The End of Spontaneity ? Covid -Fixes us to Time-Slots.

Unlocking from being locked challenges us in many ways but perhaps the most problematic for me is that I have to become time aware again, back in the time-zone and book ahead for anything I want to do. I was already feeling anxious in regards to having to book shopping slots for click and collect groceries in lock-down but booking ahead has gone to new heights as we once more go out into our community. I have always been the sort of person that, generally speaking, was impromptu. If I was by a gallery I might fancy wandering in, if it was a nice day I might think about a drive to the coast and possibly spend a night or two away, just strolling into a hotel or B&B that looked good as I passed. I would pop into a pub, cafe or restaurant as I felt hungry, if I liked the look of it or was enticed by their menu that day and even a trip to visit a heritage house and garden to walk my dog has been reduced to me booking a time slot . Now the impromptu has stopped. I have to follow a pre-booked regime or not engage in many of the things I enjoy doing. I do find myself being a misery thinking is it worth it ? But if you are feeling like me I think we have to shake ourselves out of feeling like that as much as we can. We need to support the places we love otherwise they will vanish and we will bemoan their loss. I can honestly say I am currently pre- booking when I want a Cornish cream tea when I go on holiday in a few weeks. I should add I had booked our holiday pre-virus and am feeling elated that the unlocking means we can go. Of course the sea, which I am desperate to see, has its own timetable and I’ve not moaned about that before.

The images above are some of my current work in progress, today I’ve worked on all 4 of these images, adding another layer. My art is not time dependant as such, I don’t work to commission usually, I don’t do submissions that are time reliant because my art has to mature over a period of time that is without a scale until it is ready. I always think of Howard Hodgkin when I talk about how I paint as I remember seeing a TV programme about him in his studio. He had hundreds of paintings stacked facing the studio wall, so that he couldn’t see them, but he knew them all and where they were located, he would seemingly, in a somewhat impromptu fashion, pick one of them and work on it and then return it to its unfinished position until one day it became finished. I have many paintings on the go at the same time, but I can see mine, they are hanging around me. I have to live with them, the glazes have to dry before the next layer can be added, I have to cogitate, I have to look and then I have to paint a little more or in the case of my new natural materials work I have to add a little more. It makes me realise how I manipulate time to suit my creativity, I work every day all day on a series of projects but I don’t have a fixed point in time in regards to making art. I don’t book creative time slots- I’ve tried but creativity doesn’t seem to work like this for me.

The irony of all this is I am a co-producer of a diary – a time keeper, an organiser but perhaps in this is the answer. The diary, whilst adhering to dates and timings that would be expected and also has days to mark and celebrations to enjoy, it is ultimately trying to encourage people to respond to the seasonal changes as we perceive them and live them and i think this is probably what I do. Going back to the start of this blog I like to react to what I see, feel and experience, whilst I do adhere to time to a point I like the freedom to be released from it. Covid 19 enabled me to live for the most part a life without time but has now jolted me back by having a more extreme version of what we had pre-virus where we have to fix things in time, make a booking and keep a note of it in the diary but in doing so knowing we are helping others. But I can’t help but mourn the loss of spontaneity.

Art in the time of Covid-19

Covid Lockdown has been difficult for me as an artist. It has made me challenge the place of the arts and particularly my practice. Whilst I’m still predominantly a painter at heart, the recent inaccessibility of gallery formats has only built on my previous endeavours to take my artwork into the environment and collaborate with other art forms. I find myself looking back to my art student days where I used photography and Super 8mm film to make art and I feel excited to try this once more. Collecting natural sounds, manipulating found objects, using natural materials and making the landscape my ‘gallery’ is something I’d like to try more of.

Painting for paintings sake

Having had a rather full on but wonderful time working on a few projects with some wonderful people I am now back in the studio ready to begin a small collection of pieces inspired by my recent-ish trip the Orkneys as well as, of course,  my local landscape. Plus more of my gilded paintings.

