Sunday, 9 December 2012


I'm really busy at the moment, finishing off work and preparing for the exhibition next month, which opens on the 11th. I've spent so much time recently planning the exhibition, and promoting it, that it's very refreshing to actually be making art today. Yeliz and I are both really happy with how our preparations are going, and we're really looking forward to the start of the show.
Today I'm working on the final piece to be exhibited. Due to the use of natural weathering in my current work I'm hoping that the work will be completed in time. For full details of the exhibition and private view please see here.

Further to the show, this week I was offered a second artist's residency, this time in Slovenia. I was very surprised to have been accepted onto both of the residencies I applied for, but unfortunately I had to decline this offer as I've already committed to the Icelandic residency. I think the opportunity in Iceland is more interesting anyway, as it's a longer period, and also has the advantage of being later in the year, giving me longer to save money.
I feel like everything is taking off at the moment, and I'm really excited to see what else happens in the new year.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Nes Artist Residency

For those who haven't seen on my Facebook page, I'm happy to say I have been offered a place on the Nes artist residency programme, in Skagastrond, Iceland. I'm very surprised to have heard back so quickly, as I only made my application last week, but I'm very pleased. I should be there between September and December 2013. I've got a while to plan ahead and get ready.
I've been really keen to find residencies abroad, as travel is also something I really care about. I'm very interested in this residency because the environment will be alien to me in just about every way, and I'm sure it'll help me to produce some interesting work, especially as I hope to focus on my idea of naturally weathering my work. I'm sure that the time of year, and the location will contribute to some really interesting results.
I only found out today, and I'm sure I'll have more to tell later.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Finished weathered work


The weathered piece is finally finished!
It's been a frustrating process at times, but I'm happy to have finally finished it, and I'm happy with the results. I'm planning a similar piece, and I think it's likely to get done more quickly seeing as it's now autumn and the weather should be more tempestuous than it was in early September when I started this.
In this piece I've also used embroidery to pick out some of the background colour blocks, as I like some of the strong shapes there. I'm also really happy with the intensity coming from the hanging threads being concentrated in a particular area.
This concept is definitely something I want to push further and experiment more with. I'm hoping to exhibit this, and others works made in this way, early next year.

Today I'm planning to get started on a second piece in this style. However, there will be a couple of differences. To push the idea of being weathered and damaged by life experiences a bit further, the next piece will be a portrait of myself as a child. My mother has kindly sent me some photos to work with.
Additionally I'm going to move away from using continuous line drawings. Instead I'm planning to use drawings inspired by Frank Auerbach. I saw his show at Marlborough on Friday, and found it really inspirational. Since then I've been experimenting with some sketches in his style. I'm planning to build layering up in the work with sketches in charcoal and chalk, and I'm interested to see how this will be affected by natural weathering, even after being fixed.

Sunday, 14 October 2012



I'm finally seeing some results naturally weathering a canvas! There's been a lot more rain recently, and there's now a significant amount of dirt splashes on the canvas. This wasn't the kind of effect I originally expected, but I do like it. The canvas seems to have become saturated with water in some places, and I'm interested in how this will alter the canvas.
I've definitely learned a few things from working this way, and I'm keen to make a second piece in this way, but using an image of myself as a child. I hope that the effect on the second canvas will be more extreme, and I hope that an image of a child will push the concept further. I'm hopeful that a second piece will not take so long to complete, considering that the weather has become more extreme recently. Waiting for something to happen with the current piece was very frustrating for me.
I'm not sure how much longer I should leave this canvas outside for, but when I'm ready with the second portrait I think it'll be time to bring this one inside and begin embroidering it. Hopefully these canvasses will be ready for exhibition soon.
I'm happy with my ideas at the moment but I need some more motivation to actually get on with them. I'm thinking it's time for a trip to a few art galleries to try to get myself going again.

