Saturday, 10 October 2015

AA2A News!

Some time ago, (it feels like ages), I wrote and sent off my application to participate in the AA2A scheme at Teesside University.  I wrote my application to be considered for both a MIMA affiliated place (AA2A plus) and a standard Teesside uni one.  There are only four places available, two of which are the MIMA supported ones.

With great trepidation and really awful nerves, I made a terrible presentation at MIMA on Thursday Ist October.  The panel were really interesting people, I liked them but I was shaking so much I couldn't think straight.

All of us were told prior to our presentations that the caliber of entrants this year had been exceptionally high, so as the week passed and I had not heard anything, I assumed that I had not been successful.  I was disappointed, but not surprised because I knew I had not done myself justice; nerves always get the better of me in these situations.  At the same time, I was clinging to the fact that my application had been of a high caliber! 

Today, Saturday 10th October, I had a letter from Teeside University:

"Dear Sue,

There was a great deal of interest in the AA2A placement scheme at Teesside University. This letter confirms the success of your application for AA2A standard scheme at Teesside University.  Unfortunately  on this occasion you were not successful for the AA2A plus scheme. . . . .  "

I was a bit disappointed at first, after all the stress; I had really wanted the opportunity to work with MIMA, but now that I have had time to think about it I am really pleased to have been offered this amazing opportunity, and very grateful.  After all, there were only four places available and I have won one of them!

I am looking forward to having the opportunity to develop some of my ideas into three dimensions, both in painting, print and book form.  I think it will be a very fulfilling time and I am very much looking forward to using the library and attending lectures too.  I read in the additional information that I will also have access to the arts materials shop, so I'll be able to buy some reasonably priced paper and other materials, always very welcome.

Part of my work at Teesside will involve keeping a blog and as soon as I have details, I will post a link so that anyone interested in keeping up with what I am doing will be able to do so.  I am also very much looking forward to talking with students and hosting a studio visit, where they can see where I work and ask me questions.  I am not so much looking forward to giving presentations, but I'll grit my teeth and get over it!  Who knows, I might improve my technique and get to like the process. . . 

Exciting times in terms of my development as an artist!

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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Pause for breath and a sale

October. Acrylic on paper

A rare day off today.  Up late, then into York for some lunch and a quick visit to Priestley's at 36 Bootham to drop some images in that will be used for publicity for my upcoming show. I took a look at Andy Dalton's show which is still on; it is very good.  The gallery has been improved since I was there last and Andy's work looked fabulous.  I still hanker after owning the big print by him that is in the window.

While there, chatting to Sarah, I was surprised and delighted to learn that I had sold a drawing!  It is one of my small studies that I left with the gallery after the three woman show last year.  This news was a real boost; it will cover the cost of the cards I've just ordered to sell alongside the prints of my work at the show.  

The last few weeks have been extremely stressful; frantic activity on the anti fracking campaign as we near the deadline for objecting to the application by Third Energy and trying meanwhile to prepare for a presentation for something I have been shortlisted for and nearly caving in with exhaustion and frustration with all the work.

However, on Thursday I delivered my presentation.  Not well, but I did it.  I suppose I can only hope that my passion and excitement about delivering my ideas and the opportunity to grow creatively that the placement would give me shone through.  I am not sure when I will hear if I have been successful or not; competition was fierce and the applications, we were told, were of an exceptionally high caliber. Fingers crossed then. . . .

The day after making my presentation, I attended another seminar. this time organised by Chrysalis Arts entitled Contemporary Artists in Rural Contexts.  It was a great opportunity to catch up with some of my favourite people and I met a few more rather lovely ones too.  The first half was pretty good although one of the speakers was rather unprofessional in the way he criticised the project of two artists and as good as named them by showing their work, which I felt was rather spiteful and unnecessary.  All the other presenters were very interesting.  

