Salon 5

•February 27, 2014 • 2 Comments


The next Salon show at The Old Lock Up Studio will be on Saturday 15th March for one night only.

You are warmly invited to join us, Please find the address for the Old Lock Up on the flyer above.

The contemporary art shows have become a great success and show the work of both international and regional artists in a beautiful grade 2 listed building, built in the 1700′s, in Cromford Derbyshire.

Salon 5 has some interesting and exciting work on show from 15 artists. Please click on the names below to find out about the Salon 5 artists.

Tracey Kershaw

Aly Jackson

Tim Ball

Caroline Lowe

Jane Pepper

Steve Gresham

Nicola Rae

Carol Pairaudeau

Rob Sawer

Anthony Hall

Heather Duncan

Clay Smith

Nicki Dennett

David William Sampson

Grayson Perry  (Private Collection)

We look forward to seeing some of you at the show.

If you need any further information please email us at:

Brick Walls

•February 11, 2014 • 2 Comments



“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” ~ Randy Pausch

I’m currently spending my time researching, thinking, scratching my head, making telephone calls, sending emails and coming up against brick walls….

At each wall that I’ve encountered, and there have been a fair few, I’ve had to ask myself is this possible? Shall I just give up?

I’m carrying on…

I’ve leased The Old Lock Up Studio for almost 3 years now, which coincides with the 3 years since I took voluntary redundancy,  and I need to find a way to purchase the building so as it can become sustainable. Leasing the studio is expensive and the out of date heating system makes it even more unsustainable. The Electricity bill for last Winter was over £700. One of the priorities will be to update the heating system and insulate the building.

I’ve contacted the Heritage Lottery Fund and they have said that it ‘could’ be something that they could fund the renovation of once I have secured the purchase of it. That in itself is exciting, it appears that sometimes leaving a building untouched is a good thing. Downstairs has been pretty much left untouched and has the original fireplace and possibly bread oven from the 1700′s.

I’ve also spoken to the Arts Council and they have encouraged me to contact them again once the studio has been bought. Many of the activities that we run and provide at the studio are eligible for Arts Council funding.

I’d hoped that buying the studio would have been relatively straightforward, but it’s not. I don’t have a big (well it’s not actually that big) lump of money in my back pocket: if I did it would be a done deal! And I’ve found out that Banks and Building Societies aren’t willing to provide a commercial mortgage for it because the amount that I want to borrow isn’t big enough: not enough profit to be had apparently…

So when I found out this news I threw my hands in the air and said that’s it: I can’t do it!

That feeling lasted a few hours and then I was off again: looking, researching, scratching my and asking for advice…

Just by chance I’ve come across a good looking bank, yes they really do exist! For those of you who live in Derbyshire they helped to finance the Ritz cinema in Belper. I hadn’t heard of them: Triodos ~ a sustainable bank it seems.

I’m at home at the moment nursing a particularly nasty cold, surrounded by tissues and beginning a business plan…

Excuse me while I kiss the sky

•February 1, 2014 • 2 Comments

photo (7)It’s a glorious sunny day here in the Derbyshire Dales, it seems as though the grey, long, dark, never ending days of rainy January have finally disappeared.

It also seems quite fitting that the sun is shining today of all days. This weekend we will find out the true extent of the renovation needed at The Old Lock Up Studio. As 2 very kind and generous people are heading from the South of England  to Cromford, one of them an Architect and Builder, to survey, measure up and cost the studio renovations.

I’m feeling excited.

Sitting with Crows

•January 30, 2014 • 2 Comments

I read an article online yesterday about crows…

‘They can make tools, have a language of over 250 distinct calls, and nurture their young for years.  And in the winter, their blackness marks them against gray skies and white snow.  They are survivors; who doubts that they could outlast humankind, if humanity doesn’t kill the planet first.  They are survivors of winter, in their black coats, outlasting the abandonments and losses of the season, inhabiting the cold desert of emotional outcasts and recluses.  We would do well to learn from crows.’

And then today I came across a beautiful piece of music…. I’m not sure if the birds are crows… possibly not?! But I like to think that they are. This is how the piece of music came about:

‘One morning while reading a newspaper, Jarbas saw a photograph of birds on an electric wire. He cut out the photo and was inspired to make a song using the exact location of the birds as musical notes. He was curious to hear what melody the birds created.’

Have a listen and see, I think it’s beautiful:

January is a month that I’m not keen on, it seems endless and we are almost at the end. ‘The Winter Blues are almost as black as crows’


Extracts taken from ‘Sitting with crows, winter blues, mourning and hope’ By Ravi Chandra.

Opportunity Ahoy!

