Exploring aspects of Iceland

September 2012 and MAY 2013

Like many people I am fascinated by ice and fire. The fact that birds could accommodate and nest in such extreme conditions was a real surprise. I joined two small Naturetrek groups, because I was interested in habitat and the environment. I have no experience of regular bird watching or photographing them. I took small sketchbooks on both occasions. The company was good, and with a sympathetic leader I was able to achieve the first part of my exploration. We travelled by small mini bus, stopping at significant bird, geological, and historical sites. My sketchbooks had to be small and usable in all weather conditions and capable of inspiring further work and investigation.

The highlights of the September visit to Southern Iceland were the excellent weather, viewing the northern lights on four different nights and seeing a new country as it unfolded in autumn colour. Birds were an integral part of this experience as they have been for thousands of years. They were migrating.

The following May I booked again – with the same experienced leader but a different group, and flew to Northern Iceland where the geology is even more significant. This time the weather was very cold and spring was late as in the UK but this did not deter the birds or animals. The sounds of bird calls was overwhelming. Nest sites were very imaginative, utilising the edges of shallow lakes to gain warmth from sun and thermal activity. The larval landscape  provided shelter in the form of natural and artificial walls, the latter made with holes to break the force of the wind for young lambs. Rivers, fast flowing and still, provided food and sport for a large variety of ducks and small birds.

Godafoss North Iceland

rescanned iceland May_0001

Laka River North Iceland

rescanned iceland May_0002-1

Dimmuborgir North Icelandrescanned iceland May_0004


This time the weather varied from strong sparkling sunlight to horizontal rain, strong winds and snow showers. Some bird flocks, just balls of feathers landed and sat in pools of sunshine in the most sheltered places they could find.

This time the highlights were of a geological landscape seen in stunning contrasting colours and  varied weather conditions  as  our trip progressed west, then south to some areas we had seen in September, this was in contrast to the autumnal plant colour.

Tourism had barely started and the birds seemed oblivious of humans and got on with courting and nesting; waterfalls with their spectacular energy, the underlying thermal activity erupting, and huge power stations sited in the lava fields. Strange and dream like, this landscape seemed on the one hand very primeval and strong, and on the other like eggshell, very fragile. Myths, legends and the twenty first  century all collide.

My two visits showed an island full of contrasts.  I hope this is captured in my sketchbooks and subsequent acrylics.

Since the Open Studios 2012

Since the Open Studios at the beginning of May, I have visited the Scilly Isles.

Each of the islands has its own special character. It is the wilder side of the landscapes and the early archeology which is of real interest to me. My friend and I have both sailed and anchored here, and felt the frisson of anticipation at navigating in these waters.

Green sea Tresco Scilly Isles

tresco scilly isles

The pool South Bryher Scilly Islesthe pool south bryher scilly isles

The weather conditions, warm and with good visibility this time, proved ideal for visiting the small  islands by the small  ferries. Plants were at least one month ahead and hay making had already started. It was even good enough to do the odd tiny sketch leaving on the Scillonian for Lands End and the Cornish Coast at the end of the holiday.

These rather idylic conditions disguise the fact that over 700 ships have been wrecked on the rocks round the Islands even since the lighthouses have been built!

This of course can be viewed two ways; as a grim reminder of the challengers of going to sea with cargo and passengers, or as a legacy of the threads of skills, and human spirit rescued for new generations to emulate.

There is a collection of thoughtfully carved ship’s figureheads recovered from wrecks  around the Scilly Isles.which is proving a fascinating study, and I am planning some new paintings or collage from studies of these, and the landscape.

As I watched the Jubilee Pagaent with its diversity of ships  progress down the River Thames I started to notice not just the loving care which had gone into the preparation of the vessels for the event, but also themes of gilding , carving and the use of diverse materials, old and very new. All of which should be cherished in the 21st century. More of my thoughts will be posted as art work progresses.

Thank you for coming!

My three days of Open Studio has just finished, and  many thanks to all the visitors who have come through the door.  I now need to recharge the paintbrush and sort out the collage materials.

It would be lovely to see some of you again when I open late November, or before now you know where I am!

Open Studios is a great event for Sheffield, and without all the background organisation involved, a huge variety of creative work might remain hidden. I do hope you enjoyed it all.

New adventures..

I took time off from travelling far last year, so that I could concentrate on the move, but later this year I’ll be off again to the Scilly Isles in Spring, a nature reserve in France in the Summer and to Southern Iceland in the Autumn.
Dawn at the agriturissimo near Tuscany



Come and visit me!

Open Studios 2012
I’ll be opening up my studio over the May Bank Holiday (Saturday 5th – Monday 7th 2012)  11 – 5pm.  Take a look at the site for information about other studios open this year: http://openupsheffield.co.uk.

If you aren’t able to visit this time, but you’d like cards, prints or paintings (almost all of my work can be ordered as cards, A4 or A5 prints), you can always contact me. I may well open a few days at the end of November.

Although I used to exhibit privately when I lived in Sheffield, this is my first open studio here. When I left to live on Anglesey, these exhibitions only happened in certain parts of the country. In Beaumaris Anglesey I took part in the scheme 3 years running, welcoming visitors from all over the UK. There were lovely conversations and meetings with fellow artists.

There is a brochure circulating the city giving directions to all the participating studios.

I look forward to seeing you!
Codling and spotted goby at the Anglesey Sea Zoo

Back to my roots

This is my first year living back in Sheffield. I graduated from Sheffield College of Art  – fine Art painting and after two years in London returned to teach and bring up my family. I continued to paint, exhibit and sell work mainly influenced by the local landscape.

After many years of trail sailing our18’ boat to west and south coasts and the Morbian in Brittany, Ian and I had the opportunity to move permanently to Beaumaris, Anglesey North Wales By now we were able to buy Blanche a 25’ old Westerly Windrush in need of TLC.With encouragement and involvement in The Venturers Yacht Club, the Menai Straits with its complex tides became a good training area. Our  confidence increased and we sailed regularly to the Isle of Man, Cardigan Bay, Northern Ireland. We managed tides, experienced interesting and often glorious weather, sailing eventually round Skye and exploring the Islands of the inner Hebrides. We visited small harbours rather than marinas and mostly anchored or picked up buoys in fairly sheltered places and for four years kept our boat on the Crinan Canal.

Linear coastal journeys seemed to suit us both. We helped two friends bring their 26’ yacht up the Brittany coast calling at most of the small islands, then crossing to the Scillies, Cornwall and back to Anglesey. Ian and I also spent a month travelling on the Canadian west coast ferry system and small planes to Fairbanks Alaska then to Victoria. Sometimes it was just the experience of travel and looking. At other times it was possible to sketch and process these responses to sea and land.

In 1999 I exhibited work done at Anglesey Sea Zoo at Penryn Castle Gwynedd. As well as selling cards locally and in Birmingham I joined the Open Studio scheme on Anglesey and did this at Easter 2008-09 & 10.

2011 was an incredibly busy year for me with a house sale & purchase and all the work that  it entails.

However since Ian’s death in 2006 I have been on linear holidays in Japan, Italy, Morocco and Norway. Last June I joined Dore based Time Travellers Archeology group and am very much enjoying the company and exploration. I hope to keep you up to date with this, Open Studio dates and my travels this year.