Sunday, 26 January 2020

Book challenge - day 1

I have accepted a challenge from my friend Stacey to post seven books that I love, one book a day, no exceptions, no reviews, just covers. Let’s promote literacy and a book list. 📚 💕
Day 1

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Introduction to Art Licks, currently in residence at The NewBridge Project

Last night's event at The NewBridge Project was a chance to meet Holly Willats, founder and Director of Art Licks, and hear her introduce the new project that she has just begun with The NewBridge Project. 

Holly began by giving a potted history of the life of Art Licks, and introduced us to it's various facets.

After graduating with an English Degree from Newcastle University, Holly returned to London and began working in a commercial Gallery. She wanted to meet artists, talk ideas, and see non-commercial art, but felt frustrated about how difficult it was to find information about artist-led galleries and art networks. Her response was to establish Art Licks. It began, in 2010, as a website listing the exhibitions and events happening in London at artist run spaces, project spaces, galleries, collectives, curatorial groups and non-profit galleries and organisations.

In it's 10-year history, Art Licks has expanded

"to provide an essential platform and voice for the lesser-known and under-represented activities that form the grassroots of visual culture in London. Art Licks exists as a website, tours, printed magazine, learning programme, commissioning programme and annual London-wide festival: the Art Licks Weekend, all supporting the work of artists at a critical early stage in their careers, providing the situation to create new networks & audiences. This has become vital given the financial pressures on UK-based artists with increased costs of living, lack of studio provision & competitive funding streams."

For 2020, Art Licks are carrying out a new project for its printed magazine: producing three issues from different cities across the country, starting with Newcastle.

This trilogy of Art Licks magazine aims to explore the varying practices and artist communities across the country: their entrepreneurial methods of collaboration, structures of support, adventurous programming and tactics for sustainability. Based from Newcastle, Birmingham, and Bristol; with host partners The NewBridge Project, Recent Activity, and east bristol contemporary.

Newcastle is the first of the three cities to host Holly, and conversations sparked during the three-week residency at The NewBridge Project will form the basis of the magazine. Rebecca Huggan, director of The NewBridge Project, will guest co-edit the magazine.

Holly and Rebecca had a few prompts and questions to get the group thinking and talking about what we would like the Newcastle Art Licks to include.

To follow the project blog with updates from Newcastle visit

I'm looking forward to talking more with Holly and seeing how the project develops.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

The agony of weekend loneliness - Paula Cocozza in The Guardian

To all those who spend the weekend on their own, you are not alone. 

Please read this article.

To all those who spend their weekends with their family or partner, please read this article and think about those you know who may be alone, and consider doing something to include them, if only once in a while.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Recent drawing - number series - 8

Exciting news - selected for NewBridge Writing Workshop as part of the tutor team

Last month I applied to the NewBridge Writing Workshop series. This 10-week writing workshop is specifically for those who have not previously had a formal education or experience in writing (e.g. a university programme) but who are committed to developing their writing skills and also building an understanding of how to get published.

Led by the University of Sunderland’s Dr Alex Lockwood (author of the nonfiction book The Pig in Thin Air, and the 2019 novel The Chernobyl Privileges, shortlisted for The Rubery Prize) the programme will include a series of exercise-based workshops aimed at building confidence and a creative toolkit. Workshops will also look at the Working Class Writer’s Plan (developed by North East writer Carmen Marcus, in conjunction with the Bookseller magazine) to help those taking part build a community of contacts, fellow writers and performers in the North East and beyond.

I am delighted to announce that my application has been accepted and I have been selected to be part of the tutor team. This role will include some mentoring or support from Alex Lockwood on developing my writing facilitation.

I'm looking forward to meeting Alex on Thursday, along with the other two applicants who have been selected for the tutor team. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Eyesore progress by marginendeavour

The new year saw marginendeavour turn over a new leaf; we broke out and took things over the edge and back! We don't intend to cover the whole back, but will cover the edge of the outer frame, leaving the strips of newspaper as they are when wrapped around the board.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Culmination of 'Text in Art' strand with Year 2 Fine Art students at Newcastle University

Today was my final session with the group of 2nd year Fine Art students that chose the 'Text in Art' strand that I have been leading. The students all have different interests and make work that addresses different concerns. Many of the students had never thought about the use of text in their own practice, but they all had an underlying interest in text, prompting them to choose this strand.

I have met with the students as a group every two weeks for the past three months. The strand began with me giving an overview of how artists use text within their artwork. I introduced the students to a variety of artists using text in their work. 

Over the course of a couple of weeks each student gave a presentation on one artist of their choice who makes use of text within their work.

Another week was devoted to titling work. I asked each group member to select 5 artists that use titles in an interesting way. We shared these and had a group discussion about titling work.

The main focus for the rest of the sessions was the development of each of the students work. Every alternate week the students brought their work to the table for us to discuss. 

I'd like to congratulate the students for engaging very well with the course and for installing an interesting exhibition. The show is in the project space until Friday 10th January, so pop along if you can. 

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Happy Place podcast by Fearne Cotton - Matt Haig

Since listening to series 6, episode 7 of Elizabeth Day's How to Fail podcast in which she speaks with Fearne Cotton, I began listening to Happy Place, Fearne Cotton's podcast in which she chats "to inspiring individuals who have either made a change in their own lives or who help people every day to find a different way of looking at life."

The people, (mainly celebrities) she interviews range from comedian Dawn French, to five element Acupuncture Master Gerad Kite to classical musician Ludovico Einaudi and heptathlon Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.

