Thursday, December 18, 2014


Wishing you all a 
and to those who don't celebrate Christmas

Paintings by Josette Urso

"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little something more."  -  Dr Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Friday, November 7, 2014


The "Richly Wrapped" exhibition is on at Fillingdon Art Gallery, High Wycombe, UK until the 13th December. I received an email from Debs Digby to say that Oshun,  the last of my totems sold this week.

"Oshun" is a Yoruban Goddess, who encompasses a great variety of things, including love, sensuality, sexuality, fertility, abundance and diplomacy. She is widely loved as she heals the sick and has an amazing strength within her to bring people together as one. Oshun has a warrior aspect especially when protecting women and children. She is also known as 'Laketi', 'she who has ears', because of how quickly and effectively she answers prayers.

To read the rest of the article follow this link

Monday, October 20, 2014


I love to walk in nature and I especially love to walk alone. In South Africa .... or where I live anyway .... there are not many places one can do so safely. At the wild coast I walk alone for miles and as long as I keep the fishermen in sight (even just a dot on the horizon), I feel safe. It's a time that I unwind completely with not a worry in the world. 

"It's when I'm walking that I come closest to an affection for myself." - Shawna Lemay

During the build up to my daughter's wedding we promised ourselves a healthy walking holiday at the wild coast once everything quietened down. Unfortunately that never happened because our fox terrier was badly savaged by our bull terrier.  Her pelt was almost ripped right off her body resulting in an air pocket between flesh and fur. It's been over a month that her little body has been battling against the infection she developed under her skin but today I can finally say she has turned a corner in her recovery.

During this time of watching over her, whilst she fought for her life, my thoughts have taken me to our favourite beach walks for solace. 

I found a few quotes on Shawna Lemay's blog that sum up why I find these walks such a balm to my spirit ......

"There is an element of repetition in the act of walking where you can forget. And there is a tiredness. A peacefulness. I think that when you are really alone you have a fragility. The feelings are more intense. You have more of a feeling of the eternity of things."  -  Frederic Gros

"And walking with a camera is yet another kind of walking. One's looking becomes more delicate, sharper, refined. One loses oneself in the walking, and then is lost again, while one focuses in on the leaf, twig, or dried seed pod that has attracted one's attention." -  Shawna Lemay

I loved  this post on Shawna's blog. 

One can walk for days on a wild coast beach and never see a soul other than cattle and goats and perhaps the occasional herdsman with his dog.

For me, it's a walking meditation
kicking up water in the shallows for miles
dreaming of the totems I will carve
incorporating the pebbles and driftwood I've gathered

 Catching fish for lunch every day makes one feel healthier

"To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter.... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life."  - John Burroughs

"The kind of dog you have will change the perfume of your walking. The degree to which your dog stops to sniff and mark territory, the pace you keep ...... "  - Shawna Lemay

"Walking is important to my practice, a way to begin. It opens the route between the external world and the inner world of the studio. On my ritual paths, I take notice of changes that occur -- daily and seasonally -- recording what attracts my attention, 'navigating' my way through time."  -  Kim Kopp

"Walking..... is how the body measures itself against the earth" - Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A history of walking.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Lucian Freud with fox cub. Photograph by David Dawson, Freud's studio assistant. See more here.

Having just celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary I decided to dedicate a post to my dear husband who I fondly referred to as M.A. Fox, throughout our courting days. There is a story behind his nickname.... of course.

Fox Hunt by Ken Roko. See Etsy Shop, here.

One of the poems we learned by heart at school was John Masefield's, Reynard's Last Run, a poem about fox hunting which I found quite upsetting. When M, a complete stranger, sat down next to my desk during the first week of my first job (I was 18 and he was 28) he was not to know that I disliked the poem. He proceeded to recite one of the many verses of Reynard the Fox to me. If it hadn't been for his spectacular heart-fluttering grin and the fact that I was intrigued by this stranger's unusual pick-up line I would have turned away in embarrassment. The office secretary had warned me that a "playboy" had seen me waiting for my interview  a month earlier and that he would be back to meet me when I started work. I worked in Town Planning on the 12th floor and he worked in Staff Resources on the 3rd. He waited a few days for me to settle in before introducing himself and returned daily to recite a few more lines from the poem as a prelude to conversation. 

Rien Poortvliet   (Remember the book Gnomes?)

Many of these quotes have become part of our lives. What I didn't realize then was the poem had 339 verses. At school we had studied a portion of the poem which ended on a question mark. Had the fox reached safety? It was highly unlikely but I was relieved to discover that the fox had in fact survived and as the years have gone by we have read and re-read all 339 verses and many of the lines have become my favourites too.

