Genealogy and protest art

During our trip to the UK my Dad passed me a photocopy of a single sheet of typed paper with the military and trade union history of my grandfather, who we knew as Sonny.

During my trip to Australia my cousin Sally asked what had happened to Sonny.He never connected with us and spent his time in a room within the family house until my grandmother died when he underwent a rapid decline and went to live in a nursing home until he was 94.I was told he had a brain injury.I had always assumed he had PTSD.

Sonny was born to a large East End family.Sally had also handed me a bundle of genealogy research.I had original copy of his grandfather’s will.

In 1930 he joined the TGWU as a transfer driver was a delegate I/34 branch-then shop steward.

In 1939 He attended Ruskin College Tutors Course.From my research this was in Oxford.a group believed that people from any social status could be educated to a higher level and Sonny would have received a tuition at minimal cost and went on to Tutor at Leicester College of Technology.

In 1943 He was called up as a Driver in R.A.S.C.Drove Tank Transporters.Driver C.Q.M.S to British delegation three power conference at Potsdam Germany.Finished service in Bombay India. Demobbed Nov ’46.

1947 Secretary elected to National Shop Stewards committee-ran and attended meetings and conferences in Seymour Hall-Holborn Town Hall-Royal Albert Hall-Trafalgar Square and House of Commons during the time leading up to Transport Nationalisation.”Illness then forced me to finish Transport Driving and Union work connected with same”.

He joined U.P.W and P.O employment Dec 1966. I was born in the following March.

We currently have an exhibit exploring Polaroid images at my local museum.My first camera was a Polaroid and It captures the social housing of my childhood and a rare family picture of Sonny.The album was scratched by our cat but is one of the things that came through the Panama Canal when we changed continents.

In my studio there is a small Polaroid of my 10th birthday party which sits at the top of my inspiration board.Fancy dress of course.

Why is this so important to discuss now.Well recently I’ve had cause to reflect on my art while trying to decide on the next career move.I have really enjoyed getting back to work and being a teaching artist exploring social, emotional issues and trying to deliver a ciriculum that teaches empathy.

Empathy was the only element of the health and social care ciriculum I was delivering 10 years ago when I left the UK that I had no road map too.I once refuse a reference as I didn’t think the student had empathy and wanted to study social work.

Make Your Mark has shown me a great basis for connecting with students and I personally feel is a way to explore mindfulness with students from an early age, build community and emotional literacy through art making has been a privilege.

So why the protest art.Well probably back to Grandad Sonny and my Dad’s work for the TGWU in my childhood.Workers and for me ,as a pediatric nurse ,children’s rights run through all my art and philosophy.As a resident alien in the US I have no right to vote so issues inform my pieces.

I was recently told I make art that expresses anger.I actually know what I was expressing in the piece was emotion, freedom of choice and resisting peer pressure.Finding a place while creating to leave sometimes painful memory is great for mental health.Sharing the journey in a non-challenging space has been invaluable.

In my Oxford days I spoke at the first MIND conference address my recovery from a puerperal psychosis to clinical practice.I remember the audience coming up after and thanking me for giving them hope for their family members.In the PNW a year sharing of current work with the BAMdocent body serves much the same purpose.





A New Year

As the daughter of a teacher and Mum I always consider September to be the start of a new year and often for me the start of new chapters.

Our vacation on Mull was amazing.Day tripping to Iona and our single sighting of otters on our wedding anniversary made it especially wonderful.If you ever have the time and are a brave driver I would highly recommend staying at Calgary Hayloft.An amazing Air B&B complex with it’s own art walk, gallery and cafe.Hosts were wonderful.

While we were away my very talented hubby received news that his images are now a part of the Getty Image collection.

We extended our vacation with a last day drive up to Steven’s Canyon Road in Mount Rainier Park.This road is our favorite day out. A quieter side of the park where we have seen bears, love the bends and the views.The road closes in the winter and last weekend the snow-poles were in position reminding us this those days would be shortly returning.

Who wouldn’t be inspired by the view


Calkin’s Collagists

The summer class has been amazing.I’ve reconnected with old work form and found a whole new support group.Larry Calkin’s has been our amazing instructor at Kirkland Arts Center.

