Monday, 26 January 2015

out and about: Islington.

One can walk along  the New river

Turn left to Essex road where one can find
 the beautiful little
North Library
guess what , it is not only filled with


One can sit and read the latest vogue!
And I did

Fashion is going my way
It seems

And free
yes the whole darn trip !
Yes Free 
Like me  

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


Strange as it seems to me, I suddenly realise ,that although I have been painting for nigh on 30 years , I have never learnt to paint.
I don't mean to say I have learnt nothing from experience . I have, however,  never been  taught .

At Art College I  hid my copy of the newly published interiors magazine under my table and whilst lusting after the beautiful and interesting rooms and other spaces I saw  , wanting to be either an interior designer or at the very least a painter of images to place in such lovely spaces as those  I was enjoying  in the magazine . Meanwhile , I tried to please my personal tutor by making installations and performance pieces that money could not buy and could definitely not be accommodated anywhere other than in a gallery.

I graduated from an art college in 1986 .I had studied fine art for four long years.  What I learnt there and was actively taught, was that impermanence was the goal of the artist. . I was encouraged ,or perhaps ,indoctrinated would be a better word, to believe  that only pieces that could not be purchased  by the bourgeoisie were worth making.

On graduating I had no idea what I was going to do as I had no longer got the access to the technology or manual assistance that I had  at art school  .... I studied interior design and ceramics but they did not satisfy all that much although I enjoyed both.

 video installation graduation  piece 1986

 I studied interior design and ceramics after my fine art course , and although I enjoyed decorating and designing for their potential to explore my eclectic taste for folk art, ethnography,religion, poetry and everything in between , ultimately I was a (so called) fine artist and  I needed a medium  through which I could   express my experience of being alive .
Did I say , I am shy ? Yes shy of my poetic nature , of my deep love of all sentient beings  shit like that ,you know the kind of thing .. I was an EMO  ,I think that means  ,emotionally overwhelmed, if not,  it does now as far as I'm I taught myself HOW TO PAINT

I am in fact  a SELF taught painter.

I started with Rubens . And I started with How Rubens started his paintings ie. under-drawing in red ochre/burnt sienna.

(I drew really well so that bit I had mastered) .

I got a studio and set to work .(see pic left)

I started from the heart (mine) and with the heart above on the left of the studio.. the canvas behind me in the centre is a hand copied lace mantilla and a heart . I was in mourning for  lost love . and I was starting as I meant to continue , that is to say , from real emotional experience .

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The aesthetics of joy : Marie Laurencin

If you have never heard of her, I am delighted to introduce you to Marie Laurencin , a contemporary of Picasso and member of  Picasso's inner circle of artists . 
Her work can be and was intentionally, some say , made in direct feminine  response to the masculinity  of Picasso  .

this is one of her cubist works

compare and contrast with Picasso at the same time 

Les damoiselles d' Avignon : Picasso 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013



I would like to say more about tea and ritual but below is  pretty well everything I might have said  If only I had more time ..... for tea and other pleasing , pleasant rituals . I will definitely fit an occasional tea ritual in to my now   over-extended project list. 
I should add that the above image is called "invitation to tea with grandma " and  that my own grandma  ritually baked a laden table of heavenly cakes ,pies and more  ,  for all the family , the fare was served from ancient matching  bone- china on a huge lace cloth ( lovingly laundered)  . She would have baked for an entire day yet would appear fresh and beautiful .
I will be looking for a venue for tea  to share with you all or I may even try it in my studio. (a work of art ? ) grandma's was  a work of art   "an act and art of LOVE"  

Tea time with friends can be turned into ceremony simply by the intention in which you prepare your tea.

"Coffee may be the power beverage that gets us revved up in the morning and fuels us when we’re burning the midnight oil, but tea is the drink we turn to when we want to relax and be refreshed at the same time. Black, green, white, herbal, hot, or ice cold, tea is more than a soothing beverage. It can be a ritual, a cultural experience, and even a spiritual practice. 

