Thursday, 5 January 2012

Another year over, and a new one just begun

It was one hell of a year, 2011, that's for sure! I wrote a blog entry in January about change and how things were moving on. I was going to dedicate the year to work, building my busines, developing ideas. And then I got pregnant.

My friend, Jeanette, remarked that since I'm an artist my baby would look like Munch's The Scream...

And while I was pregnant I was horribly ill.

It was very much a planned pregnancy and I expected I might feel a bit sick as I'd suffered from excessive morning sickness (all-day sickness, really) with my first child. But we still weren't prepared for what things would be like. So I didn't really work; I had a fair bit of stock kicking about (luckily!) so my lovely OH did some events for me. I tried to be there too, but in all honesty I was pretty darn useless.

There was the Exeter Craft Festival on the Cathedral Green, where we were part of The Craft Hub members only mini-hub. The weather was beautiful and we had so many lovely people come by, both to say hello and buy things.

Sam Sunshine had her amazing scented candles in vintage teacups and jelly-moulds (I can never resist buying one!

Hannah from Duck Egg Design had her lovely bags

Penny of Pearlie Queen had her fab sown creations; isn't it amazing what you can do with recycled fabric!

Then there were the lovely ladies from Ellorias Boutique, with their beautiful jewellery and beaded creations

All in all it was a great 2 days! [Image courtesy of The Craft Hub on Facebook]

The week after I came down with acute pancreatitis and it was off to the A&E for several days of tests and drips both here and there. And bloodtests. Lots and lots of bloodtests.

When my pancreas and gallbladder had eventually decided I could carry on with life, for now, there was Devon Open Studios in September, where my friend, glass artist Amy McCarthy, open up her house to me and my unruly lot and we set up camp in her garden where we'd been provided with a gazebo. We had quite a lot of wind and rain but it was still a lovely thing to have the opportunity to do.

Amy making some glass magic happen

At this point I had about 3 weeks to go, so was very pregnant and feeling awfully tired most of the time. In total I spent less than I week actually at the venue; Amy very kindly (and firmly) told me I should be looking after myself and that everything was fine and I should be staying home, resting. Of course she was right!

On 30th of September we welcomed little Anaïs Maria Elisabeth into the world. And we got busy being a family with a new baby and all getting used to each other.

In December I did a lot of singing, both as part of Exeter Musical Society and taking part in the yearly Swedish St Lucia Celebrations. Again, my dear OH put on his sales hat and did The Craft Hub's Twinkling Firs Christmas Fair.

[Image courtesy of The Craft Hub on Facebook]

And now it's a New Year, Anaïs is just over 3 months and growing and learning new things every day. As for work; we'll see what I have up my sleeve for this year. I can't give it all away just yet!

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, 10 January 2011

When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide

I once got some very good advice: if something happens that you can't control, don't make excuses. Acknowledge it, state the facts, take ownership of it, move on.

During last years Exeter Open Studios my maternal grandmother went into hospital in Sweden. Her heart stopped while she was out, luckily people saw her and called an ambulance. She was in the hospital for about 2 weeks before passing away. In that time she never woke up. Due to my workload and the logistics of the situation I wasn't able to see her in the hospital or attend the funeral.

I don't think there's any way that you can, or indeed should, keep things like that from impacting on your life, even less so when you work in the creative field and when you work for yourself by yourself you do all the work, all the time, regardless of what else is happening. The body of work that I was working on related to my family, Arvsynden (Original Sin), I had to stop working on as it was too much for me to work with in relation to what else was happening. I'm hoping to go back to it soon but for the time being I'm putting it aside. I have 2 part finished pieces and one finished.

Arvsynden Del 1 - Tronarvingen (Original Sin Part 1 - The heir to the throne)

The image is of my maternal grandfather, Karl-Gustav Linnros, in his youth.

I decided to go back to working on a project I'd started during the summer, Walk of the Monoliths. These are a collection of abstract sculptures relating to the idea of something static with the potential to move, while also relating to people that I know, that are a part of my life, that have dealt with difficulty in their lives and how that may have changed them in different ways. I've only included a few images here as I will be posting all of the Monoliths made to date on my website.

"Walk of the Monoliths - Feeling attached"

"Walk of the Monoliths - Fluidity of soul"

So although I dropped off the radar for a while I'm still very much working, making (and selling!) new things, revisiting old work and planning for the future. I'm no longer part of the organizing team for The Craft Hub, but I'm continuing to be an active member and aim to support and help promote the Hub as it continues to grow.

