Audio dictation from Audio Book to iPad


I regularly dictate from texts into the iPad for note taking purposes. However I listened to a book where a short piece of information seemed relevant to note. Instead of replaying and writing the information I tested the possibility of recording directly into the iPad and my research database. I was surprised o see how accurate the dictation was. The downside is that there re was no punctuation.

Drawing Share on BBC Radio 4

Gerald Scarfe and Arabella Dorman

Two drawing artists talk eloquently together about their respective motivations and experiences. Both reveal and share the value of their drawing. Arabella in particular supports the heavily published Scarfe to see the potential for change in his drawing of dangerous public figures. She also shares her experiences of turning her pencil on those threatening her as they comb their beards and present themselves for their portrait. “Men are vain”

For 15 minutes of shared insights follow the link:

Immersive Virtual Gallery Platform

A few weeks back I picked up an app that appeared on Instagram : D Emptyspace, that promised customisable virtual art galleries. I responded to the invitation to populate/ curate 3 separate galleries with images from my artworks. They are titled : Powder Drop; Screen Bed and Art Viewers. The first two are white space galleries whereas the third is a dark space. Each can be populated with digital images. These could be the conventional framed artworks and placed on the walls or I experimented with ‘blowing up’ expressionistic images of artworks I had recently created in an experimental material drawing session. I had dropped ‘lamp black’ ink powder from a meter or so on to sheets of receptive paper. This created enjoyable freeform marks. They would be blown away unless they could be fixed. To do so I placed a second sheet on the powdered first and pounded it with my hands, followed by kneading it with my knees to squash the powder flat on the first sheet. The marks became less atomised and were flattened into the paper. I took smart phone photographs of the results. These became my digital art works for the first D Emptyspace gallery. But rather than ‘hanging’ three prints on the gallery walls I enlarged them to cover the total wall spaces. This worked well and gave the impression of being large scale artworks – all from small powder drops on an A2 sheet of paper.

D Emptyspace Powder Drop Gallery
Powder Drop 1

For the last week I have been receiving an increasing number of ‘Traces’ and messages on my Powder Drop Gallery. Interestingly fewer comments on the other two galleries, even though, in my opinion they are equally interesting. Perhaps early D Emptyspace viewers tend to look at the first gallery and not follow through to Galleries 2 and 3. Today a message from D Emptyspace CEO & Co-creator Ryan in Korea to all users with the first newsletter:

‘D Emptyspace is now one month old! Since our official launch on May 30, thousands of artists have started uploading incredible artwork. In celebration of our first month we’re sending our first newsletter. Continue reading to learn about improvements we’ve made (based on your feedback) and to discover other artists curating and sharing on D Emptyspace.

Powder Drop Galley 1.

Surprise Surprise Powder Drop is a Featured Gallery. For just 1 month there is a growing user base for this innovative platform. I plan to extend the third dark gallery with more art watchers and assess how this performs and whether users respond positively. New Features are promised in response to user feedback.

website: App on App Store

Powder Drop 2

Edvard Munch Printmaking

British Museum – Love and angst – July 2019

Love and Angst curated by Giulia Bartram, shows Munch as an extremely versatile printmaker through his work in lithography, woodcut, etching and drypoint . There are a small number of oil and watercolour paintings, but the emphasis is on his printmaking. There is even the large, thick, heavy litho stone used to print the ‘Madonna’ is framed behind glass. This provides a solid and substantial reference to the material nature of the drawing, mark making and inking of his prints.

Many critics and commentators have written valuably on Munch’s complex persona and its reflection in his works. Love and Angst points to these psychological motivations, however aesthetic and (print)making themes are uppermost here. The lithographic drawings are full of flowing and dense drawn marks to represent each subject and Munch’s interpretation of thereof. On closer inspection many of the drawings on the stones have been drawn into with a sharp tool to bring forward detail, highlights and enhanced forms. This technique requires deft handling of the tool to add to the image, through taking away. These scratched sharp marks are particularly apparent in his portrait of August Strindberg.

