Although we haven’t totally escaped COVID, my life and work are developing a new balance in its wake. I remain busy with new projects and challenges but also working with the art and music collaborators who I’ve loved working with before. It definitely feels like a time to reconnect with drawing again. As I give exhibitions a break I have more energy and interest for those special hours sketching, exploring more personal themes, and trying to understand life after the pandemic.
Murals at Kingston University
Since my first mural went up at the School of Nursing at Kingston University in 2021 I have been commissioned to create two more. Working with Sally Richardson and Jo Low, we were able to build upon the success of the first mural to tackle more challenging nursing themes. The second mural shows the highs and lows of the profession. It tries to capture the real emotions of caring, with nurses involved not just in the physical labour of caring, but also the emotional side. The third, you can see above, represents the importance of collaborative communication, knowledge, empathy and awareness of ourselves, each other and those we care for.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to reconnect with musicians and their music again. Something I really missed during the pandemic. Over the past 12 months I’ve created album covers for the likes of the Lydian Collective, Laura Zakian, Louise Balkwill and the Mailmen, and more to come. I worked on a trilogy of albums for the brilliant Shirley Smart and Demi Garcia Sabat. It was a real challenge to work on albums of improvised compositions, and I had to create a new visual vocabulary to do it. I broke down each players sounds into shapes and attributed colours to them. Then I just played with the shapes, a bit like those Fuzzy Felt sets we had as children.
Illustrating and publishing for the family firm Sampson Low hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. I continue to work with Museum of Walking and Andrew Stuck, the Potcake chapbooks and Robin Helweg-Larsen, the RC Sherriff and the Elmbridge Literary Competition. One of the most surprising and expansive collaborations I have is with the poet SJ Fowler. He has kept me busy over the first half of 2022 with debut publications for students at Writers’ Kingston, 2 new publications for the Poem Brut series, and a new anthology for the European Poetry Festival. I was lucky enough to attend some of the launches and sketch the poets.
Natalie and I continue to broadcast on Radio Nope every Sunday with our Vinyl Thread show. Listen 5pm UK time, Sundays at http://www.radionope.com/. We’re currently getting together our 76th episode, this one is all about Shades of Black, something I’ve been interested in as an artist. I’m working toward another series of The All Vinyl A to Z of Africa, hopefully Radio Nope will broadcast that at the end of the year, or it will go out on SOAS Radio again.
After missing out on my yearly visit to the South of France, Natalie and I returned this summer. It was a really special moment for me. I swam most days in the municipal pool in Limoux, but more importantly sketched every day.