Posted in process

A change of scenery

As much as I did my new digs, I find it necessary to sometimes leave the premises.  After a full  morning of squinting at small details, stitching stitches only millimeters apart and occasionally looking out my window for eye relief, I decided I had had enough of my 6 Music, my dog sighing with boredom and the headache I was developing from eye strain.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the 6 mix, I like my Josey and I like the current work in progress, but sometimes I just need to get out.  Yesterday, I realized that my first words to a human being occurred at 3pm.  It was after trying to move the words around in my mouth, after trying, labouriously, to link sounds into words and words into sentences and sentences into some kind of coherent conversation when I realised that possibly, quite possibly, I need to get out more.  “I…it…the umh….walking….”

Roll on lunchtime.  I packed up my laptop, dropped Josey off at the sitters (okay, not sitters as such, more like a neighbour with an equally bored dog) and sauntered on down to a coffee shop that offers delightments of a caffeinated and surgary array.

I really ought to do this more often.  It’s too easy to spend all day, most days, locked in my little fortress, muttering to myself and my dog.  Isn’t that the way to crazy?

Tomorrow I shall be showing off my latest creation.  It’s a view from Dean Bridge, in deep dark blues, rich golds and delicate stitching.  This will be my artwork of the week. Until then…

Posted in inspiration

That other thing that I do

Gloriously Atonal

Ok.  So playing the kazoo isn’t necessarily the ‘other thing that I do’, however, it was something that went down at a drumming weekend away.

This is me and the band, squeaking out a medley of songs which included the following:  Indiana Jones theme song, William Tell Overture, In the Mood, and the Muppets theme song.  It was mad crazy fun and I am thankful for those times in life that open up to this kind of bizarre activity.

The other thing that I do, when I’m not printing, sewing, stitching, framing, sketching or dog walking, consists of clacking out patterns on a small drum with a mighty band to the right, to the left and to the back of me.  I think I didn’t appreciate how much I enjoy their good company until this crazy weekend just passed, the one that I am still recovering from.

I recently read in this fantastic blog that it is necessary to make time for play.  As I work from home, it’s easy to tinker away at my work, thinking ‘oh, I’ll just get out the sewing machine and stitch a few pieces together before bed’ then roll on 10pm.  Hm.  I love my work, but I need to have an injection of fun to keep me going during the down times, the low times, the infernally slow times (which is pretty much January through April).

Sometimes I can’t quite put my finger on what makes this group so fantastic.  I mean, we are all delightful in our own unique and brilliant ways.  We represent an interesting cross section of careers, nationalities, talents.  We wake up, (some of us) eat breakfast, busy ourselves with living our lives but when we come together, something magic happens.  It’s just good.  It’s all good.

I think I am possibly coming down off my high from the weekend of drumming, dancing and kazooing.  There is too much quiet here in this little flat.  I am taking this time to appreciate the good fortune I have had in finding this outlet for fun, making friends, and beefing up my social circle to overflowing.

Posted in process

Skylines Exhibition at Marchmont Gallery


Calton Hill and Monument
Exhibiting in ‘Skylines’ exhibition at Marchmont Gallery

26 November to 7 January

(Three of my works in total will be available at the gallery)

This little venture turned out to be an amazing coincidence. It was suggested to me that I approach this gallery about selling my work. So, one fine day I mosied on in, had a chat and good things happened. The coincidence is that I didn’t realise they had scheduled an exhibition on the theme of Skylines. They thought I was submitting work specifically for the show.

So very glad I took my friend’s advice. I’ve been very lucky lately with friendly advice and for this I am very thankful.

Posted in work of the week

R.I.P. Trinity Car Park – Artwork of the Week

Homage to Trinity Car Park

The above artwork was created in conjunction with my touring art installation work, “The Connecting Thread – a personal psychogeography” which ends its final showing in just over a week.

Although I was gutted to learn of the devastating blow the Gateshead skyline suffered with the demolishing of their favourite building (some of this said in jest), when I now look from Newcastle to Gateshead, the horizon looks as it should have all along.  So, no more hulking beast watching over you now, residents along the Tyne.  I’m sure you’re having mixed feelings about this.

This artwork is available from my website shop.

