Art at Home

My Pond, Garden, A Love of Trees, Night Tent, The Landing Stage Productions, Prints & Cards, My Artist’s Books

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My Pond

I have a tiny pond in my garden, the size of four washing up bowls, but deeper. The pond is a source of contemplation and creativity, which spreads into my writing and artwork.

Pond Room Installation

There are several stories behind this simple installation. Although I had a water lily plant in my pond for years, it never flowered when the children were little. I used to pick passion flowers which grew rampantly on our brick walls and float them in the pond instead. I included this image in the short film I wrote:

A Sense of Beauty

A summer morning. At the back door a little boy can be seen handing welly boots to Verity; she puts them on and helps him on with his. They walk down the garden path together, hand in hand. They stop at the small pond. They see a frog sitting motionless, with its head just out of the water. The little boy gives a cry of joy and the frog swims down and disappears out of sight. There is so much pond life to watch: water snails, beetles, dragon flies and insects. There are passion flowers growing up the brick wall beside the pond, Verity picks one. She bends down and floats it on the surface of the pond.

There, isn’t that beautiful?


It is really important to me to include people in my art and plans and their input makes the work richer and it also touches more people. The origami frogs and lilies came about through the involvement of my children.

Finally, without my husband’s collecting genius, I would have had no home for this idea: the display case is his.


My garden is an ever-changing source of inspiration to me. I grow some plants on purpose, others I tend when they arrive.

A Love of Trees

Night Tent

Poem by Ray Jackson, illustrations by Abbey

For my seventh birthday I was given a real blue canvas tent. It was the most exciting present ever and I determined to sleep out alone in the vast garden, which I did. Night Tent, is the poem my dad wrote about it. I illustrated it using different print-making techniques for the different images within the poem.

Image details

The initial image of the tent is a collagraph. I used real draped cloth stuck on card to print my tent door. I still remember the pleasure I had tying up my tent door, or zipping it tight shut, creating my own private space.

The night tent, image is a monoprint using inks applied on to a zinc plate which is then printed. You can see my grandmother’s cat, Charlie, launching himself at my tent! When he landed, his claws made little holes in the tent fabric. The holes stayed forever, letting in little pin pricks of light and rain.

Letterpress: “Magic Seven” is a play with letters: now you see it, now you don’t.

My grandmother’s garden had several large pine trees which produced the most enormous fir cones; the fir cone family of six is a very simple woodcut.

In order to keep my lovely tent as nice and clean as possible, I took my shoes off when I went in and put them on a piece of newspaper. So, I printed from polystyrene straight on to newspaper. In my memory we barely wore shoes all summer long, but I suppose this was termtime and these are my school shoes.

Letterpress. I realised that the letter “v” was the same shape as my tent, but upside down. I had fun printing it upside down in blue.

Gelli print: this technique produced great colour saturation for my final image.

By the time I finished my series of print/sketches, I almost felt I had written the poem with my dad. I think he would have been delighted.

The Landing Stage Productions

The name: ” the Landing Stage” was coined by my husband to name my “theatre” space, because it was quite literally on the landing and the audience had to sit on the stairs to view the plays.
I put on several shadow plays and puppet shows or combinations of the two when the children were small.
The first shows were simple shadow plays with cut out shapes taped to bamboo skewers. I would take the images slowly across the space from behind a lit sheet and then one by one the children would have a go.

Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson

This was a beautiful very simple and effective shadow play. The owls were cut cardboard and the scenery was twiggy branches which cast fantastic shapes. We made tickets together to give to the guests which they had to present before sitting down.

The Princess And The Pea by Hans Christian Anderson

Planning for this party began early as I made the puppets myself out of papier mâché and my daughter and I sowed garden peas in pots for each guest to take away from the party, tending them carefully so that by the time of the party the little plants were a few inches high.
The design on the party bags featured a pea as well as a detail from the enamelled button on the princess’s headdress.
I also roped in a friend of my son to help with the performance and the script was all typed out with words and sound effects.

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

This was a shadow play but included some extra elements; e.g., Max appeared as a shadow and also as a three-dimensional puppet (a rabbit toy I modified).
Each child at the party drew and cut out their own monsters out of thin cardboard which became part of the shadow piece and they could take home afterwards.
The wild things and monsters made fantastic shadows as they danced across the sheet. We had lines of cardboard waves that heaved a rocked Max’s little boat. It was very ambitious.

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

This was a family puppet show we put together for Christmas. I made a couple more puppets and we used shadow for Saint Nick to fly across the sky in his sleigh pulled by reindeer.

Prints & Cards

Deer in the Woods: Christmas card

These cards were sent out singly to friends and family. No one who received them knew that the cards were part of a pattern repeat. I liked to imagine an unlikely scenario with all these friends and people who had never met before, turning up at the same place and discovering that all their cards were connected and could become part of a larger pattern.

My Artist’s Books