Thursday, December 31, 2009



digital image created with my iPhone

The end of the year has always been a melancholy time for me. This may be due to the lack of daylight and I suspect that I suffer from Seasonal Affective disorder, which is strange as I love the twilight hours and the cloak of ambiguity they cast across landscapes and interiors.
Yesterday was spent on steam trains, travelling through the frosty Cotswold countryside and the image above is a gentle composite of two of my photographs.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fragment 01


Digital collage created on my iPhone. With thanks to Renee at Playing With Brushes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 14, 2009

Remembering Martha


digital collage created on my iphone

I will not wish you riches
Or the glow of greatness
But that where so e're you go,
Some weary heart may gladden at your smile
Some weary life know sunshine
For a while

The above little poem used to hang in a frame, by the door that led into the kitchen of my nan and grandad's house in the Black Country town of Smethwick. Nan was a Smethwick woman, born and bred, but the statement in her father's newspaper obituary, that he was "from an old Smethwick family" was part of the fiction that dear nan liked to present to the world: one of established respectability and belonging. Nan's father, George Neal, had grown up in rural Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, migrating to Aston in Birmingham at the end if the nineteenth century, to work on the trams. Nan's mother, Elizabeth Handy, was widowed- George's second wife and, by all accounts, as large-hearted as she was large-framed. She capably raised her husband's three infants as her own and bore him a further ten. Nan was deeply loved by her parents and although an iron-willed grandmother for whom "no" meant "no", she was firmly against the physical punishment of children,saying: "life'll give them enough knocks as it is." As I sit in my bed, recovering from flu, I recall that several of my grandmother's siblings perished in the 1918 Flu pandemic. These tragedies effected the family deeply but their motto was "there's always someone worse off than yourself" and Nan would remind me of this, whenever I began to feel sorry for myself during the tempestuous teenage years that I spent living with her and Grandad.
My great grandfather was a Special Policeman and an active member of the "Sally Army": a Salvationist. My great grandmother was the daughter of a Romany Gypsy who had married a Gorgi and become a house-dweller. Family friends remembered Nan's parents as as "the sweetest, kindest people you could ever wish to meet": one recalling how, as a child, he and his friends had taken flight from a policeman, during a game of "kick the can" in the street. The boys ran down a narrow "entry" that ran between the Victorian, red-bricked terraced houses of Trafalger Road, Smethwick, into the back yard of my great grandparents' house, through the kitchen, the parlour, and then, the hallowed front room, where Nan's family were seated, having dinner together. By all accounts, the Neals smiled serenely as the children ran past them, persued by the policeman, my great grandfather cheerily commenting "hallo there!" as the noisy group disappeared out of the front door.
If Nan knew that she was the granddaughter of a Gypsy, she certainly never let on: it wouldn't have fitted the image of respectable, middle-class shop keeper that she cultivated. Following her bankruptsy, my grandparents moved to a house that was in need of renovations that never happened, due too lack of funds, but everyone remembers how "your grannie always liked everything to be just-so" and as the little image posted above began to evolve on my iPhone, I was guided by memories of the front room in her home: everything immaculately dusted and polished; starched anti-maccassers on the backs of the chairs, lace on the dining table and hanging inside the draughty, rattling, sash windows: filtering smelly, grey Smethwick light, transforming windowsill vases of plastic flowers into something fragile and magical. Never since my childhood have I seen flowers like those in my Nan's house. Were there really giant blue plastic Poppies and Dephiniums, pink and amber Daliahs? Or did I merely dream them? No, they were real, because I can remember Nan taking them from their vases to decorate Easter bonnets for my sister and I to wear for a fancy dress contest at school and somewhere, I have a slide that my father took that day.
These memories never cease to break my heart. Lovely, complicated, infuriating Nan: you didn't approve of me being an artist, you thought I had the brains to do a job that would provide the money for a far more comfortable lifestyle. If you were around now, you'd be telling me to buck myself up, get out of bed, mop the floors and do the Hoovering. Oh Nan, how I miss you!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Grungy Gifts From Lyon


digital image created on my iPhone

I am a little poorly at the moment but have uploaded some free French textures to my Photostream where I have begun a textures gallery.
Links to the textures can be found here on my other blog.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nature Morte: Lyon

