Embroidery doodles

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Sometimes just doodling with embroidery, not really knowing where it’s going to go can be fun. Here are some of my most recent doodles.


Inspired by Hannah Frank

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Hannah Frank (1908-2008) was a Scottish artist who just hasn’t had the recognition she deserves. Luckily that is hopefully going to change as Rebecca Scott is organising an art exhibition with works inspired by Hannah Frank and her work. Hannah … Continue reading


embroidery on @BBCSSO brochure

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After my recent adventures backstage at various museums I’m back embroidering again. You might have seen this on my Instagram feed recently but I thought I’d give you a close up. Over the last couple of years BBC Scottish Symphony … Continue reading

Inside a pipe organ and Riverside Museum

In my last post I mentioned that as well as getting into Kelvin Hall to see how the building is progressing we also went to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and Riverside Museum.

The purpose was to create copyright free media for Wikimedia Commons and was organised by Sara Thomas who is Scottish Museums Wikimedian in Residence. It was really fun and although my camera didn’t like the low lighting inside the pipe organ (yes I really did get inside it) I managed some ok photos.

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There are 4 levels within the pipes all accessed by ladders like the ones shown. It’s tuned monthly and is literally powered by the wind being sucked in. Other photographers on the workshop got some cracking photos of the inner workings so check out their Wikimedia Commons page as I’m sure they’ll be uploading them very shortly.

If you’ve not seen it from the outside here’s a wee look at it. It was built in 1927 and is the largest working pipe organ in the world not in a church. The wood is walnut and the pipes are fake (sorry) but they do look good. Grab a sandwich and listen to the organ recital which happens daily at 1pm.

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Our day ended with a trip to Riverside Museum which people often call a transport museum. True, there are loads of different modes of transport on display but with 8 different exhibitions every year it’s so much more. For those wondering the walls are painted either pistachio or lime :-)

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I love the Glasgow street which even has its own weather system, cat & pigeon.

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Of course the outside is also beautiful and we were lucky to see a bit of a Bollywood film being shot as well. The zig-zag design is a lovely nod to the ship building past on the River Clyde and the roofs of the shipyards that once dominated it.

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Oh! While you’re at the Riverside Museum do go on the Tall Ship at the back which is free so please give a wee donation on your way off.

I’ll put more pics up on Flickr and you can get more info here

Sneak preview inside Kelvin Hall

Do you remember going to Kelvin Hall for the shows? Or when the Transport Museum was there? Or maybe even playing badminton or basketball there? Built in 1927 it started to show its age by the time it closed but luckily it wasn’t sold for private use but kept for an ambitious redevelopment.

On Friday I was lucky enough to get a space on a photography trip to see inside Kelvin Hall during its construction as part of a project by Scottish Museums Wikimedian in Residence, Sara Thomas. We also went to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and Riverside Museum butg more about them in my next post. The aim of the day was to create more copyright free media about various museums in Glasgow that anyone can use.

Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone, in their own language. It acts as a common repository for the various projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, but you do not need to belong to one of those projects to use media hosted here. The repository is created and maintained not by paid archivists, but by volunteers. The scope of Commons is set out on the project scope pages.

The redevelopment is being completed in stages and we looked at stage one which will not only house public exhibition areas, a Glasgow Club gym and dance studio but space for Scottish Screen, The Hunterian, National Library of Scotland and Glasgow Museums.

Remember the stairs to the side of the building? Well this is what they currently look like. They will create an indoor street with exhibition space & I know they are in touch with the show(*) community to get old images from carnivals past. Yes, those trick mirrors will be back and at the end of the avanue thery are constructing a huge screen for archive footage to be displayed on it.

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Some parts still look like they could be part of a horror movie but I was pleased to see they are keeping as many original features in the building as possible. Windows have been taken out, repaired and replaced while brickwork / supporting beams have been supported during the reconstitution and will be very carefully released at the end.

I should also say that most of the stairs have been created by hand. Due to the nature of the building they couldn’t bring in pre-made staircases. Each one took about a fortnight to create and of course they still have to be finished and made suitable for the public.

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The new top floor, which didn’t previously exist, is going to be stunning. It has a glass roof and will house offices for either Scottish Screen or National Library of Scotland, storage rooms for The Hunterian and a huge public dance studio.