The "discussion" session, however, was dire.  I felt frustrated by the lack of any real discussion because it was all led from the front with questions from the audience, not all of which could be heard.  It was very old school and it felt very much as if we were being told what the answers were, almost as if there was only one answer.  Sadly it all felt a bit preconceived to my mind. It would have been so much more constructive if we had divided into groups and discussed certain topics relating to artists in a rural context and then fed back to the whole group. There would, I think, have been a much richer exploration and sharing of ideas and we would all have learned something new as well as having the opportunity to get to know other people in the room a bit better.  

I wonder, what the outcome of this day will be? There was certainly no mention of any follow up of the day or intention to study the issues in any more depth to produce a published analysis as far as I can recall.  It was all very unsatisfactory, especially after my fantastic experience at the half day seminar/discussion with people in Wakefield organised by Axisweb recently.  

Never mind, I have an exhibition to sort out now and there is no use dwelling on these things.  And I have sold a drawing, did I say?  Hah!

I should also add that Ruth Miemczyk's work that I went to see (and hear her  in conversation with curator Lara Goodband) last week is stunning; utterly wonderful work. See previous blog entry for details.

Study. Acrylic on paper

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Friday, 25 September 2015

Lows and Highs

A very disappointing meeting last night with nothing particularly resolved regarding whether Ryedale ArtWorks will continue as an organisation along with a flippant, stupid remark made to me by a member about my work with the anti fracking movement has left me feeling yet again really fed up. 

However, this morning saw me in Wakefield for 9.30 am, at the Art House  for a seminar organised by Axisweb entitled, Artist, Validate Thyself where we considered how artists are validated if they are working outside the established gallery hierarchy or working both within the system and without it.

I cannot tell you what a joy it was to be among these intelligent perceptive people, having rigorous conversation and exchanges about professional practice.  We are hoping that this exchange will continue in some way, that there may be more research undertaken about this subject because the report, Validation beyond the gallery, by Amanda Ravetz and Lucy Wright of Manchester School of Art for Axisweb is just a beginning.

I forgot to mention a few weeks ago that I had been accepted by the selection panel of Axisweb and am now represented on their web site. I am delighted by this, because the standard of artists represented on the site is high.  The work they do for artists is exceptional and I am proud to be part of it.

I'm off to Scarborough tomorrow for Ruth Miemczyk in conversation with curator Lara Goodband.

I am really looking forward to it; I have not seen Ruth for a quite a while, her work is very good and it will be great to catch up .  While I am there I will pop across to the gallery at Woodend to see the exhibition Mono, which has just opened, where Ruth also has some work. 

Then a walk along the shore to get some fresh air before heading back home for the England v Wales match! 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015



September.  The beginning of Autumn, my favourite season.  Mizzle, dew, spiders webs across the pathways, fruits to harvest and chutneys and jams to make.

I have made the decision to stop fretting about making more new work for my upcoming solo show in York next month.  My 'Seasons' series will look great on the newly painted gallery walls and I have picked a large painting on paper to go in the window.  Job done, feeling much less stressed now.  When I do get some time, I will go out to the studio and work on the two large paintings I started some weeks ago and finish off the artists' books I have printed.

Meanwhile, I have embarked on a mammoth chutney making session; I am running a fundraiser bottle and jar stall for frack free in just over a week's time; so far I have made Autumn tomato chutney using my windfall cooking apples and some tomatoes I got at a reasonable price in a local shop.  There are vegetables soaking in brine as I write, waiting to be made into pear and ginger Piccalilli tomorrow and I will harvest apples and plums from the garden for more chutneys and possibly some jam.  Sloe gin, matured for more than two years will also be bottled up (in small bottles, I don't want to give it all away!).  Along with contributions from other people, it should be a successful stall.  It's strange to be talking about domestic things here; but that's what my life is at the moment.


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Thursday, 3 September 2015


I completed 2 artists' books last week.  I was planning to submit to an exhibition but then realised, with all the stress of balancing everything with anti fracking work, that I had missed the deadline!  However, when I informed Steff Mitchell of Staithes Studios Gallery, (, she told me to post it to her and that she'd put it in the other gallery space even though the book could not be included in the main exhibition room. Better than nothing, but I really need to keep a closer eye on dates; it's hard when there's so much going on.

