Have you ever had one of those times when life is incredibly busy and stressful and yet for some crazy reason you decide to take on one more thing?
2017 was a rollercoaster year and I don’t know where I found the time, but every day for the month of September I made a small image in my sketchbook. Somehow I carved out the space amidst the chaos to do this one small thing, and it became a daily practice to look forward to. It brought some colour and imagination and humour to a difficult phase, and the act of creativity seemed to give me more energy for other things. I’m so happy that I made the effort. So never say, you don’t have time. There is always time if you can just allow it…
Collage with crayon stencil, biro and magazine cut out. And the unmistakeable lips of JP Belmondo.
Collage with biro and crayon sketches, cut outs, illegible scribble and stamp stickers. Summer nearly over, wishing I was still on holiday...
Collage paper strips and lettering from my 1960s John Bull children's type set. I drove out into the Peaks early on a Sunday morning to rescue stranded teenage ravers, and oh what a beautiful morning and how much of a non-chore that was!
Collage with newsprint, washi tape and biro. Swimming at the local pool can be an unexpected adventure; you never know who you might meet or what stories you'll hear.
Crayon and Biro. A very very quick sketch of the cat looking disgruntled, that I added to later after an extremely full-on day.
Increasingly manic doodle with coloured biro while on hold on the phone to a utility company. The Sacred Heart image is an old German votive card that I'd been using as a bookmark.
30 second sketch with added 3D detail - magazine paper collage and a pretty label.
Biro and mixed media with typography from Now Then mag and other bits. Inspired by a drawing trip to the Alfred Denny Museum at the University of Sheffield.
Tea is the Answer
Yorkshire tea, obviously. Biro, collage and a bit of ancient Letraset.
Crayon sketch. Inspired by an afternoon chopping veg to make a curry with the Real Junk Food Project.
Collage and paper cut with tissue paper, cellophane and found materials.
Day Twenty Three: Waterlicht
Collage with mixed media. Thinking of my dad, who left this life on the Autumn Equinox - every year a sad and beautiful day.
Collage and Mixed media with crayon
Autumn beginning to make her presence felt. Collage, paper cut and crayon.
Thinking about a Greek island getaway. Collage, mixed media and biro scribbles.
These are images from a series of cut paper collages I made a few years ago while suffering from Labyrinthitis. For weeks on end I was too dizzy to leave the house. Labyrinthitis is a virus of the inner ear and I started thinking about the ancient patterns of the labyrinth and the spiral. Cutting circles out of scraps of coloured paper and arranging them in sweeping spiral curves was repetitive, obsessive, but strangely soothing and healing.
Whole Wide World
I usually started with a particular colour and made lots of circles from that shade, progressing to a different one like a gradual change of season. This one has patterns that feel quite elemental - stars, wind, water, earth, plant life - but try as I might, I can't remember who the face belongs to!
Obsessive, perhaps!...but meditative and soothing and as I was eventually diagnosed with a visual type of vertigo, I think the hand-eye coordination involved in making these really helped me to heal.
I made the spirals in lots of different colours, deliberately using scrap paper for the background; I couldn't go out to buy card and I liked the resourcefulness of using what was already there in the house.
All in all I made about two dozen spiral pictures. I suppose they're like a homegrown, artisan version of Damien Hirst's Spot paintings....
This is my favourite of the series and hangs in our front room. I love the way that the circles appear translucent against the black background, like a stained glass window.
Hand paper cut circles using found materials including airmail envelope, Carluccio's wrapper and a newspaper photo of Catherine Deneuve.
Paper, scissors and glue.
Even though I was too dizzy to walk, it was strangely calming to sit and cut circles out of my stash of different coloured papers.
Cat or dog? I love both but ultimately I’m a cat person and they are so much easier to draw. They feature in quite a lot of my work, although the model is not always willing. In which case, it’s down to the imagination.
Window Gazing 2019
Biro and felt pen. Sitting on the table in the sunny window is a favourite spot. There are nearly always flowers on the table too.
