Sunday, 19 December 2010

10th maker of Christmas

Nifty knits and her magical creations always make me smile.

9th maker of Christmas

All things vintage from The Lime garden, beautiful candles housed in gorgeous vintage crockery. I love them so!
Have a look

Friday, 17 December 2010

8th maker of Christmas

The work of Katrin Moye is just charming and just so beautiful, so hoping someone has bought me a piece for Christmas.
To find out more

Monday, 13 December 2010

7th maker of Christmas

My 7th maker of Christmas is the beautiful work by Mrs Eliots books
They are the most exquisite little wooden books, prints, cards and original collage pieces, they are just perfect and always make me chuckle.
You can browse through her wonderfully quirky shop at

Friday, 10 December 2010

6th maker of Christmas

My 6th maker/ artist is the lovely Salvo Toscano, his photos are just exquisite.
Take a peek at his site it is breathtaking

5th maker of Christmas

Sophie Handa of FUNKY OLIVE is the wonder, maker/ purveyor of beautiful things. She has an impeccable eye for gorgeous stuff you just might need or indeed things you didn't know you need but just fall in love with.

FUNKY OLIVE is a unique collection of handmade accessories and inspired gifts for the home & garden, for children and pets. Many items are handmade exclusively and not available on the high street.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

4th Maker of Christmas

My 4th maker/artist of Christmas is the lovely Clemens Steigleder. I love his work and his take on the world. To find out more, peek at his blog.

Monday, 6 December 2010

3rd maker of Christmas

My 3rd maker is the exquisite work of Cathy Cullis. I am lucky enough to own a little piece, which I treasure very much. She makes beautiful delights and writes touching words.
To find out more about her work

Saturday, 4 December 2010

2nd maker of Christmas

My 2nd maker of Christmas is the work of Sue Mundy of which I absolutely love, from her wonderful hand built vessels, hand sculpted exquisite little spoons and wonderful birds.
To see more of her work
Her website is full of lovely treasures.

Friday, 3 December 2010

My 1st maker of Christmas .......................

My 1st maker of Christmas is the truly wonderful and inspiring Suzanne Stallard of Knit Happens.
Queen of the needles!!

Everything is made by hand by Suzanne, freestyle using hand dyed yarn by indie dyers.

If you want to find out more about her work, her knits and patterns

Suzanne not only makes beautiful things but also is a warm hearted lovely person who makes the world a better place to be living in.

Go on, have a wander.

12 makers of Christmas

Robin secret keeper Find more in my shop

One of life's very simple pleasures is un-ravelling wrapping paper to reveal something beautiful, unique and hand-made with absolute love. So now the season is upon us to seek out presents for those we love. Why would you go to the high st when you know there is a wealth of people making wonderful things some of them, right under your nose.
So I thought I would put a list together of makers/ artists some I know very well, some just a little but what I am really sure of is that they make work with devotion and care.
So over the next week I will share with you my 12 makers of Christmas. Hopefully they might just tempt you!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

old bag's cookbook

It has been such a busy last 2 months with lots of exhibitions, making, with many late nights and early mornings to get things finished. But without doubt one of my favourite days in the last month has been the launch of The Old Bag's cookbook. I have worked at this project for a long time bringing the arts to older people who live in care with varying needs from physical disability to people with the onset of dementia and some in the latter stages. They are like my second family.
I can honestly say it is a place that makes me laugh more than anywhere else.
We have been talking along time about writing our own cook book and after lots of trial and error with our Old Bags pickle range the brand was born. One sherry fuelled afternoon the idea was inspired and we set to work, reminiscing, sharing stories, drawing, painting and cooking.

