Archive for the ‘landscape’ Category

Square Dances. The Performance

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

9th October

Square Dances: 4 London Squares, over 200 dancers, bells, and a mobile audience.

Square Dances. Performance, Men.The Men in Brunswick Square

50 men in tones of blues and browns, slowly walk towards a large chestnut tree. A huge church bell is struck, very slowly the men move, raising their heads and arms like plants searching out the sun, the bell chimes again, and as if the earth is magnetically pulling them they are being drawn down to the ground. The vibrations of the bell hum through the air and ground. There is a reverence, the audience circling the tree are silent and still, we are as if one with the men, all caught between the vibrations of the bell, the silence of the square and the pull of the earth.

Square Dances. Performance, students.The Dance Students in Queen Square

The dancers each carrying a desk bell, stand close to the benches where the audience sit surrounding the small square. Before commencing they quietly ask if there is a person we would like to dedicate the dance to, the name is written on the dancers arm, by the second day their arms are covered in names. They ring the bells and each dances a unique solo moving from ground to air, returning to the ground to ring the bell at the close of the dance. They move towards other benches to dance, again dedicated to another, again making a gift of their dance. The square is full of echoes and memories.

Square Dances. Performance, Women.The Women in Gordon Square

Gordon Square is the biggest square, with the largest group of performers. The women arrive dressed in shades of blue all with hand bells, as they move across the square they stop and listen, their heads on one side or their faces turned to sky. Stamping feet in an unsettled animal way, raising arms, turning, as if movement made by one group is felt through the earth by others across the square, stimulating movement.

Square Dances. Performance, WomenThe Children in Woburn Square

This was the last dance I watched, the children held small hand bells, which they rung as they scampered, they moved faster than the grown ups, it was great to end with such liveliness. As they left the square we could hear them ringing the bells and laughing as went down the street. As I looked around the audience, some having watched all 4 performances some having just chanced across this one, everyone was smiling.

Ah, holidays…

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Eighteen years ago my sister took a holiday in Cyprus, on her return to London she told me she was sick of her long commute to work, the unpredictable weather, had been enchanted by this beautiful island and wanted to leave UK. Within days she had secured a job and accomodation and relocated to Cyprus. Eight years on she married a Greek Cypriot with 2 (adult) children who also live in Cyprus and so – our wonderful Cypriot family who we recently spent our holiday with.

The first night we stayed at their home in Nicosia. As well as cats and dogs they own a bad tempered parrot called Parrot who squawks grumpily at everyone but if you sing to Parrot she is happy, she dances by ferociously nodding her head and swaying.

Parrot  melon

Grumpy Parrot                                                                  

Sirina Bay

Sirina Bay

We left Nicosia to stay at the coast and the relief of a slight breeze. Days spent snorkeling, diving off rocks, reading, drawing. Evenings, barbecues of fresh fish, sheftalia and souvlaki, followed by midnight swims with an underwater torch.


Greenwich & Docklands International Festival

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I was so fortunate that I was given the opportunity to draw during rehearsals for Marc Brew Company‘s Nocturne and Luca Silvestrini‘s Crossroads. I missed the performances along with other Greenwich and Docklands International Festival performances of the first weekend of the festival, having been partying in Suffolk.

However the following weekend there were some real gems performed across the river at Canary Wharf.

Underneath a transparent stage, I sat on a reclining seat and watched Spanish company Producciones Imperdibles perform La Mirada Transparente above me. Interesting drawing at that angle, I focussed on feet, the man opposite focussed on knickers. (True).

La Mirada Transparente

La Mirada Transparente

Deaf Men Dancing in a collaboration with my friend, visual artist Rachel Gadsden together created a spectacular performance and celebration of being alive. The show incorporates sign language, sound and live painting. Also see my drawings of Deaf Men Dancing performing Elvis at Candoco’s Birthday Party.

Deaf Men Dancing. Alive

Deaf Men Dancing with Rachel Gadsden. Alive 

The biggest crowd puller was Waiting Game, presented by Motionhouse Dance Theatre: a couple out for a romantic dinner in Canary Wharf only to be repeatedly scooped up by a JCB digger. A very large man and his very large friend were blocking my view, by the time they’d done as I suggested and sat on the ground (to a cheer from the audience members behind them) I’d lost the desire to draw.

Dancing to Romanian brass band music and the backdrop of our River Thames, Compagnie Pied en Sol performed Pied Filigrane Fanfare in the Canary Wharf uniform of grey buttoned up suits but with the striking addition of red shoes.

Pied en Sol. Filigrane Fanfare

Pied en Sol. Filigrane Fanfare

Compagnie Pied en Sol. Pied Filigrane Fanfare

Still time to catch Deaf Men Dancing and Rachel Gadsden if you live near BristolStockton or in the Lake District.

Blowing Rain

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Sometimes when I kiss my daughter goodnight she asks me to tell her a story ‘not from a book Mum, from your head’. So I told her the dream I had recently.

