Blackberry Exhibition

Writing for show at Brewery Arts Centre, Cirencester.

This exhibition involved the local community who recorded their written responses to their experiences and memories of picking or eating or cooking blackberries – nearly everyone seems to have a memory.

My mother’s voice was at the centre of my life as were my childhood friends.

The blackberry fruit although still wonderful – miraculous, fierce and sweet – it is the dream of them that has nourished this show.

My mum was a talented dressmaker and knitter and kitted out her four children in sensible but stylish clothes. She made aprons for us and in the summer was happy to let us roam the hot neighbourhood streets in suburban London.

At ten, I wore a wide skirt with no top or shoes – bare feet usually and we would be out for hours coming back with containers full of berries. I had the freedom of the streets and exhilaration of nothing much to do, except roam for blackberries.

One dusty afternoon, a woman in smart shoes called me and my friend Diane “dirty gypsy children”. I knew she was saying something bad and it confused me and I suddenly felt self-concious.

I am no longer roaming the streets picking blackberries in south London and scratching myself on sharp wire and thorns but I have not forgotten the screech of the rail tracks and the rattle of the wooden slats on the bridge over the railway line.

The bridge was the best place to pick the berries but also the most dangerous. The brambles lurked dark and tempting and just out of reach.

Now, in the studio I try to grasp those transitory memory – stained cloth, sewn stitches, discarded containers, maggots, spit and blood.

I am not sure where the pies and jams went, for me it was always outside – grandma trying to find her dog and mum shouting for us to come in as it got dark.


Sarah Palmer. Sydenham Park. London.


Walking Talking and Drawing – A Creative Experience

Teaching this kind of drawing workshop has come from my creative practice, and shared dialogue with other people and artists. I co founded Walking Talking and Drawing ten years ago with Denise Franklin. The workshops were developed from our shared walks, use of sketch books and conversations.

We have different approaches to drawing based on our respective training. I was encouraged to draw as a way of expressing craft and design ideas and Denise was encouraged to draw as an end in itself or as a preliminary activity to painting. Together  we employ a variety of techniques and approaches that means any group working with us gets huge value – both in 1-1 attention to group members and as two artists illuminating our practice and being able to share our knowledge and philosophy.

What will students gain if they come on a drawing course?

The group will explore together the use of different papers, pencils, charcoal, chalk, water based paints and inks, wax, fine liners, sticks, erasers, pens etc. On some courses we use or make simple books to document and hold the work. These books will include drawings, marks, collage, words, inspirations, found objects, thoughts, conversations and montage. These books are personal and can be extended or referred to once the course has finished.

You will leave the workshops with increased confidence and a greater insight into your creativity. You will have fun with materials and have rich conversations with other people. We ran a similar workshop with the Crafts Council new awardees and this is quote from a person in the group: “I could have done this all day! It was great to be drawing without a purpose in mind and reminded me how important these exercises can be in developing space for thinking.”

The workshop days encourage everyone to talk about the days and share their technical and intellectual insights.

Where did you gain your training/experience?

I have research and academic experience based on my time at the University of Wolverhampton: M.A. in Art and Design (Distinction) State University of New York at Buffalo: Advanced course in Ceramics. Goldsmiths College, University of London: B. Ed., Cert.Ed.

Denise attended the University of East London – Post Grad Dip. Visual Theories Newcastle Poly – BA Hons Fine Art & Art History Middlesex Poly – Foundation Art

What teaching experience have you had?

Between us we have extensive teaching experience and I have taught at BTEC, Foundation, City and Guilds, undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I am a fully qualified arts trainer specialising in professional development for creative people. I have delivered many clay and glaze workshops and been employed as a trainer and consultant to the creative sector in the UK.

I have shown my work widely both here and abroad including:

Hastings Museum; The Easton Rooms; Rye Art Gallery; Cockpit Arts, London; Claude Andre Galerji, Brussels, Belgium; Galerie Handwerk, Munich, The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle. Wolverhampton Museum; Six to Six Gallery, New York; Carnegie Cultural Centre, North Tonawanda, New York; Oak Passage Studios, Hastings; Rye Harbour Church, Coastal Currents; St. Mary’s in the Castle, Hastings; Brewery Arts Centre, Gloucestershire. Yew Tree Gallery, Cornwall, Graze on Grand, St.Leonards on Sea, Baxters Gallery, Dartmouth, Devon.



Off Grid

Four artists visited Dungeness, a spit of land on the edge of Romney Marsh and recorded their responses to this landscape of visual and philosophical extremes. A place where sea fret can roll in on you with nowhere to hide but the cafe while the miniature railway hoots and hints at a means of escape.

Living here is determined and anarchic and amidst the deep shingle shelving and dry waves of bleached stones sit random mechanical carcasses, marooned boats and reused post office vans providing comic and sad reminders of the struggle to fish and live.

Firing range notices sit oddly with floating butterflies and gorgeous splashes of wild flowers while the nuclear power station stands sentinel, like a battle ship on duty for eternity, the smart pylons marching inland in regiments pulling the electricity away.

Dungeness. A place of visual and philosophical extremes.