In between the projects I’ve been catching a few hours here and there to do some  plein air painting and have been painting for paintings sake. When embroiled in other projects I get incredibly tetchy at not painting on a regular basis and this literally was my breath of fresh air. These sketches allowed me to experiment a little with colour and mark for fun.

en plein air 2

All of them were quite big canvas’s this being the smallest about 90cms x 70cms and so it was a battle with the elements at times.

en plein air 3en plein air

I know these aren’t masterpieces but they were never meant to be they were just me grappling with what was in front of me and super working in the landscape. Great fun to do and gave me some food for thought to take back to the studio. I’d sort of forgotten that its good to play and thought I’d share this with you. Painting for paintings sake is good fun  and great for the soul !

#pleinairpainting #oilpainting #sketching #havingfun #artforartssake #landscapepainting #experimenting #experimentingwithpaint #sharingideas

We are Potent Mr Broadbent !

land army 4

The penultimate session for the Shropshire Banner and gosh feeling so pleased with how the session went. A real push by all the group with the battle cry of ‘We can do it!’ to get our mighty banner in one piece – and a fabulous surprise when we looked at what had been achieved. A huge WELL DONE and thank you to all concerned.

Here’s a sneaky peep at some of the banner.

nearly there (2)

Then there was beginning to sort out the back of the banner …. and the poles …… making it ‘carry-able’. In the calm hands of Paula we began to see progress it that too. Also a realisation of the size of the piece and what we have to carry – yikes! Another quick affirmation of ‘We Can Do It’!

getting there

Today’s session was assisted by homemade tartlets (again thanks to Paula!) and gallons of tea and coffee- much needed to keep us going. Having far too much fun making our banner, meeting so many wonderful women and even had new group members today which was brilliant. Pasha remained calm throughout the process (as always)


Today’s discussions included the ‘Menopausal’ comment made Ben Broadbent by the deputy Governor of the Bank of England that the economy was entering a “menopausal” era to indicate that the economy is past its peak and “no longer potent” – Hmmm we weren’t impressed- especially as the Bank of England had supposedly made strides towards addressing its poor representation of women – seems they have a long way to go! Our group today was mainly women of a certain age who are definitely very potent especially when coming up with ideas of how to react to Mr Broadbent ! Thanks especially to Jean (our oldest group member today) for her suggestion which made us all giggle but best not repeated!


And so as we are nearly there – but not quite- we began talking about the Procession itself and discussing the arrangements made by Artichoke for the Cardiff event. We are all really looking forward to being a part of this vast participatory artwork creating a living portrait of UK women in the 21st century. Hope Cardiff is ready for the Shropshire Women !


#Processions2018 #MassParticipationArtwork@artichoketrust #ArtichokeTrust @1418now#1418NOW #Shropshire #Women @DASH_ARTS #art #womenartists #textileart #menopausal #equalityforwomen

The colourful and wonderful Women of Shropshire


Only two more workshops to go and feeling a tad smug not for myself but for the achievements of the women who have contributed to making the #processions banner. We were at Participate in Shrewsbury  (thank you for your hospitality) this Saturday and after many- rearranging, laying things out, picking them up, laying out again -began to see Shropshire’s banner taking shape.

I was hoping that this project would give a platform for not only celebrating and marking the achievements of Shropshire women but also a  chance to express and celebrate themselves and I truly think our banner does this. Our often forgotten, sleepy county is awake with colour, expression and sheer joy as we saw for the first time a glimmer of what we will be proudly parading alongside others on June 10th in Cardiff.

I think we may get noticed !

#100years #Deeds,Words (a lot of words!) and Togetherness.

Deeds,Words (a lot of words!) and Togetherness.

Deeds- Too excited …. ! As you can see from the teaser images we really got cracking on the making front today with the fantastic group of women (oldest participant 98), children (who put on a short play), dog (who mainly slept) and even a man (providing the gender balance!)) at Quatt Village Hall . The inventiveness, ideas and making skills of everyone was inspiring.

Words – The group really identified with the issues and ideas that they were making into mini art pieces and as I went round the hall there really were the most fantastic conversations going on about so many aspects of being a woman today.

Togetherness–  At the end of our day when we all took a look at what had been accomplished we had the opportunity to say a few words about the project and several ladies said they had been a bit worried walking into the hall and taking part and had felt a tad wary about what they were going to be doing. But after sitting together creating, crafting, chatting, chomping (on the fabulous cakes- thank you!) they said they had not only enjoyed the involvement but also made new friends, felt empowered, had an enjoyable time, wondered where the time had gone and had felt part of a very busy and motivated group. Arts for health and well being at its best !

