What do artists do all day?

#What do artists do all day? (part one- morning)

Well for me its a coffee (or three) in the studio after coming back from walking my poochy (great thinking time) and taking a look at what I’ve done the day before and assessing next steps. I usually have radio 4 in the background to catch up with the news but if i really need to ponder i have to turn the chatter off. Once I have a plan formulated in my noggin I then go and feed the birds and over yet another coffee do a bit of social media, admin etc and choose what if anything I’m going to listen to. If i am continuing work I can listen to a drama as I don’t need the uninterpreted thought stream required when beginning or completing a piece (for those times its either silence or music) I aim to get cracking by 9.00 the latest, usually earlier. I’m not sure why I delay getting stuck in straight away by doing social media but once I get going I love the feeling of those first moments of creativity whether it be beginning a new piece, carrying on with one of the existing pieces or even totally reworking something. Its almost a relief to know i can still do it – i think we all live in fear of the muse leaving us. Time to get started ! Continuing work on this one today …will post how I get on.

holly, hawthorn, blackthorn


I love rust, it suggests age, time passing and softens the hardness of bright shiny metal. I think of slow dripping outside taps making lovely colours and textures on a watering can. The derelict cottage I am using as an inspiration for Medgel’s one time home has a rusted sink, rust stained wallpaper and even a rusted scythe. With this second paint layer I’m  taking this idea and inserting it in Medgel’s mouth and around her head, I’m letting the rust deteriorate her image and eat into her.IMG_1098.JPG

Witches made of wood

Playing around with wood effect in a few pieces as a different layer of the project in both meaning and paint .

A test to discover if someone was a witch was to dunk them into a pond – if they floated they were a witch as it was believed a witch was made of wood. Sadly if they sank ( i.e. drowned) they were innocent . Not a good outcome either way.

This new piece is about holly, hawthorn and blackthorn which will be developed in future layers but liking the starting point I’ve just painted and going through the ‘that it’s a shame to paint over it’ doubt I always get. Waiting for paint to dry is tough as it allows too much thinking time at a point when you need to just get on with the work …..and so I will remove it from the easal and use this time to put the next layer in the ongoing pieces.

At the half way stage in terms of getting the ideas/pieces into a form of realisation. Yikes! IMG_1097.JPG

Think Art

I like to have a clear plan before I begin a project as I ‘think art’ as well as make it. Those thoughts manifest themselves into a sort of plan that inevitably gets totally changed as i develop the work. But we all need a starting point.  Also because I am collaborating with other artists I wanted to give them an overview of where I am starting from.

So here is my rather long outline/train of thoughts.

Medgel- Portrait of a Witch

The key inspiration/explorations of this project;

  • Who is Medgel? What factors make Medgel become known as a witch? Consider and create an alternative narrative.
  • What happens when intolerance and fear takes over a community/society?
  • To find a way of getting non- commercial, pertinent and challenging art seen by people who wouldn’t usually access it.
  • To develop a project that binds AML’s art and folklore interests. To explore AML relating to Medgel.
  • To collaborate with other artists.
  • To develop AML’s art practice.
  • Linking Town & Country- Looking at shared issues in different landscapes.

15 pieces of artwork will be made and scattered throughout Shropshire and Wolverhampton which will be brought together for 6 performances.

The number 15 is significant because this is the number of stones that make up Medgel’s prison.

Through visual art and story we will develop a portrait of Medgel the witch.

The Artwork

The Evidence Pieces – A Landscape of Fear

1-Holly & Hawthorne -Print/painting -A village surrounded by Holly and Hawthorne- significance that plants known to ward off witches are planted around old Rorrington/Hill Fort.

2-The Holy Well/Pin Well- Wax Sculpture-Pins have been found in the Holy Well Brook- this was a sure sign of a fear of witches- casting pins/nails/pointy objects into running water protected villagers and their water supply from enchantment.

3- The Bellarmine/Greybeard/witch pot –Ceramic- Such pots found buried under the threshold of a house was a sure sign of someone resisting bewitchment. They were used to redirect back at the witch who cast them.

4- The Shoe- Soft Sculpture- Hidden in a cavity in the chimney breast a shoe prevented witches from entering through the chimney and thereby protected the household.