A heavy down pour of rain woke me during the night, I went into the garden, stood in the pouring rain and waited. My three children slowly appeared and stood with me none of us spoke but we acknowledged each other with our eyes and held hands. Together we filled our lungs with cold night air raised our heads and blew in unison, we repeated this again and again in rhythm with each other all facing the same direction. The rain began to ease and without speaking we returned to bed. 

In the morning the dream had evaporated, I woke up the kids and on opening the curtains I realised it had rained heavily during the night. My 14 year old son wandered into the kitchen saying “the rain woke me when it was still dark, didn’t it wake you?” “Oh… I’m not sure, maybe”, I replied. The dream drifted back to me as I remembered the reason why we were blowing the rain, we were sending it to Somalia. If only it was that easy.


Saturday, June 11th, 2011

The half term holiday seemed to arrive too early, the kids had only just got back into the school rhythm after the extended Easter break.

The weeks holiday cut through the middle of the AS exams the eldest was taking and more time off from school seemed detrimental to his attempts at focussing on work. He discovered that if you create something gorgeous and delicious you are left to get on with it, so baking became a great alternative to revision. We ate lemon drizzle cake made for his sister’s birthday and on another day chocolate torte. And yes during the baking sessions I stopped nagging him to revise – the results were too fabulous to put a halt to.

When the kids went to see their father for a few days and I drove to Norfolk with a friend. Norfolk Courtyard bed & breakfast near Fakenham proved an excellent place to explore the North Norfolk coast from. The barns have been stylishly converted to individual suites, cleverly offering complete privacy and relaxation by including a fridge in each one containing everything you might want for your continental style breakfast. Luxurious adjoining bathrooms and tables in the courtyard to eat breakfast at in the early morning sun. Home made cherry cake and a bowl of fruit were waiting for us when we arrived, could you ask for anything more? (Ok there’s a flat screen tele and a table inside too incase it rains).

Norfolk Courtyard B&B

Norfolk Courtyard 

My favourite walk was on beautiful Holkham Beach, wind swept white-gold sand covered in tiny cockle and razor shells. We walked for several miles with pine woodland on one side and the sea on the other, horses were being exercised through the shallow waves creating magnificent spray. The beach is so vast that you could sing at the top of your voice and no one would hear you – perfect. Ahead we saw the masses of coloured beach huts of Wells-next-the-Sea, we returned through the pinewoods.

Our hosts suggested The Bell in Wiveton in the evening, I ate delicious haddock smoked locally in the Cley Smoke House.

Norfolk Beach

 The beach at Cley Next The Sea


Open Studios in May at Second Floor Studios

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Twice a year at Second Floor Studios we open our studios to the public, there will be at least 130 studios to walk round and meet the visual and fine artists, craft and design makers.

Open Studios May 2011

Opening night – Thursday 12th May 5pm – 9pm

Saturday 14th May 11am – 6pm

Sunday 15th May 11am – 6pm

Second Floor Studios, Mellish Indust Estate, Harrington Way, (off Warspite Road), London, SE18 5NR

My studio is 17, Unit 0 (the building overlooking the river). I will show life size wire sculpture, framed and unframed charcoal drawings, sketch books (seen in my blog), etchings and paintings on canvas. See my website to view more of my work


Aomori Project: Of Landscapes Remembered

Monday, April 18th, 2011

The drawings of the Aomori Project: Of Landscapes Remembered, at Greenwich Dance on Friday. Choreographed by Sioned Huws the dance draws on memory and influence of the environment, mutually shared with dance, song and sounds arising from arctic conditions of Northern Japan.

Aomori Project: Of Landscapes Remembered 1

Three Japanese musicians and a singer create bewitching melancholic music, two dancers continuously roll across the floor their bodies twisting in formation creating a sense of the earth constantly in flux.

Aomori Project: Of Landscapes Remembered 2

A third dancer enters seeming to herald the change in seasons. Local performers of all ages spill on to stage stretching and playing ball. The show closes with a serene Japanese dance.

Aomori Project: Of Landscapes Remembered 3

Deep within our shared consciousness tectonic plates press and slide against each other.



Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Easter holidays, kids went to stay with their father for a few days, and I escaped London with a friend to Devon.

devon cliff walk

It was perfect. We stayed at Easdon Cottage Bed and Breakfast in Dartmoor.

On the way back we stopped off to see my Father’s grave, he died at Easter 19 years ago.

William Douglas McKay Till the veil be lifted

                                                        Till our faith be sight


Sunset from the studio

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

It feels as if the hinge between seasons is finally opening and Spring is squeezing through. On Wednesday I went to Sadler’s Wells to draw The Forsythe Company. At the end of the performance the beautiful stranger sitting next to me asked to see my sketch book, said something immensely flattering, gave me a daffodil and vanished!


 sunset from studio

View from Second Floor Studios where I have my studio. Thursday evening, 5.45. 

View from Studio & Greenwich Park

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

view from studio

Saturday afternoon

Greenwich Park

Monday morning