The reverence for tea has inspired ceremony in many cultures. From the spirituality of Chanoyu, the Japanese way of preparing and serving tea, to the sharing of Maté in Latin America, tea rituals are for celebration, ceremony, and relationship bonding. In China, tea rituals are part of many wedding ceremonies with the bride and groom serving their elder relatives in a show of respect and gratitude. The Chinese art of drinking and serving tea has been a source of inspiration for poetry and song. The Russian custom of chaepitie has inspired a unique style of teapots, caddies, teacups, and cozies. The samovar, a special brewing device, has become the symbol of the Russian tea ceremony and an object of art in its own right. Iced tea, popular in the U.S., as well as other parts of the world, is a modern ritual bringing cool relief on a sweltering summer day. 

You can turn your own tea time with a friend into a simple ceremony by preparing your tea with the intention of offering nourishment and good wishes to the other person. When you are seated together, rather than drinking your tea right away, look at one another and express your gratitude and appreciation for your friendship. When you pour the tea, again intend it as an offering. Drink your tea slowly, savoring its flavor and aroma. Let its warmth or its coolness soothe your body. When you are finished drinking your tea, thank your friend for taking part in this nourishing ritual with you. Whether savored in the presence of another or tasted alone, the custom of drinking tea provides a soothing pause in our hectic world. Drinking tea can be a daily ritual that brings inner calm and clarity to the body, mind, and soul"
by Madisyn Taylor

Saturday, 27 October 2012


One building has just gone up to the right of my view and another to the left has been demolished .
The one that has gone up is an art college, Kensington &Chelsea Art college. I like very much the fact that it resembles (in outline) the old Chelsea College of art that is no more here in Chelsea . It has the same vents (or whatever they are ) on its flat roof .

 I always thought the Art School building in Manresa Road to be very modern and stylish 
back in the day when Chelsea was very traditional and had very few if any modern buildings .There were of course a few squeezed in here and there between whitepainted and illustrious  semi-detatched houses .

The building that has been demolished is the Penguin Book Building ,to my immediate left. This was a landmark until it became a white elephant and has lain empty for the las ten years . Anyway that's gone now (and very quickly too ) all seven floors of it . It is to be rebuilt as social housing .
The building I live in was built originally as social housing . Local residents kicked up a right old fuss about it  as they felt it would lower the tone of the neighbourhood !
Residents here,some of  my neighbours, who csme here as social housing tennants but have since bought thier leases are not at all happy about the building next door becoming social housing , amazing really when you think that fifty years ago the entire block was a brewery ........You've got to laugh !Or you might weep at mans foolishness , greed vanity and selective memory .
Yes I have developed the art of just shaking my head and having a little laugh .
meanwhile here is the building I would like to see next door
( the Ashkalon Centre : Israel )

Thursday, 19 April 2012


And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
 - Anais Nin
  and thus that day came  upon  me also   .
and now I am free
I give thanks that I have lived long enough to feel it
and the thanks are thanks for every breath
there is no going back
upon my word
my word is
(my spirit within greets your spirit)
there is no master
of this spirit
                                                                         "  Namaste "

Friday, 13 April 2012


Art is something we can all practice .
 When we practice we are being artists
 The more we practice the better artists  we become.
Everything can be an art if we practice .
Artists are practitioners of awareness and mindfulness.
when we have put in lots of practice we can be artists .
There is an art to everything .
and then there is just doing stuff .
An artist is one who practices .
be it cooking ,gardening,mothering,caring,shopping,spending,entertaining, playng football,looking,seeing,dancing ,meditating etc.
practice whatever you choose in life and become an artist .
You will not fail .
What are the qualities of the artist ?
actually its not like that what it is is once you find your inner artist everything you do becomes an art . It is something that permeates your entire life . Choosing a medium like paint ink or clay is just that ..its just choosing to do that or rather to employ your artist to work through that medium but every rule of life ,of living as an enlightened human being applies also to your artwork . The artwork is really no more than a metaphor for life and living .

chocolate is still my friend and non toxic is best

The Life & Style: Our Favourite Raw Chocolate ‘Pudding’
just want to share this with you  ... my loves
may you be content, be well and fulfilled
and if that link dosent work try this one

Monday, 19 March 2012


It was in August 2010 when I was delighted to find my palette more interesting than the piece I was working on. Delighted because I knew I was moving on , that something new was on the horizon .
I mean I really knew , knew that what I wanted was to have that unconscious uncontrolled little mess of pink and green with my name on it  . This I would be proud of .