I had started the session by telling the group a little about a talk I attended by Helen Pankhurst (granddaughter of Sylvia) and how she not only drew from the past but linked what is happening today as another phase of women finding their voices and not being prepared to accept the unacceptable. She finished her talk by saying she wants everyone regardless of gender, race, creed to be allowed to shine. I can think of no more fitting words to describe everyone today – each and everyone of you truly did shine ! x

#dasharts #100years  #creativity #makingart  #equalrights #women #artsforhealthandwellbeing  #deedsnotwords #Processions2018  


Gender Pay Gap – perspective of a female artist

equal pay

Am I aware of a gender pay gap in my working environment ? This is tricky to answer – that would mean I was aware of ‘going rates’ for artwork of other artists and also be aware of if my work is on sale next to a male artist that his artwork hasn’t been valued as higher because it’s perceived as ‘better’ or more sell-able.

An article from Th Sydney Morning Herald said, ”University of Technology researcher Marco Navone dispelled doubts that women are genetically predisposed to creating “worse” artwork than men by conducting surveys testing participant attitudes to artworks when the gender of the creator was stripped away.

“As we suspected, people could not guess the gender of the artist,” says Navone. “But some people – especially men, people with a higher income, and those who visit art galleries and museums more frequently – tended to rate the painting lower if they thought the artist was a woman.”

At my .’level’ as jobbing artists rarely do we know how artwork is valued/priced because of the variable of subjectivity and often being in the hands of others to sell our work. But would my artwork sell for more if I was a male? It is something I can’t answer.

What I do know is that  for ‘historic’ paintings  at art auctions show a huge difference in price between gender with work created by women selling for nearly 50 per cent less than paintings by male counterparts according to recent studies. But of course this goes with the back drop of under representation throughout art history of women artists and a male biased dialogue relating to art of the past.

I have some hope when I see recent appointments of women at a senior level across visual arts organisations but I’m not sure if this is drip feeding down at a local level. In a sector where we all have to fight for any pay let alone equal pay and as a woman artist I still think male representation is greater than female and where women are still new to defining ourselves within a female artist context compared to the hundreds of years of male dominated art, it is hard to have a framework on which to judge if I am being treated equally and paid equally.

But the discussion is open and we are beginning as women to have information because of the Gender Pay Gap lists being published today. Information is power if we choose to use it and bring up the issue in our job interviews etc but in hard times how many of us feel empowered enough to do this when we may just need some pay whether its equal or not?

I work in the knowledge that when I work for funded opportunities that at least I am able to ask the going rate for my work regardless of my gender so take some comfort in that. I also know that its a lot about how you value yourself and how you exude confidence in situations where rates are not fixed and go in at a realistic rate rather than a ‘I hope I get some work from this rate’. I am lucky that I now have experience and some moderate success on my side that allows me to place what I consider are realistic values on my work. But I still then feel the need to give something back and do a lot of free  or heavily subsidised mentoring and support for younger/inexperienced artists which whilst valuable in so many ways does take away from my paid work.

Finally I can only commend the arts council for providing access support to provide help for artists that need extra support to make applications, to assist them throughout their project and also to make work accessible to an audience by providing realistic pay for those who take on that support role. Also the arts council blog regards Gender Pay Gap makes me hope

  ‘At the end of March 2017, the mean difference between the average salaries of men and women working for the Arts Council was 6.7%; the median difference was 2.6%. This is a smaller gap than at the end of March 2016 and it is smaller than the Civil Service pay gap. However, any pay gap – no matter how small or improved – runs contrary to our belief that diversity is vital and that everyone deserves to be treated fairly, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity or disability.’

In the arts diversity is integral to our make up so let’s hope that we can lead the way rather than drag our feet and feel confidant we are all treated equally as people in this sector and not feel any doubt.

As artists we need to foreground these discussions through what we do.

#genderpaygap  #artist #femaleartist #equality #ace



A new venue (wonderful Quatt village hall) and some new women joined our ever-expanding group (and waistlines due to the fabulous cakes and scones provided by the Quatt group!). I am not exaggerating regarding the venue and welcome we received as we brought our third Processions banner making workshop to a new area of Shropshire as part of trying to enable as many women as possible to take part.

