Where the wired things are

Finlay – the tail/tale of a wagging dog …

Finlay (short for Finely Chopped Tomatoes) was Mum and Dad’s dog. He left an impression on you the moment you met him – sometimes literally as he wasn’t a fan of postmen or runners… despite that I believe that he had a good heart.  I imagine him as the kind of dog that would have worn a smoking jacket and been a sophisticated ladies’ man, had he been human and not castrated.  He was a looker, with his seal-skin coat, distinguished stance and his enthusiasm for life. Boy did he like to run – he was fast, lithe and athletic – both sprint and long distance, with an occasional disappearance act that would only help to pull my parents’ hair out.

Sadly, he passed away eighteen months ago, and has left a hole in the daily lives of my parents. What started off as the worst 60th birthday surprise – a naughty rescue dog – became a solid companion – a head on the knee or a snuggle on the sofa…

So this Christmas I decided to resurrect him, as a mixed media memory – in ‘upcycled’ vine wire and stripped electrical cable coating, papier mache and chicken wire.

They had the barebones version for Christmas, and now they have received the final fleshed out version, so that now when you pat his head, his tail wags and his heart ‘beats’.

I hope you like it!


post script

today I would also like to remember another member of our family – Apples. She left this world peacefully on Friday… xxx

19th February 2017

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a new year … a new challenge!

The first two weeks of this year have flown by, and with them ideas have fluttered into my consciousness and possibly settled for a while. Last year I set my self an Instagram challenge of finding hearts.. a heart a day (blarlifoundhearts)… which subsequently turned into a book.  

These hearts are to be found, not deliberately created – natural or human accidents, perfect or slightly wonky. I believe you can see hearts everywhere if you look…  I met a lady once, a kind stranger who gave me space for a hammock and a fantastic night of bonfire chat and a bowl of hot bean stew. The next day we went to the shore, telling me to ask nature to show me what I should see and for me to be open to see it: we found some wonders.  Sometimes I see hearts all through the day, and sometimes I don’t see any… but curiosity at the world around gives you a chance to observe things that would be so easy to walk past.

Many years ago I wrote a children’s story about a pirate girl who with her magic pencil could rub out where things aren’t right and redraw them how they should be. That story was to do with the problem of over-fishing, which is depleting our seas… It lead me to researching the IUCN’s Red List of endangered species, which is constantly being updated – with everything from animals to plants.  So, I looked at the 2016 Red List and set myself a challenge for this year: to make the 225 Critically Endangered birds, to be exhibited in a garden somewhere, using wire and unrecyclable plastics… may the challenge commence!

15th January 2017

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at the year’s end…

Hi and welcome to my splatter diagram of events… a spider’s web of influences and chance happenings that inspire me to be creative every day.

One of my favourite Christmas presents (thanks mum and dad) was a ring-bound book called “a life in the year of Heather Jansch” – an art diary if you will.

Now she is a talent – amazing – she (mostly) sculpts life-size horses from drift wood – the detail is incredible, the finish so real that the wood becomes the muscle and hair.  She has perfected her art… exhibiting the world over. And whilst it isn’t my preferred medium, it’s like a bull’s-eye to aim for – large-scale outdoor sculptures…
So, it was a perfect present, inspiring a modern twist – an art diary blog.

The timing couldn’t have been better, as it coincided with going to Evian, on the shore of Lake Geneva, for our annual ritual to see this year’s eclectic collection of driftwood marvels.  If you’ve never been – GO! This alternative Christmas market, this growing forest of the ‘fabuleux’ comes from near and far, schools and art colleges also contribute to fill the minds (young and not so young) full of wonder and magic, with over 650 sculptures, animated by musicians and storytellers… a giant hippo allows you to walk into its backside, through its cavernous belly to stare out of its mouth to the lake beyond… you can drive cinderella’s coach with 6 not-so-white horses… go inside cabins and goblin heads… be the old woman in the shoe… giant working clocks, carousels of winged beasts and even a piano player, flying deer, unicorns, wooden games with found objects – pin ball ‘machines’, a drumming ostrich… but my favourite this year was a beautiful yet simple wolf being ridden by a young elfin…

It’s almost like the wood itself has the character inside it, waiting to be expressed.. maybe it has?  For this driftwood is unlike any other wood, it has a story of immense high-octane adventure: perhaps the adventure started the previous winter, a south-facing tree enjoys some winter sun, all the while knowing this slope’s snow is unstable – an off-piste skier at the top of the bowl sets off an avalanche, but saves himself – the avalanche hits like a furious tsunami wave, a fluid wall of ice and stone and other trees, on an unstoppable mission to get as far as gravity will allow – breaking this tree at its stump – somersaulting, splintering, bringing more trees with it – tearing it apart – then the roaring stops, leaving a motionless wreck at the bottom of the slope until spring melts the snow, turning a tranquil mountain stream into a raging torrent, all the bits of wood are on the move again – sometimes thrown – sometimes wedged until enough force bursts the dam – from stream to river to Rhone – onwards faster as the larger body of water drags them faster until ‘sploof’ they arrive in Lake Geneva – a massive body of slow moving water that allows the wood to float, look up at the sky and stars and dream of being somewhere or something else – softly softly boats’ wakes and wind-whipped storms bring the wood to rest, finally, on Evian’s shore – only to be plucked as prizes to be transformed into a mythical creature – a whole tree once more but in a form far beyond it’s dreams…

9th January 2017

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