SPIRITS: WUTHERING HEIGHTS | LET ME IN
… A NEW SIZE (ALREADY!)

WUTHERING HEIGHTS | LET ME IN
Graphite and collage on plywood board
19” x 36”

I wanted to be consistent.. certainly in the size of the artwork, if only so I didn’t have to keep making decisions about what size I should do the artwork. And look, I’ve failed already!

This was an off cut from a large piece of birchwood that I splashed out on and had cut into three pieces because I thought it would be better than the less expensive plywood I used for Pendle | Alizon.

But, as is the nature of things that involve a learning curve, it proved to be an unnecessary waste of money. Not only did the wood warp, which the less expensive wood never does (and that was while it was just sitting in my studio), but it’s heavier and has no grain..and I like the option of having the grain.

Typically, all the pieces that were cut to the right size for me to work on had warped, but the off cut hadn’t. All very strange and I’ve no idea why but presumably there was something wrong with it.
As it happens, this was a good thing in that for Let Me In it actually works better having it taller and thinner. It highlights the Cathy’s ghost at the window element without the need for there to be an actual window, which I didn’t want, and it also helps the tangled branches part of the scene, which I didn’t want to depict too literally as I thought it would detracted too much from the portrait.

So at least I turned that to my advantage. All I have to do now is work out how to use three warped pieces of birch.

Original Artwork : £290.00

And if you’d like to share that would be fab…

Spirits: Whitby | Gothic … the home of Dracula


For those unfamiliar with Whitby, it’s a small seaside town in the north east of England with the notable claim of being the home of Dracula. Well not so much his home, more his first port of call when arriving in England on the ship Demeter, alighting as a large black hound.
Bram Stoker was staying in Whitby whilst writing the book and he obviously found the spooky charm of it’s narrow streets and ruined abbey something of an inspiration. It doesn’t quite have the gothic majesty of York but it’s only an hour’s drive (two and quarter if you’re on the Coastliner bus) and is a fabulous place to spend the night (or two) and take in some quality sea air.

It’s also home to the twice yearly Whitby Goth Weekend, where much merriment, dancing and watching of live music can be had by those brave enough to venture into its streets after dark. Actually the goths are a friendly bunch so you don’t really have to be brave at all, and most of them are happy to have their photos taken so there’s much entertainment to be had for photographers and those who just like to experience something a bit different.

Having said all that, the spirit of Whitby is not just its relatively recent goth persona, and although my current piece uses that as a theme I’ve also started work on a piece that uses the sea, a heritage that is far older and more deeply ingrained than the imaginings of a Victorian writer.

And if you’d like to share that would be fab…

CATHY’S GHOST…WHY I’M CREATING A PIECE OF ART ABOUT A BOOK I HAVEN’T READ


A terrible admission I’d be the first to agree, but it does beg the question…actually it begs two: should we make an effort to read books that are deemed to be ‘classics’ whether they appeal or not, and should people be allowed to create art about things that they clearly know nothing about.

I’ll have a stab at the first question secure in the knowledge that you’ll disagree with me and probably rightly so. I’m actually not a big reader of novels; text, graphic or otherwise. If I am spotted reading it’ll almost invariably be a copy of the Fortean Times, either the current issue or, when that’s been heartily devoured, a back issue to keep me going during the interminable wait for the next one. This will occasionally be punctuated with a book dealing with an equally obscure subject such as Jesus the Man by Barbara Thiering, which is my current bedside reading.

Even less frequently I’ll get all business like and read some blog posts on the values of content marketing and how it’ll make me a millionaire if I just spend 23 hours a day writing, which will apparently leave me plenty of time to create all the art I’ll be selling. (I’ll keep you posted on that one and if I’m writing blog posts from Santorini this time next year I’ll not only be as pleasantly surprised as you but I’ll have a few bloggers to heartily thank).

So the idea of reading a novel just because it’s considered a classic has never occurred to me, and my friend telling me that she’s forced herself to read a number of classics because she felt she ought to and found the experiences tedious to say the least has not inspired me to change my position. However, when I began the Spirits art project it was in part motivated by the idea of creating artwork based on places that I enjoy visiting. One of those places is Haworth, which is well known, if only to my friend who’s read all the classics, as the birthplace and home of the Bronte sisters, who are renowned and respected for their literary accomplishments but would no doubt consider, if they had still been with us, the pleasure that my friend gained from reading Wuthering Heights while all other classics had been consigned to the charity shop of failure as their crowning achievement.

If you’ve not visited Haworth, and it’s reasonably realistic for you to do so (i.e. you’re not reading this on a beach in Santorini) you must pay it a visit. It has a fabulously steep hill that some of the residents claim was used for the famous Hovis bread advert (although it was actually Gold Hill in Dorset) that is full of great little shops and cafes (and a few pubs) and plenty of history including the Brontë Parsonage Museum, housed in the very building that the sisters lived in. For those of an energetic nature, there’s also some lovely walks around the moors that were the inspiration for Emily’s Wuthering heights, including a trek to Top Withens, a dilapidated farmhouse that bears no resemblance to the description of Wuthering heights in the slightest but is still, allegedly, the inspiration for the house in the story.

To do a piece of art based on Haworth for Spirits that wasn’t in some way connected to the Brontes seemed even more of a travesty than my not having read the book. Haworth and the Brontes are so inextricably linked that it defines what Spirits is all about. Not to mention that there have been sightings of Emily’s ghost, which is not quite the spirit I had in mind (except for the Haunted York series .. more on that in a later post) but makes Emily irresistible as the subject…although you may have noticed that it’s not Emily in the drawing.

I’ll explain that in the next post…

And if you’d like to share that would be fab…

THE LEGEND (OR MYTH) OF MAD ALICE


The Mad Alice of today is actually Alicia Stabler, who runs an extremely good guided tour around York’s bloodier (historically anyway) locations and will gleefully inform you of all the nasty aspects that make up its history. She’s so good in fact that she’s won the Bronze Award in the Visit England Awards 2018.
The Mad Alice that gave the snicket known as Lund’s Court its original name is something more of an enigma. The lane that connects Low Petergate with Swinegate was undoubtedly named Mad Alice Lane and there is a sign above its entrance that proudly declares this to be the case, and there must be a reason for it. Unfortunately nobody seems to no what that reason is, although according to popular folktale the woman was a resident of the lane, which presumably possessed an even older name at that point (unless the authorities were particularly callous) named Alice Smith and that she was hanged in 1825 in the St Michael le Belfrey church (or it may have been York Castle) for no other crime than that of being insane. An alternative version of the story is that she had been abused by her husband to such an extent that she murdered him with poison, and that her subsequent hanging was the punishment for her crime.
The conundrum is that there is no record of an Alice Smith being hung in York, either in that year or any other year, which suggests (discounting theories of a cover up) that the story is complete fiction.
In which case the question is: who was Mad Alice and why did they name a street after her?
Whatever the answer to that question may be her spirit lives on and she makes a fabulous subject for one of the York series. Above is the unfinished pencil drawing and I’ve decided not to make her blatantly mad as we don’t know whether she actually was and anyway it might look a bit off putting from an aesthetic point of view… I don’t want people hanging up my artwork and feeling nervous every time they look at it.

And if you’d like to share that would be fab…