Does that seem strange ? Previously ,I had been working away making monumental detailed oil paintings of little tricky challenging bits plucked from nature and making ever such a good job of it and a fair amount of income too.But I did not like it ... I did not like the eye-strain or the brain- strain . It was art as a kind of tortuous display of observation skill . Almost a "showing off" of my" amazing" skills developed over years of assiduous practise but you know what ? anyone can do that with the will and practise !That's what I used to teach and I've seen it proved over and over again . Some people have more of a leaning towards it and a bit of a head start ,that would be the more left-brained ones (like myself) but believe me anyone and everyone can draw and paint what they see.

I needed to learn a little so went off to St. Ives ,the home of British Abstraction .. attended a two day workshop which got me going  and I have not stopped since. I am  liberated at last . Free to enjoy colour line and form for their own sake . Free to dance . I'm having a great time .  to see work in progress ... and give me feedback   ta .. love you all ... be happy !!

Currently I am preparing for a solo show in a hospital .Which is just the best thing possible for me right now. I Am going to do something sooooo cheerful and uplifting!  I'm going to make 'em "smile all OVER"

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Affordable art to live on under and over .

so I see this stall on Portobello Road . I am stunned . It is Marcus and his amazing collection of Kilims and Susanis
.Im crazy about these beautiful handmade artifacts . Im hooked Im broke but I cannot resist .
The first Kilim I ever bought was in a small village in Sparta and it came from "Asia Minor"I am absoloutly captivated by the magic of these carpets .
Kilim : Afghanistan

Marcus also sells Susani .... The work in these is just phenominal .
 Embroidered by hand they can be as large as 6 x6ft.
Im going to cut what could be a long story about my passion and tell you this instead ...

Rifat Ozbek has a new line these days "Yastik"( as you may or may not know) It is all cushions made from hand woven /embroidered fabrics .   I was given a lovely little one made from "susani" that is filled with Lavender ...with a traditional middle eastern ticking  on the back .... heavenly to touch look at and smell. Its tiny 6x6 inches  and cost £65.00. It's got me smiling all over at bed time these days

Robert Kime

 Robert Kime(above ) has Susani that make me almost faint with delight (thats a lot more than just "smiling all over") This panel in the window of his Kensington Church Stteet shop is £1,000.00 pounds . . I would own it and its matching partner if I had that kind of moneyfor that kind of thing
                                    He also has gorgeous susani  cushion covers that are very pricey.

Meanwhile , back to reality , real prices anyway, and  Marcus on Portobello Road ....... He's lovely , he sells lovely merchandise at earthling prices    Visit him , enjoy his stock buy something , he,ll give you a good deal.I call him magic Marcus as I dont know how he manages to give such good value in kilims and susani  
I'll give Marcus of Portobello Road (opposite Starbucks) the last word or rather "picture"


                    (Please let me know if you visit his stall and how it went and what you thought)

We (the artists) are the champions

"Art establishes the basic human truths which must
serve as the touchstones of our judgment. The artist,
however faithful to his vision of reality, becomes the last
champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society".
- John F.Kennedy

Loise Nevelson : Sculptor


Preparing for a major show in June .
Studio and therefore home overwhelmed by canvases .
I am engaged totally with abstraction ,colour ,line and form and
am really only interested in experimenting with breaking up the surface and designing that space.
It is a spiritual practice that involves a letting go of all thought and control having faith in the muse and  the years of gathered skills, creating the work .
This is a liberated time for me .
Bless you all throughout this coming year and always ..... May your juices flow .....its a thirsty world thats on the turn . 