Images created on my iPhone, today, at the Cemetière de Loyasse, Lyon

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Rue Hénon,Lyon,France

Backstage at the Biennale

This year's Lyon Biennale exhibitions are proving to be as stimulating as ever but I'm too close to it all to blog about it just yet. Instead, here are some images I made of things that caught my eye around the Sucrière venue, that weren't least, I don't think they were, but you never can tell. At one point, my phone rang and a French gentleman asked me if this was Gerrad's phone. As I wandered around afterwards, I couldn't help but wonder if I hadn't just been involved in an artist's electronic intervention, such is the power of the magic hall of mirrors to life that is the Lyon Biennale.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Rue Hénon,Lyon,France

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nature Morte part 1: Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris


Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rust and Feathers In The Gutter


iPhone collage

I'm thoroughly enjoying the process of creating art with my iphone: taking theraputic Autumn walks (inevitably damp) to find textures and compositions and then popping in somewhere warm and cosy for a cup of coffee, to play and experiment with what I have scavenged. The ability to photograph, edit, search the internet for ephemera, create an image and then upload it, all one little machine, pretty much anywhere I find myself, is exhilarating and liberating. The images are often simpler than the work I would create on a computer, more akin to sketchbook experiments or journal entries. This one began life literally in the gutter as it incorporates a number of photographs taken along the road, near my home. It is named after lovely Jamie at Art-e-ology who provided a beautiful piece of vintage ephemera for me to play with. Thank you Jamie!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Zetti Goes Mobile

Everyone Feared The Duplicity Of The Evil Zetti Brothers

Digital collage made on my iPhone

I do hope that those of you who enjoy reading about my work as well as looking will forgive me for being a little quiet of late. please do not adjust your sets, Normal services will be resumed as soon as possible.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today on my iPhone


birthday card made on my iphone

This innocent little image involved far more jiggery-pokery than probably meets the eye!

Photograph of girl courtesy of Artezine. Background comprises two photographs taken during a recent walk.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Beam Me Up Scotty

As I shall be off to Lyon Festival des Lumieres, very soon, I have downloaded an App for blogging from the iPhone. This is my test post and I have no idea how it will look.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Never in Mr. Bell's wildest dreams...


digital print made on my iPhone has finally happened...I have succumbed to the charms of the iPhone and I am totally smitten. Watch this space...I'm cooking up a collaboration.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Romance Of Cheese

digital collage 12ins x 12 ins

LaWendula's Paper Swap is having a serious effect upon me. As my friend has not yet commented on my work with Barbara's papers, I can only presume that she is utterly appalled that her lovely idea has brought about such a rapid degeneration in my creative practice. However, I feel that Barbara must take some responsibility for this as she sent me the little Dutch magazine cutting of a cheese advert that inspired this layout. I find it difficult to be serious about cheese adverts. So, LaWendula my darling, if you want me to produce Paper-Swap art with more gravitas, you must keep Barbara and I apart in future or we are just going to carry on sitting at the back of the class and giggling.
Actually, I deeply indebted to both LaWendula and Barbara for providing me with some silly distraction while my mum and sister have been ill with Swine Flu. This morning, my sister reported that mum is back to talking for England and so MUST be on the mend. Thanks to all of you who have sent best wishes, my mum is thrilled to know that people all over the planet Earth are taking an interest in her health!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Survival Of the Pointyest

12ins x 12ins digital collage
click here for larger version

The Postal Strike is over and so yesterday we received a bumper crop of mail through our letterbox, including a plump package from Barbara Morrison who lives in Holland. Barbara and I have been participating in my friend LaWendula's Monthly Paper Swap, over at her blog: Woven Letters. However much I love internet communication, nothing quite compares with the rosy glow inside that a package in the post imparts (so long, of course, that it isn't from the Inland Revenue or my accountant) and I could hardly contain my excitement as I opened my present from Holland. Barbara's creative work is quirky and eclectic and her choices reflect that spirit, including, amongst other items: a (specimen) 20 Euro note (bah!); a Dutch beer mat, a strip of rub-on vintage newspaper transfers, lots of pretty papers old and new and some fun, kitch newspaper cuttings. Barbara and I have agreed that rather than post a photo of the raw materials, we'll blog the things that we create with our papers. Above is a collage created with the first thing to capture my imagination. Barbara may have thought that I'd be inspired by the photograph of the Alhambra Palace, but as I'm still in an "if it doesn't move, stick a pointy hat on it" mood, I was moved to create something with the image on the other side, depicting Man's descent from the Apes. No disrespect to any of my gentlemen readers, but as a female of the species, I feel a frisson of annoyance that it's always a man that we see on these charts. Maybe I'm being a little unkind here and the choice was made simply because it's easier to hide the male "Naughty Bits" behind a carefully posed leg. Whatever the case, these chaps need taking down a peg or two, so pointy hats they shall have!
Thanks for the inspiration, Barbara and thanks LaWendula for a great idea.

