Getting my feather back


“Sing me that song, all of it, before the bell goes and you get your feather back.”

The song had many verses and the bell soon rang. We’ll meet up with this charming individual in a blog later this year. Strange what one remembers, but it was a very good feather.

Meanwhile, I have been finishing off my art work for the Littleborough Arts Festival exhibition and the Touchstones Art Exhibtion. I’ve also been wandering the streets handing out leaflets about the Festival to every poor person I have passed.


Snow in a heatwave

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(gift for a friend, crayon and embroidery on cloth).

For seventy-two years
I’ve kept the ox well under
Today, the plum in bloom again,
I let him wander in the snow.

Bukuo (1384-1455), from “The Penguin Book of Zen Poetry”, Ed. Lucien Stryk, 1977, this edn. 1981, Transl. Takashi Ikemoto

It’s nice to have a bit of snow in the middle of a heatwave isn’t it? I’m doing the opposite with my ox at the moment, as I intend to blog every week in the run up to The Littleborough Art Festival in August. At the moment, I’m working on some collages that I hope to display at the Arts Festival in August. I’ll share more as time goes by.

Because my work is experimental and often involves mixed media, I find that my poor ox is often kept “well under” (with his nose to the grindstone). I’ve sometimes had to force needles through very unwielding fabric, or have found myself doing a lot of boring embroidery filling work (boring to me anyway). Also, my tendency to “jump in” can cause unpleasant surprises at the framing stage. That is a task I do not enjoy. I’ve learned from these experiences thoughand I now give more thought to the issues of materials and framing at the planning stage.

Just one more song!

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(Fabric crayon and embroidery on cloth. One in a series inspired by Jessica Angela (my wee niece) who is always asking for just one more story about her Mum’s childhood)

At night, sometimes my sister would sing to me plaintive songs. Songs such as ‘Paper Roses’, ‘Delta Dawn” and ‘Mockingbird’. I’d always plead for one more song. Eventually, my sister would fall asleep, the light on the landing (from the house next door) would go out and our parents would go to bed. It seemed that only I remained wide-awake and lonely in the dark.

The blankets (shown in the picture) and the (repeating pattern) of swans on the bedroom wallpaper often recur in my memory. I remember the cold green lino, with the leaf pattern, where the carpet ended. No heating in bedrooms in those days, but we did have Jack Frost patterns inside the windows.

Boing, boing, boing! Spring is sprung!

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“We loved to bounce, on beds, settees, and old bed springs we found on wild ground”

(work in progress (fabric crayon and embroidery) inspired by Jess, my niece, who needs stories about her mother when she was a child).

I’ve also included the first sketch I made of the idea, as development sketches can sometimes be of interest.

I like this project because I get to blow bubbles, bounce on my bed, and eat sherbet fountains, and all in the name of research. There’s a lot to be said for regressing.

See you in May. And if you want more to read, check out the Littleborough Arts Festival facebook page:



“Tracey loved to eat”
(fabric crayons and embroidery on cloth)
Part of an on-going project inspired by my neice, Jess, who always needs to hear a new story about her Mum as a child.

And, ideas are marinating richly and remarkably on the Littleborough Arts Festival front. Hettie Haywood, a young Littleborough artist, is enthustiastically “doing” the Facebook page. But is isn’t all about the Festival (that happens at the end of the Summer). Hetty is also covering local bands and other creative events.

Here is the link to the Facebook page. Also, there is a great colourful video about the Festival on YouTube (link below).

See you in April!

Exhibition, exhibition, exhibition!

Happy New Year dear readers!

Here I am, back in the snowy North country, after my festive break with family on the South Coast.

To give my salty writing muscles time to recover from their sentimental and restful break, I’m going to make an exhibition of myself this month by displaying some of my collages and paintings from last year. A couple of them are a little earlier than last year, but I’ve returned to them and done some further work on them.  I hope you enjoy, or maybe feel encouraged to have a go at a creative project yourself!  See you in Feb…

Media: mostly mixed media: collage (newspaper or whatever I’ve got), acrylic, oil pastel, etc

Subjects: Fairly obvious I think.  The third picture is a painting of one of my doodles.  The ladies with orange shopping bags and two children: we were asked to create a picture for a local charity on an A5 canvas.  I decided to have a go at enlarging the picture onto a larger canvas and this is how it turned out.  The caption for the picture with the silver goblet is: “we came here once and you made a goblet out of the silver foil your (well known brand) chocolate bar was wrapped in.  Now I walk alone.”  The logs disgorging foliage were inspired by walks at Hollingworth Lake Country park (the sensory garden). The abstract collages are made out of other work that I decided to cut up.  The picture at the bottom with the word “Chutzpah” was made for a friend.  She likes autumn colours. However, I wasn’t happy with it and when I finally got around to looking in the dictionary I saw I wasn’t quite correct in my understanding of what “chutzpah” meant.  It will probably get cut up and end up in a new collage!

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The Quiet Path

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“But most important to one’s own growth is to see oneself leave the safe ground of accepted conventions and to find oneself alone and self-dependent. It is an adventure which can permeate one’s whole being. Self-confidence can grow. And a longing for excitement can be satisfied without external means within oneself; for creating is the most intense excitement one can come to know.”

Anni Albers, “On Designing”, 1943 (1979), p.51

I’m not sure whether the field mice sucked the long grass with ecstasy or with need. I couldn’t take my eyes off the many tiny mice, by the canal, sucking away as if their lives depended on the grass. I am like those wee mice by the canal when it comes to quiet.

Yes, I admit I’m “strange”. I do “sit in on my own and listen to classical music (and other music)”. Isn’t it “odd”! I do, at times, prefer to “get into myself” rather than “out of myself”. And, let’s face it, “the quiet ones are the worst”. I hear the advice from my culture to turn myself inside out, and to screw my head on the right way around. I really should “sell myself”, turn up my volume and drink more. I’ve tried it. I’ll stick with quiet. Yes, I’m quiet and strange like the blue drangonfly, the white swan and the brown mouse are quiet and strange.

It’s no surprise to anyone when the “loner” or the “quiet one” commits some awful crime. Yet, headlines recently stated that the British public had been “duped” by an extrovert celebrity. Even, with extroverts, it seems, there is other stuff behind the surface. Stuff kept hidden. Stuff kept back.

I’m not suggesting that we introverts are constantly sorting out our own dark depths. No, we might just be feeding our need like the field mice. I think it would take a greater commitment to go very deep inside, for introvert or extrovert, to truly find and face up to what we are.

Sadly, when I returned with a camera the field mice had moved on to some other party.

Other Inspiration this month:

People’s Art is ON now at Touchstones Rochdale and yours truly is exhibiting a mixed media picture.

Also, I laughed aloud many times when reading Julie Walters’ autobiography, “That’s Another Story”.