Pinched Jaqueline Cooley’s snap of the group – I’m yapping at the front as we looked for inspiration.quatt group

Having already decided in previous workshops on having sections to the banner this group had the border to contend with. The women had already got ideas of what they wanted included on the banner because Quatt is an Estate village and is part of the National Trust Dudmaston Hall Estate and it was here that kitchen maid Violet Ann Bland had worked below stairs before moving on to become a hotelier and a passionate Suffragette, who was subjected to force feeding after being imprisoned and becoming a hunger-striker. She was arrested for her part in the 1910 Black Friday demonstration  and also imprisoned for window breaking in 1912 leading to a four-month sentence. As with many working class women she was treated brutally for her activism and was one of the women who had to wait a further decade to have her right to vote as she was not married, affluent and owning property.

Violet Ann Bland

An image of Violet Ann Bland

The group had got quite a lot of info and imagery relating to medals and certificates sent to women acknowledging their part in the Suffragette movement. So we were all enlightened, inspired and fascinated by the women of our past. Equally we wanted to say something relating to us as a group of women today and had a brilliant and lively discussion of things we want to comment on and decided the use of the hashtag was a good way to communicate. The decision-making process was aided by us all having a go at needle felting as we chatted and more cake and tea – women #multitasking at its best! and I think Carrie must have been assisted by her scone intake as she found a fabulous image online of a suffragette roundel badge that we all thought would be brilliant to use as a template.


We democratically allocated each person with a # message and finished the session with everyone taking measurements and materials away all keen to do some home working. We wrapped up by reminding every one of our additional links in the chain idea and I have been delighted we already have folk sending them in to us. Please do encourage as many Shropshire women to get involved in this and have their voice as part of our extended banner. For info and sizes etc

I’m loving being involved in this project because it is having a profound affect on my knowledge of recent women’s history, I’m hearing the names and exploits of women of Shropshire I would otherwise have not heard of, it’s always been embedded in my art (how can’t it be as a woman artist!) but probably most of all its the coming together of women, hearing their voices, seeing them organise, take part, support and their passion that is the most rewarding outcome for me personally. Can’t wait to see our completed banner and hope our overriding idea of inclusivity and wanting to give a platform for as many Shropshire women as possible is achieved.

#100years #processions2018 #disabilityartsshropshire #shropshire #women #suffragettes #artichoke #quatt #nationaltrust



Shhh – Shropshire’s Secret Women

the hive groupAs it is International Women’s day it seems fitting to share the list of  Shropshire women, past & present that has been compiled as a response to our Banner making for the Processions project. Our aim is to include Shropshire women’s names on our Banner which we will then process on June 10th in Cardiff.  We began by knowing only a handful of Shropshire women but this growing list of names has been enlightening and has provided a framework for myself personally to position myself in and I think is having a similar affect on other group members.  Our starting point was that our county is  a secret to the rest of the country – relatively unknown and as women of this county we are relatively unknown and that we have been too quiet and so we want to create a SH-OUT not a SH-HH to the outside world that ‘WE ARE HERE’ and have always been here.

And so I would like to introduce you to some of our women (in no particular order) some of whom are well known and some of whom are everyday women making their mark in a quiet but significant way;

Dianne Carrington, Sharon Magrath and Elaine Theaker  – crossed the Atlantic – 3,000 miles after setting off and bang on schedule at 60 days.


Deborah Johnson{Brennan}

Deborah started wheelchair racing in 1996.Lives: telford  Date Of Birth: 10/03/1979 She went on to represent Great Britain at two Paralympic Games: Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, where she won 1 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.

Katherine Harley was the originator of the 1913 Suffragist Pilgrimage, a march from seventeen cities across the country by women to Hyde Park in London. The idea was to promote their ideals and make it clear that they were non militant and peaceful in their campaign for votes for women. The Pilgrimage was considered to be a great success and early in 1914 Katherine was one of the founders of the Active Service League intended to build on the achievements of the march. As an extension of these activities Katherine organised a women’s camp.

