lockdown 36

Digital Traumas.

Apologies for this late publication of last week’s post. You may notice an enhancement of quality and speed of the site which is due to an upgrade of site hosting from a basic service to a dedicated server. This has taken many hours and days longer than anticipated, which is not to denigrate any of the customer service, technical or support agents individually, but like many tech services they operate as and when requests come in rather than dedicated client managers. This may be because services are outsourced globally. It may be exacerbated through Covid home working, but until ONE agent engaged with my requirements of basic service I was taken from pillar to post with well meaning technically knowledgeable individuals. I know my contract number and pin verification off by heart as I have had to quote them on every call in order agents, no matter their location, request details to progress any query.

Digital reliance

I am not a technical expert by any means and therefore need assistance to implement online hosting settings to accommodate the amount of files I have accumulated over 15 years since I began uploading text and images to the internet, with the same company. Publishing on the internet has a number of benefits. The sharing of content, views, information and research to online viewers is the most obvious, but by uploading everything onto digital platforms and repositories it becomes distant and untouchable. Once on digital, online sites and their hosted environments, the material images and texts on my personal computer hard disk files are transported into a distant coded cyber space . When published they, like this blog, are stored and accessible for time immemorial. Except . . . . if the hosting site goes down and contents are not backed up.

I was informed that my sites were in danger of stopping functioning as they were overloaded and hosting needed to be extended and enhanced. I agreed to purchase space and email upgrades as new services, applications and server space is required to keep up to digital speed. As well as the frustration of the complexity of achieving this seemingly straight forward change for the better I became aware how dependent I have become on the daily digital fix. Emails and blogs and in Lockdown isolation, video conferencing have populated daily life to the point that life cannot progress without digital access. My email was down for 4 days, not the 24 hours I was led to expect by the last email I received before the service was stopped in the ‘Package To Package Transfer’:

‘The domain below is currently being transferred from its current package to the specified package. Please allow up to 24 hours for the domain transfer. Please wait until the transfer is complete to alter any domain settings. . . . . ‘

Digital dissappearance

In parallel the hosting was transferred to a new virtual server with dedicated back up service. It sounded a good forward strategy to maintain, enhance and protect my digital presence, connectivity and sustainability. But, where has my research website repository and blogging site gone? It no longer accessible on the internet URL, nor on my Word Press application. My personal photography collection site of 15 years is no longer accessible and attempts to publish a new image is met with the dreaded error message: ‘published withe errors’ ie site not functioning.

I could document the extreme anxieties this withdrawal of digital sustenance caused me over 14 days, including interrupted sleep and an early rising to check (lack) of progress. It could have all been prevented with regular explanation of the process being undertaken on my behalf by technical computer experts in faraway locations. Communication of what was planned, being implemented, scheduled and the timescale would have kept me in the loop and relaxed. After a weekend waiting for a call to inform me of the new services being up and running I rang the freefone number, listened to the recorded message, selected the No1 ‘hosting’ button, suffered the poorly recorded holding musak only abruptly stopped when an agent, on an equally technically poor line, picked me up, listened to my precarious position, requested my contract number and pin. Once confirmed the line seemingly went dead. I awaited news. He came back on and said the agent dealing with my update had sent me an email. Holding down my increasing disbelief I informed him my emails had been turned off since Friday morning so what was the point of sending me one? Rather dismissively the suggestion was: ‘Why don’t you change your password’. The dreaded PASSWORD. ‘I’m sure I can do that, but had no-one from the company considered informing me that I needed to change my password?’ No answer as it was now down to me to action the suggestion. Of course all my emails appeared before me. I read the email about my email and new server orders:

‘I hope your doing well in this awful time. I would like to inform that your website and emails are successfully migrated over to the server contract.Both emails and website works fine now, and your requested printsandresearch file is already migrated as well.
My colleagues and I will be happy to help you with any questions you may have about your products. You can reach me by phone, e-mail or chat. You will find my contact details under …….. Should I not be directly available, a well-informed colleague from my team will answer your call.’