Friday, 12 October 2012

I'm a reject

Yesterday was a grand day, as it brought me two rejection emails!
One was for the residency in Turku that I applied for, and the other was for a London based competition/exhibition I entered. It's obviously a shame, but I can't say I'm overly surprised, especially with the residency in Finland. It's an occupational hazard, so I'm not going to dwell on it too much.
I'm constantly looking for new opportunities, so I have applied for plenty of other competitions and open calls. I'm very eager to look at other residency opportunities abroad, as travelling is also something that's big in my life. A couple of months ago I was looking into a residency in Dublin, but decided it wasn't suitable, and have also seriously looked into an opportunity in Germany. I think today I'll be scouring the internet looking for suitable residencies and working on my two commissioned portraits.
The good news at the moment is that this week Yeliz and I have been really working on putting our exhibition together. There has been a lot of procrastinating with this for various reasons, and a few setbacks, but now we're both determined to just get on with it. I'm sure it's not going to be completely straightforward from now on, but we're working on it. Originally we hoped to have this done by now; unfortunately that didn't happen, but things are thankfully developing now.

Friday, 14 September 2012

My impatience

 I'm so impatient. I've left the painting outside for longer than I expected to, and unfortunately there has been little change in it's appearance. You may be able to see that the ink has been bleached significantly, and there is also some dirt on the surface from when it rained. Unfortunately there isn't much more development than that, and I certainly want more.
 Over the past few days I have debated taking matters into my own hands and using various methods to weather the canvas myself. Hopefully if I try this natural approach again when we're further into winter there will be better, and faster results. However, doing that feels kind of deceptive to me, and feels like I'm compromising my original concept. I feel like I need to put up with feeling frustrated and just let this happen naturally.
At least I have other work to do in the meantime. Today I started working on the first of the two portraits I've recently had commissioned. They are both of children, which is something new for me, so I'm doing a lot of preparatory sketches. These pieces also will not include text or embroidery, just a straightforward portrait, so it'll be a change. That's the plan for today, and hopefully I can start painting the figure in the next few days.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


I was thinking earlier that I've left the painting outside for another week, with no extreme weather and no results whatsoever. I was getting frustrated, and suddenly it started raining!
It's going quite hard, and for the past week the canvas has been placed flat on the ground rather than propped against the wall, so that rain collects rather than drains off, and sunlight should shine directly on the surface.
This must be the first time I've ever hoped for rain and bad weather, and now I'm very pleased. Really looking forward to seeing the results of this, and hopefully it'll be raining all night!

Thursday, 6 September 2012


As promised, I can now say what I've been doing with the piece I'm currently working on!

I decided to leave it outside for a week to become weathered and affected by the elements. For example, being battered by wind, bleached by strong sunlight, or saturated by rain. My rationale was that the majority of people are born perfect, with no scars or bruises, physically and mentally. As you go through life your experiences affect you and you end up with all manner of scars and bruises. When I paint, I strive to create something perfect, so allowing it to become weathered and damaged over a period of time was an analogy to going through life and being affected by your experiences.

I intended to leave it for a week, and then use embroidery as normal, possibly as a means of repair. Unfortunately, there has been no extreme weather at all during the past week, so doing this seems to have had no effect on the painting. One day I came home to find it had been knocked over and slightly soaked during an afternoon of wind and rain, but this didn't really alter the piece permanently. I think this is one of the only times I've ever wished for bad weather.
Because of this, I'm going to leave the work out for longer. Unfortunately I cannot say how long I will need to do this for as I'm entirely dependent on the weather. I think I just need to be patient and hope that there's a storm soon.
In the meantime I've got a few other things to work on, including two new commissions. Hopefully I'll see some results with this piece soon. Today I will also be sending off my residency application to Titanik gallery in Turku!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Work in Progress

 I started a new piece on Monday, and I have to say I'm insanely excited about it. The basic layers have now been completed, but I'm now trying something new with it, and I'm really looking forward to seeig the new idea develop, and to see the end result.
 At this stage I don't want to reveal what I'm actually doing with it, but it will become clear eventually. I'm expecting that the end result is going to be really interesting, and if this new concept is successful I'll be working with it again.
 The new element that I'm introducing into my work is symbolic of life experience and change. I think the analogy works really well, so I'm hoping that the actual effect works out too. It's going to take a week to complete the next part of the piece, but I'm excited to see what happens. Once this has been completed I will likely be using embroidery, as usual, to bring the painted portrait back through the layers.

