Saturday, 30 March 2013


After yesterdays trials, it has been a glorious day, blue skies and enough sun to not take a coat with me when I went

out for a walk. Bella the soppy dog and I headed out to the Andres Institute for a couple of hours.  ( I needed to have a look at the brilliant sculptures (below) made at the last symposium and to see how mine is getting on (above).

Isidore Batu Siharulidze


I left you last night when I was on a bus stop bench waiting for a coach full of Canadians one of whom might allow me to spend the journey on their lap. I did not accept a lift from a dodgy geezer who didn't like to see any one in distress, my thoughts were on the cynical side and that I would be most distressed if I did accept any of his offers. I did not make friends with bed bugs in a flaky motel, I did not spend the night on the bench like a bag lady. I saw no more of White River Junction than I had to, there was a seat! I had to buy another ticket but I made it to Manchester to be met by all the lovelies! Bella might just remember me but even if not, she has worked out that I can be relied upon to play/scratch ears/ rub tummy as she requests. A big thanks to Susan and Russell who were not going to let me suffer if I didn't get on the bus and today is a glorious spring morning.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Johnson has evaporated

This morning seems a long time ago. I left snow, a sculpture in the back of a car and some wonderful artists after an amazing month. The memories are rapidly evaporating. I did have a successful day in Hanover in the Dartmouth College Archive with some unbelievably helpful archivists (none of them were called Samantha). I now have a wealth of info about TB Huxley Jones, an English sculptor with some public sculpture there. The archivists even went to the trouble of finding out the bus times for me ..........that is the 'ok ' and 'good' bit. I bought an on line ticket to catch a Greyhound bus to Manchester and spent a lovely half hour at the bus stop with an Indian student discussing world population, traffic, economy of North Korea, David Cameron and the cuts,..... he was really interesting. A shuttle bus got us to White River Junction at 5pm ..........that is the 'ok ' and 'good' bit over. It starts to go downhill from now on.  My friend left me at the bus station and 3 hours later and I am still here waiting for a bus that I have a ticket for, that is already known to be running late and is officially already full!!!!  If someone gets off then I will get a seat but will have to buy another ticket in cash! There is now there is a queue of people behind me. The driver is a sweetie but isn't hopeful of a seat tonight because he thinks the bus was full in Montreal, apparently Canadians come down en masse for the long Easter weekend.  Americans don't shut for Easter hence my day in the archive. The driver is more optimistic about getting onto the next bus at 4.30 am. Shall I pop into the motel next door for a few hours zzz - is it worth it? - set an alarm for 3.30 so that I can back here to be first in the new queue. Or will it be full of Canadians thinking that there will be a seat? Does yours truly get on the bus? Does she spend the night on the bus station bench? how about bed bugs in the motel? Find out more in the next blog.......

Thursday, 28 March 2013

looking forward to Bella

I have been up and down the stairs umpteen times today, the studio is cleared, suitcases packed and I spent the afternoon taking an amazingly beautiful spring walk through the woods along the river. I saw no bears or chipmunks or racoons. No camera again so I cannot confirm but I might just have possibly seen what potentially may be a set of bear prints ......but I am not sure. After a few drinks this version of the story may change somewhat.....or even substantially.
This has been an astonishing month surrounded by incredible artists but for the last week it has to be Dartmouth College in Hanover tomorrow, then the weekend with the adorable Bella the dog who has humans Susan and Russell, my american family when I was here for the stone symposium. I really hope Bella remembers me.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


My sculpture stands ! Despite my blasé confidence, I could not be certain but I know now that the piece will stand even though for the moment it has to have clamps and props. I have not set up a video to record the results of three 25lb pieces of marble bouncing off someone's foot, so viewers tonight will have to stand at the door at a safe distance and peek through in case the floor boards wobble and the whole thing crashes. The stone may bounce but the feet will be dented if entirely flattened, probably not recommended, and I don't want a bill from the podiatrist.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


