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Fishink Ceramics at the Sale Arts Trail ‘Yule Do’

November 20, 2018

Hello everyone and apologies for the late posting this week. It’s been a very busy few days with getting everything ready for the designer fair I did last Saturday. I must say the church (St Pauls in Sale) looked great and there was so much amazing work from a wide variety of artists.

I was kept pretty busy throughout the day, so much so that I only grabbed a few minutes to scoot around and take a few images.

Very creative layouts from the makers who were selling from table tops laid out across the upright pews.

This was my stand, and I was pretty pleased with how it looked in the end.

The wall hanging, flat ceramics sold well, so much so that when a couple of stall holders popped around near the end of the fair to buy a piece they’d had their eye on, the items had gone! I’ll be making some more and hope to be back at Sale Arts Trail in summer 2019.

In the meantime, you can head over to my shop on Fishink Shop on Etsy (which I’ll be adding to very soon) or contact me directly ( if there’s anything you wanted to purchase for yourself and I can send you a photo and sell securely through Paypal.

Thanks again to the organisers Jo, Sophie and Catherine for another great event, and to everyone who came along, purchased something and helped keep us designers in business. It really does make a difference #justacard.

For a full list of the exhibitors see

Yule Do 2018


Walks, the Whitworth and Sale Arts Fair’s “Yule Do”

November 12, 2018

Hello there, welcome to the autumnal section of the year. I’ve been looking back over the past months photos I’ve taken and thought I’d share a few as they are full of colour, nature and things that seem to make me sigh a lot with happiness.

I’ve been lucky to capture some beautiful days and that great changing seasonal colouration that you lucky readers in New England get every year around this time.

Some of the trees have been ablaze with colour.

My dog Boo has loved getting out and about too, although she does become a little difficult to spot when the leaves and her coat are the same shade.

Yes some time for relaxing, it is a dogs life after all !

Vernon Park in Stockport and Style Woods have been fab spots for a crunchy leaf walks lately.

Boo needs her superdog cape every now and then, mostly when she flies in her sleep : )

I also made it to the recent exhibition by William Kentridge at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. William is renowned for his animated drawings and films that have been exhibited throughout the world since the 1980s. I last saw his work back in 2013 at the Tate in London.

Combining drawing, tapestry, music and film projection as well as sculpture, this major touring exhibition draws on sources as broad as early cinema, China’s Cultural Revolution, opera, scientific theories of time and space and the generative qualities of nature and creativity.

My favourite exhibition today was that of the work of Alice Kettle.

EntitledThread Bearing Witness  is a major new series of large textiles, and other works, to be shown at the Whitworth, that considers cultural heritage, refugee displacement and movement, while engaging with individual migrants and their creativity within the wider context of the global refugee crisis.

Alice Kettle is a highly regarded contemporary artist focused upon stitched textiles, a powerful medium through which to explore these themes. Thread Bearing Witness represents displacement though the migration of stitches, using the three strands of artistic representation, participation and creative resilience, testing ways of belonging within a cultural space, and using textile as a medium of integration, collective expression and resilience to displacement.

The scale alone was breathtaking.

Great to see such swathes of rich colours too.

And the smaller details didn’t go unnoticed. Well worth a visit.

This Saturday 17th, I’ll be exhibiting my new range of ceramic pieces in St Paul’s Church, Sale between 10 and 5pm, alongside about 25 other designer-makers. It’s free to get in, so please come along, say hello and pick up a beautiful early Christmas present for yourself or a friend.

For those of you who can’t attend, (due to being on the other side of the globe), I’ll be putting some more pieces onto my site on Etsy very soon, please check it out and treat yourself.

I had a Blue Peter moment this week and made myself a display stand out of foam board. I was quite pleased with the results, although my accurate scalpel cutting and glue gun control need more practice.

Some new pin badges, wall hanging ceramics and creatures going into the kiln for their first firing.

Before clear glazing everything (below) for it’s second firing.

A few pieces I’ll work back into with additional artwork, like this floral decoration above.

Looking forward to seeing some of you on Saturday, do spread the word if you are local to Manchester and Sale and if not have a look at my Etsy site for inspiration in a weeks time.







Tom McNeely Mid century Illustrator

November 6, 2018

Born in Toronto in 1935, Tom McNeely studied with two prominent Canadian artists before setting off on his own highly successful career.

He was a prominent artist of his time and was commissioned to work in all manner of subjects.

