Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Everything Will Be Alright in the Stables at Cheeseburn

Thank you to all who visited the Cheeseburn Open Weekends in May and saw my audio installation 'Everything Will Be Alright' in the Stables.

As well as setting up and closing down my installation, I spent both weekends assisting the small team involved in making the event happen. My duties included greeting visitors, giving directions to all the different places to explore within the grounds, providing information about the artworks and artists, handing out maps, offering marbles to visitors to use to vote for the artist they wanted to win the The Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of The Year award, and generally facilitating the visitor experience. 

We had a remarkable number of people through the gates, and the record for the highest visitor number to Cheeseburn per day was exceeded by a significant amount. Arguably more important was the incredibly positive feedback that we received. 

Visitors commented that the friendly and informative welcome that we offered contributed greatly to their experience of Cheeseburn, and this personal approach echoed Joanna's generosity in permitting the public into her living quarters.

I had some great interactions with people who thoroughly enjoyed my installation. Some had experienced it when it was previously exhibited in Newcastle University as part of my MFA Summer exhibition, and for others it was their first encounter with the work. For me, as well as for others, the work changed with its new surroundings of the Stables. Some found it more relaxing because it was no longer in a black space, but others thought the metal dividers in the stables that cast the shadows on the wall added to the unsettling nature of the work. I was concerned that the situation may detract from the audio and confuse the audience, but this was not the case.

There will be a different sound installation "Lost Voices" happening in the stable yard on the next two open weekends on July 1st/2nd and 8th/9th. There will also be a different exhibition in the gallery. It is well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

At Cheeseburn with the squirrels

I spent the weekend at Cheeseburn Sculpture, near Stamfordham, in the company of 2000 squirrels courtesy of artist Dan Gough. Last year Dan won the Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of the Year competition, and so was supported to realise his proposal and install it in the Cheeseburn Grange grounds. 


This year there are 11 more artists shortlisted for the prize, and once again, the public have been asked to cast their votes to decide the winner. 

Anthony Hensman

Anthony Hensman

Anthony Hensman

Lucien Anderson

Their proposals are exhibited at Cheeseburn in the Gallery and there are numerous other artworks exhibited around the grounds in the gardens and outhouses. 

My sound installation Everything Will Be Alright is situated in the Stables gallery.

Alexander Devereux

Alexander Devereux

Alexander Devereux

Alexander Devereux

There were a record-breaking 530 visitors on Sunday, and the feedback was excellent.


Why not do something different this Bank Holiday weekend and take a trip to Cheeseburn for a cultural adventure. Opening hours are 11am-4pm. There is a cafe on-site. For more information visit the website:


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Everything Will Be Alright at Cheeseburn on May 20th/21st, 27th/28th/29th, 11am-4pm

I am delighted to be exhibiting 'Everything Will Be Alright' in the Stables at Cheeseburn Sculpture during the May 2017 open weekends (20th/21st, 27th/28th/29th).


Cheeseburn  supports artists projects and provides a showcase for sculpture, sound and educational projects with a unique atmosphere where people can encounter the work of new and established artists in the setting of the historic architecture and gardens of Cheeseburn Grange, Northumberland.         

Cheeseburn Sculpture is a fantastic new destination for contemporary art in the North East of England. Our sculpture and exhibition programme for 2017 will feature three curated gallery exhibitions and new artworks and installations throughout the gardens.  

   Joanna Riddell and Matthew Jarratt  

In addition to my installation and the permanent sculptures situated within the Cheeseburn grounds, the May open weekends will be an opportunity to see Cheeseburn's largest commission to date; 'Scurry', an installation in the Walled Garden of 2000 red and grey ceramic squirrels by Dan Gough, winner of the Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of the Year Award 2016. 

Having viewed the exhibition of proposals from the 12 young North East artists nominated for the Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of the Year Award 2018, visitors will get the chance to register their vote.

Visitors are very welcome to visit the May 2017 open weekends, 11am - 4pm on May 20th/21st, 27th/28th/29th

Cheeseburn is on the B6324 (Stamfordham Road) 10miles West of Newcastle. 

I hope to see you there!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Artists Book Market at the BALTIC

I had a short, (was working at the weekend so went during my break), but lovely visit to the artists Book Market at the BALTIC.

It was good to see some familiar faces from both Newcastle but also the artist book community around the UK. Some of the participants from the Glasgow International Artists Bookfairs that I organised were at the BALTIC this weekend, so it was, as ever, great to see what they have been working on and hear their news.

I was delighted to hear from Hugh Bryden that his recent publication Sheep penned, a collection of poems by Hugh McMillan with Linocuts by Hugh Bryden, was awarded a prize worth £1500 last week. 

