Trails and Fairs

An art trail, a makers fair and a couple of dates for your diary.

Silverdale and Arnside Art and Craft Trail

When: 23rd-25th June 2017

Where: All around the villages of Arnside and Silverdale. I will be exhibiting in Venue 26, the Methodist Rooms in Silverdale. Our venue is open on the Friday from 1-8, Saturday 10:30-5:30 and Sunday 12:00-5:30.

 Famous for its amazing wildlife, stunning scenery and superb walks, the area is becoming a haven for artists and makers and we are increasingly being tagged the St. Ives of the North!

A long running, successful and much valued art trail, SAACT thousands of visitors every year. With over 50 local artists and makers taking part, the Trail seeks to encourage creativity within the community, promote and showcase the work of amateurs and professionals within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

It is a beautiful location for a trail, with many of the venues just around the corner from a sea view. The Trail includes open studios, large group exhibitions and workshops or you to try your hand at.

For more information, please visit the SAACT website.



When: Saturday 1st July 2017, 11-4pm

Where: Heron Corn Mill, Mill Lane, Beetham
Milnthorpe, Cumbria, LA7 7PQ

This July we celebrate many of the great producers, makers and local businesses in and around the Arnside and Silverdale AONB with a special one day festival! So far confirmed to be joining us are Men in Sheds, Iron Shepherds, Cotton On, Dodgson Wood farm shop products, and Derek Bowman who’ll be bringing an array of unusual homemade instruments!

With more information to be released nearer the time, the festival promises to be a lot of fun for all the family.

Take a gander at the website if you would like to know more.

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Telling in Full – part of the Lancaster Words Festival

Telling in Full is a group exhibition of national and international artists running as part of the Lancaster Words festival from the 6th-8th July. The three-day festival celebrates the creative capacity of language in all its forms, and the exhibition seeks to re-engage with literature through artistic translation.

Ekphrasis, a Greek word meaning ‘telling in full’, is generally understood as the process of exploring a painting or sculpture through words; however it can be more widely applied to the translation of a work in one artistic medium to another.

In this show; painting, sculpture, digital media and performance come together to explore the textual shadows of literature. The artists featured have translated themes, words and ideas into works of art which illuminate the spaces between the lines.

The Opening Night will also feature live performances by the Sound Book Project and Julia Cunningham.

When: Opening Night: July 6th, 6:30-8pm

July 7th, 10am-5pm

July 8th, 11am – 4pm

Where: The Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University, Arts Lancaster, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4YW

Entry is free and families are welcome.

You can follow the event on social media by joining our Facebook Page, or using #tellinginfull

More information about the wider Festival can be found on their website, here. The Festival promises to be an exciting three day event, celebrating the capacity of language in all its forms.There will be readings, interviews, talks, panel discussions, performances and workshops at different venues across the city and on campus.

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Yuanming Yuan

J. Hillis Miller writes that surely nothing is more natural or universal to human beings than telling stories.

No matter how old we get, we never outgrow stories. From fairytales to mysteries, from news to advertising, we are surrounded by them. Storytelling lies at the very core of my practise, its capacity to inform, challenge and dictate culture is unequaled and is an endless source of inspiration.

To wet your appetite for my upcoming Degree Show, and maybe help you make up your mind if you are as yet undecided about coming, I thought I would share some of the thinking and ideas behind Yuanming Yuan, the project I will be exhibiting.

Rabbit, plaster and gold leaf, 2017
Rabbit, plaster and gold leaf, 2017

Completing this university degree has been anything but plain sailing. I’ve had highs and lows, been desperate to drop out yet determined not to, lost all motivation, found motivation, been challenged, stretched and frankly bruised by the process. But somehow in the midst of it, I’ve found the words and skills to articulate who I am as an artist. Yuanming Yuan is both a summary, an expression of all I’ve learned, and a launch pad in the direction of future research and work.

This project is inspired by my love of story, of the strands which connect us to one another, places and objects. It is also fuelled by a life long fascination with history and archeology.

Walter Benjamin wrote that he who seeks to approach his own buried past, must conduct himself like a man digging. He could just as easily have written; buried story.

This is an activity which archeologists engage with daily, the archeological ethic of patience, association and storytelling is reflective of the artist’s own. There in lies a similar devotion to detail, labour in process and the centrality and critical nature of context and concept.

Rat and Rabbit, plaster and gold leaf, 2017
Rat and Rabbit, plaster and gold leaf, 2017

Objects tell stories, decades of critical theory support this, but archeologists will tell you that without context, the object may speak but we will never fully understand. When an artefact is removed from its context, the story becomes the property of others and the true history can be lost forever.

Dieter Roelstraete in his paper ‘The Way of the Shovel’ (which you can read here) was one of the first to acknowledge a new generation of artists engaging with what he calls the histographical mode – or mediums of history-telling. In my practice, the artist becomes archeologist, uncovering untold stories and bringing them to light.

