Asking the question

Truth Seeker, 2016 Oil on linen, 300 x 250 mm

Truth Seeker, 2016
Oil on linen, 300 x 250 mm

Lately I’ve been working on much smaller paintings than I usually do, including some very small works.  The miniature format feels right while I explore a new approach to my old lace treasures and I find the process to be very meditative; there’s an intimacy and concentration of detail in the smaller works that I find very satisfying.  Now, I don’t normally enter art competitions because I think my work is too traditional to be acceptable to contemporary competitions, but last year I decided it was time, and I was delighted to receive positive feedback and to hear that my painting, Truth Seeker, was selected as a finalist in the 2016 Peters Doig Marlborough Art Awards.

Voices from the Past

Oil on linen, 900 X 1500mm

Oil paint on Belgian linen, 900 X 1500mm

These family heirloom linens from 19th century carry with them the voices of the past, a reminder of lives lived and journeys taken, passed on down generations on a journey of their own.


Gentle people and a Still, Quiet Voice

Prayer Shawl

Two lovely people allowed this  one artist free reign with their precious family shawl, and this is the result.  It went off happily to its new home today.  (We miss it already)  Some things just are special, and that’s what this felt like.  The wool is weighty and draped beautifully, and there was so much interest in the beautiful details, but beyond those physical aspects, this shawl had presence.  I was drawn to the soft reflections and filtered glow of the light through the folds, and to me it was like the shawl was breathing.  That’s when I realised… so often we can’t hear the voice that really matters until we stop. Still. And listen.

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.  


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!



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.”



A Little Bit of a Diversion

Pears and DraperyA little play while I was waiting for the glazes to dry on my larger works…

Still Life with Pears

oil on canvas

Did you ever tie a knot in your handkerchief?










Oil on marouflaged Linen

Ovato Tondo 300mm x 400mm


When I was a child, my Grandmother told me to tie a knot in my hanky to remember.  I might not remember why I tied the knot, but  I think of her every time.

When I began painting drapery it was because I was exploring traditions and memories passed from one generation to the next, and using fabrics as symbols of that.  I found that these fabrics became loaded with symbolism well beyond my personal memories. They can be seen as intimate and personal, but also universal and timeless.

My Grandmother has long since gone, but the love, the traditions, the memories linger… happily.



“Reach for the Light”

Oil on linen

Down a dark, brick alley, between old buildings and concrete paths, “Fatsia Japonica” reaches out into the sunlight.

“Reaching Out”

Oil on linen.

“The first slice of sunlight glanced off
a slab of dark marble that turned to glow…

The dark supported me, comfortably

behind me, a cradle woven from
demon hair. As I rose

and climbed toward day, his turning head,
those eyes – strips of memory,

silver tides, moons rising over the
rim of the world—”

from “Reaching Light” by Robert Adamson