Art and Writing Class (May-July 2022)

Art and Writing Hearth is run by Jane Ray, Sita Brahmachari and Ros Asquith on Tuesdays at 3pm.

This term each week we will be reading poems, writing and drawing inspired by: Horses, Spring Flowers, Cats and Faces. Come to the art and writing hearth each week and bring ideas about the world of art.

Be inspired by the art, song, poems and conversation

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice.

We speak to the warmed stones.
We catch the sun and pray:
Sun beam
Sun river
Sun flower
Sun blossom
The day I have held and
The day I have lost


Butterfly Room

We are a flight of butterflies
All of a flutter
We’ve got butterflies
Delicate, lace wings
Fragile, transparent,
Iridescent, blue, orange and peacock’s eye
Bright wings for camouflage, folding into closed leaf
Life is a cycle
Egg, caterpillar, Pupa, butterfly
A journey to beauty
A luminous species filling our imaginations
Counting precious time in moments
A kaleidoscope of bright red emperors
Not to be pinned but to be freed, released
Butterflies are brief candles, short lived beauties
Metamorphosizing messengers of love and marriage
Grief and transformation, soul-spirits
Inspiration to designers and Madi Gras mask makers
Nourishment to the artist’s eyes
While they, fluttering from flower-to-flower dance
Lightly, brightly
Eating with their flutterby, butterfly feet!

Below are some of the images and words that inspired the work:



Happily hovering
Over petals
Nectar inside
Every one.
Yes -now see me pause then fly.
Busy, buzzy,

Below are some of the images that inspired the work:

Fruit of Summer

Still Life
Lush silvery greens and dark of Sargant’s Pomegranate Leaves
Following the journey of a Gibran’s philosophical ruby red seed
Waiting for dinner at Gaugin’s table
Marveling at a bowl Zurbaran’s lemons
Beside a cup of tea, a rose on the saucer
Thoughtful reflections

Fruit Face 1 – Funny
Pomegranate seed eyebrows
Blackberry eyes
Sweet Strawberry nose
Melon Mouth

Fruit Face 2 – Surprised
Watermelon eyebrows
Raspberry eyes
Pineapple nose
Mango Mouth and moustache
Pomegranate stubble

Fruit Face 3 – Angry
Slice of triangular pineapple, punk hair
Watermelon arrows for eyebrows
Blueberry eyes, bitter
Raspberry nose
Watermelon mouth
Pineapple teeth

Below are some of the images that inspired the work:

Summer in the Park

The lungs of London expand and fill
With freshness, with green trees and their reflections
In shimmering lakes and boating ponds.

Runners and readers,
Children sliding and swinging
Licking lollies and playing aimlessly…

Friends and solitude.
Roses, footballs, dogs and deckchairs.
The soft murmur of pigeons
And the thwack of leather on willow.
A man and his wife walk together – she wears a sari like sunshine.

Summer park.
Summer peace.

Below are some of the images that inspired the work:

The Beach

A Day on the Beach

We wave with the waves,
We dance in the sea
We drink the wild air,
We rejoice to be free.

La mer, la plage, le sable
The sea, the beach the sand…

Shells sing sonorous sea sounds
Swish, swoosh, swoosh! Swish!
We raise up bright sails
To pursue jewelled fish.

La mer, la plage, le sable
The sea, the beach the sand

We build castles in sand
We dream castles in air
Parasols on the shore
-how we long to be there!

La mer, la plage, le sable
The sea, the beach the sand

Monet’s sands, Degas’s beach, Derain’s boats
Combine to bring us all together.
On this shore, by these rocks, by this sea
We will stay young, somehow, forever.

La mer, la plage, le sable
The sea, the beach the sand

Below are some of the images and words that inspired the work:


Celebrating festivals
Dancing, masks, games, street art camouflage
We greet with Eid Mubarak
talking of feasting after fasting on a bank holiday
of missed family from Bangladesh
Travelling to another August weekend
Talking communities dancing together
How this year the Notting Hill Carnival will fill the streets with colour, peacock bright
Feathers will crown carnival King or Queen
Some say a ‘spiritual’ occasion, others claim parading is ‘political’
Or ‘pure joy, release, freedom, summer fun.’
Claudia Jones dreamed up the biggest street carnival in Europe
Her anti-racist protest of taking to the streets
bringing ‘West Indies’ to West London
Steel pans beat out the call to community
Reaching to a Trinidadian portrait of red and white where drum and woman dance together
Peacefully, in harmony
Dancing for hours we cross the equator
Wishing for a bird’s eye view of a giant butterfly with world-wide wings
A globe of flowers with a smiling woman centre,
Child-like pleasures shared by all
Throwing the rainbow colours of Holi, heralding Spring
Bodies, clothes and skin all of a rainbow glow, ‘bien dans ma peau’
Musical notes play Miro’s collaged harlequin scales
Accompaniment to designing our very own costumes:
a coat of many colours, a kingfisher headdress
flowers of red, rose, green, yellow and a bright, bold bird
singing and dancing out to the strumming of guitar
and the remembered trumpet call to a Congolese Carnival

Below are some of the images and words that inspired the work:


Open Window at Saint-Jeannet c.1926-7 Raoul Dufy 1877-1953 Bequeathed by Mrs A.F. Kessler 1983

When I’m sad I think – tomorrow is morning
With all its possibilities!
A new day coming – tomorrow is morning!
It may be rainy, or windy but it could be lucky.
The thought that tomorrow is coming,
And the new season, gives me trust in the world.
Tomorrow is morning!
Fling wide the windows!
Let in the scent of lavender,
Of roses and the sea.
Outside is my little garden, full of flowers,
Sunflowers and delphiniums,
The blue blue summer sky, and great billowing clouds
Making endless pictures, endless possibilities….
Summertime is always the best of what might be.
Tomorrow is morning.

