Thursday, 5 November 2015


'Where My Dreams Go,' Chinese ink on rice paper
'Chinese Journey,' Chinese ink on rice paper

'Elemental,' Chinese ink on rice paper

'Onward and Upward,' Chinese ink on rice paper

I have had so little time to write recently, with new work being made and the exciting explorations of the Chinese ink on rice paper, so I am just going to post a few of the new ink paintings. And mention that I am in the process of applying for a painting residency in China!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

After China

The three weeks since the Beijing International Art Biennale opened and I walked around the huge halls has passed in a blur of activity. I spent quite a long time writing a report about the event, describing being an invited artist and how this has impacted on my painting, and the artwork from 96 countries. This will be published in THE JACKDAW in the November/December edition. 

'Where Thoughts Go,' ink on rice paper
'Chinese Journey,' ink on rice paper
'Where Thoughts Go,' (2) ink on rice paper

'Chinese Journey,' ink on rice paper

In between my writing I began to use the Chinese art materials I bought in Beijing. Working on rice paper has been a journey because it is quite different to watercolour paper. It absorbs liquid paint quite greedily and is quite thin, so it requires a different approach. I have been playing with combining the structural elements of my previous artwork with fluid brushstrokes - also a component I value highly. As a child I copied Chinese paintings from library books and in particular admired the economical brushstrokes that captured animals, landscapes and people. In these new works I am hoping to extend my work and how I approach oil on canvas. I have always been interested in the directness of brushstrokes and their inner life. 

So far I've painted 12 ink paintings. Each time my brush touches the paper, I learn something new about ways to force space and mood onto the paper with different kinds of lines, wet-in-wet shapes, pools of dark ink and intuitive mark-making. It has opened up a new world!

I didn't want to look at any other art until I was well into my series of ink paintings. I didn't want to taint my response to the freshness of my accumulated memories of China - I wanted them to flow out of the end of the brushes. What surprised me was that it was the landscape seen on the trip to the Great Wall of China that forced its elements into the paintings. I'd expected the city to find its way in but the landscape and its configurations have pushed new ways of rendering land forms into my work.

 I have still to sort through 1,450 photos and then I will post them on here and write more about the amazing experience of being in China.

Monday, 5 October 2015


Me outside the National Art Museum of China, 24th September
Me outside the National Art Museum of China, 24th September - for the Opening Ceremony

It is almost a week since I arrived back from China! I've been struggling with jet lag but finally feel I have adjusted, and now I'm sorting through my photos and thinking about the new work that this trip will have inspired in many ways. It still all feels as if it was a dream that I went to China.

To actually be INVITED to go there was such an honour! It was such a last minute rush to get my Chinese visa and then I left Tunbridge Wells train station on the morning of 22nd September, full of excitement and nerves (nerves for the long flights!) I was in a daze because I could not believe I was actually going. When I made my application for the Biennale last December I never thought it would result in this trip.

I flew to Charles De Gaulle airport - an incredibly large and modern airport - and had about 4 hours to wait there. I boarded the Air France aircraft at around 10.40pm (L.T) and we took off at 11.20pm. It is the longest flight I have ever done, being around 10 hours. But as dawn streaked the sky in the early morning, I found a vast tundra below, and it gradually became even wider and flatter. I followed the flight tracker with much interest, and then Beijing came onto view. I took many photos as we came in to land.

There is nothing to match the feelings of amazement that flood through you on realising you are now in a place that is very far from home and somewhere that you have never laid eyes on before! I went into the arrivals hall full of happiness and anticipation. Soon I saw at the far end there were people holding large pink BIAB signs, and one of them came forward to greet me. A group of artists had already gathered and I learned that there had been several collections of artists from the airport, and I also saw a 3 page list of artists - and it struck me that there must be around 200 invited artists, much more than I had expected. Artists wanted to take photos with me but the organisers wanted us to go out to the bus.

On the bus we were given our schedules for the next 4 days and also much needed bottles of water. My husband called me and it was strange to realise that it was only in the UK! As we wound our way through the increasingly tall and modern buildings of Beijing, I felt more relaxed. I had not really known what to expect but it was clear that we were going to be very well looked after.

Taking part in the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale was an experience that artists can only dream of. It felt as if 2 weeks were crammed into the 5 days I was there. I will write much more very soon because this event deserves a huge report!

(Above photo - a selfie during the Opening ceremony and speeches, at the National Art Museum of China)

Monday, 21 September 2015


'Excursion,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 45 cm

As I mentioned back in June, I had a painting accepted for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale, which opens at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing on September 24th - this week! The exhibition has work by artists from 100 countries and I feel very honoured to be included. I am one of five artists representing the UK. As far as I know, none of the others are going.

I received an invitation to go to Beijing from 23rd to 27th September, to be present at the Opening ceremony and also to be present during their symposium. Just today I collected my visa from the Chinese Visa Application Centre and tomorrow I will be flying to Beijing in the afternoon. I still can't believe it. Nerves for the flight - I hate flying - are mingled with excitement at seeing Beijing and seeing the marvellous artworks that will be on show. I also hope to meet up with some of the other artists, and the symposium should be very interesting. Possibly this will influence my painting in a very big way. Certainly it is going to widen my ideas about art in general. I'm taking a small book to make some quick paintings of my impressions, in case anything resonates with me for future paintings. Though I may not have time to do this!

