Category Archives: London Life

A visit to Ditto Press for risograph printing

As a way of documenting the ‘How long is a piece of string‘ installation, I designed a fold-out poster containing some background information about the project.

Also included are details about the process of making the work, photos of the installation at The Flying Dutchman, and links to how the project has continued to develop. This is one of the first mock-ups that I made…


Continue reading A visit to Ditto Press for risograph printing

The ring marking out a Roman amphitheatre under City of London’s Guildhall

Running around Guildhall Yard – and partially underneath Guildhall itself – is a black ring inlaid into the paving. This ring outlines a  Roman amphitheatre,  the remains of which were found during major archaeological excavations that took place between 1985 and 1999 as part of a programme of redevelopment at Guildhall.

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Vintage cinema signs and posters at The Cinema Museum, Kennington

It used to be Lambeth’s Workhouse in Victorian times (Charlie Chaplin was a former resident), then a maternity ward when the NHS bought it. Today it is  the home of London’s Cinema Museum.


Ronald Grant – co-founder of the Museum – started collecting film memorabilia in 1950s Aberdeen, where he worked as an apprentice projectionist with Aberdeen Picture Palaces.

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Mosaic timeline of London’s history at Queenhithe wharf

Walking around the City of London on Boxing Day, we came across this mosaic timeline at Queenhithe Dock.

Unveiled last year, it is the work of Southbank Mosaics, and is the result of research into the activities and communities that were living and working near the dock from the first Roman invasions up to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics in 2012, and the installation of the mosaic itself in 2014.

Map of Roman London on Queenhithe mosaic

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Autumn walk through Brompton cemetery

Brompton cemetery, built in 1840, is one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ garden cemeteries (the others are Kensal Green, West Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Nunhead  and the Tower Hamlets Cemeteries, all established between 1832-1841)

It contains 35,000 monuments from lavish mausoleum to simple headstones, symbolic statues to plain crosses. It’s mostly well maintained, but the edges of the cemetery are overgrown and wild…

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Walking through the marshes; rural scenes in East London

Some friends and I walked around 7 miles in the Autumn fog and sunshine from Leyton to the Tottenham Hale. The route took in marshes, cows, defunct filter beds, monumental art, canals, tree climbing and parks, ending up with us marking the beginning of October with a seasonal pumpkin ale at the Beavertown Brewery.

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New season, new lines; the geometry of a football pitch in South London

It’s September so the football season is in full swing in the UK. Walking through a South London park I saw that new lines had not only been painted, but also mown individually into the grass. I thought it a bit unusual, but also very beautiful.

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Secret garden and carved stone dancers at the English Folk Dance and Song Society

Cecil Sharp House is a live folk music and dance venue, contains England’s national collection of folk music and dance (in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library) and is home to the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). It is named after the avid collector of folk music and dance, Cecil James Sharp (1859-1924). Continue reading Secret garden and carved stone dancers at the English Folk Dance and Song Society

Needlework and stonecarving: 19th Century typography in Clerkenwell, London

These photos of buildings found in Clerkenwell (Corporation Row) show typical ‘School Board’ stone signs, found from following the walk in Chapter 2 (Trailblazers for Democracy in Clerkwnwell Green) of the book Rebel Footprints. Part walking guide, part history of social rebellion and justice between 18- 1930s, each chapter focuses on a particular area in London, mapping history to landmarks, buildings and streets.


As more and more of London is being redeveloped, there is danger of these visible connections disappearing, which for me is heartbreaking. One of the reasons I’ve loved growing up in London is the ability to see, walk, even touch, its history.

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History everywhere as WW1 app launched with event held under Cambrian Fossil Explosion bridge

Today the 7 Bridges project launched their augmented reality smart phone app, LJWW1…

an app which will allow a sequence of augmented reality stories about World War 1 to unfold on three separate routes through the Loughborough Junction area

There was an event held under Cambria Bridge – site of the Cambrian Explosion art project that features my ‘Modern Fossil’ art work – with history talks,  mini-steam train, people in WW1 costume leading walks and music from live bands…

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Accountability and artists; ‘Be Smart About Art’ gallery visit and talk

This month’s Be Smart About Art First Friday (#bsaaff on Twitter) was a visit to the Bleach Box gallery  in Portobello. Each month is in a different place, with the gallerist giving useful insights into how their particular exhibitions spaces work.

The January talk was by Richard Heep, photographer and founder of Bleach Box, and was an interesting look into the world of hand-printed colour photography. Colour can be such a subjective thing, and as Richard spoke about the usefulness of having a printing partner in the darkroom to kind of ‘cross check’ the process, it made me think…

Part of the fun of these events is to meet other practising artists and others involved professionally in the field in a social way, but it also serves a practical purpose. By talking about what you’re working on, what you’re currently fascinated by, you’re also creating a network of art partners, and that next time you see each other you can potentially ‘cross check’ each other’s practise.

Getting your intentions ‘out there’ and explaining what you’re up to can really clarify your thoughts about stuff, and having this kind of accountability (and support) can be a great motivator.

I have my own challenge for next month from BSAA member and painter / sculptor (Stephen Charlton): to talk for two minutes about my own sculptural practise without going erm… too much :)

Here’s to February’s event at the Anise Gallery in Shad Thames!

#bsaaff Be Smart About Art First Fridays
Anise Gallery, 13a Shad Thames, London, SE1 2PU
Feb. 7, 2014, 6:30  – 8:30 p.m
Members go free | Visitors £15

Gallery founder Jacquelyn Jubert will give a short talk on the current exhibition ‘Berlin Voids’and Susan Mumford (BSAA) gives her 3 top networking tips each month.

Galette des Rois; cake goes a long way to beat the January blues!