We worked out between us with 13 people around the table that there were almost 1200 years culinary experience, so that gives you some idea of the ages of our gang.
We pondered long and hard about the recipes to be included, some of our recipes are treasured hand me downs, some that hold special meaning and others too good not to share.
We split the book into four sections More tea vicar.......... This was all about Sunday afternoons, eating cakes with family and friends, whether it's warm summer or cold wintry afternoons waiting patiently for mouth watering cakes. But before the eating was the making and fighting to lick out the bowl. The next section was Wash day the meaning of this has changed beyond belief. This is when Wash day usually done on a Monday and done in a copper which took up the whole day. Food needed to be quick with little preparation and was often made from the leftovers from Sunday lunch. Then we added Good for the Soul just food that is simply good for the soul and gives you that warm contented feeling. Last but not least Getting Pickled the section all dedicated to pickling and getting pickled.
The book has over 20 recipes like Canary Pudding, Stovies, Clootie dumpling, Rose petal ice cream and Carrot jam. The illustrations were made using lots of different materials, mono printing, collage and little pencil drawings. They really are so beautiful and delicate.
We really laughed lots making this book, we always laugh lots and hard. The perception of care environments for older people are still not great. I can assure you that this gang here are all about living the next project is a dating agency for the more mature and discerning client.
Watch out Gordon, Jamie and Delia the Old Bags are ready to take on the big boys!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

friday night / saturday morning

2 pieces from my new collection of work Johnny the smoker cushion and Keeping your socks on monoprint
My favourite time of the week is always Friday night/Saturday morning. It's often a strange time. I write This feeling a little jaded after a wonderful night out at Nuit Blanche. It was magical, full of wonderful artists really interesting people who worked together to give us a magical forest, light and sound installation at St Mary's church, meeting up with those sassy knitters The Outcasts knitting bed caps, parcel fever, people taking pieces of art work wrapped up so the exhibition could be unwrapped throughout the night and morning all rounded off by a dawn chorus and breakfast. I did not make the breakfast and by the time I woke up it was more Friday night Saturday late afternoon. I have long been fascinated by the whole Friday night/ Saturday morning thing and have for the last few months been working on a body of work to explore this idea. Why is it like no other night of the week? A group of psychologists have just announced that it is the day where we feel at our most positive and Tuesday the least. It seems Tuesday is the new Monday morning. I have been conducting my own research purely in the name of art you understand, as to what it is that makes this time so fascinating. There is always an expectant feel in the air, an evening of possibilities lies ahead meeting up with friends, gossiping, spying who's out and about, laughing, drinking, fighting, falling in lust, love???? I love looking at the bus stops, full of people all dressed up with somewhere to go. So I have been out and about taking photos, drawing my poor unsuspecting friends, strangers and even the cat. And then after the Friday night comes the Saturday morning, where the mood has changed the music stopped playing, people have found love and lost it, the aftermath of the night before strewn across the floor last nights jewellery, clothes, bag, lipstick, telephone numbers written on bits of paper as I can never know how to get them on my phone. And every now and again a random item. In my student days very random items. When you have woken up with a life size cardboard cut out of Johnny Depp standing in your room a guitar and still wearing your big fake fur coat and Vivienne Westwood shoes and you can't remember where Mr Depp came from, that then was deemed a good night. I love my sister's story of her and some friends who went out drinking with the captain of a ship, they woke up on a mango boat that was off to the Netherlands, lucky for her she was woken by the ships engines revving to set sail. These are the stories that become the legends of your life. Then the Saturday morning comes piecing the rest of the night sharing the stories and dissecting the past evening's events. Now my Friday nights are not quite so wild as they once were but every now and again they are heady wonderful nights. And I just love them.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


The Sunday Times Style 5th Sep 2010 top photo by Rankin bottom photo by Chris Moore.

