The Book Collector

(photo from here)

I can’t help it. I love books. My husband dreads the day we ever have to move house as they are spread over all three floors of our house. I do have a kindle after a long period of resistance – this is kept strictly for books with oodles of text that I have to keep because I will want to read them time and time again.

  The glorious thing that I realised about moving over to the dark side of paperless paperback reading is that over a period of time, the lack of paperbacks on my shelves leads to more space devoted entirely to picture books – specifically Art Books (said with not a small amount of reverence).  Art Books are my addiction. They are to be leafed through in any spare moment, sat on the floor of my studio, page after page of images and text of paintings that I perhaps will never see in real life (although one can always dream), I peer at them closely to drink in every brushstroke and study the light and atmosphere of the artists I love.

The Book Collector

So in our three day break away to Northumberland last week it is not surprising that 2 whole, precious afternoons were spent in the haven that is Barter Books (just go to the page and wonder at the photos of all the gorgeous shelves and seating areas and log fire with sofa’s for reading).

The Book Collector

In truth, two afternoons were not nearly enough and I did not venture much past the Art and History sections but we shall go back someday. I was also quite restrained being on a budget but still managed to pick up these few favourites (excuse the photos, tis a dull and dreary day here) and I cannot wait to immerse myself in them.

They are (should you be interested)

Top photo left to right

Ana Maria Pacheco in the National Gallery

Scottish Art since 1900 – National Galleries of Scotland

Goya by Robert Hughes

Bottom photo clockwise from left

Oils by J M Parramon

Hang-ups – Essays on painting (mostly) by Simon Schama

Seven-Tenths by James Hamilton-Paterson (which fuels my other addiction to books about the sea)

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

I may try to blog about them as I read them along with some of the other art books I have.

I would also love to know what your favourite books are – especially books on Art!

PS we did venture further afield on our away-break including a trip to this magical place but all photos turned out badly so you would be better to view the website.

x x x

Whimsical Creatures Workshop

Whimsical Creatures Workshop, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Aaah Monday, Monday. I am excited to be starting a new week and hopefully getting back into the way of blogging on a more regular basis after a Summer of busyness. I have so much to do and so much to share!

Last week we had a wonderful few days away camping in Yorkshire where we were joined for a couple of days by my dad and step-mum. I love everything about camping – I still need to check my camera to find out if I took any photo’s at all (although I fear not…) so will blog about this later in the week.

Today though I wanted to share some images from a workshop I taught just over a week ago at Lakeside Arts Centre in Nottingham. This was my first workshop in over 2 years so I was incredibly nervous – also, although I have taught felt-making and bookbinding and mixed media techniques I had never taught something so close to my current practice. After a lot of planning and making I came up with the idea of creating simple ‘Whimsical Creatures’ out of cloth with hand-painting.

What a wonderful day it turned out to be!! I had the seven loveliest ladies who were incredibly patient with me and an inspiration in that they worked incredibly hard and created the most wonderful creatures. I only wish I had more (and better) photos to show you.

It was quite an ambitious day and I had worried before hand that it might be a little too much to complete in one day especially as everything had to be hand stitched. But everyone worked so hard and I loved every minute of it. I really must thank each and every one for attending and helping me to gain just that wee bit more confidence in my teaching abilities as I am a bit of a worrier!

It was also lovely to meet Charlotte from A chest of delights – a fellow Nottingham resident and blogger who is also a wonderfully talented artist. You can read her blog post on the workshop here. Anyway here are just a few photos from the day and I am now looking for further teaching opportunities for the future so have a list of places to email this week. Wish me luck!

x x x

Space to breathe…..

Hello friends! Gosh I have been absent from here for a while, haven’t I? Every so often I just need to switch off for a little bit, spend alot less time on the computer and on-line, recharge and put all my energy into work and living and that is what I have been doing. I also had a lovely trip up to Scotland to visit with my family and friends, seeing folks I hadn’t set eyes on for almost 2 and a half years, walking, talking, drinking lots of coffee and just taking it all in.

But now I am back and as much as it is not in my nature to think ahead (I much prefer living in the moment….) I must now get focussed on preparing lots of work for all my upcoming shows this season. I feel in a really good place right now as far as my work is concerned. After last year where I could only attend one show, I now have some of the very best ones coming up and I am so excited and grateful to have been accepted for them.