I have a few other books to complete when I next get out to the studio and ideas for others. I suppose I ought to start planning the work for my solo show too; I have some framed up, ready but I will need some more!  I think I should set aside a day to plan this properly, so that I know what I'm doing; it is rare these days to have a day that is not interrupted by something to do with fracking and I am having a bit of trouble keeping a healthy balance.

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015


August is nearly over.  

The fight against fracking in North Yorkshire is gearing up.  Most of my time is spent working for the cause.

Meanwhile I am making some artists' books and I have two large paintings on the go, that will complete my quartet.

My solo show in York will open on October 15th.  More later.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Working with Lucy Saggers

I recently had the pleasure of working with photographer Lucy Saggers to produce some shots of me in my studio.  It was a surprisingly enjoyable experience; Lucy made the process quite natural and stress free.  I will be using the shots for any publicity that I might need for future exhibitions and publicity.  The ones here are some of my favourites.

Lucy's work is rather wonderful and you can find it on her website:

Friday, 17 July 2015

Art as a path to the sublime: Agnes Martin at Tate

I have a bit of time today, so thought I would talk briefly about the Agnes Martin show at Tate:

Unexpectedly, I found I had a day longer in London last weekend than I thought, so took the opportunity to see the show.

I can honestly say, it is one of the best exhibitions I have ever been to, and I've been to many.  First up: the place was almost empty, which is the best way for a gallery to be, even better for an Agnes Martin show, which requires deep looking and thought in a peaceful environment.

The curation and hang is superb; Martin was in the habit of re-acquiring early work in order to destroy it, here we have examples of her entire life's work.  The examples of early work, while not as interesting to me; they are derivative of other artists's works and movements ( Surrealism, Cubism for example); they were useful as part of the context of her development, as with any retrospective.  For example, Martin's colours remained pretty much the same throughout her career:  neutrals or mostly very pale hints of colours; like looking at colours behind a veil. Where she use stronger tones the colours are still mostly neutrals although stronger colour is occasionally evident.  I was fascinated by this thread throughout her life's work.  It is interesting to see how her work changed when she moved to New York, becoming full of life, expectation and experiment and the moment when she cast off curved lines to embrace the grid, vertical and horizontal line.

Each space provides the work room to breath; the fact that the gallery was almost empty helped of course, but these works require time and contemplation and the hang enables this.  One of the rooms, 7 I think, had cleverly screened a floor to ceiling window with fine white fabric, filtering the light but allowing the grid of the window design to show through, echoing the grids of Martin's work.

Martin's works on paper are equally enthralling, room 10, "presents a retrospective within a retrospective", to quote Tate.  Room 6  shows a collection of silk screen prints published by Parasol Press in 1973 that she had worked on in Stuttgart the previous year.  I found these interesting because Martin had expressed a need to "straighten out her lines" because she could "never paint straight enough".  The slight waverings of her lines in the paintings, creating optical wobbles and movement is one of the aspects of her work that I enjoy; the imperfections of the straight lines reflecting the frailty of human existence and evidence of the artist's hand at that particular moment in time.  However, this desire to straighten out the lines provides us with an insight into her nature; I suspect she was not all sensitive and vulnerable; there is a doggedness, a determination about Martin's continual exploration of line, grid and surface that shows strength of mind and character, whilst acknowledging the frailty of her mental health.  You'd have to be bloody minded to keep on making canvasses of the sizes she selected and to continue exploring her themes as she did.

Room 9:

"My paintings have neither objects nor space nor time nor anything - no forms.  They are light, lightness, about merging, about formlessness, breaking down form"  Agnes Martin, 1966.

The highlight of the entire exhibition for me.  This suite of twelve paintings, The Islands, all white canvasses each 182.9 x 182.9 cm square, are utterly beautiful.  They are so sensitively curated; instead of the usual wire barrier that sounds an alarm should any visitor get too close, there is a platform about eight inches high all round the room beneath the paintings, keeping visitors the same distance from the work.  The walls are painted a shell like tone of palest lilac allowing the works to communicate without any visual struggle. These works require time and patience; I could have stayed in there all day and more. 