Illustrating books, magazines, posters, adverts and even stamps.

He had a real talent for both laying out a scene and for drawing you into one.


His paintings for Canada’s Expo ’67 and the 1976 Olympics brought him worldwide fame and his distinctively-styled portraits of some of the world’s most famous personalities have been featured in numerous museums.

He also illustrated history books and modern fictional book covers.

As well as Cars and couples.

He loved experimenting with a wide variety of styles and media.


Here’s a small selection of Tom’s artwork from magazines of the sixties.

There is sometimes tension, passion and always that certain something that keeps you intrigued.

“Before I begin to paint, I immerse myself in my subject. I learn all I can about the person and the age when he lived. Only then, when I feel completely familiar with the subject — almost as if I can see him firsthand — do I begin a work of art.”

Space, monsters and everyday family life all featured in his vast portfolio of work.

You can find more information on Tom over at Today’s Inspiration and there’s five other posts featured at the end of this one. Thanks again to Leif Peng for some of the illustrations used in today’s post.







Brian Wildsmith Christmas Treats

October 29, 2018

Hello everyone, and welcome to the second of my book themed blog posts this month.

I have some very exciting news about the artist Brian Wildsmith. I’ve recently been in contact with Brian’s children and have heard that they are in the process of totally updating their father’s website. This is wonderful news. As an incredibly successful artist working here in the fifties and sixties for children’s publications, I’ve always felt that his artwork should be more highly praised in the UK since it is innovative, inspirational and already loved the world over.

As fate would have it, I was also contacted by the Oxford University Press who asked if I would like to feature two of their newly re-published books, when they said they were by Brian Wildsmith, I just smiled and said ” Yes of course”

The first book is called ‘A Christmas Story’ and it reveals Brian’s tender scenes and stunning landscapes that draw you into his sensitive re-telling of the Nativity tale. Readers are invited to travel to the stable with a little girl called Rebecca and the donkey, whose mother has left to carry Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.

The beautiful water-coloured, snowy scenes are almost dreamy in both feeling and mood. I also learned from Brian’s children a little extra detail that made the book even more personal to him and his family.

Clare (Brian’s daughter) says:- “A little story my sister Rebecca told me last night regarding ‘A Christmas Story’. Rebecca’s daughter Ornella, (Brian’s 2nd grandchild) was born just before the original book was sent to print in 1989. Brian just had time to ask the Oxford University Press to call the little girl in the story Rebecca, and dedicate the book ‘For Little Ornella’. What a lovely story.

The book was re-edited in ’92 with a different cover, again in 2007 (paperback edition) and in 2013 it came with a nativity set. It’s 2018 version is available to purchase here.  There are some fab angel themed cards for sale by Brian at the Royal Academy of Arts online shop here.

The second book is the wonderful ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’.

These amazing baubles and patch-worked colours still feel unique almost fifty years after the book was first published!

Here’s a few images that Brian’s son Simon sent to me, from the original edition, first published in 1972.

That version showed all of the Christmas gifts brought together on the final page with the Twelve Lords A-Leaping.

Below is the original artwork Brian sent to the publishers. Wonderful to see these all assembled together alongside Brian’s instructions in pencil for the OUP’s layout artists.

Also a newspaper article from 1972 taken from the New York Times.

Thanks to the Oxford University Press for the beautiful new copies of Brian’s books, well worth considering for a Christmas additional stocking filler.

A big vote of thanks to Clare and Simon Wildsmith who have been so helpful already in donating some of the information for this post.

I look forward to sharing with you, in a later blogpost, their answers to my questions about what it was like growing up with a famous Artist for a farther. I hope to release it to coincide with the new Brian Wildsmith website launch, later this year or early 2019.

Watch this space !!! and please feel free to leave comments below, I’m sure Brian’s family would love to hear your stories and memories about their father’s books.






Are You Sitting Comfortably ? Edward Bawden

October 22, 2018

Good Morning readers, just look what’s landed on my doormat today, a fabulous new hardback bound in pink Rachford’s cloth, just begging to be browsed at my leisure…. and it’s not even Christmas!

The latest publication from The Mainstone Press with over 350 illustrations, 176 pages and a guaranteed smile a minute. Celebrating the beautifully illustrated book jackets of Edward Bawden, featuring a range of work dating between the 1920’s and the 1980’s.