Below are some of the images that inspired the work:

Creative Spirit

We explore the human instinct
Inspired by Perry’s words
to return to marks recorded on cave walls
charcoal sticks picked hot from storytelling hearths
etching warriors, angels, dancing spirits, buffalo, bison, dogs, deer
migrating, travelling

Art travels too from caves, to parchment, through lockdown to phones and tablets, through this screen
Hockney flourished in Lockdown
Through his words and art, we trace him from
His Yorkshire skies to seeking Californian sun
That suited him, said his mum
‘The only shame is with all this sun, son no one’s thought to hang their washing out to dry!’

Perhaps in his Normandy Lockdown Spring there was washing
a pale blue sheet of mum-memory dancing in the breeze…
Inside we find him in his rural studio
Sitting among his drawings, brushes, sketches
Dog and man in art appreciation
Of a vibrant, verdant spring orchard

We sketch his tree house
tracing the trunk
to an artery
the beating heart of freedom

Here we muse on the creative spirit
Of N’s poem and of ‘H’ a textile artist among us
Catching up in lockdown, trying out new designs
constructing, changing styles for trousers, wraps and tops
enjoying playing with the imagination
sketching new designs
not wasting time at all
but living.


A Friend is home, to me

Friendship inspires our hearts, our minds, our pens.
We hold our hands to the screen,
Searching symbols of loving kindness, solidarity-
Hands of friendship across the globe.
Ideal, if not always real.

We admire the companionship of artists,
Warhol and Basquiat, Pissarro and Cezanne,
Arguing, laughing, creating,
Celebrating their telepathic vibes.
We draw their faces, and Picasso’s painted friends
Transform magically onto a pair of patterned trousers!

What springs to our minds this Springtime
Is home: ‘A friend is home to me.’
A friend is loyal, sympathetic, comforting.
‘A friend is home, to me.’

A friend may be someone completely unlike you,
Yet you both feel love, mutual support, trust.
‘A friend is home, to me.’

A friend may be someone you cannot see for a very long time,
But who remains vibrant in your heart.
And always
‘A friend is home, to me.’

A friend is the rainbow in your cloud.
‘A friend is home, to me.’

Below are some of the images that inspired the work:


‘Window’ inspired client artwork

Sita’s notes from the Window session

Below are some of the images that inspired the work:


Today we talked about faces –
Ancient and modern, youthful and aged,
Marked and masked.
We looked – and
Mona Lisa gazed back at us from centuries past,
An emblem of love in turbulent times?

Artists, happy in their moment of absorbed creation….
Rembrandt – reserved, thoughtful, compassionate.
Frida Khalo – fierce! So productive, even in her enforced passivity.

We talked of masks – do they hide our true selves, or reveal something of us?
‘No!’ someone cries!
We don’t have three faces, like the Japanese saying.
We are only who we are!’
We are! We are!
I am! I am! I am!

Below are some of the other images created during the session and that inspired the work:


Starlings at sunset, flow, drift and drape – a murmuration….
A cloak of feathers with a wing collar,
Expensive, grand and glorious for a proud peacock!
The folds of a dress, the fan of a wing,
The colours of a goldfinch…
A village girl draws graphite grey pigeons,
In Trafalgar Square, just their necks are iridescent purple and green,
Like the birds of the Congo…
Their feathers are free…

Below are some of the other images created during the session:


“When You leave your country, you find yourself alone in this space and you really need to find the way. You are lucky if you find artists who look at the human ways.”

Neda K. Fard
‘Storm’ By Neda K. Fard

Art and Writing – Communal Weather

On the day we meet inside our zoom rooms
The forecast is for every weather
Rain, wind, storm, gale, hail… somewhere on the hills snow is falling
Just as we begin
Unruly sun rays bedazzle
Screen bathing

Memories of collaging a communal sun
the power of colours on our feelings
Not all sun is warming
this one angry red, blood-hot, blistering
Don’t forget the sun cream!

Straying to imaginary weather, though no need
for the gales outside have been blowing loud and strong and long
Causing chaos, damage, flooding
Google throws up a weather tree
It is what it says it is … literally
A tree made of weather
Colorful, chaotic, in artificial, unreal pinks and yellows
Superficial lightening shots
Photoshopped feeling
We prefer a clean line of root, trunk, and branch

Real trees, we, weathering real storms
The weather inside forever changing too
Through hours, days, months, years
Sunsets come and go, some violent,
Some peaceful, putting the day to rest
Tomorrow’s dawn may bring
A sunrise of yellows and blues
serenity of sea and sky
Whipping up a breeze
Weather trees might stir blue, black and white
Rich dense mist enfolding…
the colour of ‘Storm’ too

The artist brings with them the vision of rain from whence they came
far from a walk to church in Yorkshire
watery inks on delicate parchment
drench the senses
for a time

Outside, it is spitting…

Below are some of the images and words that inspired our work:


CATS or Dogs?

Tut! Cats are lazy
Absolutely I prefer dogs!
Billy dog joins in happily
But Cats, huh, they think they’re gods.
Yeeees, but they are also

C loudy, cotton woolly, careful, comforting, clever, calming, cosy, clean
And Elegant Egyptian cats especially are playful, too.
Tsk! I still prefer dogs, but maybe cats possess
Some virtues…

Below are some of the images that inspired our work:

The Language of Flowers

‘When you are with flowers you feel very relaxed,

I don’t have any stress when I am around flowers.’ T

Deep into January

bare are the branches

so we shower ourselves in flowers

in a cascade of wildness



code- breaking the language of flowers

blossom for hope

pink and red roses for love

an Iris brings passion and dignity

Tulips for wealth more valuable than gold

in times gone by at least



drawings of snowdrops for sweet grace and courage

admiring petals, form and texture

twirls and swirls of leaf tendrils



crafting flower necklaces, quilts and headdresses



this page made of tree

planting here new shoots while traveling the flower markets of the world

warming hearts with remembered perfume

till we’ve arranged it

our own unique bouquet of Spring!

