Hello people. Well, it’s 01:20am, Christmas Eve, and everything in my street seems to have fallen silent – although, if you listen carefully, you can hear the hum and twinkle of festive enchantment vibrating through the air. (I’m not talking about my fridge motor here.)
December has whizzed by. I have moved art studios! Stewards Inn Lane Studios had been my creative home for the best part of a decade, so it was definitely the end of an era. There were grumblings from the landlord back in the summer about putting up the rent, but now he has gone the whole nine yards and the place is slated for transformation into – you’ve guessed it – luxury flats.
However, I have been lucky enough to land a unit at The Old Foundry Studios, a bustling warehouse on the Phoenix Industrial Estate – a formerly forgotten area of my town, which in recent years, has been reclaimed and cultivated by a colourful crowd of artistic, musical and crafty bandits.
The Phoenix Industrial Estate is now packed full of the weird and the wonderful, where innovation and creativity flourish. The developer’s shadow looms large here, too though – but The Phoenix Rising Project is fighting back with a visionary, alternative proposal for a new development that would properly serve the local community, and would also include an artists’ quarter. Here’s a fantastic little film about the project:
If you’re interested in finding out more, check out the website here.
So, I’ve been busy setting up my new space, and it’s now ready for me to get cracking with a BIG new project after Christmas – we have finally been given the green light for a new mural in Brighton! I have to thank Soozie Campbell of Sharp Media and Trixie Harmer for their tireless efforts in getting this all to happen. But – shshsh! I can’t tell you anything more than that for now, other than that the unveiling is due to happen around April time. I will keep you posted.
Earlier this month I delivered my Traviata paintings, which were commissioned by Natalia Brzezinska, a singer at Glyndebourne Opera House.
The paintings were based on Glyndebourne’s 2014 production of La Traviata. The original sets and costumes were designed by Hildegard Bechtler, and the lighting was designed by Peter Mumford. I loved this show's design, so it was great fun to paint a part of it.
I’ve also been having a little adventure on the stage myself. A friend of mine, Alison Evans Grant, commissioned me to a design a poster for a production of The Snow Queen that she was directing –
- and then asked if I would be interested in playing the part of the Snow Queen herself! I thought it might be an interesting exercise in personal development – so I said yes.
The part was only a small one – basically comprising the abduction of a boy in the first half of the show, and then appearing again briefly at the end of the second half when the boy’s friend Gerda destroys me with her guardian angel. In light of the brevity of my appearances, I thought the show wouldn’t be that much of a commitment time-wise, but no! I was wrong. The project has been huge but also, hugely enjoyable. My favourite line was thus: 'And now I shall give you no more kisses... or you will be kissed to death!' The cast and crew have all been lovely and it’s been great to experience a production from a performer’s perspective. I think now though, for the next theatrical project I work on, I’d be happy to slip back across to ‘the dark side’… ;)
My New Year’s Resolution in 2013 was to finish my book. And at 6:30pm on December 31st, I typed out the final lines. In my excitement, I ignored Stephen King’s advice to leave your book for at least a few months before editing it, and I dove right in. I ploughed through the book during January and February and I must confess, I ended up feeling quite pleased with myself by the time I got to the end of it. Other projects then weighed in, though I did send the book off to a few agents over the summer. However, I took another proper look at it in September, and found myself shaking my head at my own glaring, bungling, literary blunderings. Oh dear! And so, another round of editing has begun. I am now about a third of the way through the story, untangling sentences, polishing words, brightening phrases. I remember reading that Neil Gaiman decided not to write a blog about the process of writing his book American Gods, because one day it would read, ‘This is going to be a great book!’ and the next day, ‘This is going to be a shit book,’ and then again, ‘This is going to be a great book!’ And that’s exactly how it goes.
This is a painting of one of the characters in my book. The painting was sold at the Stars on Canvas auction, which raises money for the Willow Foundation, and was bought by Tina Smith who kindly got in touch to tell me how much she is enjoying the piece.
Well folks, I had best be getting myself off to the Land of Nod. My little nephew gets up waaayyyyyy too early, and unfortunately, the family Christmas day has been planned around his routine. However, once the sun is up and everyone has gathered for the day, I’m sure I won’t begrudge the rudely premature start!
Wishing you all a wonderful mid-winter break,