Monday, June 22, 2009


Preparing for the exhibition at John Jones and for others I constantly examine and consider my practise. A question (that crops up is why I use embroidery within my works. I studied Mixed Media Textiles at The RCA and managed to get taught by the Professor Graham Crowley of the painting department as well which helped me immensely with my progress and development as an artist. Since then I have met with a number of interesting artists and art professionals who have educated me as well along the way.

So, the Reasons I use embroidery;

Embroidery creates intimacy but it is an isolated pursuit. The spaces I paint combine both these elements, lonely places, yet communal. Isolated from other communities, possibly abandoned.

The structures, the lines, the intricacy and meticulousness of the stitching are a contrast to the restless and agitated places depicted and the expressiveness of the paint.
The alluring qualities or the embroidery threads are used to emphasise the fragility of the spaces depicted.
To challenge conventional use of embroidery as a decorative and safe medium by placing it within paintings which depict unconventional beauty and bleak spaces.
To create complex, multilayered surfaces and combine techniques
It is used to reflect the organic subject matter as it is organic subject matter
opportunity to find new freedoms and expressions in painting
The printed floral farics I use in my works are historically and culturally conscious and symbolic.

So, for me to use embroidery is pretty integral to the works.

A former tutor once wrote this for an exhibition of mine and I thought it was marvellous and articulated a lot of my feelings, for Textiles is a realm in which there is a lot of cute and decorative things and not taken very seriously. My work is concept driven and quite firmly art, whilst craft based in terms of painting and the embroidery in the sense that it is skilled.

‘Textiles are usually associated with decoration, pattern and colour, a soft, warm, feminine material. They are also an undervalued, underappreciated and misunderstood medium. The work of Rosalind Davis challenges the preconceptions that accompany the word, Textiles. Davis subverts the medium and presents us with an ominous, threatening world exposing us to post apocalyptic painted landscapes. The only evidence of human existence is rendered through her use of embroidery. It’s a dark and dirty tactile world that you will be glad not to inhabit. Textiles can be powerful stuff. ’
Freddie Robins Artist and Tutor in Constructed Textiles at the Royal College of Art, London

Art School Scum

So I have decided to start making another painting in between finishing two off. Why not?!. I just keep thinking that I want a great choice of work to pick from for my show at JJ. That I like to err on the side of caution of having too much work than not enough and I feel I am really developing and learning so much in the last few paintings that I don’t want to interrupt the flow.
Besides I am only going slightly mad already and if I sit unoccupied for too long I may just fall into a daze of tiredness so better to keep on the adrenaline rollercoaster.

I went to Graham Crowley’s book launch at City and Guilds on Friday. A beautiful book. The Principal there Tony carter gave a lovely speech about Graham which reflected and struck a note with the artists there how difficult it is for artists to keep body and soul together. The unreasonableness of trying to make art and make money, to keep your integrity and higher ideals as well as surviving.
It’s a struggle

I work part-time in order to allow me to make my work. But I dislike my droning job. Quite a lot. I would prefer to teach part-time art or textiles more but those kind of jobs are few and far between. I have done this particular job throughout my BA, MA and since.
It gives me some security and means I can buy paint and survive. The boring job is the sacrifice I am willing to make so that I can try and make a career in art and it is also only 2 days a week, the rest of the 5 I am painting and happy.

On another note, the brilliant Vented Spleen has published online his very witty ‘ Art School Scum’ graphic comic. The comic illustrates the people you find at Art Schools ( and the art world actually) , this is one of my favourites and very recognisable….not in me I hasten to add…..!
‘ The Self Obsessed Neurotic’
‘ Under the misguided impression that their lives are so much more interesting than anyone else’s, their work will , more often than not, focus on
1.The Artist’s sex life
2.A-boring-to-anyone-other-than-the-artist obsession/fetish of theirs
3. Their childhood.
It is pointless trying to instigate conversation with the self-obsessed neurotic about anything other than themselves as it is a futile gesture. ’

You can see the whole comic on

Have I said how I am running out of time? This week has been torn with appointments I have to keep, and other non-painting work to do- specifically teaching today. Teaching teachers actually, great fun! ( see right for one of my student's pieces)

It is the last couple of weeks I have before delivery of works. I am trying to keep hold of my anxiety, aware that again next week my days are fragmented into other duties and responsibilities. At some point I also need to speak to Ben, my LSP and see how his life is!
I cant do all nighters to finish, my body and mind not ablel to cope. Usually I finish way before the deadline and think why do I worry, but I do!
I also am in desparate need of a studio, I have paintings building up around me as I whirl between them, stitching , letting others dry, painting again.
Ben eyes the living room where my studio is in the corner, usually a little more self contained, he laughs it away but I am finding it hard to cope with the mess myself. I prefer neatness than an avalanche of paper and paints and embroidery everywhere,
on that note I have to go!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Socially Engaged...?