On the home stretch and this last month has flown by. Starting to clear up, put back the tools and throw away the dodgy drawings that would not pass an 'o' level. The weather is stunning, blue sky and warm at 45 deg - just as I am leaving. The birds are out, kinglets everywhere, and something that has a beautiful simple two note call that I haven't seen yet. Results now in -the marble sculpture is just fine and I am happy, sculptor Fred Osbourne has been very encouraging, some thinking, a small soapstone has finally come together, more thinking and a lot of discussion, worked alongside some amazing artists, 1 small granite relief, ditto marble, a wall drawing and alongside all that, an enormous amount of thinking. Written in very little letters I have a reading list a long as my arm. Two brilliant visiting sculptors, Joel Fisher and Heidi Fasnacht, both generous with their time and ideas so all in all just superb. I am sorry to leave but with any luck I shall be back again soon.

Friday, 22 March 2013

fire prevention

I had a beautiful drive up to Troy, right on the Canadian border earlier this week. We had an enormous (to my mind anyway) snowfall the day before but the roads were clear and the scenery was stunning. We stopped for petrol, in front of us was a largish truck, a glorified Landrover type thing. The driver and his oppo get out and set up the nozzle to run itself then move away a bit, not much, to have a cigarette, $$ exchanges hands and a few sizeable wads were trousered. I am sure it was entirely above board, making good the debt for an aged parents groceries or perhaps it really looked more than a tad dodgy. The snow plough had created enormous piles of snow at the side of the road but one of these was blocking the path of a car trying to move out of the garage so the truck driver, sizeable fag drooping from bottom lip, jumps back in the van and starts the engine and he kindly moves the truck a few yards to make way for the other vehicle. He jumps out of the van, dropping ash all over the place, the fag still very much in situ on the bottom lip and checks that the nozzle is still attached. Proudly he tells us his truck does 9 miles to the gallon and as they finally drove away I noticed the company name...Fire Prevention Services.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


I am preparing to become a dictator somewhere, if any one knows a vacancy please let me know. I have the start of the impressive portraits needed for the role. Walking into Lydia Goldbeck's studio the other evening for the open studio night I was confronted by my portrait 9' high, quite strange to be seen through the eyes of someone else. She had also done just my head at around 4', there was no escaping me.

Monday, 18 March 2013

good vibrations and a woodpecker

Well its all go here. Touch wood I am on the home stretch for my sculpture! We are forecast snow for tomorrow - anything up to a foot is predicted and the river has begun freezing over again, an ice sheet has grown to cover half the width since this morning and last night was apparently minus 17. I have brought my sculpture inside now to warm up ready to glue up over the next couple of days. I spent the day getting rid of the awful grinder marks using a great little tool that looks like a meat tenderiser, just before I got going I heard a wood pecker, I knew where it was coming from but didn't get a sighting. I couldn't manage without my gel gloves which thankfully I remembered to bring with me, so my hands are not feeling completely numb, I am  not completely sure how the woodpecker manages. Still no chipmunks and I am sure they are wise to stay hidden for a while yet.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

A lack of chipmunks

Snow started yesterday in the early evening and by this morning mud season was on hold and we have 2" of snow, beautiful, image here of a white landscape.........

and my white marble in the snow.........

I had to sweep out the space I am using before I could work this morning because the snow had drifted in across the floor and was also covering my sculpture. I needed to cut my sculpture today and Harlen and I had to spend quite a while with hot water and a hot air blower trying to de frost the pipes in the stone cutter so that the water would flow and keep the blade cool.. ....... with the ice forming on top of the water tray it felt like we possibly didn't really need to do that. This is a big machine with a huge cutting blade that just slices through stone like it is butter. I managed 2 cuts through the stone and have some black granite to re join it and Eric in Granite City is sending some glue. I had a play with the cutter after I had done what I needed to do, it seemed a shame not to use it while I could but I gave up when the stone I was cutting into was iced stuck to the table by the time I was through. That and very cold wet hands, I decided I don't need to suffer that much!  With the cold weather back with a vengeance, the prospect of seeing chipmunks is slim

