AWE1 Private View

AWE- as in shock and awe?

ArtistsWorkhouse based in Studley, near Redditch, home of the British needle making industry, is a converted needle factory, that has been restored to life by Dawn Harris. It is now a vibrant exhibition space and artists’ studios where talks and workshops take place on a regular basis. The beautiful curved Victorian windows with the picked out arches and ledges in dark brick let in natural light- the walls are standard art gallery white, but there is a warmth in the stained wood beams which brings a sense of homeliness and comfort.

The exhibition (open 30 Jan-7 Feb 11am-4pm closed Monday and Tuesday) is an eclectic mix demonstrating the many talents of the artists in residence. I’ll pick out a few that caught my eye- but there was so much good and interesting work I really would recommend a drive up to visit. There’s even a pub (the Victoria Works) literally opposite the entrance…  and numerous National Trust properties nearby, and you’re not far from Worcester or Stratford, so there’s lots to do in the area: what more can you ask for?

Deb Catesby’s powerful abstract oils are always a pleasure- sometimes dark and shadowy, others, for instance her new work, girl in green dress, is feisty and confident. I’ll be interested to see what she produces next.


I was particularly drawn to Debi Eldred’s ceramics, which I have seen a number of times- their draw of exciting glazes, textures and exploration of the natural world, their robust vigour really stimulate the eye.



Other examples included Maria Doyle’s exquisite migration


To whet your appetite for some of the interesting work on show here is a taster:


And the friendly relaxed atmosphere….






Fundraising for Kirongo Primary School, Busamaga, Uganda

As some of you who follow what I get up to know, I’m involved with a charity, SHAPE- which works in rural Uganda to promote health and education. Recently two of the committee went out to be at the official opening of the health centre we raised the money for and had project managed by a local builder, Charlie Smith, who comes from Cheltenham, but does lots of charity work in Africa. This is the first time we have done a project like this; until now we had raised money to purchase anti-malarial bednets and train the local people to use them correctly.

We are continuing to raise money to ensure the health centre is kitted out to a suitable standard. We have appointed a local person to be our representative on the management committee and one of the trustees is hoping to go out to visit some time later this year. The local health authority in Uganda will take over the day to day funding for running the health centre in August (lots of red tape like we have here…) but we will continue to raise money for health provision that goes above what would be provided.


In the meantime, Shan and Julie also visited the local primary school in Busamaga. You will be able to see from the photos that Shan took, that it is primitive- for instance, you can see the girls toilets are basic and lack privacy.

Conditions are no better inside and the school desperately needs funds for basic materials to teach the children. The only way out of poverty wherever you are in the world is through education and these people want to be educated but do not have the resources.

I would like to see if those who read my blog could donate a small amount so that we can raise the funds for the list of items they so desperately need. To donate go to the link on just giving.


list of items needed: please click on link-


Kirongo Primary School 8Dec15



the girls’ toilets
Isaac and Moses, who looked after our SHAPE reps, Julie and Shan on their fact finding trip and for the opening of the health centre. Some of the children who live in the area, who attend the school
Julie, outside the school


Thanks for reading this and for your support!


Creativity and Christianity

Now I know this is controversial but sometimes I just have to say things…

This morning my son finally got round to giving me the letters from school from last week that had been stashed under his football boots, biscuit wrappers and homework in his school bag…

I should explain. I didn’t want my children to go to a faith school. But in this part of rural Gloucestershire there isn’t a lot of choice- most of the primary schools are faith schools and looking at both the non- faith and faith ones, many of them weren’t really cutting the mustard when looking for a school for a child who taught himself to read at the age of 2 1/2. After the inevitable shuffles from one school to another, there comes a point when you give in and admit defeat because it’s clear you’re going to have to give in to your principles….

It’s bad enough that in 6 1/2 years of my children attending this school, I’ve only been invited in twice (by the same infant class teacher) as a real deal (ok atheist but deeply cultural) Jew who can say Hebrew prayers and bring in home made challah and grandma’s genuine Shabbat candlesticks so the children can participate in a real Shabbat celebration, or dreidels and Chanukiah- the menorah- Chanukah gelt and potato latkes mit apfelmousse for a proper Chanukah festival…. so the children have a very narrow view of life in a quiet 99% white anglo-saxon and mainly very local population. How does this prepare them for the world outside their village? Even for Gloucester which has so many different communities there… let alone, heaven forfend, that any children might go to London to college, or Manchester or Leeds or Birmingham, or even Bristol…

Sometimes I wonder if some people round here would be happier living Laurie Lee like, chewing straws under hay carts and dying of TB….

But then to state that creativity and doodling and making- exploring, dreaming… are Christian values….

So those poor cave men and their amazing art, the ancient Greeks and Romans – so all that wonderful town planning, architecture, sculpture, writing… wasn’t creative?  the native peoples of Australasia, the Americas, Asia, the Arab and Jewish philosophers, the Moorish tile makers, fountain designers and sculptors, the Islamic mathematicians and Chinese scientists -the many writers, architects, musicians, poets, artists… the list is endless- who were not, who are not Christian- how does it equate?

What kind of world do we want our children and our friends’ children to live in? A bigoted  one or one where we celebrate humanity, human values, global values and a wish for understanding, tolerance and curiosity for all forms of creativity? And at a time when from the  USA to the Middle East we see and hear so much ignorance and lack of respect, now is not the time to give creativity a narrow religious slant.

It is only through creativity and imaginative thinking that we will ever get ourselves out of the mess we’re in.




Student exhibition coming to Stroud in July

I’m delighted to announce that from 11 July to 15 August, students who attend my workshops and classes will be able to exhibit their work at Woodruffs Organic Cafe in the High Street, in Stroud. Whether you attend classes at Studio 5 or in Bath, Studley, any of the places I’m yet to organise… or at a workshop in your own home, you are eligible to participate!

This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone who wants to get involved- you will be able to sell your work and help with the arranging and hanging of the exhibition. I’m sure we’ll be able to organise a private view, with the requisite meal, pub, celebrations… that must follow!

So if you’ve always wanted to be part of an art show, here’s a fantastic chance to do it!