Wednesday 16 December 2009

It's a bit early but...

I know it's a little early but as I'm getting in the Christmas spirit, I'm sharing my latest piece of work which I designed for a christmas card, I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas everyone and have a lovely festive holiday!

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Colour your world

Pastel Cats by Tim Walker

It's been a while since I last posted and even now it's just a quickie! I recently read up on this enticing exhibition of delicious colour! Colour Exhibition works on the simple idea of exploring the way colour photography has changed the way we look at the world by concentrating on a group of artists whose work is defined by colour. I was particularly drawn to this write up by the images containing symphonies of pastels, and palettes of primaries. I also like the subject matters which simply convey the luxury of colour whilst giving the viewer a feeling of kitsch pleasure, but once again I am put out that this is another show I wont be able to see with my own eyes! Why are they always in London?

Colour exhibition
Micheal Hoppen Gallery
25 Nov - 9 Jan

Continuing the theme of photography; the full set of photos from the October shoot The Chantilly Belles did with Candee Photography can now be seen on our myspace page!

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Why Kylie is an inspiration...

Every now and then I like to post something about an artist I find inspiring or thought provoking, whether that be a burlesque performer or a fellow artist, and after spending a weekend celebrating all that is Minogue I thought, HECK! Why have I never explained my deep appreciation of Kylie?? So here is a breif look at what, for me, makes Kylie Minogue an artist in her own right!

"I delight in being a woman with all it's contradtictions. It's the only way to truely be myself"

Over the years Kylie has taken on many incarnations, and she is a true fan of recreating the female image through showmanship, something I find close to my own heart and I try to convey in my work! Her philosophy is also true of many women, who enjoy the freedom that tranformation gives them.

Inspired by Judy Garland

Playing with extreme looks for the X album

Kylie takes some time out sans make up

Classic Kylie

Kylie is very aware of the impact her changes in style have not only on herself but also on how her audience percieve her. This is best illustrated in her video for Did It Again, where she takes on various personas all of which show us a different side to the Kylie myth.

I think it's Kylie's stage shows which really do it for me, as a lover and performer of burlesque I can see parallels in the creativity that goes into each production. They are sheer artisty involving months of preparation and thought. Her various collabarations with fashion designers and artists also blend to create a full theatrical experience which are hard to surpass:

Even now as she tours the USA she is wowing the fans with out of this world costumes and sets, and has even been asked to take on a residency at Vegas, so suited is her stage show.

Kylie is constantly taking inspiration from fashion, arts and contemporary culture, over the years she has collaborated with Baz Lurmann, Pierre and Giles, Calvin Harris, Nick Cave, Rankin and even her own fans, as can be seen here in a video created by superfan, Rudolph, the winner of a competition held by

There's been various times when I've felt a bit lost and needed to reconnect with my love of feminine allure to get to the heart of what drives my art work, and every time Kylie is there for me, inspiring me and exciting me. She completley personifies the many faceted female personality that exudes glamour, fun, mystery and sensuality, and it's her fascination and drive with feminine creativity which mirrors my own. I love Kylie!

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Sea dogs and Box cats

A Sailor Stole my Heart, acrylic on canvas 08

At last I can now share the full series of my latest work, All at Sea with you! Here are a few examples of photos taken over the weekend of my paintings in their customised frames! To see the full set click on my website HERE

To the Bitter End, watercolour on paper,
shells and charms on customised wood frame 09

The Devil to Pay, acrylic on artist board with hemp rope 09

Rainbow Watch

Some of you may remember that a while back I began a portrait of my friend's cat which I have been working on between other projects. Here is where Rainbow is up to now:

I've recently been working on her eyes which were very unique in shape but I think I've managed to capture them. Next I intend to add more definition to her nose mouth and markings. Rainbow was very fond of sitting in bags and boxes, an hobby of many a feline, including my own. However, no-one illustrates the cat-box relationship quite like Maru the cat, who I am a big fan of! Go Maru!

