The autumn sunshine casts ever longer and cooler shadows as the season changes and one more summer falls into memory. As the heavy coats come out of hiding, the sky shows a white woolen face that encourages longer lie-ins and shorter to-do lists so that it is easy to feel winter drawing near.

As this happens, I spend less time in the garden and more time on the inner projects that have lain fallow all summer. Finding the balance again takes time and sometimes just finding my way back into my creative head space is the hardest balancing trick of them all. 

Which is one of the reasons why I am so pleased that this year, for the first time in many years, my creative practice incorporates regular outings to take advantage of the artists that are so very nearly on my doorstep: opening my eyes and mind to new - other - ways of working. Interrupting the endlessly looping, white noise thought patterns which otherwise fill my head with a static interference to match the cotton coloured sky outside and distracting me from my concerns so that my fledgling instincts might have the space, the calm and the quiet they need to evolve, develop and mature away from my full attention.

Such then was my state of mind when I visited the small and slightly unorthodox “white” project currently on display in the Library and Print Room of the Royal Academy. Only open a few days a week this exhibition called ‘intervention' allows the visitor to explore and interact with an eclectic range of art objects in unexpected ways.

Curated by the ceramic artist and writer Edmund de Waal, “white” ignores tradition, media, era and artist in order to focus on a single colour alone - whether it be through light box and photo negative, shaped in porcelain, cast in plaster, kept clear on a blank page or carved from stone. 

Perhaps because I was not overwhelmed by colour, perhaps because the first few items engaged my writing brain as text (or lack of text) on the page, perhaps because the poem by Wallace Stevens brought back my University thesis, or perhaps because I was not in a traditional gallery space but hunting for works in a lived-in, working environment I found myself truly distracted from my own concerns, lost in the experience and wholly absorbed by the items as they related to each other and the space between.

At first the colour, or lack of it, held great significance and dominated my approach to the objects on display, but as I travelled through the exhibition the colour became ever less important - moving across the spectrum from all encompassing to hardly remarkable by the time I had reached the inner sanctum of the Library itself. As the colour receded I became less interested in why an item might have been included and increasingly aware of the shape of an object, its texture and the physical space it inhabited. Unlike the usual gallery experience, where I self-consciously stand outside of the art I look at, I noticed that here - among the cabinets and books - I felt properly placed between and among the things I looked at. The space I took up becoming ever more relevant as it shaped how I saw the things around me and how the distance between the various elements grew and diminished relative to where I stood. 

It was an experience in which I became more present the longer I was there, such that observation turned reflection and became quiet contemplation. Free of the white noise I had carried in with me, on my way out I carried a sense of space and clear air that flowed from small white porcelain pots locked behind glass, whispered from paper scraped clear of text, emerged from stones carved of the earth’s white bones, and echoed with words repeating “One must have a mind of winter …”

Most of all, on my exit I did not feel the weight of sensory overload that often follows a gallery visit; I felt refreshed - my mind lighter, freer, my creative self more present. I had experienced the ‘other’ and found my balance once again.


Below are notes from my visit, turned poetry (of a sort)


white hare amber eyes

Turner’s porcelain palette 

silhouette tree in negative glow

colours implied, backlit by stone 

Wallace Stevens 

one must have a mind of winter

someone says 

‘it is not your style'

oh but it is my style

MH013 Ivica's Owl Web

it is the essential

my stars 

a field of flowers

a sparkle upon the sea

the moon in all her fullness

the celebration of texture, shape and form

drawing in the minimalist

opening spaces between black lines

caught on the rebound

spiraling across the sky

books distract, Dactyliothec

history abuts mythology

hefty, heavy 


stepstool books

balancing Ai Weiwei’s 

outsourced, outsized lantern 

white, never so bright 

porcelain echoes 

breathing in the space between

waiting in the air between

Artwork from the top: 

Work in progress - Sussex Series: Brighton Pavilion

Ivica’s Owl

Seeking Harmony, 3 of 4

* * *

Recommended reading for new visitors:

Doppelganger Duality

That Alice Girl

Through a Looking Glass - Slideshow

Animal Enigmas: Mullet


The Making of a Painting

Grounded in the Croatian Naive

The Bonus Content



Time and Space

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