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New art, new collaborations, new ventures

At this time of year I get caught in a conflict.  There’s the urge to hibernate.  Bio-rhythms are low; I want to relax and switch off and consolidate.  That’s probably the primitive brain at work.  And there’s been so much rain… .

So much rain

Rainy Wolf at the Door

Then there’s the contrary impulse: to get on and plan and think of future ploys and schemes. Otherwise, when the future arrives there’ll be nothing much of interest in sight.  (That’s the rational brain.)  A fine day helps.  We’ve had some beautiful skies lately.

Sunrise at Wolf at the Door

Sunrise at Wolf at the Door

Moonlight at the Wolf at the Door

Moonlight at the Wolf at the Door

So an internal war rages… I  try to avoid making worthy New Year resolutions, a source of shame and guilt within a week or two.

But recently I’ve set myself a general theme for each year.  Last year, when I was still at the worst point of my insomnia, my theme was serendipity.  It  meant that, on good days, if I felt like doing something,  making something or collaborating with someone,  I just did it.  Random things emerged, I met new people, chanced on new ideas.  I even had a joint exhibition called Sense and Serendipity. The time wasn’t altogether wasted.

The key seems to be to vary the pace.  it’s ok to lie fallow at times, as in traditional farm husbandry, then start again with new vigour.  So: this year is my Year of Collaboration.  Very little firmly in the diary, but lots of irons in the fire, ideas and projects in the making.  What have I actually been doing?  Tidying the studio, which was a shambles.

Post-Christmas shambles in the studio.

Post-Christmas shambles in the studio.

Preparing the line-up for our Artists’ Open House.  Not till May, but the print deadline is insanely early. Going on courses: a splendid one with Julian Beatson-Sutherland at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne (where I did a five-minute pecha-kucha presentation before Christmas). One coming up this weekend in London with Kathryn Roberts, former doyenne of the Cork St Open Exhibition.

And I’ve been ordering materials, preparing and making new work.  Pictures on here soon.  I have one particularly exciting  project in view.   I’ve also been painting a reclaimed surfboard for a project called ‘Untangled’ for the World Cetacean Alliance.

Most of all, I’ve been hungering for colour and creating it in my own life where I can.  I’m an obsessive cook and love making colourful food, just as I love growing brightly-coloured plants

pink and orange posy

pink and orange posy

Rice with turmeric, beetroot snd pomegranate

Rice with turmeric, beetroot and pomegranate







Happy Christmas – with art from my past!

Beach-huts in the snow (sold)

Beach-huts in the snow (sold, Affordable Art Fair): mixed media on reclaimed cedar block)

A quick post before I sign off for Christmas.  Such a build-up, always, and a big risk of anti-climax. That’s why I’m all for a full observance of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  You can have some quiet days in between – even some creative ones – but you can have lots of guilt-free pleasure, relaxation and celebration over the shortest days of the year.

Snowy Bandstand - sold, Mayor's Parlour Gallery

Snowy Bandstand (sold, Mayor’s Parlour Gallery): mixed media on reclaimed cedar block

Every year since student days I’ve made my own Christmas cards.  Through thick and thin.  Amateur, then getting maybe a bit better; always hand done (I only once resorted to a printed copy) and always a bit slapdash because despite best intentions they’re always done in a hurry.  Most of these I’ve never photographed so I don’t have a record of them, though tucked away I have a few rejects which remind me what the theme of the year was…

Snowy Pavilion (sold)

Snowy Pavilion (sold):  one-off print, originally devised as a Christmas card

But like everyone else I’ve moved with the times.  I simply couldn’t send a physical card to all the friends and nice people I’ve met over the years.  So for my e-card I usually send an image of a few suitably wintry scenes.  I hope they’re not too naff; I paint them because at the time I’m gripped by the colours and textures and atmosphere of the scene.

West Pier, Snow

West Pier, Snow: sold to private buyer. Mixed media on handmade paper

So, unlike the last post with its hot hot Christmas-cheer colour, here are some images with cold, wintry colours and themes.  (Some are long sold, some I still have.)  And, sunshine or rain, snow or fog, ice or hail – all so beautiful in their own way, if sometimes a nuisance – a very lovely Christmas and a good 2016.