August Strinberg. 1896. Lithograph. detail.
The Kiss. 1902. Woodcut

In many of his woodcuts he makes use of the wood’s grain across the subject depicted as well as the background. In The Kiss the shape of the embracing couple mark the edges of one woodblock, which Munch printed over a background made from another block, whose grain is prominent. This unusual approach brings an overall unity to the prints with the grain being apparent throughout, as opposed to the norm which would be to remove it from the central motif. It also reveals the printmaking process and materials employed. In the multicolour woodcuts he also uses a jigsaw technique to create areas of colour and distinct lines of subjects. To achieve this he sawed the woodblock into sections. Once again applying dramatic techniques to the printmaking process.

Photography. The exhibition does not focus on Munch’s interest and use of the then growing accessible medium of photography. He referred to family photographs, photographic portraits by himself and others and specifically taken images to make self portraits that he then used as reference for paintings and prints. When conceiving Self Portrait With Wine Bottle he composed photographs of himself, framed and positioned facing a light filtering through the lace curtained window. This created a sense of melancholy as he is set against a dark background with his features illuminated in a form of chiaroscuro. For the painting and prints of Self portrait with Wine Bottle, it appears he uses this image as reference, but places himself in a real cafe environment with a natural overall light illuminating the background. He retains his image of melancholy from his lonely darkened room photograph into the social reality he lives through. The print is included in Love and Angst with its gestural marks describing the tablecloths.

Self Portrait With Wine Bottle. Munch Museum Oslo
Self Portrait With Wine Bottle. Lithograph. Munch Museum Oslo

His use of photography and his feelings of melancholy and hopelessness are encapsulated in his thoughts in his notes on ‘The Fatal Destiny Photographs’ and the aphorism attributed to him in 1904, Berlin: ‘The camera cannot compete with brush and palette- as long as it cannot be used in heaven and hell’.

Arne Eggum presents more detail on Munch’s interests in and use of photography in his insightful book: Munch and Photography. (Eggum, A 1989. Munch and photography. London: Yale University Press).

This slide show shows images from this exceptional exhibition and Munch’s printmaking talents :

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The Urgency of the Arts. NAFAE /RCA

RCA 15th March 2015. With contributions by two BCU Researchers

The introduction to the day was made by RCA Dean Juan Cruz with a heartfelt expression of grief for the people of Christchurch who suffered in an atrocious terrorist attack on two Mosques.

The keynote was delivered by an a team of presenters: Jordan BASEMAN | Gemma BLACKSHAW |Zowie BROACH | Joel CHAN | Nicky COUTTS | Brian DILLON | Catherine DORMOR | Anne DUFFAU | Chantal FAUST | Rebecca FORTNUM | Johnny GOLDING | Paul HAYWOOD | Jaspar JOSEPH-LESTER | Adam KAASA | Jonathan MILES | Rathna RAMANATHAN | Olivier RICHON | Aura SATZ | Shehnaz SUTERWALLA | Rebecca TADMAN | Joanne TATHAM | Victoria LSH | Hermione WILTSHIRE.

Morning Break out sessions Documents, Environment and ME. Documents included a paper by BCU Researcher Edward ‘Jonnie’ Turpie: Being Vulnerable to the Making, in the Making.

Lunchtime with Posters included BCU’s PhD researcher Soha Alzaid: ‘Recovering the lost visual history of the Ka’ba and Kiswa’. A welcome tour of the Printmaking Department featuring a plate litho press that I believe I used 40 years ago when studying for my MA. Then it was in the Exhibition Road building next to the Painting Dept, opposite the Science Museum and by the V&A

Afternoon Break out sessions: Collaboration, Entanglement and Renactment.

Re-Enactment Chair: Dr Catherine MAFFIOLETTI, Research Fellow, Ravensbourne University London

Qi FANG, Newcastle University. The metaphoric transforming environment in the semi-darkness.

Marita FRASER, Royal College of Art. Speaking With

Xiaoyi NIE, Royal College of Art. Re-enactment? Or A Pilgrimage to Inhabit the Space.