Tate describes them as Martin's most silent works.  Their surfaces require intense scrutiny to appreciate their surfaces and fine lines; Martin was interested in East Asian philosophy and spirituality and they reflect this.  I found myself becoming intensely emotional while looking at these works, it was a really profound experience.

On considering why this was so, I think it was the sheer scale of the group that reflect, for me, Martin's intense scrutiny of herself through painting.  I was not overwhelmed by them because I thought they referenced my scant knowledge of Martin's fragile mental health but because of the absolute commitment, determination and focus that these paintings express.

I am not going to describe the entire exhibition, I could not do it justice.  It is a wonderful example of how an artist can produce a profound body of work throughout their life by sticking with and honing one idea, building on it as understanding and experience grows.  I cannot recommend this exhibition enough, it is a "must see".

"You are what goes through your mind, whether you are aware of it  or not, you know, and if you can become aware of it and then if you can try and express it, you are an artist", Agnes Martin, video, Road Trip

(Quotes are taken from Tate literature and web site).

Interesting reviews:

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Thursday, 16 July 2015

First 3D painting completed, more on the go!

First of my 3D painting experiments completed:

Not quite finished:

I am really enjoying the challenge of making paintings as three dimensional works.  I have some more boards that I might hinge together, but I am also in the process of making the final two large works to complete the quartet I began in 2012 and exhibited in 2013.  The scrolled piece on Chinese paper also needs completing. . . . I am busy!

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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

New work

Since making the ballot box piece, I have been considering painting as three dimensional, not just two.  It is early days and there are a lot of things I want to try.  So far, I have begun a very long piece on Chinese paper; it is at a very early stage, just white tally marks using gouache looking very ethereal.  I think I will continue with this using water colours and gouache, possibly ink, but I change my mind frequently when I am at this stage, with my head full of thoughts about the possibilities.

I have also bought a new stash of paper ready for when I have time to make some prints, lovely off white Somerset 300 gm. 

Another experiment I'm trying is to paint on a series of 2' x 2' ply boards, which I have hinged using canvas strips, (drilling through such thin board to screw metal hinges onto it would not have been possible).  I have several sections, and I am currently painting on two hinged sections (four boards). One possibility is to place the two pieces together like a concertina, thinking about my Chinese sketchbook that was accepted by Rabley.  Another, one I am leaning towards, is to stack the two sections, one on top of the other.  They are remarkably stable actually, so I don't think I will need additional fixings and anyway, I rather like the idea of an interchangeable painting.  I have only begun painting on one side of the boards so far; I intend to paint both sides, to create interesting juxtapositions of colour, mark making and angles.  This has made me quite excited, even though it is early days.

Always the ideas remain the same; the passage of time, seasons, memory and loss.  All the works are in progress:

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Balancing Act

It is very cold and grey today and looks rather like my print February, above.  What has happened to Summer?

North Yorkshire Open Studios has passed by in a whir as usual.  Thank you to all the visitors who came for the last weekend; it was so interesting to hear your thoughts about my work and to observe you as you listened to mine.  Our conversations and contact is really appreciated and treasured.

I spent the week after Open Studios catching up in our newly developing garden as a winding down process.  The weekend just gone was lost unfortunately, due to a family emergency.  I am now back in the studio as a priority although my work for Frack Free Ryedale  frackfreeryedale.orgcontinues apace and all this is balanced with the garden and family of course.

I have several open submissions that I am interested in and the deadlines for these are looming, so the need to make some new work is urgent.  I was in the studio all day yesterday, preparing boards for something a little experimental, more of which later.  This morning I had some admin for FFR but in just a short while I shall be heading back out to the studio to continue prepping the boards.  

