Magic Lantern - (in a hurry)

The 1st weekend in December is always the Christmas Open at Brooklyn Studios where I work and I like to make my space look cheery and inviting.

Despite annual resolutions to the contrary, I end up doing things in a crazy rush every time.  This year was no exception and was further complicated by the unexpected early arrival of a huge old plan chest that needed to be assimilated into the very small space - necessitating complete upheaval and rearrangement of everything.

At one point of utter chaos I thought about just opting out and putting 'Police do not cross' tape over the entrance but eventually things got whipped into shape and I had just a few hours left to create a centre piece object.

Last year I put birds inside the slightly battered and cracked Moroccan style lamp that Cathy donated to the tabletop sale.  People seemed to like it, so this time I wanted to do something more spectacular.  All my plans came to nothing however owing to the lack of time and I just did a rushed job with some spare pages from my laser cut book 'Tree House' and a couple of sheets of coloured acetate sheet.

I love the magic you can create with just a bit of paper and some light - the final results were quite satisfying I think.

I've used Photoshop to remove the cable going in through the top and to play around a little with the colour of the ambient light. The final picture below has only had the flex removed.

Light Twite Ale - Moor Beer Please

I'm excited to discover the Twite woodcut that Pennine Prospects commissioned from me has been used on the label of a new beer called Light Twite Ale by Little Valley Brewery.  Not too sure about the purple colour and it would have been nice to have been informed rather than finding out from word of mouth.

But I like the idea of my work featuring on a beer bottle and really wish my dad was still around to see it.
I'll be off to the Tourist Information Centre in Hebden Bridge to buy a good few bottles

This is the photo and article from the Watershed Landscape website:

ale on dry stone wall

Born and Brewed in the South Pennines; Light Twite Ale

What have a brewery and our little feathered Twite got in common? Not a lot you might think but you might just be wrong.  Our favourite Pennine finch chooses the high moorland landscape near to hay meadows as its breeding ground and located right next to one of the Twite’s stomping grounds is the Little Valley Brewery situated high up on the Cragg Vale moorland above Hebden Bridge.
To help spread the word about the RSPBs Twite Recovery Project, the Watershed Landscape project have partnered up with Little Valley Brewery and created the Light Twite Ale from a tried and tested recipe.  A limited number of bottles of Light Twite are available to buy exclusively through the Hebden Bridge Canal & Visitor Centre with a percentage of the proceeds going back to the RSPB to help fund the valuable work they do to help protect birds and restore and retain their natural habitats.     

November Leaves II

Well not strictly just leaves, but can't resist including this selection of autumn glory for the ravishing colour combinations.

November Leaves

Fallen leaves on puddles, duck weed and tarmac make vibrant patterns as the dark days draw near.

Sweet Birds - New Card Set

Here's my latest card designs featuring the Sweet Little Birds.  I'll be launching them for sale tomorrow when its my turn to do 'Meet The Artist' upstairs at Spirals, the brilliant Fair trade and world crafts shop on Market Street in Hebden Bridge.

I'm excited to be spending a whole day there surrounded by lovely things.  I'll be selling a selection of my woodcut prints, mainly birds but townscapes as well, and working on my latest woodcut to demonstrate how its done.  Do call in for a chat if you're passing, I'm there from 11 am to 4 pm.

Helen and Sarah, the owners of Spirals are committed to ethical trading and supporting local artists and are hosting Meet The Artist sessions every weekend up to Christmas. Spirals is a great place to find unusual and attractive gifts so check it out.  They now have an on-line shop as well, see it here  Spirals


I celebrated my birthday with this bottle of 1995 Lalande De Pomerol which we purchased many years ago in the lovely fading town of Pauillac on the Gironde about 50 km North of Bordeaux.

All these years its been hiding at the back of our under stairs broom cupboard in Hebden Bridge and finally got dragged out, dusted down and transported to Burnham Overy Watermill on the North Norfolk coast.

I've no idea whether it had been kept too long or stored wrong, all I can say for definite is that its colour, fragrance and taste were delicious, a perfect accompaniment to the marvellous meal my sister Kate had prepared.

October Leaves

I'm still closely observing the floating leaves - the way they press down on the surface of the water despite being so light.

On the same bill as a certain Mr Hockney

How exciting, my exhibition is on the same bill as David Hockney!

Or put another way,  the on-line listing for Bradford Museums and Galleries just happens to be advertising both exhibitions side by side.

I think this just about beats the previous height of sharing the same page as Patrick Hughes in the Cow Parade Manchester 2004 Auction catalogue but its a close run thing.

Of course these tiny whiffs of fame from the top table only serve to remind us groundlings of the depths of our degradation ha ha.

However, apart from the fag* mania, I've always thought David Hockney seems a good egg and I've enjoyed a lot of his work - paintings, prints and writing on art - so no disrespect, especially as he's a fellow tree lover.