Who knew that Broccoli is a flower too! 

Below are some of the images that inspired our work:

In Praise of Horses

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears’ -Arabian proverb

Hooves of ancient warrior-horses, pounding
pebbles, pounding earth,
Hunting, galloping, questing, charcoal
smears on old cave walls..

Over mountains, over deserts, carrying
Onward. Beasts of burden, beasts of beauty,
beasts of peace.

Raven black depicting courage, russet
manes and dark tails flowing.
Rearing, racing, rolling, rejoicing to be free.

Stories written on their backs -a red hand
print- vow of vengeance
Silvery circles strengthening senses as they
carry us to war.

Emperors, peasants, poets, painters, all
admire these noble creatures
Exquisite, humble, powerful, reaching deep
into our hearts.

Below are some of the images that inspired our work:

Ringing in the New Year

H EART- felt HOPE and JOY to all, here our words of the year are drawn
A ges go by
P eace is what we seek
P layfully painting our fellow beings, penning poetry
Y es, we too seek safety, security, freedom to play

N ow is the time to name our dream-wishes
E asels at the ready, we’re poised with ENTHUSIASM to draw the riches of our earth
W ELCOMING in a fresh way of seeing

Y outhful is the year, a time like Spring, for growth
E ven in days of struggle we long that EVERYTHING can be EASIER than it has been
A ction is what we need if we are to feel
A PPRECIATION to set sail into royal rivers of RELAXation

Here are some of Jane and Sita’s quick sketches of paintings that we enjoyed drawing in week one:  

Lubaina Himid CBE

Artwork by S

She presents a philosophy, a strategy
to think about human life and relations between men and women.
She finds different ways to have a conversation between men and women.
Women are making the maps and men are carrying out the plan and sewing it
.’ -N

Her life began as a ‘terrible tragedy’.
But she sowed the seeds of sadness
Into joy.
She wanted a conversation
So she painted a conversation
And sowed the seeds of sadness
Into joy.

She paints journeys with her friends
sharing drink and food together
sharing books but not united.
Together -but in a different place.

Or dancing joyfully (with dogs)
dresses collaged in cosmic patterns.
Leaping together -visible at last! United at last!
They come as one.

‘She presents a philosophy, a strategy
to think about human life and relations between men and women.
She finds different ways to have a conversation between men and women.
Women are making the maps and men are carrying out the plan and sewing it.’

They are sewing, we are sowing, sowing seeds of conversation
Sowing seeds of sadness into joy.
Private moments, public places,
Thoughtful figures, natural graces.
Sowing seeds of sadness into joy.

Lubaina reinvents, a new ship sails free from slavery.
The people on her prow now proud and free.
She paints on jugs and doors and drawers
Makes wings and waves from oars
Vibrant, bittersweet, she talks to you, to me.
And together we hear her say
‘This could be life’s sweetest day.’

‘This could be life’s sweetest day.’

Below are some of the images that inspired our work:

Faith Ringgold

Artwork by S

‘An Autobiography in Quilting’

Inspired by the life and work of artist, storyteller and activist Faith Ringgold

‘The quilt is an international symbol of our will to change the world.’ Faith Ringgold

This patchwork is the cloth of home
a family portrait of Harlem life
This the spirit of Sonny Rollings
Blasting his Sax from Brooklyn Bridge
Free from neighbours’ complaints
Brooklyn Bridge where runners sprint across the finish line

Artwork by S

In this patchwork
the sweet strains of a jazz band
a bright yellow dress
Halo of Afro
faces etched in inheritance masks
Songs aching with the story and passage of slavery and survival
Strains swaying to joy

Face after face posts a memory of mask and reality
Black Power emblazoned
Black Lives Matter
Civil Rights marching on to freedom songs of overcoming

Honouring the women who sewed and sowed their own suns
Flowers of hope for the future, changing history
Herstory Roll call
Madam C J Walker, Sojourner Truth, Ida Wells, Fannie Lou Hamer
Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Baker,
Willia Marie Simone, a woman flying from the artist’s own imagination

Faith Ringgold
Child of dressmakers and designers
Destined to work in brightness and lightness
No heavy canvasses to store
Her art has travelled far
We muse that with a friend like Faith you would never be bored.
This is a woman who would do anything for a friend
How we’d love to meet in a park
Beside the Serpentine
or share a meal

This is a woman who would tell you a joke
with wise eyes
A woman with easy going grace
We would like to sit with her ‘Listening to the trees’….
And if we did what would she say to us?

We patchwork-imagine…

‘I am a woman who loves:
fresh air,colour,life
green trees, forests

dressing up,travelling
music, dancing
celebrating life

I am a woman who stands up for:
justice,human rights
For I am the daughter
of an African- American dressmaker and designer
and with all the cloth of my peoples’ stories
My art is to sew our patchwork lives together

Below are some of the images and words that inspired our work:

Yayoi Kusama

Artwork by J

Yayoi, sad child. Mad child?
Who painted her way out of
Bad dreams
Into good dreams.

Repeating, repeating, dot after dot.
We are all, after all, dots,
spinning on a dot
In a universe of dots.

Artwork by Ros

Yayoi, sad woman. Mad woman?
Healing us, and herself,
Turning our bad dreams
Into good dreams.

