Assessment time

I’m finding assessment time at university to be interesting – its like I’m standing back looking at myself work.  There are two main thoughts running through my mind – firstly, it feels like its distracting me from my real work and secondly I’ve discovered that a lot of my ideas and research are still in my head (mild panic is setting in!).  I understand that if I want the certificate at the end of this I have to be assessed so I just need to play the game.

What would a world without assessment be like?  Would we push ourselves if nobody else stood looking over our shoulders?  It would certainly change Education.  It would also change business and employment – imagine no more yearly appraisals!  It would also make it more difficult to categorise people and events.  Would this be a good thing?  We rely on labelling people far too much so perhaps it would be good to stop.  Who knows?  Maybe its time we found out!

Nicky Assmann – Radiant

In the Tent gallery in Rotterdam was some work by Nicky Assmann.  My favourite was a series of acrylic hanging triangles.  These colourful triangles which looked very like bunting rotated and as I walked around them reflections came and went, colours changed and all in all created a magical experience.

radiant rotterdam

The colours were vibrant, the movement held my attention and totally immersed me in the life of the piece, even the colourful shadows on the walls were part of it.  It made me think of Summer – I guess that’s the ‘bunting’ effect.  The main effect for me, though, was the feeling of total immersion it created – the movement, colours and reflected light held my full attention.  However, I think the size of the installation was vital – the effect would not have been so intense had the installation been any smaller.

All her pieces concentrated on physical sensory experiences.

radiant rotterdam2.jpg

This one was one of the pair of copper sheets called Aurora Studies – perhaps because of the colours in the Aurora Borealis.  The sheets have been treated to cause them to oxidise and these colours are the result.  It would be good to see these sheets again in a few months or even a year’s time as the oxidisation process will have further progressed and I believe they will look very different.




Public Art in Rotterdam

When I visited Rotterdam, I expected an industrial city.  I had pre-conceive notions that it would be like any other major industrial city. However, I was so wrong!

As well as interesting architecture, Rotterdam appears to love its public art.  As with the buildings, there is art around almost every corner.   Art in green space as in many cities ….

bent screw rotterdamjust legs rotterdam

… art on walls …

rotterdam mural

… art on street corners …

street sculpture

… and even a Picasso!

picasso girl

There was public art everywhere, most of it very good and together with the architectural style it made Rotterdam a very pleasant city to walk around.  The architectural style of the city centre was eclectic to say the least.   Every building inspired me to take a photo of it, each building was different from the previous one.  One noteable feature was the mixture of uses that each building was put to. Most buildings seemed to have shops, offices and flats.  One even had a two storey bicycle park!

This mixed use meant that the city centre was always busy and vibrant.  Everything was lit up – even the cranes were lit up at night!  Restaurants surrounded the marinas and there was a lot of life everywhere.  This visit completely changed my preconceptions about this city.




I just returned from a visit to Rotterdam where I and three other students on my course met up with some students from Lille University in France.  We took part in a workshop inspired by work currently being shown by our  course tutors – Tracy MacKenna and Edwin Janssen.

The first thing to say is that Rotterdam is a surprising city.  Before I went I had visions of an industrial city and port that had had to rebuild itself after it was flattened during the Second World War.  What I didn’t expect was the sheer imagination put into that redevelopment.

Two main things I noticed – firstly, buildings had their own style, it was very mixed styles throughout the centre, but it worked well.  The second thing was that most buildings were multiple use – people lived in the same buildings as shops and offices were housed – see this picture of the market hall which was surrounded by flats which arched over the top of the very colourful central hall.

market hall rotterdam
Market Hall, Rotterdam

The result was a lively, vibrant city centre

There was interesting architecture everywhere we looked.  We stayed at the Stay Okay Hostel which was in the ‘Cube Houses’ just across the square from the market hall and the railway station.

cube houses rotterdam 2

cube houses rotterdam 3

Look at the building next to them.   Around almost every corner is interesting architecture.  Plus lots of public art.