*clarification for USA readers, slang for cigarette.

Inspired By Landscape II Exhibition at Cliffe Castle, Keighley

The residency I've been working on all Spring and Summer has culminated in the exhibition at Cliffe Castle, and the well attended opening was on Saturday afternoon.  After a lot of stress and effort the centrepiece large-scale drawings of reservoir valve towers with projected rippling water finally came to fruition.  They are hard to photograph well.  I've had to Photoshop this one. I'll try again soon.

The exhibition is on for over 3 months so plenty of time if you want to see it.  Cliffe Castle is a quirky world all of its own which has kind of grown on me over the past few weeks.  For more information about the residency and the Watershed Project visit my Catchwater blog here

Canal at Machpelah

Late afternoon sunlight pours onto the Rochdale canal just outside Machpelah's big windows. Disturbed by high winds the surface takes on an unreal solidity in these photographs, resembling shiny black obsidian.

More Machpelah Light

Two contrasting images of light in the big basement room at  Machpelah Mill. The cast-iron fireplace is crisp and still whilst the reflected window case is shifting and undefined.

Dancing light at Machpelah

I've been working on 3 giant charcoal drawings for the past few weeks, for the Inspired By Landscape exhibition at Cliffe Castle in September. Each sheet of paper is 8ft tall and 5 ft wide.  I've never done any drawing that big before and as my studio space at Brooklyn is very small, finding a space to do the work was a problem at first.

For a while I was stumped until colleague Lynda Thomas suggested I approach Trevor Smith who owns Machpelah Mill in Hebden Bridge.  Trevor has been really great and is letting me use the basement room there.  Its big and empty with white walls, a high ceiling and windows overlooking the shady canal so ideal for the job.  I'm leading a monastic kind of life there, mostly silent, very peaceful and total concentration on the drawing process.  I'm really enjoying it.

The only distraction if you can call it that is the dancing pattern of sunlight reflecting off the surface of the canal and projected onto the walls and ceiling, especially in the late afternoon.  I've often noticed and appreciated this kind of thing on canal walks on the underside of bridges usually, and it also happened at the National Trust mill house we stayed at during May, in North Norfolk, when the brook beamed light up into the building.

Anyway, I find this phenomenom completely captivating, the liquid light intangible and transient yet so intensely present. Its the quivering movement that makes the magic, and as with so many lovely things, its simple and complex.

The moving image would best show what I mean, but until I get a video a still will have to do although its hopeless really.

August Leaves

Leaves for a maritime climate.  These are all from the Presqu'ile de Rhuys, a peninsula on the gulf of Morbihan in South Brittany.  One of my favourite places, especially the beach and salt marshes surrounding the Chateau of Suscinio.

The top one is known as Salicorne in french and is a kind of Samphire.  I can never think of this coast without picturing its lovely green flowers and unusual scent.

July Leaves

Leaves of contrasting size - a frog rests on a long, broad leaf of the Yellow Flag Iris alongside a tiny scattering of duckweed.  The meniscus makes him look like he has his own little bubble helmet for exploring an alien world.

CATCHWATER - Blog for the Watershed Project

This is just to remind anyone who comes here from a link on Pennine Prospect's Watershed Landscape website, that my actual blog about being Watershed Artist in Residence in 2011 can be found here

Impressions - Printmaking Exhibition at The Gallery, Masham

Delivered a selection of my bird prints today to this lovely little gallery in the centre of Masham on the market square.  I'm really pleased to be showing my woodcuts there along with four other women printmakers.  Its all thanks to my friend and fellow printmaker Janis Goodman who recommended me to gallery owner Josie Beszant. Thanks Janis!

The exhibition is on for a month and the preview is on Thursday 14th July 7.30 - 9.30 pm if you are in that neck of the woods.

Hebden Bridge Open Studios 2011

Its Open Studios again this weekend.  Brooklyn Studios where I'm based is now gleaming with freshly painted floors and everyone's studio space spruced up with work on display and a new exhibition in the gallery.  I'm hoping for lots of interesting visitors and good sales.   My Pennine Finch/Twite woodcut is featured in the second letter 'e' on the poster.

June Leaves

I've been neglecting Tumbling Hills these past few weeks; I knew it would be a bit of a struggle running two blogs but I still feel I need to keep the work for my Watershed residency separate.  I've also been away to Cornwall for two weeks on my annual holiday.

Contrary to appearances I don't normally go on so many holidays, its just that this year they've been bunched together, partly to ensure I have a clear block of time for Watershed during July and August.
I've only been back a few days and I already feel knackered again, so in keeping with the post-holiday austere mood June's leaves are dried moor grass drifting on the peaty shores of Warland Reservoir.

May Leaves

May leaves are all about the contrast between bright green and pale gold.  I've given up sticking to the mini habitat at Salem Field as too much was destroyed during the 'improvements' earlier in the year. Instead I'm making a 12 month reflection on any leaves I come across during the year.

