Wolves are people too…

I spent a whole afternoon painting wolves, and I love them. These critters just came to visit my imagination and insisted on portraits… I chose my favourites and created a book, using recycled books pages, thread, and stitch. The substrate of the book is cartridge paper which I dyed using walnut shells. I thought this was appropriate for wolves in woods and I like to have reasons for doing things sometimes… just sometimes, not always.

I am not too keen on the cover at this stage… needs something, it’s that white squareness that is bothering me…

Wolves are people too…


They are a strange combination of hidden sexuality… they are unnaturally tall


Severus, he was a man. As gypsies go he wasn’t so bad…


…until he got moody. He just wasn’t husband material…


Colophon by yours truly…


Little Red Riding Hood

I have decided to focus on Little Red Riding Hood for my first theme within the fairy tale series. I have read many versions of this tale and I still like the original Perrault version, apart from the ending. I dont want Little Red or her grandmother to actually die.  Maybe I will write my own version with all the best bits from the many re-tellings of the tale.

The illustrations below are by Gustave Doré. This is exactly how I imagined it as a child. Sadly I lost my original books of fairy tales during the itinerant lifestyle I led in my teens and twenties, so I am not sure who they were illustrated by, but it could well have been this artist as they feel so familiar. Gustave Doré reminds me a little bit of Edgar Allan Poe in his looks, his art certainly fits the Poe genre and he did some fantastic illustrations for The Raven.


I like wolves, I have been looking for my own wolf since those lost childhood days, when the biggest treat of the week was Mum coming home from work on Friday evenings, with a Little Red Riding Hood style basket full of gorgeous smelling library books for me to lose myself in. Books were my security and sanctuary then, as they are now.

These images are very suggestive, the way the girl eyes the wolf, and him rubbing himself against her in the woods. She certainly doesn’t look afraid, more daring I would say. I think I like these images because of that, they hint at the deeper meanings of the tale.


Perrault wrote a little poem at the end of his tale, a kind of moral:


Little girls, this seems to say,
Never stop upon your way.
Never trust a stranger-friend;
No one knows how it will end.
As you’re pretty, so be wise;
Wolves may lurk in every guise.
Handsome they may be, and kind,
Gay, or charming never mind!
Now, as then, ‘tis simple truth—
Sweetest tongue has sharpest tooth

Images sourced from: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/ridinghood/index.html

Art that’s lived in…

Warning… this post rambles. It is thinking about art, out loud, and dripping paint all over the place.

When I think about making art, and selling art, I often get all maudlin about the whole thing… whats the point? Whats it for? I have no BIG statement to make, it won’t change the world. But then I look around my home and it is full of art, in all different forms, and it all gives me a warm wintery afternoon when it’s snowing outside feeling, (which for me is the very best kind of feeling in the world). A lot of well known contemporary art is controversial, it has a statement to make, often a statement that subverts the world it exists in.  Some of the Turner Prize winners for example… some I love and I get, Simon Starling’s Shedboatshed, now that is my kind of art. But the work of say, Jake and Dinos Chapmandoesn’t do it for me. I don’t want what I find ugly or miserable, neither in my home or in an exhibition in some gallery.

My kind of art is of course very personal, just like your kind of art. I like art that you can live with and be joyful about, or art that you can live in, and be happy living in. Joyful doesn’t have to be all bright and cheery, I get a lot of joy from dark, bleak landscapes.  I could happily live with Starling’s In Speculum which I was lucky enough to see in Wellington earlier this year. It has a story, to me it has meaning. Just like my artists books, limited edition prints, original paintings and screen-printed tea-towels. Whether it cost £2000 or $10 matters not, whether it was done by a Royal Academy artist or a postman in his spare time, matters not. All that matters is that  for one reason or another it speaks to me loud enough that I want it in my world.

And so, the big challenge I have with my own art, is to make sure that it has a place in my world, or one of my worlds. My art and writing is very much about making other worlds, twisting reality to fit my concept of joy. I need to have a reason for it to exist, for it to be created, and  if it brings a good feeling when I look back at it, well that is reason enough. If I like it, then maybe someone else will too. I have in the past, made controversial art: giant tea pots lined with photos of the poverty that tea workers live in, child sized coffins made out of Nestle Smartie boxes, etc. I have my corners to fight, but right now I don’t want to do it with art. It doesn’t mean my art will have no message, just that the message may be ambiguous, foggy or for some, silent.

The photos below are not mine, but they kind of say something about how I like my art, kind of lived in...


I am not sure what it is about this guy, I have a phobia of the *F* – word, but I love this…, and I love how its is sitting there, not hung on the wall, just part of the furniture. The room below is a bit orange for me, but that chair looks so comfortable, and I like how the art is just nestled in there.


Images sourced on 8/8/2014 from:




Into the Woods…

 Inevitably they find their way into the forest. It is there that they lose and find themselves. It is there that they gain a sense of what is to be done. The forest is always large, immense, great and mysterious. No one ever gains power over the forest, but the forest possesses the power to change lives and alter destinies. – Jack Zipes, 1988

The above quote by Jack Zipes takes me to a place I remember and yet cannot find on a map. In this project I want to explore the meaning of this lost place within the concept of fairy tales. I will also look at archetypes, stories, memory and individuation.