For more years than I care to mention I have had a fascination with Isabella Blow style icon, muse to milliner Philip Treacy and the wonder who was responsible for seeking out the wonder that was, and still is in the legacy he has left Alexander Mc Queen.
I liked her for many reasons but one in particular she was a keen advocate for wearing red lipstick which at times was rather haphazardly put on like myself. Which is why I love the photo of her above, if the only way to put it on is a bit hit and miss go for a whole block of lipstick right across your mush.
She was like this wonderful eccentric character who was ever an inspiration when I was doing my fashion degree in the early 90s she was always pinned up on my inspiration board as a constant source of wonderment. She was friends with some of the people you could only just have dreamt of meeting like Warhol and another constant source of inspiration for me John-Michael Basquait. It was only on Sunday morning that I got a small insight into the life of the image behind the photos. Hers is a bittersweet story of a mythical creature of the fashion world, editor of the times style magazine & American Vogue and her immense suffering living with bipolar disorder. That in the end was to lead her to try and take her life many times and eventually succeed.
I have first hand experience of living with my brother who lives and manages his bi-polar and many of the artists that I work with at a project I set up that supports artists living and surviving with mental health issues. I have experience of those highs that make individuals think they can take on the world with energy levels so high , so focused working for days and nights with no sleep on paintings, designs, sculpture with little regard to anything else that is happening in the world. Everybody is unique and individual and manages their illness in different ways, but inevitably after the highs their comes the low, the crash where you sometimes hold on by a finger tip because the now and the future is to painful to consider being part of. Then when the crash arrives there is the decision as to whether you want to manage your illness with medication and therapy or not. Everybody makes different choices, some decide on medication which they feels stabilizes them and they want that balance, others decide not to because it numbs their creativity and stops them thinking clearly. What can we define as clearly? One person's clear can be another persons mud. What I think I am trying to say is that everybody has choices about how they live their lives. It's just always so desperately sad when we loose a character of the world like Isabella Blow as the world will be a little less richer for them no longer being part of it.
The new book about Isabella Blow
Blow by Blow: the story of Isabella Blow by Detmar Blow & Tom Sykes.

Close the book on mental health discrimination

Friday, 20 August 2010

favourite combinations

Colour belongs to our being; maybe each of us has his own
Le Corbusier
Colour touches us in every little way throughout our lives whether it's the big decisions like what colour to paint a room or subconscious decisions about which colour toothbrush we choose. Colour surrounds us they transform themselves with the ever changing light, and it is the element of creating which inspires me most as an artist.
Colour is such a huge part of our very existence that sometimes I think we take it for granted, but then in a cloudy grey sky a rainbow appears and everybody stares at the wonder, it might be the fields of rape seed oil in it's eye hurting yellow, or the beautiful blue of the king fisher darting across the river. It shows that colour has the power to make us all stop and stare.
I can remember the day very clearly when I saw colour in a very different way, and it was the start of something very important in my world. I was in my Gran's dark garage sitting on an old milk crate looking at the painting's of Graham Sutherland, the vivid, pinks, yellows and green' s jumped out of the book these colours had been captured from the wonderful light found in the South of France and Pembrokshire. My eyes were opened and I have never looked back. I still have this battered old book and it is still a constant source of inspiration and reassurance.
I have re-occurring colours within my work that time and time again I try to change, but these certain colour combinations always feel right. I love muted chalky violets, pinks, whites, pistachio green and pink, saffron orange and turquoise, brown and pinks.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

running around in circles

Think of the wonderful circles in which our whole being moves and from which we cannot escape no matter how we try. The circler circles in these circles.

E.T.A. Hoffmann

How much of our lives do we spend running around in circles, trying to mix in the right circles, I think the wrong ones are always far more fun.
Just finished a new series of cushion entitled "running around in circles".
Now thinking about anything but circles.
Why don't we run around in squares?

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Mr Hopkins

sheep drawing by me
Mynach falls
Mountain road to Aberystwyth it's so beautiful

Sheep+waterfalls+mountains+much rain = Wales
Just returned from a really lovely adventure to West Wales a pilgrimage really to re kindle a connection to where I was born and lived at the beginning of my life. I have had a real longing to return to Wales for so long, it is often in my dreams.
So we chucked stuff in the car, a tent, wine glasses, wine, drawing materials, camera, books, Elle decoration and of course the obligatory red lipstick. I am a very happy and good camper as long as there is a pub near who make lovely food. The pub was brilliant real Welsh Wales, a group of men sat round the bar nattering in there beautiful welsh accents every evening. I love Welsh accents they are real storytelling voices, they have a wonderful depth to them gentle and slow. There was a very interesting man who caught my ears attention, how different the conversations are to our local pub. They talked of shearing sheep, fixing tractors, forestry commissions new rules and of course all the other chit chat, but it is amazing how the landscapes we live in effect our everyday conversations, because people's whole lives are governed by where they are. The landscapes there are big, rural and at times difficult to negotiate. Well as this man I now know as Mr Hopkins was going out for a smoke, "I said he had the most wonderful voice and he should be a storyteller". He said " I am. We are all storytellers. I have a very famous cousin who tells stories. Think Silence of the lambs." Well that was me hooked for the rest of the evening. I practised my welsh he shared welsh poems in his mother tongue and the evening grew late.
Whilst there I walked and saw such beautiful landscapes that they just make you want to stop and stare. I drew lots and filled sketch books full of mono prints, ink drawings and ideas for some new paintings. I drew what must be a flock of sheep, I have found you have to be careful drawing sheep, one wrong mark with a pencil and you have an odd looking polar bear.
Lots of inspiration means lots of new work in my head. Now all I need is time and to remember not to forget how those landscapes make you feel when your there and in them.
Just off for a nice Chianti.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Peculiar times