Sculpting vibrant colours and shapes;
Tentacles, pumpkins, glorious fish
In a magic aquarium,
in a sparkling , dotty, myriad of dots.

Artwork by N

‘That one is the Nigerian appacajama fish!
So tender, so sweet!’
‘My, but she was big on polka dots!’
Entrancing, dancing, polka dots.

Yayoi wears her paintings –
Fabrics enfold her like leopards, like snakes.
Her vision is like our universe itself,
Spinning into an infinity of mirrors.

Yayoi, mad, or sad,

Makes us glad,
Transforming our nightmares into visions
Our bad dreams to good.

Calming us , embracing us, holding us
In an eternity
Of dots.

Below are some of the images and words that inspired our work:

Yinka Shonibare

Yinka Shonibare asks us questions.
‘You cannot be an artist unless you are curious’

In asking his questions about racism, discrimination, injustice
he recreates worlds, playing with Picasso,
daVinci, Donatello, Fragonard,
the familiar transformed by African materials-
expensive, valuable, luminous.
`How does he do it?’
‘He doesn’t waste a single thread.’

He paints Black Gold -‘Africa’s greatest resource’,
yet threatening nature.
A collage of splattered ink embracing shells,
whirling planets, moons, seahorses.
And who benefits from the wealth?

His eighteenth century ladies and gentlemen
Whirl before us, a riot of colour, headless, beheaded,
Yet bursting with life, duelling, on uni-cycles, swings,
leading pet leopards to the park!

He commemorates the battle of Trafalgar with Nelson’s
Ship in a bottle. Floating over Trafalgar Square
with African sails, Ankara sails, so beautiful, so valuable,
It makes us proud.

His wind sculpture like a dancing cloth, a whirling spirit,
floating, twisting, flaring.
His angelic food faerie brings us good news, brings us apples.

And at last, a head! A figure with a head!
And its head is the world! A spinning globe
that we must save, that we must keep spinning.
And here’s another!
Donatello’s David transformed with
a giant Yoruba face, solemnly gazing into our souls.

Simultaneously Shonibare explores both the past and the future,
Looking both ways, always, embracing yet reinventing both.

‘I am for and against at the same time’ he says.
He brings us meaning and joy.
We want to meet him.

Below are some of the images and words that inspired our work:

Ai Weiwei

Why, Ai Weiwei, why?

We bring to our Hearth
Pots and pottery gifts
held in cupped palms
Bowls for cereal, to carry lemons, fruit, water, seeds
All these to celebrate the work of Ai Weiwei
who knows what it is to be made a refugee from his homeland
Knows what it is to be displaced, detained without charge
In exhibitions he takes ancient Han dynasty pots and breaks them
Why, Ai Weiwei, why?
Out of anger? Or making a statement
a wish to find freedom
start again
make a new way?
He has painted and broken many pots
Stamped ancient ones with new brands and histories
Switched old for new
for better or worse, for worse or better?
In our zoom time-frame we have collected pots of
burnished copper, glazed gourds
Repaired ones too
In the ancient art of golden Kintsugu
What can these broken pots hold Ai Weiwei?
sunflower seeds
water, carried by a grandma in memory
keeping precious water fresh
Now we throw ideas and hexagons of hope into these pots
My symbol hope is a child

Mine a heart
Mine a sunflower seed
Mine is the sun, the sun itself
Firing, moulding, forming, breaking, mending, growing
A creative cycle unending
We operate outside the system of the frame
One, two, three
blow and scatter
harnessing our ‘fears, dreams and imagination’
a thousand hope seeds of our own.

Below are some of the images and words that inspired our work:

Elizabeth Blackadder

Artwork by T

Peaceful Soul

She spent her teens collecting flowers
(alone, absorbed, for countless hours)
And as she drew, they grew.

Canterbury bell!

She travelled widely, pen and ink
Conjured palaces (so we think)
And as she drew, she made them new.

Flowing in Florence,
Pensive in Pisa,
Vigorous in Venice!

Beloved objects laid on a snowy cloth:
Bamboo boxes, fruits and spoons
She paints, and we believe
-we believe that we taste her fruit.

Prickly pear!

Her soft watercolours, of restful cats,
Of tiny shells, of luminous vases and
tumblers overflowing with flowers,
Soothe our souls and we declare she is


She spent her last years painting flowers
(alone, absorbed, for countless hours)
And as she drew, they grew.


(Thank you Elizabeth Blackadder,
We will forget-you-not.)

Below are some of the images that inspired our work:

Grandma Moses

Artwork by T

Ann Mary Robertson Moses

Grandma Moses was a lover,
Loving art, loving life,
Her tiny figures leap by firelight, frolic in the snow,
Feasting, laughing, working, helping each other.
We share our own art, flowing figures,
Fabulous flowers, wintry trees,
Most of us like Grandma Moses,
self-taught -helping each other.
Grandma Moses tells us stories
Of harvests, celebrations,
We tell each other stories,
hunting for lost souls in frozen forests
-helping each other.

Could we paint a thousand paintings?
Might we live to be one hundred?
‘An idle hand is an evil hand’ we laugh
We will write winter poems, we will paint celebrations
-helping each other.

Below are some of the images and words that inspired our work:

Henri Matisse

Matisse, both stern and joyful
Set out to study law.
But illness forced him to
Take flight, to take flight.
Sickness struck him down, his mother gave him paints.
He turned from darkness into light, into light.
Sombre subjects, muted hues, until he saw Van Gogh
Something bright, something bright, something bright.

We love his lady, shimmering, proud,
His figures lounging in the heat
We think these colours brought him back to life, back to life.

He became bold, he became brave, sang with patterns, textures, shapes,
Ladies wearing flowing bubus dressed their best, dressed their best.