For copyright reasons I’m only allowed to show you a sneak preview of how wonderful this volume is. Hopefully you can see for yourselves, what a pleasure it is to browse through the pages, explore the amazing illustrations that Edward Bawden is well known for and read the entertaining insights from Peyton Skipwith and James Russell into his artistic development and his working methods.

Peyton Skipwith traces Bawden’s remarkable career from his designs for the students’ magazine of the Royal College of Art in the 1920’s to his final commissions from the Folio Society in the 1980’s. Exploring his working methods, including drawing in pen and ink, line-engraving and his favourite medium of linocut.

Look at these great illustrations below for Ambrose Heath’s Good Food series, rarely seen from the 1930’s and beautifully simplistic, with Bawden’s characteristic use of shading and half tones to create both depth and form.

‘Are You Sitting Comfortably? The Book Jackets of Edward Bawden’ with captions by James Russell available for £35 from The Mainstone Press.

Pop it on your Christmas list and grab a copy today!





GNCCF Manchester 2018 Part 2

October 17, 2018

Welcome back to this weeks second post, featuring some of the exhibitors from this year’s Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. See my previous post here for more of the designers who attended.

Mandy Cleveland starts us off today with some beautifully illustrated, framed and re-purposed envelope art.

I hadn’t come across the great print designs from Posner and Posner. Makers of hand-printed, contemporary textiles, their designs and illustrations focus on line, repeat pattern and colour contrasts. With distinctive fabric which is screen printed in their studio and used for homewares, clothing and accessories. The collection sits together colour-wise very well and the patterns feel fresh and vibrant.

When I first saw the floral sculptures from Linda Southwell I thought they were made from felt, as their surface suggested the same texture. On closer inspection I discovered they are in fact ceramic and made from either a groggy clay or a fine porcelain. Inspired by a variety of plant forms, Linda’s sculptures bring the outside in and give a permanence to natural forms. Great patience Linda, they look amazing.

I loved the art pieces from Rachel Cooke. She makes multi-textured, wall-hung and wearable art using her own handmade ceramics, salvaged materials and vintage tiles. Rachel enjoys working intuitively, experimenting with different texture and colour combinations to make each piece unique.

For me, Rachel’s work has a timeless retro feel to her art forms. Beautiful ceramic/mosiac, suggested landscapes with a splash of other media to add variety, texture and shape to each artwork. She also runs classes so you can make your own art, check out the details on her site.

Miriam Griffiths is one of two companies showing wonderful knitwear that caught my eye. Based in Sheffield, all the pieces are lovingly made from high quality, locally sourced fibres with a focus on using natural materials. Great to see some Menswear pieces too.

The second knitwear company was Heather Chamberlain. Luscious greens and linear shapes defined Heather’s collection. Autumnal scarves, wonderfully soft to the touch with a naturally rolled edge. I wanted a jumper made out of them.

Some familiar and striking work from The Courtyard Pottery’s David Ashby.

David’s work is a familiar ‘face’ on my blog. He lives and has a workshop in Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. His work is wheel thrown and slip decorated, with a mixture of wax resist, inlaid colours and scraffito. He’s inspired by the paintings and intuitive mark making of painters like Antoni Tapies, Robert Rauschenberg and Jean -Michel Basquiat. Bold, busy and distinctive.

Next to David was G R Hawes  with some beautifully coloured and shaped glass pieces. ” My work encompasses small batch production for galleries and retail outlets through to large scale lighting and bespoke commissions for individuals, hotels around the world and well respected lighting and chandelier companies. My work includes the use of many traditional glassblowing techniques combined with a very contemporary edge. ” I really admired the shape within a shape, colour within a colour idea.

Hiro Takahashi had an intriguing stand with a collection of small containers on the top of each sat a small creature, these were her ‘Soul Houses‘. Hiro’s ceramic work focuses on intricate textures, forms and architectural pieces. Her distinctive narrative approach can be seen in other works: Message box and Tree of life. They all depict a reflection of her life in past & present.

I also admired Hiro’s mosiac or fragmented animals. Each beautifully textured and looking like its been unearthed from some ancient architectural site. Fascinating work.

I wonder why these retro looking shapes caught my attention ! Great work from Line Mortensen, who is a Danish contemporary mosaic artist based in Scotland. Her Scandinavian heritage and architectural background shines through in her sculptural objects which are imaginative, detailed, textured and abstract.

