Friday, 28 December 2012

Fire And Water

Crackling between heavy roads
in the night
Exploding consuming enveloping
enraging love fire
Anything will be consumed by the night.

Do you want to join and explore the
raging burning heat without being
Or suffocate,
fire like a glazed pot in the silence.

The furness grew wild while sparks
sparked and fell into the sky
in coffins collected by hands that glowed
Beneath sparkling faces.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Rabbit Night

Tonight is the inside of rabbit`s ears
Punctuated and hyphenated by dying
pinprick bulbs and the white pupils of night
Its velvet Amazonian honey and amethyst browns
fading to the blackestboard and minute
flecks of chalk that spell
a language that not even the night owl understands.

They say I`m civilised but this isn`t;
I`m all the savagery of a cave`s insides
My stalactite legs collide...just, with Earth
My home
that leads to this.

Sepia days are dead.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

An Aesthetic

My illustration of "The difficult pleasure of the present tense" quote from Stephen Petronio

Dear Written World,

I've spent the most wonderful day with my friend today visiting exhibitions in Manchester both of which I highly recommend (please visit links below). They encouraged to think about beauty, truth and purpose since D has just finished her dissertation on beauty.
Portrait of a young man c Johan Oldekop

We spoke about our passion for our creative practices to swing back to what we both believe that art should mostly stand for: beauty. For a long time, the notion of the untroubled artist and a simple appreciation of an aesthetically pleasing work has seemed taboo to both of us. The mythology of the suffering artist is strong and, even in pop culture today, contribution to the creative realms is deemed more valuable with a traumatic back story. Now before you think that a smoking piece of coal sits behind my ribcage where my heart used to be, of course I recognise that there is a value in expression from hideous circumstances. Some of my favourite singers are reported to have suffered greatly. However, it's equally valid for expression of the reverse to find consideration even though it may not seem as weighty.

D argued from her research that too often admiring a beautiful image was seen as a past-time of those who aren't of an intellectual nature, those who lack sophistication and want to be instantly gratified; on the other hand, the person who is required to reflect deeply on a more challenging piece of work (that wouldn't be considered to be beautiful) has more merit. I can see truth in both but, in my experience, work that I have presented tutors that celebrates, say, the simple beauty of a sunset or a field of flowers has been considered twee, lazy and 'needed developing'. In order to push boundaries or broaden perception, if those qualities are in the repertoire of art's functions, is it necessary to go beyond imitating and interpreting the obvious?

As much as I enjoy debate and the written word, I recognise a time to just look, enjoy and relax with a piece of art that has captured the primal beauty of a moment at least in the eyes of that artist. No need for explanation, no need for analysis; you can just like it.

We continued to think about belief and the appreciation of certain values like beauty and its objectivity. For example, when it comes to education, without core values being drummed into them like kindness and patience being taught, would children become selfish ignorant savages and run riot? What one person may consider beautiful or kind, another may disagree. Is there a consensus on beauty? D has spent the past few years working in projects with the Catholic church whose members strive to live their core beliefs. Without religion, can we be trusted to get on with our lives ethically ... without stealing, lying and killing our neighbour? Personally speaking, I feel at my freest and happiest when I live what I consider to be beautiful...simple things like eating lovely fresh food, getting lots of exercise and spending time outdoors looking at the nightsky and sunrises, spending time with friends and family, debating, travelling to new places, listening to music and dancing. If we trust that everyone we know and meet is working towards their own version of a beautiful life, surely that will make for a very beautiful world. And that's the most obvious and fundamental message.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Uncle Mohan Singh

`Uncle Mohan Singh` is a poem by Amarjit Chandan. At his workshop in Hebden Bridge, participants were invited to re-interpret the literal and poetic translations of this beautiful work about the first screening of a silent film in Nakodar. Below is my interpretation. Please find originals and other delightful works at

1930s Nakodar
Where innocent pupils await dilated fate
To re-focus, re-see
As the waxed woven canvas of night melts the world
It suffocates daylight
And brings forth a dreamtime
A magical square
A single cell that dances
A dance that resembles sleep or death
Are we dying, are we dreaming
to the charms of Uncle Mohan Singh?

The dance of his fingers...
The dance of his bones...
Is his rhythm an allure...
a tender trap for fools
Like the trickery of nymphs in the night?

Dare we be seduced by the mute square
That is still like a stuffed bird
Dead, yet beautiful with a square fire in its vacant eye
Flickering across the flowers of caged vitality
That erupt and blossom with tremendous control

We are all now paralysed in animation
A joyful collapse of surprise
An exquisite death of the present jasmine`s bloom
This blossom unfurls its scent with unscented falling petals
Petals that wilt not with each invisible phrase from Uncle Mohan Singh
The rose in their cheeks dilates in surrender.