He threw open all his windows, painted blue dawns, scarlet sunsets,
Dancing figures , sparkling patterns, full of light, full of light.

Yet when illness struck again he was ready, he was ready,
Took up paper, took up scissors and transformed the world we see
Dazzling stars -or are they flowers?
(We could gaze for many hours)
At his courage and profound creativity.

Below are some of the images that inspired our work:

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo inspiration

We arrive on the screen
Portraits in zoom
Homage to Kahlo’s inspiration
Head wraps, pink and orange flowers and patterned
Glorious flower haired Frida backdrop
A Kingfisher on shoulder
Bringing favourite colours of yellow, orange and pink
In an empty frame grows a communal work
Bringing all our favourites to a portrait
Contemplating Kahlo’s beautiful face
Her signature eyebrow
Her serious, intense stare
Her meditations on life, art, nature and pain
Musing on her own muse
Searching to know herself
Her gaze; intense, individual, creative, passionate, patient
Strong, revolutionary,
Married to Diego Riviera, fellow revolutionary
Love and turmoil repeated
on canvasses and vast walls
carrying a constant companion in life and art her monkey
Fulang Chang
Painting roots and family trees, leaves, wings and watermelons
Butterflies, hummingbirds, fantasy flowers and family
Ties of blood
Growing from the lush landscape of Mexico
She lived with pain from birth
often felt strange, different
But from her sick bed she painted to express herself
Spoke words of encouragement too about human ability to endure
Today she speaks to us as woman and icon
As we leave the frame she gazes across time to see our own group portrait
Featuring a Lioness for courage, a tiger too and a butterfly to decorate hair,
an orange cup of nectar and precious contemplation

If Frida could join us in our zoom today? What would she have to say?
What flowers, insects, animals of courage, hope, healing would she offer us?
Through her art we hear her voice
Reaching across the tick-tock of time
For Frida Kahlo painted her way back to Spring in lockdown too
Just like you

Below are some of the images and words that inspired our work:

Edward Lear

Little verse inspired by Edward Lear’s Nonsense Alphabets.

Cat Drawing by J

A is for Art and writing
(Sometimes quite exciting)
Close to our hearty
Art and Writing.

E is for Edward Lear
(Whose lines are crystal clear)
Never dreary
Edward Lear.

P is for purring Pussy cat
(Loved by an owl -fancy that!)
Pussy cat.

Below are some of the images, poems and videos that inspired our work:

Andy Goldsworthy

The Art of Andy Goldsworthy
(What does not glitter can be Goldsworthy!)

Begin with purple Clematis
Sunflowers petals, alternate leaves
Feathery veins
Pattern of purple petals and ivy
Ray’s land- art emerging
Into which
Goldsworthy walks nature’s way
A living man with wrinkled brow
Hands of archaeologist, expression of a lion
Wading water with walking sticks
Stirring the power of awesome play
Unforgotten childhood
Meditation in mud, stone, rock, root, leaf, bone

Find what nature gives you today
Then play, play, play

Button holes in flowers of roses red
Of orange blooms to match a scarf
A wedding display
Rangoli flowers
Lifeblood of love

Find what nature gives you today
Then play, play, play

Shedding leaves transport to an autumn wood
glowing burgundy, russet, mustard, turmeric
colour wheel of seasons turning
Travelling through seasons of winter twigs
Ice stars shimmer against the fresh fall of never seen
spines, angels, ephemeral butterflies
melting to reflections
Leaves wafted on the wind
Down to earth
Meditation on humility
Find what nature gives you today
A flower pizza it is
So play, play, play!

From the communal treasure hoard gathered together by S.B in the Art and Writing Room!

Below are some of the images that inspired our work:

Vincent Van Gogh

We’ve missed our friends over the long weeks of summer.
And now we meet online, at the start of a new term,
To talk about – Vincent.
His chair, his pipe, his tobacco.
Swirling skies and sunshine, starry, starry nights,
Eyes of china blue gazing back at us…
900 paintings in ten years and only one sold…

Drawing by J inspired by
Van Gogh

He painted the poor, the ‘potato eaters’ – such poverty..
His heart was ‘like the sea, with its storms, its tides, and its depths.
It had its pearls too..’
The extravagantly bearded Postman surrounded by flowers,
The fields, the daffodils, the friends,
Painted with a palette of emotions.

He painted sunflowers and now, so do we – glowing glorious yellow
And flaming orange,
Spiked green leaves, and centres of dark velvet,
Twisting their beautiful faces to follow the sun.

No care for money or fame.
He suffered for his sanity.
He cut his ear.

His was a life of love.

There is nothing more.

Poem created by JR from words and phrases collected from the group in response to Van
Gogh’s paintings

The Garden

Underwater Garden

Underwater Garden

Paper sand
transformed in dream world
to grains of gold
fan shells, pebbles

Transported to the beach
flowers grow before our eyes
Sea weed floats
Star fish – flowers
bloom from shells

Shoals of fish
All life source here
Food, salty, fishy nourishment
And on the shores of Ntela’s words
‘humans crowded on a Bournemouth beach’

Held in the arms of a water goddess
reflecting on water
We wriggle spines
Octopus arms waving
Zoom tendrils trailing
across the film, the water screen

Diving in
to dream time
slow time
down, down to the sea bed
where fantasy flowers grow from mottled shells
prickly dream flowers
smooth yellow petals
like little suns
grow before our eyes
pinks, yellows, delicate creams
precious glow of electric blue
sea anemone
magic lotus flowers
smudged colours

Underwater blossoms meander
on watery stems
Captured in Josephine’s words
‘Wonderland world’
Our spines float free
Bursting tension, popping seaweed pods

For we are calm and cool in our underwater garden
escaping from the heat of a scorching day
feeling ice water on skin
making of our minds
drifting further still to the Great Barrier Reef
dreaming that Climate Change never bleached
vivid coral’s beauty
that it can
that it will

We too
sway in our chiffon waves
playing with light and imagination
surfacing to paddle along the paper shore
splashing water merrily, merrily
to the tune
of ‘Red Sea, Red Sea’

Poem by E. E.

