Sunday, 23 March 2014

My right foot

Living beside a stony beach, everyone here always has the same dilemma - which shoes to wear? Old, just found or new?

One of the best things to do early on a weekend morning is to stroll into town along the edge of the waves to buy croissants and the paper. Most likely you'll have the beach to yourself, or maybe see someone out walking the dog, a few distant joggers or a lone sea swimmer slick as a seal, parallel to shore.

But you need to choose your footwear carefully before you hit the shore. There's no way flip flops will make the distance. They'll make you give in. You'll sneak up onto the promenade after less than 5 minutes, hoping to find no swathes of tide-hefted gravel or broken glass. Or you'll wish you'd put on sensible footwear when you get another pebble inside your jelly shoes.

You'd have to find the missing other to this pair, but how about this?

It comes with wildlife. Common goose barnacles. Their name apparently originates from the myth that these creatures would hatch into Barnacle geese.

Think I might stick with my old favourites.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

What we all needed - high tide

What we've all been waiting for. The sun emerged as if it had remembered us at last. For the last week or so it has been BOOTS ON and LET'S GET OUT at every opportunity. 

Yes, my writing notebook has missed me a bit, the project that has creaked along since January has been left to one side, the piano is scattered with open pages and jotted down melodies and the kitchen table offers just enough room to sit and eat if you don't mind rubbing elbows with pastel sketches and a saucer of gritty ink and various twigs I used for sketching.

Things are on the move again.

High tide had me running between blasts of waves crashing in and everyone was whooping and smiling. Exactly what we all needed. And that was just the start of it. We just had the first weekend without gales and rain for months, so you can imagine, we are feeling much happier!! 

I hope the skies are being kind to you where you are. Thanks for all your good wishes. Ax

Sunday, 23 February 2014

A flip without a flop

Funny what storms bring and what they take. Everything has an odd lean, me included. Too much time indoors does NOTHING for my creative work. I'm like a caged bird. I might even be a flip without a flop.

Waiting for breaks in the clouds, I gently cooked the first crop of leeks, delved into the freezer and found a bag of last Summer's gooseberries. Something tells me I'm in need of a dose of green and a burst of light.

No surprise that the West Pier has seen some breaks. I'm amazed it's still standing. I watched it disappear into a slant of black brown clouds that raged from half the sky, peeped out from a seafront arch that glugged with white water spilling from the main road.

These jeans are doing well to stay pegged on that line.

But look what's coming anyway.......

Monday, 3 February 2014

Date with a windmill

Looking out to sea from the hilltop, Rottingdean windmill stands on the coast a couple of mills east from here. It cuts a lonely shape against the sky, faces all the weather throws at it and has many stories to tell. 

And I have been keeping a secret about it for some time now. 

The Futuristic Evolutionary Arts Turbine have created exhibitions at the mill for the last few years. This year, they've invited me to play music inside the mill with my duo partner Chris Parfitt at their open exhibition in May.  The theme this year is Space.

My current work with Chris includes sight specific pieces mixing live and recorded sounds and which are created for and within unusual spaces such as Rottingdean windmill. We'll be creating a live soundscape inside the mill at the Private view and on another date in May tbc, and possibly playing with other invited musicians as well. 

I've walked past the mill many times since I've lived in Brighton, but having spent time inside and  playing and doing some recording there, I've been inspired by the structure and the location to create a new solo piece, as hinted at in my previous blog post! I've been busy lately.

You can listen to this brand new track - called Sketching a windmill - either on the 2014 events page of the F.E.A.T website or on my Soundcloud page where you can listen to other tracks as well as hopefully read what others have said about them. I hope I've managed to capture some of the bleak beauty and solitude of this haunting building and it's atmospheric windswept location.

Chris and I can't wait for our date with a windmill. Please come and join us if you are nearby for interesting artwork, talks, walks, music and the windmill itself. Dates and details will be updated on the website. 

PLUS - there's still time to submit artwork if you would like to. All the details can be found by clicking on the F.E.A.T. open exhibition link above. Their homepage has buttons so you can follow them on Twitter or join them on Facebook. I've been told that this would make them very happy!

Saturday, 25 January 2014


A fluid mosaic. A jigsaw of sensations, images, thoughts, visions still too far off to see. A puzzle that has multiple solutions, none of them found yet. So many possible juxtapositions and options, that the only way to start is to cut some back.

I wish I could have been the spectator, watching the whole process from the slightly bored beginnings, to the sifting and shuffling of meandering threads, to the dynamic burst of energy when something, some elusive quiet spark opened up a new space and I could hear the possibility in what I had begun.

It reminded me of a wooden puzzle I had as a child. Shiny wooden shapes. Red, black, dark forest green and a creamy white where the grain still showed through the stain. These shapes fitted back into their flat square box if you followed a sequence of repeating patterns. The only solutions used rotational symmetry. I was hooked, but I also liked making my own designs that didn't follow the rules and left blank spaces.

Sounds and silences. What I've been working with. New music being composed. Too early to tell you what the project is yet, but it's VERY EXCITING and I'll tell you nearer the time.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Where I sit

Writing on the beach yesterday. Drunk on being happy - as you can see. 

