Monday, July 27, 2009


At some un-goldly hour on Thursday morning, I'm catching a train to Paris, but I didn't want to leave these shores without contributing something to Marsha Jorgensen's commendable Stop Arts Piracy campaign Flickr group. As I have personal experience of my work, ideas and genealogical research being nicked or re-attributed as someone else's, I'm very happy to support this cause.
By the way, I'll taking my laptop with me on holiday, so will be checking in on you all and doing a little light blogging, but probably over at my other messier, more random place, where I am...

Slowly Losing The Plot

Stop Arts Piracy

Friday, July 24, 2009

Come Into The Garden Maud

I'm posting this little scene from my garden to invite you over to my new blog. Do I have time for two blogs? No, not really, not at all, but I wanted a place to post occasional rants about the slugs in my garden; post photographs of lost gloves and occasionally have friends around for tea.  It is also my intention to share items from my ephemera collection, a small way of thanking you all for your wonderful support and encouragement.  

There are two freebies waiting there now but please don't go yet because I want to take this opportunity to pass on the sweet award given to me by Lula of Sailor and Lula Designs. Lula is a kind and clever lady: a graphic designer who makes digital scrap kits in her spare time. For a while now, she has been giving away amazing free kits on her blog but she is opening a store soon. All the best for your new venture Lula!  Here's the award:

Many of the blogs I visit make me smile but the following make me do a little Happy Dance and these bloggers have literally helped me to turn my life around:

Kimmie: visiting Words On Paper Scraps is like going around to your best mate's house, sitting together in the garden, having wonderful conversations and sharing ideas for art projects. You also get a smashing cup of tea there!

 When I visit Lynne's blog Heart and Life  we walk through magical woods and drink from clear crystal waterfalls where Lynne leaves little shrines and offerings to nature. Lynne shares her beautiful, soulful heart and art and I always come away re-spiritualised and inspired.

Marsha (Fairy Artist extraordinaire) is so bloody talented and brave and is somehow finding the time to wage a Stop Arts Piracy campaign which we should all get behind. You can visit Marsha's wonderful Tumblefish Studio here and contribute and artwork to Stop Arts Piracy  Flickr group here.

How many artists have been introduced to each other through Seth's The Altered Page blog? His Disintegration Collaboration and Buried Treasure initiatives have introduced me to so many new, lovely people. He is a tireless supporter and champion of other artists and I can't think how he finds the time to create his own, glorious altered artworks. 

Alberta's Amusing Muses features her glorious art: full of life, colour and love, and her playlist includes my favourite version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". She is the art teacher that I would love to have had.  I am extraordinarily  jealous of her studio and garden, but we'll let that pass for now...

Now, I'm only supposed to pass this award on to five other people but rules are made to be broken and I have recently found another blog that makes me smile and feel good to be alive, so I have to mention:

Lani because her beautiful blog Lani Puppetmaker is everything that Art Therapy should be but often isn't. Lani, I just visited to get your link and discovered that you have posted an item about my blog. thank you SO much x

Ladies and Gentleman, please take this award and bestow it on five other bloggers whose blogs make you smile.

Oh, and here is the link to my new plot in blogland, freshly dug and ready to be cultivated. Please drop by, preferably wearing wellies and carrying a spade. Seed sharing always welcome x

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hidden Treasures: Mahkalahke



Lapland  2000

63.3 North, 30.95 East

Some words written during the week that I took the second photograph, back in 2000 BB (Before Blogging):

In Helsinki, I befriended a German Girl who told me:

"Finland is a disease. 

You must leave before you catch it

Or you will never recover."

But I had been told

"Lapland is so exotic, even for Finns."

So I travelled to the Arctic Circle.

What did I expect to find?

All day long, mist has lingered over this northern outpost.

From the window of Room 211 at the Inari hotel

I watch snow falling

Over the Inari branch of the Kuukkeli supermarket.

The only northern lights are

The orange-glowing street lamps

On the main road to Norway.

Downstairs, the seedy bar

Promises pizza buffet and Karaoke.

Here, the locals: mainly lonely men,

While away their northern nights

With talk of reindeer and fishing.

And yet I have been told

This is a special place,

With a fatal attraction that pulls people back:

Magnetic North.

Tomorrow, I will travel South

What do I hope to find?

There is a Sami word:


It means:

To return to a place you once lived

In order to find

Something you’ve lost.

And I promise myself that this time I will.

really will...

