Saturday, 17 December 2011

Rope Vampire

Here are some pictures from the charity gig I did recently...I'm rather pleased with them. The first four are during rehearsal so without my vampiric make-up...:)

(These top four are by Tim Hilario)

(These last two appeared on facebook and I'm not totally sure who took them.)

Monday, 12 December 2011

No time to draw!

I have felt like I've not had the time or, sometimes, the energy to do much art recently. Here are the sketches I've managed...This evening however my love is out playing music, it is stormy and raining, and I have no work to be getting on with...
I shall see if the muse is with me.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Witches and Vampires

I have been extremely lax in writing these last few months, but in my defence I've been completing essay number 3/4 for my Masters, as well as preparing for a Christmas charity gig with 'My Aerial Home'  - one of the places where I train in London.

I have been writing about witches from the early modern period.
It turns out that they had some truly bonkers beliefs back then concerning the body. It is hard to relate to their ideas as being precursors of our own, because they come so steeped in magical thinking.

For instance, in the course of my research I have learnt that (following Aristotle) it was commonly believed that menstruating women could stain mirrors by looking into them.
Devils gathered 'seed' from sleeping men and distributed it about to sleeping women - rather like demonic bees. Witches developed strange teats on their bodies from which to feed blood to their demonic, animal familiars. Women had 'colder' bodies than men, making them less energetically vital, weaker and unable to 'push out their genitals' (i.e. women are inverted men). The Devil himself was said to have a glacially cold penis. Too much pleasure for women during intercourse was suspected of deforming babies, although other thinkers held that no conception could occur without female orgasm, as this was required to release women's 'seed'. The very worst sin and crime was the rather unspecific crime of 'sodomy' which was so awful, that even the devils of hell would never commit it. Oh yes, and menstrual blood could be used in love potions - often by feeding it surreptitiously to men.

The past is a weird and wonderful place. 
Yet, I did start to wonder about magical thinking in our own time.
I have heard the connection made between women's menstruation and the cycles of the moon so many times, that one would be forgiven in thinking that our culture credits a causal link between the heavens and our bodies.
It can be said that the world is made by the way we tell it. So, perhaps there are as many worlds as there are humans seeing, talking and writing. I know I stubbornly persist in many beliefs based on nothing except my feelings. But then, that is all that love is based on, and the capacity to experience that is one of humanity's major virtues...

As well as writing, I have been training as much as I can. My grip seems to be getting better - certain moves are becoming possible which were very much impossible a few months ago.
And I was very happy to be invited to perform on Saturday as part of a charity-raising showcase. The theme was 'A Night at the Movies' - I elected to be a vampire (predictable), Lucy Westenra to be exact. I did a short rope piece which went well - the only minor hitch being my missing certain musical cues (due to applause for some of my trix, which was a nice novelty!). Still, no harm done.

Significantly for me, this was the first of my performances where nervousness was at an all time low. I felt excited, eager almost, which for someone with my history of shyness and near hysterical collapse during performances of any kind is something akin to a Christmas miracle.

Perseverance and bravery can change ones whole world. Which just goes to show that a certain amount of magical thinking can be exactly what is required.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Aerial news

Whilst the sensible trees and birds and so forth seem to be taking it down a level in preparation for winter, I seem to be busier than ever. Not that I'm complaining - I'd rather be busy than staring into space wondering what I'm doing with my life...
I have a cabaret charity gig in Bromley later in December. The cabaret is movie themed, and I have made a very short Bram Stokers Dracula inspired piece. I've always wanted to be a vampire...good times.

The video is me working on two moves I'm not quite ready to perform yet. But I'm getting very happy with my Flag - that's the first move I do. I've always found it rather tricky - I blame my tiny, tiny hands.

I also put in a proposal to Oxford Dance Festival for next March which has been accepted. I'm going to be making a 6-ish minute piece around the theme of gender. Creativity ahoy! Very thrilled and delighted and scared...!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

White Night

I was lucky enough to be a part of another event organised by Draw (headed by the generally marvellous Jake Spicer) in Brighton at the weekend.

The event, a night of drawing from the figure in St Paul's church on West Street, was part of White Night, which is a city-wide, night time arts festival. The theme this year was Utopia/Distopia.

I was initially going to be performing aerial for the night-time drawers, but sadly a last minute hiccup meant that this couldn't go ahead. As I tentatively enter the world of performance it didn't actually occur to me how much trouble health and safety causes when meeting with circus. Not really a surprise (!) but unexpected. I think aerial training involves so much time spent on considering ones strength, physical boundaries, safety etc, that once a routine is formalised not feeling safe in the air just is not an option. Which of course means other people's concerns almost feel misplaced...which of course, they aren't really.