Agent: ‘It looks like it is all fine’. User: ‘It is not, I am relieved I have been informed about how to access my emails, however my professional and personal websites are not accessible’. I could go on, but I can’t bear to describe the impossibility of getting a deeply technical service operational to get my sites up and, nearly, running 14 days since they functioned fine and I last posted on the blog.

The point being that the frustrations and anxieties created in a paying customer could have been avoided if ONE agent had been the point of contact for upgrade implementation, rather than the automated baton (buck) passing, service side driven, telephonic customer service system. After 3 days of inefficiency, and unusually for me, a harsh letter of customer frustration was sent to my ‘personal consultant’ requesting ONE point of contact. Since then, one technical agent has kept me informed and assisted me through the process to an efficient web presence that I am now using to write this sorry tale. Once sites and server was seemingly operational I was handed on to another personal consultant.

Although the intention at the onset of this post was not to document this experience it has been cathartic to write it down. I acknowledge to myself and readers that my responses are on top of the cumulative physical and psychological effects of living under Lockdown isolation. With reduced opportunities to leave the house to satisfy material pursuits in face to face situations, in house and home screen activity has become prominent and reliance on digital technologies has become essential for active engagement in what life we have. Digital reliance has crept into mainstream UK life. It is not only the zoom culture that has come to dominate personal and professional activities, but the delivery of information on our Lockdown social condition. An immunity to the Lockdown health and social management information we crave (need) may be developed. But until until that occurs, efficient human centred, digital design technologies will be increasingly required to be at our fingertips as we tap screens, keyboards, games or tv controllers.

Digital Consultation

This digital experience coincided with cardiology consultation that culminated in the final decision to operate. But owing to hospital management pressures it will have to wait until the spring. Thereby the knowledge of impending serious surgery will be internalised, carried and add to the anxieties of any day to day negative experience that has to be to be dealt with. The Registrar and his apprentice Louise kindly offered to show me the angiogram images of my heart, the offending veins and arteries that were not pumping enough blood to ensure an efficient cardiovascular system. Digital access to the recordings took a little while to percolate through to the PC from the main servers, but they eventually flickered into life. The pumping action of the heart was clear to see as the blood vessels struggled to push enough blood to the tributaries around the heart. I was grateful to have a visualisation of my condition made available through digital storage and retrieval.

The nurse looking after my case, ECG and documentation in preparation for the consultation handed me a photocopied piece of paper informing me that poor dental health has a negative effect on cardiac surgery and patients should ensure their teeth are in good condition. Not having attended the dentist during Lockdown an appointment is required. The dentist customer management system works well – inform, hold, inform, discuss, deliver service with an aural smile. January 2021 Jan 6th 7.15pm.

Digital Reflection

The benefit of not posting in two weeks owing to the technical difficulties, is that a more reflective position can be taken. But the downside is that day to day disasters can overtake one’s sensibilities. Christmas is threatened because of a variant of the virus has been detected. Here we are again, knowledgeable science and technology experts tell less qualified, but anxious audiences that their knowledge is to be observed without clear explanation and accompanying rationalisation that can be understood, accepted and acted upon.

The answer: Carys Mathews – 3hours of internationalist music: “Its a strange morning. Lets have a distraction – ‘Joyeux Noel, A Parsian Christmas.” delivered through digital radio.

Digital Image Not

I would normally conclude the weekly blog with a screenshoted digital image from John Hopkins University or Guardian UK Covid statistics:

27,052 Daily Cases ; 534 Deaths 67075 cumulative deaths.

Whether image or text these statistics continue to shock and should do so.

Sunday 20th December.  On attempting to the add screenshot an error message appears at the top of the page on a red background:

WPThumb has detected a problem. The directory /var/www/vhosts/jonnieturpie.com/printsanew.jonnieturpie.com/ printsandresearch/wp-content/uploads/2020/12 is not writable.