Number One on my list of ‘things to do’ last week was to get my studio in order. Although it doesn’t have to be pristine for me to enjoy working there, it needs to be functional and the previous lay-out just wasn’t working for me. So I decided to have a complete switch around and now I couldn’t be happier!! So if you don’t mind a few photo’s and are interested in seeing my creative space then read on ………

Please excuse the darkness of the images – I only have one small window at the end so it is a really hard space to photograph!! Anyway here you can see the before photo – yes, it is a huge space and I am so very lucky to have this room to work in…. but this table in the middle just wasn’t working. It was covered with all my painting materials and I really wanted to have this table clear so that I can make myself some dresses as it is the ideal height – so it had to be moved.

I had the idea that I really wanted to create clear areas for all the different things that I do, instead of the chaotic mess that it was before, where I was constantly having to move stuff around in order to do anything.


So here is the room now – still dark, but with the central area clear it feel so much bigger and I have room to breathe.

So now this is my main work-table where I can do all my sculpting and making of characters – anything that I need to do sitting down. All my tools and materials are to hand – it might not look like it, but it is actually very organised!

This bookcase has always been used for finished work but was previously tucked away in a corner and was quite hard to get to. Now it is next to my work-table I will find it motivating to see all my finished work in one place.

This was the table that was in the centre of the room, covered in all my painting materials. Last year I bought some fabric intending to make myself a couple dresses and got all my paterns out from uni, with a real desire to start making my own clothes but just could never summon the energy to clear this table so that I could do my pattern-cutting at it. Now I have, there is no excuse! New clothes here I come!

My sewing machine is in place and now all I have to do, is dig my overlocker out from under a pile of boxes and I am good to go.

So now I have a new, clear painting area on an old table and with my new easel. It is much closer to the window and now I don’t have to worry about clearing the table to work on other things – it can stay just as it is.

I have so much stuff but on this occassion I didn’t throw anything out – I may need it in the future! But now that it is tidier and more open, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as cluttered or oppressive. It might not be pretty, my storage doesn’t match and it won’t win any awards for style or appear in any publications for being a beautiful space, but I do love my studio. It is functional and has everything I need. I also don’t have far to go to get to work in the morning. Goodness knows what I will do if I ever have to move into a smaller house. So now I have a clear space and a clear head to start preparations for all my upcoming exhibitions and events!

Hope you enjoyed my studio tour and well done if you make it all the way through. So now I am off to work and to immerse myself in making 🙂

x x x

Falling in love….

yorkshire, originally uploaded by gilfling.

So much to love about the weekend we just had camping near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. I love camping… the fresh air, the being away from home with no distractions of tv’s, pc’s …stuff. Mark prefers campsites with better facilities…. me… it does not bother me so much and I am just grateful to get away. The campsite we were at had wooden pods, but I love the whole setting up of the tent, sitting in the wind, kettle on the mini-stove, coffee-making, bacon and eggs, watching the camp-site kids playing and running around. I just love it all.

I also fell in love with Yorkshire once again. The crooked patchwork fields with falling down stone walls and abandoned farm buildings all surrounded by the lavender and ochre coloured moors. There is such a strong sense of history here, of community and stories of times gone by that I do not yet know. I have my heart set on moving there someday – a house with an adjoining studio and the fields on my doorstep. Dreams can come true can’t they?

There are many places I wish to live in my dreams, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, the Highlands of Scotland. I guess the location does not matter so much…………the important thing is access to land, space and sky, to be able to traipse through fields, woods or beaches for hours on end. To be able to find new inspirations for artwork and dreams on a daily basis in my surroundings. To leave the city, the busyness, and it’s grey boxes behind.

I also fell in love with the shop I was delivering work to in Hebden Bridge – Home…Oh! is all I imagined it to be and more!! A real shop of curiosities and characters. Warren, Marcus and Christopher have created a beautiful space and the mix of work is wonderful – I almost cried when I saw how much thought and care has been taken with the way my characters are displayed. I hope to beg some photo’s of the shop from the boys to show you soon! One of my very favourite fellow makers also has his work there – Mr Finch and I was delighted to see how well our work sits together. He also has an etsy shop and I have my eye on so many of his pieces such as the birdhouses, magpies and especially the hares.  I was also very pleased to meet him in person at the grand shop opening!

I still have a few bits and pieces to finish off and send to the shop and will be showing you the finished ones throughout this week……… it is off to the studio for me!

x x x


One of the main reason’s for our trip to London last weekend was to go and see Warhorse at the New London Theatre and really it was the highlight of our trip, for both of us. I have had the book by Michael Morpurgo for a wee while, but as the only occassions I seem to have time to read at the moment is in the doctors surgery waiting room, I still have not finished it as I keep having to pause to stop myself from crying… it is an incredibly heart-wrenching story. However I had seen the documentary on the Making of Warhorse and just knew it was something I would love to see…

I had fully intended on really trying to describe this wonderful stage play and my response to it but in truth I don’t think it is possible to put into words how incredible it was. Set in the First World War and focussing on the story of a farm-lad and his horse, it really is an  unforgettable story.

