Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Playing live in Bedford

The Bedford Oxjam Takeover raised £4600 this weekend. The music festival has been running in Bedford for three years. I was the opening act, so I was very nervous. I had played in a band when I was at school, but all the arrogance and confidence of my youth had dissipated since then and I was feeling terrified.
Playing at St. Cuthbert's Hall in Bedford
We didn't get off to the best of starts. The volunteers who were doing the sound desk were having technical difficulties with the p.a. system. My gig was suppose to start at 12:10pm. Half an hour later they still weren't ready to go, so I decided to play the whole thing without amplification. The next band were scheduled to play at 1pm and I didn't want to over-run.
I had to play completely unplugged!
 Fortunately everyone gathered round and I managed to play a set without breaking down into tears or being physically sick! Find out more about the whole day on the Bedford Blog and Board website.
The following day, I played at Bromham Mill
The next day I played 4 songs at Apple Day in Bromham, Bedfordshire along with some amazing singer songwriters from Bedford who have many more years experience than me. I was so annoyed with myself because I couldn't hear what I was doing. The speaker was positioned on my deaf side! Once I worked out what my issue was I managed to play my last two songs with more confidence. It was really windy and I had a lot of hair in my mouth. Hopefully I will play more in the future and try and beat my nervousness and get some more experience.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Me Playing Live Is As Rare As Rocking Horse S**t

On Saturday 18th of October Bedford is hosting it's own Oxjam festival. The takeover is a sweet idea: A bunch of bands play all over town at various venues for the whole day. Punters pay £8 for a wristband that gets them entry everywhere. It starts early and goes on until late and all the money goes to charity.

I've only played once this year. I been offered a few gigs but had to turn them down because they all clashed with various weddings I had to attend (there were six this year). Before that my last show was in 1998. I play and sing everyday at home and although I've written a whole album's worth of songs I just can't seem to motivate myself to perform in front of an audience. 

I play well in a finger picking style, but my voice isn't great, although I can sing in tune, it'll be too breathy for some tastes. I've tried to change it, but I can't fight what comes out of my mouth. 

The thing is... This could be my last gig in Bedford for ages, so it'll probably be the only chance for people to come and see me. As an unknown quantity to the organisers, they've put me on at brunch-time. It's going to be dead quiet, but the hall is incredible so at least I got lucky with the venue.

Maybe designing my own gig poster might persuade more people to come out and see me play. It sort of looks like what the music sounds. You can play lyrics bingo with it during my set.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Bee Design

Here's a funny thing! It appears one of my designs I did for Ashlea at Bunnycup Embroidery has been subject to copyright infringement. I am not aware of the company who have cheekily used the design, but I thought I would share the sketches of the bee illustration  in question so I can explain what makes the bee our own. 

I have a the original file from 30 May 2008. I work digitally, so I originally sketched freehand with a wacom tablet ( a digital pen to non-graphic designers, so the rough sketch goes straight on to the screen). 

The lines were naturally a bit wobbly, so I traced over the sketch in Illustrator (I've attached a screen shot so you can see the work in progress with all the vector lines from the original file).

If you type 'cute bee illustration' into google or bing, you do get a lot of clipart in this similar simple style, but things that make it my own are the thicknesses in the outline, the trail flight line path that loops then swoops under the bee, the wings are identical, they are mirrored... and the eye size and position on the head identifies the bee as being the same one I drew. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sketches From The Frog Chorus at Bedpop

Yesterday I had a shift at the Bedpop pop-up shop on Bedford High Street. I was manning the till and keeping an eye on the vintage exhibition by The Circus of Illustration (which is doing quite well! We are selling lots of lovely artwork!).

Whilst I was there, The Frog Chorus were there running an arts workshop especially for children and it was very lively indeed!

What Is the Frog Chorus?
The Frog Chorus is an interactive early years music group, based in Bedford. They perform songs live with rhymes and puppets and dancing. Kristine Wilkinson Hughes (aka Coco) led the 'Tadpole Jamboree' along with help from Tatty Bumpkin (aka Sam). Tatty Bumpkin runs children's yoga workshops which is like story telling with movement and lots of stretching!

I thought I'd try to sketch all the activities that were happening around me. Tricky since there was so much motion and gesticulation... But I gave it my best shot! Click on the images for a closer look!

Mimi provided the tea and cake as the proud parents look on.

Coco tells a story as parents and children eagerly listen

I forgot my sketchbook, so I had to doodle on loose paper. I added colour to the scans in Photoshop.

Stretching and floor exercises during Tatty Bumpkin yoga

More quick sketches from yoga class.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Circus of Illustration Goes All 1950s at Bedpop.