Tuesday 3 November 2009

9 to 5

Miss How Can I Help You? #1 Acrylic on canvas 2006

This week I thought I'd re-visit some of my older work, as it occured to me many people see my paintings but not everyone knows the story behind the images.

I chose my paintings from a dyptich called '9 to 5' because I recently showed this work in Manchester and also I am seeing the model for 'Miss How Can I help You? #1', tonight and I thought it would be a nice idea.

Miss How Can I Help You? #2 Acrylic on canvas 2006

I painted these two paintings as a response to my utterly soul destroying job as a receptionist!

Whilst working behind the reception desk I was inspired to curate a collective exhibition of work about the boring day jobs artists have to do in order to fund their art.

Hence '9 to 5' took place in 2006 with twelve artists from across the UK showing work about their 'work'.

My artistic input was the two portraits of myself and my collegue, also an artist. I turned our dull demoralising job into a kitsch fantasy where we were only too happy to answer the phone and help.

Needless to say, neither of us are receptionists now!

Saturday 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween!

This is just one of the fabulous new pictures taken by Candee Photography in a spooky Halloween themed shoot with The Chantilly Belles last week! I am particularly impressed with the eerie blue lighting! We had real fun posing for this shoot and you can see a small selection from the day HERE.

The final collection will be online in the next few days, so I'll keep you posted, until then have a fun and spooky Halloween!

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Article in Sphere Magazine!

I have recently been included in an article for Sphere Magazine! The journalist Martin-Guttridge Hewitt picked his three favourite art works from last month's Buy Art Fair and my work was one of them!

'SPHERE took a trip to Cottonopolis for Manchester’s Buy Art Fair. With over 80 galleries and 350 artists exhibiting for three days it was some task to bring you the best from the alt-art set. We managed it, and got them down to our choice three… '

To read the rest of this feature click HERE!

Monday 19 October 2009

The Agony and the Ecstacy

Bitch! Paris, Ellen Von Unwerth 2007

I have a couple of things to share this week; Firstly Ellen Von Unwerth, who I featured in a post a few weeks back is now exhibiting in London with a show called 'Fraulein'. The model turned photographer has been creating provocative sexually charged images for 15 years and this show highlights some of her favourite pieces from over that time. I wish I could see the work while it's up!

Ellen Von Unwerth's 'Fraulein'

Michael Hoppen Gallery London
Until 28th November 2009

Secondly and somewhat bizzarely I noticed a strange mix of religious iconography and sensuality this morning; My studio is situated opposite Salford Cathedral where the relics of St Therese of Lisieux were recently displayed as part of their journey to religious sites around the world.

I've always meant to pop into the cathedral as it is very impressive from the outside and I like visiting old churches etc as I like the architecture and atmosphere. The Cathedral still has lots of images of St Therese including banners, one of which had this image and tagline printed on it:

I do not regret having surrendered myself to Love

It struck me that this was an interesting choice of words to put with a picture that showed a woman who looks like she could be;
A. in religious rapture
B. in sensual rapture

C. asleep

D. dead.

There are so many layers of meaning between the image and the text. It really made me think about how interpretations of spirituality and sensuality have been mixed together over time, almost as if they could be one and the same? (incidentally, she is dead in this photo! but I didn't know that until I looked it up)
Here are some other examples of classic sensual religious iconography:

The ecstasy of St Teresa by Bernini 1647 -52

'Ecstase', Pierre and Gilles 2002

For an interesting article about Pierre and Gilles click HERE.

Another way of exploring the link would be to see what happens when you place the words spoken by St Therese alongside other equally evocative images:

I do not regret having surrendered myself to Love

Which kind of brings me back to the image by Ellen Von Unwerth which you can see at the top of the post...

Friday 16 October 2009

Chiggy Wiggy!