Seaside Flora and Fauna

From the Big Beaming Sun Flowers

From the big beaming sun flowers,
To the precious blood-red roses,
Blooming from our imagination,
The air filled with sweet scent of enchanting therapeutic perfume,
Keeping time with the passing of seasons,
The work of surreal imagination
One perfect rose.
A single flower,
wrapped in tenderly,
pure and deep-hearted fragile petals,
With scented dew.
The rose flower: A universal symbol of love, passion, blood and peace.
Humans and other creatures beholds so much of you
For you wetted our appetite with goodness and what you symbolize.
Although you’re also covered in your protective and prickly thorns,
We will always be entrenched and enchanted by your beauty.

Poem by J

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work:



Flowers smell fragrant like perfume
If we don’t take care of them, flowers fade
Only someone who really loves you gives you a rose
The giver is planted in my heart
We are given flowers when we get married
A father gives his daughter a bouquet of flowers on her wedding dayI decorate my home with flowers
and I never forget that I can paint flowers too
A husband gives his wife a bouquet of flowers on her birthday
Children give their mum a bouquet of flowers on mother’s day
Flowers are always in our life

Poem by N

Shaun Tan’s imagination

Cup of Artness

Bright flowers and creatures emerging from sepier tea cups
The work of a surreal imagination
Contemplating the strange in the ordinary
Welcoming weird- ness
The imagination- eye you and I create in search of truths
To me an owl is wise, to you bad luck
Twit Twoo – does it even sound like that for you?
Birds do not fly the same in my mind’s eye and yours
We stand upon sand
A planet, magical moons washed in sunshine
Or a giant maze
Working out the rules of the game
Giant owls looking over the city
Sceptical, doubtful,
Inspired, awe struck
Tiny people balance on a shell
Boats sail in and out of harbours
Transported to pyramids
Focusing on details
Photographing leaves
Discovering fossil flowers from ancient lands
And all the time
The eye is in the clock
Keeping time to the passing of the season

Migrating, leaving and arriving
Hands and beaks spreading imagination seeds
Keeping track of flower-ness, ginger – ness, coffee-ness
Hat-ness, wild-ness
For after all one person’s weed is another’s flower
In this shared art and writing class
At tea time
We share a cup of art-ness
A tale of the unexpected or ridiculous
A red tree growing unexpectedly in your bedroom
Depending on your lens
Asking is it foe or friend?
Through Tan’s art we meet the alien in ourselves

Communal poem inspired by Shaun Tan’s imagination

Fantasy Gardens

Our imagination tree

Remembering our herb garden
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
We turn to dream of fantasy gardens,
Gardens in our minds.

What might we grow if we could grow anything at all?
Lemons? Carrots? Violin trees? Money!

Impressed by formal English gardens, clever but cold,
Charmed by Alice’s universal wonderland
of talking flowers, as entrancing in Arabic as in English.
Amazed by mazes, mesmerised by magical Xanadu,
Dazzled by Dali’s musical flowers, his creatures of leaf and

We inhabit Shaun Tan’s world, where neon blossoms
leap, bursting with light, from monotone objects:
pencil sharpeners, match boxes, teacups.
‘As if the real world were dull, while the imagination flames.’

We are cool in the moon garden,
Hot in Rousseau’s imagined Africa,
Calm beneath the waves, with fish
Who swim among trees.

But what might we grow if we could grow anything at all?
Lemons? Carrots? Violin trees?
A virus to conquer covid! An antidote!
To make us powerful and free.

So our imagination tree makes us
Powerful and free.

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work:

Edible garden

Our edible garden

We wondered, but didn’t wander, about parks.
‘Too busy, too many people.
Far too many people. Far too busy.’

Instead, we devoured our edible gardens,
Their elegant straight rows, their delicate fragrance.
‘They are busy too, they are busy growing.’

Our imaginations taste tomatoes,
crunch carrot and cucumber,
savour sharp flavours of sweetcorn, peppers, peas.

A grandmother tells stories amid bean rows,
‘When you eat, it’s vegetables;
when you are sick, it’s medicine.’

Drawing by N

Artists create food faces, peachy cheeks, grapes for
Fascinated, frightened, we seek comfort in Cezanne,
His solid fruits, his red wine.

And Caravaggio, how long did it take
to paint that magnificent basket of fruit?
Did the apple rot as he painted? And the leaf whither?

Ophelia’s sad song takes us to our herb garden
Where we are soothed, swaying to Scarborough Fair:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.


Beehiving ourselves in the park

Reflecting on our ponds,
Remembering our watery creatures,
We move to expansive spaces,
green green grass, freedom to roam.
And we wonder who we might be
if we lived wild in parks:
A rose? A deer? A squirrel?

Soft pointillist glow of Pissarro’s late summer light,
inspiration of Diana’s fountain-a living monument
where children splash through summer.
The shimmering mirage of a hive,
towering over Kew Gardens,
as delicate as spun glass,
thrumming, humming, buzzing with life.

But bees feel too busy for our mood today.

We gaze at Seurat’s people, crowded but alone
Each still, locked within their dreaming minds.
Children play in the park around us, blowing bubbles,
hula-ing their hoops, hurling bread to eager ducks.
And a pensioner plays too.
‘You’re never too old for hopscotch.’