Eglantine Jebb – Ellesmere – set up Save the Children

Charlotte Burne – 1850–1923) was an English author and editor, and the first woman to become president of the Folklore Society and Georgina Jackson (pre CB)

Ellis Peters – Author of Cadfael

Mary Whitehouse- campaigner

Mary Beard –historian

Joan Lander- embroiderySunnycroft – queens robe

Hesba Stretton – writer children’s books – Methodist /hardship London

Lorraine Currie- Grace’s mum and done a lot for  local community / liberty

Sue Gorbing  & Sal Hampson –SAND/ LGBT (older)community

Beth Pryor – Musician

Linda Tomlinson – Dea Paradisos’s Mum who she lost very recently


Violet Ann Bland – She was a prominent Suffragette from Bayston Hill. She was imprisoned for throwing bricks through windows and was force fed in prison.

Marion Wynn of Fair Oak, Newport, is made an OBE for her 50 years’ service to the Guides.

Janet Woodroffe, a stalwart of the Guides movement in Craven Arms, is also recognised for her work for charitable and voluntary services  2017

Kathleen Rees, from Telford, was formally appointed an MBE at Buckingham Palace by Prince Charles on Thursday.She worked for The Haven refuge in Wolverhampton for 24 years, eventually rising to become its chief executive.The 65-year-old was honoured for services to the protection of women and child victims of domestic violence in the West Midlands and overseas.Mrs Rees joined The Haven in 1992 as refuge co-ordinator before becoming its chief executive, and oversaw a period of growth.The award was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last year.Former colleague Ann Dawson paid tribute to Mrs Rees.“Kath advocates the sharing of skills and knowledge to improve the lives of women and children and ensure their human rights are upheld.“Kath is passionate about international work and worked tirelessly to share knowledge, experience and best practice with women’s organisations in countries where services were less developed and the need for service was high.”Under Kath’s leadership The Haven developed formal international partnerships.”2017

Sarah Hope –A Shropshire woman has been honoured at this year’s Pride of Britain awards. Sarah Hope, from Market Drayton, has been given the award for her work campaigning for child amputees to get sport blades on the NHS 2017

Rachel Lawson has been honoured for fighting to save the life of Michael Warham who had been stabbed in the street outside her home during a brawl between two rival gangs.The 35-year-old has been awarded a Royal Humane Society Resuscitation Certificate – one of the country’s top life-saving honours.

Kathleen Hartshorne –At the age of 90, Kathleen Hartshorne, from Pontesbury, was one of the oldest people to be made an MBE. The great grandmother-of-three, who received the honour for services to the community in Pontesbury, said she was shocked when she received a letter telling her the good news last month.Mrs Hartshorne, of Shrewsbury Road, has been deeply committed to the work of the Severn Hospice as a volunteer since it opened in 1989.She has worked continuously since then, supporting patients in the day unit in Shrewsbury.She has also played the piano willingly and enthusiastically at every service since the hospice opened, providing great pleasure and comfort and actively encouraging others to volunteer. As well as volunteering for the hospice, she has been a member of Pontesbury Congregational Church since the age of 12.She has run the Sunday school, helps cater for the chapel and is the first to volunteer for any pastoral support.Mrs Hartshorne also gave 35 years of service running the village hall and has only recently retired from the committee.


Gloria Johnson – picking up a BEM is Gloria Johnson, of Noble Street, Wem.

The grandmother-of-two has been given the award for services to the community in Measham, Leicestershire.The 63-year-old breathed life back into her declining village, which faced great challenges, such as unemployment, after the closures of the four coal mines that were the backbone of the community. Mrs Johnson, who moved to Wem last year, said: “I was overwhelmed. I was shocked, surprised and then I became very emotional. In 1994 she was headhunted by North West Leicestershire District Council to manage the community office.

Without any great experience or skills to run the office, she rose to the challenge after the offices were in great threat to be sold on or permanently closed.She raised the funds single-handedly and set up the Measham and District Community Enterprise Trust in the same building.

After 21 years in operation the Enterprise encompasses many activities including Action for Jobs, employment training, an employment bureau, Community Action, workers co-operatives and festivals.She has also managed to support on a voluntary basis organisations such as Mobility Bus Appeal, Measham Museum and History Group and Age Concern.The Enterprise covers a significantly larger area than the small neighbourhood of Measham and has developed a model for regeneration that has been mirrored all over the country.