I can’t add any images to this post because the server settings are not set to write. I am prevented by a setting, of applying the visual objects that illustrate the observations, thoughts and experiences presented week, by week. Although the documentation is studied, followed and applied it does not enable writability of digital imagery from my hard disk to the new server! I await an answer from Helpdesk. Many suggestions and attempts to resolve the issue were undertaken by the service help-agents throughout the day, sadly to no avail, and I closed the computer, ate a modest last Sunday of 2020 evening meal and switched on another screen to see images from the Himalaya as experienced by Michael Palin. His travel diary became the structure of the film with personal readings of the memories from the journey. They were visceral and had an authenticity of emotional experience of arduous walking in high altitude mountains and the range of religious ways of life he encountered.

Monday 21st December, Christmas week. A variant of the Covid-19 virus has developed in London and South East UK. Christmas is cancelled and the nation experiences fear, anger, disbelief and sadness. This happened to those planning to celebrate Eid, Diwali and Hanukkah earlier in 2020. On top of this news the sea and airports are closed and the negotiations to make Britain a sovereign state continue, while Europe and the rest of the world isolate the UK into ‘Plague Island’. What a state!

In my isolated digital world there’s good news though! A call to the Helpdesk explaining the inability to upload an image to this blog was met by the friendly tones of Mark, who offered to review my issue. Within 2 minutes he observed that the ‘user’ on the folder to be published to, (uploads/2020/12) was not ‘jonnieturpie’, who is clearly the user, but another user named ‘root’. Mark: ‘Thats your problem. I’ll correct that for you.’ Audible Keyboard tapping reverberated down the line to my phone speaker, followed by the suggestion: ‘try it now.’ I did and Eureka the image was uploaded. Now thats what I call great service and began my digital Christmas week with a sense of relief and a smile. Shall I upload an image, or will this be the first literal Lockdown post?

Lockdown week 34

Busy! December week

Busy Busy Busy. Monday the IMPACT Journal Volume 2 went public including my report on portraying through drawing and printing fellow researcher Ian Sergeant. The article was begun 12 months ago after completing the portrait, but as journal writing generally takes 12 months it has been through many refining iterations to get to a satisfactory conclusion. In that period, following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Black Lives Matter came to prominence and a postscript was added. Read here.

Ian Sergeant. Phd Passion. Two colour serigraph print. 84x118cm 2019

Surface tests

pressed and pitted perspex drawing surface (detail)

Visited the Printroom to test the pressed perspex surface drawing for silkscreen. Positive results with a wide range of tones achieved on the pitted surface. This was much more successful than the mullered approach last week. Collation of the results underway.


Whether on Teams, Zoom or socially distanced meetings its been an important week with the new job sharing CEOs of the Birmingham Museum Trust getting into gear and looking to a progressive future for the City museum and its 9 city wide venues. A Principal of the new BOA Stage and Screen has been appointed – more news soon on this production skills focused school in the Ladywood area of inner city Birmingham.

click to watch recording of the participative drawing

No meeting but congratulations to Mac Birmingham who won a national Big Draw Best museum and gallery Award for the work inspired by the gorgeous drawing exhibition by Matt Shane and Jim Holyoak. Canadian artists who covered the walls in the main gallery with huge, intricate and mysterious landscapes and inspired many diverse families to make a massive participative floor drawing that was hung in the Arts Centre

Web Presence

Much screen time focussed of creating a much needed new home page for photographs taken over the last 20 years. It required great assistance from Rei at Ionos to get all the folders in the right hosting space. Ionos recently took over 1and1 that I have used for fifteen years for personal email and web hosting. So many files!

Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK
SEVEN times world champion, soon to be Sir Lewis Hamilton.

The world Champion has had to withdraw from the weekend’s Grand Prix as he has contracted Covid. George Russel, a 22 year old driver is taking his place.

covid update

Seemingly vaccines are on the way, but the figures just keep rising with the UK a terrible third in the world rankings.

Personal health

Wrist band!

I recovered from the angiogram performed on my heart last week at the wonderful Queen Elizabeth Cardiology Department. The Consultant that has overseen my heart condition including inserting two stents in 2002, and replacing them with five in 2016, gave me a ring to confirm more work will have to be done to prevent a worsening of the condition. More on this nearer the day.

