In 2015 I went on a photo walk organised by a friend round a local town called Burslem. The town is quite run down in places, but thats what made it interesting. Neglect sharpens architecture. Photos taken on an old vodaphone.

Green wood

Red sign,

Green door ,

Blue door,

Bricks by glass,

Breeze blocks behind window,

Rust and wood,

Blackberries colonise

With ease.

Document these,





I looked up the definition, it says it is a “shifting medley of real or imagined figures, as in a dream”….. noun.

I had not really thought about the word Phantasm until I saw it on a programme earlier today. It makes me think of ghostly figures and ectoplasm.

I don’t know if I believe in them, but there are people that do. A local pub which used to be a hotel is supposed to be one of the most haunted pubs in the country. The Leopard in Burslem, Stoke on Trent, is know for its spooky atmosphere. Several TV shows have been filmed there to explore the ghostly emanations. There is a story that there are phantoms in the cellar, and ghost hunts regularly take place there.

I can imagine figures walking through the public bar, or in the back room. Floating above the ground, disappearing behind curtains or into walls. Spirits caught between the past and the present. The stairs that lead downstairs feel particularly eerie. There us a geological fault in Burslem and the building has a strong lean to one side. If  you drop a ball on the floor it will roll to the other side of the room. The Leopard has a long history and is very interesting to visit.

I have not seen anything myself, but some of the staff and customers say they have. Whether there is such a thing a Phantasms is not something I can prove or disprove. I think I will keep an open mind.



I sing in a couple of choirs, one which is all female and the other which is a mixed choir. Both of them are acappella, which means unaccompanied by a musical instrument, except perhaps to give us our starting notes.

Summer time is when we do most of our gigs. Both choirs have things coming up. The mixed choir is singing locally this weekend, we will be singing for about 50 minutes, so we need to know a variety of songs. The gig on Saturday will be mostly Summer songs, for instance, “Summer is a coming in”. Some of us know the songs off by heart, and others will be using song sheets.

Both choirs repetoirs are very varied, the female choir knows more international songs like “Meliswe” which is Hoza I think? We also do Maori, French, Creole, Croatian, among many other songs.

I have to say singing in a choir can be wonderful when we get it right, and sometimes a real struggle while we are learning a peice. Recently we sang with another choir (a lung health choir) at a production of a play for four nights. We were singing to add atmosphere to the play, and we sang an arrangement of “cloudbusting” by Kate Bush, over and over again. 12 times on one night! This was while the audience were being led round the auditorium and getting the spooky, cold feeling of the place (we were at an old chapel that is being restored and it was probably the coldest May for years).

The female choir is doing a walkabout in a few weeks round the town centre, singing and then moving on. Our normal choir leader is away on that day so some of us are taking responsibility to lead the choir. It’s not something most of us have ever done. So if you see some confused women singing out of key….it might be us!

Mona who?


I tried to copy the Mona Lisa on a digital platform once, unfortunatley the image is a bit blurred. The landscape behind her is perhaps too fuzzy.

Leonardo da Vinci was a brilliant renaissance artist. His paintings and drawings have always enthralled me. There is so much skill there. So much beauty and knowledge. Leonardo has a wonderful technique which I could not hope to copy. My drawing is blotchy, and thin in places, but I think it probably took me about half an hour to an hour to draw. Using a drawing app on Sketchfu.

This was another on that popped up on my Facebook account which I was glad to retrieve. I thought I had lost it.

So anyway I will just leave this here..

New views of Spode. ..

Things are changing at the old Spode factory site.

Old buildings that don’t have much historical merit are being demolished and older buildings , or more architecturally important ones are being released from their imprisonment in brick, mortar, chip board, steel and concrete.

Like an archaeological dig tipped 90 degrees, new surfaces and entrances are being uncovered. Courtyards with windows newly on view. Stacks of saggars piled on shelves up at those windows, small or large,  flat or square ….the weight of the saggars must be tremendous. I wondered if the shelves are rotting and if they could collapse .

I remember seeing a film called “solarus” or “solaris” once years ago. By Tarcovski? A Russian film maker. The character’s moved through a post industrial nightmare, and I can’t help thinking Spode uncovered would make a brilliant film set.

A recent film called “jawbone” was filmed at Spode. They recreated a boxing gym in the China halls there. So many new views. ….

walking along the new pathway to the studios there, I wonder at the air we are breathing in, dust everywhere…how do we know there is no asbestos or other contaminants?

The feral cats of Spode can be friendly.  A grey and white Tom cat was hanging about next to the Hulton art pottery. We were told that someone is thinking of rehoming him. He had water and food….my partner wanted to take him home. But we already have two of our own cats. I think he will be OK. I have nicknamed him Maurice. ….

At Etruria

There’s a lot going in at Etruria canal festival this weekend.

The canal boats have gathered, stalls with hot food, drink, tombolas and lots more have arrived.

The Etruria Industrial Museum steam engine has been fired up and has been in steam. Guided tours show guests around the buildings where bone and flint were burned and ground in order to be added to clay and make fine bone China in the potteries  of stoke-on-trent.

The steam engine at the centre of the complex turns the wheels that grind the bone. It is the only steam fired bone mill in the world. The bone and flint was brought along the canals to get it here.

If you want more information look up details of Jessie Shirleys Etruscan Bone and Flint Mill.

I have a stall there selling paintings and prints. As my sketch says, commissions are welcome.

Hopefully the weather will be good tomorrow and I will be able to post a few more pictures. In the meantime have a lovely rest of your day x…



A few years ago I painted this mural for the Florence Colliery working men’s club. It’s 24 ft long and 6 ft high.

The Colliery had a pit wheel with the frame in a shape like an italic f. The painting includes a miner and a Davy lamp. The buildings were based on drawings of the old colliery. There is a huge oak tree that still survived and the who lot is surrounded by Staffordshire country side.

It took me several weeks to paint the panel’s, 6ft by 4ft. I had to place them next to each other so that the picture would line up. They were painted in emulsion paint if I remember correctly . Then varnished with yatch varnish.

They were initially erected outside the club on the main road, and covered with perspex  to protect them. The mural was moved down into the grounds of the club a few years later.

I have done a few murals in my time. Two dissapeared when the buildings they were in were demolished. I have photos of another one I helped paint. Somewhere…..