Screen print on textiles, with stitched detail

Box frame: 16″ x 20″


Posted in inspiration, process

A book, a map and a conversation linked by coincidence

I’m starting to pay attention.  Here my Mom would joke, “I don’t even have enough money to pay attention.”  Oh, Mother.

Over the weekend I decided to think through, work through, map up some plans of how I would like my life to go.  Jo Roberts, mentioned in a previous post, has inspired me to map out my career.  I’ve always got a general idea of where I would like to go, but working through her worksheet of the Artist’s Journey helped me to pin down a plan, draw it, own it.  There are things to consider like your Origin, who you are now and what has encouraged you to be this way.  Beliefs, values, knowledge, etc – think about it and write it down.

I’ve thought a lot about my destination and who I want to be, but I’ve never scribbled it down onto paper.  There is an idea, a general idea of this person I want to be, the best version of me and I’ve been working really hard to find her.  I’m not looking for fame; I just want to earn a living doing what I love and even more importantly, doing what I feel I have been made for doing.  The sum of all my strengths are pointing me in a very specific direction.

And so, I worked through the list to find the Vehicle and how I shall achieve this me that I’m seeking.  What I really found useful in this worksheet was the ‘Landmarks and Route’ bit.  When you work for yourself, with you and your dog as your only company, it is sometimes difficult to know how to measure your success.  It is sometimes difficult to know if you are even on the right track and to measure your progress.  You get a sense you’re on to something, but occasionally miss the little pushes along the way.  You report to no one.  You muddle along in hope.  I like the Landmarks bit because it states that “the measures must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound.”  So, with paper and pen and a thought of time to think, I made a map and a list and made my ideas more real and solid.  Some kind of magic happens when you commit your plans to paper.  Something even  more magic happens when you tell somebody about it.

I shall contact Jo and thank her very much for her project which, although completed a few years ago, is inspiring people today.

The book I am reading – this book that insists the word “self-boss” is an actually word – is inspiring me in about a thousand ways.  It has confirmed for me a few ideas I had kicking around in my head but didn’t fully believe in them.  Now I know better.  I will trust these instincts and move forward with them.  My reading last night took me to this passage, which is a quote from another book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’:

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear undersatnding of your destination.  It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.  How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.”

Preach is brother Covey!

Earlier that day, before settling down to read, I had a conversation with my good friend Anna.  “Cassandra, I want you to go to the library and find the book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ and read it.”  This is after she talked to me about some excellent job/life coaching she had received through her work. If something is important to you, you need to do something about it once a week.  Not whenever you can squeeze it in, cramming it in around the edges.

I just love it how all of these things, all of these separate things, tie in together.  In one day.

Your message has been heard, loud and clear.

Posted in process

Featured artwork of the day from Central Station

Today my artwork is being featured on Central Station. An artist that I have only recently met – who incidentally lurks in the same tenement of crazy – suggested that I join this group. What a great idea that turned out to be. From what I can tell, Central Station began life in Glasgow, reached its tendrals out to Edinburgh then eventually artists from all over the UK decided to join in the fun. Recently, I received a comment from an artist in New York so heck, I dare say they’ve gone global.


Posted in inspiration

Best practice

When I sit back and think about the thing that I do, the work thing, my reason for waking up early, that thing that gives me a sense of purpose and drive, I feel fortunate that I can live a life that allows me to explore creatively.  My CV is chalk full of stints as a waitress, a retail girl, admin lacky and the like.  Nothing wrong at all with these rolls, just not the things I use to identify myself.  Slinging pizzas or selling designer goods from the Conran Shop, all of these things add to the experience of a life of working hard to achieve goals that are purposely set so high I have to get on my tippy toes and stretch to reach them.

But, at the end of the day, I can tap into that thing that I love to do: create.

I do sometimes get hung up on the fact that I am not further along my career.  If I think of my age and what I haven’t accomplished by now, it does make my shoulders sag and I think I should be doing much better than this.

But you know, all of that is rubbish.