Thats it

Lockdown week 33

A winter week

Congregate for Culture

There were no opportunities to view art indoors this lockdown winter week. However an unexpected exterior opportunity appeared. We went outside to a big old house with an even bigger garden and saw photographs. International garden photographer of the year was on show at the Walled garden of Shugborough House in Staffordshire. A damp, foggy and chilly day was not an obvious welcome for lockdown escapees, but it was worth the effort to venture out. Seeing a real world, as opposed to our saturated online world, photographic exhibition, in lockdown was a treat. As were the misty scenes including the Garden Pond, which could be seen in varied ways.

Garden Pond spun around. Vignette starry sky.

More photographs from our afternoon out of the house at another house.


Many weeks ago in early lockdown, television audiences were invited to participate in live life drawing sessions by BBC four to which thousands of drawers tuned in. Sky Arts, which has recently come free to air, has run StoryVault‘s Portrait Artist of the Year for 7 years. It is a prerecorded competitive show which invites amateur and professional portraits painters to paint a selected sitter. It is a popular format attracting artists and interested viewers alike. In the later months of lockdown the producers have developed a lockdown live version which brings portrait artist together with a recognised sitter in two locations brought together by the magic of television. But it takes many hours to paint a considered portrait and the event is transmitted not on TV but on FacebookLive.

As well as allowing a 4 hour transmission, introductions and interjections from the show presenters and judges, it has a constant instagram and comments feed from viewers. The show is fully interactive and engaged with by participants. globally. One comment as the show begins says the show is their: ‘lockdown treat of the week.’ This week’s sitter was the Newscaster Jon Snow in front of his bookcase, introduced by the veteran presenter Baroness Joan Bakewell in front of her bookcase, and painter Cathrine MacDirmid is beamed in from her Cumbria garage studio in front of her paintings and daubs. As the portrait and conversation develops comments come in from the Philippines, Houston and California who wake early to paint. From time to time the sitting newsman reads from the comments board with glee. Intermittently the painter’s friends and colleagues let her know how well she is doing. Personalised broadcasting through the internet.

Joan Bakewell introduces Portrait Artist of the Week sitter, Newscaster Jon Snow

One commentator observes: “The Pandemic is a million miles away when the brushes are flowing.” During the show the producers throw up a screenshot of the sitter and invite the audience to screenshot it, as you can from FacebookLive, and paint your own portrait.

Reflecting on the live, online portrait experience.
The portrait is done after 4 hours have ‘whizzed by.’

The Portrait will be finished to Catherine MacDirmid’s satisfaction tomorow and be posted on #PAOTW. 100’s of participating artists will be posting their works on #myPAOTW.

Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK
SEVEN times world champion, soon to be Sir Lewis Hamilton.

covid update

I was going to write about the Covid vaccine news and the various responses to it, but time has run out. I will return next week, when we can only hope our paying attention to Lockdown restrictions show in the reduction of the frighteningly high numbers of deaths.

In conversation Jon Snow reflected that he had never experienced anything like this pandemic and drew an analogy with it being our Third World War. He noted that we are nearing 60,000 deaths in 10 pandemic months, in comparison with the Second World War where 70,000 people lost their lives on the British mainland over 5 years.

Thats it

Lockdown week 32

Nearly the end of November

Congregate for Culture

No real cultural congregation this week. It looks like there will be no open galleries until xmas, when they are traditionally closed. However this week has offered three online visual art interactions: View, Participate and Contribute.

VIEW: Royal Drawing school webinar with Bharti Kher and Subodh Gupta showing, sharing and describing their sculptural works from their New Delhi bases. Introduced by Catherine Goodman. The artwork shown is by Bharti: The skin speaks a language not its own. 2006.

PARTICIPATE: DRAW NORTH – Drawing with zoom participants in the room each is occupying. Begin facing North, then swivel 90 degrees to East, and South then West and draw each view superimposed on the last. Hosted by Drawing is Free, Trinity Buoy Wharf at Duncan of Jordanstone , University of Dundee.

