the brick and concrete of Newcastle upon Tyne

Look away now if brick and concrete aren’t your thing…though I hope you do stay :-)1-IMG_2863

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

This gallery contains 6 photos.

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.

1-IMG_2843 1-IMG_2844 1-IMG_2845I’ve deliberately over-exposed them so you can see some of the stitching better, warts n all. You can probably tell my commuting stitching as it’s definitely not my best work.

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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.


Playing with embroidery on Paper

Sometimes it’s fun just to doodle with paper and thread. Next stage is to build up my confidence in sketching with pen(cil) on paper. I know it’s like anything else, the more you practice, the more you can relax into … Continue reading

Craftivism: #astitchintime for the #livingwage


I believe that an individual can instigate positive change however, when a group of like-minded individuals comes together it is even more powerful. This is certainly my hope for the hanky I’ve just created for the Craftivist Collective / ShareAction campaign I’m involved with.

Did you know that Marks & Spencer is not a Living Wage employer? This surprised me especially as they promote themselves as everything that is good about Britain and have a reputation for being a good employer. I naturally thought they would be one of the 1570 employers in the UK who paid the Living Wage (£7.85 ph UK and £9.15 ph London), employers that include Scottish Government, Santander and Transport for London but they’re not. So when Sarah Corbett of the Craftivist Collective contacted me to find out if I would like to take part in their campaign I gladly accepted.

Along with 24 other people I stitched a unique hanky for one of M&S board members and influential celebrities. I chose board member Laura Wade-Gery not only because of her progressive outlook but because, like me, she likes her classical music. Along with a hand written letter from me it will be hand delivered to her at M&Ss AGM on 7th July. All I ask, as a M&S customer, is for her to do the right thing and implement the Living Wage across M&S. Sarah sums up the campaign beautifully in this blog post.


History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

I chose to quote the opening of Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy as I know she studied history at university, for its importance in recent historical events including Bill Clinton’s speech during the Northern Ireland Peace Process, and more importantly because it is about hope and knowing the right time to be on the positive side of justice. (the character who says these words was injured, spent time in the wilderness but ultimately went on to be the person who freed Troy during the Tojan wars)

I also embellished my hanky with a dandelion puff with our wishes and hopes interspersed with musical notes echoing the poem and our joint interests in music. The colours purple, white and green reflect the suffragette movement and with over 70% of M%S employees being women I hope it is not lost on her.

Naturally other craftivists also wanted to get involved so as part of a more visual campaign they have been tweeting and even stitching outside of M&S stores from Brighton to Irvine engaging with members of the public and raising awareness of the campaign.


I’ll keep you informed of the progress we make however if you want to know more about the organisations involved or the Living Wage her are some links to get you started:

Craftivist Collective

Living Wage

Marks & Spencer


the time is right?


I second that emotion.

Originally posted on fatblackcatjournal:

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Duke St Leith

So I had to do this thing and every time I was about to do it something was wrong. The weather, the light, too tired. Eventually I twigged you just have to do it. There is no perfect moment. The perfect moment is an excuse. We have to get stuck in. In the imperfect midst of it all.

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islands and archipelagos embroidery sketchbook

It’s no surprise that I like my sketchbooks. I’m a sucker for popping in to art stores to see what they’ve got on offer. Often they come home with me and just sit waiting on a shelf for inspiration to strike, teasing me.

My latest sketchbook has just started and is going to be filled with the theme of islands and archipelagos. I’ve made a start with some machine stitched lace which created a beautiful landscape now embellished with french knots, bullion knots, wrapped threads and detached buttonhole stitch. So far it’s all very white but I think colour will gradually creep in.

Here are some of the first islands.

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1-IMG_2819 1-IMG_2817 1-IMG_2816Looking forward to seeing how this progresses and whether or not I’ll be able to close the book at the end :-)

a whole lotta cross stitch

I’ve been getting into cross stitch again thanks to the Stitching Out Stigma project.

This included a kit for a friend which reminded her her of being with her two sister and I completed Peter Rabbit though I think he needs something extra round him.



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I also found a sweet one I’d made from The Bellwether which I must do something with as it’s crying out to be given a cute wee frame.



Stitching Out Stigma

This gallery contains 5 photos.

  Some posts are easy to write whilst others are very difficult. This is one of the difficult ones as it is about me, my life with depression and a fab cross stitch project set up by a fellow sufferer. … Continue reading