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

mud season

Technological meltdown continues, this time with the camera which may or may not revive until I return to the UK. So imagine if you will, a white landscape, bright sunshine but still cold, beautiful spring like day. I am still out the back and working on my stone. The bright weather brings a trickle of visitors and Harlen (sculpture technician) and Devon play table tennis just beyond my work space - orange ball. That was yesterday. I was awake at 5am this morning and it was raining, 14 hours of relentlessly hard rain later and the snow has all but gone, large icy mounds created by clearing paths are much smaller but now the river is rising steadily. Less than 50yards from the studio this could be interesting and maybe I should have brought flip flops after all. Two days ago I could walk out onto the ice on the river, Emily and I were there while she was photographing her sculpture. Today the ice is breaking up fast though is still several feet thick in some places. They have 'mud season' here and it is making a grand entrance.
The rain has put a lot of people off walking anywhere but Joel Fisher the sculptor popped in to say hello this morning and I am just on my way to go and see his slide show, this will be good! - he is a very engaging man to talk to. My sculpture is going well, I am having a fab time. I have a hole which I created yesterday, a deliberate plan and I spent much of today cleaning up the whole piece to give it a bit of clarity. Below would be photos if I had any.

Thursday, 7 March 2013


It is warming up, the snow is melting and dripping off the roof sounding as though it is constantly raining. Standing below any  icicles overhanging the roofs is dicy, lethal if you are underneath when they come down, some of these icicles are more like swords and they come down in groups together.  More snow is forecast and my thermals are definitely working overtime. There was a really interesting gallery talk this afternoon up at Johnson College by Kathy Black one of the directors here, she is showing paintings with mapping connections and after dinner some of the writers here will be doing a reading of their work. Ada, Elroy and Pogo the studio dogs came to see what I was up to this morning but disappeared again as soon as the noise started.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

anti social

At 2 degrees c it is warm today and I was outside all day being entirely anti social with a slab of marble. There is no chance of topping up my vitamin d as I have a respirator covering most of my face and protective clothing everywhere else. It felt good to be outside until my feet began to freeze to the floor when the sun went down, at that point I packed up for dinner. Good progress made using a 9" grinder and an air chisel- think very noisy and very large heavy duty vibrator. Ada the studio dog comes round to check everything is ok occasionally and then wanders off to play with her chum Elroy the pit-bull.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Colonel Panic

Studio tour at 10 am this morning, I have a fine indoor space and access to an excellent workshop. I asked about stone and the studio manager Harlan pointed at several white mounds. Under several feet of snow I have found a lovely slab of marble, several small chunks of granite and a lump of limestone. My computer is still in intensive care suffering 'Colonel Panic' virus and is expected to make a full recovery later this week, it does mean that I am unable to upload any photos till then.

Sunday, 3 March 2013


My computer is intensive care in Burlington Vermont in the tender care of Small Dog Electronics.I had a good stroll through Burlington this morning, Lake Champlain is quite beautiful, before coming up to Johnson, Vermont to the Sculpture Studio. This place is just amazing! Everything for the artist and I now know why I invested heavily in thermals, the river is frozen, spring comes late to these parts.

Friday, 1 March 2013

manholes and coincidences

I shall not bore you with all the photos I took of manhole covers, just this one of the fish. Above is one wall of flags in the State House, I took a tour, it was not by invitation. After that it was a jolly round the galleries with my good chum Jenny Page, followed by a fab meal at the Moroccan Restaurant. The first friday of each month is open studio evening, so artists in a huge complex on Harrison Street and local galleries throw open the doors. Hugely varied work of all kinds, great fun and I met two women separately who will be up at Vermont with me! How spooky is that?