CONTRIBUTE: A ten minute presentation on experiences of peer review of a recent journal article submission. A webinar of the ME University Cluster Research group based at Birmingham School of Art, but open to all researchers.

academic activity

Moseley School of Art at Moseley Community Hub

As the days draw to a close more and more quickly, research continues in the Moseley School of Art studio into the making of serigraphic film positives. Having ‘mullered’ a sheet of perspex with carborundum grit the process of drawing on a new and untested surface has begun.

There are unexpected bright circles from the mullering. They could be stars. They could be an overall pattern for the portrait. Drawing on this rigid surface is noiser! The pencil stick resonates with sounds against the hard textured perspex. There is a physical substantiality and robustness, even ‘scratchyness’ to it that is more than on the flexible drafting film. Drawing was very tentative as erasing graphite looked to be difficult, and might be impossible as a test had resulted in the graphite being spread into a dense mark rather than being erased. Cross hatching is too harsh, leaving lines rather than shades on the surface.  A new methodology was employed: letting the pencil lie on the surface then moving it without any downward pressure, to allow graded build ups of impressions on the surface. Using 9 and 2b sticks more circular motions rather than horizontal, vertical or angled were applied.  I am not as confident in laying down delicate marks.  Heavy gestural marks (hair, clothes, shadows) are made with much more confidence on the surface. Skin, face, hands demand a slow build-up of graphite with regular returns to the emerging drawing to add with confidence across the highlights. Having to watch where leaning as graphite will be removed with the slightest unplanned engagement of heel of hand or cardboard leaning support on the surface. A delicate ‘swish away’ of excess bits of graphite with cloth takes away top layers of lead leaving dense backgrounds to contrast with hair and circles.

I decided to try rubbing lead shavings into the left surround. On exposure and printing this will provide contrasting markings. Rubbing the shaving is reminiscent of the mullering with grit. 

Transport to the print room will have to done delicately.


2h to 10b

Graphite pencils are running low, especially the softer leads that are sharpened more frequently. Researching suppliers a new brand was ordered from Czech manufacturers who have an esteemed history: ‘A number of significant innovations in the field of writing instruments comes from the KOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH factory. For example, the production of graphite and clay pencil lead, patented as early as 1802, the principle of machine-made pencils or division of graphite pencils into individual grades 8B-10H, according to the hardness of the lead.’

10 x 8b. Real treat.


Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK
SEVEN times world champion, soon to be Sir Lewis Hamilton.

Covid App update

Fourth ONS Test Survey result: ‘Negative’.

There is a constant anxiety around Coronavirus and whether the sniffle, cough or tiredness is a sign of contracting it, so the Negative result is a relief. It is also positive to contribute to the data gathering to inform policies – we hope.

Thats it

Lockdown week 31

2nd week of 2nd lockdown

Congregate for Culture

October saw a positive series of openings of Art galleries , Museums and even Theatres like the Birmingham Hippodrome creating reuse possibilities of their stages.( Van Gogh) Audiences ventured out of their lockdown safe cells to take in cultural offerings across the country. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery opened the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition as well as upper galleries, shop and Edwardian Tea Room to socially distanced safe viewing. Visitors came in numbers to enjoy culture.

Generations, before Lockdown 2. BMAG. October 2020. Digital Drawing November 2020

Sadly we are back in lockdown and cannot enjoy what is on offer. Perhaps the lockdown will be relaxed before Christmas and we can all congregate for culture.

academic activity

Writing continues with Pandemic aesthetics analysis and final corrections on a paper entitled DRAWING ED RUSCHA. Practice research continues between the studio in Moseley School of Art and the Print room in Birmingham School of Art and taking exciting new turns into the making of serigraphic film positives. With support from academic and technical staff investigations are broadening surface horizons for serigraphic drawing. The first portrait using a sanded surface has been taken another step forward into a unique ink image. A sweep with a small squeegee charged with gold ink on to a sheet of white cartridge paper is left to dry for two weeks. The ink hardened into surfaces that may be printed upon, even though the sweep’s edges stood proud from the paper. By positioning the gold arc under the silk screen the resultant print reflects the trajectory of the thumb of the subject. The illumination is intriguing. Under the dark ink the gold glows through, while on the white paper it moves between flat, bright, reflective gold to congealed reverse embossed ink, indicating the three dimensional quality of the action that has created it. The reverse emboss created a sweeping ridge that has taken the ink at a height giving a dark curve, with a secondary shadow glow.