This is all quite mysterious sounding, but it will all become clear eventually. I'm really optimistic that some exciting effects will be produced, and I'm looking forward to the end result very much. In a weeks time I'll be able to reveal what I've been doing, and my rationale behind it. Can't wait to see how it goes!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

An experience with an agency, and its effects

I was scouted by an agency this week, and had a meeting with them yesterday. It was kind of doomed from the start, due to their need for fees of £95 per week. That's all well and good if you have that kind of money, and frankly I doubt that many emerging artists do. They seem to provide a fair amount for the money, however much of this goes on during office hours, which would have a knock-on effect of me taking time off from my day job, thereby earning less. I'm not sure I can spare £95 now, let alone if I was earning less.
I went along to this interview anyway, in the hopes that negotiation would be possible, but expecting that this would not be the case. Of course, it wasn't, on the grounds that all of their artists should be treated equally, and I can't really argue with that. As usual, art boils down to money and self-promotion. Even the person I met yesterday said this, but that's not something I don't already know. He had obviously already made his money and had his success, as he told me £95 per week can easily be borrowed. I cannot imagine who on earth would lend me that amount on a weekly basis.
The whole experience was a bit strange. I arrived on time, but had to wait for half an hour in the gallery, whilst the show was being changed over. I felt and was treated like I was in the way a bit, and I personally felt it was a bit unprofessional to be doing this on a day when they knew people were coming in for meetings.
The actual interview was nothing too special. I received an email this morning telling me what they had found impressive about me, and I have to say that is a confidence boost. However, I have decided not to complete the application process for this, on the basis of some negative comments I've heard about this organisation, the financial issue, and also the impression I got that I would be very much controlled if I became involved. Requiring approval for everything would kind of kill one of the main reasons I became involved with art in the first place - complete freedom.
Despite this, spending time in this kind of environment again has really reminded me of what I really want to be doing in life, and that I do not want to be stuck in an office job for the rest of my life. As a result of this, I've spend some time today looking into opportunities such as residencies, exhibition call for entries etc and making a few applications, and I feel a new sense of motivation. Having a day job and being tired can easily make you lazy, and I feel that has happened to me recently. I'm pleased that I've at least gained some momentum as a result of this experience. I'm still applying for a residency opportunity in Finland, and working on an exhibition with two others, but finding additional options is always good, and makes me feel like I actually am doing worthwhile things. I don't want my art career to fall by the wayside. Hopefully something more will come from what I've been doing this afternoon.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Small changes

It's amazing the difference that one small change can make. I've just been working on a new portrait, and I'm so excited about it! Everything is the same as usual, except that I've downsized the portrait in relation to the canvas. This was initially an error, but as I carried on I found that it really worked for me. Possibly because my style of painting is not overly detailed, so a smaller scale doesn't take anything away. I'm still in the early stages, and there's much more to do, but I'm loving how it looks right now. I love it when I can get really excited about the work I'm doing, and I can't wait for this layer of paint to dry so I can carry on with it!
We've had a minor setback in terms of planning our upcoming show, but we're looking into some new options. One way or another we'll get it going, and I can definitely see this piece having a place in the exhibition. I'm really looking forward to carrying on with this and seeing how it turns out!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Recent work now for sale

Now that the exhibition in Brick Lane is over, I have listed some pieces from that show for sale on Etsy. To see what's available have a look here,
It's sad that the show is over now, but I've got lots more things coming up so I'll still be busy, and I'm excited about the work I'm doing now!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Sketchbook Project/The problem of self portraiture

