gifts from the pavement ii

Alice Fox Gifts from the Pavement Sketchbook Project 6
Gifts from the Pavement

‘No painting is possible without poetry’
Po Kin Yi (9th C)

Eyes in the feet
Wherever, whenever,
Pocketed, brought home,
Shaped under tea’s chemistry
Left on paper sketchbook thin
Enough to register on both sides
Where the roller has marked,
Capriciously, a backdrop
Always different, pavement grey,
Mottled, complex as storm clouds
on a winter sky. Then, the stitch.
Marks of a bird’s foot
Perfectly pricked
On the footpath’s mud,
We crouched close to view
In the last light of this fading year

Nigel Morgan


After a few hectic days with excited children and family coming and going I am having a quiet end to the year.  I have a bit of space to catch up with myself.

In that strange waiting time between Christmas and new year I had two afternoons, two walks in Lincolnshire’s fields, empty of people and drained of colour but then filled with other colour, different winter colour, the earth gone to sleep.

One on the wolds:

gently rolling; lines of field edge and combed earth; hedge and pathway; footprints on saturated ground; a smell of the sea wafting inland on the stiff breeze, which then brings rain and stinging cold.

A second on the coast:

salt marsh keeping the sea at bay with a white line of breaking waves way out beyond the gullied expanse; even further away my familiar lighthouse clear over the water; a bitter wind; blue light in the gloaming and collections of birds forming almost murmurations.

Now back at home the memories of them intermingle.

Looking back and looking forward.

Happy new year.


My little tapestry weave samples are progressing slowly. The next stage for these is to be left outside for the winter weather to play its part and see how the rust marks the cotton.

I’m hoping that the rust will seep its way into the thread and stain the cotton in a similar way to my rust prints on paper.  I haven’t yet added any agent to help the process as I’d like to see what the elements will do on their own.

thinking time

I’ve taken to the woods… I’m in a period of mixed activity: planning, proposing, thinking, updating etc.   Most of this is based at home and I do find that a change of scene works wonders when I’ve had enough of the computer screen and the same walls.

My nearest woods are ten minutes walk away and they are glorious right now.  Even on a grey damp day like today there is a riot of colour and a plethora of detail to be noticed.  I might draw; I might stop to write notes on what I’m thinking about; I might take a few photos; I might pick up a pocket full of acorns or a handful of leaves to play with back at home.

>making the most


I’m making the most of the last of the Indian summer we’ve been having (it seems it will be all change by the end of the week): lunch outside, feeling the warmth of the sun, breathing in the delicious smells floating about on the warm air – a cocktail of summer and autumn.


>In a week’s time I’ll be back at college and the next 9 or 10 months will whizz by in a blur. I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the summer sorting things out at home, getting the house straight, clearing and re-arranging. I’ve had some pretty big life changes to deal with over the last few months so it has been important to spend some time getting things in order before term starts.

The start of a new academic year (kids going back to school, new starts) coupled with a change in season (it’s definitely autumn today) tends to get one a bit melancholy… looking back and forwards.

There is a story I often think about and at this time of year, with all the harvesting of things from the garden and making jam and chutney etc, it’s really appropriate. It’s a children’s story, that I had as a child, with simple collaged illustrations called

by Leo Lionni.

Frederick is a mouse who lives with his family in a wall on the edge of a meadow. The mice get busy in the autumn collecting grain and nuts and so on to store for the winter. Frederick doesn’t help them and none of the other mice can understand why – they think he’s lazy but he’s actually busy doing his own special work.

The winter comes and the mice eat the food they had stored and then the food runs out and they’re all sad and cold.

Then Frederick uses his stores, the things he gathered during the summer.

He tells them all about the colours and the sights and smells of summer and their minds are full of beautiful things and the warmth of the sun and poems. And then they’re all happy and they value what Frederick has done.

Frederick is an artist who is mis-understood for much of the time. But it is heartening to get to the end and find that his work is really valued eventually.

So when I’m immersed in the colours of the world, taking it all in, enjoying the sights, smells and sounds, committing it all to memory (or sketchbook, or camera) I often think of Frederick and his collecting of colours.