As Birds of Paradise fly against the heady sands,
The misty flowers of time and music die.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


White sugar in a white room on white bread
White lies against white skies from white lips
White noise trips you up and turns into white daffodils on a white screen
I mean, look at the white folk play beneath their white teeth in a white winter wonderland
I turned white up the mountain like Death when black night soaked into the sky.
Look at what we have as crystalline
the icicles of Earth drip gold refined

I`m told that I`m blessed and I believe I am under the dark grain grit
Once I`ve digested in fully
This isn`t for the purpose of snow dots
It`s a tempered process of lands forgotten where snakes smile as polished apples go rotten
This is powdered pearls inside clattering clouds of flustered dust
It is space to glean fire in the sweetest dreams where we can tiptoe along the shark`s white teeth
We can breathe white, see white, be white and shine as daylight might in a cavern of moonbeams
White is surrendering violins of time in a twinkling lantern behind cloaks of eternity
We burn for this underneath a caramel kiss to transform the nothing into

White socks underneath a warm hearth on white legs
White bone inside white-washed walls from white heat
Meet and greet the White Maker and flour the sides in white sponge as you fall gently into the kiln
White hot leads to whatnot in a whiter shade of pale
You roll down the white hills inside polar fur on a white yacht
And yet, you cannot be what you`re not

White flag flies next to white knuckles on white sand
You land on the Moon and discover it is pitch black when not attacked by the rays of the Sun
Its brilliance deafens your whitewaters underneath the menace of icebergs
And your prism shines white again.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Knock Back

We're like peaceful cavemen in the night
You and I
Silken lumps the lie like stone beside
Each other
Pebbles of anticipation,
thoughts heavy like over-wet dough
with dormant ambitions to rise
As if the sun is yeast in our veins.
You took over the world in every warm place
Every glance desperate and impatient
Unlike how I imagined a sunbeam.

We kneaded to be kneaded then
Before I rested with you silently every night
And pretended that dawn was a mth that the lonely had invented
But we soon found ourselves knotted perfectly like brioche tops
The night now a memory that fell off our fingers like freshly ground flour
Except for the messages charred on our eyes like bitter almonds
And willingly scratched into our skin
Poppyseed love that bleeds poppy petal red
Declaring war.

When we've proved ourselves
We're ready and we'll plait
We'll interweave and roll up to this private circus
Wearing the scars of the knock back
that the Heavens wait to deliver
Like the eager Autumn clock that snatches romance and spits out silver mechanisms
Into the fuzzy salt water of sky
Two giant soldiers next to mucousy poaching clouds
Crash savagely into that egg yolk sun.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Spinning The Myth

Dear Written World,

I`ve just returned from a trip to London and I`m full of inspiration from the exhibitions that I`ve visited... V&A`s Hollywood Costume This is 3 rooms of mind-blowing presentation of film characters through the ages from the classic stars of Hollywood like Mae West, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe through to modern pop culture hits like Daniel Craig as 007 and Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina as well as CGI characters; the 10 ft Avatar character is stunning! Admission is £15 and may leave you wanting to throw much more in the buckets as you leave the museum. Bravo, V&A! How do they have those quasi-dialogues projected on the screens between the film characters?! How are outfits from yesteryear kept so beautifully? Although the red shoes from The Wizard of Oz had taken a battering and had been recommissioned to the original pattern.

Film continues to fascinate me and our need for it, or at least the role it has in our lives. The queue for the exhibition spiralled around the entrance hall and the silence in the roms, the fascination with what this transformation truly brings to our lives is beautiful. What is this need for dressing up, for characterisation, for dramatisation? Even indigenous people have their own version often linked to their spiritual culture and shamanism. What do we learn by watcing others imitate others? What can we learn about ourselves and the person we want to become? Or are we always the person we are, dipping into a character for the fun of it? It`s magnificent how a chracter can capture society`s imagination like a virus, inspiring conversations and change all over the world. Another few stand-out shows are at Somerset House. Paul Benney`s Spotlight Tours drips with class and the kind of significance that JMW Turner lends in his paintings. And what a the alleys and catacombs of Somerset House. In contrast to Benney`s fascination with the dark and all the myths contained within it, Tim Walker`s exhbition, `Storyteller` was a sweet delight, full of whimsical beauty and good humour. Rhea Thierstein `s astonishing designs were there... a 9 ft bumble bee playing a ouble bass with his companeros, a cricket and a rhino beetle. In the other rooms alongside more dazzling imagery, a giant skeleton and doll. I had a perma-smile during the show and laughed at a couple of pieces like the old lady in her flying saucer next to her cup and saucer! And the jet plane made of baguettes is just too cute.

