and Romanian Cart Covers, that brought on one of my Little House on the Prairie moments. I've just checked out their website and it looks as though their stock is really varied, from new and retro or antique sources.

Portobello Road

At last managed to get to Portobello Road...It's been an ambition since watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks! And reading articles in the Guardian, about models like Kate Moss who pick up little retro dresses for a song....
It's so easy to get to from Oxford...... I met Hannah outside Ladbroke Grove tube station just around the corner from Portobello Road, and we were soon in bric-a-brac heaven! There were stalls and shops selling all kinds of wonderful things...too much to take-in in a couple of hours....a great way to cheer up a dull winter afternoon.

I bought Hannah a lovely old fountain pen, we ate sushi and drank chrysanthemum tea, not joking, and couldn't leave without trying cupcakes in the Hummingbird Bakery. I have to say I was a little disappointed with the bakery, not the cakes, they were all they've been drummed up to be, ie.orgasmic; but we were given paper plates! I was expecting bone china at the very least.....

Then,as we were discussing a pen and ink drawing by one of the Brit artists (can't remember which one) in a tiny shop in Portobello Green, selling all kinds of lovely smelling herbs and soaps and skin potions; the owner offered to sell some of my drawings if I take them in....So I've got a really good excuse to go back....

Wednesday 18 November 2009

The Cosy Bag Company

Continuing the Bright Star theme, which opens with a closeup scene of Fanny handstitching......a little bit of of my sisters has just set up a company producing handmade bags and other odds and ends. She uses both new, and vintage fabrics and might like to check out her website it's at

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Bright Star

Last night to end a wonderful birthday, Ahmad took me to Freuds in Jericho for a cocktail and something to eat, then to the Pheonix to watch Jane Campion's, beautiful, gentle, sad new movie, Bright Star...........I'm still walking on air.

John Keats wrote the poem Bright Star for the love of his life, Fanny Brawne. The film tells their short story in a way that felt current, it isn't oversentimentalised.....and has amazing cinematorgraphy, including one of my favourite shots, showing row after row of white washing blowing in the wind, on the edge of Hampstead Heath, and another where Fanny makes a butterfly garden in her bedroom.

The whole evening had a kind of juxtaposition of 19c interlaced with the 21st, as Frueds is located in an early 19c Greek Revival Church, with a stone portico supported by crumbling columns, and a voluminous shabby sheek interior, illuminated with candlelight. The film seemed to have the same mix.

Bright Star

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art-

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,

The moving
waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth's human

snow upon the mountains and the moors

No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever--or else swoon to death.

John Keates

......on my way to get a copy of Keats poems.....I'm hooked now......

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Abi's, Seb, has an exhibition in Toulouse next Friday wish we could go....he does the most amazing watercolour illustrations and short films.........
you can check out his work on

......the naghali......................

I should find out shortly.....mid-November, whether or not I've been short listed for a travelling fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial thought I'd better start doing some research........just in case I do actually get to put my case forward in January.

The topic came up a couple of weeks ago. Ahmad and I were having a coffee in East Oxford one Saturday morning, when I spotted a guy drawing small pen and ink cartoons at the next table. I couldn't resist asking him about them and the conversation soon evolved from Pentel Brush Pens, and whether or not I could ask Dom to send some from Japan, to the proposed trip to Iran.

It turned out that our new friend was not only well travelled and full of interesting anecdotes but also drew my attention to some colourful painted walls he'd seen on a monastery in Voronet, Romania, that have the same kind of storyboard feel to them that I'd explained the parda-dari has; and that probably there could be a thread leading across eastern Europe..........maybe the journey will have to be extended - a mini silk route........I'm fascinated by these early means of communication......a precursor to the PowerPoint presentation?

Monday 9 November 2009 my first commission at Appleton..........

A plethora of monobrows, even the sun has your heart out Frida Kahlo......
What amazes me is how contemporary looking some of the graphics on seventeenth century Islamic Pottery is..............

Sunday 8 November 2009

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology

The Ashmolean re-opened on Saturday after a 61 million pound renovation. It was an amazing building before, but now it's awesome......they have kept the bones of the classical building that was built in 1845, but created two extra floors. The juxtaposition of classical and contemporary architecture with lots of glass walls, works so well......making a really cool building

Going back reminded me, why I spent so many hours there whilst at much inspiration. I've always spent lots of time looking at the Islamic textiles and pottery. I spotted some that looked like a small unglazed teapot with very simple perforated decoration, that I almost bought at Oxford Antique Market a couple of weeks ago; but couldn't get at the price I wanted. Maybe I should have splashed out, it may have been a valuable relic!

Friday 6 November 2009

Appleton Country Market

It's the Country Market in Appleton this Sunday 8th of November from 11am until 1pm. I've been drawing all week to produce some new work. Hopefully It'll be as successful as last month.

Thursday 5 November 2009

....magic lantern slides...............

It was Oxford Antiques and Farmers Market again today.....I didn't think I'd find anything interesting, except for a new stall selling yummy samosas. I'm always drawn to the stall with old cameras and binoculars and magic lantern slides, but usually out-priced as the slides are sold in boxes and can't be split up because they tell a story, or illustrate a lecture. But my luck was in today. I found some lovely old 1910 colour slides that were being sold separately for a pound each, and so bought seems that five pounds is my limit for buying stuff that has no real value, but may one day prove useful...............I just like them anyway.....and maybe one day I'll get the magic lantern too......

Sunday 1 November 2009

Issue three of Doodlezine

Abi Whitehouse and Desdemona McCannon have just produced the third issue of Doodlezine. It'll be on sale from 7th of November on and also at the Manchester Book Fair on the same day. I can't wait to get my copy because it looks as though some really interesting artist's work has been selected. I specially love Calef Brown's colourful illustrations so was pleased to see that his work was selected for the cover. You can check out the details on:-

.....Oxford yesterday........

It was a really warm Halloween yesterday We walked along the river into Oxford, then rewarded ourselves with a mille fois and green tea/coffee at Patisserie Valerie. In my opinion it's the best patisserie in Oxford, although I'm prepared to continue looking! Then had a quick look at Toast's new winter collection. I had to sneak some photos.........I felt like I'd been transported to a log cabin in the middle of a wild wood somewhere, or The Little House on the Prairie........(please ignore the date on the images it's wrong and I don't know how to change it...)