This final group of charcoal drawings are reminiscent of nature in one form or another. In Perfect Storm XVI I see the unfurling fern, while IX presents a more literal leaf shape – in XIV, mountain peaks and the waters edge, while in IV I see a bird’s eye view of the Holy Isle retreat – the cross for me represents the Buddhist shrine room above the boat house, with the shore to the right. Of course we can read all kinds of things into these highly spontaneous drawings, and yet Martin & I drew this series of twenty-one charcoals having returned fresh from the Isle, her spirit very much present within both of us. Hardly surprising then that aspects of this astonishing little island should manifest so strongly within our work together.
Practising as a painter is a solitary experience, one that I generally enjoy, however, meeting another fellow artist in such a synchronistic manner is a rare privilege. Martin & I discovered our similar, and often spookily same artistic influences, particularly in the work of Antoni Tapies. Discussing our individual process was enlightening – discovering that we are not alone when it comes to certain neurotic hang ups, fears and concerns in painting, yet also the joy in accident, and the sense of accomplishment when winning the battle on any given work.
Inviting Martin to work with me in my York studio was a natural extension of our conversations by the log burner on the Isle. Our collaboration was surprisingly easy – not much in the way of discussion, we just got on with drawing, taking it in turns to mark the paper to its natural conclusion. The aspect I found the most interesting was how our drawing tendencies flipped half way through the process. My geometric leaning softened and I began to adopt more fluidity, while Martin began introducing his own geometric forms after having started out with Hans Hartung style action and amoeba forms – we were learning from one another, and even adopting one another’s visual language, which developed into an exceptionally rewarding, and often funny communication between two creative minds.
Embarking on this process would have been impossible had it not been for two things. The first, learning an aspect of Tara Rokpa from Edie, our meditation guide while on the Holy Isle. Edith Irwin has worked many years under the guidance of Tibetan monks, specifically Akong Tulku Rinpoche, to develop Tara Rokpa therapy techniques. In addition to intensive daily Tibetan meditation sessions with Edie, we also learned to create collaboratively, developing our sense of trust with our working partner. This brings me to the second event, my first collaboration with a member of my mediation group, a young film-maker, and now close friend. To put this experience into context, I hadn’t put pen or paint to paper in over three months due to intense trauma, so this was a real moment for me. As it turned out, the moment was a supremely joyful one, and three-fold – I was drawing again, at the same time as developing what is now an essential friendship for me, while ultimately catalysing an important collaboration with another artist. I guess thats why we ought not judge change, since it can occur for the most unusual reasons, and in the most unexpected ways.
 Finally, presenting PERFECT STORM: LANDSCAPE – the third & final part in a series of collaborative charcoal drawings, created with fine artist, graphic designer and chef Martin Davies, shortly after returning from the Holy Isle early January 2017…

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With heart-filled gratitude to friends, teachers and fellow artists.



  1. you’ve spoken here with all the loveliness that charcoal has to offer! I’m a major fan of charcoal. Not so much the standard pencil, but with charcoal…. oh, the velvety blacks, the textures, the nuances of tone, the expressions that it can relate are stunning. I do love these works you have created 🙂 cheers, Debi

    • Hi Debi,
      great to hear from you, how are you?
      Well if anyone would understand the potential that charcoal has to offer, its going to be you! Really glad you like the drawings, a big compliment coming from you x

    • Hi Michael,
      thank you so much – it was just an all round extraordinary experience, there are so many stories associated with the Holy Isle, there is magic there for sure. Martin & I experimented with different types of charcoal, and found that they can be quite different. To get that intensity of black that we were looking for, we discovered a brand called Faber-Castell, and they offer Pitt-Pressed charcoal and Compressed charcoal – far more effective then say the regular Daler-Rowney Willow charcoal, which is a little insipid as you correctly described. We picked up the Faber-Castell compressed at Hobby Craft – I’m sure you could get it online too. I hope this helps, the compressed & pitt-pressed really do make all the difference. Only advice, cover everything in sheets – there was a fine layer of charcoal dust on everything after 3 days of working – was a job to clean up! Warm wishes

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