It has been a very peculiar two weeks in reality but when I was looking back through the images saved on my camera it just looked even more peculiar. If somebody found the camera, I can't help feeling that they may feel slightly bemused, bewildered and think what the hell!!!
And then an explanation and all should become clearer. Clear as mud.

a) 3rd prize for flower arrangement in a tea cup at local flower show (equivalent of vicar of Dibley style show)
b) cat on mouse patrol he sits there for at least 18 hours a day at the moment
c) beginning of instillation for shop window by Spike decapitated dolls and taken apart sewing machines littering our work room floor. We are just hoping that he has used the old sewing machines!!!!! Mine is missing.
d) Nephews trying to catch their shadows in the nets.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


Out with the old in with the new, my old phone is the source of much hilarity from my friends and family. This week it died. I went to the phone shop and said to the guy serving "I need a new phone and he said "What is your current phone?" I showed him. He very politely said with a smirk that "I needed a new phone 5 years ago". We both really laughed. How rude! So for the next week I am cutting edge but all that know me say that 5 years time I will still have the same phone, battered with war wounds. The up side is that nobody ever wanted to steal my old phone.
How communication has changed.
Do you ever have those days where you momentarily loose your faith in humanity. I did yesterday. How can one man be so unkind to his fellow beings and how a small details can be blown up into catastrophic problems, through mis -communication. It is so horrible to see this happen to people you care for. We only have to watch Big Brother to see how easily it happens. Since leaving University I have always been self employed so I never had the what seems like to me the horror of being employed. I am fortunate in that I get to work in lots of wonderful places, meet incredible people, work hard and the most importantly not get involved in staff politics. Awful destructive places are staff rooms in any shape or form.
I work as an artist with incredibly vulnerable people who live and survive mental health issues, battling their addictions or who are in prison. These people are by far the most interesting people I have met, they communicate their fears, joys and life through their creative practise. So why is it that staff working in these places are so destructive to one another. We are working in the care industry so in some places. Where is the care?
We have never had more ways to communicate in the work place but it seems to be happening less face to face. This is a huge problem as texts and e-mail come without facial expressions, body language and or tone.
We all need to listen more and harder to what people are trying to tell us. Sometimes they can't so we need to really look rather than just see and listen rather than just hear.
Rant over. On the way home my faith was restored by a little note on my car saying "Thank you for the art materials, I sold my painting and I have money for food for the next week." John lives on the streets and is trying to sort his stuff out.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

When art and food blur

Painted using acrylic and mint sauce

I have known the artist Clemens
Steigleder now for 5 years, and I just want the rest of the world to have a sneaky peek of his work. I just love it. I love watching his brain tick, the way he uses any materials he can get his hands on, I love most his vision and his innovative thinking.
Every inch of his soul is dripping in creativity.
He is a health and safety nightmare so that makes two of us. We have concoctions in our cupboard that are in line with George and his marvellous medicine by Roald Dahl. He paints using food a lot. You can be forgiven for thinking that you have entered a kitchen cupboard full of mustard, tomato sauce, whitebait, pigs trotters, favourite of the moment seems to be mint sauce. I think he has no sense of smell, because there have been times where the wiff could kill you especially when he was growing garlic in the cd player and when some of the whitebait fell down the back of the racking for a few weeks.
We once went to Hungerford to meet a group of artists on the way we passed the market Clem spied some pigs ears that were being sold on the pet stall. He bought them shoved them in his bag and we went on our merry way. We went to the artist's house to meet up with the others and out of nowhere this dog came bounding from nowhere and wouldn't leave us alone. He was practically sitting on Clem's lap and then started to wrestle with his bag. It was only then that we remembered the pig's ears. The dog had one the other is now safely fastened on a painting.
Clem is an amazing human being with an interesting and quirky take on the world, one foot firmly on the ground the other floating up to the heavens. Is that possible?
He is a true artist in every sense of the word he lives, sleeps and breathes it.
Clem's weaknesses he can kill a laptop dead in 30 seconds.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