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


I’m growing rather fond of the big bird  on my block

I have become used to the fact that someone (an artist?)out there can see into my home.

I have also enjoyed immensely watching the Bauhaus type construction that is in progress .

It is ,as a whole, a very pleasing aesthetic experience of the urban variety.

The construction itself is so simple, it is a grid and a cube at that and that is rather pleasing in a rational sort of way and calls to mind Corbusier and Mondrian.

Here are some pictures of what I am priviledged to enjoy .

Combined with the crane it is reminiscent of Kandinsky and Klee

This sight (or should I say “site”) ticks quite few, aesthetic boxes for me.

I also love the way the concrete changes colour and when it first dried out to a white (bloom) it was quite spectacular and ticked a favourite aesthetic box for me.

Looking and seeing is such a joy and in the city we have to look quite hard for purity and essence of form.
Ok so it is design  that Im seeing but  that crane driver is definitely an artist  .
Paul Klee

Monday, 13 September 2010

How to Be Alone: Tanya Davis offers advice on dealing with alone time in this quirky video — YES! Magazine

How to Be Alone: Tanya Davis offers advice on dealing with alone time in this quirky video — YES! Magazine

I like this I hope you do too . It makes me SMILE ALL OVER .
Its a bit of poetry and some art .... of film making and the art of living (philosophy)
all my favoutites !!!!
Soon I"ll have something worth writing about .

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Towards Abstraction :St. Ives Cornwall 2010

I am on the move ..... towards abstraction....... watch this space
I may be some time

Thursday, 3 June 2010


                                                 Marylin Monroe in THE MISFITS (1961)

I have been planning a trip to India for a couple of years now ... to find a place where I can spend the winter: that’s one reason..physical comfort.

Above and beyond the physical, I feel I can no and longer live comfortably in this disgraceful and disgraced society.

Yes I am very upset about the BP oil spillage it has just pushed me over an edge and given me , like many others a very loud wake-up call.

I'm not saying that I cant live here ,in this location although that is debatable , there is much to commend London and above all the people are by and large tolerant which is saying a lot.

Having lived in the depths of the English countryside in the wilderness that is Dartmoor for five years or so , the experience of the divine that I had there was awesome , it was an idyll , but the people , I found to be very disconnected from the outside ,”outsiders” and each other ,rather  bigoted in their views and lacking in any desire to connect . They were very materialistic, fought over literally millimetres of land and all sought to compete to have more “stuff” than the other.

Church attendance was down to an average of five per service over a year and that includes Xmas etc. where I was.

Whilst farmers traditionally help each other out with harvesting etc it was reciprocal and whilst that’s no bad thing it’s not giving that’s just a “deal”.

I gave all I could of my time skills joy running projects etc... and that’s another thing ... they seemed to think that all incomers were wealthy !!

India is still steeped in the religious belief and practice of "oneness" of connectedness the Vedic notion that there is no “other”

I have also been dreaming all my life of living in a morally and ergo, ecologically, sustainable community.

The ashram beckons .

I know it is a cop-out in many ways but truly I am tired of compromising my own better judgement as I conform and fit into modern western culture. (which, though I say so myself, I make a fairly good job of, but it is taking its toll. I long to move on to develop, to grow .I feel I have outgrown this western world or that perhaps it has outgrown me and would enloy life on a more human local scale .

Perhaps, I am thinking “at least half the year away living a wholesome contemplative life of spiritual devotion will see me through six months of mammon”

Yes I am deeply and tiresomely (to myself at least) sensitive to humanities destructive tendencies. For every wonderful human-being who has transcended his or her wretched ego there seem to be  at least two or three who are caught up in the drama of "who they are" or at least who and what they believe they are.

Caught up in their desire for status , for power over others and dominion over the natural world and its resources .Yes I have been deeply saddened by the current oil leakage I have wept tears of frustration and anger.