Heather ROSS, Newcastle University. The Loud and the Soft Speakers; A Contemporary Iteration of Kurt Schwitters’ The Silence Poem

Diana TAYLOR, Sheffield Hallam University. Arts and Crafts: Back and forth, time and time again

Ada TELES, University of the Arts London. Copying the work of other artists: an inquiry into artistic identity and authenticity

Caroline WARD, Royal College of Art. Pre-enacting Artificial Intelligence

Performances + Screenings

Curators: Anna NAZO (RCA) & Despina PAPADOPOULOS (RCA)

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Murat ADASH, Goldsmiths, University of London. One in the Other

Maya AMRAMI, London College of Fashion. Thought-Work: Thinking Through Entanglement

Rose BUTLER, Sheffield Hallam University. Vital Vagueness

Annabelle CRAVEN-JONES, Royal College of Art. Does my algorithm have a mental health problem?

Ada Xiaoyu HAO, University of Brighton. NAUT-ADA: (m)other eye

Yifei HE, Royal College of Art. Reenactment: Paint Against Waves, If All The Waves Can Be Saved

Clareese HILL, Goldsmiths, University of London. The Hyper Present – The Manipulation of Time and Space

Zosia HOLUBOWSKA, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Magic as Queer Activism

Anna NAZO, Royal College of Art. Viscosity

Sarvenaz SOHRABI, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. Dancing in the Silence: Representing Iranian Women Through Pop Art Aesthetics

Matt WILLIAMS, Kingston University. Soundwalk Version: West Indian Centre – Eclipse (2019)

The conference concluded with the opening of :There’s something lurking in the shadows that might be interesting.


Royal College of General Practitoners

“Can I help you?” Asked the tall young doorman at the Royal College of General Practioners. I am here to meet Susie Freeman. “Ah yes. she is here. I shall find her for you.”  We walked into the spacious busy café and there was Susie waving from a tea table in the central London space that is adorned by her work from the last twenty or so years: WOWI.

My partner and I have reconnected with Susie after many years since we hung out in 70/early 80’s London. The wonder of Instagram and Kevin Atherton‘s recent performance of ‘In Two Minds’ at the Ikon in Birmingham, have brought us together in her show WOWI in Euston Road, opposite the Welcome trust and near the British Museum that also hold and exhibit pieces by her and the Pharamacopoeia collaboration.  

The show is made up of insightful and visually arresting work she has collaborated with Dr Liz Lee to respond creatively to the development and increasing reliance of medical drug prescription.  From flowing dresses to petite handbags, drawers of drugs and tables of antiretrovirals the show draws on the of the amount of prescribed drugs humans with conditions, consume over time. Many of the 28 pieces collect and display multi colourful pills she had personally placed in pockets of fabrics, creating unexpected patterns from unlikely objects. She knits and weaves garments reminiscent of the high fashion world. They are beautiful artefacts in themselves. 

Because of the first impression of fashion the dawning realisation that each piece is a record of a drugs prescription of an individual dealing with a medical condition is emotional and meaningful. The balance of medical information, knowledge of patient adoption and creative clothing is alluring and affecting. The revelations of the vast numbers of pills consumed over periods of human suffering ranges of conditions is reflective and thought provoking. Adorning each piece, large and small, are the brightly packaged plasticised objects are reminiscent of pop art. They are a reminder of how so many are taken by so many, as we traverse 21st century life and seek healthy solutions. The show captures our dependence and our ambivalence towards them encased beautifully in fabrics, garments and cultural hangings.

There is a valuable short piece on the ‘upsides and downsides of drug based medicine’ on the RCGP site.

And more about Susie’s work on her website

And the collaboration between Susie and Dr Liz Lee.

Social Prescription. WOWI is a perfect opportunity for GPs to take up SOS Matt Hancock’s welcome announcement of arts and creative for social prescription

Two entranced WOWI Viewers: ‘Bacteriology Illustrated’ 2008

Now where’s my ramipril, statin, aspirin ………………..