Congratulations to Hugh and Hugh!

To get your hands on one of the award winning publication with an incredibly soft wool ecofelt cover, visit:

My publication, A lot can happen in fifteen minutes was available on the Newcastle University table which was full of work by other staff and students. It is great to see such a variety of artists books from those at the University and I really hope that this continues. Many thanks to Julia and Erika for organising the table and to all those who helped man the table over the duration of the weekend.

I was excited to see Foundation Press taking over one of the rooms adjacent to the Bookfair, but gutted that I wasn't able to see the performance. They had been printing lots of patterned papers using their risograph machine and were installing them in the space along with a performance from Sacred Paws.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Artists' Book Market BALTIC 13 & 14 May - an opportunity to purchase my publication

On Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 May 2017, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead plays host to an annual & national two day Artists’ Book Market.  

Over 40 national and regional artists, bookmakers, small press publishers, artist’s groups, zine artists and bookbinders will be exhibiting and selling their work direct to the public.  

Newcastle University are showcasing artists books made by staff and students, including my publication, A lot can happen in fifteen minutes, produced collaboration with UnstapledPress.

There’s also a chance to get involved with FREE book making workshops and artist interventions.  Level 1

SATURDAY 13 MAY                          SUNDAY 14 MAY        

Tunnel Books / Bethan Maddocks      Evolving Page / Nicola Singh
11.00 -12.30 or 13.30-15.00               12.00- 15.00
Suitable for 13 years+                        Suitable for all

Foundation Press / Unbound #3          Foundation Press / Unbound #4
with Chooc Ly Tan (DJ Spacer            with Rachel Aggs (Sacred Paws/
Woman)                                               Trashkit)
10.00 – 17.00
Performance 16.00                              Performance 16.00
Fox Irving                                           Fox Irving
11.00-17.00                                        11.00-17.00
Performance throughout the day       Performance throughout the day

Harry Palmer                                      Harry Palmer
13.00-15.00                                        13.00-15.00
Pages of Repetition, drop-in               Pages of Repetition, drop-in
participatory workshop                       participatory workshop


Kitbooks /  Anne Proctor Moonkwayk Studio / Paperwallah / Hazel Terry / Sue Bennet / SideburnedPoet / Katie Forrester / Theresa Easton / Otter Binding / Team Comics Tees / Nancy Campbell / Newcastle University / As Yet Untitled / Stichill Marigold Press / Malcolm Gibson and Rachel Gibson / Roncadora Press /  Heather Prescot / Michelle Holland / Z.A.M / Less Than Five Hundred Press / Greyscale Poetry / Zine /  Asterisk Collective* / Kate Jackson / POUR-ZINE / Shoddy: a disability art project / GINNY / Tamsin Daisy Rees / BBB Book Collective / Gemma Lacey; Red Plate Press /  Stroud Artist Books /
Jessie Churchill / Andrew Robinson & Andrea Campomanes / Andrea Allan & Sarah Tulloch / Hestan Isle Press / Elizabeth Jardine Godwin /  Eileen White  / Chloe Spicer / Julie Macbean / Visual Arts in Rural Communities (VARC)

Introducing Dr Afua Cooper

A poet, performer, scholar, historian, and social and cultural commentator, Dr. Afua Cooper’s expertise in and contributions to the arts, history, and education were recognised when she was presented in 2015 with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Award from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

A celebrated poet she is the author of five books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Copper Woman and Other Poems. She has also recorded two poetry CD’s. Her poetry has a strong sense of memory, history, place, and spirituality. Further, Afua has published two historical novels, which have garnered Canadian and American awards. Her work in the creative arts has been recognised with the Premier of Ontario Award for Excellence in the Arts, a Governor General’s Award nomination, and internationally with the Beacon of Freedom Award (recently awarded for her book My Name is Phillis Wheatley). A founder of the Canadian Dub poetry movement, Afua Cooper was instrumental in organising three international dub poetry festivals between 2004 and 2009.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Site visit - Story World, The Word, South Shields

This morning anthropologist David Dupuis and I had a fascinating meeting with Richard Barber, Cultural Development Officer at South Tyneside Council and Mike Hamilton Strategic ICT Manager at The Word, National Centre for the written word in South Shields.

We are beginning to work on an audio-visual installation that will be exhibited at The Word in April 2018, and the meeting today was specifically to get access to the room where the installation will take place and get an idea of the facilities that can be used. This is no ordinary room, in the Story World space it is possible to create a 360 degree surround sound and visual experience.

