Women’s March, London 2017: Uplifting, Inspiring, Very Happy to be One Among the Young, Old, Dogs in Coats who Attended

Women's March London 21 January 2017. The lad on the right is carrying an Amnesty International poster which reads: "We Stand Against Hate" (not Hats!)

Women’s March London 21 January 2017. An unfortunate shot – the lad on the right is carrying an Amnesty International poster. It reads: “We Stand Together Against Hate” (not ‘Hats’!) I know because I also carried an Amnesty poster throughout the march, which I would not have done had it read ‘hats’. I have no axe to grind with hats, just hate. I like the shadows of other marchers and their placards. It is, I think, a portent of the ‘shadowing’ that is to come.

Women's March, London, The speeches, US Embassy

Women’s March, London, 21 January 2017, listening to the speeches, US Embassy, noon, before heading off towards Trafalgar Square.


Women's March, London 21 January 2017 - Woman in Faux Leopard Outfit.

Women’s March, London 21 January 2017 – Woman in Faux Leopard Outfit. One of the more subtle ‘pussies’ on the march. There was a myriad types, sizes, shapes. I don’t have to explain further, do I? No, I thought not. Again, I like the portentous shadows of other marchers.



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A Recent Experiment in Eco Printing on Khadi (Cotton) Paper

eco-print-with-madder-dye-on-khadi-paper-vi-16-january-2016I knew when I discovered khadi paper, 10 years or so ago, that I’d find something creative to do with it.


It is such a seductive material, being textile (cotton) as well as paper.


Well, it’s taken all that time to find that creative thing, but eco printing is it.


I made this suite of images using the same combination of leaves I used in my recent eco print experiments on silk satin. And I tried out Kathy Hay’s bundling technique using tiles.

eco-print-with-madder-dye-on-khadi-paper-v-16-january-2016And boiling instead of steaming. The rubber bands I used to keep the khadi paper tight to the tiles weren’t large enough to wrap twice, but too large to get a really tight bundle, so the prints were less defined than I would have liked.

eco-print-with-madder-dye-on-khadi-paper-ix-16-january-2016They grew on me and now, I like their delicacy. The effect – mood –  reminds me of the illustration work of Arthur Rackham. Not sure why. Perhaps it’s because for me they have a fairy tale quality. And I do like their three-dimensionality, with forms seeming to come and go from background to foreground. They float.

eco-print-with-madder-dye-on-khadi-paper-ix-16-january-2016The pink round the edges should have been due to boiling the bundle in onion skins. I didn’t have any onion skins, but I did happen to have some powdered madder root (as one does!) and used that instead.

eco-print-with-madder-dye-on-khadi-paper-iv-16-january-2016 The madder root dye is most apparent in the last of the prints below, which is the back of the print above it. The stripes resulted from the rubber bands, which acted as resists.


It was a fluke! The two tiles I used were not the same size. Had I used two of the smaller tiles I would have had more of that delicious pink-red fringe round the prints. Still, I do like those edges that are just edged with colour. The faded orange/peach colour is from Eucalyptus leaves.

Where there are stalks, these have been embossed into the paper, adding another texture.

eco-print-with-madder-dye-on-khadi-paper-ii-16-january-2016 I added encaustic wax to the very top print and spoilt it, so boiled out the wax. There is an almost imperceptible residue, which enhances the colours a bit. And proves that the prints are fixed not fugitive. I think I’ll do that to all the prints.

The last print with its deep fringe of madder root dye has no distinct print inside. It is begging to be re-printed. I’m a sucker for beggars.

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Iron Blanket, As Promised













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Some Recent Eco Prints on Silk

eco-print-iv-on-satin-silk-12-january-2017I treated myself to Kathy Hays’ Eco Print Workshop (a set of teaching videos to view online) just before Christmas. The images here are some try-outs of Kathy’s basic bundling technique. I used satin silk – a half-metre or so free sample from a supplier from which I recently bought a hefty measure of raw silk (non-satin).

I wouldn’t have bought satin silk, but the results were so beautiful I’ll certainly be working with it in the future. I could hardly believe my eyes when I unwrapped my bundles. The colours, the patterns, the definition in the leaf prints … And the satinised silk gave some of the colours a metallic look – the greys became silvers, the yellows became golds.


The mood, the rhythms …

And I more than half-expected to fail because I largely used leaves picked up locally, rammed hastily into plastic bags and stuck in the freezer.

Look at the definition of the little ochre leaf in the first picture.

In the second picture, the brownish-black leaf print in the middle is from one of a bunch of quite tiny (autumnal) red Acer (Japanese Maple) leaves that had blown from a tree overhanging an access lane to a park.

eco-print-ii-on-satin-silk-12-january-2017The large dark brown leaf to the left of the Acer leaf was in fact, a bright yellow leaf from a Plane tree in the neighbourhood. Tons of the leaves had dropped to cloak shrubs and carpet cover for soil.

