women in art

Today I had my art on canvases filmed and I answered questions about my exhibition too.

It was a great experience for me and for the film-makers.

My exhibition about women in the changing rooms is called
At The Swim.
It’s at Hackney Central Library and most library WiFi users walk straight past it or actually through it as the work stands in class cabinets presumably because anything hanging disappears.

One visitor texted me today saying that my exhibition does not exist. He could have asked the staff but that’s an energetic task . I have stood many a minute at a library assistant’s counter and proved invisible. I helped my friend “Go towards the glass!” a bit like “Go towards the light”.

As is always after an interview I realized I was a babbling non-coherent inconsistent twat but my words are still cooking so I can share what I said about art in the community and where women stand. Move over Mrs Barton .

I paint older women because I love all their shapes. Simple as.
I am always learning and know full well that major galleries hardly air women’s paintings and work showing women.

Oh see you Saatchi.

But I would say that when it comes to art exhibitions at local community hubs then there is displayed art work in abundance by women and work about women by both men and women.

My paintings about older women are an homage to that age group oft described as “invisible” by both young and old and show that there can be seen bodies not lithe, young and blond but squashy and lumpy with bits missing and they come in all colours.

So what’s new? Not the above.

The next step though is crucial in that all people recognise ageing as what it is and that all women can be respected as they carry what they grow into.

“I never ordered this body” is a reasonable statement from a woman out of the pool , looking at her thunder thighs and seeing a pile of well woman magazines with Euro blond yogurt fed bodies on every page.

” I can shake what my mother gave me but people would run and I’m not too happy about what moves out of time either.”

Men and women are conditioned by mostly everything around them to conform to a norm. People become millionaires feeding off that and degrading others. If we want to reach a state where all bodies are worthy then everything starts at grass roots in the community and that includes seeing me from the neighbourhood embracing my peers and inviting them to share my stance on feminism, my standing up, my loving communal women -peopled spaces, my messaging strength in unity through acrylic on canvas, my group preferences, image

my addiction .

Phew ! A cup of tea would have gone down well.

“At the swim” is how my once Orcadian neighbours described going to the local swimming pool. It’s a language thing.

No. 27 of 27 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

The Crofter Wife 250613

 Twisted Respect

Older wife



I caught you in a half-smile

When foolishly

I asked

What you thought.


I’d gone into

Private territory

Where you offered


On anything

Reached the age of eighty

With not one


A feat.


I stretched across

Your scone-filled table

And wanted to know

If you ever

Smelt garlic

Tasted garam masala

Or knew of



On the quiz shows

You watch

They ask of these things

I wondered

If you

Could ever

Join in.


No opinions

Restricted taste buds

Whatever turns you on

Exactly when did someone

Decide for you

That music

Is island bound?


You are the rock

You have no faults

We all of us

Revere you

And hope

As time goes by

We never


Become you.

No. 26 of 27 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

IMAG02751Jemima Puddle-Duck by RAGWORKS



In The Crib                    from Ribbons a poetry and photographic collaboration with Jake Green

(Brixton 2003)


Con fuoco, con forza, con brio

Nobly the rapper pointed her finger

at nobody in particular

She stamped with fire and force

And was vigorously blinged

In acrylic finger nails

And digits goldie ringed.


Was jus’ stressin’

As she dubbed each beat

First the index then the second

Then the finger of the wedding ring

And as she formed the o

Twixt thumb and pinkie

Her lips synchronised the shape



Later in her crib

Stephanie kicked off her Reeboks

And un- gripped the extension from her hair

Tonight  was a hard scene

Rapper Queen’s eyes widened

In a yawn

She hoped the photographer

Got her lip stud and new joggers

Performance was all.IMAG00653



No.25 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015


 The Temptress                                                                                   3 mermaid 

The Soap Maker of The Isles breathed in

her chest rising like a mountain

coming out of the sea

and softly exhaled the essence of cinnamon

into her husband’s ear

as he stood by the door and she whispered,


Rub into my skin oils from the mainland

and plump me to the full

with slippery bairns

and I will massage you with a mermaid’s spell

and take you deeper under your boat

which lays in its noust

down by Swan Selkie Bay.


While you’re out of my sight

I’ll float in my housecoat

and twisted hair foams

and feather-dust the mantel clock

until she winks at me and gives me a chime                                 for CBH 11dec 2013

I’ll mould and caress the soaps on the burner

add juice from marsh marigolds and dead man’s liver

and saffron crocus dipped in spring water

blessed by the Mother of Virgins

burn incense oils in trays by the sill

dye tissues in earthsweet smell of beetroot maroon

and waft nose-treat lavender by

newly landed aromatic spices from the South

still wrapped in Brick Lane writing and golden ties.

auntie Joan


And I will do all this  and bake fattie cutties too

then lay a fill on the table

spread with bannocks griddled by your mother

and Polish bakery French batons

topped with Maggo’s byre-stinking

Jersey cow curd

Bless this house.


Husband when you return from the winding ropes

and the winching in the seas

use thumbs on my flesh and rub on them

my oils of Seal Bay packaged to reflect

the turquoise tranquillity and nature of our waters

and the swirl of rock-tides.


