Surrender to the muse


I’ve been thinking about my obsession with draped fabrics, and how it is I keep revisiting the fold and fall, shadow and drape of cloth.

Isabel Allende described how she becomes obsessed with a theme or with certain stories that stay with her, that haunt her, until she writes them.   She just has to write them, she says – she has learnt to surrender to the muse.  




light falls into darkness: details are partially illuminated, suggestive, nuanced; we see only glimpses, memories are evoked, we infer meanings and complete our own stories

Return to Go

It’s always interesting to be able to step outside the normal routine and take time to reflect on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

I recently had the opportunity to take an extended trip around much of Europe and the USA, and spent many happy hours standing in front of artworks in galleries, cathedrals, palaces and private collections.  There were some major works that were on my ‘must see’ list, and some artists whose work has inspired me so I took every chance to seek them out.

I’ve been taking a bit of a break from painting for the last few months, so I was fascinated to observe my response to the artworks that I came across on my travels.  It didn’t surprise me that my eye was invariably drawn to the rich, dramatic workings of cloth.  I haven’t got it out of my system yet, and I suspect that drapery will be my subject for quite a while.

So I’ve started to work up some paintings in response to what I have seen, and it feels good to be painting again.  After not painting for a few months, flying around the world, examining what I like and what I want to do, I’ve come full circle – back the where I started, with a passion and fascination for drapery.



New work 2013 : oil on linen, 350mm x 750mm

Still working on a title

Still working on a title

I’ve been experimenting with new media. I worked this one in coloured pencil and oils on black gesso on board. 250mm x 200mm

Meditations on light


Sacrament, Ruth Phipps 2012

Oil on canvas, 600mm x 1100mm


I love people!  Some of my best friends are people…


but seriously, it’s a truly wonderful thing, this ‘being’ – I believe life is sacred, and it’s fleeting.

Fabric is inextricably connected with every moment of human life, and  in my paintings I explore this connection.

Life nurtured: the moment we are born we are wrapped and swaddled

Life celebrated: we mark life’s most important events with special fabrics

Life ended: the shroud bestows dignity and marks our respect


you may have heard this Maori proverb, it’s my favourite

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!





Oil on linen, 150mm x 300mm

Traditionally drapery is used to define the human form, to outline the body, follow its curves and define its mass, but when the human form is no longer apparent, the fabric itself becomes the means of communication, a language of suggestion, memory, desire.

Whispered Messages and Passion


Acrylic on Canvas

500mm x 1000mm

I’ve been using fabric to convey messages about what it means human at the most basic.  Life, love, loss, memory.  Fabric concealing and revealing who we are.

Another message carrier was Iris.  The beautiful young Greek Goddess dressed in multicolored clothes and rode the wind to bring messages to mortals. She married Zephyrus who was the god of the west wind, and their son was Pothos,  passion.

The word iridescence is derived in part from the name of this goddess, and the iris of the eye is named after her as she was the goddess of the rainbow, to reflect the many colours of the eye.



Musing on things Deep and Meaningful


Oil on Linen

500mm x 1200mm

The gossamer thread you fling…


Gossamer Threads

Oil on canvas

600mm x 900mm

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres

to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor

Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Walt Whitman

Finding sanctuary

Sanctum [a private place where one if free from intrusion]

Oil on marouflaged linen, ovato tondo, 300mm x 400mm

How to find creative freedom? Virginia Woolf offered her opinion: a woman must have money and a room of her own…

I love her description of what it feels like when you’re in that space. She visited Oxford University to seek inspiration:

“The spirit of peace descended like a cloud from heaven, for if the spirit of peace dwells anywhere, it is in the courts and quadrangles of Oxbridge on a fine October morning. Strolling through those colleges past those ancient halls the roughness of the present seemed smoothed away; the body seemed contained in a miraculous glass cabinet through which no sound could penetrate, and the mind, freed from any contact with facts … was at liberty to settle down upon whatever meditation was in harmony with the moment.”