Sea Mist (near Pevensey)

Sea Mist (near Pevensey ): mixed media on handmade paper.  Brand new piece, unsold!

Beach huts 1

Beach huts 1: sold to private buyer.  Mixed media on handmade cotton paper with driftwood frame.

Waste (not), patterns, Christmas, and art buyers.

A detail from 'Waste Not', recently completed

A detail from ‘Waste Not’, recently completed

This seems like a suitable image for Christmas!  a) the colours are festive, b) it’s just been bought from me as a Christmas present, and c) this is the time of the year when we all  create the most enormous amount of waste with our discarded packaging.

Medieval people  carved patterns on their church pillars, the Victorians had their cast-iron manholes – while our major contribution to adorning everyday items is, in my view, the plastic meat or veg tray!

Enough of that.   I am indeed obsessed with patterns.  Recently I was asked to do a pecha-kucha ( timed talk,  lasts five minutes precisely and includes fifteen slides or images)  – quite a challenge.  It all happened at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, for the wonderful Blue Monkey Artists’ network.  Five minutes flat  to say what your work is about. (I’m not even sure what art is!)  But  when it comes to it, I think my work is all about patterns.  So is life, science, the universe…but that’s for another time.   This piece was full of patterns, and it can be hung in any direction as a result.

paiting on handmade paper

‘Waste Not’, recently completed

Although the lighting here is patchy it does show the 3-D effect of the cast shapes.  I made another piece on these lines (sold a while back) which deliberately  gave the impression of being made of metal. A sort of joke.

As it happens, both of these paintings were bought by people I’ve become very fond of, and that leads me to say that people don’t always realise how pleased artists are when people like and buy their work.  Not just for the money either, but because we all need to move work on and clear our minds (and our houses) for new work and new ideas.   If we sell through a gallery we don’t usually know who our purchasers are.

Our youngest visitor.

Our youngest visitor.

But our buyers feel like family – so thank you, everyone who’s bought work from me in the past, and a very Happy Christmas.  And the same to everyone who visited and visits us and looks carefully and courteously at our work, even if they never buy anything!

Christmas is coming…fast

Warm colours, abstract patterns

Warm colours, abstract patterns

Our brief Wolf at the Door pop-up has come and gone. One weekend of gales and driving rain through which a good number of friends, neighbours and past visitors and buyers came to support us and buy Christmas presents.

Our jeweller friends Campoli&Nelson were there, together with artists Judith Berrill, Claire Fearon and Ian Williams.  There were also books, felt jewellery, ceramics and the most sensational cakes and chocolate panforte from Siobhan of Brighton Table.

And my own work of course.  I hung it differently from usual, in groups according to colour and theme.  I had one whole section on the stairs devoted to  cosmology and the night sky.

Night Skies on the stairs

Night Skies on the stairs

2015-12-11 16.32.39

It’s easier for the eye to see pictures properly if they are a coherent group or have common elements. I know from my own experience that, however exciting unexpected juxtapositions may be, I quickly tire when I go to exhibitions which rely on this buzz.

2015-12-11 16.33.28 2015-12-11 16.33.40

I had a green section too…

Green Landscapes

Green Landscapes

…and a winter corner.

Winter is here

Winter is here

Winter is here

Winter is here

I really enjoyed this way of doing things and it told me something about my own work – something to do about focus – I still need to work  out exactly what!

Telling Tales and The Battle of Hastings.

Sussex after the Conquest

Sussex after the Conquest

Last weekend the Battle of Hastings, 1066, was re-enacted in the lovely small town of Battle.  At the same time the Battle Festival (click on the link ) is  on – with some wonderful events including classical music concerts, film,  poetry, food and of course lots of art.

My current solo exhibition is part of these events; here are the details:

Telling Tales : Abbey Hotel, Battle

01/10/2015 to 31/10/2015, 11.00am – 11.00pm

Each painting has its story … a story of time, place and the moment. Specially for the Battle Festival, Jill has provided a brief commentary on each painting to give an insight into how it came about.

Jill’s work is mainly abstract or semi-abstract.  She mostly uses water-based paints, inks, dyes and pure pigments to build up intense and glowing colours, often on her own handmade cotton paper which has a unique character.  She experiments a good deal, combining costly, high-quality materials with found or throwaway elements.


