Jacqueline Donachie: Weight, Susan’s Eyes and Winter Trees 2008

Friday Focus leafletThis is an article I wrote after giving a talk about the artist and her work at one of the Leamington Spa Gallery’s ‘Friday Focus’ talks

Donachie’s work “Weight, Susan’s Eyes and Winter Trees 2008” is a recent acquisition of The Leamington Art Gallery and is an important and thought-provoking piece to have in their collection. It stands out in the gallery because it is so different to the other pieces on display: it is an installation, and is modern and minimalist in its use of media, techniques and presentation. It helps to raise and expand important debates such as the interaction between science and art, the relationship between the art object and the viewer, and ideas about the politics of representation and interpretation.

This work is also captivating because of the refreshing and unusual way it focuses on the genetic disorder Muscular Dystrophy – which the artist’s sister has. Muscular Dystrophy is a muscle wasting condition of which there are many types – and each affects different muscles. Most conditions are progressive, causing the muscles to weaken over time. Some form of this disease affects more than 70,000 people in the UK. There is no cure for any of the different types, though there are various treatments that can help and gene therapy may be developed in the future.  Continue reading


Heart Space Studios: For all things textile

Heart Space Studios posterJust off Coldharbour Road, Heart Space Studios offers a unique experience for all those interested in textile art and craft. It hosts a wide range of workshops, which draw upon different textile-inspired techniques including stitching, embellishing, quilting, felting, and beading. Experimentation is always encouraged. This enterprise is still a relatively new phenomenon for Bristol and is well worth exploring.

The Heart Space Studio motto is ‘Making by Hand, Heart and Eye’. This reflects their effort to continue and revive the value of craft by teaching or nurturing practical skills and the confidence in making things with one’s own hand. It is also indicative of the care and love that goes into the making and teaching at the Studios. This motto is obviously getting across, as one eager customer described the Studios as a cheerful, multicoloured heaven or Pandora’s box.  Continue reading

Lowry exhibition at Tate Britain

I went to catch this exhibition before it finishes at the Tate Britain next week on a whim. It was a very windy, grey and drizzly afternoon, which definitely set the right scene and atmosphere in which to view Lowry’s paintings.

The exhibition did bring to light Lowry’s skills as a brilliant draughtsman. Seeing his pencil drawings, which were made with such a variety of marks and strokes, was one of the highlights and the exhibition could have done with more sketches.

Less positively, another theme I noticed was the alarming use of bright colours in many of the paintings, which I don’t think always comes out in the reproductions. Sometimes these blocks of bright colour felt gaudy and imposing, especially the red hues. Though in the second to last room of the exhibition the painting titled, The Empty House, used a slighter subtler red which somehow had more depth to it. This painting remains in my mind because it did not appear to be a typical Lowry – there was too much poetry in it, too much mystery and suggestiveness and of a story untold in comparison to his scenes of industrial life where the same stories are endlessly battered out. We know the stories and we know how Lowry will depict them – the tales of grief somehow become too safe, so in contrast The Empty House felt like a brave new beginning, though sadly was one of a kind.  Continue reading

Effortless ways to eat more healthily at university

Published in The Student Journals

One of the dishes I made for my family this summer in preparation for more adventurous cooking back at uni!

One of the dishes I made for my family this summer in preparation for more adventurous cooking back at uni!

This September my sister and I are both going to uni. She is starting undergraduate study whilst I will be doing a postgraduate degree. Recently, we have been discussing how we can try and eat healthily at university – my sister wants to get a good routine going from the start and I am desperately trying to think of ways to break bad eating habits from my undergraduate self-catered days and replace them with practical, healthily and quick solutions. So I have come up with a list of suggestions that will hopefully make healthy eating at uni realistic, varied and fun.

1. Draw up a practical plan

From past experience, I know it is easy to fall into the trap of eating the same old things thus restricting your intake of different vitamins and nutrients. To combat this, i recommend making a timetable of what you plan to eat each evening. The idea of making a timetable does seem a bit regimented so I suggest just keeping it as a sketch or guideline in your head. This will make you more conscious of whether you are getting enough variety in your meals as well as making your food shop more focused and therefore cheaper. You will not be buying or wasting food.

2. Indulge in window shopping

As students we definitely can’t always afford to eat out at cafes, but I recommend browsing several to gather ideas for how to make sandwiches, or quick hot meals such as jacket potatoes, more exciting. This could be in terms of the type of ingredients, their combination, or even the presentation of the meals themselves.

3. Pick those portion sizes

This is very important for healthy eating and reminds us that it is not just what you eat, but how much of it you are eating that matters. Particularly for new self catered students who are about to buy their cooking equipment, make sure the utensils, especially bowls, are not too big. I fell into the trap of buying huge breakfast bowls and before fully realising this was constantly on fused why the cereal kept running out so fast.  Continue reading