We lounge on benches, dawdle in deckchairs,
Absorbing the rich colours of a riot of meadow flowers,
Lulled by the sounds, the sights, the smells, of summer
And of glorious Richmond Park.

Below are some of the images that inspired our work:


Reflections on Water

Water in a home-made pond
Blue Paper under a glass bowl
Water-filled, screen spot-lit
and magically, it is a garden pond.
Pitter patter of rain drops on the surface
Dancing water
Adding rocks and floating matter
Forget-me-nots floating
Dandelion petals
Lion’s Tooth ‘Dent de Lion’
‘One man’s weed is another man’s flower’
A papier-mâché bird flies down to drink
Admiring art
Shoots of new growth
beautiful ornaments shining
Lotus flower or artichoke
Falling feathers swirl and ripple.
A flock now bathe, splashing fountains of water
‘Gathering like British people at a pub’
Floating to Monet’s water lilies
A garden pond is transformed into
a flat earth, an ocean around the edge with an ice rim
Lily pads of floating islands, continents
A whole world in a pond
Pansies at the edges are the outer universe
the sun and moon and stars.
We dive in
Choose what we dream to be
Water itself
A mermaid, blue whale, sea-horse, Clam fish
Gliding underwater with pre-historic dragon flies, frog spawn,
orange and white carp, tadpoles metamorphosing
rising to kiss the surface.
Preparing to leap onto a lily pad to become a Jazzy tree frog
Beware the beautiful fatal attraction!
Or to become… three babies clinging to a leaf
The Spider man of frogs leaping to the rescue
Funny, funny frogs! Much laughter.
Now Van Gogh’s night river brings romance

E.E’s Lotus Flower

A twilight evening walk
And through the river’s ripples a mermaid rises
A dragon fly too, iridescent bright grace of shimmering wings
Dancing to the soulful tune
Of Robeson and his ‘Old Man River’
that ‘just keeps rolling along.’

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work:


Rangoli Blossoms

Blossom blooms, bursts, plunges, drifting on water.

As beautiful as if it were still
On the tree.

Rangoli, rangoli, rangoli.

Leaves, petals, bark, feathers form fantastic patterns.

As beautiful as if they were still on the branch, the stem,

The bird itself.

Rangoli, rangoli, rangoli.

Strange beasts emerge, beating leafy wings, their dandelion heads waving antennae

crying ‘Forget-me-not, forget-me-not.’

Rangoli, rangoli, rangoli.
We name them as flower flies, butter flowers, flutter bowers,
menacing locusts disguised with Rosetti’s daisies crying ‘He loves me, he loves me not.’

Rangoli, rangoli, rangoli.

Like our garden our art blooms,
then fades, as beautiful for a moment,
As when it grew in the rich soil of our minds.

Rangoli, rangoli, rangoli.

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work:

Feathery World

As Light as a Feather

Painting by E.E

Fluttering feathers settling on a white page
Dyed and natural
Grand peacock plumes with irridescent eyes
And regular brown markings of the guinea fowl
A breezy-waft of majestic ostrich feather
Marvelling at the power of a soaring eagle
Aviation inspiration
Cooing at the sweetness of Picasso’s dove
Olive branch in beak
Contemplating leaf-vein markings
Beating hearts as light as feathers

Quills sharpened to paint
feathers with a feather
Black and white veins
floating in on water colours
Blues, greens and yellows
Inspired by E.E’s Peacock meditation
Beautiful bird of splayed feathers
A field of buttercup-faces
Yellow eyes raised to the sun
Lighting up the bank of a speckled grey river

Inspiration drifting to
Symbols for luck, protection, national bird, warding off danger
Or bringing an ‘evil- eye’
Depending on cultures, myth, tradition
Worn on ritual headdresses
Rare plumes for status
Feather fashions fly across the globe
As birds do
Bringing parrot brightness
Fanned feathers for showing off

Or the mottled markings of an owl
Nestling in a tree hollow
Camouflaged in bark
Seeking safety

Quills at the ready
We humans feather-paint
chitter-chatter about our feathered-friends

Beating- hearts as light as feathers

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work

Mini Beasts

Tiny creatures

Who do we think of first,
in our garden, when we ponder tiny beasts?
Ladybirds! Butterflies! Bees!
These we love, but nobody loves
A slug.
And what, really, is the point of a wasp?

Whereas bees, bees, bees,
provide one third of all our food.
If we lose our bees, we lose our bread.

We admire the stick insect, and the leaf insect,
Their simple camouflage delights us,
We appreciate the scarab beetle, the gorgeous dragonfly,
the industrious ant, whose colonies inspire us.
These we love, but nobody loves a wasp, a mosquito,
A slug. There are no poems praising these.

Whereas bees, bees, bees!
If we lose our bees, we lose our bread.

And as we giggle in our garden, our hive of activity,
busy as bees, snug as bugs in rugs -we realise that
Tiny creatures are super heroes,
-the perfect symmetry of the butterfly,
The spider’s web stronger than steel,
the rhinoceros beetle more powerful than any rhino,
the flea leaping higher than an Olympic athlete.
And we imagine a planet where they are tall and we
are tiny -terrified of their pincers, bug eyes,
Their beating wings, their stings.

The only fly in our ointment is that we must fly
away until next week, when we meet again in
Our garden of delights.

Oh where would we be without bees, bees, bees.
If we lose our bees, we lose our bread.

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work


Islington Nest Building

Welcome to our creative nest
made of Papier Mache
ripped up news
glued and sculpted with rough edges like a nest
painted brown.

In flies a bright bird
with rose red wings, blue body, green and yellow too
carrying feathers in its beak
feathering a fluffy, downy nest.

