South Preston Street

This is an an Edinburgh side street that links Causewayside to Newington. I was dawdling along it today as it was the last bit of proper flaneuring I had time for on this trip.

Just look beyond the Victorian tenements and there are lots of fascinating details that give away all kinds of clues about the area.

Here are a few:

And not far away more delights-travelling out of town down past the University:

And this morning I wandered round Stockbridge and the area round the Scottish  national gallery of modern art. (BTW fantastic exhibition on at present on surrealism -I strongly recommend you go if you’re interested in art)

I loved the Edinburgh take on a Scottish castle for a primary school-children have already gone back  to school here. And the old Salvation Army building in its militaristic red  brick practically next door. And then a slice of the backend of work-industrial units tucked behind a thoroughfare- yet I was as usual drawn to them and the stark warning.





Edinburgh Fringe Festival -Us/Them

Is it possible to make an audience laugh when you portray the worst of human nature? In 2004 Islamic  extremists took hostage over 3000 children at a school on the Russian  border with Chechyna. You may remember it in the news. More than 300 children died in he carnage of booby trap bombs shooting collapsing building and general mayhem that lasted over 3 days.

And this is what the play is about.  Yet we laughed, we tittered,  the actors played with chalks,  twine, and balloons- arguing over the chalked up diagrams of the layout of the school for the first ten minutes or so- dance and physical theatre developing themes of division and misunderstanding, sexual difference and hierarchy which carried on throughout.

The booby traps and wires entangled with a web of string through which the actors danced and writhed; helium filled balloons’ long string tails hung down into empty space, question marks punctuating the 3-D space and bombs exploded as they were punctured.

The sheer energy expended in dance and movement and the raw emotions of channeling young people dealing with an impossible situation, expecting to be rescued by their fathers on tractors with axes and knives, was almost exhausing to watch. You know the outcome is set yet you wait hoping they  will survive.

The smallest of gestures – the line of blood running down a cheek, to the drama of the terrorists changing position every two hours- so poignantly expressed. There were moments when I had to remind myself  this is theatre-the subtlety of control of movement more akin to dance than theatre.

The production is created by a young people’s  theatre company in Ghent. Now I like Ghent-even though it poured with rain all the time I was there… but now I would rather like to live there a while, if only to see a lot more work of this remarkable standard.



Bernard & Beatrice’s Complete Guide to Modern Art

A Spaniel in the Works theatre production, tonight’s  performance at the Imperial Hotel, Stroud, was a riotously funny very intelligent an witty race through modern art,  from impressionism to BritArt.

A fluid performance  from caberet to declamtory performance,  and singing and joking spontaneous  asides, I hadn’t laughed so much for a long time. Offenbach illustrating  the Fauvists, Parklife transformed into Britart, A Perfect Day becoming “it’s the everyday, culture from the streets, becomes artistic treats, something good”,  a Madonna medley illustrating expressionism and “Bernard” as Alan Bennett as Pablo Picasso at the bateau lavoir, completely side splitting funny.

It is such a shame that there were so few  in the audience as the energy levels were incredible and the writers had put a truly impressive amount of research  to create this piece. And most importantly, it was a great  night out.

Spaniel in the Works is performing at the Stroud Theatre festival 9-11 September ad well as in Worcester  and Gloucester at the end of August.


Stroud Art

I visited the Subscription Rooms today to pick up tickets for Thursday’s ‘Bernard & Beatrice’s complete guide to modern art’ on at the Imperial Hotel near Stroud train station. First performed at the V&A, this should be an entertaining  and irreverent flying broomstick of a trip through contemporary art and how we got there, via Duchamp’s urinal and Damian’s cow.

So I decided to pop into the gallery and discovered Hannah Ferguson’s exhibition, “Between the Lines”. She uses a hollow ball filled with black acrylic paint to make random marks on paper or canvas and then turns them into paintings or leaves them as visual poetry. Personally I go for the black and white poems but can see the attraction of the coloured works which often have gold copper or silver leaf added for extra textual detail. I had a good chat with her about her work which is always an added bonus. Definitely worth seeing and you may just come away with a very livable with piece of contemporary art!