Sanded, Scratched, Drawn and Printed on a Gold Sweep of ink.

The portrait has been shared with the unwitting subject Rashid Campbell. In lockdown he is in quarantine returning from supporting Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The portrait was shared over WhatsApp and initial feedback is very positive and we look forward to meeting n December 3rd to share the physical portrait.

Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK

Covid App update

Fourth ONS Test Survey result: ‘Negative’.

There is a constant anxiety around Coronavirus and whether the sniffle, cough or tiredness is a sign of contracting it, so the Negative result is a relief. It is also positive to contribute to the data gathering to inform policies – we hope.

Thats it

Lockdown week 30

lockdown is back

but more importantly

Breaking news

US Election -water torture

Before the result today its been a tough wait as America Decides. With unexpected welcome diversions.

Waking up for the first day of UK lockdown after late night watching of Joe Biden making a short presidential calming speech followed an hour later by President Donald J Trump making a pained press conference as he hangs on to the last vestiges of his presidency. He complained for 30 minutes about the electoral system. If this count is water torture for us it is driving him mad.

The morning Radio 4 today programme provides an update. Counting is making slow progress and adding to the drama. A US Correspondent gives his update and as he reports that the Trump’s lead in Georgia is being reduced hour by hour and has dropped from 3500 to 1200. The UK anchor interrupts: “As you speak the figures on the screen in front of me has dropped again. Its now 660.” This is real drama after a night of slow reduction and gains. A result and a desperately needed change in US populism and social division, may come through later today.


Flyway MississippiRaptor – NESTFLIX

The report is followed by a feel good lockdown escape, a news item to counter Lockdown depression. A listener has found an uplifting lockdown diversion: the Mississippi Flyway website. She eulogised about the video site that had given her hope in these tough times. Flyway is a non profit volunteer managed service that tracks the birds and their family growth. It is a rich site with video of raptors looking after their eggs and young as they develop into nature and flight around the Mississippi river. Following links there are similar sites throughout the US. Instead of hearing the political divisions from Delaware, Michigan and Nevada each site celebrates groups of Americans looking after birds, rescuing them, saving them from extinction and bringing them back to the natural habitat from urban nests.

Flyway Kestrel eggs
previous arrow
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Meanwhile back on 24 hour rolling human news, masked and muffled reporters continue to drop the water on our locked down foreheads.

Family matters

Auntie Dylis is on the mend in West Wales. Slowly but surely the hip repair is taking shape and she is being helped by physiotherapists to get up and about. Many miles were travelled to arrive at a South Manchester autumnal park for brother and sister (and Mum and Dad) to meet safely before Lockdown.

academic activity

Writing continues and alongside practice research is taking new turns into the making of serigraphic film positives : sanded surfaces. This investigation is being undertaken between the studio in Moseley School of Art and the Print room in Birmingham School of Art.

Sanded, Scratched, Drawn and Printed

Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK

Covid App update

Third ONS Test Survey result: ‘Negative’ PHEW.

There is a constant anxiety around Coronavirus and whether the sniffle, cough or tiredness is a sign of contracting it, so the Negative result is a relief. It is also positive to contribute to the data gathering to inform policies – we hope.

Thats it

Lockdown week 29

the clocks went back


Lockdown’s coming back

academic activity

Apologies the blog is suffering a tad with few original words as my literal efforts are focussed on academic work at the moment. In particular analysis of how digital aesthetics are changing in the pandemic. When I am confident of my position I will include here.