Aerial no-go aside, the night was a beautiful one.
The church was a wonderful space for drawing - the entrance transformed into a distopic space by life-sized, dark puppetry - making the entrance into the open, white, space of the church even more of a relief!

Myself and lots of other people did some modelling -I worked from 8pm till 1030pm. The time passed quickly, partly thanks to live music being played, partly due to the church being full of interesting things to study.

The setting made us - the models, draped in white cloth - look somehow otherworldly. I was put in mind of the Vestal Virgins or the Oracle's at Delphi - or rather, my fantasy imaginings of them.

The very dapper looking Andy, and myself, ventured out later that night to walk the streets and see what White Night was all about...The change from inside the church fit too perfectly with the theme of the night! Outside was - to me - quite a distopic sight...Hordes and hordes of people, drunk, intoxicated and the rest, crawling the streets. The atmosphere was hectic, carnivalesque, and fierce. People were wearing incredible Halloween costumes, several of which I took careful mental note of.
As someone who spends most of her time drawing, reading in libraries, walking across hills, or hanging upside down far from anyone, it was all a bit much.
Eventually we retired from our wanderings back to Kemp Town where we were staying.

All in our another great event, my only sadness is that I never got around to having a draw myself!

Thursday, 27 October 2011


I have been experimenting with fimo...and wire...and beads...

Here is the fimo face, before I painted it.
I sculpted a body and tail about of wire, creating a frame, like a sketch of form from the wire. As ever it was economy which restricted my method - I couldn't afford enough fimo to cover the whole body, so I decided to sculpt a face and hands only.

(There was more detail in the body, not shown in this picture)
The face after painting - I used watercolours.

I made the hands last - here they are cooking in the oven...I eventually attached them using a much finer wire, which I threaded with beads and sequins.

Rotate your view - I forgot to rotate the photo...

I have created a...well, potentially a monster, though these things are of course subjective. I don't think these photos do my creature justice, but then parents never can see the flaws in their own children.

Watch this space for my next puppet/doll.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Today was my birthday, and we went to Savernake Forest for a walk and picnic.
The path was littered with chestnuts which we later made into stuffing for our dinner pumpkin. The woods looked beautiful, glowing in the sunlight, welcoming and creepy in equal turn (as forests often are).

I reflected that 27 years is a very short amount of time.  I must be like a mayfly to the oaks of Savernake.
Though it is long enough to feel bewitched and addicted to life...

Strange mushrooms...

My 26th year contained - starting my Masters, performing my first aerial theatre gigs, working like a nutter, walking Oxfordshire's Ridgway, making some drawings I'm very happy with, making new exciting friends and the first year of my marriage....


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

'Owl' Routine Video

Barney has just posted a video of our gig at the North Wall - taken on a iphone, amazing...

You can also see their beautiful songs performed on their video page here.


Monday, 17 October 2011

Duotone Album launch - still landing...

Saturday was the long-anticipated launch of Duotone's new album, Ropes. Go and have a look/learn/listen here.

The event was truly incredible - a wonderful thing to be a part of. Every performer was talented, inspiring and, most importantly, open-hearted and generous.

It was my third gig to date.
Warming up back-stage, hearing the audience coming in and taking their seats, seeing the house lights go down, the dust from my over-rosin'ed hands drifting in the air, my beating heart...What sensations!
And walking across the stage, hearing the strings for my piece begin, pushing my toes around my rope...catching glimpses of the sea of half-lit, upside down faces from my ankle hang...!

The music from everyone was just amazing - Wod, Jane Griffiths and Colin Fletcher (see Duotone website for their brand new CD) and Duotone themselves - Barney Morse-Brown and James Garrett - supported by a host of voices - I was stunned by Raevennan Husbandes, check out her and her voice!
And the lovely Charlie Henry, flitting about being beautiful, helpful and bringer of picnics...

This is the reason I pursued aerial - to share a stage and time with artists like these.

All images by Kate Raworth

Following photos by Andy Letcher

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Duotone Album launch

I am currently rehearsing like a mad...gibbon (?) for the launch gig for 'Ropes' (great name) by Duotone.  
The gig is happening at a very cool little arts center just around the corner from where I live, which is called The North Wall.

Tickets and info can be found by clicking here.


I am really excited, proud and nervous to be involved in this, as it also involves basically everyone from the Oxford art scene who inspired me to want to be a performer.