The Abbey seen  from the Abbey Hotel

The Abbey seen from the Abbey Hotel

Thirty paintings or so are on show in this new venue overlooking the Abbey.  The Abbey is in turn within an archer’s shot of the battlefield. Extra exciting for a medievalist like me!  English Heritage have done a splendid job with the displays and you can really picture the battle  as it unfolded nearly 950 years ago. Great for both  adults and children.

This coming weekend has a spotlight on culinary events, and if you should visit my show this weekend there are some treats in store (even I don’t know what they are yet!).


Coastal glimpses and Night Sky

Coastal glimpses and Night Sky

Origins series by jill

Origins series by jill

three paintings by Jill

three paintings by Jill



The spaces and lighting are a bit tricky, but the pieces have been expertly hung.

I’ve prepared a special explanation-cum-‘story’ for each piece to mark the fact that this is both a literary and art festival – and I’ve always viewed my work as being rooted in both genres.

Three more paintings by Jill

Three more paintings by Jill

Three more paintings by Jill

More on my Facebook page,

Fun art project no. 2: Brighton Tea-Gown and Brighton Gin

Brighton Gin prize: The World is upside down.

Brighton Gin prize:
The World is upside down.

One of these ‘calls for art’ that hit the spot!  Hizze Fletcher at Brush in Brighton, hair salon and art gallery,  had the idea of organising an exhibition involving the new and seductive Brighton Gin.  (Link: Brighton Gin Prize)  As well as being an interesting blend of ‘botanicals’, as they say, it also comes in a very pretty bottle with a pale green label.

I was just about to go away so plunged in, collected an (alas empty) bottle, and did my stuff.  My version involves a ‘Brighton Tea-Gown’, the sort of dress I’d like to be wearing as I sip Brighton Gin on a sun-soaked terrace.

Brighton Tea-Gown, full-sized original  version

Brighton Tea-Gown, full-sized original version

There’s also a nod to Brighton itself.   The pair of red-striped legs kicking in the air is both an expression of uninhibited joy, and a reference to  the iconic Legs adorning the Duke of York’s theatre, the oldest continuouslyused cinema in Britain.

Brighton Tea-Gown - reverse side

Brighton Tea-Gown – reverse side

Finally, a more serious side.  The news has been full of the miseries of the refugee/immigration crisis, to which there can be  no simple answer.  A sharp counterpoint to the frivolity of tea-gowns and gin.  The world does indeed seem upside down.

legs in the air

Civil War poster

I visited the lovely town of Battle recently to deliver paintings for my exhibition there.  Details of this to follow shortly.   Among the 1066 -related  exhibits on show at the Abbey – a fantastic place to visit –  I came across a Civil War poster depicting the then turbulent times.   ‘The World Turn’d Upside Down’ – with a pair of kicking legs in the air!  That was it.  The composition was clear.

Label, Brighton Tea-Gown

Label, Brighton Tea-Gown

Label, Brighton Tea-Gown

Ironing is Pants! An art project with a difference.

Ironing is Pants!

Ironing is Pants!

This has been a really bitty summer.  Lots of interesting things, lots of chores, a few disappointments, lots of obligations,  a few mishaps, some fascinating new scenes and places.  A cross-section of life, yes, but all mixed up together in rather a strong dose.

So I thought I’d do a few short individual posts to catch up on some of the little projects I’ve slipped in here and there.  A bit frivolous, a bit fun, a bit apart from the daily grind.

And, yes, my nearest and dearest know I dislike ironing.  Not so much dislike, really, it’s just there are always so many more urgent or important things to do.  This duster encapsulates my feelings about it.

There is a more serious side to it.  I made it as a contribution to Vanessa Marr’s Women and Domesticity project, where she induced people (yes, some men included) to stitch a duster with some of their thoughts about houshold chores.  The result was hilarious, serious, unexpectedly touching and thought-provoking.  Mine was a quick, rough-and-ready affair but some of the dusters were works of art and/or quite poignant.

Vaness with dusters

Vaness with dusters

Men at work

Men at work

'It's so much more fun with a feather duster!' (Judith Berrill)

‘It’s so much more fun with a feather duster!’ (Judith Berrill)


To see more: Women and Domesticity


Papermaking with the cat.