Hold Still portraits expand across the country

Good that Hold Still expands from digital to community: https://www.npg.org.uk/hold-still/hold-still-community-exhibition/

The UK-wide exhibition, supported by the Co-op, has been created to share the images with as many people as possible across the UK and sees the final 100 portraits go on display in local communities for up to four weeks from 20 October 2020.

Portraits are appearing on walls across the country. Check out: Melanie, March 2020 by Johannah Churchill recreated as a hand-painted mural in Manchester’s Northern Quarter  by mural painter Peter Barber.


The photographs feature on 400 outdoor posters at 112 locations in over 80 towns, cities and communities. The images can be seen in high streets, on buildings and bus stops, and on a special mural in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and a takeover of billboards outside Waterloo station in South London.

Curated groups of portraits are displayed in cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and London. Many of the portraits are also on display individually in the local communities where entrants are from ranging from Belfast, Liverpool and Southampton to Blaenau Ffestiniog in Gwynedd, Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire, Knypersley in Staffordshire Moorlands and Thorpe Audlin in West Yorkshire. You can also see a selection of works on special community screens in 1,600 Co-op food stores across the UK.

Family matters

Auntie Dylis is on the mend in West Wales. Slowly but surely the hip repair is taking shape. Young Finn is happy as Larry after last week’s hospitalisation. Parents are relieved and carving pumpkins.

Top Halloween

The Scottish relies are fed up that no ‘Guising’ will take place this Halloween. Guising definition: the Scottish practice or custom of disguising oneself in fancy dress, often with a mask, and visiting people’s houses, esp at Halloween.

Sad Farewell to the Dude


A portrait

A portrait made and shared this week, from a meeting with main man Dan Alexander from the time when getting the BackIn film programme for Black talented filmmakers underway 3 years ago, with Punch. Dan has spearheaded BackIn. Check it out, and the alumni that have come through in style

Daniel Alexander from when we met and shared hope and plans 3 years ago. Digital drawing. October 2020.

Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK

Covid App update

Second ONS Test Survey result: ‘Negative’ PHEW.

There is a constant anxiety around Coronavirus and whether the sniffle, cough or tiredness is a sign of contracting it, so the Negative result is a relief. It is also positive to contribute to the data gathering to inform policies – we hope.

Thats it

Lockdown week 28

the clocks go back

what’s the difference

20×20 prints in 2020

HotBed Press in Manchester request 20x20cm from a broad range of printmakers annually. The printers in Birmingham School of Art usually manage a group of 20 submissions, but in covid times we mustered 5. But they were five good ones!

Prints by Lucy Parris, Andrew Kulman, Justin Sanders, Taiba Akhtar and Jonnie Turpie.

The virus or the experience of the it feature in the prints that were all made in lockdown: woodblock, lino, etching, hand coloured and inkjet. Each artist looks forward to receiving the box similar to the one pictured with a random selection of prints from all submissions.

Family matters

While in isolation this weekend in Birmingham, the oldest member of our family who lives alone in West Wales fell and broke her hip. She pressed her ‘panic’ button and was promptly taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. The family whats app became the conduit for keeping up to date with her care, hip pinning operation and first steps of recovery. With Wales under severe lockdown, including any travel from outside her borders no visiting was possible. This morning she is thankfully recovering steadily surrounded by mail ordered flowers.

On Saturday morning the youngest member of the family, a 6 month old boy began coughing and struggling for breath. His parents, new to this role in life ,were frightened for him and rang the emergency NHS line. An ambulance was dispatched to take them to hospital where there was great concern for his health. He was fitted with a Cpap (strong oxygen machine) wrapped round his head and connected into his mouth, and wired up for tracking progress of his lung function. A frightening sight for his parents and whats app watchers. He has his own whats app group since his conception as his family is spread around the UK and Canada. The channel was active all night with reports of progress and avoidance of being taken into ICU. This was the Sunday when British Summertime pushed the clocks back by one hour. Throughout Sunday hourly blood reports tracked the up turn in his oxygen levels. Evening came and to the relief of all whats app group members he was taken off the oxygen machine and allowed to breathe unaided. In Covid times digital comms can keep families in touch, through thick and thin.