Walrus ivory Fox. Punuk or Thule, Princeton University Art Museum

The air blew rank with the taint of fox:
The yews gave way to a greener space
Of great stones strewn in a grassy place.
And there was his earth at a great grey shoulder
Sunk in the ground, of a granite boulder
A dry deep burrow with rocky roof,
Proof against crowbars, terrier-proof, 
Life to the dying, rest for bones.
The earth was stopped; it was filled with stones.
Then, for a moment, his courage failed.
His eyes looked up as his body quailed,
Then the coming of death, which all things dread,
Made him run for the wood ahead.

-  Reynard the Fox by John Masefield. 
See whole poem and info here

Textile sculpture by Elisabeth Higgens O'Connor . Click here for website

Robert Janz. See more here

Martha Dimitropoulou (pine needles)

 Red Fox by Renee Harris (embroidery, fabric, rice paper). Click for website

Fox Scarf by Sarena Huizinga. Click here.

Nighttime Garden Fox, hooked rug by Dulcy Stewart. Click here.

A Skulk of Foxes by Lawrence Cox. Click

Erica Salcedo. Website here  and blog here

Sunday, June 15, 2014


The name STRANDLOPER is an Afrikaans word meaning "beach walker". It is a term for San-derived people who lived by hunting and gathering along the sea shores of Southern Africa from prehistoric times until the second millennium AD. The term has been extended to refer to present day beach combers.

While we were on holiday in the eastern cape we came across many middens. One of them was particularly old and high. It formed a bank covered with grass but a landslide had ripped the bank open to reveal  layer upon layer of shells at eye level. I did a little research and came across this post about Strandloper middens.

"... these piles of shells are often thousands of years old, and represent the last signs left by the Strandloper people, who belonged to the larger communities of either San or the Khoikhoi.... "

"The women would find some place in the dunes that was protected from the wind, and transform it into the family kitchen. They would shuck the shells and often prepare the food here as well. Pottery shards found at the midden sites indicate items of Stone Age crockery." - Chris Marais

After our holiday  I was inspired to carve a Strandloper to remind me of the blissful days spent gathering pebbles and driftwood on wild beaches.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Having been inspired by Billy Collins and an artist who loves hats I couldn't resist blogging  about the two of them. The artist is John Caple. 

I'm captivated by his mysterious paintings. There's a stillness about them that appeals to me.

Mary Miers wrote a charming article about him here. She interviewed him in his sitting room, darkened by half-pulled curtains and lit by candles. This and the fact that he paints at night in the lamplight made me think of the Billy Collins poem about Goya who fashioned a hat with candles around the brim to wear when painting at night.

Photo from the 1999 film Goya en Burdeos

CANDLE HAT by Billy Collins

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device that allowed him to work at night.

You can only wonder what it would be like
to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read
any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
lighting the candles one by one, then placing
the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
he laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
"Come in," he would say, "I was painting myself",
as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.

Oh my hat  ~ An expression of extreme emotion, used by those who retain the presence of mind to avoid causing offence by saying "Oh my God".    -   Urban Dictionary

Thursday, June 5, 2014


I'm pleased to announce that my work can now be found at a beautiful gallery in the Uk.

The present exhibition @
Fillingdon Farm, Piddington, High Wicombe

opened on 31st May
and continues through to
28th June

The 300 year old beamed barn provides a modern yet historical setting for paintings and ceramics, whilst the sculptures look striking against the backdrop of the rolling Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire.

Meet Debs Digby, charming owner of Fillingdon Fine Art. I was lucky enough to meet Debs this year during her annual visit to Africa.  She breezed in to our home like a breath of fresh air and by the time she breezed out again I was totally under her spell. Debs takes great pride in personally meeting all the artists to discuss their art and what inspires them.  
Click for website here

Saturday, May 24, 2014


An idyllic week at the wild coast

We had Long Beach to our selves every day
Not another soul to be seen

 Hours of walking, fishing  and foraging

I'm drawn to the broken shells
especially the black turbans 
which peel back to reveal spirals of rust

BREAKAGE by Mary Oliver

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and scarred --
and nothing at all whole or shut, but battered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture
It's like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

Our room had a little garret above it
which we named the eagle's aerie
We did a lot of holiday reading there

 I savoured Donna Watson's exquisite book
The Beauty of Nothingness

and lost myself in several novels.

"Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too."  -  Iris Murdoch, The sea, the sea