Friday, 9 December 2011

Ill Omens

Of late Ive been incredibly busy working on my dissertation, but I am still finding time to build up my collection of studies. To take a small break from flora I have focused on fauna for a few weeks, looking at symbolic animals, particularly sinister ones, here are a few examples of my recent studies:

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Timorous Beasties, Clerkenwell

During my visit to the V&A I also took the time to visit the Timorous Beasties showroom in Clerkenwell, to aid both my studio and context work.
The designs were breathtaking. As a printer I enjoy the labour intensive, hand process of screen printing, so I loved seeing hand printed lengths of wallpaper and getting to see their fabric ranges up close for the first time.
Having printed 3 metre lengths on fabric in the past I was especially interested to observe the paper pigments and different effects they can be used to create.
The assistant was incredibly friendly and helpful, so I encourage anyone interested in contemporary design, especially print, and in textiles with a concept, visit the Timorous Beasties showroom now!

Monday, 5 December 2011

V&A Inspiration

Today I visited the Victoria & Albert museum in London with the hope of being inspired by a range of different pieces on display, and with the hope of viewing a number of prints key to my studies.
The vast range of items on display had so many wonderful visual elements that I took hundreds of photographs. Below are just a few of these. I hope to use these for inspiration within my work, for colour, themes and visual style.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Riber Castle

I seem to be becoming synonymous with spontaneous walking! My latest was from Matlock to Riber Castle. I find walking and spending time close to nature relieves stress and calms me, so I enjoyed this short walk, even if it was steep and bitterly cold. The views and the sunset were utterly stunning, just breath-taking :)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Design Seminars

As part of our module we are required to conduct a Design Seminar to explain to the group the theory and practice behind our projects. I will admit that this was an element of the course I personally had been dreading, as I do not enjoy public speaking, however I managed to give my Design Seminar successfully, and discuss my work with the audience. Here are a few slides from my presentation:

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Subversive Concept Explained (sort of!)

Since the beginning of my Sins and virtues concept I have been striving to sum up the message which I am attempting to achieve in a concise manner.
After writing what became a large essay on the subject, I decided a different approach was needed to explain my motives.
Yet again I find myself returning to that great mind which I respect so deeply, Oscar Wilde.

'There is no sin except stupidity.'
Oscar Wilde

Within my project I am attempting to provoke consideration by the viewer of their own moral code, how it was developed, how they respect or break it on a daily basis.
Personally, I have had to consider and develop my own moral code built on knowledge, experience and philosophy as I do not follow a faith.
How relevant are the traditional concepts of sin and virtue in modern society?
I am not attempting to challenge anybodies faith or be offensive, I would just like to encourage people to reason and to deeply and actively consider their own morals, without blindly accepting a set of rules.

I personally find a great joy in philosphy and contemplating everything and anything in its most minute detail. There are certain Sins for example which I do not necessarily consider unnatural, or bad, such as lust, a simple primal urge which is natural and found in every species of animal, and pride, to me the concept that being proud of a fellow person is sinful and something to be ashamed of is utterly proposterous. I enjoy considering these key ideals, even though I am not a Christian, naturally we encounter these elements every day in society. So in short, I merely wish for people to take more time and consideration over life itself, what it means to them and how they wish to be an individual, not a person so week willed they will follow anything set before them without question. Challenge the world around you and question everything, it can only serve to enrich your life.

I suppose my reasoning to use the Language of Flowers to express this also ties in with my concept. The language, as I have mentioned before, is largely in disue, meaning that without a keen interest in why each element has been chosen the viewer will most likely be oblivious to my messages. I revel in this attention to detail, it is something I enjoy doing myself, questioning each tiny detail and why it is there, often surprising and enjoyable results can come from really studying and indulging in something.

So that rather sums up my thinking behind my concept. Quite honestly its so complex its taken me a while to finally put it into something which makes any level of sense to anyone but me. I hope no one is too offended, Im not attempting to offend anyone!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Wood Blocks

During a recent visit to Oxfam, I spotted some interesting wood blocks/stamps. Most of the stamps were of floral motifs, which Im hoping may be useful within my project, however christmas stamps are also available from the Oxfam website.

I regularly visit Oxfam as its very useful for people interested in craft and design. A lot of people dont consider using Oxfam to buy supplies, but I have bought sketchbooks, second hand books and even a pin cushion from Oxfam. Their ethical crafts range is continuing to grow, so if your currently looking for any supplies, my local Oxfam has the afore mentioned wood blocks, pin and button tins and lots of crafty proects for children.

For more ethical craft and design items, call in to your local Oxfam or take a look on their website:

Saturday, 22 October 2011

New Books!