I have only recently reposted both of these images but have decided to do so again because I found the above diary extract from my Lapland trip. There was a written posting accompanying the first image reposted above and that can be found here, but the second one...well, it was just one of those days when the language part of my brain had frozen with fear. The soundtrack to these photographs would be the remarkable music of Wimme Saari, particularly two songs entitled: Boaimmas (which means Rough Legged Buzzard) and Gierran (Enchantment). Wimme is a contemporary performer of the great Sami tradition of Yoiking and If only I knew how to embed music into my blog page, you could hear the incredible soundscapes that this man creates. He may not be well-known outside Scandinavia but he should, in my opinion, be a superstar.

My other Lapland images can be viewed here

I'd like to thank the lovely and talented Lula of Sailor and Lula Designs, for giving me this sweet award. Thank you so much Lula! I promise to pass this on (and the others I've been hanging onto) in the near future!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This Is Where I Came In...


There are those of us who hang on Seth Apter's every blogword and would probably walk to the ends of cyberspace with him (but not in a creepy, stalking kind of way, you understand). So when I read the title of his last Altered Page posting:
Buried Treasure: a call for creative collaborators, my first though was "Oh bloomin' 'eck! He wants us to dig up our gardens now and I've only just got the lawn looking nice and I was planning to clean the pond out". With relief, I read Seth's suggestion that we re-post a few of of our earlier blog offerings that he might have missed. As some of you know, I began blogging in January when I had just made my first ever digital collage (posted above) and was a like a child who had come home from school with her first painting: I wanted to share my work with the world. However, I was really frightened that it/I would be rejected. It took me a couple of days to write a paragraph to accompany the image above because at that time, I wasn't at all confident about expressing myself with words. Since then, a number of you have commented on how much you enjoy reading about some of the ideas behind my work and so I hope that this post will be of interest, as I'm taking the opportunity to reflect a little.

The collage above comprises items extracted from photographs taken at the annual festival of lights in Lyon, France, together with a background that I made and elements from digital scrap kits, resized and recoloured. It was not my initial impulse to create a sinister image, but when I saw how my choices were leading in that direction, I allowed myself to go with it. Looking at it now, I can see clearly that it very accurately reflects my state of mind at that time: anger, creative frustration, feeling trapped on a very dark emotional place but as in a dream where you scream and nothing comes out. OK, I've only just thought of that: Seth, do you want a fee for therapy?


If you had no name, if you had no history
If you had no books, if you had no family
If it were only you, naked on the grass
Who would you be then? This is what he asked.
And I said I wasn't really sure but I would probably be cold
And now I'm freezing

Words by Suzanne Vega, from Songs of Liquid Days by Phillip Glass

I get bored very easily, so after creating the Lyon image, I wanted to try something completely different. Last January was very cold and as I Iistened to Phillip Glass's Songs From Liquid Days, whilst making an ATC with a photograph of me, aged about four and looking so vulnerable, the words of
the sad but very beautiful song Frozen really got under my skin and I felt compelled to create something that depicted the emotional space that it suggested to me.
The photograph was actually taken at a Christmas party, so after extracting myself from it, I lost myself in a snowstorm by means of several overlaid layers of digital paper. As I have a love/hate relationship with text in images, I posted an alternative version, without text in my Flickr gallery. That said, the words of this song have echoed through much of my subsequent work.


Prompted by a quote from Matthew Arnold:
And We Forget because we must and not because we will.

Soon after her eighth birthday, my mother lost almost all contact with her parents and has often told me that she has no feelings for them. And yet, she has kept safe this fragment of a letter that my grandfather wrote to her when she was eighteen and had just become engaged. That year, Mum and Dad went to Skegness together and Dad took the lovely photograph. I have placed another object in the box, for someone else.
The box was constructed from some photographs that I took of the side of a railway wagon and a rusty water tank.


I read somewhere that Mark Rothko did not consider his paintings to be abstract at all because he was painting images of emotions. Certainly, as a sufferer from depression, I have stood in front of his work and wept tears of recognition.
This page was created when I was very, very low. The central photograph was taken in Lapland. As I worked, I was thinking about Sami art and listening to the evocative music of Signur Ros and Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree. When I'm making a layout or image, I spend most of my time taking things OFF a page, rather than adding them. In this instance, there was eventually nothing left but what you see and a piece of digital ric-rac braid: I could probably write a book about that wretched piece of ric-rac and its emotional significance. What seemed like hours were spent moving it around the page before concluding that it was, in fact, just one detail too many so into the digital waste paper bin it went.
After making this image, I realised that without meaning to, I had created a piece of art journalling, so exactly did it convey to me how I had been feeling. I felt an incredible sense of relief and
could move on because I could now look at how I felt and begin to wonder what was around the next corner.


