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

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Let them eat cake

I suddenly find that I am returning to the factory tomorrow for my last week of the project. The short notice was a result of the sudden end of a long saga concerning the making of various sets of doors. These are intended to fit seamlessly into the enamel landscapes without so much as a wobble in the plough lines and their creation has been tense and complicated. For my part I have left door sized cardboard patterns at Wells with aligned drawings waiting to be transferred across, let's hope everyone's read the 'Do not throw away!!!' messages.

Short notice when you have two jobs means a fast bit of juggling and the calling in of favours along the lines of the Godfather. Fortunately, like most women, I worked through my son's infancy so have had the practice. The difficult bit is the cake issue. This is the last visit, ergo I must give everybody cake on the Thursday before I leave. I've learnt enough about factory life to know that milestone events are marked in simple carbohydrate and I have no intention of disrupting the pattern. The only answer is to pack up a kit like I used to for school domestic science, but on a big scale and bake on the island having first done the egg, flour, butter maths.

It's a bit of treat really: I like baking cakes, but don't do it often. The dispiriting problem is that my son finally confessed that he 'doesn't really like cake much' and there's no point being a domestic goddess when your audience consists of a confirmed atheist. In fact I now know that he used to sell my cake when he was at school (banana bread made the best profit at £1 a slice which seems extortionate since he wasn't providing a squashy leather sofa and caramel latte on the side). So now I will flex my baker's muscles and set off tomorrow with the cake tins and vanilla along with projector and templates.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Since this enamel project began I have been promising myself a holiday at the end of it and now, like Jack with his Beanstalk, I have just swapped Nirvana for hard work. While I may not have to fight vertigo and a cross giant, I will have to forgo two weeks of drifting about Sicily wearing Ray-Bans and a series of flimsy dresses for digging footings and shifting hard core.

We went to a party where a friend of a friend idly mentioned that she worked in a school with a printing press and they were toying with the idea of selling it, but that it was 'a bit big'. We did some swift research and discovered that the press was a) an Albion made in 1851 b) perfect apart from needing a duster and c) affordable. The chances of this happening in the real world are about the same as being paid good money by a County Council to create a landmark artwork when they, you and the manufacturers have no idea how, or even if, it will work: ridiculous even to imagine.

So we bought it and that was the cheap part. Moving it from Barnet to Buckinghamshire involves hiring the services of experts in moving printing presses. The good bit is that they too are based in Barnet, the bad bit is the cost. Looking at their quote I can only assume that they will be flying in the brightest and the best of the Sherpas from Everest Base Camp, wrapping our press in several protective layers of hand beaten gold and conveying the whole thing to Buckinghamshire with a full military escort. To be fair, the press is about 2m high and must weigh well over a ton, is made of cast iron and will smash like an irreplaceable dry biscuit if dropped. It will also need to be installed, aligned and made to work in mysterious ways before I can use it.

Oh and we have to build a new studio big enough to house it...

So the holiday plans went early on and probably the holiday after that too. But it really is OK as the press is a far better thing than a suntan and I'll find time to paddle on the beach at Sandown - the holiday equivalent of a power nap - when I go to the factory for my final few days.