I HAD to post this as soon as I saw it! For months now I've been hearing news about Kylie Minogue's input into new Bollywood film 'Blue' where she plays herself and sings. This morning I read a little bit about it in the Metro so looked it up as soon as I knew the name of the track, Cue Chiggy Wiggy! I LOVE IT!

Tuesday 13 October 2009

What's on in Manchester right now!...

Uptown, Leonard Pytlak 1939

Now that I have just about finished rushing around like a maniac putting shows up and doing art fairs I have some time to reflect on the world around me... and what better way than to take in some culture! So here are some of the current local exhibitions I have seen or plan to see in the near future!

The American Scene, prints from Hopper to Pollock

The Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester
19th September - 13th December 09

This show focuses on
American artists creating prints from the 1930's. Each image explores the American Scene, the urban environment and cityscapes. The big draw here for me is the evocative pull of the pre war era; being able to experience something of what America was like for the artists during what we now consider a vintage period. I also love the work of Edward Hopper, most famous for his paintings such as Night Hawks painted in 1942. I particularly like this image for its timeless feel, and the intense loneliness it exudes;

The Half, Photographs of actors by Simon Annand
The Lowry Salford Quays
19th September 09 - 3rd January 2010

I have a personal interest in this show as I helped to put it up! The work is a series of over 100 photos taken by the artist in the West End dressing rooms of some of the best known and well loved actors of the past 20 years. 'The Half' describes the 30 minutes before a stage show begins and Simon Annands pictures capture the actors as they transform from their everyday persona to the character they are about to portray. I really like the photos of Alex Kingston and Daniel Craig, and also the nation's favourite, Stephen Fry;

Image taken from

Angels of Anarchy, Women Artists and Surrealism
Manchester Art Gallery
26th September 09 - 10th January 2010

I'm not a big surrealist fan in truth; I like my art to invite the viewer in not confuse them, however, that isn't to say I don't appreciate surrealist art and understand it's massive importance in the scheme of things. This exhibition aims to 'explore the crucial role that women artists played in the surrealist art movement' and includes work by Freida Khalo amongst others. It is also divided down into different themes including landscapes, fantasy and self portaiture.

Claude Cahun, Self Portrait 1927

Other shows worth noting include:

Fantasies, Follies and Disasters: the Prints of Francisco de Goya
Manchester Art Gallery
Until 31 Jan 2010

All at Sea by Gemma Parker
Taurus Canal Street Manchester
Until 31st Oct (Catch it while you can!)
See my last post for details.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2009
Until 25th Oct
I'm hoping to see this one next week...

Thursday 1 October 2009

Making a splash!

In Deep Water, watercolour on paper with customised frame 2009

Lots to tell you this week! firstly my collection of new work 'All at Sea' is now on show! I have been documenting the progress of this work for the past few months and it can now be seen in reality at Taurus in Manchester's famous Gay Village until the 31st Oct. Here is the write up:

In the midst of Manchester’s Gay Village a new exhibition of maritime themed art work can be found. But forget the naughty nauticals, this collection of work delivers an emotive set of tales with a splash of sauciness.

Manchester based fine artist Gemma Parker has been inspired by her love of maritime folklore and all things nautical to create her new set of work. Her fascination with vibrant sailor art has been a natural progression from her love of vintage pin up work and burlesque, both of which make an appearance in the selection of new art works.

Taking its cue from nautical slang and its everyday use, All At Sea is a collection of paintings illustrating well known phrases while influenced by traditional sailor tattoos styles and pin ups.

The work takes the viewer on a romantic and melancholic journey featuring lost loves, cruel sirens and shipwrecked sailors.

Using both acrylics and water colours the paintings bridge classic sailor tattoo style with a wistful and dreamy narrative inviting the viewer to embrace the call of the sea with all its beauty and perils.

All At Sea can be seen at Taurus on Canal Street from the 1st - 31st of October. For more information go to


Gemma Parker is a fine artist who specialises in the celebration of femininity and the theatrical.