Often, when I begin an image, I don't know exactly where I'm going or what it's going to be about. In this instance, I had become obsessed with memories of photographic plaques in my grandparent's house and wanted to try to recreate them digitally. This led me to explore how I might depict the specific emotional feelings evoked by remembering my grandparents house where I lived from the age of 11: the sadness of knowing that we must move on from our childhood and the pain of looking back to times, places and people that will never come again.

The original post is here


This image was my first exploration into how I might digitally recreate the techniques that I had hitherto used as a painter. My starting point was a photograph taken in a churchyard. It was put through the digital mincer and I can't remember how many layers there were but I think it was about 50. As much of my work belies the fact that I love vibrant colour, I thought I'd share this one again so that you can see it's not all doom and gloom!

Looking back now, I can see how themes have emerged though my exploration of digital scrapbooking and collage. There's a desire to create emotionally evocative spaces; themes of memory, loss and longing and most of all, there are stories, or at least, clues to stories, inviting the viewer to make their own interpretations and draw their own conclusions.

If you've stayed with me up to the end of this post, thank you for looking and reading. Without the support of those who leave comments, I would never have got this far and your responses are always welcome!

See more buried treasures here

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This Is All I Know

Digital scrapbook layout 12ins x 12ins

larger image here

Letter fragment reads: a...nurse...a German will impossible for us...husband and three...know nothing

BBC Radio 4 is hardly ever off when I'm in my studio and yesterday, whilst working on this page, I listened to Amanda Whittington's moving play Be My Baby, which combines the fictionalised accounts of young women forced to give up their babies for adoption, with testimony from real-life adoptees. The play is, in turn, both harrowing and uplifting as it weaves together the human acts of losing, seeking and finding. Tragically, not every search for a Birth Parent ends in joyful reunion. For some mothers, forgetting is the only way to cope with the pain of loss and many adoptees find themselves at the end of their quest to find their birth family with little more than the reawakening of a deep sense of abandonment.
The photograph and card used for this page are from a collection of family ephemera purchased for £2, over twenty years ago, at Kettering market in Northamptonshire. On the back of the photograph is written: to Grandma, love Cynthia, 1943. The inscription inside the card reads from Auntie May and Uncle Reg. How very sad to think of the lives of Cynthia, Auntie May, Uncle Reg and all the others, tossed into a Tesco's bag, dusty and anonymous, to be sold on a market stall for just two pounds when there are those who treasure far less: those who, if they are lucky, have just one or two crumbling scraps of paper as the only precious clues to their origins, souvenirs of family memories that never were.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Digi Dares: Dot and Little Maree

Digital collage 9ins x 9ins
click here for larger image

This week's Thank God It's Friday challenge has an alphabet theme and I've chosen to work with just one letter: D. Here's a challenge for you: all SEVEN items incorporated into this image have a connection with the letter D. Can you identify them all? Don't look further down yet if you want to have a go before reading the answers...

1. The portrait of a lady, aged 35 is DUTCH SCHOOL circa 1620
2. The lady is holding a foxglove, the Latin name for which is DIGITALIS
3. The overlaid print extract on the right of the image is from Henrique Brunswick's DICCIONARIO Illustrado da Lingua Portugueza (award yourself an extra point for guessing correctly that the language is Portuguese!)
4. The wings are an illustration from this dictionary, of a small moth-like insect labeled DERBE (I have not found an English translation of this word. Can anyone help?)
5. The background is a photograph that I took at the Oxford Museum of Science, of the blackboard that Albert Einstein used for a lecture at Oxford University in 1931. The handwritten lines establish an equation for "D", the measure of expansion in the universe
6. The background photograph is overlaid with a DAMASK pattern
7. The large letter D font is DIDOT

How many did you get?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Three Muses: Surreal

digital collage 12ins x 12ins

This week's Three Muses challenge has been set by Marie (Ozstuff) and she has invited us to create a Surreal image. As is often the case, my image took on a life of its own and evolved into something possibly more whimsical than surreal although arguably, ducks have a pretty surreal air about them, most of the time, without recourse to donning on fancy dress. Anyway, it's a duck and to create it, I scanned three paintings from an auction sale catalogue and digitally collaged them together. The head and wings were extracted from
Ducks on a Pond painted by Walter Hunt in 1901; the torso and arms holding a dog, and the bloomer bottoms and feet were extracted from two English School paintings, both dated 1830. I do wonder who these lovely girls were, what became of them and how they would feel if they knew that almost 200 years after being painted, bits of them would become the body parts of a digital duck. To do them both justice, I intend to develop two more images that will include their faces. In fact, the face of one of them remained in the image until quite a late stage of its development when the duck finally won. The skirt was made with a feather element from a digital kit.

