Tuesday, October 22, 2013


On Thursday my daughter had no school due to a teachers strike. So we decided to have a day out to Oxford. It's not far on the train and the sun was shining. The perfect day for an adventure. We were heading to this majestic building below, home to the Pitt Rivers museum.    
Inside it is just as impressive.
The Pitt Rivers museum is a collection of archaeological and anthropological artifacts. It was  founded in 1884 by one Lt General Augustus Pitt Rivers, after he donated his collection to the University of Oxford.
It's an amazing place filled to the brim with curiosities from all over the world. Inside the light is dim. Much darker than the picture above in which my camera made things look far brighter, compensating for the lack of light. A kind light for the old things and just right to add to the atmosphere. There was so much to photograph and look at and read and on top of that there were drawers underneath filled with even more secret wonders! To be honest I would have been happy just staying in here all day with a notebook and pencil sketching and writing. Anyway here are a few  of the things that I took pictures of. Things that jumped out and spoke to me.
Ornate keys which made me wonder about their stories. Which doors had they opened? Who had been their keepers?  
 Magical things
Most objects were labelled by the tiniest writing imaginable.Others were more readable.
Above, the small paws of a poor mole, cut off while still alive. It's feet kept in the pocket of a man, as a cure for toothache!  I am fascinated by the past and things such as this, but I'm so glad that we have progressed with cures for toothache these days.  I'm sure the mole would be too!
If you suffered from warts, then the charm below would have been for you...
In case it's too small for your to read this is what it says on the label.
"Charm for warts Oxfordshire~ Go out alone and find a large black slug. Secretly rub the underside on the warts and impale the slug and thorn. As the slug dies the warts will go"

This little bird made me feel sad.
Shadow Puppets
I loved the colours and designs of these old playing cards
And was  particularly attracted to all the things depicting animals of course.  
It was very atmospheric in the museum and some of the things such as the shrunken heads, weapons and ancient surgical instruments were rather unnerving. It made us wonder what it would be like to stay the night, or be there in the dark surrounded by all of these objects that hold the spirit and ghosts of people. Then I found this video showing the museum viewed by torchlight, which I thought you might like to see. 

I gazed in awe, as I always do, at the beauty of mother natures creations in the natural history part of the museum.
On our way to lunch we passed the most adorable little cottage.
And met a white rabbit blowing bubbles. :)
We were lucky that the day was dry and warm. There were lots of ladybirds flying around the old university buildings. On their way to look for a good sleeping places for winter I expect, which I'm sure they will find among the many stone buildings here. 
Our last stop, after a little shopping, (well I am with a teenage girl. ;)) was this fabulous exhibition that was totally unexpected as I hadn't known it was on.
Original sketches and notes by Tolkien, JK Rowling, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, Philip Pullman and CS Lewis, including his original map sketch of Narnia. There were also some very old looking books and manuscripts concerning magic and angels, and some illuminated with gold. All was so wonderful to see, what a rare treat.  Sadly  no photography was allowed inside, so I will have to keep all of these precious images in my head. What a special end to a great day out.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Last night as I walked along a small street in the village everything seemed exaggerated. 
My footsteps echoed on a tarmac path but underneath I knew the path had been there for hundreds of 
years, long before tarmac had come into being. My feet shared the shoes of so many others. Ghosts of 
the past that had walked the same route, busy, excited with laughter or sad filled with their worries of 
long ago. Some not so long ago. This year too many in our tiny village have passed on, some much too
It was early evening, the cottages had their lights on but curtains had yet to be drawn. Inside homes
looked cosy and the smell of cooking lingered with wood smoke and a distinct October leafy spiced
scent. For a moment a veil seemed thin and stretched and the past felt close. The cool of the night made
me pull my jacket in tight, breathe deep and feel grateful to be alive.Today I am grateful.
Dear Universe..... 
Thank you..... I am grateful for the morning sunlight streaming in through tiny droplets of condensation
on the window. The light, a sparkly, white, silver, bright, hint of winter.
I am grateful for the red holly berries as I look outside and the blackbird's song.
   Letters from friends...
For Autumn's patterns.
And clever spiders.
I am grateful today that the sky is so blue and that I am here on this beautiful planet and am able to see
such a thing as clouds.
I am grateful that there is a good strong wind to blow the washing dry and that I am able to feel it cold
on my face. It's a north wind and has a bite, blown down from the arctic across the highlands. The same
wind that swirls around the greens and pinks of dancing Aurora. Now it chases the leaves off the cherry
I am grateful for the hot cup of tea that I have here while I write this and that I am able to taste it, and for
the beautiful music I can hear as my son practices his instruments and that I am blessed to be able to hear
I am grateful for the book I will finish later this evening when the house falls quiet with sleep.
Today I am also grateful for soup, warm socks, my camera, the smell of incense sticks and my sense of smell. Some of these things may not seem that important Dear Universe in the grand scheme of things, but I am grateful for them anyway.

P.S : I'm also grateful for the following things being in the world, written in no particular order....

Hot chocolate, my laptop, blogs, fire, candles, all animals, birds, my daughter, my son, my husband, my friends, kind words, kind messages, jingly bells, flowers, trees, the moon,  the planets, the stars, my family, the sea, rainbows, shells, music, forests, rocks, ice, butterflies, art, books, cats, compassion, love, peace, badger sabs, hunt sabs, planet earth, the sun, moths, mistletoe, wild meadows, wild verges, starry skies, northern lights, adventures, magic, miracles, health, life, pyjamas, hazelnuts, boots, mushrooms, snowflakes,  chestnuts, weather, laughter, baths, red wine, kindness, my garden, my home, eco warriors, promoters of peace, moonstone, moon shadows, moonlight, jonsi, bluebell woods, etsy, mountains,  sparkling clean streams, bees, strawberries, white horses, sunsets,  and a thousand and more other beautiful things ....    

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Memories and Vixens

I recently read an article announcing that the art college that I attended  many years back now, was to close. After completing a fantastic local foundation course in Wiltshire I went on to study  illustration and graphic design at Maidstone College Of Art  under the instruction of Gerald Rose, Stephen Cartwright and several other teachers.
                                                                 Illustration by Gerald Rose
During the end of my first year the college changed it's name, merged  and became the Kent Institute of Art and Design. Maidstone produced some prominent artists over the years, some of whom I have only just found out about. Tracy Emin  famous, somewhat controversial was there when I was. She was down stairs in the fine art/printing department. Angela Barrett  an illustrator that I admire greatly also went there a few years before me. Other notable artists include Tony Hart  (do you remember Take Hart and Vision on?) and Martin Handford of 'Where's Wally' fame.
I enjoyed my years at Maidstone and have good memories. Thinking about them prompted me into digging out some old work...
I was recently reminded in a comment  that I had promised to share a mask that I had made, so here it is...
At the time I was working on a project producing  illustrations for a text of our choice. I chose a book called 'Lady into Fox' by David Garnett. I did a painting, but also decided to make a mask and do a series of photographs.
 Remember these were made when photoshop was not the norm. I made the mask out of papier mache and added faux fur, took the photo's then hand coloured the prints with paint to get an old effect.  My sister was the model as I took the photo's in half term.  :)

It's funny looking back as it only seems just the other day and the photographs look surprisingly contemporary rather than late 1980's.   It's also interesting to see how we always return to a theme that is dear to our hearts. :)