I identified with so many aspects of another blog by Emily Speed on how artists can actually get paid to make art. Whether it is feasible to be able to exhibit or take part in shows when there is considerable cost in time and money to yourself.
I believe in exhibiting even if it is unpaid- it is ,99% of the time it is unpaid- the and the preparation is meaningful. You can contemplate the work, its effect on others, complete a body of work.
It would also seem there is a lot of truth in that you can only get paid for 'projects'. The end result though may not be something you really wanted to do, perhaps a dilution, even with its own rewards. Its a tough balance
I recently went to a workshop on socially engaged practise to see if I could get some tips on this broad subject. I had not realised what ' Socially engaged' practise means until speaking to Artquest who were very helpful and shed light on this subject for me and that my own work carried elements of this; focussing on buildings within communities and the psychology of the society around it.
However, it is a very very complicated area.........! So, as I say , I have gone to a few conferences/workshops to figure this out a bit.....

At many my heart sinks very low , a room of professional funder finders. A whole other genre of artists who understand forms and how to get funding and all sorts of things. Amazing! But I also remember examples of dismal 'public or socially engaged' artworks being chuntered out under this title and funding going to this. In many aspects these ' public' works do not fit under the category of art- and many artists, ( even the ones at these conferences,) argue that there needs to be a new definition of such things

As a painter, it is not seen that your work can be socially engaged on its own, but I know that painting can be. It is interactive, conceptual, it touches people, it makes them wonder, it transports people. Much more so than some ' socially engaged work' which amounts to yet another mosaic for example or work that is actually excluding rather than inclusive because it is over conceptual and hard for non-artists to understand or engage with on any level.
Often these works can be an aesthetic disappointment to boot.

I have begun to try and expand my practise so I can be viable for projects, to interact with participants in an interesting way, getting narratives that actually end up informing my pieces as well. it has helped a bit with proposals as curators also seem to want interactive video /sound.
maybe one day in the far future if I have a hundred years to fill out a grant with the arts council I may even get funding to further my research.....?!But, it has been an interesting journey so far and I have only just begun.


I am having doubts about the Well Hall Road painting I dont know if the size has defeated me- for me smaller, finer works better perhaps....or whether the building is too undetailed. Sometimes a painting just does not work and it is pretty hard to take, devastating in fact, you want it all to work. In ervything there is a lesson and I am not giving up on this one yet.
I can understand how people get furious and rip up their work but I just could not do that.....

I cant see where to fix it or if I am just too close to it to see whether it is any good. I shall leave it for a week and then have another look. And get opinions.......maybe I am being overly critical.
These oils are amazing! I have gone back and started painting over an older painting. it looks miles better already It is somehow easier to go back and be experimental after a few months not looking at something.

You learn so much in each painting. The difficult thing is not going back and re-painting everything! better to move forward....

I am sometimes asked how I can bear to sell my paintings. people have such romantic notions of artists, I guess with good reason. However being an artist is a job like others.

You have to progress, make a living, move up the ladder and part of that is selling. It is also something that makes me proud. I want other people to own my paintings to be moved by them..To be engaged with them. Professional painters do not paint for themselves alone, art is greater than that.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I recently found out the dates of my show at John Jones, to set up on the 6th.
This news is met by a mild stress attack which leads me into clumsy mode. I break a glass, try and put a t-shirt in the bin rather than washing machine and locked myself out of my flat. Wonderful! Luckily for me there is scaffolding outside my flat so I climb up onto it and scramble through a window in our living room, luckily I happened to have my driving license to prove I actually lived there to the bemused scaffolders! To boot I am getting a cold or flu and it makes productivity minus 50% Damn!

Slightly unfortunately I am away in Florence, next week with my father and LSP, booked before I knew my dates!thankfully the opening at John Jones isnt going to be until the end of July where there will be a big summer party. So, I have plenty of time to organise myself and sort my invites out. phew!

A note about my father, he is an artist himself and rather eccentric. He has been married 6 times and could have been a Lord. His maternal grandfather was Sir Norman Stewart who was ready to bestow his title on my father. My father’s father , ( through envy we believe,) told him ‘ A man does not inherit a title he earns it.’ A saying he himself could not live up to. So, there, up in smoke was a parallel life when I could have been a rich artist living somewhere marvellous rather than growing up on a council estate in Brockley! Perhaps I would never have found how social housing and community buildings are so compelling and full of pathos.

I have finished 8,000 Souls Part II and feel rather elated. Well Hall road and a new piece of the Kidbrooke Estate are going well. Oils are getting everywhere, seeping through my apron. I am constantly wiping off incriminating splodges on the computer before LSP returns. I may never go back to acrylics. I love the tones you build up in oils, the subtlety of the colour, its softness and shine. I cant understand people who get technicians to paint their paintings.
The idea is not enough. Being part of the making is so important. To put yourself in it – it is part of a physical expression. For us it is total peace.’Dominique Gonzalez
Also I have given up on the idea that I won’t use embroidery. I feel bereft without it. Paint on its own is not enough, but again there I can be more experimental and random. I will challenge myself with it.

Speaking of which do go and see the excellent and exciting Michael Raedecker at The Camden Art Centre- on until 28th June.