I also used some dried (very dried) Eucalyptus leaves – a mix of green and red. I didn’t expect to get anything from them at all, but the large pink oval in the top right of the fourth picture is a print from a Eucalyptus leaf. And at top left, is one of the yellow plane tree leaves, complete with stalk. Why one of these leaves dyed brown in one place and yellow in another, is a mystery. But that’s the beauty of eco printing, every bundle is a surprise and a wonder.


I’m delighted with Kathy’s video workshop. These are the best eco prints I’ve  achieved so far and this is only following the directions on one of the set of videos. I could have continued blundering around in the dark (and failing) but I reckon I’ve saved myself a lot of time and money. The workshop was well worth the modest fee.

I did adapt Kathy’s basic bundling recipe to include an iron blanket – because I’ve fallen in love with iron blankets – and I wrapped all my sample pieces together in one bundle, but  otherwise followed instructions.

What I like also about these pieces is that they are site/location specific and will be developed into works that include other location specific elements.

I’ll include images of the iron blanket in my next blog. The blog after that will be my New Year’s Clarifications (instead of Resolutions) which is subtitled: God Changes His Mind. It’s conceptually complex and so it’s taking a while to perfect. I’m expecting some flack, but … it has to be written.



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Seasons Greetings

Berries Bluebell Hill 2016

With Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year


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ICH BIN BERLIN: Gregorian: Christmas Chants, Live in Berlin

Love WILL prevail.


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Sumi Jo: Ave Maria (Caccini)

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Singing at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Clore Studio, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 15 December 2016

Clore Studio, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 15 December 2016

A couple of nights ago I made my way to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to take part in one of the ROH’s Insights events. Insights include open rehearsals, in-conversations, pre-performance talks and participatory workshops.

Outside the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Outside the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

My event was a participatory singing workshop, the Big Sing Christmas Carols.  It took place in the Clore Studio and was directed by conductor and orchestrator Lee Reynolds. Lee has had a long relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), has conducted recording sessions at all major London studios, performances at the Barbican, LSO St Luke’s and the Berlin Philharmonic. Next year he will be working with English National Opera (ENO) in touring performances of extracts fro Don Giovanni, Tosca, Partenope and The Mikado and more.

Our accompanist was Tim Anderson, conductor, pianist and opera coach. Tim studied at New College, Oxford, holding the Joan Conway Scholarship in performance studies as conductor and an instrumental scholarship as a pianist. After graduating in 2013 he was invited onto the music staff of Teatro Real and next year will be repetiteur for the world premier of Brett Dean’s new Hamlet in the Glyndebourne Festival.

royal-opera-house-looking-down-on-restaurant-from-bar-below-charles-clore-studio-de15-december-2016It was such a privilege to be part of this workshop and performance and a treat and incredible fun. We were rehearsed, there was a short interval during which we were plied with hot mulled wine and mince pies and then a performance, accompanied by a lovely brass ensemble.

covent-garden-mistletoe-lights-ii-15-december-2016After the event, it was tea in Covent Garden before heading back home.

The next participatory Insight I’m up for will be next April: a workshop, joining members of the Royal Opera Chorus, of choruses from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. 

Meistersinger will be produced by the ROH between 11–31 March 2017 and stars the wonderful Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel in the role of Hans Sachs.












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Art Quotes I Like and Why: Picasso Takes an Idea for a Walk

“I begin with an idea … and then it becomes something else.”   Pablo Picasso

I like this quote simply because to know that I have the same mindset as the most influential artist of all time is encouraging.

I was about to write that most artists have this mindset, but then  recalled an artist I knew many years ago telling me that she had an exact picture in her mind of the finished painting before she started to paint. The 20th century English artist Stanley Spencer painted his pictures to a plan, dividing his canvas into a grid and painting each grid in turn.

There are three kinds of writer – the seat of the pants writer (SOTP), the writer who writes to an exact plan and the writer who falls somewhere in the middle (straddler) who might start writing by the seat of his or her pants, then develops a plan later on in the work. 

Which kind of painter was Picasso: SOTP, planner, or straddler? From his statement above, it looks like he was a SOTP painter. It could not be said that Picasso painted to a grid. In his seminal work of 1907/08, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, the faces of the figures on the right were considerably reworked. Yet, Picasso made many many studies before starting the painting. The studies reveal a good number of influences and not only originating from artistic sources. While Demoiselles is described as proto-cubist, it is also more than that.

“I begin with an idea … and then it becomes something else.”   Pablo Picasso

Nothing comes out of nothing. An initial idea has its history. In the end, I think the something else that the idea becomes, is only one out of many possible roads a work of art can take.




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Joy to the World! Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Christmas Glow with Renee Fleming

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