She has exhibited across the UK including ‘Ooh La La’, Britain’s first burlesque inspired art show in Nottingham and been artist in residence for the Sunderland Council art project, ‘What do you think you’re looking at…The Sunniside of burlesque’. She also takes private commissions.

Gemma is also one half of the burlesque double act The Chantilly Belles who were short listed for the best new talent award at the Big Burlesque Bout last year in Birmingham :

Taurus Manchester's Award Winning Bar & Restaurant; 1 Canal Street, Manchester, M1 3HE Tel: 0161 236 4593. Opening hours; Mon - Thurs 12 noon - 11pm, Fri - Sat 12 noon to 1am, Sun 12 noon - 10.30pm

As mentioned in previous posts I have been collecting nautical paraphanalia to customise my frames with including; shells (some from my fab seaside holiday to Broadstairs) miniture anchors and ship wheels and also rope as can be seen on two of the works:

Rack and Ruin, acrylic on artist board with hemp rope 2009

The Devil to Pay, acrylic on artist board with hemp rope 2009

I've also added the real meanings behind each nautical phrase so when you see the show you will also get a bit of maritime history as well as the art work!

Other news:

Buy Art Fair went brilliantly! It was wonderful to have work on display as part of such a high prestige event. Artists such as Peter Blake and Damien Hirst also had work on show and the whole building looked amazing decked out in original art which was seen by over 5000 visitors during it's three day run!

My three works from my Bon Bons series can be seen along the left hand side of the stall

The Urbis Creatives stand was very impressive and I sold some work. One of my images was also used to represent the stand in the official catalogue. It was a good experience and a very exciting one too!

Show and Tell

Urbis Creatives also has a new exhibition running right NOW called Show and Tell. Members will be showcasing their work for the next three weeks at Urbis in the heart of Manchester. I am showing work from my 'My Baby's Got a Secret' series. Over the exhibition period members will be on hand to talk about their work as the title of the show suggests! Hope to see you there!

Saturday 19 September 2009

Are you ready to Buy Art Fair?

Peppermint Pattie 2008 acrylic on canvas 30cm x 30cm

I will be taking part in Manchester's hugely successful Buy Art Fair next week! With more than 80 galleries showing the work of over 370 artists all available to buy.

In addition the fair offers a whole host of FREE activities for experienced and novice art collectors to enjoy!

I will be situated on the second floor as part of the Urbis Creatives stall, this will be a fab opportunity for you to come along and see my work up close and maybe treat yourself to a little decadence!

About my work on sale:
Bon Bons is a series of decadent derrières encased in the finest of wrappings.
Playfully using the French slang which describes the area between the waist and thighs, this work sees a selection of peachy behinds all themed on sweeties and chocolates.
Each painting is enhanced by ice cream colours and sugary titles, and with the range including strawberry fondants to jellybeans, there should be a flavour to tempt anyone's taste buds.

This has been a really successful series and there are only a limited number of Bon Bons left to buy!

Other news:

It's been busy busy busy recently as the deadline for my exhibition of nautical tattoo inspired paitnings draws nearer! The show of select watercolours and acylics will go on show on the 1st Oct at Taurus in Manchester's Gay Village. I'm getting all the bits and pieces finalised at the mo, and even wondering whether I have time to do an extra painting before the show! I've had a new idea for one! BTW the show is to be called 'All at Sea'.

Also I will be showing work at Urbis form the 29th Sept to the 12th Oct. This will as part of a collective exhibition by Urbis Creatives called 'Show and Tell' More info to follow!

Monday 7 September 2009

Seaside trips, mysteries and spooks!

Hi guys!
Apologies for not posting anything last week, I was on a fabulous holiday in Broadstairs in Kent! Sunshine, seaside and lots of exploring and fun.