Coloured crayon and biro. Walking through the woods one morning, I had been feeling sad about how serious life had become and how I never seemed to have fun any more. I wondered what my six year old self would do to have fun, and realised it was starting to snow. Remember how when you’re a child you stick out your tongue to catch those tiny cold flakes, marvelling that every single one is unique? You don’t have to be sixnyears old and you can find wonder in the world at any age. The cat kind of added itself, just for fun.
Home Sweet Home
Mixed media with found material, paper doily, net and biro. Another picture of the favourite spot on the sofa - the one we all fight over.
Mixed media with fabric, found paper collage and biro.
These were just two of the super furry cats belonging to my friends Clare and John, sometimes it was hard to find a place to sit down in their house because the cats colonised the comfiest spots.
Mixed media with tissue, vintage wrapping paper, crayon and biro. Bob is our family cat and the subject of many sketches - as long as he doesn’t realise I am trying to draw him. Then the game is up and he’s bound to move. This was a rare, candid camera sketch where he was asleep in the sofa and woke up and opened his eyes too late to move out of the way, and just in time for me to put them in the picture.
King of the Cats
Collage and cut paper sketch while thinking about the old fairy story of a cats’ strange funeral procession in a midnight graveyard. The finished version is just hand drawn cartooning but I might go back to this collaged one too as I love the story so much.
My Cat likes to hide in Boxes
Small Box. Slightly larger cat. A Perfect Fit! Biro, crayon and collage.
Collage with hand painted paper and old Christmas cards. I sketched this through a wintry window as I saw our Bob sitting in profile like this, basking in the warmth of the wood burning stove.
Crayon and ink drawing. This is what your cat gets up to at night, after a few drams of catnip gin...
Paper has always been my favourite medium – it’s the first thing most of us use for scribbling and painting as children – and I’ve been making little books and comics and scrapbooks since forever. The more lo-fi the better. Here are some recent ones:
LOVECATS: A romantic adventure on the mythical island of vegan cats! Hand cut and illustrated in full colour, imagining the love affair between a feral street moggy and a sophisticated French fashion cat.
A LITTLE BOOK OF LOVE AND LOSS: for when you lose someone precious. Grief takes mysterious forms and can seem so unbearable that you’ll do anything to try to stop the pain. I began this after my brother died, when the world seemed very topsy turvy indeed. It felt soothing to make these images and remember that grief is the B side of love. I hope it will bring you some comfort if you too have lost someone.
A COLOURING BOOK FOR CARERS: Meditations and colouring pages for people looking after someone. I made this little book as an artist’s response to the many hours spent waiting…in waiting rooms for health appointments and on the phone trying to contact various organisations on my brother’s behalf. Carers spend an awful lot of time in this way. It started off with templates for colouring in and decorating, but gradually turned into a reminder to be positive and connect with the things that help us keep going.
KING OF THE CATS: A hand-drawn zine with a modern take on an old traditional fairy story. Because who knows what your cat gets up to in their “real” life when your back is turned?
A hand-drawn zine with a modern take on an old traditional fairy story.
"The weirdest thing I have ever seen in my life!"
Hand drawn, limited edition comic
A Colouring Book for Carers
Worry, Hope, LOVE
excerpt, A Colouring Book for Carers. Colouring pages with pen drawings.
Nature Saves Me
excerpt, A Colouring Book for Carers. Collage and mixed media.
Adventures on the magical island of vegan cats!
excerpt, Love Cats. Collage and biro drawing
excerpt, Love Cats. Collage and biro drawing
A Little Book of Love and Loss: for when you lose someone precious.
Hand cut collage and original drawings with captions.
excerpt, A Little Book of Love and Loss.
Collage and cut paper.
Cherish the Memories
excerpt, A Little Book of Love and Loss. Collage and cut paper.
Cupid and Psyche
I’ve always been inspired and intrigued by fairy stories and tales of magical creatures. These are some of the ones peeking out of my sketchbook…
Starry Night. Cut paper and biro. Remembering the breathtaking sight of a barn owl in a sky full of stars in Northumberland – near Kielder Forset, where dark skies are cherished and shielded from city light pollution.