All the leaves here are from my holiday to the North Norfolk coast.  The reeds down there are beautiful and correspond to our Pennine rushes - they shimmer and change colour depending on the light and wind.

Sand Wraiths

On a recent visit to North Norfolk, blazing sun and scouring wind created this amazing effect of mesmeric movement like swirling smoke or mist - to my mind writhing sand wraiths;  If you stared for too long it made you fall over but was more beautiful than sinister; unlike the topsy turvy building which seemed weirdly disturbing.

Pennine Twite Revisited

Recently Pennine Prospects asked me if I could extend the Twite woodcut as they needed a more panoramic format.  I wasn't sure if I could but I said I'd give it a go.  In fact it was very straightforward.
I just continued the design onto another woodblock about a third as much again.  The extra bit is on the right.

When the print comes off the press there's a thin white line between the two blocks but I have a technique for dealing with this thats pretty successful. I'm pleased with the final result.  I will be exhibiting some of my bird prints from 15th July to 15th August at The Gallery, Masham, North Yorkshire in a group show called 'Impression' featuring the work of 6 printmakers.  This Twite print will be my main attraction.

On a different topic, I'm finding it strange having a separate blog for my Watershed residency. I think about my work as a single entity no matter how disparate some of the parts are, so it feels weird to filter stuff for Catchwater.  I expect I'll get used to it over time.


The new blog I mentioned earlier is now up and running.  Its for the Watershed Landscape residency and's called Catchwater.  I'm not sure how it'll all pan out having two 'art' blogs on the go but feel its the least confusing option.  Click here to go there.

April leaves

Who knew that Horse Chestnut leaves come out of bud as eccentric green lampshades? certainly not me until this spring when I noticed these beauties glowing in the late afternoon sun of early April.

And just now, as April draws to a close following a frenzy of sun-triggered growth another surprise:

A goldfinch feeding on a tree festooned with pale green carnations - which turn out to be the newly minted fruit of a young elm tree.

Pennine Prospects new web site

Its all happening at Pennine Prospects, the organisers of my residency - well, they've just uploaded a dynamic new website for the Watershed Landscape with lots of info and pictures like the one above which I've borrowed, showing all the artists and writers in the project, and here I've got my own page which is quite exciting.

Its a shame I don't look more happy in the publicity photos taken last August at the Cow and Calf above Ilkley, but I'd just had some awfully sad news and was only just holding it together.  Still, the bird book gets a good airing.

The website uses motifs from the series of woodcuts that Pennine Prospects commissioned from me last year.  I especially like the way they've been faded back so the effect is quite subtle.

I've decided I need a separate blog to document my ideas and work in progress for the residency and am busily setting it up.  I like to fiddle with the html a bit to customise the look, so there's still a bit to get sorted before it goes live.

Inspired by Landscape - The Watershed Project

Hooray! today marks the official start of my Artist's Residency in the South Pennines.  I can't wait to get going.  Its been over a year since I applied for the job and my mind has been racing since then. Inspired By Landscape is a 3 year project involving 3 artists and 2 writers.

I'm following on from Sally Barker who was the Year 1 resident artist and has concentrated on making temporary sculptural interventions from local materials and photographing them within the landscape.  Alongside Sally, resident poet Andrew McMillan has also been creating new work but will now be handing the pen on to Writer Char March for Year 2.

There was an article about the project in the March edition of Artists & Illustrators Magazine, where I made some rash promises about taking my portable etching press out onto the moors for public engagement workshops - we'll see if our capricious and sometimes cruel 'summer' weather lets me do this.

Here's a crazy little collage made from manila and security envelopes.  Its Lower Gorple Reservoir tower.

Northtown in black and white

Northtown in colour

I've finished cutting my latest woodcut, 'Northtown' and have pulled a few proofs.  I like it in black and white, but have also been experimenting with hand-tinting.  I'm reasonably happy with the result here but need to find a way to avoid streaks in the grey hills.  Printing this block is a challenge as its at the maximum length the press can cope with. Also there are many fine lines that can fill in easily so inking-up must be done very carefully.

March Leaves

Well putative leaves really, in a budding grove.  Today I've been enthralled by the exquisite tracery of the twigs against the dark river, the bright sky and as shadows on beech bark.

The hedge along Salem Field is even more depleted now as further drastic cutting has been done by the archery club. Feels like a set-back for my project to document the seasons in this tiny patch of land but I'll persevere for the time being and see what happens.

Woodcut Townscape - Northtown

Work in progress on another commission from Pennine Prospects, a woodcut of an archetypal northern town in the southern pennines - so, the town hall is based on Todmorden's, the co-op on Delph's, weavers cottages from Hebden Bridge, Saddleworth viaduct and so on.