My next entry will be on my return next week.

Friday, 11 September 2015

My Artist friend, VP Vasuhan

'Amma,' pencil, acrylic and charcoal on canvas
I first met Vasuhan in Cyprus in 1997. Our mutual friend, the brilliant abstract artist Glyn Hughes, had arranged a painting project at the Melina Mercouri Hall in Nicosia. It was to be part of the French Cultural Week then taking part in the city, and Glyn picked 6 Nicosia artists to make copies of famous paintings by artists such as Cezanne, Bonnard, Kandinsky, and Leger, to name a few. We were each given 2 huge canvases, roughly 8 foot high by 12 foot long, and we had only a week to paint copies of our chosen paintings onto these. I painted one of my favourite paintings, Cezanne's large 'Bathers,' and one of Bonnard's 'Wife in the  Bath,' series. I remember spending a lot of time at night in the large hall, working on my canvases, with Glyn nearby supervising our efforts and handing out enormous tubes of acrylic paint and big brushes (some of which I kept). We only had a week to complete all 12 enormous canvases, which meant quite a few hours' work day and night. I have many lovely memories of working on my canvases and watching my artist friends working on theirs, and the energies that filled the hall were incredible. It is something I will never forget, and I would love the chance to work that large again.

It was here one evening I met Vasuhan, who had begun work on a large abstract Kandinsky. Glyn suggested we work on it together as time was running out, and it was a great pleasure to paint with Vasuhan and to see how he interpreted Kandinsky's abstracted brushstrokes and colours. We both enjoyed the process of working on a large canvas together, and seeing the different ways we each approached Kandinsky's complicated painting .

Vasuhan also painted 2 large canvases on his own. They were:
Georges Braque, 'Bathing Woman,' (1907-08)
Yves Klein, 'Anthropometry of the Blue Period,' 1960.

I have lovely memories of painting in the hall with all the artists, all of us working in a frenzy with increasing worries that we would not finish on time! There was a well attended opening night for our exhibition, which was opened by the President's wife, and our show looked fantastic. (There is even a photo of Glyn, me, Vasu and Mrs Vassiliou up on the stage at the opening, with my large Cezanne 'Bathers' behind us, in Glyn Hughes' book 'GLYN HUGHES.') It formed the backdrop for a series of lectures.
'Who are You?' mixed media on canvas

Vasuhan was working as an assistant to Glyn Hughes and I would see him often when I went to Glyn's house. Vasu was also painting and I liked his paintings a lot. 

Vasuhan moved to Paris not long after and Glyn often spoke to me about how well he was doing as an artist in Paris. I think that Paris must be one of the best cities in the world to be an artist and we both admired him for moving there to follow his career.
Glyn at one of Vasuhan's exhibitions in Paris - (Glyn on the left, Vasu next to him on the right)
Though I have not met up with Vasu since he left Cyprus, I have kept in touch with him and his career through Glyn Hughes, who sadly died last year. We also connected on Facebook and I have been following his work with much interest. 
'Dances with Rat.'

Vasuhan was born in Sri Lanka and spent part of his childhood in Columbo. He moved to Cyprus years later and finished his studies at the Center of Higher Studies in Nicosia. His website is:

Do check it out! I like the variety of his themes and different styles. His wonderful compositions, whether abstract or figure-based, are very personal and evocative.
'Sonat,' acrylic on canvas

I'm hoping that next year we may both exhibit together in Paris. I think our works would look good together. We have both been influenced by our long association with Glyn Hughes so in a way it would be a tribute to him too. He was such a master painter and we were very lucky to see him work and undoubtedly absorbed many things from him! 

We have since tried to find out what happened to those 12 large canvases, after the exhibition was taken down. They seemed to have disappeared! We both hope that they are somewhere being looked after.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

High Summer

'High Summer,' acrylic on board, 70 x 60 cm

This year I haven't been away on a summer holiday. Lots of things got in the way, most of all getting my painting ready to go off to Beijing for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale (opens at the end of September). Then painting just took over! There has been a lot of change in my work and re-painting of older work. Several themes have been continued - my 'Inscapes' series, the landscapes - and some new ones, 'Migrants' being one of them.

The above picture shows the most recent 'Migrants' painting (70 x 50cm, oil on canvas). It was an old painting that was reworked quite intensely. I saw it as a metaphor for migration and the paint itself is migrating through shapes and colours which are repeated across the painting. It also reflects my thoughts as they responded to paint, as a kind of parallel for the migration of ideas. It was not painted as a commentary for migration, though that is in the News a lot right now.

This was a theme I started about 2 years ago, with a large painting of tents (inspired by the troubles in Cairo at the time) which I have posted below, called WE ARE ALL NOMADS, (oil on canvas, 120 x 90 cm). I have always had an interest in the passages people follow through life and how random events can throw a life out of balance.

Friday, 24 July 2015

New Work

'Interlude,' acrylic on board, 91 x 61cm

'Fiona's-World,' acrylic on board, 60 x 31cm

I have painted quite a few new works this year - here is a small selection of some of them.
'Paint-Poem,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30cm

I will post more tomorrow.