And now, as they say, for something completely different...

Alberta of Amusing Muses is a remarkable lady. If I had just returned from a trip to New York, I'd be unpacking my smalls and drinking industrial quantities of gin and tonic to recover from the flight, but what does Alberta do? She hasn't been home for five minutes and she's giving out awards to other artist bloggers. What's more, she has sent one to me! Thank you Alberta! There is, however, a catch: I have to share seven random facts about myself. Whilst typing my seven facts, it occurred to me that it might be more fun to scrap a page or collage about them, so that is what I'm going to do. Watch this space Alberta but please, don't hold your breath...

The Three Muses
Amusing Muses

Credits: skirt made with a feather element from
Kiss Of The White Princess by Glam Fairy Designs; striped bow and picture frame from Altered Halloween available at Miss Crow's Magickal Emporium; dried flowers from Dried Fall Florals by Jen Ulasiewicz; Paper scrap behind fish from Fancy Neutral Melody Papers by Jen Ulasiewicz; fish from Gone Fishing by Cindy Wetmiller at Wetfish Designs; Background paper (recoloured and overlaid) is from Jofia Devoe's The Bright Night and the floor was extracted and recoloured from an interior papers in the Bunnies, Bees and Bird's Big Balloon collection by Lorie Davison

Monday, July 6, 2009

I Remember, I Remember


digital collage 12ins x 12ins

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!

Extract from I Remember, I Remember by Thomas Hood

Ten years ago, I took a trip to one of the villages in Herefordshire where several generations of my maternal ancestors had lived. My 2 x great grandmother was a school mistress and I hoped to take photographs of the place where she had taught. Sadly, the village school was uninhabited and in a sorry state of semi-dereliction. Undeterred, I stood on the back of an obliging friend and, peering into the darkness, took a few quick snaps. Recently, I scanned these pre-digital age photographs and was struck by their curious atmosphere. One in particular, taken through rotten, ragged curtains, of a window across the other side of a deserted classroom, has since crept into a few of my artworks. It brings to mind one of my earliest memories: that of lying in my darkened bedroom and looking towards the window opposite my bed. Possessed of an over active imagination, seeing strange faces in the wallpaper, curtain fabric and any shadow that flitted across the room, my poor mother could do little to calm my fear of the dark which persisted well into adulthood. Setting out to use the window photograph in another image reminded me of Thomas Hood's sad poem which many English children of my generation were taught to recite by heart and I was struck by the difference from my great grandmother's "Little Recitations", remembered from her schooldays, which included "Flo's Letter": a jolly piece about a little girl writing to ask God to send her baby sister some teeth for Christmas.

I create my work on a Mac and an aware that images usually look darker on a PC, so apologies to all of you viewing this on a PC, if it looks like nothing more than a pile of mush!

Those of you who share my interest in decaying ruins should visit the Abandoned Britain site.

This has been a week of lovely surprises. First off, I want to thank LaWendula for asking if she could feature my blog and artwork on her blog,
LaWendeltreppe (which means lavender spiral staircase in German). especially as she has previously featured two artists whose blogs are a constant inspiration to me: Seth Apter and Bridgette Guerzon Mills. LaWendula has chosen to share three of my pieces that she particularly enjoys and you can see them here. If you are curious and follow the link, be sure to spend some time looking at the beautiful work of other featured artists. Next, another big thank you to Linda of Rosie and Linda's Big Art Adventure, a challenge blog that was one of the first places I discovered and bookmarked when I began blogging. A lurker on the blog for months, enjoying the wonderful array of art created in response to Rosie and Linda's prompts and leaving an occasional comment, I've recently responded to two of their challenges. Linda has posted one of my contributions here and is now thinking of trying digital art for herself.

Credits: The image began life as a photograph taken in the village of Foy, Herefordhire. It also comprises a scan of a photograph in a toy auction catalogue, of an 18th century wooden folk-art doll. The image was then developed by layering and recolouring papers including French Country Papers by Christina Renee; Washed Artist Canvas Papers available at Miss Crow's Magickal Emporium; a paper from the Creation 23 Collaboration Kit by Catherine Designs and Create Wings; several CU papers by Amanda Rockwell and Digiscrap. Also used to create texture were the following elements from Holliewood Design's She's So Trashy: tape, dirt and stain (all recoloured and overlaid). The net (recoloured and overlaid) is from
Geist available and Miss Crow's Magickal Emporium and the loose thread stitching is from Needful Things by Sausan Designs.