As a self confessed bookworm and someone obsessed with aquiring knowledge, I'm pleased to say I have two new books to add to my growing collection. I still feel a deep sense of joy and excitement when I buy, or am given a new book (or indeed an old one) so Ive been thumbing through both of these with shameless excitement.

'The Picture Book' was a very thoughtful birthday gift from fellow students Jodie Hatton and Jenni Gregory. With all sorts of interesting and often bizarre examples of contemporary illustration, its right up my street. Full of a huge range of studies in virtually every media imaginable, definitely recommended for those always searching for inspiration.

'The Book of Skulls' was a rather personal purchase. After spotting a feature on it on the guardian website I became intrigued and quickly ordered it. The book is instantly incredibly visual, with its highly contrasting cover and exposed binding it looks very unique. The book looks largely at what the skull means to society, art and design and how it is used in a huge variety of ways by so many people. If like me your interested in the macabre, symbolism in art, design and graphics or just appreciate some genius work, its a must.

Both books can be found to buy on the internet, if your interested here are just two of the retailers stocking them at the moment:

Friday, 14 October 2011

Caution: Work in Progress

My desk has become the nerve centre for my project at the moment. Having everything to hand in my own mini studio is proving the most efficient way of working. I have begun painting my repeats themed around the Seven Deadly Sins and floral symbolism (in my beloved Winsor & Newton watercolours). Researching the symbolism thoroughly has been a time consuming process, however it is an essential part of my design work as the subtle, subliminal meanings of the patterns are so important.
Here are a few snaps of my desk, and some flowers I cut from my Nans garden and greenhouse to study.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Language of Flowers

The language of flowers is a concept which I am interest in introducing into my project. Having planned to theme my final project on flora and fauna for some time, the summer project was an odd coincidence. Initially I planned to create a natural project bursting with symbolism, and this is what I wish to return to.
The paper in the book prescribed for the summer project is far too lower quality to use for design work, so Ive begun my official sketchbook, made from 100% recycled cartridge paper, I will be binding the book myself once again. I am also eager to work in my own style and preferred media again.

I have taken a number of books out of the University library to read on floral symbolism within art and the Language of Flowers, although I am not a stranger to the topic. At college my specialist subject in fine art was The Pre-Raphaelites, famed for their heavy symbolism and use of nature (I also have experience with Vanitas art and Ontbijt).

The Language of Flowers rose to popularity in the Victorian era, when sending a posy was not something to be ill-considered, as every flower had a different and important meaning. The language was often used to express emotion, therefore causing the flower to become a powerful and potent symbol. Dictionaries were developed for users of the Language to ensure that they understood the meaning of a posy correctly. The meanings of the flowers often came from mythology, religion or scientific experimentation, and are surprisingly relevant and well considered.

A concept I have begun to work on is the idea of using flowers to express a trait, my first instinct was representing good and bad through floral symbolism, however this idea evolved into the idea of using the Seven Deadly Sins and Heavenly virtues as the basis for a collection of fabrics. I find the concept of people wearing a garment made of what symbolically represents 'Lust' or 'Wrath' and either revelling in this subliminal message, or being ignorant to it most enjoyable.
Although the language is largely disused now, we still cling to core symbolism from some flowers, such as purity from the white lily, love from the red rose, childhood from the daisy and vanity from the Narcissus. These surviving and widely known symbolic flowers do give a certain degree of hope that the language could be revived, if only to a few, as I do rather enjoy the passion and detail of floral symbolism.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Poppies are a subject matter I have studied in the past, all be it in a slightly abstract way. As poppies are highly symbolic they are something Ive always been interested in, and their varied appearances mean they never become boring!
I have experimented with a new method of drawing within the images below, I have used coloured biros to give my studies form and tone. I have also been collecting seed heads which vary in appearance and size from my garden.
Below are photographs of some studies in my sketchbook, and of seed heads:

Saturday, 10 September 2011


The flower made most famous by Vincent van Gogh, the Sunflower, was a compelling subject to draw. Having recently seen the painting in the flesh at the National Gallery and having an abundance of Sunflowers in the garden, it felt like an apt time to make these an addition to my summer sketchbook.
The bottom study is a Helenium, not strictly anything to do with Sunflowers, but they're planted in amongst them in our garden.

Here are a few photos of studies within my sketchbook:

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Echincea seem to be flourishing in our garden at the present. So Ive taken the oppertunity to photograph them from a varity of angles, as well as cut a few to bring in doors and study. These prickly little fellows are interesting to draw, especially in varying light, although they can be a bit of a challenge!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Garden Progress

Having lived at my current house for almost 2 years now it is interesting to observe the development of my favourite space, and how much its changed since we arrived and started making our mark.
Much of the hard work is down to the keen gardener of the house, my mother, but I have contributed with a few purchases, and the new found use of my ebay account to order seeds.