I'm looking forward to taking on 2011 as a New Year with everything it brings and has to offer.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

You got to work hard

There's only 2 weeks to go for this years Exeter Open Studios!

I'm part of the steering group this year and helping to coordinate the event over at the studios, plus getting my own work done. It's a bit manic for me at the moment and the 3 weeks off ill didn't help.

This Sunday just gone I helped with setting up the preview for work that's part of the postcard auction. Artists taking part submit a piece of work and it's sold as part of an auction to benefit next years Open Studios.

The whole steering group worked hard and we got it all done in less time than I had expected. Why can't teamwork always be that good?

James sorting the postcards.

I'm also taking part in and helping to organize a craft fair next weekend as part of The Craft Hub.

An amazing amount of work has gone into pulling it off and I'm very proud to be part of this organizing team together with Pippa, Lucy and Hannah and how we've worked together to make it happen and give local crafters and small businesses the opportunity to showcase and sell their work.

Somewhere I'm hoping to have to to eat and sleep as well, which would be FABulous.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

How I surrendered to clay

You don't get a whole lot of work done when you're ill for 3 weeks!

I started feeling a bit off the week just before my birthday but attributed it to stress. On the birthday I got ill. Really ill. Think tummy bug, stomach flu and food poisoning. Together. But worse. So I was pretty much a vegetable, couldn't eat anything, was too tired to just go outside... As you might have guessed, there wasn't a whole lot of work made! I got better, and still recovering. I'm mostly just feeling I get tired very easily now.

That's why I decided to share some work that isn't mine. Call it a tribute of sorts to people, artists, things, that inspire me and my work. This will be the 1st part of a few still to come.

I wanted to start with the person who got me into ceramics, in a somewhat interesting way.

Craig Underhill was my ceramics tutor at Dudley College, during my BTEC in 3D Design.I'm not always the easiest person to communicate with and I don't think I was ready to take in everything he had to teach me. But teach me he did. And how I hated it. Ceramics was the lesson I tried to get out of at every opportunity; if I had to schedule a meeting I'd schedule it for that day and that time in the morning!

Craig Underhill - "Loch Head Landscape" (image compliments of

When I got to uni I stayed away from ceramics because it was BORING. That much I'd learned. Then came the obligatory ceramics project. And I hated ceramics slightly less. By now I had also realised I couldn't work with the perspex I had spent most of my 2 years at Dudley working with. What could I trade it for? What could have a similar plasticity and movement as a heated sheet of plastic? I think you know what the answer was.

Craig Underhill - "Split landscape, red edge" (image compliments of

I spent 3 years coming to terms with clay. I fought really hard not to fall in love with the material, fought to remember everything that had irritated and bored me about ceramics at college. Needless to say, I lost.

So I ended going back to what Craig had taught me. To handbuilding. To slabs and rough edges and dirt and hours of hard work. And it made me realise that the most important thing I'd been taught was that I wasn't ready to learn then.

Craig Underhill - "Ancient walls - blue edge" (image compliments of

I'd really like to thank Craig for what he taught me, for what he showed me could be done, for encouraging some wild ideas that I wasn't even ready to take on myself, for making an impressing on me with his teaching and his work that I would remember when I was in a place within myself where I could accept it. For showing me a way to surrender to clay.

Thank you.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


I'm never sure about posting images of work in progress; it's not finished (and some of it never makes it to a finished stage) and only I really know where it's headed. It feels like opening your mouth and speaking without knowing what you're going to say.

My project about my family is proving very hard; when I work on a piece all the stories kind of swirl around in my head and leave me feeling completely emotionally exhausted. As I'm working I start feeling the need to incorporate individuals whom I did meet but, because my family is what it is, still never really knew.

To cut a long ramble short, here are some images of 3 pieces that I'm currently working on. The vessels each symbolize a member of my family. There is still glaze to be added, then transfers and a smoke-firing. It might be hard to see where it's going but it's much clearer in my head.

This clay looks red in the pictures, more purple in real life and fires black.

I fired the two bottom ones last week (photos are pre-firing), the top one is still waiting for a piece of white clay to be wrapped across the front before being fired.

I've named the series Arvsynden, which is Swedish for Original Sin. I am liking the direct translation of Inherited Sin much better however.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Moving studio and Holidays pt1

Isn't it weird how summer's just flown by?