Finally, my favourite artist from 2018’s show is Frances Noon. Based in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, Frances makes small, humorous sculptures of animals and birds. She uses jewellery techniques to shape and solder base metals, these are combined with a coloured wooden element to form woodland scenes, boats and sheds where an incongruous scale is predominant and humour prevails.

There’s so much love and joy that shines out of her work, it made me smile as soon as I saw it. Spending more time browsing her pieces, just made me like it all the more. It’s definitely the stories that each piece conjures up in the viewers mind (or perhaps it’s just my imagination that works overtime) that makes each artform both precious and absorbing.

A cool collection of sheds above and some quirky creatures below.

Some great wall plaques too. Pop over to her site here and see more for yourself.

Many thanks to everyone who kindly allowed me to photograph their beautiful work and took the time to talk a little about how they make, mould, form and fabricate the great array of crafts I’ve seen again this year at the GNCCF. Do pop over to their sites, buy something direct from the makers, share my posts so that more people can get to see what fantastic talent we have in this country. As ever, your comments are very much appreciated too.
















GNCCF Manchester 2018 Part 1

October 15, 2018

Hello everyone and apologies for the slightly later post time today as I’ve been chasing my tail trying to assemble and get this out to you today. It’s turned into a bigger post than expected, so I’ll be releasing part 2 later in the week. Over the weekend I visited the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and took in a broad selection of the 150 of the UK’s most talented designer-makers and artists. The show is now in it’s eleventh year and also had new events in both Newcastle and Sheffield during 2018.

Let’s start with a jeweller who’s work I’ve seen develop over the past few years, Libby Ward. Libby’s design approach is based on experimental methodologies, she has a passion for juxtaposing unusual and an unexpected mix of materials using a myriad of making processes in order to create thought provoking jewellery. The tactile nature of Libby’s work aims to connect people with textures and re-evaluate how they perceive preciousness through materials.

Libby’s work always feel organic, unearthed somehow, and never fails to surprise and delight.

Lovely to chat with ex-ceramist Karen Suzuki who is now a textile artist with a company called Nameless Wonders. Her work shows, creativity, expression and is often a little on the dark side… in a Darth Vader kind of way lol

I thought her Prancing Pup was a great nod to her days as a ceramicist, and her pigeon looked like he’d just flown in to join the show! Lovely work Karen.

Next up we have a selection of homeware ceramics from Judit Esztergomi. Judit makes wheel-thrown and press-moulded tableware. Her simple and round forms provide the blank canvas for her patterns, with her favourite decorating techniques being sgraffitto and inlay. Inspiration has various sources: the folk pottery of her motherland, Hungary; the country’s waving landscape silhouettes; the wind as it blows meadow grasses.

I think that Judit has a great eye for colour and love how her ceramics have a fossil like quality to them. The pieces on the shelf show how her wonderful sense of movement in the decoration, makes your eye float along each piece. Her meadow collection and groggy clays also spoke to me of rustic, countryside travels.

A few fun, yet practical, kitchen spatulas from wood turner and ex-toymaker Tim Foxall. Obvioulsy the rather sedate looking dogs caught my eye.

I really admired the detail and skill in the work of Lucy Jean Green. Her beautiful framed hand cut paper automata were too difficult to capture well behind glass  so here’s a few images from her website.

And this wonderful three part Owl, all apparently made to scale ! Impressive work.

For the ephemera collector among you, you can’t fail to admire the work of Paper pioneer Jennifer Collier. She creates exquisite sculptures from vintage materials in conjunction with stitch; a contemporary twist on traditional textiles. The papers serve as inspiration and media for the work, with the narrative suggesting the forms. This marriage of unlikely materials transforms old papers into something unique, delicate and complex.

Great to see vintage turned functional with this array of hand assembled paper lampshades.

Less functional, but equally as wonderful, are these Penguin Books Cup and Saucer, typewriter or camera.

A greatly re-purposed book of British Birds turned nesting box. A stitch in time as they say !

Last entry for today comes from Lydia Mary. Lydia is a print designer and illustrator specialising in screen printing to create illustrative and playful ranges of textile and paper homewares and accessories. Illustrating the world around her, she is heavily influenced by the narrative and decorative nature of folk and outsider art.

Her work has a child centered yet sophisticated feel to it. Fun and quirky and full of the kind or lines that makes you smile. Cards, prints and colouring wall charts, there’s something for everyone here.

Please join me later in the week for part 2 and remember to leave your thoughts and comments below. Thank you.