I have taken lots from listening to these podcasts, and despite the fact that I lead a completely different life to the people she interviews, the way Fearne talks with her guests makes it easy for them to be genuine and tap into their emotions which then make it easier for me (and other listeners) to relate to and feel a connection with. Fearne's ability to create a true rapport with her guest, whom she may have never met, is the key to their willingness to share. This talent is one that fellow podcaster Elizabeth Day also oozes, and it is because they do so that their interviewees discuss challenging experiences openly, tap into deep emotions and are able to share their vulnerabilities.

The most recent episode that I have listened to features the writer Matt Haig, who at the age of 24 experienced a panic attack that changed his life. He has since written the bestselling book, Reasons To Stay Alive, and discusses with Fearne how writing and talking about his experiences has helped him.

He discusses how he often feels like a fraud because he still experiences anxiety. When readers contact him to say how helpful his book has been to them, he feels he should be able to have used it to 'cure' him of his anxieties. 

The way he deals with this is to be accepting of himself.

He notes how we often talk about battling 
fighting and struggling with our mental health, but recognises that it is more useful if we talk about accepting and understanding our mental health.

Friday, 3 January 2020

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day - Fearne Cotton

After going to 'How To Fail Live With Elizabeth Day' at The Sage a few weeks ago I subscribed to 'How To Fail With Elizabeth Day', the podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right. Every week, a new interviewee explores what their failures taught them about how to succeed better.

Guests have included the chef and cookery writer Nigel Slater, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the creator and star of Fleabag and writer of Killing Eve as well as the politician Jess Phillips.

I recently listened to the episode in which Elizabeth Day interviews Fearne Cotton. Fearne began her extensive broadcasting career as a TV presenter at the age of 15, and has since established herself as a radio presenter, a designer, a writer (of 2 cookbooks, 'Cook Happy, Cook Health' & 'Cook. Eat. Love' as well as 'Happy', in which she writes about her own experiences of happiness & unhappiness), and a social media talent who has her own podcast called 'Happy Place', after which the Happy Place festival was born. She has spoken openly about mental health, specifically her own experiences with panic attacks and anxiety.

The 3 failures that Fearne chose to talk about are

1. failing most of her GCSE's

2. a failed engagement

3. failure to be herself in her 20s

It was when she was discussing her third failure that Fearne broached a subject that she had previously avoided talking about publically, namely her previous experience of living with an eating disorder. I found her honesty deeply moving and feel a real connection to what she shared.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

marginendeavour progress with Eyesore

When we began collaging Eyesore at the beginning of July, we could only hazard a guess at how long it would take for us to cover the entire billboard with the hundreds of different margins that we had cut off newspapers. It seems a little unbelievable that this momentous occasion (for marginendeavour, at least) were to happen on New Years Eve 2019, during our final marginendeavour session of the decade!

When we next meet up we will turn the board around and begin wrapping the margins round the rim of the billboard and onto the back. We want to differentiate between the front and the back of the artwork, and so do not intend to collage over the entire back surface.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

2019 in review

2019 has been a year of ups and downs personally, socially and creatively. It began with a serious foot injury which meant I was bedridden for a couple of months. During this period I turned to writing as my creative outlet. Over the past few months I have lost touch with this aspect of my practice, but writing regularly is one of my priorities for the forthcoming year.

My understanding of time changed during the months of my recovery and on my return to the studio I referenced this in the watercolour paintings that I made of diaries, calendars and notepaper.


Throughout March 2019 Caitlin Merrett King was resident at The NewBridge Project, working closely with studio and associate members to record Group Show, a podcast acting as an informal archive, giving voice to the inner workings of NewBridge, friendships and current collaborations.

Caitlin's podcast became the ideal opportunity for the group of women (see image below) who were involved in the realisation of Bobby Baker's Great and Tiny War, to talk about collaboration and some of the associated issues.

Episode 8

The work of marginendeavour (David Foggo and Helen Shaddock in collaboration), has become an increasingly important aspect of my practice. 

We also contributed to Caitlin Merrett King's Group Show podcast (episode 1) with a work titled 'The Back and Forth'.

Much of our work in the studio has centered around the idea of an eyesore on a billboard. We produced a number of 'mock ups' for billboards, and are currently working on a life-size billboard to be exhibited in the Spring/Summer.

I was delighted to have my work included in a new publication WordPower: Language as Medium.

As life became more turbulent, drawing became one way in which I tried to deal with what was happening.

In August 2019 David Foggo and I hired the NewBridge Project Space for a small exhibition, Bits and Pieces, featuring some of our solo works as well as one work by marginendeavour. We collaboratively curated the exhibition to emphasise links between individual artworks and our practices.

Working within the grid structure of the Frieze listings page, I set myself the challenge of using coloured hole reinforcers in different ways to fill the blank spaces.

marginendeavour created a new eyesore artwork for the Newcastle University Fine Art Postcard Auction.

marginendeavour continue to work on the life size billboard.

After a few months of creation and development, we launched the marginendeavour website. Please visit it at

I also updated my own website

One of my artworks was included in the Gallagher and Turner Open Exhibition 2019.

Another series involved collaging complementary colours in the blank grid spaces within the Frieze magazine listing pages.

In November marginendeavour and Lesley Guy from TOTALLER joined Theresa Poulton, Jill Tate, and Matt Pickering for a roundtable discussion in which we exchanged ideas and experiences with other artists with a shared interest in working collaboratively and collectively.

My most recent series of drawings has been based on the 26 letters of the alphabet. Each A4 sheet features one letter

As the world counts down to the start of a new decade, I am currently working on a series of number drawings.

I'd like to thank you all for your support throughout the year. 

I look forward to continuing to share my artistic process with you.

May 2020 be filled with creativity.