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Sadly we’re going to have to wait until autumn 2016 to see the finished building but already it is looking amazing. I’ll put more photos on my Flickr stream so you can get a better idea of how it looks.

You can find out more info here

(*) “shows” is a local term for fun fairs and carnivals. There is a strong tradition in Scotland of the shows being run by the travelling community.


embroidered buttons

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   Earlier this month one of my friends, Elizabeth Devine, who makes exquisite wedding and bridesmaid dresses, asked if I would make some buttons to go on the sash of a bridal dress. Naturally I couldn’t resist the challenge. We … Continue reading

the brick and concrete of Newcastle upon Tyne

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I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this but I’ve a thing for buildings. when I go on holiday no-one wants to see my snaps as they know they’ll be of buildings and architectural detail rather than selfies and hot dog legs. Luckily I was joined on this trip by a friend who is an architect and as geeky as me when it comes to taking pictures of buildings.

As I’ve recently mentioned I took a rare trip away from Glasgow recently to see a friend in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. It’s been almost crumbs 30 years since I’d been there and my memory was of a so-so town. Like so many others, Glasgow included, it’s pulled itself up by its boots and boy was I impressed.

Now I know concrete has had a bad rep but Newcastle’s Civic Centre is just beautiful. The use of local brick and slate along with the “modern” concrete is a joy. Yes those are seahorses on the top of the tower and at night they light up red with a blue glow around them.

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Then when you go into the quadrangle you’re greeted with a sculpture which reflects the buildings around it.

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Newcastle University is also worth walking around as it is brick heaven with very contemporary sculpture.

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I wish I’d taken a photo of the pub, The Trent Bar, that we popped into on Friday as it’s one of the many things I miss from my time living in England. I’m so pleased to see that street corner pubs like this still live on.

Yes, I know there are areas of high social deprivation in this city and it’s not all a joy to look at but right now I want to highlight the positive. So here are my final photos of some fab architecture, some of which has sadly been left to decay but boy is it decaying in style.

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Think I might have to go back for another look soon.


playing with variegated embroidery floss

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If you read my last post you’ll know I went down to Newcastle to see my friend’s summer exhibition and if you haven’t read it have a wee read after this post. Anyway, I wanted to make Helen a wee … Continue reading

Helen Shaddock at Hatton Gallery


Last weekend, along with a friend I escaped Glasgow and headed to Newcastle upon Tyne to see Newcastle Universities MFA Summer Show and especially Helen Shaddock‘s new work.

I’m a bit shocked that I’ve not introduced you to her work before. We both share a love of maps and paper and it has been been fascinating to see her work progress over the years. We may work in very different ways and while she is definitely an artist and I’m more of an artisan (someone who works with their hands) her work has inspired me on numerous occasions. Her love of colour and fascination with form is amazing and never fails to inspire me. Earlier this year she left Glasgow to start the Master of Fine Art course in Newcastle and this was my first chance to see how her latest work.

Along with other first, second year students and some Ph.d students they’ve put on an impressive summer show at the Hatton GalleryHere’s a taster of Helen’s work

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If you’re in Newcastle please seek it out. As you can see here (hint: click on the pictures to get more info) there is such a diversity in work, practice and use of space not only for the artist but for you the viewer. You need to explore the whole building to find all the artists sometimes with rooms hiding round corners or opening up at the top of narrow staircases. At the time Helen asked me if I thought there were similarities in their work. I didn’t think so, but retrospectively I’d have to say movement is the key. Not just because you can see they are on an artistic journey but because time/movement is an element of each piece whether by design or through serendipity.

Apart from Helen’s work the other stand outs for me were Paul Martin Hughes’ kinetic sculpture which had an amazing hypnotic rhythm to it. Mirela Bistran’s textiles and naturally dyed work and Yein Son’s Noctarine 3.12.

Well done to all of you, I’m already looking forward to next year.

Thank you to Helen Shaddock for letting my photograph her work.

The exhibition at Hatton Gallery runs until 5th September 2015

more island and archipelago embroidery for my sketchbook


I know! I know! I seem obsessed with creating embroidery on paper. It’s just something to while away the time on my lunch break or even commuting.

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These last two pics – and the top one – are of some machine made lace I created which I embellished with some chain stitch, bullion knots and french knots.