I've been really busy, both working and with the usual summer-stuff, i.e. having a child off school and going to Sweden.

Right before we flew out for out stay in Sweden I moved to a larger studio; I loved the space I was in, so warm and light and welcoming. But there wasn't enough space, and as you work you never really get less stuff, do you? My fellow studio holder and friend, Jane (thank you SO MUCH!), helped me drag all my things from one end of the studios to the other. Anyone who's been in my studio and/or knows how many plaster casts I've got knows this is no small task. But I moved and although I miss the old space I know that the size of the new one is better.

More space for me to use both my tables and separate the jewellery work from the artwork.

Plaster casts on the shelves, plaster casts under the table...

And space for my computer work is essential of course!

Then we went to Sweden for a couple of weeks, saw family and friends, ate too much food, slept in in the mornings and had mostly rain... I decided to split it into two separate posts to make it easier to manage. Enjoy!

Walking the streets of Stockholms Gamla Stan (Old Town).

An orgy in Dala Horses! I love these wooden horses so much!

"I know we can't afford it but how pretty is that?"

Water, boats and commuter trains. Stockholm!

Check out how much space there is to cycle in traffic compared to in the UK!

We paid a visit to one of my absolutely favourite café's, retro café String.

More String.

Loving the retro furniture!

Robin aka The Other Half. Loving him too. :)

I had a really stressful time right before we went on vacation and somehow managed to come back to more stress and drama. It's really reminded me of how important it is with real friends who stick by you and who will still be there after the storm, who'll wait for you while you run around in a tornado of chaotic crap and will give you a hug at the end of it.

Robin made me this origami heart before we left. He says he sometimes finds it hard to SAY how much he cares and how important I am to him, so he MADE something to show me. I almost cried. Absolutely and completely priceless. Love, family and real friends.

Friday, 11 June 2010

"Acquired" or "Inherited" vs "False"

The title of the post comes from the theme I'm going to be working with, and a short discussion I had with a fellow artist this week.

Let me explain; the theme for the new work I've just started is "inherited memory". When I grew up I was surrounded by stories, not just the ones read to me by my mum and grandmother but also the ones that would filter down from whispers and conversations between grown-ups, tales from my dad's childhood that he would share, and often they were not the ones with an all-over happy ending, and my maternal grandparents sharing snippets of family history in their kitchen, as we gathered 'round the table for a wealth of cakes, buns and cookies that were out of this world.

I'm fascinated with how these stories have stayed in my mind over the years and how well I remember them. Some of the people in these stories I never met, some I did meet but was too young to remember.

My maternal grandfather's brother, Karl-Erik, dancing. Doesn't he look like he's having a blast?

So although I have no memories, or my memories are very blurry and vague, of these people who were part of my family, I grew up with stories about them that made them alive to me. They became the myths and legends of my childhood. Some were villains, some I feel now, were vilified, and some were victims of circumstances they could not control. It's strange how so many of these stories have a touch of sadness in them, how they are never quite happy. But they are still stories I've inherited. So I've chosen to call what I remember an "inherited memory" because it's almost certain to be a re-telling of how a person or situation was perceived by the person telling it to me in the first place.

My dad and my paternal grandmother, in Peru. I believe the picture is from 1975 or -76 when my parents were living and working in Peru.

I have only just started making the tests for the vessels I'm intending to make for this body of work and I found it very interesting, that when I told a fellow artist that I was working with these "inherited memories" and after having explained them to her, she said "Ah, false memories". False? I'm not sure.

Now, I don't know how much of what I'm remembering is exactly what happened to the people in these stories. I was a child and children remember things very differently from adults. And adults will put their own feelings and thoughts into what they tell a child; we may try not to, but it almost always happens. Many of these stories were probably not entirely accurate, maybe some of it was tinged with someone else's emotion or how they remembered it, maybe they wanted what they told me to be exactly what had happened, I don't know. But does this make them false? Is my memory false because I'm remembering events I were not part of because I wasn't there to experience them myself? I suppose it could be an "acquired memory" as it wasn't mine to begin with, but false? It sounds so hard, too much like it's out to misrepresent, to bend the truth, a right out lie.

My parents, and other family members, at their wedding reception. My mum was pregnant with me at the time.

I'm sticking by my term. These memories may not be mine, but they were given to me, they were gifts of a kind and as such have become part of my inheritance. And as something inherited I will pass it on again, to my child, and undoubtedly I will tint these stories with the colours of my own emotions. But I will never call them false.
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