Is this a male Bird of Paradise
colours bright to attract the females?
beginning the mating ritual
comical call of warbled convulsions
watching their mating dance is mesmerising
the way they stare at each other, unblinking

Three feathers have drifted down
This bird builds a recycled home
of safety, security and creativity
A maternity ward for babies
Nest building’s, like home building
Or larger, more ambitious… an Olympic stadium in Japan is ‘The Bird’s Nest’

We have flown far to be here
a bird will fly far to find her partner
together they will build their nest
lay eggs
and their shells will hatch into fledgling
Swallow, Starling, Magpie, Cuckoo, Bird of Paradise
open mouthed
waiting for food, strength building
until they are strong enough to fly

Wonder at a murmuration of Starlings
Millions of them drifting, gliding, soaring, swirling, fluttering, floating, dancing
across the skies, forming the shape of a single migratory bird
flying so far that they sleep on the wing
gliding onwards
till finally landing
to build a new nest for Spring.

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work


Seed Poem

Mother Earth, her rivers flowing
waters breaking, giving birth.
Her green fingers sowing kernels,
planting pips, Mother Earth.

Here are pine, pistachio, walnuts,
growing trees, spreading leaves,
as we gossip in our garden,
weaving dreams out of seeds.

There’s a tree of many colours,
standing tall, alive with birds
as the Earth laughs in flowers
lending music to our words.

Mother Earth reaps her harvest,
quietly tending to our needs,
as we paint, as we write,
weaving dreams out of seeds.

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work


Blossom tree painting by N

The Garden of my Mind

In Lockdown I have painted, planted and painted
In Lockdown I have painted
my way back to spring
In the garden of my mind
Flowers and fruit have blossomed
In the garden of my mind
I have survived

I have painted and painted
a soft, smooth, purple aubergine
a crunchy, orange carrot
a round, red and tender tomato
full of seeds and sweet to the taste
a sweet, sweetcorn
ripened yellow by the sun
In Lockdown I have painted, planted and painted
In Lockdown I have painted
my way back to spring
In the garden of my mind
Flowers and fruit have blossomed
In the garden of my mind
I have survived

Tree painting by N

In Lockdown I have planted
Onions that sting my eyes
and make me cry
but still I eat them
and still I paint
The layers of an onion
are like life
I paint red chillies
They burn hot on my brush and on my tongue
In Lockdown I have painted, planted and painted
In Lockdown I have painted
my way back to spring
In the garden of my mind
Flowers and fruit have grown
In the garden of my mind
I have survived

In Lockdown I have painted through the seasons
Flowers of the spring
Soft, sweet fruit of summer strawberries
Apples in the Autumn orchards

falling on a bed of leaves
Winter berries, bare branches
In Lockdown I have painted, planted and painted
In Lockdown I have painted
my way back to spring
In the garden of my mind
Flowers and fruit have blossomed
In the garden of my mind
I have survived

Now I hear the bird-song calling me

Poem by N

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work

The Elements


Communal Poem

We see the colours of the rainbow
Drift, and blend, until brown emerges.
Brown is all the colours in one
The colour of our Earth, our planet.
We see the whole world in our hands, as Stevie Wonder did,
And we imagine the Earth sifting through our fingers,
to fall to land and grow new life.
We think of Mother Earth as Mother Nature,
Resting amid mountains, her coverlet made
Of fields and forests
Her tears cry rivers, lakes and seas.
We name ourselves and tell of our brown beloveds:
Potatoes, bread, chocolate, nuts, caramels, coffee.
We speak our admiration of earthworms,
And our revulsion as they slither and squirm.
We admire the rings of a tree trunk, telling both its age
And the climate of its years,
Like the layers of Earth itself,
A history of civilisations.
The pigments of Earth, sienna, umber, ochre,
Used by Rembrandt for his portraits,
Used by native Americans
to paint the rough, majestic, powerfully muscled bison.
Beautiful brown bison.
We visit the underground world of animals,
The dens and warrens and sets of foxes, rabbits and badgers,
We see the brown angel winged horse,
As if imprinted on a rock, like a fossil.
We dream with the hibernating big, brown, bear.
We gather round our Earthen hearth
Contemplating our planet.
And if we were to handle the red dust of Mars
Or the silver dust of the moon,
Would we call it Earth?


From waters to waters


placing hands in the water
stirring words
Splash, wavy, flow, trickle
Percolate, gush, surge, spray, icy cold,
shiny, shimmery water
Reflection sparkling
Finding a river
Picking pebbles from the sea shore
Star fish, shells
ceramic sardines
Blue wave cresting on a page
Shells shape and wave-arc repeated
Patterning of sea and shore
Hearing the call of the sea in the conch shell
We’re away now on watery tides
Sailing in a boat of hearts

IMG_5721Reflecting on water lilies floating under the bridge
Picking up speed
Surging to the rapids
Water horses
Cresting waves
Surging blue of tails and manes
White horses galloping
Then diving down to treasure chests
Sailing with Seurat to serenity

different-faces-2-2Relaxing, bathing, contemplating water
Lulling us to sensation
Lowering into warm water
a babe in arms
taking her first bath
From waters to waters
Natural sponge on skin.

Artwork by E.E

Mapping the oceans
Swimming along the river to the sky
Collaging in art and words
Discovering mermaids and the mysteries of the deep.

Funny tales, fishy-faced
Legs where mermaid’s fin should be
Telling jokes ‘Is an anemone your friend or your enemy?’
Snorkling for platypus, narwhale, tortoise, jellyfish,
Seaweed, crab, dolphins, starfish, eels
Meandering through the underwater weeds
Spying creatures of the deep
Singing a river lullaby
‘The River is flowing, flowing and growing’
Sailing from waters to waters
Mother earth carries us
back to the sea

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work