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Anatomy insights over supper

24 months since my hands began to feel numb and tingling. Not just an irritant, but something definitely amiss. Following GP’s appointments: hand specialist reviews: carpal tunnel elimination; Neurology assessment: traumatic MRI head and neck scans; posterior decompression (growth on the spine) diagnosis (Thank you QE, Dr Littleton and Seddigh): spinal surgery (thank you Mr Metcalfe), physiotherapy (Thank you Gina) and regular exercise, the symptoms are reducing. Shoulder pain is much less frequent, neck pains less painful, hands and fingers cold, but less numb and fewer pins and needles.

frontal scan self portrait #1. A1 Silk screen.

After the operation to remove growth at C3 & 4, I accessed my pre-operation scan images. ‘Seeing inside myself’ for the first time inspired the making of a self portrait. Something I had never embarked upon before. Selecting ‘meaningful’ scans of neck, growth, head and brain I enlarged the small electronic images and applied a bitmap (black and white) matrix to give a texture and the ability to be silk screen printed at scale. The resultant three large scale printed images created an interior self portrait.

vertebrae C3/4.self portrait #2. A1 Silk screen duotone

I had not shared the self portraits until, over an informal supper, I was introduced to an anatomy education expert. I could not resist enquiring about the diagnostic process and my anatomical make up. On showing my self portraits an enthusiastic informed discussion took off, where many of the questions I had been asking about the connectivity of my nervous system were clarified. Her enthusiasm for anatomy and ‘seeing into’ the neurorogical make up I had reflected, brought forth her knowledge of how brain and pain connect. Her ability to access online medical information through applying professional, rather than lay, language along with her engaging sharing of information made clear to me what vertebrae connected to which nerves. Which parts of the brain are responsible for which bodily function, and the relevant size of brain tissue for amount of sensory information.

horizontal brain scan. self portrait #3. A1 Silk screen print

To explain how different parts of the brain process and control she brought up the ‘Cortical_homunculus’. This is a distorted representation of the human body, based on a neurological “map” of the areas and proportions of the human brain dedicated to processing motor, or sensory functions, for different parts of the body. Taking this further the nervous system is connected through dermatromes. Dermatrome, in anatomical terms, is an area of skin innervated by sensory fibers from a single spinal nerve.

Dermatrome Map

Dermatome Map

Cervical vertebra with intervertebral disc

This healthy symmetrical cross section shows how the spinal chord is protected and the spinal nerves are cushioned. There are a number of online examples of MRI scans in the Radiopedia platform which aims to create the best radiology reference the world has ever seen and to make it available for freefor everfor all.

This simple, but clearly explained description of the causes of nerve pains from the neck that had led to my posterior decompression surgery was immensely useful. My anatomical supper expert had been able to explain as she had time. She was not under medical service pressure to move onto the next patient.

We returned to the printed self portraits and drew connection between the binary transmission of signals to, from and across the brain with the binary marks of information required to capture and print the interior self portrait images.

Our anatomy evening came to an end with the sharing of Leonardo Da Vinci’s 500th Anniversary catalogue, published this week and celebrated across the land and in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Da Vinci’s drawings laid the foundations for anatomical study and the knowledge base of today. Current Magnetic Resonance Imaging techniques allow detailed images of inside the live, human body to inform medical diagnosis and treatment. I am eternally thankful for the medics and my anatomical expert for enabling me to create my interior self portraits.

brain neck and head. self portrait #1,2&3. A1 Silk Screen self portraits.

An Urban Sadness

All thats left after 100 years

100 years ago a conifer seed landed in Ingoldsby Court, Moseley Birmingham UK. A tall mature tree in 2018 developed a rotting disease and had to be felled for safety’s sake. In two days the deed was done. Sad, but Super efficient

Morning climb to the last branch

Slide show below

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Paperlike Drawing

Autumn Acorn bunch Landed in Ingoldsby Garden

This drawing is 8th in the series of Fruit of Drawing. It includes three empty Autumn acorn cups and one still to be released, in search of warm winter leaves and grounds to germinate in the Spring.

This drawing was the opportunity to try and test a new addition to my toolset: Paperlike.  This is a sheet of textured film that adheres to the glossy iPad screen surface.