Making paper in the sun

Making paper in the sunI

I’ve just found a piece I wrote for my Open Studio  explaining how I go about making my work.  I realised that although I post images of new work on here, and exhibitions I’m involved in, I don’t often explain much about the materials and techniques I use.

So I’ll try to do a series of posts showing some of the processes involved.  And after that, maybe ,  some posts on how ideas are generated – a much more complicated thing to explain.

First of all, papermaking.  Why bother to make paper at all when you can buy beautiful heavy paper from any art supplier?  It’s time-consuming , quite tiring too, and is best done outside because of all the water involved .   But woe betide you if your new sheet  gets rained on – it reverts to a shapeless slurry and you have to start all over again.  Also, till it’s dry, whenever  the cat runs over it or sits down on it (which she’s determined to do) you’re left with  embedded pawprints and groomings.

Papermaking in the sunshine

The cat is never far away

The cat sits on whatever you want to use

It gets harder

The advantages.  One, the paper takes on the surface of whatever it’s cast on.  So it can be smooth or textured, or even three-dimensional.  Secondly, it presents an enticingly unpredictable surface to work on.  I love the element of chance; it’s so easy to go stale if you always encounter the same technical challenges and know exactly how to solve them.

Cat at ease

Cat at ease


Cat-prints in the damp paper







I know and sometimes envy people who paint like angels and are prolific and fluent.  But for me it’s always a question of finding a way  for and towards each painting .  Working with this special surface forces me into being flexible and resourceful .

Cat rolling on wet paper sheet.

So comfortable.



Magna Carta. Night Sky, June 15th 1215

Night Sky June 15th, 1215

Night Sky June 15th, 1215

By some complete oversight I forgot to post on here about my painting of the Night Sky, June 15th 1215. This what you’d have seen – roughly speaking – if you’d looked heavenwards on the night Magna Carta was sealed eight hundred years ago.

The painting was originally planned for Lincoln, which possesses one of the four original copies of Magna Carta, and where I had my first large solo exhibition in 2003. Alas that didn’t work out.

The painting is on canvas with acrylics, inks, pigments and dyes, with pure siver leaf. There is a barely visible image of the world as it was perceived in the Middle Ages (divided into three continents) underlying the painting of the sky with its stars and constellations.

nagna carta: Night Sky, 1mx1m25cm

nagna carta: Night Sky, 1mx1m25cm

Magna Carta (detail)

Magna Carta (detail)

I wonder if King John consulted any astrologers/soothsayers before this momentous event was thrust upon him? it was a not uncommon thing to do. I’m not an astrologer: I wonder what the omens were? Anyone able to tell me?

Has your work an afterlife?

'Show of Hands' at Clare and Mark's

‘Show of Hands’ at Clare and Mark’s

A recent painting in its new home!

What was it like to be one of the Impressionists in the early days? Hardly anyone wanted to buy your outlandish work; sometimes you traded it for a meal. You painted quickly because you wanted to and needed to. And then you flogged the piece if you could, and it was gone. AND YOU NEVER HAD A PHOTOGRAPH OF IT!

I’m at the stage of having sold hundreds of painting by now. I don’t know how many and have quite forgotten some of the early ones. I had a poor camera and sometimes forgot to take a photo of a piece before it was sold. (I still occasionally do.) But by and large I have a record of my work.

(and here’s another, sent by Gillian):

'Quiet Sea' in its new home

‘Quiet Sea’ in its new home

It’s necessary to sell work: not just to make a living or create room in the house, but also to clear your mind. While older work is still around you it’s harder to move on to new ways of working, seeing and thinking. You soon learn to not miss any but a few special favourites when they go.

But it’s a special delight when buyers (people often hitherto unknown to you) send you photos of your work in its new home. This is ridiculously pleasing! Suddenly the painting has an afterlife. It’s leading its own existence independently of you. I’ve had a few such photos in the last weeks – so a big thank you, lovely buyers, it’s much appreciated!

(and here’s another – all three were favourites, especially this one):

'Reflections, Dene View' in its new home with Louise and Hanno.

‘Reflections, Dene View’ in its new home with Louise and Hanno.