For details about my work have a look at my website,

I am currently working on large prints combining water based woodblock techniques with oil based linocut: nothing if not a challenge! I'm also doing some teaching and go back to school myself in the spring to qualify as an adult education tutor

Friday, 24 October 2008


I have a promotion of sorts here at the factory: Kevin and Colin have decided to let me take my own artwork to and from the furnace, something which has previously been done by Dave (Dave is now holidaying in Cuba where I would like to think he is sipping lush cocktails and enjoying the odd cigar with his wife-to-be). The promotion comes in the form of trusting me to manage the journey without disaster.

To remind you, I have my six precious custom-made metal trolleys for moving my work. These fit the 1.2m x 2.4m panels and are pretty solid. They are fine for swinging about in my studio space, but are singularly dodgy for travelling. To get a panel to the furnace, I have to weave it past other work which is stacked at random angles almost everywhere. There is nothing better designed to chip enamel than more enamel on the move: it is fragile stuff until it it safely installed. Add to that the problem that the stacks of other work (which can range from Aga tops to Boris Johnson's 'Don't drink on the Underground' signs) are balanced on trolleys made up of slats of metal effectively little more than stacks of knife blades on edge and you can see why Colin and Kevin are being so brave in letting me do this.

Progress is very slow and, compared to the men, I am painfully cautious. Even so I managed to knock a panel badly (much laughing and thankfully it was a dud one which I have suspicions may have been left especially balanced to hone my skills). The lift is particularly difficult, Kev manages to exit controlling a full trolley with a flick of the wrist at speed. I can only manage it by backing out bottom first, freeing the trolley with a sort of full on Josephine Baker shimmy.

Hmm, call me slow on the uptake, but it occurs to me now I write this that I may just have worked out exactly why I've got the promotion and why everyone's being so very patient about it...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Blue Sky Thinking

I was interviewed for the local Isle of Wight radio yesterday along with the management. The man who turned up was very kind, while he couldn't be expected to be as absolutely charmed by enamel as I am, at least he was absolutely charming about it. All went well except that he asked one fatal question which went something like 'and how do you know you've got it right?'. I laughed in the slightly maniacal tone often favoured by Joyce Grenfell and explained that the dispatch guys checked every panel for alignment and colour before they were sent up to Aylesbury.

So with the dispatch team watching my back all should be well, but after the interview I got to thinking about the day's six panels. As I said before, the six panel waltz is best taken as it comes. I have done an awful lot of planning and preparation, I do check constantly for alignment and colour, but I don't think about the whole thing all at once, not until yesterday at least. Trying to take a considered overview of the situation when some were done, some downstairs, some half painted and one still propped up against the wall was silly - but it was a desperate and long few minutes while I stared at what I had, thinking that it couldn't possibly all be right. Then I realised that I was looking at a couple upside down and sanity was restored.

Trouble is that the sky in my pictures can as easily be at the bottom as at the top and, like most normal people, I'd failed to take that into account while panicking. I should explain that I see landscapes pretty much as a series of appealing shapes which lock together in a patchwork. Sky is useful as a backing cloth to hold the pieces together and, as such, can logically be as good below the landscape as above it. At least I've stuck to blue sky for this project: that's not always the case in my prints, but I figured that the townspeople of Aylesbury are in for a big enough shock as it is...