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.

Words night

The preparation for the show in Cambridge is nearing completetion and my thoughts turn back to the studio and to words. Met with Judy and Natalia yesterday and discussed our ‘lit night’ the spark of which was the story Judy wrote from an open studio in 2011.

The hot afternoon sun is making Chloe drowsy. She blinks, focusing her eyes on the path of a bumblebee drifting from one clover bloom to another. The scent of honeysuckle and chlorine mingles in the air. A faint trickle of sweat slowly wriggles its way from her scalp to the space between her shoulder blades. Her book is still lying on the other side of the lawn in the shade her twin cousins dragged her from when they cast her in the role of umpire.The game of draughts is the third challenge of the day, following a venomous tennis match, won by Amandine, and a swimming race won by Blake. She can see the pool water drying on their bronzed, over-privileged limbs and remembers something her mother once said, about how, the higher up society you go, the thinner the veneer of civilisation, like oxygen on a mountain peak, stretched brittle and insubstantial over the bloodlust.“You’re cheating!” Amandine’s voice rings out. “Chloe, he’s cheating! He put it in his mouth!”Chloe sighs and rouses herself. “Blake, is it true? Open your mouth.”Obligingly he does so, sticking out his tongue, the disk balanced on it like a rosy indigestion tablet. His eyes are laughing as he plucks the draught piece between finger and thumb, dropping it onto the board like something disdainful – he knows full well that his sister won’t touch it now it’s tainted with his spittle.“Game to Amandine,” Chloe decides, and the cousins erupt into shrieks of glee and outrage.Next on the agenda is rhetoric, and Chloe feels her skin tighten with dread, imaging the barbed words waiting to be unfurled and flung.

Author bio: Judy Darley is a travel journalist and fiction writer. Previously she’s had fiction published by literary magazines and anthologies including The View From Here, Gemini Magazine, ‘Crab Lines from the Pier’ and ‘The Love of Looking’. Her travel writing has appeared in magazines, on websites and in ‘1001 Retreats to Make Before You Die’, published by Penguin. Recent journeys include visits to Slavonia, Iona and Tunisia. She tweets at