These images are from my work for The Sketchbook Project. My book is nearly completed, and just needs a few finishing touches. The book was a lot smaller than I anticipated - I think they have downsized since 2011 - and as a result I filled it very quickly. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. I chose to document my actions at a particular time each day, purely because I had done this several years ago, and really enjoyed it. This time I found it to be a less enjoyable process. I think this is just because the past couple of months have been very busy for me, and having to stop what I was
 doing at a particular time to do this was a bit of an inconvenience. In a way, I'm quite glad that I can stop doing it now.
Over the past couple of weeks I've been working on a new painting, the first in a series on self-examination, entitled "Scared of Moths and Death". It's a self-portrait, and that has been a bit of a challenge. Often I've shied away from self-portraits, fearing that I'd be considered narcissistic or arrogant for painting them. A few months ago someone pointed out to me that all art is narcissistic and arrogant - we are taking something we have made and expecting other people to care. So I'm not so concerned now.
Still, self-portraits are difficult, and others have agreed with me on this. I think the biggest problem is that you cannot really be objective about your own physical appearance. It is much easier to do this when you're looking at someone else. When you are dealing with your own appearance it is very
difficult to ignore both your own insecurities about how you look, and the ideas you have about how you wish you looked. When I paint or sketch myself I seem to end up either looking like a supermodel or looking like a complete troll, and I don't think I reflect either of those in reality. Then even more insecurities come though, because I conclude I must be very bad at drawing, or just very, very ugly.
Thankfully this painting is turning out fairly well. I'm now at the stage of embroidering onto the canvas, and truthfully, I forgot how much more difficult it is to do that than to sew onto fabric. A few more days and it should be completed. I'm planning another portrait of myself as I am now, and then a pair of similar portraits of myself as a child. This will be interested for me, because I don't usually work with images of children. It'll be good to see how that turns out.
In addition, I'm writing brief texts about some of the 50 facts I'm using in the works, generally the ones I use as titles for the pieces. I've only been able to write one so far, but we'll see how this goes.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Article in the Hendon and Finchley Times

I was recently interviewed by the Hendon and Finchley Times about the upcoming exhibition in Brick Lane. The article was published today, and you can read it online here. The show starts next week, it's come around so quickly, and it's all very exciting.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ready for the show!

Here are some images of my recent work, hung for the show. If you live in or near London you can see this for yourself from 25th until 28th May at Middlesex University in Hendon. (Grove Building.) Alternatively, selected pieces will be on show at Truman Brewery in Brick Lane between the 9th and 11th of June. Come to see it for yourself! All pieces are for sale, please email me for further information and prices.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The old and the new

This is the final piece from my body of work on my time in Finland, featuring stereotypical English phrases translated into Finnish. Selected pieces will be shown in central London from June 8th.

I've already moved onto new things, working with the themes of self-examination and the conflict between public and private lives. This work will centre around a list of 50 little known facts about myself, confronting the viewer with them, and questioning how much information is too much. The viewer might react with interest, shock or disgust at finding out these facts. I'm expecting to show some work on these themes at an upcoming show in July.

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Sketchbook Project

I can confirm I will be exhibiting in The Sketchbook Project 2013, as I did in 2011. My book for this year will involve documenting my environment and actions at the same time of day, every day, until the book is filled. I did this before as part of a project during my Foundation year, really enjoyed it, and was planning to do it again anyway, but this is an ideal platform. At the moment things seem to be falling into my lap, and opportunities keep arising to let me realise my ideas. It's great.
As well as producing interesting and varied results, working in this way also forces me to create work daily, even if it is on a small scale. I think that at this time, when I'm obliged to find a day job and bring some of my attention away from art, this is invaluable. Another positive side effect is that I want to create an interesting piece, so I'm encouraged to go out and do interesting things, not just create page after page about me watching TV and eating dinner.
When I worked in this way previously I used the time of 3pm every day. This guaranteed that I would be awake and out of bed, but was also a time when I'd be doing a variety of things, not the same thing every day. I've put a little more thought into my chosen time on this occasion, because I may well find myself in a situation where I'm working and cannot stop to draw or take photos. I'm thinking 6pm is a good time, as I'm more likely to be out of work, but still likely to be doing different things from day to day. Hopefully the time will not be a problem and the book can be consistent throughout, if it proves difficult I'll just have to change it.
Aside from that I'm finishing off my body of work on Finland, and details of the exhibition will follow soon. I'm just looking forward to receiving my sketchbook and working on this new project.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