Yuanming Yuan depicts an unhealed wound in China’s history, which still has influence today. The sculptures represent the iconic Zodiac Busts looted from Yuanming Yuan during the Second Opium War by British and French troops. Some have since been returned, but many are still missing.

Rabbit, plaster and gold leaf, 2017
Rabbit, plaster and gold leaf, 2017

Appropriating the Japanese Wabi-Sabi philosophy of transience and embracing damage, as well as the motifs of the museum, the sculptures invite contemplation and attempt to open a dialogue about the events and stories which surround these objects.

The sculptures will be on display in the Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Art at Lancaster University from the 20th – 27th June. More information about the exhibition can be found on the show’s website, here.

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53 More Things To Do In Zero Gravity

 First in a number of exciting events happening in the next few months is my final year Degree Show; 53 More Things to Do In Zero Gravity.

Running from the 20th June until the 27th, the exhibition marks the end of three years of intense hard work, and the start no doubt, of more. I will be displaying my project Yuanming Yuan, alongside the work of 48 other Fine Art graduates, some of whom are featured in this post.

Ella Breese,
Ella Breese,

For a description, you can’t get much better than the official write up:

The title ‘53 More Things to do in Zero Gravity’ alludes to the idea of a group of young artists, working in their studios on a windy hill, with many creative ideas bouncing around, suddenly set free. This exhibition is a celebration of three years of making, thinking, sharing and learning. It marks a ‘cutting free’, a moment of propulsion when these artists carry their ideas and skills into the wider world. Free-thinking and risk taking have been core values of our Fine Art course which encourages crossing boundaries between art disciplines and media. Within this artistic laboratory, philosophical thought mixes with personal experiences, cultural observations and practical discovery. The exhibition presents a diverse range of creative approaches, including contemporary drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, new media and public encounters. The variety of artwork and approaches attests to a vibrant place, and to what intellectual curiosity and creative adventure makes possible. For those who come after, this exhibition might suggest what can still be discovered up on this windy hill.

Emily Birkett,
Emily Birkett,

When: Opening Night: 20th June, 6:30 – 8:00pm

21st-27th June, 11am – 5pm

24th June, 11am-4pm

Where: The work will be exhibited across three venues on the Lancaster University Campus: Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts and Bowland Studios.

Everyone is welcome, and it would be fantastic to see some of you there. For more info and to see more of the artists exhibiting, see the website at 53morethings or email

Ellie Moore,
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Telling in Full – Call for Artists

I’m very excited to share this fantastic opportunity with you all. My very good friend Ellie and I have been lucky enough to have the chance to organise and curate an exhibition as part of the Lancaster Words Festival 2017. You’ll be seeing much more about it in the coming weeks and months, but for now I wanted to share the call out and event details. Without further a-do, here’s the info:


The exciting three-day festival Lancaster Words celebrates the creative capacity of language in all its forms. Featuring guest writers Paul Muldoon and P.J. Harvey, there will be interviews, open mic events, panel discussions, performances and more. Alongside, we are hosting an exhibition at the Peter Scott Gallery: Telling in Full, an exploration of literature through the Fine Arts.

We are issuing a call-out for artists to produce works of art in the medium of their choice, in response to a piece/pieces of literature – be that a short story, poem, set of song lyrics, creative non- fiction piece, or even an entire series of novels.

Ekphrasis, a Greek word meaning ‘telling in full’, is understood generally as the process of exploring a painting or sculpture through words; however it can be more widely applied to the translation of a work in one artistic medium to another. It has a rich history in the visual arts; Rossetti and Turner are well-known for writing poems inspired by their paintings, and works such as Holman-Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil cast light onto hidden facets of the original work, teasing out potential narratives.

We invite you to provide illumination; to look into the textual shadows of literature, and pull out something half-glimpsed. Or indeed, to cast something in a striking new light. Your response could explore the spaces between the lines, or translate the words directly into a new artistic form. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, collages, sound pieces, prints and digital work are all welcome.

The notion, that through ekphrastic translation we can re-engage with stories and one another, lies at the heart of this exhibition.

Our featured writers are Paul Muldoon and PJ Harvey, but you are welcome to respond to any piece of literature, provided the content you engage with in your artwork is suitable for a family audience. If you have any questions as to the eligibility of your chosen content, please send us an email prior to submitting your proposal.



  • Deadline for submissions is 12 noon on the 24th March 2017
  • Applicants will be informed of the results by the 14th April 2017

    Applicants must be over 18 and can be at any stage in their career, including students.

    The submissions system allows for artists to propose a new idea especially for the exhibition, or to submit an artwork they have already made.

    Successful applicants are responsible for insuring artworks, as well as for their delivery and collection. Under exceptional circumstances, help may be available. To discuss this further please get in touch by email.

    The selection committee reserve the right to reject finished works if they feel they are not representative of the accepted proposal.

