An enterprising group of girls/young women from Fredonia State are revisiting the womanhouse concept with an installation of their own work at the Adams Gallery in Dunkirk, NY. Earlier this week I was asked if I had a piece of work they could add to the mix, there was a barren wall, so today I went down and installed one of the wallpapering utopia pieces and the corset installation from transcending madness. I appreciate the opportunity they have given me to reach a new audience with my work! Thank You!! Special thanks to Caitlin for helping me out today, I can’t wait to see everything all polished up tomorrow at the opening! Of course it didn’t occur to me to take pictures until I was driving home…. so you will have to make do with an old image of transcending madness in a past life.

My kids are not coming home between school and the opening night, preferring instead to hang out with their friends and eat at the theatre before the curtain goes up, so I find myself unexpectedly free between classes and I am off to the studio to sit with a cup of coffee and maybe sift through some things, caress some paper and moodle a little…


torn bk

I guess that I have always had an affinity for damaged and discarded things, just recently this book I made several years ago found its way back to me – it went on consignment to a new gallery that ended up folding before it even got off the ground… but anyway – It was one of the few pieces of art I actually made when I was writing my Master’s, a book about falling apart, the quotes are from a book on depression, I will have to go back through my sketchbooks to find the title, I don’t remember it… Its just a simple stab binding, the pages were from a sketchbook, tea-dyed and crumples into disrepair, and dried in the airing cupboard of my flat in Newcastle.


the doctors, the demons and the fathers all begin to sound alike

fly like schrapnel

but sometimes  for some people the story is torn. All the bits of life’s evidence that must be sifted, digested or passed over instead fly like shrapnel


looking at this book I see I haven’t moved very far since then…

When I set of to do my Master’s degree a few years ago, I thought myself so intrepid, but the reality is that I am not really a scholar, but a suburban housewife, I was overwhelmed by the work load and by the realisation that no matter how fast I ran, I would never catch up to my tutors & professors who were so far ahead. I was lonely in a city I had never lived in, and although I got to spend a lot of time with my family back in England, I missed my husband and kids much, much more than I expected to. I did pass my degree, but the most important thing I learned in that year in Newcastle was that I wanted to have my husband and family in my life. A lesson reinforced today by the death of  the wife of a friend. What makes it especially sad is that they didn’t meet until they were well into their middle years, they have had so little time with each other. So tonight I am counting my blessings with gratitude and reminding myself to slow down and live in this now, who knows how many nows we have left to us.

no new news…

abandon hope

I am feeling bad that worry confronts visitors to my blog, I have after all much to be thankful for… a good relationship with my husband and children, friends, warmth, food and money in my savings account. Many gifts, and two jobs… so enough whining! We are working on teh studio this weekend, maybe I will blog about it with pictures tomorrow, right now I am going to enjoy my daughter before she heads back out to school….

TGIF for sure!

So Paula left me a comment about yesterday’s post, so I’m going to try and explain the process behind that work, so here goes, hold on it will probably be a twisted ride!! So lets follow a white rabbit and try not to get lost in my mind! This is the Richardson Building in Buffalo NY. Designed by H H Richardson it is on the historic register, and it’s beautiful grounds were landscaped by Olmstead. It was once the state asylum, before it started falling apart! It is an incredible Gothic edifice… (well Richardson Romanesque if you want to be technical about style!)

Through this building I got to be really interested in women and madness… I created a series of calling cards for women who had been institutionalised in the 1800’s and left them on cars all around the area, I wanted people to remember that real people suffered inside this amazing architecture.

So then I became pretty obsessed with these women and their stories, two women in particular, Adriana Brinckle and Adeline P. Lunt who published eloquent accounts of their stays in the asylum. Adriana used this incredible language full of laundry metaphors, like being smoothed out with a flat iron and cut to a pattern, Adeline spent 28 years in an asylum over a piano, (her father had her declared insane to not pay the bill for the piano, then died, leaving her stranded inside the walls.) Adeline was the inspiration behind the work from yesterday’s post, she was allowed books to read and so tore a letter a day from a page so it would be inconspicuous, then sewed the letters into the seams of clothes she created as part of her therapy. A dressmaker eventually let out a seam on one of these dresses and petitioned for her release. The tenacity of her behaviour over 28 years still gives me goosebumps. It appealed to my sense of humour to take the letters to restore their voices from these really pompous old psychiatric textbooks. It was this REALLY time consuming thing that totally appealed to my way of working, I like intensive and meticulous, repetitive work it turns out (who knows why that is?) The end result became an installation that eventually carried me back to England to write my Master’s dissertation on the link between mad women and immoral wallpaper, (which is a whole other story, and what I am making work about now)

Any how what I was trying to show is how one thing just led to another, and that it’s really just replicating someone else’s process, certainly not anything terribly original…

This is really how I work, I read A LOT, things go into my head, then they all wrap around each other, and jumble up, and then stuff comes out the other side. Maybe my view is occasionally indosyncratic but its not particularly original or unusual. I’m certainly not smart enough for a good original idea! If I learned anything during the tortuous process of writing (?) my master’s  – it was that I don’t know very much, and that I have a really hard time thinking linearly, so while I think every now and then about a PhD, right now I am happy to make art that goes around in circles…

OK shutting up now… have to go to get hair wax to muss up Nan’s coat and fabric dye to make her less white… back to life.

Let’s let the mad girls have the last word today… This is from Adriana’s broadside about her experience in the institution (although obviously I painted them on this banner and hung it at the site!)