Here I am speaking my MIND ,the mind of emotions ... I can and do rise above this mind and exercise my intellectual ,contemplative mind that does not have any preference for the secular or religious ,East or West, here or there,

But emotions arise have to be embraced processed and dealt with and the fact is I am angry and sad.

I guess this is my little drama.

My contemplative mind, the drama to one side, requires that I weigh up the environmental pros and cons of long-haul flight don’t I? ..........don't  WE all?

to watch Marylin Monroe in a clip from THE MISFITS   click here      I first saw this film as a very young person          Enjoythe clip enjoy living whetever you are     and lets all get  sensitive

Thursday, 22 April 2010


John Lennon is attributed with having said

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination"

which could also read:
“reality gives a lot to the imagination
I am in bed a lot these days and very comfortable.
I lie in my bed and gaze for hours out into the tree-top that graces the view from my window.
Quite soon, I become the tree then after quite a while,I am a wounded bird;
still, alone, healing in a downy nest.
Having become the bird ,it is not long before I am flying ,enjoying the freedom of the sky .
Looking down I can see the tree now fully in leaf and I can only imagine the comfort of the nest that awaits my joyful return to rest.

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination” Henry David Thoreau

“Probably the difference between man and the monkeys is that the monkeys are merely bored, while man has boredom plus imagination” Lin Yutang “

It’s not what you look at that matters it’s what you see

Imagination is the living power and prime agent of all human perception” Coleridge

“The brain is wider than the sky - For put them side by side- The one the other will contain -with ease 
                                                                                                                                Emily Dickenson

Sunday, 28 March 2010


Less is More:
 Anne Russell 2010
an installation
oil, canvas ,wood laminate

Tomorrow morning at 7 am I will arrive at the hospital “starved” and ready for surgery .
I am to undergo arthroplasty(commonly known as a “hip replacement” )

Its not thaat this willbe my laast peice of work but I have

10 things about osteoarthritis that I have learned1 It can affect anyone at any age
2 Never “work through “ pain in the joints ( I have been misguidedly doing so in yoga for a years .)
3 To have absolutely no cartilage in a joint is agony if aggravated (by movement )
4You don’t have to take painkillers if one manages the pain by not aggravating the joint
5The less one does (,as in my case) the less one feels like doing . Aerobic fitness can decline with this approach
6 It would be good to keep up ones fitness level by doing something non-aggravating
7 Pilates is good and I find it doesn't hurt or affect the hip joint adversely if done correctly.
8After the surgery there is no longer arthritic pain as the joint has been re-lined
9The wound will be somewhere between 6 and 10 inches and will be painful
10Preparing my home for my return and convalescence has been hard but essential .

...................So this is just a quickie to get me started on sharing my experience of “disability” pain and the art of change .
There are some areas that I feel duty-bound to share especially around my creative output and my making and “not-making” . I have done no art work other than the above for many months now
A necessity to simplify my environment and activities set me wandering down a zen garden path and it has led me to a happy place in many ways and seems to have (not surprisingly)filtered throough to my aesthetic and art practice.

  • I have had to identify what was ESENTIAL in every physical aspect of my life and eliminate the rest.
    Less activity has meant more comfort (as in freedom from the discomfort of pain )
    Less stuff has equalled more space

  • Less rushing about “shopping” has meant more money in my pocket (shopping with two crutches is the biggest bore and no pleasure at all
    having less pain free mobility and more spare cash has meant more time sampling local cafe fare, service and ambiance.

  • Purchases I make now are on the web carefully considered and guess what “ESSENTIAL” .... I do enjoy the deliveries.
    Today however I have rushed about the place until I was stumbling ,limping and dropping things. But everything is in place for my return home from the hospital in three to ten days

5 things I have prepared for the return home after arthoplasty:
1.Knowledge of where everything is (I don’t want and will be unable to be hunt for stuff in the early days of recovery)
2. things I might need are off the floor
3.organized my bed so that what I need is at hand (one must only lie on the back although there is a debate as to which of the other sides may be a short time option)
4.Have a chair in place that is the correct height (from the floor to the bend at back of knee)Knee must never be higher than the hip for ........ a few weeks
5 All my essentials(addictions and predilections )are in stock . In my case Brown rice, Cocoa, Green tea, Soya Milk.
So hope you are in good spirits and enjoying all that life has to offer whatever your physical state.
I am really afraid of the post operative stuff and the healing time . But Ill be going in with the gorgeous Barefoot Doctor by my side (well in my ears anyway via my MP3 player)
Link to Stephen Russell the Barefoot Doctor this man is a true healer filled with love and wisdom, a generous witty shaman whos column in the sunday times is greatly missed.