Recently, I was given a very useful map created by Jo Roberts.  She did not personally lay this thing into my hands; it was a gift from a friend.  So hey friend, thanks for the inspiration.  The map is from an exhibition Jo had in Leamington Spa, exhibition title “Finding a way through:  Jo Roberts personal journey for fellow travellers”.  The map is printed on a very tactile, linen finish surface and opens up into a glorious illustration of what I would describe as a geological cross section of rock/mountain/hill.  The key shows that each layer is a layer of life, of something that has happened, falts that occurred and caused growth/change/a leap forward.  It is interesting to look at the timeline below the cross section and see the key events that happened in this artist’s life.  There are set backs, she didn’t travel from A to B to C in any sort of ‘normal’ projection, but took what life gave and rocked on in her own little path.

The thing is, I’ve really been tripping myself up with issues of Best Practice.  What to do.  How to do it.  What is the best way forward?  Have I already messed up somehow, not quite starting on the right foot, deviating too much with the left.

I have had the good fortune to befriend some very wonderful and talented artists in Edinburgh.  This week I had a chance to sit and chat with a couple of them, discussing their current work, their current plan and rehashing the past a bit.  And the thing is this:  there is no best way of doing this thing called being a free lance artist.  It’s obvious, I know.  I think I just suddenly realised I had been wasting far too much brain space on worrying about the best way, the best practice, and worrying that I had somehow missed my chance to do things the right way.

Cassandra.  There is no right way.

So.  I shall forgive myself this minor infraction.  I shall move forward with what I think is a tip top plan.  I shall diversify as I had previously thought, talked myself out of, then thought about again.

I best practice on being me, then.  It’s the only way forward.

Posted in work of the week

Artwork of the week – Grassmarket

New print featuring the Grassmarket and Castle

Image size: 5″ x 7″ in a white frame 8″ x 10″

£45 (free postage)

To purchase, please visit the online shop.

Artwork of the week features my latest linear print.  I have tried to incorporate the castle in other artworks but find that it is a bit difficult to make the organic crag bits tie in with the steady, sturdy, if-not-straight-then-close-enough, lines of the architecture I like to feature in  my artwork.  Organic shapes do not always translate well in this style.  In this instance, however, I think it has worked.

Although I print the linear designs several times, each artwork is then individually created using stitching, layering and whatever else needs to happen to it to pull it together.  Therefore, each piece is unique and individual.

The above artwork is available from me until Sunday, 20th of November.  Postage is free, which is brilliant and just think how convenient it would be to not have to do the footwork to acquire the latest print.  See.  I’ve totally got you in mind for this.

Posted in inspiration

My own little tenement

Image 5″ x 7″ created using Gocco print on textiles

I have recently moved into a tenement. After having spent my entire life not living in a tenement, I am finding this new way of existing very, uhm, interesting. Interesting in the fact that I can hear the doorstairs door, four flights of stairs below, shut every time someone goes in and out. Interesting in that my own door somehow does an airlock bang every time the door downstairs shuts. Interesting in that I can hear the people below my flat swearing at 3am. Interesting in that I most certainly never feel alone because of all the muffled sounds. Interesting in that the lady that lives across the hall from me hates dogs and I’ve got a big one. Interesting in the fact that someone likes using the stairwell for a smoking corridor. Yes. Tenement life. I’m not actually complaining. It is actually interesting.

Currently, I am exhibiting a rather large work of art which I had to do scad loads of research, digging up all sorts of information and learning the much loved skill of trawling through websites, archives and libraries on a hunt to find out more about my family. I found it interesting finding out where they lived and how they lived. Very fortunately, I was able to visit these places. I saw the place where the paper mill in Ivybridge (UK) was located, where my ancestors lived 200 years ago. I found the Georgian house in Dudley (UK) where my ancestors lived and worked as a Master Hosier – knitter of hosiery. My grandfather’s cousin gave me a photograph of the mud house my ancestors made on their farm in Nebraska, circa 1894. And then of course there was the farm house from 1924, and more recent homes which look a lot more like the ones in which I grew up in. (For more information on that project, please visit The Connecting Thread – a personal psychogeography).

Tenement living is something quite other. There are two museums that I know of – I’m sure there are several more – dedicated to tenement living throughout the years. There’s the Tenement Museum in New York, which I would like to visit if I ever find myself in that city again. There is one closer to home in Glasgow, The Tenement House which I would like to wander around someday soon. A little bit history. A little bit ‘why did people choose to cover their walls in that garish colour?!’

And my shameless plug is this: If you’re diggin the above artwork, I make bespoke tenements. You can have one of your very own for just £40.

The end.