Woven Letters
Barbara's blog
Stop press!!! Since first posting this collage, I have discovered the the artist who created the newspaper-cutting Evolution illustration was a gentleman named David Gifford and he has also done a female version. David, thank you, and I take it all back! Please can I play with that one too? David's clever work can be see HERE

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Autumn With Hannah and Tom

Autumn With Hannah and Tom
digital scrapbook page 12ins x 12 ins
view larger image here

One of the things that I am trying desperately to reconnect with, following the loss of our child, two years ago, is my sense of fun. Hannah and Tom are experts on the subject and on Friday, gave a masterclass to me and my inspiring friend Elouise, who as well as being their devoted mother, is also a hard-working doctor. I have made this layout as a thank you gift to them all for being my friends and I hope it conveys some of the spontaneous, joyful magic that we experienced together. It needs to be viewed large, otherwise, you don't see the depth and detail.
I have just discovered that my mum has Swine flu and am not sure when I'll be blogging again. If I have not yet responded to recent comments, please bear with me. Also, quite a few new people have begun following lately: thank you so much for taking an interest in my blog, I promise that I will be in touch to thank you personally as soon as I can. I find it difficult to be mentally organised at the best of times and at the moment, I am even more distracted than usual.

Meanwhile, over at my other blog, I've posted photographs of the amazing work of architect Javier Senosiain.
Click here to be transported to wonder...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flickr collages

The lovely and talented Renee of Playing With Brushes (Flickr) has been playing with Flickr Toys and made this beautiful collage of images created by members of her texture-users pool, including the one in the middle, by your's truly. I love how beautifully the images, textures and colours work together. and, of course, the ragged edge.
For those of you who don't already know about Playing With Brushes,
it can be found here:
Thanks Renee!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Art journaling: soap gets in your eyes

digital scrapbook layout
12ins x 12ins

It may be that I am missing out on some the most culturally important dramatic works of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries but try as I may, I find watching television soaps considerably less interesting than waiting for paint to dry and therefore, I can't follow them. However, I do recall that a few years ago, in an attempt to boost viewing figures, producers decided to wake-up residents of the sleepy, sudsy world that was Emmerdale Farm by crashing a plane into the village. Ever since that momentous event, Emmerdale would appear to have been in dramatic free-fall. My dad is devoted to the show and so I turned to him when I wanted to identify the characters featured in a photograph that I'd torn from a copy of The Mirror: for some inexplicable reason, it had screamed out "pointy hats and wings! Pointy hats and wings!". Anyway: on the right of the photograph is the lovely Laurel whom my dad adores. Her first appearance in Emmerdale was at Marlon and Tricia's engagement party, when she was dressed as a bumblebee. A few years later she married the local vicar (I am supposing, having first divested herself of the said bumblebee costume) who is named Ashley (pictured in the centre of the photograph). You may be interested to know that Laurel and Ashley arrived home for their wedding night to find Ashley’s estranged father Sandy in their marital bed. Laurel subsequently helped her husband to bond with his father: not, I assume, whilst all three of them were in the marital bed together. According to my dad, the lady on the left of the photo is another vicar's wife, who fancies Ashley. At least, I think it's the wife, not the other vicar, who fancies Ashley and I don't think either of the vicars wears a bumblebee costume but do please feel free to use this idea as a journaling prompt and link back to this page so that I can enjoy your creations.
My dad was explaining all this to me whilst suffering from a bad head cold and so I thought that perhaps he was getting the plot lines a little muddled-up. But a quick inspection of the Emmerdale web site revealed that my dad was actually in Emmerdale For Dummies mode. Here's a just short extract from Laurel's Wikipedia entry:
 On 23 January 2009, after talking to Jasmine about Shane and after voicing concern that she thought Jasmine was pregnant, Laurel learned from Jasmine how Shane had tried to rape her and that she had murdered him. Laurel told Jasmine that she must go to the police and confess as, if she explained how Shane had tried to rape her she might get let off as it may be been as self defence. Jasmine, however, explained that it was not in self defence and that she would go to the police in a few days. However she and Debbie decided to flee instead.

If Emmerdale is on the GCSE syllabus, then I take back everything I might have said about exams being dumbed down. This is FAR more complex than any of that Shakespeare and Marlow stuff that I studied for "A" level English. 

