Considering the marks of removal – Memory, Loss and the Human Condition

I work extensively with a 10a surgical blade for most of my work. It is my most trusted tool, and has become intrinsic to every work I do… whether that is apparent in the final piece or not.

But I have started to question, what about the sharp precision of that cut line? Its clean definite mark conveys something… but does it really convey what I want in this current work? How would it be if the marks were a little more… uncontrolled, rougher, dirtier?

I have worked with burning before… but never with so much risk. The previous work to have received such a treatment, has been the finishing touches in controlled situations, where the burning can only travel a certain way until it has to extinguish.

This work is a little different. The singular pages are not treated before being introduced to the heat. It is difficult to control the timing and pressure of contact to create marks that are legible and at the same time preventing complete obliteration of the page, save for the ash at the end (I have a fair few examples!).

This is a process that feels right and appropriate to the themes behind the work. It is not fully resolved as yet, but, I feel, important to document these none the less.

The Flame Awards 2014 – Look what dropped through the postbox this morning

Flame-Awards-certThe Creative Hertfordshire Flame Awards 2014 are organised by Creative Hertfordshire, in association with the Heart of Flame Festival. The Flame Awards, in its inaugural year, recognised the achievements of organisations and individuals, of all ages, who symbolise the very best of Hertfordshire’s arts and culture.

I was delighted to have been nominated (thank you, whom ever you are) and then to become a finalist.

The awards evening was  well attended and a really uplifting experience for all involved. As well as awards being announced,  it also featured performances from talented young people in the Heart of Flame Festival, the county’s cultural celebration of work by young people for young people and an interview by the inspirational Suzie Birchwood, dancer, choreographer and artistic director of ActOne ArtsBase.

Memory landscape - work in progress

Work in process – Memory, loss and the human condition

Snapshots from new work in progress exploring memory, loss and the human condition.

‘The human condition encompasses the unique features of being human, particularly the ultimate concerns of human existence. It can be described as the unalterable part of humanity that is inherent and innate to human beings and not dependent on factors such as gender, race, culture, or class. It includes concerns such as the meaning of life, the search for gratification, the sense of curiosity, the inevitability of isolation, and the awareness of the inescapability of death. In essence, the human condition is the self-aware, and reflective nature of Homo sapiens that allows for analysis of existential themes.’ – Wikipedia

Memory landscape - work in progress
Memory landscape – work in progress
Memory landscape - work in progress
Memory landscape – work in progress
Memory landscape - work in progress
Memory landscape – work in progress


Gallery updated

Finally got round to it… the gallery is updated and includes work currently being shown at Parndon Mill gallery, ‘Nothingness‘.

Self fulfilling prophecy
Self fulfilling prophecy

This must mean I am at that stage of developing new work.

Very excited to be back in the studio.


Nothingness – New group exhibition at Parndon Mill, Harlow

‘Nothingness’ includes the work of five artists with links to Digswell Arts: Hideki Arichi, Ella Carty, Jo Howe, Alex McIntyre and William White. These artists respond to the theme of nothingness using a variety of media: Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture and Drawing. Originally inspired by an edition of ‘Start the Week’, a BBC R4 programme in which the idea of ‘nothingness’ was examined from different perspectives, these artists bring their own creative insight to the subject.

For Alex McIntyre ‘nothingness’ is a leap of faith; the emptiness into which inspiration rushes. Nothingness is difficult to comprehend because the very act of considering it changes it. It is glimpsed at the periphery of consciousness: both before and after, ecstasy and grief. For this exhibition Alex is producing drawings that question human states of being.

Ella Carty’s work is a personal exploration of the existential state of ‘nothingness’. Her paintings of landscapes evoke a sense of both isolation and stillness. There is a sense in which these empty and seductive landscapes are both intriguing and unsettling. Her use of colour and its capacity to entice emotion is striking. Ella says ‘I wanted to convey a sense of unreality as well as detachment, to communicate a sense of how it feels to be in a state of nothingness.’

