progress with caution


Late one night, tired and looking forward to my bed, I got zapped driving home at 34 in a 30mph zone.

As a result I was offered a choice: to replace the statutory fine plus three points with buying some training on the police London Speeding Awareness Scheme and no points. I attended the course, of course. It soon became clear that what sounds like a minor contravention can cause grave damage – every increased speed mile can have serious consequences, every momentary loss of concentration has danger, every action of impatience can cause damage. Many times during this excellent four hour programme I thought of the outcome of a recent accident within our family; my brother has written about it here. Thankfully my magnificent sister-in-law is now home after nine weeks in hospital, and on the way to full recovery – by creeps rather than leaps – but what wretched and transforming injuries she suffered and sustains as a result of a foolish driver’s moment of impatient misjudgement. I am chastened.


I had been intent on visiting the Sonia Delaunay exhibition at the Musée de l’Art Moderne in Paris during this time, but I’ve now managed to miss the chance not once but three times for one reason or another. It’s on there until the 22 February, after which, happily, it will transfer to the Tate Modern in April. She is one of my heroines.

sonia delaunay

I seem to be adding a new path to my career – as a teacher and talker. Not having been the public face of Susan’s and my former working partnership, I’ve come to this rather late and I enjoy it very much. A morning lecture to the textile degree students at Norwich University of the Arts was followed by an evening talk nearer home to the local Group19. The technology doesn’t necessarily run smoothly but there’s always plenty to say, learn, discuss and exchange.


I’m looking forward to the next two fridays when I’ll be exploring Drawing and Painting for Textiles at Morley College.


This course will be repeated on 19th & 26th September, and I’m also there teaching a practical workshop about painting on silk later in the year – two 2-day courses on 7th & 14th June and 2nd & 9th December – from which students can expect to wear their ‘learnings’ home! As yet these further courses aren’t up on their website – they will be soon. The course ‘Adventures in Painting Patterns’ in Mexico is now confirmed for the 29th April, a wednesday – though in this invitational video I daftly gave the wrong day of the week. It’s at the Hard to Find Institute in Guadalajara – I hope it doesn’t live up to its name!

painted textile

The boot was on the other foot last week when I was sent forth to senior grandson’s comprehensive school for parents’ evening – an honour and a responsibility for me. I met a very friendly, caring and thoughtful set of teachers, jabbered with other parents and pupils, and was pleased to discover that overall he’s doing well, give or take a bit of fidgeting! I know how he feels.


liberty printOn my return from Norwich two envelopes were waiting for me: inside one was this sweet reminder of springs past and to come – a pretty painting for Liberty from the ’70s used on the cover of  Katharine S White’s “Onward and upward in the garden” published by New York Review BooksThe original sketch also appears in our book.

Inside the other I was not a little amused to find myself the face of corporate responsibilty!

threadneedleNot a role I would have assumed naturally – but bestowed thanks to Threadneedle Investments‘ support of the charity The Artroom. And an ambitious new collaboration involving lots of chairs, invited artists, the Artroom and Selfridges is mooted for later in the spring – watch this space…!

From many chairs to 100 Leading Ladies – Nancy Honey’s work will be going on show for a month from the 23rd February at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf; the bank will transform its flagship foyer into a gallery and show all the portraits, sell the book and hold panel discussions – coinciding with International Womens Day on March 8th

Barclays, Theadneedle – I don’t usually have such a lot of truck with banks! Here is a sweet picture of my mum as a little girl. Her godfather was Arthur Davis of the architectural partnership Mewes Davis; they designed ocean-going liners, the Ritz hotel in London and other rather grand buildings. He drew her a birthday picture every year, and in this one – for her eleventh – she’s seen peeping round a drawing of the bank building in Lothbury, London..

rene 1921

As well as the intensely moving and shocking events we see in the film ‘Selma‘, the exchanges between Dr King and LBJ were of fascination to me. What a great lesson in argument, direct and manipulative.


Last autumn a friend posted some slivers of peeled birch bark through my letterbox. I was going to draw on them but all of a sudden yesterday this funny bird appeared!


Now the spring is on its way, and a couple of special days have brought me some gorgeous flowers  – including these vermilion tulips, which arrived anonymously on the 14th – thanks, whoever you are!


thanks to Molly, Steve, and Lucy and Lola

20 thoughts on “progress with caution

  1. Johnson has had a rough ride with the boomers but the more you read about him, the more interesting and complex he becomes. Selma offers a very one-eyed and inaccurate version of his stance on civil rights – see Master of the Senate by Robert Caro. A bad year in the movies for historical figures – Ruskin looked pretty unfamiliar in the Turner film as well.

  2. So glad you sisinlaw is on the mend. How terrible! I got caught speeding once. 30 years ago. WAY faster thatn speed limit on the motorway. Uncle Neil on hearing the speed at which I overtook the copy car with the brake lights on (I am so ashamed now!) said: “Is that ALL?” I won’t tell you the speed but if you’ve driven with Neil … well, let’s draw a delicate veil over that. I was rushing to see my friend Elmer and was late and didn’t want him to worry. Of course I was extra late after being stopped and he was very upset that I had been speeding. But the reaction of the cop (nearly crying and clearly traumatized) was enough to teach me the lesson and I have never speeded/sped again. And yes I lost my license. Damn right!

  3. Sorry to hear about your speeding offence. It is so annoying. Sorry to hear about your brother’s wife’s awful accident and the consequences. Absolutely dreadful. My heart goes out to them both. He wrote it up so well that the full effects were really brought home. Am looking forward to seeing you when the weather is better.

  4. I have just had the good fortune to see the Sonia Delauney in Paris, quite the most exquisite exhibition , with over 400 pieces, sketches, paintings,textiles,photographs, it is fascinating and a beautiful catalogue to boot. I hope you enjoy it at the Tate it is a must to everyone !

  5. I feel so glad to hear your sister-in-law is getting better. It sounds very traumatic for all of you. Thanks once more for sharing so much, another wonderful post. X B.

  6. I want to be sent those flowers. Jealous! What time us your silk painting at morely, cant find the info on their sight, i could not get there till 11.30 i guess this would be too late

    • haha, wasn’t I lucky! The silk painting courses aren’t running until 7 & 14 June, and then again 2 & 9 December so they aren’t on the Morley site yet – maybe you’ll be able to get to one of the set.

  7. I was caught in Oxford (late for yoga of all things) at 34 in 30 m.p.h. limit. I too went on the speed awareness course and I wonder how many of those in the M40 accident on Saturday had also been on one? Many driving too fast in fog….

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