I have  spent many hours perfecting my drawing technique on the iPad.  First with various styli and finally with the perfectly matched Apple Pencil, which in tandem with the procreate app, with its multitude of variable brushes, is  perfected for the tablet surface. However drawing with these tools has always ‘felt’ materiality different to drawing on paper with graphite pencils. After all they are ‘digital’. I have developed drawing techniques and styles for the smooth surface which over time has made it possible to make rewarding digital drawings. The fruits of drawing series are all made using this approach.

Getting the balance between traditional drawing materials and contemporary digital possibilities is always of interest and like many other human activities technology moves on and the launch of ‘paperlike’ offered a new addition.

It was developed by Jan Sapper and funded through a £40K Kickstarter raise in 2017:  ‘ We optimized the PaperLike for maximum precision and control. The friction is perfect for long drawing sessions or taking notes in endless meetings. And yes, it also feels nice.’ with testimonies like: ‘There’s actually a lot more resistance between the tip of the pencill and the surface – it really changes the way the ipad feels” and “The nice texture and grip, makes it easier to get whats in my head on to the screen”.

 There were a few not so positive reviews, mainly about the application of the film to the iPad screen and avoiding dust. I ordered it and it arrived in a relatively massive box.  Once I got through the paper packaging to the A4 envelope I watched the video and decided to take the dust avoidance advice and fix the screen in the allegedly dust free bathroom.

I nearly succeed, but a couple of pesky bits of dust evaded my cleaning and polishing.  Before drawing I  scrolled around applications with my fingers and the screen certainly felt much more like paper with its paper like, rather than digital glass friction.

Using the Apple Pencil I tested out a variety of pencil/brushes to get a feel for what was possible.  My ‘favourite’ pencil brushes seemed to visually deliver a softer line, with more texture. Drawing was more tactile which I had hoped for. The screen has a rough rag paper coarseness which encourages a  ‘natural’ drawing technique with the drawn mark response more akin to an analogue pencil on paper relationship.

Before Paperlike arrived I had begun to draw the Acorn bunch and rather than start a new drawing I added new layers and began to draw with the new surface.

pre paper like

post paper like

The two images are at different stages of completion, but there is a material difference between them. The first is less textured, the second, after getting used to the textured surface and a range of pencils, is less ‘smooth’ than the first.  As I experimented with procreate pencils I used HB, 6B, Blunt, Narinder and techical pencils. I had never used the narinder and technical pencils in previous drawings as they felt too fine and sharp for the gestural drawing I wanted to make for the fruits. I used the blunt pencil much less than in the previous drawings as it was too textured and difficult to control the spread softly.

All in all I enjoy the grain of the paperlike surface and the opportunity it has offered to draw on a less slippy surface more materially akin to a paper sketchbook, but with the digital opportunities of layering, reviewing and multiple choices of pencils. A step forward bringing digital and analogue drawing closer.

And it sounds different! The pencil sounds like it is drawing on a textured surface.

More Fruit, Portrait and Location drawings will confirm the value as I hope not to have to remove the film from the iPad screen.

More Paperlike details.

Acorn Life Cycle’s First Stage

The first stage of the acorn seedling’s life is fruiting. This is when an acorn grows on the oak tree, which happens through the spring and summer shortly after the tree has flowered in the spring. Different type of acorns can fall at various times. For example, toward the end of the summer or in early fall, fully grown acorns from white oak trees fall to the ground. Acorns from red oak trees fall during late fall or winter.

The Beauty of Uneaten Acorns

Acorns are heavier than many tree seeds and usually fall to the ground close to the parent tree. Acorns rarely sprout or germinate when close to the parent tree due to lack of light through the tree’s canopy. This function is performed by squirrels and other rodents that scatter, hoard and eat the acorn seedlings. Those acorns left uneaten have the chance to sprout and grow into an oak tree.

Acorns need the right soil conditions to germinate and sprout. Most germination of trees will begin during the early spring season. They require loose and moist and nutrient-rich soil in a location that gets plenty of sunlight and rainfall. Given these conditions, the acorn will start to germinate and grow a taproot that pushes deep into the surrounding soil. As the taproot grows down, the acorn sends a shoot upward. This is the first stage in the transformation of the mighty oak tree life cycle.

Reproduction is often aided by birds such as jays, which bury acorns to retrieve later, perhaps forgetting where they stored them.