Monday, 12 November 2012


Wet snow melts on spoons
snow snow quick quick snow
like fuzz on a screen
snow flakes are different
Sparkling in sunlight
White radiant drop
Sticky toffee puds
Egg & spoon race fun
Melt upon my lips
Huh, circular swirls
Summer has gone now
Drink it when liquid
Snow men have cold balls
Sledging is such fun
Down the hill we sleigh
Radiator melts
Snow builds up on dogs
Snow causes hold-ups
Snow gets so dirty
Snow turns into slush.

Grey Hound

`The world is a stage`..and what a stage it is...the audience don`t know when you`re down and out. I`m out there, performing; eyes on, smile on, custard pie at the ready and a squirty flower for an unlucky but willing audience member. Or, maybe not tonight. Maybe this time I`ll play it differently. `2 minutes, Geoff` came a voice rom the hindquarters of the greyhound. `Cigars and cigarettes, the sugar tops, the trumpets.` Geoff moves towards centre stage, the greyhound sits on top of the very tall top hat and he juggles little plastic kittens. A lion with a large permed mane encircles hi,m and there are whoops of delighted terror from the audience. They know it`s not real. And now, for me and I`m Alakazam, be Alakazam...appear and behave as if by magic. My cue is the marionettes falling from stage top and here they are... they tumble and somehow their strings, look! They never tangle. The greyhound is wheeled away still juggling and I see the crowd reflected in his glass eyes, his tail is a bit chipped and the kittens mieuw. The lion has fallen over, this always happens because the damned head is too big. Why won`t wardrobe listen? `Well?` I ask the crowd as I lift my shoulders towards my ears and look about me. Stage left, stage right. I don`t see a thing except for that blinding spotlight. *cue circus music*

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


The optimistic kind
Glitter bang, lights
Flashing lights
And a promise made.

I tread in the woods
No smell of books
but real things
Ideas fully formed
And by who?

The cordial of the germ
swirls around the world
like a stirred cup of tea
They`re listening to me
them dancers.

All the world sits like a
fist in my throat;
I gulp and it doesn`t shift
So I shift to words, to

A series of images engraves
My mind`s eye
And I go to flick all
the cards for an audience
but flick turns to click, click, click

`I must be an artist`
I think.
I`m always thinking, reflecting
I couldn`t purge my ideas
onto the page
Without inspecting, censoring them

`Earth Dance` I repeat
My statement of intent
hangs like a damp cloth
It looks sad.

With mouth to mouth, the stories came...
the juice of illustration comes
And I can swallow
30 minutes every day.
A pill. A drug.

Time is circles and as they loop
I fill their staccato rings
with things
Important things, I think
that become more important
the more I look.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Red Dance

Red shoes follow the smell
of cigarettes that floats behind you
I won`t buy them,
I won`t buy Earth
this red Earth that bleeds love.

For beings it bleeds an energy that uplifts
that sizzles
that catches fire
and resurrects.

Red builds adobe builds
thoughts that thatch mind over

Red smoulders a roman nose
in bleeding continents that gush ocean
I gush for you and
Now I`m an open gash
A smiling wound that laughs as rocks
smooth and sand wrinkles

Creases delve into troughs into arches into hands and
I`m dying!
I`m fucking dying as this sun moults
like the summer salmon`s smutty somersault.

Kiss me now
we can bleed together
as night oozes from the Moon

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Millinery Commission

Commission for Digging Deep for the Reluctant Adventures of Sky
by Identity Detective
Creative Director: Nikky Norton Shafau

I responded to a shout-out for costume assistant that was part of Manchester Metropolitan University email-out while I was studying Creative Practice.

Design an eccentric hat for Mario, the Italian ice cream vendor outside the theatre doors.
The madder the better!
My initial starting point of inspiration for texture and colour

The hat block

Sinamay, layered in different to get that old waffle cone colour and appearance. The heat of the iron will ensure they stick together and can be moulded as one piece.

    The sinamay is blocked and left to rest so the glues applied dry and solidify
 Can I get a perfect Whippy?

The monkey's blood (well, 3D fabric paint) goes on! One chance only...
The hat is retains its shape once removed from the block
Lining for the pillbox crown...a mixture of quilted silk and neon synthetic
It's all fitting in very nicely and the elastic is attached through eyelets

 I appliqued decorated and stiffened letters.
Can you tell what it is yet?!
Mario dons his Whippy 99!

"You'a want'a choc ice'a, ah? You'va come'a to the wrong place!"

Special thanks to Chrissie King at Hat Therapy
and Thomas Graham at The Wasp Factory