Keep on learning

“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.”

Over the summer I attended a one day workshop at the fabulously creative City Arts Newbury. “A ring in a day” with Berkshire based jeweller Cathy Newell Price, what an opportunity! Not wanting to miss out I booked as soon as I could.

It was billed as “A fantastic introduction to jewellery in silver, with artist Cathy Newell-Price.” During this workshop, myself and the other seven attendees planned, designed and created a wide-band silver ring. We learnt basic jewellery making skills, including texturing and making marks in metals, cutting out using a piercing saw, hammering, bending & shaping silver, joining by silver soldering, finishing and polishing.


We started by trying out all of the different tools, experimenting with mark making on our trial copper band. Nervousness and excitement were a heady mix along with the rhythmic sound of hammer on metal.  Hands on guidance was needed when it came to the soldering part of the process. Only with Cathy’s level of experience were we ever going to ensure that the flat strip of metal would turn forever into a circle.


I am really pleased with the results I managed to achieve, being a complete beginner, albeit with lots of enthusiasm. In the back of my mind I would like to explore this further, perhaps with more lessons with Cathy, via YouTube videos or from good old fashioned book learning!

With the kids all going back to school, I feel it is time to embrace learning something new. Why should they have all the fun? Let’s see what we can achieve.



Open Studios time again

The silly season for professional artists is in full swing, Open Studios. I am a member of the Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire scheme. It was set up in 1987 by the late Pat Eastop MBE as a non-profit organisation to celebrate the diversity of visual arts available within the local community. It strives to create a dialogue between artists and the community by encouraging members of the public to visit artists’ studios.

Every May over 100 artists open their studios and exhibitions free of charge and are happy to talk about their creative process with visitors. We work to make entering any art space a comfortable experience, to encourage and promote accessibility to art and artists. Works of arts are normally for sale but there is no obligation to buy, the focus is on enjoying your visit.

Open Studios is organised entirely by a committee of volunteers made up of artists and other professionals who generously donate their time each year to ensure the scheme runs efficiently and within budget.  I am one of those volunteers and countless months, weeks and days of work are finally behind me. Now all I can do is send off a few last Press releases and visit some studios. I tend to open my studio every other year, giving me time to refresh my work and free up time to get inspired by my colleagues.

So far I have visited Diana Barraclough, ceramicist, in Hungerford. With her this year she has painter David Jones, print and book-maker Mavina Baker and fellow ceramicist Emily Myers. We visited them on their pre-view evening which was bathed in soft early summer light. This made the stroll around her garden to view the totem poles and bird baths a delight, enhanced further by the glass of red wine so generously and thoughtfully given to me upon entry. Cautiously making our way down steep steps from the main viewing area, on the ground floor of her beautiful home, we emerged into the basement and the creative heart of the studio. Sketchbooks open on worktops needed to be flicked through, small vessels begged to be held. Inspiration was drawn from the Cornish coast, small sea birds, water and fishing boats were abundant.

Contentedly we walked all of 5oo yards along the road to our next studio, painter and drawer Shirley Cartey. Whilst the landscapes swept you from local scenes of Coombe Gibbet in the UK to the Grand Canyon in America, I found myself drawn (excuse the pun) to her beautiful life studies.

A few days later I set off, on my own this time, to visit fellow photographer Giles Penfound . Even though it is now technically May, heavy April-like showers greeted me as I arrived at his home in Newbury.  I have been admiring his black and white landscapes since he joined the scheme last year and wanted to take the time to meet him. His work, for me, has a commanding use of contrast and composition. Happily Giles and I found ourselves in that artists bubble where we chatted easily about film and digital photography, equipment likes and dislikes and the feeling of solitude that can be overcome when you open your studio to strangers.

Visiting peoples homes and studios can be a daunting thing for the public, but if you have the opportunity I urge you to try. It can be so rewarding. Just pick ONE out of the brochure, or from the website and go, what have you got to lose?

All photographs are the property of the original artist.

Polaroid project – emulsion lift

Weeks of research into emulsion lift techniques were finally coming to fruition.


Searching around the house for my old darkroom trays, I found only one, and a tiny one at that. The others must be up in the loft and I wasn’t prepared to go up there. So I dug out some foccacia trays my husband uses for his baking and gave them a quick wash. He’ll never know, will he!?

crop edges off

The first stage is to cut off all the white borders to the polaroid image, thus allowing the separation to happen. So I took my first experimental Impossible project polaroid image of orchids and trimmed it, see here for how I made the image. Laying out 2 trays on the kitchen counters I placed near boiling water into the first one and cold water into the other.


Sliding the trimmed polaroid image into the hot water I saw tiny bubbles appearing underneath the surface of the image. My excitement grew as I waited at least one full minute to see if it was going to work. Starting in one corner of the image I tried peeling the positive from the negative part. The two parts should peel easily, they didn’t, so I plunged the image back into the water for 30 seconds and tried again.


Yes! It was working, I couldn’t believe it. I was removing the white negative part (the back bit) and separating the transparent positive part.


Using a soft brush I cleaned the remaining chemistry on the positive part, gently cleaning it in the hot water.


I had removed the negative part but still had to free the emulsion from the transparent foil. Plunging the image back into the hot water again for 1 or 2 minutes I started teasing the gel emulsion off using a soft brush.

emulsion on to paper

Amazingly the jellyfish-like emulsion was floating around in the water. I transferred it to the clean second tray of water and slipped in a piece of watercolour paper ready to receive the gift of this disembodied image. Gently teasing the limp emulsion with my brush I coaxed it into position. What relief and joy, it really worked!

What an amazing experiment! I can’t wait to try more.

The tools I used were: 
1 instant photo
1 or many soft brushes
1 pair of scissors or guillotine
1 carrier surface paper but it could also be wood, plastic, glass…
1 tray filled with hot water
1 tray filled with cold water

Design Collaboration with VIDA

I’m excited to collaborate with VIDA for this collection. VIDA is a new kind of fashion ecommerce company that connects artists like me all over the world with producers to bring our work to life. For every product sold, VIDA hopes to provide the gift of literacy to the makers they work with.

I have shown images of my 4 favourite items from this collection.


Enjoy 15% off your purchase using code Welcome15 (Until 06/10/16)

I hope you enjoy, thank you,


Launch of Ann Hoddinott, Artist website

I am pleased to announce the launch of my latest website design project; Ann is an accomplished artist who exhibits widely and wanted a portfolio style website to promote her wonderful, Ann Hoddinott

Clean, sophisticated and striking are a few words to describe the finished site. It has been an enjoyable experience working with Ann and I hope to design more websites for artists in the future.

The camera’s eye, a workshop

Do you want to shake up your photography, maybe see things from a different angle?

Come along for a 2 day workshop at City Arts, Newbury and join me in discovering a new perspective. Monday 21st September 10am to 3pm and Tuesday 22nd September 10am to 1pm. There are 10 places available for the small cost of £30 for 2 days of workshops.
City Arts is a community-orientated art hub in Newbury, contact them via email: for details of how to register, and take a look at their Facebook page too.


I look forward to exploring fresh possibilities alongside like minded people. Hopefully see you there!

Photographing the Open Studios WBNH 2015 flagship exhibition

I have had the great honour of photographing the Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire’s flagship exhibition, “INSIGHT 2015” for their publicity.
It is an exciting and vibrant exhibition showcasing the work of over 100 artists taking part located at the gallery, New Greenham Arts Centre, Newbury. The exhibition runs from 2nd – 25th May, on view are a wide range of art works.

Insight5 Moscow

Coverage of this exhibition can also be found on: Buzz magazine online