Thursday, 31 December 2015


A wonderful walk at Covehithe on the gravel beach that separates the sea from the salt marsh and the flocks of seagulls wheeling in the low winter sun. The beach littered with sea-worn masonry, plant bulbs and uprooted trees torn from the cliff tops as the coast is remorselessly eaten away by the tides. A beautiful stretch of raw Norfolk coast, with the small village at ongoing peril and just along the coast from the teashops of Southwold. - In 1910 Peter Ditchfield wrote:[7]
'At Covehithe, on the Suffolk coast, there has been the greatest loss of land. In 1887 sixty feet was claimed by the sea, and in ten years (1878-87) the loss was at the rate of over eighteen feet a year. In 1895 another heavy loss occurred between Southwold and Covehithe and a new cove formed.'

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Winter Shadow Drawing

Drawing plants and their shadows in Norfolk - enjoying the pause in the holiday storm between Christmas and New Year. Wonderful walks around Claxton and Strumpshaw, opposite sides of the Yare river but in so many ways different landscapes and of course for me with different family associations. The hedgerows are uncharacteristically alive, with daffodils actually blooming in this most strange of winters and the birds are louder that unusual, territorial and confused blackbirds blurting out of the bushes. The greenery is reassuringly flattened by wind and rain and the dried stems of cow-parsley stand beautifully silhouetted against the sky along the damp lanes, wet tarmac shining white in the low winter sun.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Buckenham Again

In they drift, from across the broad-bottomed Yare valley and beyond. My solid ground, their purview, my perspective partial. Is their rhythm in their influx, cause and effect that were I to look long enough I would perceive? I know the shape of things; the first opening chapters of aggregation, the caesuric interlude, the third phase of swirling, screaming biomass, the final act of downrush then all dusky, chattered coda.  But tonight, as ever, I doubt the completion of the story; tonight my fears say the narrative will be broken. I have ruined it with my clumsy stroll up the platform; I have come too late, gone too early, been an interloper. Exiled, I should not have come here.

But I cannot break this, nor yet can I impose sense on it, just be in it once again, now in sound, now in crepuscular drizzle. To see all would be to be wise of the sense of it, but to not see it does not mean there is none. Let it be. Let it always be. And breathe.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Lost and Found Exhibition

'Lost and Found' exhibition opened in Bath earlier tonight and I spent a terrific evening talking to interesting people about ideas, memory, collecting, totems and other things. Also talked about the collection of found specimens and the difficulties of their preservation and display, always great to talk to new people about ideas and I drove home trying to clarify what I am doing with my artwork, useful to draw a line sometimes and reflect. Thanks to everyone who came along and if you find yourself in or near Bath then please come and have a look. 44AD Gallery is just next to the Cathedral in the centre of town and the show is free and open until 4pm this Sunday.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Art Workshop - Casting Otter Tracks

Step in Stone - A great day running my art workshop at the Somerset Earth Science Centre, at Moons Hill Quarry, casting otter paw prints, looking at otter scat, getting shoes stuck in mud, casting natural history samples in clay and plaster and dismantling owl pellets - great fun had by all.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Step in Stone

Exploring this excavated landscape has for me been an exploration of the re-colonisation of this once industrial and now strangely lawless place. The exposed geology, and scattered remnants of man’s presence, in what is now a theatre for new activities and a sheltered refuge for emergent creatures and plants. The bones at the bottom of the cliff faces evidence of the sharp invasion of the wooded land, the sudden-ness of the missing earth. The tracks in the mud, the rusting artefacts, the plants reclaiming the beds of gravel and the echoing calls of the nesting crows and kestrels in this sunken lost world. I wander as a traveller looking for evidence of these stories, taking the emotional and biological temperature of this enclosed otherworld. Using the conventions of exploration and collection I mount miniature expeditions, over night camps and order and frame my finds with aesthetic taxonomy in an attempt to capture something of this place of echoes, both literal and metaphorical.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

More owl pellet village action - its all go here.

A terrific day at Ashcott Village Harvest Fair manning the 'What's in an owl pellet  - free stall' the children, and a surprising number of parents, really enjoy it once they learn it's owl pellets not owl poo. Many of the children enjoy the rubber gloves, hand jell and tweezers as much as the pellets, CSI Ashcott, but they all get amazingly good at identifying the bones. 'Is that a vole tibia, no no thats a mouse pelvis'. Great to see the young naturalists coming back to collect there beautifully arranged boards of glued bones later in the afternoon.

As I stood in the sunshine looking at the skies it is now also clear that we have lost the swallows for another year. The swifts left a month ago and now only the house martins remain, cutting their playful paths through the autumn insects and the less crowded and quieter airspace.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Drawing rabbit skull.

Drawing a rabbit skull as a thank-you to Bertie from School who dropped it off for me.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Bees, moths and crabs.

Enjoying beekeeping at the moment, so much to learn and I'm loving it. I know also have a children's bee suit so that the children can help me and get involved. The Ashcott Beerfest is taking up all of my time outside of work at the moment and as we enjoyed managing record crowds over the weekend Gary and I also spied a lot of moths drawn to the kitchen lights and this particularly beautiful elephant hawk moth. On a separate note, whilst shopping for children's shoes in Clarks Village I met a fishmonger on a temporary stall from whom I bought a spider crab, now pickling in formaldehyde in my shed. a beautiful specimen.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Early summer swarms

I'm very glad that we got a series of hives ready for the summer. In the last week we have caught 3 swarms all in and around the apiary field, one on the fence and two in the small trees. The first one was late in the day the night before my college examiner's visit and so we had to rather unceremoniously drop it into the top of the hive. The second on Friday night was a smaller swarm, possibly a cast, and I was able to set up the ramp with a board and knock them onto the sloping sheet and watch them stream upwards into the hive. Astonishing to watch as they all crawl up the slope and into the hive as if they know what you want them to do, every last one. The swarm this evening was larger and I was on my own to start with but it all went smoothly. I was looking for the queen but didn't see her and they all made their way up the slope again. As they stream into the hive a number of them stop with their abdomens in the air perhaps signalling to the others 'this is the way to a good home'. We put some long grass in the hive entrance to keep them in for a day or two while they become accustomed to the hive and can now only hope that they will settle. Great to gain so much experience in such a short time and I know of at least two other swarms seen in the village in the last week so there could yet be more.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Duncan and Ads both looking at bees.

Great to spend half an hour taking down a couple of hives with Ads while he came to stay with us in sunny Somerset. The queen is still not on top form in the third hive but she's still laying. I can't say it's the most flattering 'look' but here we both are in our bee suits.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Looking for Large Blue butterflies in Somerset

Beautiful sunny afternoon looking for large Blue butterflies in Somerset. Wonderful meadow flowers also.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Oh to be in England...

May is pretty sumptuous all round. It is one of my favourite things to stand in woodland at this time of year; you can almost see the canopy closing over your head, whilst sunlight still picks through to dapple over bluebells and early orchids, a soundtrack of chiff-chaffs and bumblebee queens completing the immersive experience.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Old Frames, new hives.

Working on the line of 5 new hives with Bob getting two completely ready for spring swarms and sorting out the frames in the other three. The other hives already containing colonies were busy with bees going too and from in the spring sunshine, clearly making the most of the pollen on the fruit trees and returning with pollen sacks loaded. Going through the piles of old frames it was easy to see how attractive the wax is to a host of other creatures with much of the abandoned honeycomb inundated with wax moth larvae. There were many old frames that had also been eaten into by mice as they sat in the shed over the winter with several still containing mouse nests and one with an abandoned robin's nest.