I’ve joined Instagram and am finding this much easier than Twitter as it’s visually orientated.Gradually posting old and newer works.

I’ve had some interesting invitations over the summer but will hold them back until the final details are confirmed.

For our last formal collage class we created Robot collages ahead of Larry’s children workshops this ¬†weekend at SummerFest.Fred now peaks out onto my street from there where my metal working bench originally was positioned.I volunteered a few hours on Sunday afternoon and had a wonderful time creating robots.

Gepostet von Essex Debs am Freitag, 3. August 2018

This week we quietly celebrated 10 years since arriving in the US.Time has gone by so fast and in a couple of weeks will be returning to our honeymoon Island,Mull and will celebrate 26 years of marriage while attending a family wedding.I am very much looking forward to spending time with extended family catching up and just walking on Calgary beach.

Back to class

Collage containing 10 elements.Inspired but my family supporting a member living with dementia.

Tip in detail.Origami paper gifted in from a friend.

After a wee technical hitch with the blog I’m back ! After a quick update of my CERT certificate it’s been a busy few weeks.I have finally reconnected with my alumni university in the UK, more of that in the future but I’m pretty excited about this first step in my return to Oxford colleagues and studies.

I have signed up with a previous mentor Larry Calkins to explore collage at Kirkland Arts Center.Collage is an interesting medium.Very honest for the artist but not always understood by the observer.As an English woman in an American classroom I see the world from a slightly different perspective.I’m not sure about sharing the pieces here but will probably edit this selection.The summer will be full of house decorating,visitors and cutting and pasting.

Tracking Journal

Papercloth cover

The brief for this journal is to track weightloss for a Seahawks fan.Blue and teal paper cloth cover with simple fold text block .Graph tip in, motivational quotes and an envelope for recipes completed the project.


Local Journals

I have recently joined a Buy Nothing Local Group on Facebook.I love the idea of reducing landfill and recycling within my local community.

Last Friday group posted Fat Chance Friday.I offered to make journals for people from my over stuffed studio supplies and was amazed to get 7 requests for very different handmade books.I also requested hummingbird/butterfly friendly plants.

Anne requested a journal to document her vegetable garden project.I created this Scrappy Journal from Terry Taylor’s Eco Book which has been in my library for many years.It has been some time since I explored bindings and have already learn a few new text block techniques from Making Handmade books by Alisa Golden a new addition to my collection.

Cover detail from Anne’s Scrappy Garden Journal

Anne gifted me a big pot of bee balm which is already planted in my garden.

Art-tastic Evening

Fun evening at my local children’s museum.Took along my new little echidna creation for company.I didn’t manage to save any pictures of the children’s art work so it would be great to hear from anyone who took photo’s.

Back from Auz

What a fantastic trip a successful conference talk,family gold medal at the Commonwealth games and many memories made along the way.Here are some highlights.

Yarrenyty Arltere Artists- 21st Biennale of Sydney.MCA

Yarrenyty alter Artist.21st Sydney Biennale.MCA

Master weaver Ngarrindjeri.21st Sydney Biennale MCA.
Woven sedge grass.


Amazon Biodome Trip






My birthday present early in March was to tour Amazon’s newly installed bio-domes in down town Seattle.The building provides an alternate environment for work and collaboration within the company.

As an Amazon wife I’m really interested in the occupational health of this specific profession.So much has changed with technology over our life time and it’s interesting to observe at first hand the interaction of technology, humanity and the natural world.

I built my first sedum green-roof on our shed in Wantage in the 1990’s which was a great success and currently enjoy my weekly volunteer gardening in our local botanical gardens.I continue to interested in the connection of gardening and mental health.

I have a copy of Gardening Vertically by Noemie Vialard in my library and can highly recommend it as great reference.

Stocked with mangrove habitat.

I love the texture of these primitive trees




Stitch Play

One of the things I like to do is recycle.I’ve also been inspired by Japanese Boro technique for many years.We have that glass table and I’ve been working on a series of placemats from our families old jeans.

These are really basic starts and I’m looking forward to long light evenings adding more stitches.

I’m off to Sydney Australia this month, am booking an embroidery class and will be connecting with a long term internet crafting friend.