I am The Soap maker of The Isles

I am the aromatherapist, the soother of the whole

Make my feel-good factor rise in self-esteem

as we curl together wrapped in our wheat germ warming bed

drawing on inhales of minted cigarettes

while the reek spirals up and away

to mingle, to disappear in the wild winds of Westerly.IMAG00602



bairns                 children

noust                  boat resting place

selkie                   seal

bannock             flattened and griddled yeastless bread

fattie cutties      currant biscuits full of butter

byre                     cow barn

reek                      smoke


No. 24 Poems for International Women’s Day



                            The Betrayal

The privilege was ours as we joined

Young and old together

Over biscuits and copious tea

Scrutinising body shapes

Man-made shapes


Self harm

Shapes and movies

Self esteem

And when the film stopped.

She said

But we must always be in fashionfor iwd

Politeness and sympathy prevailed

And we let it pass. 


At the community centre

The women pursed their wrinkly lips

And screwed their eyes through sewing needles

Planning the routes of their threads

I edged in my unwanted voice to the pool

Do men come here?

A chorus spat back

They’ve got their carpentry


My sister’s a carpenter

My daughters a plumber

Fanny’s your aunt

And I left there

Neither excusing bad behaviour

Nor respecting my peers.


It was party time

Toys coloured the floor.

Dolly in her pram sat

Arms stretched upwards

And legs wide apart

Dinosaurs in rigor mortis sets

Saw the door open

And heard the united tut

As aunties looked down

At the boy.

They kicked the pink buggy

And a crumpled face erupted

Into confusion and rage-hot tears.


Boy Girl Girl Boy Pink Blue

Blue Pink Pink Blue Girl Boy

Roses are red Violets are blue

Little Boy Blue                                                      playin at The Mill


This is ongoing.

Despicable you.




No. 23 of 27 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

  On The Bridges


Save a thought for the married woman

Who has trouble defining a cuddle

Who straightens her back to haul water

In cogs

To men at their higher tables

Then eats alone in her kitchen


Strength to the wedded child bride

Who lost her place on earth

Through a rung out and brain washed


Genitally mutilated

Before her breasts became bargains


Force be with the mother millions

Who have trouble remembering joy

And fearlessly sneak grain

From man guarded sacks

For what child hangs on their frame


Rise up the other hemisphere women!

Assemble on your bridges

Adorn your skin with tattoos and piercings

Swap polyester pinafores for First Nations weaves.


Let fly the purple and green pamphlets

Over mosque domes and church spires

Megaphone your messages into havens

For the mother-deprived, sprawled and urban


Keep up the momentum

Bus in the hijabs and the full-stretched cleavage

The jeggings, the burqas, the suburban sisters

Refresh the statistics and the real situation

On the bridges for every nation.


No. 22 Poems for International Women’s Day


                                       Uplift Me

They told me the Day was to uplift


So out came a troupe of paid

Zumba instructors

With screechy voices

And bottoms wiggling and jiggling like jelly.


They told me that women and women could engage

In safe venues

So provided crèche and toddler activities

And herbal teas.

Out came the collage materials,

Smartly squared textile pieces

Pinking shears in pink

Sugar paper

and pictures of Rosie the Riveter

and someone black.



In the library session

Which was doubly rubber-stamped

and insisted upon

through earnest promotion

mums and daughters would bond

together applying make-up .



A pantomime.


Unfortunately due to costs

The FGM play is cancelled


                                                                                               3 mermaid

We will be screening safely Gone Girl

And Tai Chi sessions are free

Do you want to come?






No 21. Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

Mission Impossible.

The rain chased down gulleys

Unable to stay in the claggy  verges.

By now  the work men had left for home

The last echoes of their hammer bangs

Took flight across the Hofn hills.

It was a poor day.

Over at Belle View Ginny  in her renovated barn

was sitting cross-legged

up by the timber ladder

with the circular First Nations rug over her feet

sifting through dust for past achievements

to make a case for celebration

as March 8th approached


A smiling Maya Angelou matronly sat

at the bottom of Ginny’s  Victorian chest.

There were some rusted Women’s badges.

on top of old Spare Rib magazines.

What she found had to be relevant

for wives in houses and daughters

whose men were down at the fishing,

who still spoke of men’s work and

ordered only bath salts from the Avon catalogues.

None needed childcare, nor an equal wage.

Ginny thought maybe they had dreams

and when they prayed for the boat’s safe return

perhaps they had hopes for their bairns’ lives

hopes they’d never voice.


The postman’s van crunched on the gravel.

He threw something down on the welcome mat

and shouted up

From  London.

In a minute Ginny could count out the purple and green flags

and try a bunting kit.

She let down the chest lid.

It wasn’t her petticoat showing that made her blush

and exhale Charlie’s Dead

It was her more than a puckle

of arrogance.


No. 20 of 27 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

 Not Letting Go

I am spread-eagled on my settee

“A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing”

Beside me

Reminds me

I had a structure to this day off.

I am though wide legs awake

On my back


My face is unmade up.

There is no eyeliner gelling on my lids

Although I do love the application,

The roll over the bump

The slither sliding by my lashes

Defining and changing me

From wan Celtic Woman to notice me Monroe

The experimenting, the transforming

The routine. The hiding other me

The wannabe fit in, the bear to be seen

But today I am indoors me

My deep Shakespearian soliloquy

Of a reflective question is

Do I like it?

Do I like my naked face?


Only if I think

For one nanosecond

I’m on Belle front cover

Being Woman Celebrated

Au naturelle.

Do I like legs wide open?

Vagina whiffing

Moon Prince beckoning

Godward’s girls on couches

Lady Mucking?



My mother instructed

Close those legs

Douche that hole

Talc that thing

Knees pressed in together

You’re a Woman now.