Jo Howe explores the notion of ‘nothingess’ by exploring emotional responses to ‘the space in-between’. Jo’s practice focuses on the frustrations of human communication working with old manuscripts that bear the physical imperfections and aromas of past human handling and thus retain elements of their human presence. The book or page becomes a tool for looking inwards to our evolving personal narratives rather than the read contents of the book as text.

William White is a printmaker based in Cornwall. His take on ‘nothingness’ is a study of the satellite dishes at Goonhilly on the Lizard peninsular in Cornwall, which are currently in the process of being recommissioned. Goonhilly is a cluster of satellite dishes known for receiving the first ever Trans-Atlantic satellite TV images, broadcast by Telstar in1962. These gigantic structures, seemingly staring at nothing were perfect inspiration for the title ‘nothingness’.

Hideki Arichi is a British born Japanese artist. He is approaching the idea of ‘nothingness’ by reading Eastern philosophical interpretations found in Zen Buddhism and by identifying personal reactions and indicators to these. The work includes paintings, drawings and prints.

Private View – Sunday 10th August 2pm – 4pm all welcome. Map here. Other times please check gallery for opening times

Nothingness poster final

Mono No Aware ( mO-nO nO a-wa-rA)

ella carty

Estuary Estuary

I’m making a start on work for an Exhibition at Space2 in Watford at the end of this year. The exhibition is titled ‘Aware’, a Japanese word (pronounced: a-wa-rA), meaning something like ‘pathos’ or ‘a sensitivity to things’. It comes from the expression ‘Mono no aware’ which can be translated as ‘an empathy toward things’ or ‘a sensitivity to ephemera’. It’s a term that we don’t quite have a translation for, which intrigues me. My favourite translation so far, is ‘the ‘ah-ness’ of things’.

I have had this sense a lot recently when looking out to sea during my Cornwall visits. Light, Sea, Sky, Flora and Fauna: all passing through the seasons.  This first painting, a work in progress titled ‘Estuary’, is made from memories of looking over the estuary at Falmouth through a really luminous but hazy light. One of the things I want to communicate in these…

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New work – unexpected inspirations

I am currently working towards a group show, opening in August at Parndon Mill Gallery, Harlow.

The theme of the show, ‘Nothing’.

In exploring what this means for me, the mind has wandered down dark alleys as well as through light port holes.

Whilst experimenting with materials, I had the fabulous Ludovico Einaudi playing in the background, as I often do when in process.

For some reason, I hadn’t really heard this piece, even though I must have heard it a hundred times before. All of a sudden, it literally took my breath away… resonating with what I was exploring, syncing so beautifully to my minds journey.

The difficultly is, I can understand this expression through my physicality, and with some words, but the visual is just that little way out of reach.

So looking forward to the time when I can clearly bring this into view.

For best experience, play loud with eyes shut.

Extraordinary and exciting process!



A sneaky peek… finished today!

A sneaky peek at my latest work, ‘A spoonful of sugar’.

This has been an essential work for me to produce. I have realised it has been an important and cathartic process. It has enabled me to explore and express creatively, the changes and the challenges that have impacted my nearest and dearest over the last year or so. This work also enables my own voice, with the inevitable impact on myself, expressing this can be challenging.

‘A spoonful of sugar’ is broadly about the impact of  Diabetes both on the patients and the family caring for and supporting them.

Want to see more?

Anywhere near Norwich, UK,  May 2nd or 3rd? Why not pop along to Turn the Page 2014. This will be the location of this works first outing!

ASpoonfulOfSugar-detail01 jo Howe Bookart Artist books
A spoonful of sugar – detail

turn the page 2014 is nearly here!

This looks like it will be another exciting, rich and diverse event. I am so looking forward to being part of this again. I will have new work on show, some big, some small but all fabulously bookish!

I hope to see you there.

Photo: turn the page artists' book fair 2014 THIS YEARS POSTER
download the poster, print one out for yourself, or share it with your mailing lists.
Tell the world you're a book artist exhibiting or you're going to a workshop or taking part in the Elbow Room live sessions or most importantly of all YOU are coming along to support our event AND remember when tweeting about it please use #ttp2014bookart thank you :)