Bringing Gower to Swansea Carers

When you’re a carer it’s hard to find time for yourself so today was all about making sure the participants from Swansea Carers Centre had the space to be themselves. We took them out to Oxwich as part of the Bringing Gower Home project. The idea of this project is that people who would not normally access the Gower have a chance to express themselves through photography.

Not many of today’s participants had access to a camera before today. Others hadn’t been to Gower because of their caring commitments. The countryside isn’t renowned for its disabled access or its transport infrastructure so if you’re caring for someone with specialised needs then it can be almost impossible to enjoy these spaces in the same way as other people may do. Most carers get respite infrequently so today was invaluable in making sure everyone had time to breathe and be creative.

It was a real joy to see the burden of day-to-day responsibilities lift and see participants take part in stress-reducing activities such as walking and reflecting whilst photographing. Oxwich is perfect for regaining your sense of self and taking stock of your thoughts. Oxwich beach is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Oxwich Castle is one of the most beautiful castles on Gower. What better way to give these hard-working, caring, and talented people the break they deserve and learn new things about the Gower; and what brilliant photographs!!! I can’t wait to have the chance to catch up with Swansea Carers Centre again next month over a chat and a cuppa to see how Bringing Gower Home has made a difference to their lives.

Bringing Gower Home encourages a connection with the landscape and celebrate what is personally special about the Gower. I am organising, delivering, and supporting this project in collaboration with Gower Landscape Partnership (GLP) which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural Resources Wales, City and County of Swansea, and National Trust.

Camera Confidence

Today we have been gaining confidence using cameras out in Morriston, Swansea. The course I Am Great is designed to take great people and make them feel even better than ever. Mindfulness is all about looking carefully at what you have and realising that even the most banal things can take a positive twist. Spending a few hours on a dreary September morning with a camera is a great way to see things in a new and interesting way.

The tasks I set the group are designed to challenge ideas on what is photogenic. This week we looked at how to hunt for photographs of unexpected things, we played pictionary using photographs, and we took photographs in the beautiful graveyard of Seion Newydd whilst trying to avoid the colour green. For some people this was their first time using a camera to express themselves so it’s awesome to see ideas and skills developing.

My photography workshops are not really photography workshops at all. They are about self-esteem and gaining confidence. We use digital cameras because the results are instantaneous and can give an instant feeling of self-worth and positive well-being. The tasks I give are designed to stretch the limits of the imagination and show people that life can be wonderful if you look at it in a positive way. My students become tourists in their own backyards in looking for new and interesting stuff. Sometimes the results are quirky, other times they raise serious points that need discussing. The photograph is always the by-product of the experience rather than the goal itself. The goal is always to see what you have that’s going for you and enhance it further using the camera. And boy, do this new group have loads going for them!

I am Great is a four week course so you can expect I’ll be sharing more great things from this class as the weeks progress.

Me and Mr Blake

This weekend a very special exhibition took place. The Environment Trust held the Secret Art Sale Exhibition 2016 at the RACC, Atrium Hall, Richmond Upon Thames. I’m used to donating small works for charitable causes and am happy to create something small and special to help people out. The Environment Trust are working hard to improve the natural and built environment which is no mean feat in the constantly evolving landscape of Britain’s South East corner. London is often considered as a brutal urban environment compared with other areas of the country so I have a lot of respect for anyone who is doing their bit to make this place a better place to be.

The idea behind the Secret Art Sale is not just to raise money for the Environment Trust, but to also make good art affordable to everyone. Donations of artworks came in from Royal Academicians, art students, illustrators, architects, celebrities, jewellers, photographers, tattooists and even a Nobel Laureate! For just £35 you could buy a piece of art you like from any of these talented people. The caveat for the contributors was that we were not allowed to put our names on the front to make our work truly anonymous.

Of course particular artists have particular styles so it isn’t that hard to work out who’s who if you know your stuff. There were queues to get into the exhibition and also queues to buy the art. With more than 200 artworks it’s great to know that only a very tiny handful didn’t sell. I contributed two artworks to the sale and I’m really pleased that they sold. This has been my first ever exhibition showing my sketches so imagine my surprise when I found out I was on show next to renowned illustrator Quentin Blake! 

A full list of contributors to this very special auction is HERE. I’m really excited to think that the money raised will do such good for environmental causes. I’m also pleased to think that my little drawings are now owned by somebody who loves them.* This kind of positivity makes me want to keep drawing. I have some ideas for some larger works that I might have to start soon. I’m not sure where this creative journey leads but I like it!


*The drawings for the Secret Art Sale are based on some sketchbook work I did for the Sketchorama exhibition which will take place later this year at the New Bohemian Gallery, Brainerd MN, USA. More news on that soon!