Please treat yourself to the benefit of his artistry ,experience and joyful altruistic vibe. I cannot recommend him highly enough.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


It’s one of those grey days.

One of those grey days when the sky is an n ever-changing grey or should I say an ever-lightening grey.

On a grey day there is no pressure to be gay, to be bright or to be doing anything spectacular.

On a day like today one need only go through the motions of going to work , taking the kids to school, getting in the groceries , paying a bill maybe.

There is no requirement to be fabulous ; to match or be infected by, the weather. It is a particularly great day to allow yourself to simply be and that includes staying in bed if that is where you want to be.

In a grey light,and I mean light , not a dark grey day, colours become brighter. There is no competition from the bleaching or blinding sunshine on such a day.

Enjoy your grey day.

It is a day when your smile will be more appreciated and seem brighter than on a sunny day too. Be cheerful and it will be noticed.
Just a small word of caution, if you don’t want your clothes to steal the limelight from your pleasant nature ,don’t wear red in large quantity.
Have a great day !
(pun intended)

Monday, 1 February 2010

Oh oh my cocoa can !

cocoa is my drug of choice .
aesthetics my sensitivity......
Im a little perturbed because ...

Waitrose recently changed the design of their own -brand cocoa -tin from the one on the right to the one on the left.
Which do you prefer?
Why might they have changed it do you think ?
I need help ... in more ways than one !
(Its ok cocoa by the way ,for the price )

Theoretical Priciples of De-aestheticized Art this is a very dense article only read it if you have a question about the relevance or irrellevance of aesthetics that bugs you sometimes as it does me .... a lot

Monday, 18 January 2010


I smiled all over recently when I was invited to a private the out-patient waiting area of a mental health unit.

Art in health is often a rather diluted affair but this was brilliant ! It was alive and powerful creating a sense of relevance to the place that will affect those who enter and wait here ...

The fact that it is rather" wacky "work that is being so revered and hung in such a reverential way can only be a good thing too. It is bound to engage and give a sense of pride to anyone who feels their sanity is in doubt

The work was by the prominent architect Will Alsop and also on show was work done by him in collaboration with patients from the unit.

If you have never come across this guy before(thats one of the pieces in the show btw above ..mixed media on paper aprox 60cmx25cm)
then let me introduce you to him

• he sees no distinction between art and architecture
• believes that both begin in the same place
• is threatening to give up architecture in favour of painting full time (Im not sure he should do that)
• he has created some monumental buildings
• they are kind of like paintings (now that’s  a big step.. and a hop.. and a skip.. and a jump )
• he pulls it off !!!!
• he brightens up the world with his creative energetic play
• his work is controversial (I doubt Prince Charles rates him very highly.. although you never know........he liked Spike Milligan a lot and there is a resemblance)
• is a buddy of ‘80s artist luvy Bruce McClean (they paint together ,how very charming and unconventional)

Stephen Bayley said (affectionately) in the Observer
“Alsop has a ludic approach to building designs”

what a wonderful word “ludic”is and how often we misuse it in its protracted form i.e.” ludicrous”
Ludic means light and playful .......nothing ludicrous about that is there?

You can get a sense of his work and learn more about Will Alsop  here its a good place to start anyway
Enjoy the trip ... I know Will does and I do too! let me know if you do or not ..wont you xxx
an associated link to Wills painting buddy Bruce McLean  should old aquaintance be forgot !