patcworkbutterfly vintage tableware
I learnt a very valuable lesson very early on in my life. It was all about best things. As a child probably about 7 or 8 I was given this beautiful pink skirt it had two rows of cotton lace and I loved it so. I would have worn it every day if I could and chanced my arm and put it on most days. The reply would come from mum "save it for best take it off and put something else on." Well the sad end to my tale of woe is that I probably wore the skirt FOR BEST about 3 times. I went to put it on at the end of the summer, and I had out grown it. I made up my mind there and then that I would never have any such thing as best in my world. And I haven't.
My Nang ( grandma) has her best china which stays in the cupboard dust catching apart from it's twice yearly outing, she has her best clothes and best jewellery. I do admire this way of thinking because there is always the joy of using , wearing or pinning your lovely best brooch on your jacket. My Nang's generation was all about best even the words used to describe things, There was your Sunday best for church, the best living room that was only used at Christmas and high days and holidays. Those poor Aspidistra stuck in the corner of best rooms never to be seen.
So I save nothing for best. The cat eats off a 100 year old plate, we use vintage china to eat from everyday, if there is champagne in the house drink it for breakfast. I bought a loving friend this week as a thankyou the beautiful 013 Christian Dior lipstick, she was thrilled and said she would use it sparingly, I said no use it every day lavishly. What is there to save it for? Every day should be an occassion. But is it me who is wrong because there are problems created by not having best like this week coming. What to wear to ladies day? I have beautiful vintage hats, bags, and clothes all of them with splatters of paint or a little torn and ragged round the edges as they have been worn to do a bit of gardening quickly before you go out, or you have gone into the studio to check on a painting and swept past leaving a new pattern on a vintage chanel velvet wrap that you treasured. All of these war wounds come at a price because you never look your best.

Friday, 11 June 2010

strange going's on at the bottom of the garden........

There are always strange things happening in our garden. Yesterday morning I went past our old kettle filled with campunala only to find a Friesian cow had popped into the garden and then you go a bit further round the corner and there is a donkey standing in the spring onions. These animals pop up in the most unusual places, last week it was a zebra in the Verbena. Also there I was the other day looking into the pond dreamily wondering if goldfish really do have 3 second memories, when beyond the fish came a vision a traffic jam. A traffic jam which included about 25 cars on the bottom of the pond. These are matchbox cars god knows how long they have been in there. I did wonder where they all were as the toy box was looking a little empty of treasured cars. It's strange these happenings because we don't have children, but we do have a myriad of nephews and nieces who often pop around and it's always after they have been about that the strange happenings happen. A friends very lovely Christian Dior sunglasses have gone missing last seen in the vicinity of the pond, going to have to dredge up the traffic jam and see if the fish are enjoying their designer glasses.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


I love gardens that ramble we have so many self sown plants that grow where the wind carries them. My garden is a continual source of inspiration, whether it's the clash of colour that break all the rules the scent of the honeysuckle on a balmy evening or just a beautiful daisy growing in the lawn. Flowers are nature's courtesans. They seduce elevate the mood and perfume the air. Our house is crammed full of flowers, I love them in old milk bottles, vintage china or just simply a pansies in a jam jar. This week I used flowers from our garden to make flower arrangements for "The old bag's tea party in old vintage handbags.
I would love to share with you another side of my world which is patchworkbutterfly vintage table ware. To find out more look on
or for our updates please feel free to join our facebook page!/pages/patchworkbutterfly-vintage-tableware/125883194112466?ref=ts

vintage tableware is lovingly run by me and my sister who have everlasting memories of perfect tea parties when we were small. Like the magpies we both are over the years we have collected beautiful china and our collection has grown. We would love for you to have perfect everlasting memories like ... us and so we would like to share our passion for beautiful china with you. Patchwork Butterfly Vintage, hope to add a scrumptious decadence to your occasion.