The Relating Pieces – A landscape of Isolation

  • The Trackway- print/painting- recording the path that both AML & Medgel tread – physically isolated, challenging and harsh as well as beautiful.
  • Shadowlands- print/painting – Shadows represent ourselves in another form/dimension, we are present and yet we are not, can our shadows live separately to us. Exploring how shadows cast on this landscape.
  • Medgel’s home-Painting/Photograph/collage- About finding an isolated long abandoned cottage
  • The Burial site – Painting/Photograph/ collage –On finding her bones (skeleton of a Hare)

The Unfolding Story Pieces – A landscape of gossip and accusation

  • The Hare Lip- Painting – Witches were known to ‘shape shift’ and the crossing of a pregnant woman’s path by a hare would result in birth defect.
  • Familiars – The keeping of animals was cause enough to see Medgel as a witch.
  • The Fey Cow – Painting – The villagers faced famine but for the kindness of the fey folk in giving a fairy cow they would have starved.
  • The Riddle- Painting/Print – Medgel milked the cow dry because she milked it into a riddle (sieve) and so it could never fill and so the Cow disappeared.

The Punishment Pieces – A landscape of persecution

  • The Scold – Painting- Medgel was given no voice her guilt was cast by others and she was unable to refute it.
  • The Fold- Painting- The Fold is a place of sanctuary to hold sheep safely but the Stone Circle became Medgel’s prison for evermore.
  • Nine Million –Painting/Print- The number of women killed in the name of witchcraft.


Witch Hunt is a term we commonly use today to suggest unfair/unfounded rounding on somebody however in reality the witch hunt of Europe’s past resulted in nine million (mainly women) being tortured and killed with little cause or reason and with the backing of state religion. Laws were created to enable the bringing to trial of innocent people who were rounded on by their fellow community and most often by women neighbours. Men, authority, then took control of the proceedings and following the guidance laid out in the ‘Malleus Mallificorum’ and King James ‘Demonology’ they cruelly interrogated, tried and put to death those who were insignificant, different and seen as ‘other’.

In art ‘Witch’ is often portrayed through the gaze of the man and so, seductive and sexy or as old menopausal hag. Stereotypical pointy hat, broomstick and cat often feature. The Witch Bitch is very much the domain of the feminist art response where Witch has purportedly been reclaimed as a symbol of power. This often manifests itself in reference to magic, Wiccan practices and association with other magic such as voodoo. Spell casting, charms and poppets are used as symbols of power.

Exploring through art what happens when fear and intolerance takes over our community/society.


So what would an actual portrait of Medgel the witch look like?

Having been at the Hay Meadow festival this weekend as part of the collaboration between myself and storyteller Amy Douglas- at the early stages of the Medgel- portrait of a witch project – we asked children to think about what Medgel may look like and these are a few of the responses. I would like to use some of the things the children said and created in one of the pieces i will make. As the children’s ages increased so did the more stereotypical witch images begin to emerge. Is this down to having the ability to depict the image in a recognisable format that we see a more traditional witch image emerge ? On talking to the very young ones I don’t think its just down to them portraying things in a far more abstract way. I was told that one painting was a spotty liney witch and another a ballerina witch and another that Medgel was like a field or hill ! When i looked at what they had created the images they had made fitted very well with their words.  Its fabulous the way art projects evolve from sharing the developing stages of an idea and keeping it open. A big thank you to all who were a part of inspiring me at the festival.


So happy to be working with R&A Collaborations on my latest Arts Council funded project. R&A Collaborations is the combined talents of photographer Richard Foot and digital media artist Arron Fowler. They will be making a film that will respond to what I have begun. I am really excited to see what will evolve from our collaboration and looking forward to sharing it at planned events and on my webpage and social media. Arron described how he saw their role…. ‘in effect creating a ‘Haiku’ that sets a tone for my work. Brilliant couldn’t be more pleased !


Bellarmine pots fired

Hot from the fire one of the ‘Evidence’ pieces as part of the narrative I am creating to portray what constitutes a witch.  The Bellarmine/Greybeard/witch pot –Ceramic- Such pots found buried under the threshold of a house were a sure sign of someone resisting bewitchment. The pots will be dotted around and about Shropshire in the next few weeks as part of getting art out into local communities and can be seen along with me and story teller Amy Douglas at the Haymeadow festival, at The Bog near Stiperstones on Saturday 24th June.witch potsThey were used to redirect back at the witch who cast them.