Visual receptors

Like a spoilt brat that does not want to go the way she is told I see a tree on the way back from the foundry and veer off. .

I am so unbelievably stressed and busy but the day is too good to miss and I have to walk Molly anyway so I drive down a road I have not been before just to see where it ends up. A path with no predicted end or puporse. I just drive and drive.

I end up at the arboretum and am so stressed and wound up about taking 1/2 hour off that I walk to the pay desk with no money and then think no I won’t go in, yes I will, then get in a complete spin and go back to the car to get money and go in anyway, rushing towards the trees.

And then nature drifts over me like mist and seeps in.



Time and colour

Thursday night – Byard Art solo show private view in Cambridge and the fantastic Pint Shop, Friday night – negotiate tall corridors of dark container streets to the red lit gin bar serving buckets of lethal ice in Barcelona.

Seven days – a sociable time with girlfriends, spent talking, my head filled with chat and restaurants and drinking and tapas and leisure and hangovers and late nights and fireworks, the thrill of being back that made me smile without realising, swimming in the sea, the towns freedom and the weird familiarity of it, then a promise of returning to sobriety brought thursday’s welcome home beers with Graham and then friday’s private view and roof top terrace of really many too many caves till really very too close to dawn.

All this has left me blank, open, like a clean fresh page.
I left as a vessel of anxiety and return empty.

As a workaholic I don’t need these times, they are interrupting, take too long to get over, disrupt the flow. Other peoples talk fills the precious space in your brain you need for work. Work is everything so you bare the loneliness because it enables you to think, to work.
But time with friends unravels you.

The twisted knot of excitement caused by solo shows, orders, demands and deadlines.  It dissipates. I am now blank but the blankness enables the important things to come in clean and clear. Only now in the quite of these hills I can see it was a good thing. The valley is still, the sun is warm for nearly october, only the occasional clatter of leaves dropping through trees gives a hint of the time of year.

Prompted by an article about Howard Hodgkin I think of paint and colour. Like a conversation that has, through the years, been getting louder, so painting is the thing that bounces in first to the flat open space of a rested mind.

I yearn for painting, it’s like somethings lost. I can not be so dramatic to say it can equal the pain of childlessness but I have no other context in which to put it. I don’t think it can be pain I feel when I look at colour but it feels similar.

I sit in the hills and stare at the magic of the olchon valley to my right, a blue light rests in its belly. In front, the Black Hill creates our valley so I feel at the edge of a basin, the light moves across this space so drastically that it could be a different painting every five minutes.

All I can do is sit and stare and yearn. When I turn my eyes to write I can still see the valley as the birds map out the contours with their chatter. Sheep and geese are white dots in the green, ridiculously I envy them, as all they will know is this valley.

I yearn because we will have to leave here before too long and I yearn because I don’t know what to do with all that beauty. I photograph it endlessly but it is not enough, the photographs are just a cruel tease to what could be.

Its like painting is in the other room, at the moment the door is half agar and there is so much fantastic stuff in this room that I can’t get through to the other.

This beauty, this colour, this thought process has left me exposed and when a butterfly lands on the table open on the Hodgkins article I see it as a sign or cruel but beautiful taunt.  It faces me, rests a moment, wings open, reds, oranges and browns and water floods over my vision, its too much.

In far vision red kite is circling looking for supper.

As an artist you need strength. As an artist you need the strength to ignore, close the door on the business to be able to work. But can you close the door on yourself, can I give myself that chance, that 3 months or so just to paint, to not think about anything else, to run around the studio free in colour, the power of colour is frightening.

The language of sculpture developed over 20 years is reassuring, it still excits me but its just the practicalities that are so mind numbingly time sapping. Painting is creative all the time, no repetition, no compromise.

But today I only have today and I write and I think about what can be and as the sun gets lower I take photographs in the vain hope, in the way we make jam, that in mid winter I can open up the jar to the strong taste of late summer.

For Ed

I did not know Ed but I made a sculpture of him in wax then made a mold and then cast it into bronze and when I looked through the lens as I photographed him, I saw him for the first time, and I saw that he was not with us anymore.

Meningitis took him away from his parents, from his friends and from his future. The meningitis left grief that will remain. It left containers of grief, that spill when jostled or knocked.

The containers are made of egg shells and are so fragile they are almost transparent.

But in time the shells of the eggs will thicken, they will become stronger. The grief will not shrink, it will just be more tightly contained, allowing the shells to move about with more courage. One day they will feel that they can engage freely again with life and they will not break.


Ed was a peer mentor at his school and this is in memory of him to give as an award each year to the best peer mentor for years to come.

Chinese whispers

Chinese whispers _ Carol Peace Poetry Competition
Encouraging the freedom to find words

For me this dialogue between words and sculpture started many years ago with a poets visit to my open studio. John Terry wrote a few poems including ‘Listen’ that made me look again, the figure had a new story, a new life.
Sculpture can be like this. Maybe its just a suggestion to a thought, a step, a bridge to another story, I have my ideas but like chinese whispers the message is often reformed through other eyes.

Words are like this also, I listen to poetry or the prose in a song and it ignites something in me and I respond. Docket is in response to a Caitlin Rose song. The piece Man with Mouth Open is in response to the famous poem by Stevie Smith*. There was something in their words that resonated with me so I responded, I moved on the story.
I too like to play with words and I write terrible poetry but I don’t mind, its just when I can’t describe it in clay I use words, as Joan Miró said “I am neither a printmaker or a painter but someone who tries to express himself with all available means”. 

This competition is about that freedom. Its about enjoying words no matter the skill level, I can’t spell and my grammar is shocking but I look and I see, and like an observational drawing I react to whats in front of me. Imagination is left for sculpture but my writing is like drawing, when you start looking you see more.

I do try to make my words good, it is not about not trying, but it is about not being afraid to start, its about the freedom to express ourselves, without a bit of confidence and a bit of freedom we can not start to be the best we can be. As John Terry said about my work back in 2006 “They are first of all, real people. They yearn but they also give. They rise, they don’t fall. They strive; are eternal optimists. They look perhaps slightly disorientated, but there is no pleasure in falling, or in giving up, so they keep on. ‘For us there is only the trying’ “

Competition Details
Write a piece of poetry or prose in response to a sculpture or group of sculptures at Carol’s Open Studio 6 – 16th November 2104
Or if you are not local to Bristol or find it difficult to get to the show then use these four sculptures for inspiration.
Love, Standing in the Wind, Personal Balloon and May
The prize is, of course, firstly the completion of your own poem, and secondly the winner of each of the three categories will receive a sculpture made to celebrate The Reading Agency.
Most loved poem any age by online voting system
Under 18
Under 12
Age limit – Under 18 – submit online with an optional donation to The Reading Agency
Closing Date – 30th November
Voting online and judging 1st – 14th December
Winners announced – 15th December
To be announced
The sculpture – made to celebrate The Reading Agency will be similar to the pictures below and 20% of all sales will go to The Reading Agency throughout the Open Studio event either online or at the show.



* if you listen to the wonderful clip of her speaking you will hear that she used her own drawings “Another thing I like doing with my poems is to illustrate them: I draw a lot and often a drawing will suggest a poem – it is often that way about. “– See more at:
**JOHN TERRY is interested in industrial archeology, bridges, and sunken wrecks. He believes that life consists of oddly-shaped pieces of rusty metal and sees poetry as an attempt to get all the rivet-holes to line up. He’s won two slams, four open poetry competitions and has been published in a number of otherwise respectable magazines including Acumen, Magma, and Smith’s Knoll. His narrative poem Insecurity Reportis published by Driftwood and his collection Building Wings by City Chameleon.