Thinking not making

So far on this course I have done a lot of thinking and not much making.  I have used a lot of mindmaps because there is so much possible information and so many possible routes to take for the research I want to do that some form of structure is necessary.  Besides which, I love mindmaps and their endless possibilities!

mindmap-stencil mindmap1

A mindmap and also a mindmap with the words cut out.

Scottish Quilt Championships 2015 – part 2

There was just so many quilts that were full of artistic talent as well as technical skills that I thought I would just put up a couple more of my favourites.

sand eels

This is a close up of the Margaret Watt’s Sea Fruits, inspired by the diet of sand eels that puffins live on.  I love he colours and the sculptural quality of this quilt.

celtic elements

This one by Jennifer Welsby caught my eye because of its depth.  The horizon is a long way away and you need to look past the celtic knot to see it, which almost makes the knot irrelevant.  I found that it was the sea I was looking at – a bit like looking through a fence to see the view.

Overall there were far too many good quality, well executed and thought-out quilts for me to show photos of them all.   These two just illustrate the high standard of most of them.

Scottish Quilt Championships 2015

These are held every year in Edinburgh and I visit it whenever I can.  This year I managed to visit on the Saturday (26 September) with my camera and a list of goodies I want to buy if I got the chance.

However, I felt quite disappointed.  There was not the same buzz as usual and for a Saturday afternoon it was very quiet – in previous years I have avoided the Saturday because it was so busy it took the fun away.  This year was very different.  There was not the same range of sellers and many of the ones that were there were selling the same kind of fabrics, kits and gadgets.  Although I did manage to get hold of some of the things on my list, I didn’t spend as much as I thought I would.  There weren’t really any of those gadgets that catch us all out – the things that we didn’t know we needed until we see them on one of these stalls!

The quilts on the other hand were as wonderful as they always are.  Although there didn’t feel as if there were quite as many as usual what there was was of a very high standard.

This one by Hazel Ryder caught my eye – I suppose because of the name I have given this blog and because I am a cat owner.  It basically sums up a cat’s attitude to its own comfort.

She who must be obeyed

Craft Scotland Conference 2015

I attended this conference on Friday 2nd October at the Glasgow School of Art.   It was organised by Craft Scotland which is a body that acts as a platform for the wider craft industry in Scotland from individual makers through to funding bodies and educators.

I’m not quite sure what I expected as this was my first time despite being involved with crafts for many years.  However, I was very pleasantly surprised – it was well organised with a good selection of speakers, all makers of one kind or another.  What I found  interesting was that despite their very different practices they all seemed to have similar ideas about seeing how items could be used differently or using unusual items within their art/craft practice.

In the afternoon there were breakout sessions that ended up being a lot of fun. This is the ‘vehicle’ my group created using various items including a serving tray, a bracelet and a plastic funnel among other things.

craft scotland car

It was a long day, but well worth going.  I plan to attend again next year.

Just catching up

Not really managed to get into the routine of blogging yet so here’s a brief catch-up on my work so far.
Back in September I started at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee on the MFA Art Society and Publics course.  Not having a great deal of formal art education I was not sure what to expect but what I’ve found is the freedom to develop my work in the way I want to go.

I mainly work in textiles including weaving, embroidery and crochet.

Swan Lake
Swan Lake

This is a piece I made a few years ago just because I loved the serenity of the swan in the original photo.  It is made using hand dyed and also commercially printed cotton, free machine embroidery and a variety of other techniques.

I don’t think I’m going to get much chance to produce many more of this sort of thing this year.

First Post


This is the first blog post to this site.  I am studying at the moment and I thought it would be an ideal time to start recording what I do via a blog.  I am studying at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art for a MFA in Art Society and Publics and so far am loving it, although there is a lot of work to get through.  By next August I have to be ready to exhibit a body of research and some artwork to support my study.  Hopefully, I will then be awarded an MFA and will be released onto an unsuspecting public. :).  More about my work in my next blog post.

So keep checking back to see how my studies are going and if you are also studying something similar I would love to hear from you.