The horses are life size puppets, each requiring 2 or three people to work the mechanics of the animal. The most incredible thing is that after a short time, even although you know the actors are there, you forget that they are working the puppets and instead begin to believe that it is a living, breathing horse with a distinct character. I think I must have looked like a child with that expression of wonder and awe on my face throughout the performance, so breathtaking and heartwrenching.

I don’t know if the show is touring atall but if you are not able to see it you can get a wee taste of the show here on the website – I know there is an up-and-coming film directed by Stephen Speilberg, but really it is the puppets that are the stars of the stage show. Although for some reason calling them ‘puppets’ really doesn’t come close to describing the wonder of them. The music too has stayed with me I have been constantly humming singing the bits that I remember of the folk tunes from the play.  I have ordered the soundtrack with some birthday money so I know that it is going to be played frequently on my studio days – as I get older, my love of folk music grows and it suits the mood and atmosphere of my studio when I am working.

 It is an occassion that I will always remember and there is a very special reason that I was able to go which I would like to tell you about, but for now I have an appointment and then my studio is calling, so I shall leave that for tomorrow….

Thank you for reading and sharing this with me..I truly hope it is something you have the opportunity to see!


The Big City………


So highlights of London were …..

… walking along the embankment with the sight of the incredible architecture of the houses of parliament – a stunning view even after seeing it many times …

…. we missed the Trooping the Colour but saw some of the spectacular fly-past of the Royal Air Force overhead and in a clear blue sky…

………a bit of window shopping on Regent Street, popping into Anthropologie (nil purchases) and the amazing and huge National Geographic shop (a wee treat in the form of a years subscription to the publication which I have coveted for years!)…..

…delighted to find wildlife even in the heart of London via a walk through St James Park where we saw black swan’s, a beautiful, majestic heron and the most precocious squirrels you are ever likely to meet…..

….discovering my dream house and garden, again right in the heart of London – ‘A cottage for a birdkeeper’ – like something from a fairy tale (images of this are sure to appear in my artwork in the near future)…

…. looking around, looking up, gasping at the wonderful and historical architecture that fills Londons can only wonder at how many hands and years it took to build such delicate details that reach for the sky…..

… and so to the theatre in the evening to see Warhorse (more about this tomorrow)…

…. a more tired version of ourselves from all the walking the previous day, on Sunday we tucked into a hearty breakfast before taking the bus through London’s rainy street’s to visit one of my favourite places in London with all it’s memories of childhood days out with my dad… The Natural History Museum with wonders of the feather, scaley and furry kind, its’s tales of earth and ocean’s and planets, far too much to see in a day although we did try….

…. and so home again. Tired and happy to have spent a lovely weekend together as fleeting as it was….there is just too much to see!..

So till tomorrow


Mosaic Monday 13th June 2011

Mosaic Monday 13th June 2011, originally uploaded by gilfling.

1. reverie, 2. Untitled, 3. Orchid Thief, 4. magpie cup, 5. Untitled, 6. Visionary., 7. treehouse tower, 8. Three books & their pages, 9. crofters handbook , 10. City trip – art doll by Anna Zueva, 11. WIP: Peacock Stumpwork – Final stages, 12. Fossil Strata

Another week and I am a year older after my birthday on Saturday – only one year to the big ‘4-0’ now – gosh how can that be??? We had the most wonderful weekend in London and I still have to upload my photographs – there is also a wee tale to tell related to our weekend away but I shall save that for tomorrow as it deserves a post all of it’s own.

I did have a horrible moment of dread on friday when I somehow managed to drop a marble slab (that I use when carving leather – so it is the size of a chopping board) – anyway I managed to drop it right at the base of my big toe and believe me, I was hopping around like a cartoon character, whilst sobbing trying to continue breathing all at the same time. It was not a pretty sight and when the bruising and swelling started I was scared I had broken it – which would have made for a bit of a rotten weekend in London!! Anyway – someone up there was being good to me as by Saturday morning I was only hobbling a little and walking was not too bad atall. Thank goodness!

So tales of London tomorrow!

PS – lots of amazing work via my flickr favourites again, please click on the links above to see more.