New Collections

Next week will be filled with new photography workshops across the county of Swansea so I’m making my art count whilst I have the time.

I’m currently going through some of my sketches and photographs and adding them to my RedBubble shop. I’m only creating the stuff I want to own myself which means the chances are I’ll be be very poor by the end of the year through buying my own merchandise. I don’t care though. I’m loving seeing the art I’ve created transformed into fabulous stuff.

This morning I’ve taken some more photographs of my Automata artworks and turned them into stuff. (Prints of those are available already on my Artfinder store CLICK HERE!) I’m also playing about with the preliminary sketches that I completed recently for the upcoming Sketchorama exhibition which opens at the New Bohemian Gallery in Brainerd MN later this year. This mug is awesome! I want it! And the dress and the leggings and just EVERYTHING!!!! See more Sketches of Barbie by clicking HERE.

I’m too excited. I must stop creating all this lovely stuff. I must also tear up my credit card and have a lie down before it all gets too much. Enjoy!

It keeps getting better…

I’ve only ever wanted people to own the stuff I make and enjoy the art I create. Virtually every artist shares this goal.* I appreciate that people might not be able to afford the original artworks that I make so I’ve been very careful to give everyone the opportunity to own something based on my designs.

This is why I’ve teamed up with Red Bubble to make all sorts of great stuff based on my art. They’re great because everyone gets a fair deal (designers, manufacturers, and buyers) and the stuff is great quality too.

I’m really pleased to have sold one of my tote bags today. This design is based on Amelioration  which is one of the machines from my Automata range. I’m offering a 20% discount on bags for today only. Enter COFFEE20 at the checkouts to get the offer. Click on the picture below to take you to the awesome stuff that I’ve designed for you or CLICK HERE to see more!


*Some artists are funny and only make art for exhibition. They refuse to sell to people who like their stuff. Other artists don’t even bother telling you they’ve made stuff and generally live in little studios away from humanity. Artists can be very odd.

Plans, Promises, and Perspectives

My diary is wide open at the moment for November which always makes me twitchy. When you’re freelance getting the bills paid can sometimes be a bit precarious and advanced planning of cash flow is always in the front of my mind. I try to work two or three months in advance with such things. You know, to provide myself some sort of job security like you normal folks usually have.

For every paid project that happens there are at least two that fail in the planning stage. Sometimes a possible partner organisation says they’ll get back to me but never do. Sometimes a suggested submission is just flat out rejected. Sometimes projects are approved but fall through due to beaurocracy and restrictions. Sometimes project funding gets pulled last minute. Sometimes, despite lengthy negotiations, a potential client will tell me “I’m sorry but I thought you were delivering this for free.”*

Then sometimes, just sometimes, I get a random contact telling me that they want me to deliver a new workshop for them. They want me to start now. Yes they have money. Yes they understand all the wonderful things their demographic of client can expect to get out of doing my course. They’ll learn a new skill, be artistic, get confidence, learn team-building and working with others. They’ll learn how to look at their own streets with a fresh and positive perspective and be more aware of how wonderful their surroundings. They’ll consider being mindful as they go about their daily routine. They’ll help themselves to become more open to embracing new opportunities. They will see their world through the camera lens and it will be different and wonderful and they’ll embrace what’s possible rather than dwelling on problems.

It’s days like these that I love being freelance. All the rejections and disappointments melt away far into the distance.  I stop caring about the bills and I get all gooey and excited about meeting new people and helping them to enhance their own worlds. Days like these help me to feel positive and optimistic. Thanks world!


*You can imagine how that goes down. After being upfront about charges. In writing. To be expected to not be paid for the work you do is not only unfair but it’s most definitely insulting. The people who ask such things are usually salaried employees themselves and really take umbrage with me when I ask them if I can have their salary and they can then work for free instead of me. Last time I looked we’d abolished slavery. This is NOT how the world works!

Springs and Counterweights

After a week of thinking through the possibilities* I’m finally in a position to solve the problems I’m facing with my latest artwork.

The issues I’m having are a direct conflict between what I want and what is physically possible. All I want to happen is for the feet to hit the keys and make a joyful clicky sound. With stiff joints and a lack of substantial weight the doll’s legs just aren’t bouncing up and down as happily as they might. 

Up isn’t a problem but down is proving to be a nightmare. I’m trying to avoid counterweights in favour of springs to try and add some life into this piece. It’s all gone a bit Hooke’s Law and without knowing the coefficient of elasticity in this little spring it’s getting a bit frustrating.

Hopefully a little bit of tweaking is all it will take to finally get this finished.

*Whilst doing other things. I don’t just sit all day and ponder wistfully on stuff.