    There are no artist fees available. However artists will have the opportunity to sell work and to network with other creative professionals.

    Work must be suitable for a family audience.


  • Please fill in the online submission form, located here.
  • If you do not have a website, blog or online portfolio where we can view examples of your current practice, then please send up to 5 good quality images to as well as filling in the submission form. Please include your name clearly in the subject line.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Please share this post with friends and colleagues you think might be interested. It’s going to be a fantastic event and we look forward to receiving your applications!

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How do you stop the copper from reacting?

Firstly, let me wish you all a very Happy New Year! I hope you’ve all enjoyed the festive period and are looking forward to what 2017 might bring.

People often ask me about the longevity of my copper paintings, particularly about whether the copper will continue to react. It’s a question I am always happy to answer, and thought I would outline it in detail here. As an artist, my aim is to produce work that will outlive me, the buyer and hopefully generations to come. Buying original artwork is an investment, and I certainly like to think that works I have purchased will be handed down to my children and grandchildren someday. I’m sure many of us think the same.

There are archival challenges for any artwork. Museums and galleries take great care with how they store and hang work, and even in spite of all their precautions artworks can sometimes need restoring. In 2015, art restorers at the Metropolitan took 10 months repairing Charles Le Brun’s painting of Everhard Jabach and his family.

For my copper paintings, some archival considerations are the same, others are unique to the material. Some are my responsibility as the artist, others the buyers once the work gets home. Of course, much of it is common sense and if care is taken when transporting, handling and displaying the work should remain the same for a long time to come.


My copper paintings are created using chemical reactions. I speed up and enhance natural processes which would usually occur over the course of many, many years if the copper was exposed to the elements. Think of copper statues which have lived in public parks and squares for hundreds of years, oxidising and turning green over time. When using the chemicals I take care to neutralise the reactions, which means that they won’t continue to change the copper. Where there is pure copper leaf on the canvas, it is possible that natural reactions could still occur. However if you follow the advice later in this article, it is unlikely that it will.

The reaction shown here is the one which initially proved difficult to preserve.
The reaction shown here is the one which initially proved difficult to preserve.

Finishing the work

This has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered in developing this unique painting technique. When I started thinking about finishing my aim was to create a protective layer over the copper to protect it from damage or tarnish. However, one of the chemical mixtures changes the colour of the copper whilst also turning it into a powder and this proved highly problematic. I tried various varnishes and resins that brushed on, poured on and even sprayed on but none of them worked. They protected the copper wonderfully and created a beautiful shiny finish, but the varnishes and resins all mixed with the powdery reaction and changed its colour. That wouldn’t do.

Eventually I decided to try a pastel fixative, and having read a bunch of reviews went for Winsor & Newton’s professional fixative. Boy, oh boy would I recommend it! It has worked brilliantly! This spray fixes the powdery reaction to the canvas, making it less likely to brush off, without changing its colour at all.

This method of finishing the work gives the copper an extra layer of protection, and is something I have spent many weeks gruelling over to get right. It’s so important to me that the work is as protected and long lasting as possible.


When working with the copper leaf, I always make sure to wear gloves. This is because the natural oils and acids in the skin can cause the copper to tarnish over time. I’m not suggesting you wear gloves every time you move the work, but care should be taken not to touch the copper unless necessary.

Due to its small scale and colour palette, Winter is the only painting which successfully survived being coated with a gloss varnish. The effect is beautiful.
Due to its small scale and colour palette, Winter is the only painting which successfully survived being coated with a gloss varnish. The effect is beautiful.

Lighting and Atmosphere

These factors apply to any form of artwork. No painting benefits from direct light, as prolonged exposure can cause changes in colour pigments. Diffused natural or artificial light is ideal. Extremes of heat, humidity, cold and dryness should also be avoided. I ensure that the paintings are stored and exhibited in a manner which protects them from exposure to poor lighting or atmospheric conditions.


As someone who dusts once every six months (cleaning isn’t my favourite activity) this is something I have to remind myself of. All artwork needs dusting from time to time, but the copper paintings need dusting more regularly as the myriad of chemicals in the dust can cause tarnishing if left too long.


Hopefully this article reveals the actions I’ve taken to protect the work as well as possible, and answers some questions about the chemical reactions. The basic guidelines outlined here will go a long way towards ensuring the longevity of any artwork.  Any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Leave a comment below or drop me an email at

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…and we’re off!

I’m very excited to announce that, as of today, my official blog and website are both launched!

It’s taken a while, (building a website from scratch is no easy feat!) but the day is finally here.

Make sure to follow me to make sure you don’t miss out on any posts. I have a behind the scenes tour coming up, as well as information about our Open Studio from September 18th-24th. In the meantime, check out the website to browse my artworks and take a read of my artist statement.

Let me know in the comments section if there is anything you would like to see featured on this blog.

Until next time!

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