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


a cinquain

silent poetry
transforming ,editing, creating
space to imagine peace

LATENT ABUNDANCE” (under the snow)
Oil & marble dust on canvas © 2009


"It is the stillness that will save and transform the world."
Eckhart Tolle

Peace ,quiet and stillness are synonamous .

Many people are “still” today due to the snow and ice .

When we stop rushing about mentally and or physically; when we become “still”, we learn to live in the present, still, moment . Thus we become peaceful.

Stopping internal chatter, we become "still"; quiet ,able to to reflect and meditate on our inner wisdom and receive answers

Is this not a change we would like to see in the world ?.
We love to look on a snow-scape .
It reconnects us with our potential and desire for peace and to become that change we wish to see


Monday, 21 December 2009


I dare not go out today
 but there are two birds on the tree
In the cold wet falling sleet.

December 2009©

I can never see birds in the tree outside my window without thinking of the

Japanese printmaker Shiko Munakata.
Here are some of his prints of birds in trees

His work is just a perfect expression of how I feel 50% of the time the other 50% is made up of other feelings.
I empathize with his work
No not really his “work” but his “ being” his energy.
Poetic , erotic, committed to celebrating life.

But I want more............. more simplicity............... more metaphor , “more of less” more to ponder

I love the way he takes complex scenes and simplifies them ;transforms them from the complicated experience of human life and the natural world into to the innocenct perception of childhood.
This is largely a function of the medium of printmaking itself .
However, the choice to use the medium for this particular purpose is not one that everyone takes on board with such vigour which was ultimately a religious fervour for Munakata.

He said “ I want my body and my soul to become totally united with my work...I want to reach a state where there is no boundary between self and other or between body and soul, and everything is absorbed into the print itself” This was made when he had transcended the “ego of the artist” as part of his Buddhist practice.

his desire to transcend ego drove him on and he left a body of work that connected us to earthly things... and unearthly things to the everyday  a paradox indeed .
It is snowing heavily now ...... I consider the birds of the air
Google to see more of Shiko Munakata 

Monday, 14 December 2009


I was in my second year of Art College when World of Interiors magazine came out.
I bought it and fell in love with it. That was in 1984/5.
I was a “fine-art” student and therefore hid it under my desk but looked at it over and over again … I knew there was something relevant about environments on every level and in every case. There was an art to creating them and a mystery too as to why they communicated so strongly and their effect was so powerful.

My previous background had been in the performing arts and I was, aware of energy and its impact on a performance and the performance space.
I began creating environments a.k.a. installations in a spirit of enquiry.
· I wanted to know what made them “art”.
· What was the relationship between art and energy …
· was there an art of energy?

I created an environment comprising two huge wall- hung canvases one of a water jug and the other an enormous doorway using only linseed oil and charcoal. A line of black objects made of clay, modelled on something I owned because I felt that they held some symbolic meaning for me, that they stood for something, lay along the floor.
The line created by the objects was as black and as wide as the lines on the canvases. The objects were all made from the same amount of clay which meant that their scale was changed in every case, some were larger and others smaller than the original.

When the artist Paul Neagu came as a visiting tutor to critique the work he said of this installation “I don’t know why I like being in this space but I do…I can’t say any more I just like being here”. Paul had responded to the energy within the space. The energy was created by what was in that space and the “negative”(empty) space that existed between things.which is of course not empty at all but alive with energy.

I had breathed life and energy of the most honest authentic sort into the elements of the piece and together in a space they communicated at the deep level from which I had resourced them ; my authentic spiritual emotional and physical life . I had been been true also to the materials I had used . The work had integrity and it vibrated with love, resonating poeticaly across time and cultures . It was a mixed media drawing that spoke of many things … things I could not talk or write about but that had to be experienced ,felt.

What I knew in answer to the question I had been asking at the start of that project was. “What makes a space you want to be in, or not be in , for that matter. And the other big question …what is art?.

I’m not going to bang on too long on this philosophic vein but please do comment or ask questions if it interests you as it does me and we can converse ,dialogue, share.