Hold Still -Thank You NHS


Hold Still is an ambitious community project to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during lockdown. We invited people of all ages to submit a photographic portrait, taken in a six-week period during May and June, focussed on three core themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness.  Over 31,000 submissions were received from across the country, with entrants ranging from 4 to 75 years-old. From these, a panel of judges selected 100 portraits, assessing the images on the emotions and experiences they conveyed.

A selection panel, including The Duchess of Cambridge, National Portrait Gallery Director Nicholas Cullinan, the author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, the Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May, and award-winning photographer Maryam Wahid, met via a video call in July 2020 and undertook the challenging process of selecting 100 portraits for the exhibition.

Covid App update

First ONS Test Survey result: ‘Inconclusive’

Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK

Thats it

Lockdown week 27

Tier 1, 2 or 3


Exhibition (s)

A post of many visual arts. Two exhibitions in one Birmingham Street – Yes two! It is so rewarding to see artwork in the real and to discuss the shows with curators. My printed portrait of artist ‘Barbara Walker, ‘Bab’s , Drawing in the Round Room’ hangs in the middle of the 2nd floor gallery in the RBSA Prize Exhibition. It was drawn and printed over two years ago and retains a quality of focus and concentration on drawing. The atmospheric marks around the edges create an abstract frame in contrast to the figuration.

The RBSA stages an annual Prize exhibition as part of its charitable work to support artists, providing an opportunity for artists to show their artwork and be rewarded for their talents. 

The gallery is open from 10.30am – 5pm on Tuesday – Saturday. Admission is free. it is also on line @ https://www.rbsa.org.uk/rbsa-prize-2020

Selection by: Graham Chorlton, Artist and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Coventry University and Julie Brown, Collections Curator, New Art Gallery Walsall.

Argentea Gallery

Exhibition No3 in the city centre

The Museum and Art Gallery opened its doors to The Wildlife Photographer of the Year from the Natural History Museum, new additions to the collection and a special portrait from the National Portrait Gallery.

Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK

Covid App update

NHS Covid app

Alert: Now gone local to B13

Recorded venue visits.

Temperature taken in two venues. It seems I am ok.

Had a test through ONS Survey. No result yet.

Thats it

Lockdown week 26

Second Wave?

No happy waving going on.

I visited the library to return isolation books and withdraw new pages of knowledge. Even more dramatic was my venture into the School of Art Print room! Masked, sanitised and keeping left I walked the 1843 terrazzo patterned floor towards the wooden floors supporting the fine art printing presses. Master Printmaker Justin Sanders met me with protected by his standard issue BCU mask. The breeze through the large traditional swing windows keeps the space fresh.

One student arrived with exquisitely cut out paper stencils to be silkscreened as we kept our social distances. Screens were selected and coated, inks mixed paper selected and the art and craft of printmaking commenced. Although access is severely restricted over the next three months this was the first steps back to making.

A surprise awaited! Taiba and Lucy two of the original virtual ‘printgang’ members have been engaged by the university as studio assistants and monitors.


It is so good to have had a printed portrait of Birmingham Artist Barbara Walker accepted for the RBSA Prize Exhibition. I delivered it to the gallery on Sunday where the volunteers who keep the gallery going and open, met me to receive my framed print. I can’t wait to visit the gallery who are showing by example that visual arts can be shown in coronavirus. times. The IKON, Eastside, Stryx and Argentea opened recently and the Birmingham Hippodrome converted their theatre to a projected exhibition of Van Gogh. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery opened its door to the public with a special exhibition by Cold War Steve celebrating Birmingham people’s. Let us hope audiences will find it possible to come out into the city and enjoy the arts on show.


September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK

Covid Apps

NHS Covid app

No contact from my NHS Covid App.

Temperature taken in two venues. It seems I am ok.

Thats it