Having been away from town for a while, I’d missed reading about another exhibition on at present in the ex Millets shop on the corner of Kendrick Street. Unfortunately  only open on Fridays and Saturdays and by appointment, Adam White’s “Unlikely things happen all the time”,gazed at though plate glass windows and door is an extraordinary exploration of real and imagined finds, fossils and amber, glass, resin and perhaps ceramic, and remarkable enormous watercolour and mixed media (from what I could tell…) images. I won’t have time to be able to go and see them up close but even through the window the exhibition looked fascinating and exciting. I always like seeing work that experiments with media and concepts and this does both in ample proportions.

what’s happening

To those of you who hang on every word I write (all 3 of you, on a good day, I suspect) sorry I’ve been a little tardy recently.

Hoping to buy a house- a mix of probably Georgian and Victorian, a bit of a project, but very exciting. It’ll mean a move to Stroud, so I and the boys will be able to cut down on car miles- and Michael will be able to roll out of bed into school, if it goes through! I’ve been house hunting for a while and till now not managed to find the right place at the right price, so let’s hope this one is a goodie. It’s tricky trying to find somewhere that I can teach piano from- so not disturb the neighbours, somewhere for students to park, enough space to not have to take over the living room with pianos and music…. And that is good for getting into town, most importantly, to the station, and for the school/school bus.

Warning :there will definitely need to be a housewarming /stripping the walls/carpets party.

And in the meantime, despite it being the holiday season, I’ve been busy teaching music and art, and looking for inspiration.

Rubbed down the pink side table  from the set of three I’m doing for a good friend, today, and another coat of teal green on the largest one. It’ll be painting the decoration next- the most exciting bit of doing up furniture. I’ll be taking inspiration from some Poole pottery. with  beautiful floral designs. Note how the pink is an exact match!



Today’s comes from a lovely little bistro in Stroud that I’d walked past so many times, and never gone into (but then there are an awful lots of places in Stroud I’m yet to discover)

I even managed to get the contact details of the guy who made these fabulous shelves from the lovely owner who went to the trouble of ringing to check the number he had was up to

date! I’m thinking my ever increasing collection of books, and my vintage ceramics, and cookware -somewhere I have some lovely Tala madeleine moulds I bought in a little junk shop in Cornwall years ago- they’d look brilliant!

Woodruffs student exhibition continues

The exhibition continues for another couple of weeks so please do go and take a look, and perhaps buy one to brighten your home!

And if you’d like to join the group and have a go experimenting with media, with techniques and enjoy playing, making art and sharing a supportive environment, then please do come along to our Friday morning art sessions. It’s nothing to do with thinking you are or are not artistic- we are all creative beings and it’s a question of digging down and rediscovering that artist in you that was there when you were a child. Picasso knew what he was talking about when he said we are all born artists. Sessions run from 10-12.30 most Fridays and as the studio isn’t enormous, please do let me know if you’re coming, so I know I have room for you all. £8/session.

the next session will be this Friday, 5th August.

horsebox residencies

This is just a plug for the newly refurbished horsebox aka gallery, residency space- you choose.

It was so much fun, so interesting, so stimulating having guests stay and use the space to such effect- Winston Plowes and Gaia Holmes produced remarkable poetry from the traces, the detritus, the remains of their travels here which I will confess I haven’t taken down yet, as I love having it in the box and returning to look at it. It is fair to say they really enjoyed the experience and I thoroughly enjoyed hosting them, so I am going to encourage everyone I know who might be looking for somewhere different to work for a short time, to come and stay! There’s a caravan t0 doss down in, access to the bathroom etc and a lovely view.

I’m not planning on it staying here indefinitely, as I’m actively looking to move to Stroud, but after Winston and Gaia’s visit, I’ve realised that the horsebox  (and caravan!) has to come too, and I’m going to continue the project wherever I am. So please do book a date, for this summer  or early autumn or perhaps next year. If you’re willing to take the risk with the weather, the winter can be good- or very soggy!  You might get roped into stripping walls at the same time but I’m sure I can trade in home made cake and real coffee….


fairy lights