Cake and Art – two ways guaranteed to cheer me up in Winter

This January I have found things a lot better by not making any resolutions. It’s not the resolutions themselves; it’s making them in January. After the fairylights and festivities of December are over, we hit Winter proper. If it were crisp blue skies and ice cold sunshine it wouldn’t be so bad, but in the UK at the moment it has been very, very wet and sunset is around 4pm… That to me equals hibernation time and taking it easy on yourself.  Come February when Spring is at least visible on the horizon, then the resolutions can be made.

Until then, cake. Cake with friends. And more specifically cake where you find a prize and get to wear a crown! January cheered up already :)

Galette des Rois

The French tradition of Galette des Rois can be enjoyed throughout January at the Paul Patisserie, but it came into being in the 14th century to celebrate Epiphany (this year 6th Jan, but it moves – like Easter).

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‘Before I Die’ blackboard on Borough High St

Candy Chang's Before I Die on Borough High Street

I love Candy Chang’s projects! Deceptively simple, fun and engaging, she uses empty buildings and public spaces to create interactive art pieces to share housing information, resources, thoughts and dreams…

Candy Chang's Before I Die on Borough High Street

This Before I Die chalkboard was on an old shoe shop frontage on Borough High St. It was part of the Merge Festival, an annual art, music and performance festival held in Bankside during September and October 2013.

Creative basketry summer show at City Lit

I went to this show by accident, and am so glad I did. Far from being all wicker baskets and corn dollies, it had some really interesting forms made from all kinds of materials and the skill level was very impressive.

Gail Romanes fingertip sized baskets

These little finger-tip size vessels by Gail Romanes cried out for fingers to get stuck in!

These anatomical – vaguely rude! – looking forms made from plastic appealed to me (I didn’t make a note of their maker’s name – if you recognise it, leave me a comment)

Creative basketry at City Lit

And of course, I’m a sucker for looking through anyone’s sketchbook – in this case, Jo McCallum (The Fabricated Frame) – and seeing studies of colour and weaving patterns.

Jo McCallum's notebook

All in all, I was really impressed! If you fancy a go, check out the Creative Basketry courses running at City Lit in London.

Countercultural artwork presented by Maggs & Strange Attractor

‘Unstable’ is a collection of abstract artwork from Battle of the Eyes – Savage Pencil (Chris Long) & Eyeball (Edwin Pouncey), Joel Biroco, Julian House and Cathy Ward. All are visual artists, but they are also polymaths, working as illustrators, musicians and even occultists and many have been published in the Strange Attractor Journal. All the artwork was beautiful, but the idea and process behind Portal To The Anscestors I-V: A Seance in Painting by Battle Of The Eyes’ is fascinating. It came as a direct result of finishing the Requiem Ark series of paintings which dealt with parental loss; this series was about making contact with departed ancestors.

Using original photographs from their personal archive, the artists photocopied, enlarged, and collaged them, taping the result to their studio wall. Initial charcoal marks were made on paper from the shadows cast (by the collage, but perhaps too by the ancestors’ spirits?) and these were then worked on with acrylic and oil pastel, and finally transferred to canvas using acrylic & oil.

The gallery is in the old stables at the back of Maggs Bros. Georgian townhouse on Berkeley Sq. An antiquarian booksellers, Maggs Bros Ltd has been dealing in rare books and manuscripts since 1853. The exhibition runs until the 8th of June 2012.

Xiao Fei Dyson’s kinetic drawing machines

I’d been experimenting with movement in one of my sculpture projects, so I was happy to see a ‘Kinetic Drawing Workshop’ come up as part of Jotta’s 3rd birthday celebrations. I’d seen Xiao Fei Dyson’s work at Kinetica earlier in the year too, so I signed up straight away. It took place in Newburgh St, London and was a tiny class so we got a lot of attention! Xiao Fei was a great teacher; full of enthusiasm and eager to pass on that he’d discovered from his working practise.

We’d been asked to bring some battery powered toys to take apart and use but in fact this was probably too ambitious to do in the time given. What was more fun (and effective) was just wiring up a little motor, a battery and a pen to make *really* simple drawing machines. These would change their line and movement quite radically with even the tiniest of adjustments to weight and balance, ie. using matchsticks and tape or gluing extra bits & pieces to the machines.

I was reminded (again!) that it’s generally more constructive to keep things super simple and use the restrictions to push against instead over complicating things and getting in a tangle of frustration.

Xiao Fei exhibited at Kinetica Artfair 2012; check out his blog with videos of some of his kinetic creations launched in February 2009 in partnership with the University of the Arts London to explore and facilitate collaboration in contemporary art and design.

Camden Art Centre exhibition booklets

Beautiful and useful way of cataloguing Camden Arts Centre exhibitions in a consistent way. I don’t mind paying £1 for each one, and really like the idea that as you add them to the binder, you create a self-curated collection of shows. Something similar appealed to me about the presentation of OMA’s ‘what we are currently thinking about’ in the recent exhibition at The Barbican. The concepts were printed onto pads of paper fixed to the wall, and you were encouraged to tear sheets off from the ones that caught your interest. Maybe I’m just a bit of a magpie and like collecting the pretties :). Btw, the CAC bookshop is amazing.
Design by Dan Goggins (Practise) and Sara De Bondt

Artists, crafters and makers talk business

Makerhood held a free event called a ‘local makers forum‘ in Brixon’s Living Bar the other day.

Makerhood is an initiative to promote local making, creativity and skills – and build connections between local makers, the community and local businesses


Billed as an evening to ‘discuss opportunities, learn from market experts and meet other makers and local businesses’. I was there to illustrate the points made as the panel discussed various aspects of making, including the tricky business of promoting, selling and networking…

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