My draft project proposal was due for Studio today, so I was under pressure to nail things down a bit. This for me is the hardest part of any project, decisions! I have so many ideas and they all go wandering off down different tracks, so I am carried from one journey to the next until I am totally lost, and cannot find the place I started from. Anyway the beginning of this post is the intro to my project. I called the project Into the Woods, because I didn’t know about the new movie of that name until later. Anyway if it’s good enough for Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, it’s good enough for me.

INTO THE WOODSImage sourced on 5/8/2014 from: http://tinyurl.com/m7ndsrz

Paul Klee & Me

I have been drawn to the art of Paul Klee since I was a teenage graphic design student… The other day while exploring personal mythology via Google, I discovered that German Jewish art historian, Carl Einstein, (yes he was related to Albert), used the term ‘private mythology’ to describe the world of Paul Klee. I researched this further, and found a book, sadly out of print, entitled The Klee Universe by Christine Hopfengart. The synopsis of the book from Abe Books reads:

There are artists whose métier is the observation or documentation of the world, and artists who set the world aside altogether to build their own visionary cosmology, designing its constituent parts from scratch as a personal mythology relayed in motifs. Paul Klee (1879-1940) was such an artist, as his aphorism Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible testifies, and The Klee Universe addresses his work from this perspective. In 1906, Klee noted in his diary, All will be Klee, and in 1911, as the encyclopedist of his cosmos, he began to meticulously chronicle his works in a catalogue that, by the time he died, was to contain more than 9,000 items. Here, in the fashion of an Orbis Pictus or a Renaissance emblem book, Klee’s oeuvre is made legible as a cogent entirety, in thematic units address: the human life cycle, from birth and childhood to sexual desire, parenthood and death; music, architecture, theater and religion; plants, animals and landscapes; and, finally, darker, destructive forces in the shape of war, fear and death. The Klee Universe re-imagines the artist as a Renaissance man, an artist of great learning whose cosmos proves to be a coherent system of ideas and images.

I looked back at some of my favourite works of Paul Klee and I think we have shared elements in our mythologies, the moon, dark shadowy landscapes, nighttime…

Blossoms in the NightBlossoms in the NIght by Paul Klee

Image sourced on 30/7/14 from: http://www.1paintings.com/images/Blossoms%20in%20the%20Night.jpg

Personal Mythologies

Looking at what I want to achieve within the field of my own art this semester, I have decided to work within a concept of personal mythologies. In my last post I talked about wanting to answer the question of why I make art, why I love the things I do. This is what my mythology or my story is about. I plan to explore my own myths and symbols that I have gathered throughout my life. I will do this using different media, including drawing, painting, mixed media, photography, stitch, the use of recycled materials and poetry.In her book Art is a Way of Knowing, Pat B. Allen says:

Our personal myth is so deeply embedded in us that it is difficult to see, yet we live out of it everyday. Our myth is what generates the patterns of our behaviour, how we respond to others, our expectations of life.

Sometimes, creating art can seem pointless, I want to find some answers within my art that I can look to when I get those ‘Why bother…’ days.

The images below are part of a series of Artist Trading Cards, that I did a couple of years ago called Dark Gardens.


Quote sourced from:

Allen, Pat B. Art is a Way of Knowing. Boston and London: Shambhala. 1995

It touches you in places where only shadows can…

I found another video, via Sean Pecknold who made the wonderful White Winter Hymnal stop-motion movie. This movie is called Carn, by Jeff Le Bars. It is dark, disturbing. It touches you in places where only shadows can…


Books I am sleeping with…

These are the books I am sharing my bed  with currently, some for the first time some for the second or even third! A complete mixture – book tart that I am…

photo 3

Day of Silent Pride…

Today is the day of silence in New Zealand, when students all around the country will tape their mouths shut. This is a way to draw attention to the many years spent in enforced silence by people of all ages who have suffered an identity crises because of struggles with their sexuality.

I am very proud of all my queer friends and all they have done to make change across the globe,  and indeed of everyone who stands up for human rights in any shape or form.

I am especially proud of my firstborn, Tabby, who has devoted all of her teenage and adult life to this cause. I chose a Tarot card for her, and I chose the High priestess, she is strong, and wise, she is eons older than her years and she lifts a veil between two worlds.I chose the High Priestess card from the Cosmic Tarot because she looks wise, she looks ahead yet carries the wisdom and landscapes of the past. She holds history and the future in her hands, and lights our way like the moon.


I have learned  more than I can ever say form my kids, and I know our whole tribe have learned so much from Tabby. If ever I did something in my life that I am totally happy with, it is raising my kids to be who they are, and to help others to fight for and realise that right.

You can watch Tabby on breakfast TV at this link

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 11.12.59

And while we are on a pride trip… this is Polly my second daughter of whom I am equally proud, and her gorgeous son Blue, doing their own bit


And here, can you spot my girls back in their Nayland days doing the day of silence?! So you were on Breakfast TV too Poll x

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 11.13.24

Go Tabby, Polly, Blue and all of you out there fighting for the right to be…

I love you and I thank you xxx





Mary and the Tower

Today I finally completed one of the Tarot Bags ordered long ago by my friend Felix. It was for the Mary El Tarot. I don’t have this deck, there are a few cards I love but the other…mmmmeeeeehhhh. I based the bag on one of the cards I really like which is The Tower.

Mary El Tarot – The Tower card:


The bag I made for Felix – inspired by this card:

photo 1

Detail of embroidery:

photo 2