This week, I'm blogging this from Holland where I've come to visit my brother. You may well enquire why I've been wittering on about Emmerdale when I could be sharing all the lovely things that I'm experiencing here. It's sad, I know, but ever since I found the Emmerdale photograph, I've had that inexplicable urge to do the pointy hat and wings thing and I could not move on until the deed was done. Brace yourselves: I have so enjoyed this diverting little exercise that I'm considering embarking upon the Zettification of other great dramatic moments. A collection of Market Harborough Amateur Dramatic Society photographs, taken in the 1950s, beckons...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Art Journaling: One Little Word

Digital Art Journal page
12ins x 12ins

ONE LITTLE WORD (unedited)

As a person who doesn't cope well with hidden agendas, it's my natural inclination to say what's on my mind, get it out in the open and then move swiftly on. This doesn't always go down well with other people and dealing with the fall-out of my honesty is certainly one of my life's greatest challenges. Being assertive and adult during interpersonal communication works best when both parties behave as adults and how often does that actually happen?
In the company of fellow Digital Art Quirks forum members, I'm currently rambling along The Artist's Way: a self-help manual for those who feel in need of creative-rekindling. The book challenges us to re-examine our lives and the things that have led to us getting "stuck". When I found the "please all and you will please none" quote in Lynne-Marie Favreau's excellent Creative Word Art kit, it completely chimed with one of the issues I'm examining. The words I'd typed on the card originally read "I am sick of worrying about what people think or are going to think" but that made me feel like a pathetic victim, and so I thought hard about what I really want to say, right now, to all the people in my life who have tried to knock me down for being straight and honest. In the end, it came down to two little words and boy did it feel good to type them. There they sat in the middle of the page: tiny...tiny, but effective: poking their little tongues out at any unsuspecting viewer who might be charmed to take a closer look at the small print, potentially capable of upsetting a large percentage of the scrap-booking community. Following the Rude Tomato post on my other blog, wasn't I pushing my luck a bit? Had the "F" word ever been used on a scrap page before? Of course, I was fretting...I was worrying about what people would think, trying to please! I worried that I would be banned from the forums; banned from the CTs I work for and lovely Lynne-Marie Favreau would sue me for inappropriate use of her work. As for any submissions to Stamptington publications...
When a friend suggested that, for the sake of decorum, I should blur the offending word out, I experimented with scribbling over it, thus making, I think, a further point about self censorship, but the page
is funnier and I believe, more effective with the word left visible and it makes me laugh and cheer out loud. In fact, I would go as far as saying that typing "fuck off" on a scrap page is one of the most exhilarating things I've done in a long time, which could indicate that I need to acquire a life, or possibly, that I'm teetering on the edge of getting mine back.
I would be interested to hear your views on the subject of creative self-censorship. The scrapping world is such a cosy, family-orientated place, but many of the things that I want to explore are not cosy at all. A number of scrappers tackle challenging subjects but how far can we really go? Does the community we're part allow us complete freedom of expression? Are all of us
really saying what's really on our minds when we create our scrap book and journal pages, mindful that we'll be sharing the with the whole world and her dog?
Moving swiftly on: this week I have received a lovely little package from my beautiful, clever and talented friend LaWendula. At the moment, I can't transfer photographs to my Mac, so I have nicked LaWendula's images of the gorgeous goodies. Thank you, kind lady, even the stamps were beautiful!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Three Muses: Zlightly Zetti

"Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint"Jane Austin, "Love and Friendship"

Prompted by marvelous Marie over at the Three Muses challenge blog, I have, this morning, been engaging in of the gentle art of Zettiology. Indeed, so gentle is my Zettying, methinks it might not make the Zetti class. However, it is my first ever offering to contain wings, pointy hat and fairy wand and has kept me quietly amused for a several hours.
The lady, said to be a member of the Dundas family (what? You've never heard of them? where have you been?) was painted by Henry Pickering in 1754. In 1989, Christies of London described Ms. Dundas as an important British picture: "the property of a gentleman" and estimated her worth at between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds. Now, somewhere. she hangs on a wall, in the house of a rather well-off person who is completely oblivious to her "other life" as an aspiring Zetti model.

I have just discovered that his week's Theme Thursday challenge is WINGS
and Illustration Friday is Pattern, so, as Ms. Dundas is in an exhibitionist mood, we're going to fly over there.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

DAQ challenge: Altered Mermaid


digital collage 12ins x 12ins

This morning brought with it a most delightful surprise as I logged on to discover that following a comment left on his blog: Saint Verde Digest, Neville Trickett had linked to mine in his most recent post. If you don't already know Neville (he's been in my sidebar for some time now) do pop over to his place and take a wander through his archives of glorious visual delight and excellent good taste. He's as crucial to my morning wake-up as a good cup of coffee with a splash of gingerbread syrup.