Monday, 7 June 2010

round and round the garden

Come journey a little further around my garden today. I love the sculpture I bought from an amazing ceramicist Sue Mundy. You can find more of her work at Her work is just beautiful and so lovingly made. I love having a bit of the indoors outdoors so I have hung chandeliers all around the garden and they give off a wonderful light as dusk sets in or the word I really love when the light becomes dimpsy.
We have now over 30 Oriental poppies out from the pink of Mrs Perry to this brilliant red, so fragile with their inky middles, great to paint with and glorious to watch as they dance in the breeze.

Friday, 4 June 2010

come on a journey with me this week .....

Last weekend was nearly the busiest in my recent history. We opened our garden to raise money for the amazing and wonderful children of Cambodia. It was a wonderful day full of people we love, enjoying the garden eating cakes and most important drinking lots of wine and gossiping.
Everyday the garden changes, I love looking out to see what has happened over night. We work in it, we eat and laze about in it, although there hasn't been much of that lately.
Every day this week I promise to take you on a journey around my garden. Come take my hand and off we venture.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Open !!!!!

May seems to be the month where the world Opens up for business again. Open studios and Open gardens. Life seems ever to be a fine balancing act, until the month of May, when everything goes a little bit crazy. The equilibrium has gone and it's back to the mania that predominates most of my life.
When I was doing my degree I had this wonderful Lecturer who gave us two really good pieces of advice the first being you were given hands to feel and touch everything, use them but don't get arrested, she was talking in terms of texture. The second was that it is simply not enough to be just that artists/designer you are marketing, PR, merchandiser, sales, accounts chief cook and bottle washer. I can here her saying "it's a fine balancing act". To true!
One of the things I have been neglecting is my blog and anything to do with dreaded technology as my knowledge is limited so I waste to much precious creative time fixing my mistakes. I am opening my garden and studio at the end of May so much of my time has been out in all weathers fighting with the ever growing weeds. My garden seems to be growing before my very eyes, it is one of my favourite places. Also there are two exhibitions my open studio and I am taking part in the Henley Arts Trail venue 13 Sat 29 - Mon 31 May to find out more
So what I need is a 8 day week and at least 28 hours in the day.

Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass... it's learning to dance in the rain!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

the shoot

Finally got round to a massive photo shoot today, so much new work! The lovely Kat and I were up early ready to catch first light and 600 photos later we have some that I really love. We took the photos in my house and garden, it seemed the easiest way as I am so so un-organized that it was the only way to make sure everything we needed was to hand. A stylist's job is quite something when your off on location and you have to dream up every little item you may need for the shoot in the middle of the Sahara desert shooting winter coats. I don't know how they do it. We were up early to catch the ever changing light, it is not until you need certain light to create a certain mood that you realise how much the light can change in 5 minutes so we were running around the house and garden throughout the day like crazy things. I really scrubbed my house for the shoot, you know hoovered the garden dusted the flowers. Or so it would appear until we had to catch the light in a certain place in the house, you move the furniture only to find the Everest of a dust pile. My house after yesterday obviously doesn't pass the finger dust test. The day was lovely spent in search of making inspiring images that touch your soul in some small way.

All the items above will be going into my folksy shop soon

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Back in the world

Have felt so unwell this last week could only muster up a postage stamp of creativity. I have laid in bed listening to the birds and watching the garden grow before my very eyes, and feeling a little worried that I wasn't every going to feel well again. Thank god! for Archie the cat he listened to my delirium, ramblings and has been a good and constant companion whilst I have been confined to my sick bed.
So I am very nearly back in my creative place be it somewhat fragile. I have lots of new work half constructed half in my head and many blogs posts I need to catch up with. So onward and upward!