Help to Save the TAAG Arts and Community Centre

The story

Over the past 10 years, TAAG volunteers have transformed a rundown garage space in Teignmouth, Devon into a thriving home for the arts and community. It includes galleries, workshops and a community hub at the heart of Teignmouth’s Arts Quarter. The council were persuaded to spare the building from demolition by overwhelming support from users and local people. TAAG now has charitable status and is buying the building from the council to refurbish it and to secure this fantastic facility for the benefit of the public.

TAAG has launched a Crowdfunder as part of their fundraising to meet the costs of the building purchase, essential maintenance and associated expenses. The initial target was £200,000. Thanks to the generosity of donors and a fundraising exhibition by artists they have almost reached the halfway point. This Crowdfunder aims to raise £60,000 which will allow TAAG to reopen.

In the future, after vital access and maintenance work is completed, there are plans for a second phase of grant-aided refurbishment on the upper floors, including the provision of studios and other facilities. These will generate income to ensure sustainability and to help support future activities.

There is never a good time to ask for money. With the country in lockdown and great uncertainty for many, this time is especially bad! However TAAG made a commitment to buy and save the Arts and Community Centre for the benefit of the local community. Please read the story and contribute to this project, if you can. Thank you for reading this!

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La Grande Vague

Eco-awareness and the use of recycled materials in Art and is now part of the zeitgeist. It is something that children easily relate to and is akin to junk modelling.

Just as I take inspiration from great works of art and give them a contemporary twist, in turn I receive messages from teachers around the world, sharing images of their students’ art projects inspired by my work. (What an honour!) I show these on the School Projects page on my website.

Last week I received a picture from a teacher in La Rochelle, France and I love it so much that I wanted to show it here! Stephanie’s class of 27 ten year olds made this interpretation of Hokusai’s Great Wave (La Grande Vague). I think it’s really wonderful!

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More on Mosaics

In my last post, I forgot to mention how messy it is to make a mosaic!  For this reason, my three beginner sessions have been invaluable in showing me the nature of the process and what is required. My indoor (carpeted) work-room is not suitable. I would need an empty garage or messy studio space with access to water. So I think I need to put my ‘big idea’ for a garden sculpture on hold until I find a more suitable work space!

In the meantime, this week I’ve received requests for 2 commissions (of my usual work) and have decided to make them. I need to get myself back into the work habit again by creating something. Taking advice from Art and Fear (Blog post 28/12/19) don’t stop!

And I have an idea for a more abstracted piece – I need to allow myself to be experimental; to try something new and to risk failure. Watch this space!

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A Mosaic Novice

I’ve now had 3 mosaic sessions with Michelle Greenwood-Brown, an amazingly accomplished mosaic artist from Teignmouth. It’s so interesting to try a new technique and I’m loving being lost in the moment of the creative process.

As a complete beginner, everything is new: learning how to nip the china (it doesn’t ever cut as you expect!), nibble the shapes, mix the cement and apply the grout. There’s a lot more to the process than I had imagined – respect to all mosaic artists out there!

As a learning tool, I’m just making a pattern on a tile. I now realize that the idea in my head for a garden sculpture may be a little ambitious at the moment!


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Art in Australia

On Jan 2nd, I travelled to Australia to stay for two weeks with my son who lives in Melbourne – two weeks in which I saw all kinds of art; from traditional (representational) colonial landscape paintings and Aboriginal dots, to graffiti and beautiful street art with everything in between. In Tasmania for a weekend, we visited  the completely wacky and bonkers collection in MONA, (Museum of Old and New Art) which can only be described an assault on all the senses. The experience was almost overwhelming.

Now home and recovered from jet-lag (horrible!) and a cold, I am ready to be creative again…

At the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)  I was lucky to catch an joint exhibition of the work of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiet, both pioneer street artists in New York in the ’80s, I took a guided tour and discovered unknown territory of tagging, graffiti, street art and the social circle of Warhol and early Madonna.

Melbourne is actually well-known for its graffiti, some scruffy and some beautiful. (above and right) Melbourne graffiti is constantly changing as new paintings are applied over old ones.

I loved the vibrant work by Aboriginal artists in the NGV. Previously I’d thought that the vibrant dotty Aboriginal paintings went back centuries. Not so.

The dots and animal symbols began as body paint for traditional dancing using soil pigments and small white Emu feathers. Colours were natural and muted. The brightly coloured pictures only began in the ’50s when body paint designs were  transferred onto canvas. Now, since the ’80s there’s a thriving movement of Aboriginal women artists using vibrant colour in abstract and dotty designs to depict the land and their traditions.

Other rooms at NGV exhibited a retrospective exhibition of Roger Kemp, Australian Abstract Expressionist. His early figurative work was rather like Cezanne but his work became more and more abstract as he grew older, until he was producing huge canvases of luminous patterns resembling stained glass windows. I found it so interesting to see the progression of his ideas over time.

Kemp 1980s

Roger Kemp 1935

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Welcome to 2020!

When I began writing this Blog, it was to share ideas about my own work. Lately I’ve become aware that it’s also become a kind of ‘Art Diary’ for me – an aide-memoire about exhibitions and things I’ve seen. I hope you will forgive this – I’ll shortly be posting something about my recent trip to Australia! I hope you will find something of interest in it…

In September, I wrote about my idea to make a mosaic sculpture for the garden from the cracked and chipped crockery in my parents’ house. Well, I’ve made a start.

On Thursday, I had my first mosaic lesson with Michelle Greenwood-Brown at Voyage in Teignmouth. What joy! A small group of people at different levels, working on their own piece with individual attention from Michelle. I’m a complete beginner and spent two hours just playing with the tile cutter and learning how to mix the cement. Baby steps! Lovely to be back creating something after the Christmas break…


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Last work of 2019/ Happy New Year!

Wishing you a Very Happy (remaining) Christmas Season!

I finished my final commission of 2019 in time to deliver it for Christmas; a double portrait of the great(s) Laurel and Hardy. (I recommend the brilliant film Stan and Ollie to anyone who’s not seen it)

This year has been a strange one. I have made fewer art works, struggled with commissions not going well, questioned what it means to be authentic, questioned my artistic direction and seen some marvellous work by other artists. Summer seemed to pass me by as I cared for my father who died in August.

Then I read Art and Fear (twice!) (by David Bayles and Ted Orland) and certain passages from The Artist Spirit (by Robert Henri). Wonderfully inspiring! I am ready for new challenges in 2020. Happy New Year to you all!




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