Over at Digital Art Quirks, Donna has been shaking things up a bit and she has lassoed some of us (we are an unruly lot) into a Creative Team. My exact contribution is yet to be worked-out but there are some new challenges to be enjoyed and this latest image was in response to two: Altered Mermaid and Altered Surreal. In my usual way, I began with the first challenge subject and after taking a long time to think about it, wandered off into my own little world, by which time, the challenge had changed but what I was doing fitted it anyway. Thus "altered" has amounted to flooding a sitting room and inviting a rather grand 18th century lady to have a cup of tea.
The lady was painted by John Astley (1724-1787) who, on a sea voyage between Dublin and England, married a wealthy widow, Lady Dukinheld-Daniell, and gave up painting.

Whilst on the subject of water, the other day, I found a box of beautifully-wrecked lantern slides and am now wondering what to do with them. Here's a scan of one of them, probably the most damaged, but I love all those blotches and streaks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Clumber Street Shrine: almost there!

first and third panels

digital scrapbook layouts (each panel 7ins x 11ins)

The first panel in the triptych has been the most difficult to get right. This is probably because of the ambiguity I'm trying to achieve, suggested to me by the original condition of the photograph that I have used, which invests the souvenir of a happy occasion with a sense of anger and destruction. The photograph was purchased in Nottingham, over twenty years ago, along with the second, clearly featuring the same woman, a few years later. The young man may have been her brother but I have chosen to identify him as her intended or new husband. Had this precious family photograph been defaced by a small child, too young to know better, or were the marks and holes made by an angry child...or an angry adult? The look of defiance on the woman's face, in the second photograph, together with my estimation of the time frame during which it was taken, led me to a story of loss connected to the First World War but perhaps there is more to this story than first meets the eye: what exactly happened to the handsome but rather weak-looking young man? Was he mourned as a hero or did he desert his family, his name only to be found, a few years later, entered alongside that of another lady, in the marriage register of a church in some distant city or town?
Next week, when I've finished reworking the middle panel, I'll post all three images together, side by side. Then I'd love to hear your interpretations of the story.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Clumber Street Shrine: more work in progress


digital image 7 ins x 11 ins

view larger image here


digital image 7 ins x 11 ins

view larger image here

This is where I'm up to with the triptych that I'm working on. It is proving to be a most interesting challenge. Working on three images that will be viewed together to tell a story throws up many questions. For instance: how does the story travel across the three images? Is it linear or does it ricochet forward and backwards? What, if any, devices and/or motifs give the three a unity? Do they actually need a unity? Does each image present the story from the same vantage point, in the same scale or do I want to pull in and out of each image as a film maker might?
The scissors were far too small in the first version of the central panel. Wonderful serendipity has led me to find a pair of Victorian lace maker's scissors: perfect for this story, set in Nottingham and using lace as a story-telling device. The lace scissors are much finer and sharper than the ones in the above version of the central panel and this will refine their symbolism.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Prayer For Our Tribe

A Prayer For Our Tribe

mixed media artwork

Four phials sealed with beeswax, topped with glass and pebbles

A coil of brown paper on which is written my Mitochondrial DNA sequence.
Four letters that unite and divide us.
A map of each of my mother's mother's, back to the first Eve.

Hawthorne briars: around one of which is coiled a piece of magnetic tape on which is recorded Music by Monteverdi and J.S. Bach. The other secures a fragment of text from inside a Tibetan Prayer Wheel.
We are creatures of spirit and love.

Pieces of rock from the hill behind my house (earth); pieces of coal (fire); water from the tap in my kitchen, and air.
The elements in which we all live and battle against.

A pinch of salt; dried Rosemary leaves (for remembrance) from my garden, a rusty screw
We are creatures of cultivation, invention and creation.

We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded by a sleep. (William Shakespeare)

A little Dream Catcher made from pieces of jewelry that I have owned since I was 15 and some that were my grand mother's. An Indian bracelet with little bells; semi-precious stones, Amber from Lithuania; Garnet from India, shells, crystals, wooden beads, metal leaves and heart; a shard of glass made in the old lighthouse-factory, that was across the road from the house I grew up in; a button from a dress that was my mother's or grandmother's; copper wire.

Now it hangs in LaWendula's studio.

All that we have touched, holds our spirit.
When we create things for each other, we pass our spirit on.

One Tribe, One Heart