Friday, 21 June 2019


I love Chris Packham. I love his hair. I love his shirts. I love his music taste. I love his witty misery. So much so, I'm trying to turn my garden into a nature reserve and I'm blaming him. We're starting small, and simple, and slow. Foxgloves seemed to arrive on their own, but perfectly and they are proving extremely popular with bumble bees, although I haven't seen a honey bee yet this year. We've also got both English and French lavender which I love the stink of and so do the buzzy guys.

There's a planter that we didn't know what to do with so we sprinkled some "meadow flower" mixed seed on it. This is the second summer after we sowed the seeds. No poppies or cornflowers, but lots of daisies, yarrow and some different grasses and a few other things we haven't identified yet. We've tried to leave it as much as possible to encourage insect guests. My daughter enjoys the jungle feel of crawling along the path, spotting caterpillars and woodlice. She protects them and tells me "it's a living creature" and not to step on them.

We've taken up the weed suppressant we had under the bark chippings. The worms and slugs are no good to the birds if they can't be got at.

The gunnera offers cover for any passing little critters. And it's growing slightly scary, spiky "flowers" right now. Sort of gross. Definitely Jurassic looking.

We've left some piles of wood around. There is some evidence that something has been digging about under them which is honestly THRILLING. It might be "just" a blackbird, but we know there are hedgehogs in the garden next door, so we can dream it's them.

We have dug a little hole under the fence to allow for and encourage natural traffic. It interested me that a breeze blows through it, moving the grass on either side. They must feel it and come and have a look? Or at least it will carry the scents through.

We also made this larger pile of logs, with a sort of door. It's like a small critter stopover, maybe. We're going to put some leaves and such inside, when they start to drop. But we haven't put any food down, because we back onto the railway line and the rats are like alsatians and don't need any extra help from us.

My daughter lay a daisy at the entrance of this when we'd finished, and said "it's for the hedgehogs. They might want to take it inside for a pillow." Which completely killed me. How dare she be that cute. Bit extra, really. We were hysterical this morning, as we skipped out to check if it had moved and it had COMPLETELY GONE. What further evidence could possibly be required?

Flower wise, the show stoppers for me right now are from this rose bush and the coral bells, or huechera.

Wow! Delicate. Graceful.

 It hasn't been warm enough yet for a single evening outside, and one of the things we long for all year is lighting the fire pit and sitting out until it gets dark enough for bats. We've just arrived at the solstice, so hopefully this will change now? Surely? Pretty please? Anyway, it's all not too shabby out there. We're planning a pond next so the critters can drink. No fish, but I keep trying to calm myself down when I think about there could maybe be a bit of frogspawn in it one day? Next spring? Steady, now.

In other news, I shaved my head. It's something I've dreamed of doing for decades, as I used to have rapunzel hair. I think it's just par for the course that one extreme leads to another. I LOVE IT. And only wish I'd done it sooner. I dread to count the number of hours of my life I've wasted on hair maintenance. No more. Only an easy life for me. And peep those silver temples. Why not?

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Some transformations are quiet.

In my little garden on the first day of June I drew with ink and water and I noticed the corners and the carefully made piles of curated things, and the blooms.

"It has happened, the miracle has arrived, everything begins today, everything you touch is born; the new moon attended by two enormous stars; the sunny day fading a glow to exhilaration; all the paraphernalia of existence, all my sad companions of these last twenty years, the pots and pans in Mrs. Wurtle's kitchen, ribbons of streets, wilted geraniums, thin children's legs, all the world solicits me with joy, leaps at me electrically, claiming its birth at last." - Elizabeth Smart from By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.

Lizzie Smart has got no chill, either.

We enjoyed this random buttercup so much we moved it to a pot.

Rusting things that will be made to serve. A hammock?

All found buried throughout our soil. I will do something with them at some point.

Random foglove that appeared on its own somehow. We let it be, waiting to find out what it was, and when the guests finally arrive... Ecstatic bliss.

Giant daisies always remind my of Alice daydreaming at the beginning of the Mary Blair designed Disney beauty.

"A messy desk is the mark of genius" is a lie I sing to myself and invest with belief.

Looking at you looking at me looking at you.

I added some layers to a couple of journals. I enjoy this stage. Endless potential. Much more exciting then finishing.

I cut the pages I made on this day and arranged the elements on the scanner bed. I worked a little bit with a cut-up method when I made them, seeing what images rose from my digital feed and responding to them with a brush pen filled with water and a palette with six wells and a bottle of chinese ink. The spontaneity and the unreliability of working so wetly was stimulating and pleasing. I have spent so long obsessing over the crispest lines.

Crass. Sometimes only Crass.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Spring Thing - A Playlist

The inside of my head as spring rocks up. Full of Hannibal Lecter offering the pitchiest black black comedy (I'm three years late to this party. If you came here for the cutting edge, you've certainly taken a wrong turn.) I am also newly obsessed with the My Favourite Murder podcast, and I'm so grateful to live in a world where Kilgariff and Hardstark are able to teach me how to use my powers of anxiety for good and not evil. (Again, three fucking years off the mark. But I'm still in love with them both, except Karen is my fave. Hideously, I binge listen to MFM and end up talking like I was raised in, like, California. Lots of apologising to my fam for being a nerd and general embarrassment.)

With all this murderous imagery trickling in, you'd think I'd be losing sleep and at least having grizzly dreams, but my worst nightmares have been banal images.

Do you wake up in a cold sweat with your heart trying to escape your ribcage after imaginary repetitive hours at an office desk with the clock going round the wrong way and talking back?

How about the wrong people turning up to after work drinks, saying they enjoyed the yoga last night? Well, that is what has been unnerving me recently.

Happily, though, I was told a good story this week, about a genius person arriving on stage at a gig sometime in the late seventies and setting to work hitting sheet metal with objects, displaying only childlike curiosity and abandon. I don't know the name of the act. But I consider this to be not an altogether bad way to live your life. It made me feel a bit better about the dysfunctional ways I chose to express my obsessions, if nothing else.

This should all quite logically explain this list of songs? You're very welcome.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Completed Art Journal and Flip Through Video

I like filling books. I was skeptical of artjournalling for a long time. It seems like a lot of people are writing about positive mental attitude, and how it can be part of your self-care ritual. Use your art journal to freely express yourself and lower anxiety! Soothe depression! Work through the emotional! Relax!

I don't know much about relaxation. I'm much more of a gothic wallower. So none of that stuff appealed to me. But,as I said, I do like filling books. I've got to the point where I can do things how I like to, without worrying too much about how it looks from the outside. And why do I need to judge other people for feeling better? Whatever, man. If colouring books cure your existential dread, fucking good for you, babes.

So, I'm a bookbinder now. I made this tiny thing by cutting a little rectangle from a cereal box. I stitched two signatures in., then painted up some paper all nice with ink and used it to cover the cardboard. I like how this pattern looks. It reminds me of gemstones and slices of agate. Or random blotches.

Blotches! Fuck, yeah! 

This might be my favourite. Othello vibes. Sure, I've read Shakespeare.