My first week back at work brought special musical moments with some of the kids I work with. I know we'll remember them for a long time. It felt like a gift. What you get when the weather's been bad over the holidays. Everyone stays in and does loads of practising!! 

But then.......Saturday afternoon. Sun warm enough to sit out in. All wrapped up for an hour. And I was happy all over again. I was working on a new piece inspired by the temporary loss of one of my favourite writing spots. 

I've spent many many hours writing on the sun terrace which stretches from across the road near here and heads into town away from the traffic. It's a great spot with wide views of the sea and a strolling procession of dog walkers passing by, like the screening of a film slow enough not to be distracting. There are some shots on previous posts here and here

Sadly, most of that level of the promenade has been fenced off for a while, due to the structure of Victorian arches that supports it being unsafe. First it was just one part behind grilles, but now most of it is inaccessible and the local paper moans about how much it will cost to restore. 

Given that I have a shady garden, I've had to find alternative writing spots for those sunny days when I can't resist being out and about. Not easy on the beach, given how WINDY it's been lately. Looking like some kind of a folly, the Madeira lift links the main road level of the seafront to the sun terrace and lower promenade, where there's a great music venue called Concorde 2. Also being renovated. (Is the whole town falling down and I didn't notice?!!)

Anyway, as you can see, the lift turret is looking lovely after being renovated. Be great if the rest of the work is done by the same team. 

You have to pick your moments to sit there if you want to get on, though. Usually, company comes along, sits quietly for a while swinging their legs and then asks if you're a famous writer. They soon lose interest and walk away when I tell them I'm not. But that's ok. It's a great lookout spot and perfect for daydreaming or having a little snooze.

So, here's the lift looking like a lantern under last night's moon as I walked home. And the next sunny day we have, I'll be there with my notebook.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Seven Sisters by my side

Taking your chance when skies clear. Making a run for it into rare bursts of blue. That's how it's been this holiday. More time indoors than I wanted. Books, wine, radio, lots of writing, dozing through dark afternoons and a much tidier house than I've had for a while!!

Beach times have felt precious in short hours of daylight, but storm tides have hauled away stones to reveal more sand than usual and as we all know, most people only walk a short distance from their cars in areas or astounding beauty or wildness. So here are some solitude shots from last week when I was having fun with the camera.

Birling Gap and the beach beneath Seven Sisters cliffs.

Happy New Year. Ax

Saturday, 21 December 2013

700 Inkhaven posts

Please click on image to read text.

From where it all began on 7th June 2008........ a blissful night of sketching in the relentless rain beside the overflowing banks of Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales. My very first Inkhaven post, "Like a runaway tattoo,"described wild times with an ink pen in my hand.

700 posts later, I can still recall the details of that dramatic night - ink on the run, mud on my boots, the taste of that rain as it ran down my face, the immensity of the sky and the lake and the land looming up all around us, the playfulness in those sketches - what were we thinking of?!! And linked to it always, the mix of nerves and excitement as I started out on a new writing adventure, not knowing where I was heading.

Sometimes, I still don't know where I'm heading! But I think that's a good thing.

Thank you to everyone who has read Inkhaven over the last 5 years, to all my lovely followers and to every single one of you who has commented on my posts. Special thanks go to those of you who've become blog buddies over the years. It truly wouldn't be possible to continue doing this without knowing that you are all out there CREATING NEW WORK in places near and far that I can only dream about.

The rain is battering against the windows. The wind sounds like an incoming surge tide. Everything in the garden has taken on a quirky lean. Bare branches scratch dancing lines against a metal sky. Might have to get my boots on soon.......

Monday, 16 December 2013


I nearly didn't go on the last photo walk. Pier to pier along the beach and promenade. I thought I'd seen it all on the stretch of beach that I use so much as my walking route home from town.

But it's amazing what you notice even in the grim of a dark Sunday near the end of the year. Interesting how your take on things changes just by having a camera in your hand, what you take a closer look at when you see one of your friends setting up a shot of something you overlooked.

Beach cafes closed for the winter, amusement arcades flashing and booming to no-one, kids and a digging dog with the volleyball pitch sand to themselves. Seems like I had a horizontals and verticals theme going on.

Some 190 shots later, it was time to head inside to warm my hands around a cup of tea and catch up with what the others had been snapping.

And then the sun came through those grey skies and I strolled home parallel to a thin band of low tide sand.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Tomorrow in Brighton

I'm looking forward to playing in a string trio accompanying Sharon Lewis tomorrow. She's launching her new album in the wonderful acoustic of Brighton's Unitarian Church and I think it's going to be  a beautiful gig.

Formerly one half of the highly regarded female duo Pooka, enchanting songstress Sharon Lewis performs songs from her new album Roses at the top and her EP Simple things. Tender and heartfelt songs performed in an intimate space with grand piano and guitar. Featuring a string section and special guest musicians. Support from Crack*A*Jack*Crow.

Saturday 7th December, Brighton Unitarian Church, New Rd, Brighton
Doors 8.30pm
Cost £8

Please click here for the link to Sharon's web page. 
If you're in Brighton, why not come and join us?