Tickets are now available for Dress-Up Drawing, the exciting new collaboration between The Circus of Illustration, Bedpop Art School, Sarah's Doo-Wop Dos, Rose-tinted Vintage and Narnia Fancy Dress. These local organisations have clubbed together to arrange an exciting day (Saturday 17th May) of Dress-Up themed drawing activities culminating in an evening arty-partying with Vintage Life Drawing (led by Kristian Purcell) and drink and draw shenanigans with The Circus of Illustration. We would love for you to join in the festivities! Get tickets here! It's bring your own boozes, so let's do this!

Dress-Up Drawing also coincides with the opening of our Vintage Exhibition. It will be open every weekend until June 8th. Here's a VERY exclusive preview!
Simon Abbott's 1950s 'Bedford Pub' series

My 1950s embroiderd Sodapop Girl

Simon & Kristian admire Katie Allen's beautiful artwork

The incredible Agent Melon

Andrew Foster's work is bright, colourful and bloody amazing. 

Share your thoughts on our comments blackboard

My 1950s Diner and cafe scene

Kristian Purcell has recently been exhibiting at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas

Andrew Foster's romantic diner illustrations. So cute!

Mr X Stitch Exhibition in Bedford

Last week I was featured in the Mr X Stitch exhibition in Bedford. He was curating a contemporary needlework show at the Bedpop shop on Bedford High Street.

"The colourful exhibition in the BedPop shop featured sewn works from Bedford, and around the globe, and had pieces which range from the whimsical to thought-provoking but all display extraordinary skill with a needle and thread... Jamie (Mr X Stitch) has been working for two months gathering the pieces, some he sourced via his stitching website (, others have been submitted by the Bedford branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild."
The Bedfordshire On Sunday

Jack and Trace check out Jamie's 3D Pokemon cross stitch

Cross Stitch Transformers

Trace admires Uoldbag's beautiful cross stitch suitcase

Ha! This is me standing along side my circular framed illustrated embroideries

Tracey demonstrates how to make lace

It looks complicated!

She's making a decoration to put around a Christmas bauble

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Drink and Draw

Yesterday, The Circus of Illustration met up at The Three Cups pub in Bedford for our monthly Drink Draw. This month's activity was collaborative drawing. Click the link to see a full photo album of our Drink and Draw

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mr. X Stitch at Bedpop

Today until Saturday 3rd May, 10-4pm, at Bedpop, 68 High Street in Bedford there is a free contemporary (and super cool) textiles exhibition (unfortunately it's just for one week only... Boo!) curated by the incredible Mr X Stitch!

Embroidery with a graffiti flavour

On Saturday 3rd May there's going to be demos and workshops at the Bedpop shop too. There will be the Aragon Lacemakersfelt-making by Anne-Marie Stijelja, embroidery by Mr X Stitch himself and a workshop by textile artist Helen Jones. School of Craft are also having a fabric sale, so it will be a very busy Saturday indeed!

*Gasp* It's 3D and It's Pokemon!

I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview of the exhibition as some of my embroideres will be on display. It's an international affair with work from all over the world. Some crazy things that caught my eyes were the 3D cross-stitching (with 3D glasses, it really works) and a working transformer made out of cross-stitch. 

Needle and Thread just got twisted 

A beautiful embroidered suitcase by Lisa Tilley

Oh this is my work!

Cross stitch ain't just for girls. It's for robots too.

I wonder what that QR code does?

The Bloodpack Project
Thanks to Erica Roffe at the Bedford Clanger for letting me use her lovely photos!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

1950s Illustration Exhibition at Bedpop

At the Diner 
At the Cafe

The Circus of Illustration have been given the opportunity to curate an exhibition in the Bedpop pop up shop on Bedford High Street. The opening date is on Saturday 17th May 2014.

We're predominantly looking for works of a mid-century flavour... Think 1950s fashion, diners, drive-thrus and juke boxes! We are looking for general work too, but the key focus of the exhibition will be on this vintage theme. The only criteria for acceptance is that we think it’s good! 
I've done a series especially for the new exhibition: 'At the Diner' and 'At the Cafe'. I am seriously contemplating a third piece called 'At the Drive-Thru' (in honour of one of my favourite bands ever), but I think I'm running out of time!
This exhibition will coincide with an amazing vintage 'Dress-up Drawing' evening workshop with 50's styled models in an extra special life-drawing event, as well as music and drawing games in the BedPop shop. There will also be a kid friendly 'Dress-Up Drawing' event that afternoon too with a fancy dress box and face painting for the little ones to get involved in. 
All the info on how to book is on the BedPop Art School  facebook page
If you have work you’d like to showcase, please send us images and descriptions of your work by email to
The installation date is 11th May 2014, and therefore the CLOSING DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS is MONDAY 5th MAY.
There is no charge for submissions, however you will be required to drop off and collect your work or cover cost of postage (both ways). We're really looking forward to hearing from you!