Pictures and video to follow after Saturday.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Drawing Circus!

My first Autumnal post, though is barely felt like it for the last few days...Forgive my Englishness in commenting on the weather, but for once I think it actually was note-worthy.

What is more note-worthy is the wonder that was the Drawing Circus in Brighton!
It was a fairy intensive day - I worked 9am till getting on the train home at 9pm, with six hours modelling in the middle. Interesting how 12 working hours can wizz by when your creative juices are flowing and you are surrounded by welcoming, creative types.
Not to mention half-clad/nude extremely beautiful women folk. I don't think they'll mind me saying so...

I took the part of the Aerialist in a crumbling circus...My new rope made a beautiful prop, although sadly I was banned from climbing it due to the theatres health and safety policy. I took this as a challenge, and tried to express on the ground the relationship of the equipment to my body. I hope I communicated something of the aerial to the sea of concentrated drawers I posed for.

Jake Spicer's vision of theatre meets tableau meets life drawings, combined with his aesthetic made for a beautifully inspiring setting. I was a little torn as to what was more fun - modelling as I was, or drawing the models.

More photos will emerge over the next few days and I will blog them. For now, here are some shots by Nick Caro of yours truly which I'm rather pleased with...:)
Find Nick's beautiful photographic work at

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Preparations for the Drawing Circus begin...

I am helping with one of Jake Spicer's upcoming projects!

Making a mermaids tale

Painting in bright, camp colours. (Can colours be camp? Hmm.)
I have also been working hard on my routine whilst attending an excellent aerial performance course with Amanda Miles and Clare Midgley at the helm. The course was really helpful, or rather the women there were - amazing, friendly and supportive. And I surprised myself by enjoying a clowning workshop which was run by a woman of seemingly boundless energy who had spent time working with Cirque Du Soleil.

Here is my routine before Amanda worked on it with me - after which it looked so much better! Sadly, my camera chose that time to develop some sort of self awareness, alongside a spiteful personality, and wouldn't record properly. Ho hum.

Forgive the background sounds which have a distinct swimming pool quality to them. I was listening to the music written for it at the time (I think at some point you can see me putting my headphones back in my ears) but it doesn't seem right to share the music before the gig in October...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Portrait, Brighton and Circus

A few weeks ago, a very lovely friend of mine from the old Devon days (who now resides in Bristol), asked me to draw a portrait of her.

I worked from a photograph (sitting not really an option living in different towns) but added my own spin on what her earring should depict...I always think of ice creams now when I picture Roxy, though this is because of an anecdote I cannot relate...Suffice to say it involved youthful shenanigans and a giant ice cream (although even saying that may be too much for those in the know).

I am pleased with the final result, and was delighted with having a new face to legitimately draw from. I am slightly concerned that always drawing myself will result in me learning my own features very well, and then never being able to draw anyone else.

I had a very good time in Brighton attending the Aerial Dance Festival (doing silks with Fred Deb, an amazing teacher from France) and catching some of the Pride goings on. I walked to my course each day down by the sea, which was sparkling in bright sunshine all but one of the days.
Sadly I failed to bring my camera along to any of it!

I also met an artist with a circusy aesthetic - Jake Spicer, founder of the Brighton Drawing School. Check out his beautiful work, which partly reminds me of Austin Osmond Spare's.
There is no higher praise....

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

News Flash

If you are unfamiliar with them, go and check out the artists Alex Ross and James Jean. There work is beautiful, full of narrative (obviously so in one case, as he is a graphic novel/comic book illustrator) and utterly amazing. I felt very grateful indeed to my still existing local library for stocking books about each of them.

As for creative thing - I have added some details to the odd green face I sculpted recently. I've been in contact with a local puppet maker and performer, and he has been kind enough to say I can visit his studio. Will blog about that soon...

I finished a portrait that I was commissioned to draw. I'm very happy with it and will put up pics once I've sent it. Doesn't seem right to post it before I' it.

I've also finished the skeleton choreography for my new aerial routine which I'm showing in October. The musician I'm working with has finished the original music for the piece (!) and it is completely beautiful. Perfect for sky-dancing.

I'm sincerely hoping that the London rioting has calmed sufficiently by next week for me to go and start practising with my music. And in because that sounded horribly selfish (unintentionally!) I do, of course, hope that people's normality and safety is soon restored.
Strange times...surreal and, as several people have commented, oddly like the start of some science fiction novel.

Off to Brighton for four days for an aerial silks workshop (and hopefully a life drawing class).
Spoilt rotten!