The top image was taken 2 days before we moved in. Largely lawn with small borders, largely empty. The garden became spruced up, but still rather bare. Winter turned it into a lifeless and rather bleek place, save for the Holly bush, and sadly caused the demise of our palm tree.
Beyond saving the palm tree has now been felled. Arches continue to spring into life, more borders are added and the lawn appears ever shrinking. The last image was taken in mid July. We have also taken delivery of a half sized green house, but thats yet to be snapped.

Its wonderful to finally see the garden establishing itself and becoming wild and blooming, credit due to my mother of course.

Documenting Nature

As nature seems to move faster than I can keep up with I am largely relying on my camera to keep me up to speed with the developments in my garden.
Almost every day I ferrit around in the garden, looking for new arrivals sprouting, blooming or dying. Summer seems to be a constant barrage of new flowers springing up left and right, my drawing skills would be in overdrive if I tried to study everything first hand, so Im relying on detailed images of every plants stages of growth for refrence when the flowers are long gone. Here are a few of the more artistic results: (Its bees galore at the moment, which Im enjoying)


While in London for High Voltage festival, I also decided to soak up some culture in the big city.
Despite having visited many galleries and exhibitions in my years, Ive never actually been to the National Gallery. So a few hours were devoted to soaking up some inspiration in the Gallery.

It felt rather bizarre seeing paintings that I have studied and analysed for many years in the flesh. I can see why my old art teacher Dave Ashman encouraged us to take the time to see the paintings up close, not just in books (even though we were all headstrong enough to think we knew best).
Degas, Monet and Manet were all a delight to behold. But the biggest impact was made on me by someone I had not expected to be gobsmacked by. Turner. I dont think Id ever quite appreciated Turner, but seeing the texture of the paint seemed to make all the difference, and 'Ulysses deriding Polyphemus' had me fascinated for some time.

An enjoyable experience, and I regret I have never been before. I cant say I enjoyed the crowds of people and all the noise. Alot of rudeness Im sad to say, and people being far more indulgent in their personal frivolities than in art ... Oh well, I dont suppose every gallery can be akin to a library (sadly).

Festival Season

Its the time of year when I allow myself my a 'holiday', in the form of a few Rock festivals over the summer. This year Rock and Bike Fest and High Voltage are in my list of achievements so far, and Bloodstock is still to look forward to.

To my surprise at High Voltage festival I met an artist whose work has inspired me from the time I could pick up a book, and changed my life in many ways. Rodney Matthews's work has always fascinated me, and continues to do so. Talking to him was an utter pleasure.

If youve never seen Rodney's work, check him out at:

Monday, 20 June 2011

Reading of another kind

Not the finest start to summer I could have hoped for. Yet another accident involving my toe (No, I didnt stand on a razor this time, I dropped a bowl of strawberries onto it, ridiculous I know) means hill walking is out of the question for the moment, and it remains a mystery at present whether my toe is broken or fractured. But I can confirm that it is painful, swollen and bruised (one week on!).
So 'The Once and Future King' is reciving lots of attention, one drawing project is complete and Ive begun reading for my dissertation and some note taking. Keeping busy at least!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Summer Project

Upon recieving my grades from University I was also given the summer project to complete during the holidays.
The project is rather specific and asks each student to create a floral sketchbook using specific techniques and media. Here are the critera our designs must meet:

* 5 pages of flowers in continuous line in ink
* 5 pages of flowers in continuous line in soft pencil
* 5 pages of ink blobs turned into flowers
* 5 pages of flowers drawn from straight lines
* 5 pages of flowers created using tape
* 5 pages of flowers from ink runs
* 5 pages of flowers in red
* 5 pages of flowers painted in gouache
* 5 pages of flowers in Tippex
* 3 studies which work over 2 pages

We were also instructed to buy a specific sketchbook to work in; a Kraft cream square notebook from Paperchase.

So summer is likely to be spent keeping my eyes peeled for lots of wild flowers and watching the garden intently, as well as lots of drawing!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Summertime upon us again

Well, its that time of year again, and Year Two is complete!
Its been a good year, hard at times, but very rewarding. A challenge is always good!
I recieved my grades today, and obtained A's for both Practical and Visual Studies modules, which was a wonderful surprise!

Now that summer is here I will finally have the chance to catch up on a few things for myself, some personal drawing projects, walking in the hills and a lots of reading. Finally T.H. White, I can begin The Once and Future King.

Have a great summer everyone!