Twenty-five years and a few rented studios later , I make paintings and drawings
working and living in an environment that is far from how I would like it to be but I do know that it is a reflection of where I am at the energetic level. It is not an unpleasant place to be and it has a certain beauty for all the paints that are spread over tables, canvasses stacked against walls and the paintbrushes that are forever drying by the kitchen sink and standing bouquet–like in the studio.

There is an order to the “chaos” and I rarely lose anything .
I have been in very many environments over the years domestic, institutional, corporate and sacred. The atmosphere in all of these is varied .
I have been in churches that I just want to get out of as fast as possible and one or two where I want to be for hours, and little sitting rooms that are a lovely place to be .It is the quality of the energy, how it feels, that which has gone into the creating of it that makes the difference.
ALL ruins regardless of their original purpose have a certain resonance in common as Simon Sharma testifies to in his wonderful book about landscape.

I can only take so much of palaces, though that said, different rooms communicate differently. A lot depends on what is in the spaces, the objects, the relationships between objects and of course colours which all have their own energy.
Paintings have a tremendous impact on interiors because of the nature of the vibrations of energy invested in the piece by its creator .I can sit for hours in some art galleries and others I find overwhelming depending on the energy of the work on show. This has nothing to do necessarily with any judgement of taste, ie: whether I like it or not. I am an admirer of Picasso and his work, yet I had to visit the Picasso Museum in Barcelona daily for some weeks, flying around very quickly on each visit .
The energy in the work was so powerful ,I felt exhausted and over stimulated at the same time in that space.
Feng Shui has become popular as a concept and a helpful one too in my view. Feng Shui is about moving the energy through and about space and creating a flow and balancing energy in order to affect the energy of the individual..

The quality of that energy however is everything. is it AUTHENTIC? Authentic energy will be felt and experienced at an authentic level. Is it pretending? To be …. Anything … clever… tasteful…interesting…..beautiful….. Is it just plain “soul-less”?

Interiors Magazine has recently changed editors and there are those who agree with me ,that it had done all its best shoots a long time ago. Whilst the rooms are still ...mmmm whatever.... the energy overall has definitely waned over the years

Rooms homes etc, like clothes and accessories are all aspirational. They are a potential expression of our internal being (our emotional psychological and spiritual energy)
My favourite ever Interiors feature was of the inside of house maids rooms in South Africa (where I spent formative adolescent years) .

I remember those rooms at the back of the house... spotless with pristine starched linen on the high raised iron bed; the clean scalloped newspaper hanging over the narrow dresser type shelf the enamel basin and jug and a couple of wall hooks with a change of clothes hanging there.
Yes these things are aspirational, clothes and homes ….. I aspired to this simplicity that was akin to the philosophy and practice of Shakers, Corbusier and William Morris .
Picassos, studio/home at Vaullaris is iconic, as was the man himself (of course as it was a reflection of his particular energy) Picasso said ” be wealthy and live a simple life”

My space is simple and it reflects my energy at all times. It is very light. It is always clean. Often though it is very untidy, I have trouble putting stuff away or getting rid of it. This is in conflict with my aspiration as “less stuff = more space” is definitely my preferred philosophy and I need space to dance. I don’t have a lot of personal “stuff” just a lot of art/work “stuff” and insufficient space to accommodate it satisfactorily.

Living and having a working studio in a three room apartment is tricky but I can manage with skill …. Yes there is an art to it . I just have to keep practising that art until I find myself in a different place, vibrating with a different energy (perhaps aspiring to something larger whilst remaining simple )..................... there is definitely an art of energy I am just slow to decide how much I NEED if anything....I mean what is ESSENTIAL

My living /work environment reflects my inner space and energy: creative; ordered; flexible;rich in many ways.
I would like however to expand my inner space beyond making and teaching ,to make room for friend & family meetings, fun ,games ,music and of course…. dancing (just as soon as I can walk again that is!)
Link to World of Interiors magazine ( more aspiration than inspiration but it does what it says on the can)