Today we saw it being used to full effect with a group of school children. The students were really impressed, as were we!

The visuals can be projected on all walls in the rooms, helping to create the atmosphere of actually being in the environment depicted in the scene. For example, space imagery can be used to transport you into space! With 5 projectors, there are various possibilities in terms of screening photographs or static images alongside moving image, using all or a selection of the walls, repeating images around the space, having different images appear at different times on different walls and so forth.

The room has proven to be very popular with school groups who have been doing creative writing exercises in there. The pupils write as they sit in the projected landscape listening to sounds from that specific scene. Teachers have commented how much the quality of the student's writing has improved since using the Story World facilities.

I am excited and really pleased to be using the space in a less conventional way, and am ever so grateful to the staff at the Word who are ever so helpful and enthusiastic.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Introducing Buddy Wakefield

Photo courtesy of Luke Reid, 2017

Buddy Wakefield is a three-time world champion spoken word artist featured on the BBC, HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, ABC Radio National and signed to Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records. In 2004 he won the Individual World Poetry Slam Finals thanks to the support of anthropologist and producer Norman Lear then successfully defended that title at the International Poetry Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands against the national champions of seven European countries with works translated into Dutch.

An author at Write Bloody Publishing and an original Board of Directors member with Youth Speaks Seattle, Buddy is published internationally in dozens of books with work used to win multiple national collegiate debate and forensics competitions. Wakefield, who is not concerned with what poetry is or is not, delivers raw, rounded, disarming performances of humor and heart.

For full bio please see http://buddywakefield.com/

Monday, 8 May 2017

Introductions to Faculty members in Banff - starting with Tanya Evanson, Program Leader

So, I never got the opportunity to blog properly about this year's Spoken Word Faculty members at Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. Neither did I have the time to write an ongoing reflection of the program whilst I was in Banff.

I am now rectifying this, and over the next couple of weeks will be posting about the above.

To start off I would like to introduce Tanya Evanson, The Spoken Word Program Director

Tanya Evanson is a Montreal poet, performer and director of Banff Centre Spoken Word. She performs internationally, has published six artist books of poetry and four audio recordings including the latest ZENSHIP (2016). In 2013, she received the Golden Beret Award and was Poet of Honour at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Recent work includes publication in Resist Much / Obey Little - Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Dispatches Editions 2017), More Caught in the Act: an anthology of performance art by Canadian women (YYZBOOKS 2016), Where the Nights Are Twice As Long (Gooselane 2015), and her book of poetry Bothism is forthcoming from Ekstasis Editions. Recent spoken word performances include Blue Metropolis, Suoni per il Popolo, Verses Festival of Words, Glastonbury Festival, Edinburgh Book Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Tasmanian Poetry Festival, Australia’s Story Fest and Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. She moonlights as a whirling dervish.


Studio taking shape

Before heading to Banff I moved my art materials and furniture into my new studio at Carliol House, but did not have the chance to sort it all out. I ordered some shelving units so that they would be waiting for me on my return. Last week they were, indeed, waiting for me to assemble (ah the joys of flat pack furniture) and put to good use. 

With the assistance of my very kind and capable parents, we erected the shelving units and positioned them ready for use. I couldn't resist testing out the shelves, but will need to spend some time sorting out the boxes.

Friday, 5 May 2017

I've landed

Wow, what a truly incredible fortnight. I've arrived safely back to Newcastle after a life-changing experience on the Spoken Word residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Canada. It's kind of ironic that, even though I have been living in the world of poetry and storytelling I am struggling to find the words to sum up my experience.

I faced some challenges that I had not anticipated in addition to those I had expected,
I developed a bond with the fellow participants and faculty, unlike anything I imagined,
I was introduced to a number of new concepts and ideas such as Akashic Records and memory pegging
I ate food I have never eaten before
and have learned lots about myself and how to belong in this crazy world.

It is taking a while for me to adapt back to UK time, so please bear with me as I conquer the jet lag. I will be posting more about my experience on the Spoken Word program, but in the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this elk adventure.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Raise A Mug for NewBridge Studio warming at Carliol House

Thanks to all the NewBridge studio holders who joined Holly and I for a cuppa and slice of cake in celebration of the NewBridge move to Carliol House. It was lovely to have a moment to relax with friends and enjoy the warmth of our new home!

There are still some people who have mugs to collect - the wrapped mugs are on the tea trolley outside my studio (next to the NewBridge office). They are all labelled with names, so please feel free to pick up yours.

For anyone who missed the opportunity to purchase a tea towel, please get in touch and we'll be happy to get one to you for the bargain price of £5.