Wednesday, 17 February 2010



Lots of colour and laughter – but also lost children, picked- pockets, swindled customers and tummy aches and hangovers.

My carnival piece looks at the traditional fortune-teller. You see the woman with a long skirt and bandana looking at the hand of the client, who is holding a crystal ball. She is seated at a crimson clothed table inside a tent. Attached to her ear is a phone wire that leads to the other side of the picture. Here there are two men is striped shirts and grey trousers, sitting at a bank of computers. They are using the data coming through from the crystal ball, which is a fingerprint reader, to access information about banking, health risks etc to enable the fortune teller to give accurate information about current events and so seem to be able to tell the future.

This piece is made from fabric and found objects. 80cm x 47cm

Friday, 5 February 2010

Gollum’s Pocket Part 2

Many other jobs need doing but Gollum’s Pocket tops the list for amusement. I painted an old crepe bandage with silk paints and stitched the vari-coloured strip onto a coffee bag. I wanted the outside to look weedy and as if it had been in and out of slimy ponds. Because Gollum kept his ‘Precious’ the inside needed to be bright and shiny and something that would keep the contents tidy even if they were bits of fish. I didn’t make a closure because Gollum, after all, did loose The Ring from his pocket, so it is now empty. I wondered about fitting a small LED light, preferably solar powered, inside but that seems a bit too hard and have given upon that notion.

I sewed a few beads to represent water droplets and small water creatures onto the bag, and then stitched the fish skeleton on the outside. I made a head and tail from some scraps of shiny cloth and sewed on a glassy bead for an eye. I used a shoelace to make a strap so Gollum could sling the pocket over his shoulder or tie it around his waste. He has a newish looking shoelace, but I suppose he would regularly need to change the lace as the old ones wore out and he came across discarded shoelaces on the edges of ponds.

This was a silly project and I had a lot of fun doing it.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Gollum’s Pocket

I have decided to make a piece for a collaborative project with Charnwood Arts' Big Knitting Group, Every Pocket Tells A Story. This will be an exhibition at Loughborough's Charnwood Museum, which will explore the history and the future of the pocket. (

I thought about my pocket...all the things I would carry if I had pockets like Mary Poppins’ magic bag. A standard exercise on creative writing courses is to think about what the characters carry with them in their pockets or bags, as it is supposed to help you understand them and what they would do in different circumstances. I always carry a compass attached to my bag; very handy when popping up out of a tube station on a gloomy day so that I don’t stride confidently off in the wrong direction.

I decided to make Gollum’s pocket, the sad, slimy forlorn creature from the Lord of the Rings. The outside will be dull grey and green muddy colours, but the inside will be bright and shiny and full of treasures. The pockets have to be no bigger than A6, and not have anything but writing inside which tells their story. I’ll attach the treasures so that they are spilling out and visible.

The most obvious treasures are the gold ring and a fish head attached to a skeleton. I have some shiny gold sweet wrappers, so a ring is easy. The fish is a bit more of a challenge. I was wondering about making the skeleton from toothpicks, or laminating a drawing, but Rod suggested fraying cloth. This seemed like the best idea. Whilst making this I also noticed that curtain hooks have a certain fish skeleton look about them so maybe another time I’ll use them.

I used a bit of artist’s canvas and cut out a fish shape. I then frayed the two sides, and pasted glue to the whole thing. I used some PVA diluted with water which I had left over from another project months ago. Anyone know why PVA and water left in an airtight jar smells completely disgusting? I decided to use it anyways – I don’t suppose the aroma will last, but if a slight stench assailed the nostrils when approaching the pocket that would be very appropriate if a bit surprising.

I’ll make the head and tail from some shiny silver trousers I bought a couple of decades ago which for some reason I don’t wear anymore. A bead for the eye and that should made a great half eaten fish.