•January 20, 2014 • 11 Comments

studio     The Old Lock Up Studio is the first building on the right of the picture.

I’ve been offered an opportunity and if I’m able to grasp it with both hands I’m pretty sure it’s a great one.

I’ve leased The Old Lock Up Studio for 3 years now and the organisation that owns the property have asked me if I would like to buy the building and the courtyard at the rear of the building. It isn’t for sale on the open market and they are offering it just to me. Exciting.

The studio, if purchased, would remain a working studio and function to some degree as it does now, but be better equipped and maintained. In all honesty it has been uncared for and unloved for most probably a few decades.

Right now I’m going round and round in circles trying to work out how I’m going to make this happen, of course as with most things money is the obstacle that is slap bang in my way. The cost of buying the building isn’t astronomical, it’s very affordable,  but it’s the potential renovation of the building that could be significant.

There’s funding out there that’s available for such things and this afternoon I’ve emailed the Heritage Lottery Fund and DEFRA to make an initial enquiry, later on this evening I’ll also email the Arts Council.

I need to find a mortgage lender that offers small mortgages, but my initial concern is that I could buy the building only to find out that the renovation costs are huge and then realise that I am unable to get the funding to renovate etc.

I don’t know anything at all about buildings, what to look out for and potential pitfalls etc. All I know is there are parts of the building that need an injection of money: how much I don’t know. I don’t know any surveyors etc that might be able to spare me ten minutes to give me some advise and a nod of the head.

I don’t know the best way forward…

My initial plan was to raise funds to carry out a feasibility study, but it seems I may not have the luxury of time on my hands.

I’m looking for ideas on how to move forward, perhaps you have experience of such things and can help point me in the right direction, perhaps you know a surveyor or you’ve got some words of encouragement to give me a push forward and make me feel motivated again: all of the above I need and I’m looking for.

You can leave your comments below or if you’ve got some further advice or information please feel free to contact me via email:

Many thanks for any helpful comments and advice.




A Good Start

•January 8, 2014 • 2 Comments

I will be heading off tomorrow to the Tarpey Gallery in Castle Donnington, Leicestershire, to deliver 3 pieces of my work: see below. A good start to the New Year.

As with previous New Years I’ve decided on one or two things that I want to do more of, improve or learn.

I often work irregular hours and sometimes split shifts, 2 shifts in one day, one of my decisions has been to plan my week ahead with set days/times to spend in the studio, so as to get more painting done.

But as with all best laid plans… things happen & crop up.

I’d set aside 2 afternoons this week, but they haven’t happened due to a close shave & a badly bruised index finger courtesy of my circular saw. My finger is now much better, although still a little sore. I did however manage one full day in the studio prior to my fight with the circular saw and I have some work well under way.

Next week will be different.

Things are looking good and all being well 2014 will be a productive year.
Three Strikes and You're Out‘Three Strikes and You’re Out’ Acrylic and Collage on Paper, 15.5cm x 22cm

Thin Red Line‘Thin Red Line’ Acrylic and Collage on Paper, 4cm x 14cm

Upward Curve‘Upward Curve’ Acrylic and Collage on Paper, 15.5cm x 22cm

Goodbye 2013

•December 30, 2013 • 4 Comments



‘Upward Curve’ Acrylic and Collage on Paper 2013

This time last year I wrote a blog post ‘Goodbye 2012′ and I’ve just had a read of it….

12 months on I’m looking back at 2013 and asking myself has this year been a good year? A successful year?

In many ways it has and I look back at 2013 with a smile on my face.There have been difficult times, days filled with sadness & tears too.

I’d hoped that my struggle would be over this year and in many ways it is. My home sold just before Christmas and it is the final piece in what has been a difficult & messy puzzle.

2014 will for me begin with looking for somewhere to live, a very difficult task indeed when you don’t earn a living wage.There are moments when the reality of it all fills me with fear and sadness. But I have this underlying feeling that life will remain good & more fulfilling than I thought it could be.

I’ve put together a slide show of some of the great moments of 2013.

Many of these moments were made possible with the support, encouragement and friendship I have received during 2013 from friends (old & new), family, loved ones: Including those via Twitter, Facebook and my wordpress blog:

So this is a big fat thankyou to everyone that has helped to make 2013 a great year for me & the studio: all my friends, family, new acquaintances, new friends in Cromford & Derbyshire, old friends that have been in touch & for all the kindness that many of you have given & shared with me, thanks to all the artists that took part in the Salon exhibitions, to all the people who I’ve got to know via facebook, twitter & wordpress: thanks for all of your support!

All the very best to all of you & may 2014 bring with it health, love & happiness!

Some reasons to be cheerful:

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