After moving to Shropshire, she is now working with St Peter & St Paul’s Church in Wem to set up community projects there. She said: “There is a church hall which is under-used. We are going to try and set up some little projects.”It’s in its infancy. We would like to so some sort of project for the youth.”SHROPSHIRE STAR 2017

Valmai Griffiths (recently deceased)had been a teacher for many years and was an avid stitcher and crafter. Had she not been ill she would have loved to have joined in this project.

Jodie Grinham, Paralympian medallist in Archery at Rio games, lives in Telford.

Beverley Fry, Shropshire artist commissions include poppies mural for National Memorial Arboretum.

Alison Williamson, of Church Stretton, Archery Olympic bronze medalist

Amy Bagshaw, an international gymnast, forced to retire early due to injury.

Barbara Pym, novelist

Edith Pargeter (1913–1995), author

Isobel Cooper (Izzy), famous opera singer from Much Wenlock

Lara Jones, writer of the Poppy Cat books

Mirabel Osler, author

Sybil Ruscoe, TV and radio presenter

Tricia Sullivan, American science fiction author lives in Shropshire

St Milburga -Shropshire’s county day is on 23 February, the feast day of St Milburga, abbess of Wenlock Priory. Her aura, which some people believed in, was seen by many. It is recorded that she was found with a sick child in her arms, both engulfed by flames,though neither were burnt. As well as healing the sick, she had the power of being able to communicate with birds, and she was said to help farmers by putting a charm on their scarecrows. It is also recorded that she was able to prevent a flock of wild geese from doing damage to crops. In fact, in later years, pilgrims to her tomb purchased little leaden geese as mementos.

Norah Wellings was from Shropshire, England. She was the main doll designer at Chad Valley Dolls from 1919 to 1926, when she left to form her own doll company with her brother Leonard. The resulting company was the Victoria Toy Works, located in Wellington, United Kingdom.

Dame Agnes Gwendoline Hunt DBE RRC (31 December 1866 – 24 July 1948) was a British nurse, who is generally recognised as the first orthopaedic nurse.

Hannah Mary Rathbone (5 July 1798, Shropshire – 26 March 1878, Liverpool) was an English writer and the author of The Diary of Lady Willoughby. Life[edit]. Hannah Reynolds, a daughter of Joseph Reynolds by his wife Deborah Dearman, was born near Wellington in Shropshire on 5 July 1798

Katherine Plymley (1758–1829) was a diarist, traveller, painter and naturalist who recorded life in Shropshire, UK, between 1791 and 1827.

Margaret Harries Wilson or Mrs. Cornwell Baron Wilson (1796– 1846) was a British poet, playwright, lyricist, writer and editor. She is considered one of the first female biographers. LifeMargaret Harries was born in Shropshire in 1796. She created her first book of poetry in 1815 and after her second poetry collection.

Marjorie Morgan McCallum Chibnall OBE FBA (27 September 1915 – 23 June 2012) was an English historian, medievalist and Latin translator. She edited Historia Ecclesiastica by Orderic Vitalis. Born in Atcham.

37 women who gained the right to vote in 1918, out of approximately 160 who were working in the ceramic and iron industries across The Gorge. The name and profession of each woman is poignantly written on the back of the silhouettes. These include Ada Burns, Tile Polisher; Martha Bryan, China Painter; May Taylor, Gold Burnisher; Harriet Jones, Tobacco Pipe Packer and Mary Thompson, Pipe Maker. They are all positioned in front of the Old Furnace where Abraham Darby started the Industrial Revolution 300 years ago.’

Mother Hutton –William Withering first learned of the use of Digitalis in treating “dropsy” (edema) from “Mother Hutton”, an old woman who practiced as a folk herbalist in Shropshire, who used the plant as part of a polyherbal formulation containing over 20 different ingredients to successfully treat this condition. Since 1928, Mother Hutton’s status has grown to an acclaimed Wise Woman, Herbalist, Pharmacist and Medical Practitioner in Shropshire who was cheated out of her true recognition of how to use digitalis by Dr. Withering’s unscrupulous methods. The foxglove is the symbol of Wellington.

We will be adding to this list – if you know of anyone you think should be included please contact me.

This project is part of Processions18

DASH is working with The Hive, SAND, Participate Artspace and Quatt Viallge Hall to create a series of inclusive workshops for all women* .DASH PROCESSIONS workshps are supported by Western Power Distribution and Shropshire Council and The PROCESSIONS Project is produced and supported by Artichoke