APT Open Studios – inspiring!

After a visit yesterday to the amazing APT Studios in Deptford I was inspired to have a paint. ¬†It’s been a while and I really have to make the time – I love doing it – either in watercolour or acrylics, it’s a great afternoon when I can lose myself in a painting.

The two acrylics in this blog were done this afternoonūüôā

The studios are at Canalside and such an wonderful location Рa bit of a rabbit warren but always something interesting to see at the next turn.  Yet again when I was thinking about what really appealed to me it was the abstract paintings Рand yet I always try to paint things more figuratively myself Рhmmm, a lesson there!

The following artists really made an impression:  Clyde Hopkins , David Webb, Arnold Dobbs, Lou Smith, Gillian Best Powell (I was sad to learn on the train going home that Gillian passed away earlier this year (not much older than me), I was particularly taken with her work and had collected some leaves on the way home to experiment with), Laurence Noga, Stephen Jacques and lastly Heather Burrell Рher sculptures were wonderful and you will see an influence in one of my paintings here!

This is only a small fraction of the work that impressed and inspired me, but I can’t list them all – please do take time to look at their websites and also to go to the next open studios at APT – you won’t be disappointed!

Sunday morning dream

Of course, the reason I was there in the first place was that Victoria Alexander, fellow MA Fine Art Student was a guest artist at APT and it was great to see her work in a different location and to catch up!

Victoria Alexander with her kinetic piece.

And who knows, you might find me posting more paintings here in the future!

Action Stations – in colour and monochrome!

I am very proud to share my pictures of the Action Stations building taken earlier this month.   As I have already blogged, I learnt a great deal doing this assignment Рand I am very pleased with the results.

I used my mindful practice of wandering around the building seeing what caught my eye. ¬†Back home I review the shots always asking “is this about the colour or the shape?” the latter are turned into monochrome, the former are tweaked to enhance the important features – but I seldom do much post-processing.

See my blog on the history of this wonderful building here >>

So here is a sample of the shots – I actually have 60 of them – too many for this blog!

Colour gallery

Monochrome Gallery

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss a similar photo assignment.

My first professional assignment!

The last couple of weeks I have been working hard on my first professional photographic assignment that came out of a chance conversation during our exhibition.    I have spent several hours photographing a site and have put together a portfolio of 60 shots for the client to review.    It was nerve wracking sending it off to them РI hope I got the brief right!

Below are a couple of the shots (all monochrome here but the portfolio is mainly colour) – can you guess where it is?!

I learnt a great deal from this shoot – it was a tricky location, very dark (as you can see) and my initial shots were not nearly good enough quality. ¬† My husband persuaded me to use a tripod (I am always quite anti gadgets and settings, I like my camera to be an extension of my eye, but that’s not always feasible!) – I returned to the venue armed with a very good tripod and took some of the best work I have ever done. (There’s a lesson there…..)

Mindfulness came into play here too, as ever, I wander a location and take it all in, and see what jumps out at me to be taken – what detail can I pick out? ¬†A shadow, a shape or a colour…. ¬† ¬†With this shoot I found I had to be even more mindful, to slow myself down from ‘snapping’ and really concentrate on getting the best available shot – and it paid off!

I’ll be posting more shortly

Fine Art has left the building……

The exhibition is over.  The room is empty.  The project that has consumed the last six months every waking thought is packed away in bubblewrap and I am left a little bereft and wondering what to do.   So how did it go?

Over the 15 days the exhibition was open, we had 1028 (adult) visitors which is an incredible achievement.   It was always interesting watching people viewing the work Рa mixture of art lovers who had come specifically and parents of children at Action Stations who wandered into an alternative universe from the noisy child centred activity around us.

Of the ‘walk ins’ it was clear that some were not used to seeing an art exhibition but in the spirit of wandering around the Dockyard perhaps, they gave it a go and had a good look¬†round.¬†¬† It was very rewarding to feel that we may have challenged some beliefs about what fine art is all about.

We had some favorite moments, like when a child asked his Dad what my 3D installation ‘Opportunity’ was.¬†¬† “That’s art Henry, that’s art” he repliedūüôā


And when we had a bone fide (and rather handsome) celebrity visit who was presumably just visiting the dockyard with their kids for the holidays, but it was lovely of him to drop in.

A couple of kids were unruly and we had some damage to a couple of things (luckily repairable) Рbut we always knew that was a risk but the benefits of having so many kids (not counted in the numbers above) see the show out-weighed that completely.


For my own stats, we were keeping record of the number of times that Being Present was triggered and how many people saw it through to the end.¬† I always knew that a 2 minute art performance would stretch many people as the average time someone will stand infront of a piece of art is usually measured in seconds! ¬† ¬†I’m still working on the data but will post figures soon.

The raffle was extremely successful Р6 original pieces of art from the artists Рthere was something for everyone as entrants could prioritise their favorites.  In the event, when the raffle was called, everyone got their first or second choice.   Jenny Walden, Associate Dean, at the University of Portsmouth was there to receive her winning piece from me which was lovely!

Jenny Walden receiving her raffle prize 

So what made our exhibition so successful? ¬†I put it down to two factors. ¬†Firstly, location location location! ¬†We had a wonderful space in one of Britain’s top tourist attractions – that was a great move! ¬†Secondly the effort and expense we went to for marketing – it was the lion’s share of our spending but worth every penny. ¬†I was always gratified by people coming in with one of our fliers, or who said they heard about us on Twitter or who had read about us in the local paper. ¬†And of course we were on the Big Screen too!

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Exodus on the Big Screen, Portsmouth Guildhall Square.

You can see a virtual Exodus exhibition here>> peppermintsea.com/exodus



Raspberry Pi powered interactive digital art? Absolutely!

One of my favorite pieces at the show is Being Present – an interactive digital piece that aims to show people the benefits of mindfulness – of being present, even if only for 2 minutes.

I have loved watching everyone try it out – not everyone sees it to the end but those that do (and it’s only 2 mins!) say it’s very restful and calming.

Here is the technical spec followed by a gallery of shots from the last few weeks:

Being Present

  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • Adafruit 64 x 32 RGB LED Matrix x 2 (giving 12,288 controllable points of red, green and blue, each with 255 levels of brightness)
  • Adafruit RGB Matrix HAT & Real Time Clock
  • WaveShare 5″ Touch Screen Display
  • Mini Keyboard with Mouse Mat
  • Custom electronics for control
  • Pressure sensitive mat
  • Raspbian Jessie Operating System running Python programs
  • IBM Node Red for Internet of Things

The installation is a collaboration between myself and technical expert Bradley Hawkins who has spent a great deal of time programming in order to get the effect I wanted.   Each time the process runs it is unique for each viewer and if they step away the work closes down.   The colours, shapes and effects have been carefully chosen to show chaos and then peace.

You can try the innovative work yourself at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (Action Stations, first floor) daily until 2nd September.¬† It’s free to enter, just mention us at the gate.