New work to end this

I'm getting started on a new piece, which will be the final part of my body of work on my time in Finland. I've really enjoyed making this body of work, and I'm proud of what I've done, but I feel like it's time to move on. When I started this work the experience was really fresh for me, but now six months have passed and other concerns have come up for me which I'd like to work with.
Recently my work has become concerned with human experience, not just relationships, and I think the new piece is more reflective of this. I'm very interested in language, and whilst I was away I was very keen to learn and speak as much Finnish as possible. Even now I still try to keep practising with it. In London it's very normal to hear foreign languages around you, so I didn't find it too daunting to be surrounded by the Finnish language. Finnish is such a minority language that few people are familiar with it, so I thought it would be really interesting to confront my audience with it, allowing them to share my experience of being surrounded by it. I think it will be easy for an audience to relate to this piece, as viewers have likely had the same experience whilst on holiday abroad, or may have lived abroad themselves.
I've chosen to embroider a variety of stereotypical English phrases and concepts, translated into Finnish. The image is of a trial piece I did yesterday, reading "cup of tea". I'll provide a handwritten board with translations, otherwise no one will get the joke of the two cultures being mashed together, unless a Finnish speaker happens to see the work.
For this piece I'm using a style more reflective of handwriting than the block capitals I used previously. This adds to the human element.
I think my exhibition will provide a strong feel of my Finnish experience, and I'm very glad that I'm able to share this with others.
Additionally, I'm currently applying for an artist's residency in Turku for Autumn 2013. I might be back sooner than I think!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Postcard/philosophy piece

I had an extremely busy and productive weekend whilst visiting my parents. I completed this piece, which I am so excited about, and was kindly assisted by my mother, who cut out all the pictures.
The premise is a 2000 word original philosophical text, presented in a visual way to be shown alongside my other exhibition pieces. I wrote about the nature of distance and separation, and it's effect upon relationships, as this is very relevant to my life and work. Originally I wanted to write the text onto postcards from Finland. However, the tourist postcards I found in Turku at Christmas cost €3 each, and as I used 30 postcards for this that would have amounted to €90 in total, plus I didn't particularly like any of the available options. Instead, I used blank postcards and printed some of my own images that I took during my time in Finland. Another advantage of this approach is that the imagery is much more personal to me, and will allow the viewer a better understanding of my personal experience. There is a huge variety of different images in this piece, including a photo of my old house in Turku, images of public artworks that were part of the Capital of Culture programme, and pictures of places that I particularly loved.
Finally, I stitched the cards together to form a very long concertina. The cards can be flipped over to read the text or look at the picture. The finished work, when completely laid out, was the same length as my parent's living room! I'm still considering how to present this work in an exhibition space, but I'm keen on the idea of laying it out as it is in the above picture, probably on a table.
I really love this piece, and feel it successfully shows more of my experience in Finland. This week I'll be working on an embroidered map I started last week of the subjects in the portraits, and the connections we have amongst ourselves.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

So many ideas!