Now I find myself back in rainy Manchester working nonstop at several jobs (part time and casual) whilst pulling my exhibition of nautical artwork together for October, to be shown in Taurus in Manchester's Gay Village. Due to this overload of projects my posts may be sporadic in the coming weeks.

But in an attempt to recapture some of the seaside magic here's some of the things that inspired and uplifted me on my hols!:

Shell Grotto

This awe inspiring landmark resides in Margate in Kent. No-one knows why the Shell Grotto was built or even when!
The legend goes that in 1835 a duck pond was being dug for farmland, the earth collapsed to reveal a hole in the ground. The farmer lowered his son down the hole to find out what it was. The son returned with tales of underground tunnels decorated from floor to ceiling in shells!

There are definately symbolic patterns within the shells and the altar room has many suns and moons amongst the shells.
It is a magical mysterious place and well worth the visit!

The Sea

We spent many an hour roaming the beach searching for shells to customise my nautical paintings' frames. Along with the winkles and limpets we found clams, whelks and a few mussels too. The rockpools were the most fun, where you can gaze into mini eco systems full of different seaweeds crabs and shellfish!

I loved being near the sea! It is so full of character, ever moving and changing. The sound of the waves was both exhilerating and very calming. There is nothing quite like running into the sea and feeling the sand shift under your feet!

The sea by moonlight

Canterbury Cathedral

This amazing place is something of a love of mine. Nearly a 1000 years old Canterbury Cathedral is again a magical site and much has happened here over its long history. It was also the focal point of the travellers from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

I enjoy the enormity of the place, and the full rich atmosphere it exudes. There is so much to see including the tomb of the Black Prince complete with his original armour, the spot where Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170 was murdered (a candle burns continuoulsy on the spot he was killed) not to leave out the'Ghost in the Wall' in the crypt! I love love love it!

A naked lady is hidden in the stone work of the Cathedral Precinct gate, can you spot her?

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Beatrix Von Bourbon

I'm still busy getting my art work finished as I plan to show my new series of watercolours based on nautical themes and sailor tatoos in a show I'm doing in October in Manchester's Gay Village. At the moment I'm sourcing frames and materials to customise them with...I'm very excited, more info to follow!

In the meantime I thought I'd tell you about my favourite British burlesque performer Beatrix Von Bourbon. I first became aware of her when she performed at the private view of the Ooh La La exhibition I took part in in 2007. The show was Britain's first burlesque inspired art exhibition and I'm really proud to have been part of it!

This was before I started to perform as one half of The Chantilly Belles and I was so excited to see some live burlesque. I was absolutely entranced by Miss Von Bourbon's performances! She did two in all and I remember that even when her music ran out half way through the second act she carried on and still wowed the crowd!

The reason I like her as a performer so much is that she is extemeley intuative when it comes to burlesque. She has a strong character that singles her out from many other strip based acts making her unique in looks and stage persona. She is also very funny on stage and to top it off she has the most incredible tattoos that add to her allure. Her acts have gone from strength to strength and she has gone on to perform internationally, last year taking part in a three month residency at Friedrichsbau Variete Stuttgart, Germany.

Last year I painted Beatrix after she modelled for me. I was inspired by her tattoos and wanted to paint a piece that told a story about revealing truths. In her portrait she is slowly pulling away her blouse to reveal her tattoo chest piece. It's up to the viewer to decide if she is being tentative, coy or seductive. I included the painting in my ongoing series My Baby's got a Secret which you can see HERE. Miss Von Bourbon also makes a cheeky anonymous appearance on my Bon Bons series which you can see HERE!

'Beauty Marked' Acyrlic on canvas 2008

Now that I also perform burlesque my appreciation of the art form has only increased as I know what a lot of hard work goes into creating each act and promoting it, the anxiety and adrenalin of performing and the huge sense of fun and fulfilment you get from the whole experience!

Myself and Beatrix Von Bourbon at the Candybox 2007