PPS – I felt rather unwell for much of last week (overtired) and am so behind on replying to, and thanking you for your lovely, thoughtful comments here on my blog and on facebook – also for the overwhelming amount of birthday wishes. Please know that I feel a very lucky girl indeed to have you all visiting here and really appreciate your interest in what I am up to – thank you so very much!


This wonderful web….

Today has been a little strange – time running away from me and  plans going awry. I was due to be meeting a friend for coffee and delivering work to the design circus shop across town later this afternoon but that all had to change when I found that I could not get out of our carpark to the rear of our house as the electric gate was stuck!  It was too late to get the tram and bus it would have taken me to get across town so I went for a walk instead – much better for me I am sure.

I am currently following a beginners walking programme as unfortunately one of the side effects of the medication I am on is weight gain and already a very curvy girl it is now time for me to tackle this head on and do something about it! I used to do alot of walking and it really is my favourite form of exercise so I am hoping for good progress.

Recently I have mentioned a few times the various elements I love about my job and it has been good for me to take the extra time to take note and appreciate all that makes me content. Working from home, being my own boss, creating every day that I can, all combine  to make me happy and settled. Another element in this mix is meeting people who understand my work whether I meet them face to face or online.

 I do not see myself as having a talent with words and often find it difficult to put my inspiration into one or two sentences so it is always fascinating to read another persons interpretation. I have very recently met Claire through etsy and blogging and she recently bought the piece above and has very generously blogged about it here.

Tomorrow, weather and car-park-gate permitting I shall be meeting a friend at this local historical place for a few hours of chatting and sketching. It has been far too long since I have sketched outside so I am looking forward to it!

Mosaic Monday 24/1/11

Hello Monday….

Another collection of images from my flickr favourites and again I am feeling inspired. We were away for a few days last week to Chester for a relaxing break but I returned home feeling more than a little exhausted. The weekend was just the perfect recovery time to spend browsing flickr and discovering ‘new to me’ artists and makers. It really is a pleasure to visit these artists pages and view the wonderful work that is there – you may discover some ‘new to you’ wonders too….

I am still taking things slowly but finding that increasingly I want to spend more time in my studio. My daily sketches are just crying out to be made into bigger pieces, paintings and mixed media and I am feeling good about the images and stories that are being unearthed from my thoughts. This week however much of my time inbetween resting will be dedicated to tedious admin – yes I am that person that always leaves my accounts and taxes to absolutely the last minute – and then panics, and then just has to knuckle down and get things done and then vows to be more organised next year….every year.

Wish me luck….

Buttery goodness

Buttery goodness, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Yesterday I went on a wee jaunt with a friend to Leicestershire to visit this gallery. I am part of a group exhibition next month and wanted to check out the space in order to help me decide what work to exhibit there. Unfortunately I did not take my camera (a lesson learned) but it is in the most beautiful rural setting on an estate with a small grouping of interesting and quirky shops and luckily a lovely coffee shop selling coffee cake and hot drinks in vintage cups and saucers. Bliss. Ferrers Gallery is beautiful, small and quirky and I can’t wait to have my work shown there. I love Leicestershire and although the first part of the drive is down the motorway, you are soon surrounded by rolling hills and fields with ponds, sheep and ducks and mist. It was a grey day but lovely nonetheless.

Returning to Nottingham I just had to take Katie to the charity shop ‘up the road’. This is a real find – 2 floors of thrifty goodness and only a hop skip and a jump from my house. Over the last few years I have taught myself to walk away when tempted by lovely things. This life that I have chosen ensures that I don’t have a ready amount of cash at my disposal and I have to be choosy about where the pennies go. We live in a spacious house, books are my downfall and the rest goes on art supplies as and when I can afford them. Very occasionally we go off to a car boot sale and pick up the odd thing for the house. The last 3 times I have visited this shop I have coveted these serving plates – their faded buttery yellow tones just the right colour to ensure that I am drawn to them peeking out from under a pile of other plates and crockery. Three times I have picked them up and put them down again but this year I have decided that a wee treat now and again is not a bad thing so home they came. Along with a set of 6 butter knives bringing back memories of tea with granny and a real sense of nostalgia for her kitchen and pantry. Last night I rediscovered the joy of spreading butter with a lovely, springy butter knife! These small things matter to me now after the journey that was 2010. Small moments that remind me of the past and ground me in the present.

I realised that these platters and knives cost me less that the coffee and cake I enjoyed earlier in the day, but they will be loved and used for years to come.

Lesson # one – take your camera everywhere possible.

Lesson # two – if they are still there the second and third time, perhaps it was meant to be.