This week I've had so many ideas that I'm keen to try, my brain has been working overtime. One particular idea that I've become very passionate about very quickly is top secret, and I've only discussed it openly with two people so far. I'm not going to reveal it here, because that would kind of defeat the object of the whole thing. I know this is all very mysterious, but when this plan comes to fruition all will become clear. It's a really exciting and fun idea, which I'm sure will get a lot of support from other artists, and I feel certain that this will happen and produce some brilliant results.
Apart from that, I have been discussing staging an exhibition in London during the summer with a photographer friend. It's early days and we've only had the vaguest of conversations about this, but I'm optimistic about this too.
Another idea that I'm really enthusiastic about has come from my observation that people pay a lot of attention when I'm embroidering, because it's unexpected, even within a Fine Art community. When I paint nobody takes any notice - it's nothing special in a studio environment. However, sewing produces a very different reaction. A few days ago a lady I'd never even spoken to before came and sat with me for about 10 minutes whilst I was working, to look at what I was doing and chat to me, and she's not the only person to do so. There's also the fact that my appearance, being somewhat unconventional, often attracts attention in public. I'm quite used to people asking about my tattoos, commenting on my hair, and often just telling me how nice they think I look, which is always lovely.
From these two things, I came up with the idea of securing a residency, even if it was short term or just in a cafe, not necessarily a gallery, where I could just get on with my work, and people could watch, as if I were an exhibit. It would kind of be a performance piece, although without much theatre involved. This could be filmed, or alternatively, I could just produce a film, with a collaborator who knows more about that than I do. In the case of making a film without a residency or exhibition, I've considered how theatrical this could be made, possibly with costumes or some kind of movement, but always with the constant theme of me sewing, to play with the idea of myself as a spectacle.
Besides that, I've thought about what I want to do once this body of work about Finland is over, and I want to make work exploring myself and my experiences. I have so much going on in my mind, so many ideas, memories, and ambitions, that I think sorting it all out through art could be fascinating. It'll be a while before I look into that more seriously, but it's something to think about.
I'm sorry if this seems very manic, but there are so many ideas and so many thoughts going on for me right now. It's a good feeling.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The memory blanket

It's finally finished! It still needs to be put it the hot press, but the embroidery has been completed! I'm very proud of the result, and I think the amount of hard work and effort in this piece is evident. Once it has been pressed and tidied up I'm sure it'll look even better.
As I have mentioned previously, this piece lists various memories from my time in Finland, colour coded to correspond to the mixed media portraits of my friends. I feel that this has become a self-portrait, as we are products of our own experience.
Finishing this work has left me with a feeling of pride and relief, but also sadness because it has consumed me for the past couple of months. Throughout this time, I have become more and more enthusiastic about maintaining embroidery as an integral part of my practice, and has lead to me being referred to as a "punk embroiderer". My intention was to have imperfect stitching with a clear human element, and as it was put to me, there would have been no punk without prog rock, as punk was a deconstruction. I have deconstructed hand sewing, and the importance of careful, uniform work. Hence, the punk embroiderer.
I will be exhibiting this piece at my show in April, and after that will probably be selling it. I don't think this will be the only completely stitched work I will produce.
Now that this piece is done I will be looking back over a couple of my mixed media portraits that I was not totally happy with, and possibly giving them a bit more work now that I can see them with fresh eyes. From next week I'll start on a new piece, which I have a few ideas for.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


For those who are interested, you can now follow me on Pinterest over here! I really wanted somewhere to keep all the images I find that give me ideas, interest me, or inspire me, whether they are directly related to art or not, and this seemed an ideal platform for that. There's not much on it yet, but give me some time.
I haven't had much to say recently as I have been working very hard on the embroidered piece. However, I am sure it will get finished this week as I'm very close to the end of it. It's a relief to get it done successfully, and I'll post images once it's completed.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Embroidered memories

I've been working on the piece I mentioned, embroidering memories onto a blanket. I'm hand sewing everything, because using a mechanical machine method feels completely out of place with something about very personal moments. I'm also really loving the fact that hand sewing allows for imperfections in the lettering, allowing for a really personal feel, and the wonderful texture I'm creating. The downside is that it is extremely time-consuming and labourious.
I'm really happy with how it's looking, even though I've got a long way to go before it's finished. I think the completed piece will look really impressive, and the amount of hard work that's gone into it will be evident. I'm working on it for a few hours every day, and looking forward to the end result.