Into the Woods
Tissue paper and biro. Is the forest a good place or a scary one? With that feeling of standing on the brink of a new venture, this is one of a series of fairytale inspired illustrations made while working on my colouring book project.
Coming Up for Air
Mixed media with tissue, magazine cuttings and biro. In celebration of the first breathing space after a long period of hectic hustle and bustle with no time to call my own. One of the most popular images I have made, it seems to resonate with a lot of people. The original was sold early on but I’ve since done other versions to request.
A Dog with Eyes as Big as Saucers
Mixed media with tissue, old menu and photograph, biro, ink stamp. This is an image from another favourite fairy story, the Tinder Box, where a soldier on a quest for treasure meets a succession of strange guardians. I just love the image of a dog with eyes as big as saucers, then one with eyes as big as dinner plates and finally a dog so gigantic that its eyes are as big as cart wheels.
Tissue and biro, probably my default favourite media. Another in the fairytale inspire images, she / he is just peeking from between the leaves and may even be a figment of your imagination….
Trees are the lungs of the Planet!
Mixed media with tree bark, tissue and scrap paper. I had a favourite tree on my walk to work last year that I always used to greet like an old friend. I often thought how daft people would think I was if they saw me, and decided I just didn’t care! This was also response to the council’s controversial axing of so many Sheffield trees and being very clear what side I was on.
And what do YOU do?
Mixed media with wallpaper, found materials and biro. A response to the dreaded question…
She has the face of Ada Lovelace and the many arms of an Indian goddess, juggling work life and a zillion things without it even seeming like hard work.
Foxy in the Forest
Mixed media with printed paper, tissue, found materials and biro. I’ve done a few versions of this too and some of them have additional glittery bits.
Wishing on a Star
Collage with glitter and found materials. The mermaid is a recurring theme and one of the first images I made after a long drought. She’s gone to a new home in Wales now and this is not the best photo but I’m very fond of this image.
The Seventh Swan
Acrylic painting. It seems that all my favourite fairy stories have animal characters. This is an old story of seven brothers enchanted into swan form, and the adventures of the seventh brother who gets left behind when the rest have changed back into humans.
Faces are easy to draw when I want to make something but can’t think where to start. So a lot of these are variations on a theme but quite often they end up taking on a life of their own…
Collage and mixed media with Indian beads and hand painted paper. The green Moroccan print on the right is the wrapper from a bar of cardamom chocolate given by a dear friend, so this always reminds me of her.
The eye is Shakespeare’s, from a found exhibition flyer, for some reason that and the red lips reminded me of Miranda Richardson playing Elizabeth I in Blackadder. Do you see the likeness or is it just me?!
Goddess. Playing with a stained glass window effect; I was so keen to see how this worked that you can see the pencil markings that I was too carried away to rub out! Now they are part of the piece.
A wopbopaloobopalopbamboom! Hommage to the late great Little Richard. Tbh I did this a while back, but it seems fitting to retitle it in his memory. Collage with magazine cuttings, photograph and orange juice (just joking about that bit)
The eyes are from a magazine profile of Gillian Anderson. They had a direct but thoughtful gaze that intrigued me; the rest of the image assembled around that.
Collage with found newsprint, photograph, crayon and tissue paper.
Detail from a larger, sprawler piece. Just playing, really. The eye is from a photograph series I made of old Greek votives.
Collage and mixed media with
Illustration for the fairy tale "The Seventh Swan", a version of the traditional story about seven brothers bewitched by an evil fairy, and their sister Elise. This was one of my first paper cut and paste experiments almost 20 years ago, hence the rather wrinkly page.
Cut paper and tissue.
Pink Carnival: Collage and mixed media with magazine cuttings, wrapping paper and tin foil.
Suffragette tree hugger
A response to the mass Sheffield tree felling in 2017. This was also made for a solo exhibition on the theme of trees and nature and now hangs in a lovely house opposite a green leafy park. Mixed media and biro.