I like the preparation time before any actual painting commences; it seems to me a meditative period, sanding the boards, brushing them free of dust,  building up the layers of gesso, more sanding.  All of this time allows for freer thoughts about my intentions for the piece to emerge, as they did yesterday and I am feeling really optimistic about this next body of work.  I am becoming very interested in the way the layers of thoughts become part of the preparation time, become part of the work; the whole process is a layering of physical and mental exertion that I find completely enthralling and exhausting.

In the week between Open Studios, I took some time off to visit The Tetley and attend a talk about the current exhibition, Painting in Time.  Three of the artists were present, one via Skype, along with three "interviewers".  The talk was interesting and inspiring; I relished listening to a conversation about art, its process and thinking behind it.   The whole thing was inspiring and I am hoping to be able to attend more in the future.  I wrote notes during the talk as I knew I'd forget what was said if I didn't and I will blog more fully about the talk in my An blog:  A Portrait of an Artist as a Very Late Starter,  as soon as I have time.

Right, off to the studio, more anon.  Thank you for reading this, please feel free to place comments below, I will always respond.

Study, Seasons/Time.

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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Weekend Two NYOS 15


Gearing up for the second weekend of Open Studios, the weather, after a glorious week, is set to change for the worse with heavy rain forecast on Saturday but that won't put me off!

It just means the studio door will have to be closed and we shan't be able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.  Never mind!  I'll have home made cake, tea and coffee available to tempt visitors as well as lots of works on my walls and in the browser, plus the prints of the works entitled Laminar Flow.

Jenny Pepper Felt maker's studio will also be open, so there's lots to

I 'm looking forward to welcoming visitors to my studio and talking to them about my work.  

March, my birthday month!

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Tuesday, 9 June 2015


From the suite of prints available during North Yorkshire Open Studios, here is June:

There are twelve prints available, one for each month of the year, £85 each, a very limited edition only.

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Monday, 8 June 2015

NYOS 15 Weekend number one

Putting out the publicity leaflets for other artists in the vicinity, just before the event began.

Saturday 6th June, day one.  The wind was blowing a gale, quickly knocking our big parasol over, so we folded it away and braved the wind and sunshine outside when we could!

Thank you to all the lovely visitors who made the effort to visit.  Your interest in my work and the lovely conversations are very much appreciated and make all the effort worth while.

The total number of visitors on Saturday was 52 - a big increase on last year!  Fewer came on Sunday; a total of 21 and just as valued. All in all it was a most enjoyable weekend, the sale of a small piece on paper, the icing on the proverbial cake! 

Drawing materials for visiting children

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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Time is short!

It's nearly upon us!  This coming weekend, June 6/7th and the following one, June 13/14th, 10.30am - 5.30pm North Yorkshire Open Studios takes place.  My studio at Stonegrave will be open and I am going to show a wide variety of work.

The prints of my series, Laminar Flow (seasons), are ready and mounted and I have just four of the original paintings to put back into their frames, ready for hanging on the wall. The other two walls will show a smaller series of works that I made last year and a couple of larger drawings.  There will be pieces in my browser, other works stacked up for you to look at and a slide show of how the Laminar Flow series developed.

The prints are a very limited edition, with two complete sets of twelve, so you will need to be quick if you want any!

Here's a taster:

Laminar Flow (March) 30 x 40 cm plus mount. Archive ink on art paper.

Laminar Flow (June) 30 x 40 cm plus mount.  Archive ink on art paper.

Laminar Flow (September) 30 x 40 cm plus mount.  Archive ink on paper.

Laminar Flow (December) 30 x 40 cm plus mount.  Archive ink on paper

Some of the smaller works:

Connect, mixed media on board,25.5 x 25.5 cm, framed.  

Song, mixed media on board, 25.5 x 25.5 cm, framed.

Rhythms, mixed media on board, 25.5 x 25.5 cm, framed.

All are welcome, including children; I have a pot of crayons and some paper for them to make their own drawings, so bring along your family and friends, chat to me about my work and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and home made biscuits.  Have a good browse and who knows, you might go home with a lovely new piece of art for your walls or a gift for a special friend!

I look forward to seeing you.