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, 23 February 2010

Good Housekeeping

The problem, I feel, with the short bout of food poisoning I had recently was that, after a couple of hours lying on the bathroom floor wishing for death, I was forced to the disagreeable conclusion that not only were the gates of Paradise going to remain firmly closed, but that it was high time to sand down and repaint the room’s skirting boards.

One thing we did manage last week was to replace the kitchen floor. It’s not often we get interior decoration wrong, but we’ve had nine years of a pale laminate floor which, since it showed every micro-particle of dirt in glaring detail, would have been a perfect worktop surface in a forensic laboratory (no more government enquiries into lost evidence, however small), but was a disaster for a working kitchen. Now we have cork – swirling chunks of the stuff in cross section a bit like marble, but marginally less expensive. It looks beautiful and is brilliant at concealing dirt; I know this because I only discovered the remains of a dead mouse this morning by treading on it with bare feet.

While our kitchen floor was approved by an architect friend and his wife who came round for dinner, my studio heating was condemned. This may have been because I put the fire on and it made their lovely clothes reek. I am resigned to smelling like a construction worker’s site office, but I realise that ‘Bute’ for men is never going to be a stocking filler. I am however quite safe: my brother has insisted I install a carbon monoxide monitor. This shows a touching concern for his little sister’s safety which I’m pleased to say he never exhibited when I was small and he was my twelve years bigger, marvellous, dangerous and tyrannical babysitter.

Monday, 8 February 2010


I’ve always liked the London Underground. I cut my teeth on the Metropolitan Line at seven, taking a couple of stops to school and back. By nine I was making the trip to see my dad who lived in Kensington High Street: a neat change at Baker Street and a loop of the Circle Line. By eleven the system was my oyster (though those were the days of singles, returns and seasons only) and I was loose to roam. These days, thanks to my enamels project, I count among my friends the people who cut, spray, print and fire all the London Underground enamel signage which adds a sort of warm and fuzzy feeling to my travels.*

Today I needed all the warm and fuzzy I could get once I left the shelter of the tube: a bleak howling day of sleet and pinched faces. I visited my print supply shop which is a gem. When I started out I found the assistants horribly intimidating with their total lack of eye contact and empathy. Now I know what I am doing, I find their obsessive expertise enormously helpful. I spent a long time with a man who was possibly even more interested in the mulberry fibre content of Japanese paper than me and knew to the drop exactly how much cobalt drier to use for each ink colour.

Travelling back I had to balance two heavy bags, a large and awkward roll of lino and a fiendishly expensive, long and delicate roll of Japanese paper. Like every over-burdened woman extra in every British film ever made about trains, I decided that I needed tea. Unfortunately, on reaching Marylebone, I was unable to do the sensible thing and find a seat, stymie the romantic end of a love affair and exchange some banter with Stanley Holloway. Instead I juggled a boiling pint of earl grey along with everything else up the platform and onto the down train home.

As a footnote, I have finished my experimental woodblock and lino mixed print that I mentioned in my last couple of blogs. You can see it and access the rest of my website here

*Sadly I do sometimes find myself patting enamel signs in a slightly mad sort of way and saying things like ‘I bet that’s one of Ian’s’.