Snail knights

It’s my pleasure to introduce the Snail Knights* of Castle Shellf. Wearing their shellmets, they seek the Holy Snail, rumoured to dwell in the Spiral Castle in the Great Safe Garden beyond the World of Giants** and Dragons***…

*Who are also Ladies, snails being hermaphroknights. **Us, of course. ***Birds.

From left to right: Sir Cumnavigator (whose shellmet comb, I failed to notice when taking the photo, is squashed due to brave and chivalrous falling to the floor), Sir Vivor, Sir Enity, Sir Priseparty, and Sir Ender. Two more coming!

Snail knights01



And back

Had a great time at Loncon. Caught up with old friends and met delightful people, had fun on panels, and played with a giant balloon.

The art show was wonderful, and having gone there with no expectations, I did well with sales, and “Looking for Aldebaran”, below (the one at the show had a darker patina) even won the award for best 3D work, which blew me away!Looking for Aldebaran

The figurative workshop taught by Andrew Sinclair at the Sculpture School in Wendover was excellent, with lots of useful instruction on anatomy and design. Hopefully I’ll be making more human figures now! As we worked in clay, I wasn’t able to bring my figure home, but here’s a picture (it was a static pose so that we could concentrate on the basics):


I did some walking in the Chilterns between Loncon and the workshop, and enjoyed nibbling on blackberries growing along roads and tracks. (In Australia you can’t eat wild blackberries as they are noxious weeds and are sprayed.) Marginalia: A legend says that you shouldn’t pick blackberries after Old Michaelmas Day (October 10 or 11), since that was when Satan was kicked out of heaven and landed on a blackberry bush, and now commemorates his fall by spitting on blackberries — or peeing on them, if you’re in Cornwall — on that date.

Also, my phone was convinced that Hounslow was Gondor. I can only say that they have good noodles in Gondor.

Anyway, I’ve got plenty of ideas for new pieces, so it’s full steam ahead. I’ll be at the Conflux convention in Canberra (3-6 October), but only as a supporting member, which means I’ll be in the art show or dealers room, or the bar or cafe, or at book launches, or any other areas/events that are open to the public.

An Alphabet of Embers — submissions
This anthology by Rose Lemberg — “an anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose” — looks great. Wish I could come up with something, but I don’t seem to have any words in me right now. Submissions close September 30, so this is rather a belated link!

What I do have, I confess, is a crush on my new shoes:

silver shoes

I’ve given up giving up coffee. I like it too much. And jetlag seems to have cured my early-waking insomnia. I’ve now got a sleep schedule I like, which hopefully I can maintain after this trip to Australia.



Off to Loncon

Last-minute stuff done. I think. And I thought I’d left plenty of time…

This winsome little guy or gal jumped out of my water lily pot the other day:







Today I checked the patina for the sculptures I’m taking to Loncon. This is what they did for little Mino, now known as ‘Under Construction’. Only a phone pic (and head ballooned as per usual), but I’m pleased:




Loncon schedule

Here’s what I’ll be doing at Loncon (other than catching up with friends!) :


Gala Art Show Opening and Book Launch
16:30 – 18:00, Art show (ExCeL)

The gala opening of the Art Show is sponsored by Titan Books and features the launch of Jim Burns’ Hyperluminal as well as a joint signing by all of Titan’s attending artists and a chance to meet many of the other artists whose work is on show.

Chris Achilleos, Jim Burns, Chris Foss, Fred Gambino, John Harris, Ian Miller



Meet the Artists
12:00 – 13:30, Art show (ExCeL)

Visit the Art Show and meet our attending artists – who will be available by their work to talk, explain and answer questions.

What is Art in the 21st Century?
15:00 – 16:30, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)

How do the Internet, social media, and proliferation and sharing of visual art online affect artists today?

Are the old distinctions in art – between ‘high’ and ‘low’ – still relevant in a multi-media/multi-discipline world, or are they only kept alive by moribund institutions? And where are the new artforms emerging in the 21st century? What inspires and frustrates the modern artist today?

Jane Frank (M), K. J. (Kirsten) Bishop, James Stanley Daugherty, Amy Worthen, Jeremy Zerfoss, Sarah McIntyre

Signing session for Richard Calder’s Dead Girls: The Graphic Novel
16:30 – 18:00, Exhibits Hall Signing Space (Level 1)
I’m not officially listed for this, but I’ll be there in my capacity as afterword writer. (Please note that pre-launch copies are available at the link.)



The Art of Sculpture
11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

Sculpture is one of the oldest classical art forms, and today’s sculptors bring those same techniques to bear, whether working in clay or bronze. Hear about the attraction of modelling by hand, and about what happens when science fiction – the most modern of arts – meets one of the oldest.

Jane Frank (M), Chris Baker, K. J. (Kirsten) Bishop, Keith Scaife, Vincent Villafranca

Meet the Artists
12:00 – 13:30, Art show (ExCeL)

Visit the Art Show and meet our attending artists – who will be available by their work to talk, explain and answer questions.

Who misplaced the Monster Compendium?
13:30 – 15:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)

When was the last time a fantasy novel had a golem or a cockatrice? How long is it since someone fought a giant, flesh-eating beast instead of another dude with a sword? Where did all the monsters go? With quest plots out of fashion, deus ex machina ditched, treasure-hunting too economically simplistic, and stories more likely to lavish pages on their heroes’ motivations for fighting than on blow-by-blow battles with deadly creatures, is the monster still relevant in today’s fantasy?

Julie Crisp (M), Tom Pollock, Adrian Tchaikovsky, K. J. (Kirsten) Bishop, Rjurik Davidson

Clay Sculpture Open Demonstration
15:00 – 17:00, Flexible Exhibits Space (ExCeL)

Work alongside our professional artists – or just come to watch, learn and enjoy – in this open clay modelling session.

Vincent Villafranca (M), Keith Scaife, K. J. (Kirsten) Bishop

Dead Girls Graphic Novel Launch/Signing
16:30-17:30, Book Launch section of Library (located in Fan Village)
I’ll hopefully be at this after 17:00.



11:00 – 12:00, Exhibits Hall Signing Space (Level 1)




Here are the coleus I was talking about — looking pretty good, and all their own work! I just plunked them in the pot and they grew. The flowers are actually pale lilac coloured. I’d definitely have them in any future garden, climate permitting (frost kills them). According to this site, if not subjected to frost or drought coleus will persist “for several years before collapsing under their own plant mass”. I suppose they then become black holes, and wouldn’t that be a showstopper in a garden?

I’ve read that some varieties die after flowering and some don’t, so I’ll just have to wait and see what happens to the one that has flowered.




I decided to make a scaled up version of blindfold guy. Here’s how he’s coming along. The pieces of him will need to go on a base, which will mean either extending his neck to the shoulders, cutting his hands off almost at the wrists, or making a sloping base. I can’t think of any other solutions (not keen to put him on sticks).



This fairy or goblin is the focus of a piece that will ultimately be quite large. As usual, the camera makes his head look big.


I started off with a soft oil clay “sketch” model to help me decide on proportions:


Then I made a new armature and got going with the wax. I’ve got three thoughts about his pose: playing a small flute two-handed (as above), playing a large, strange goblin flute two-handed, or playing one-handed and the other hand supporting him, or just hovering.




I think I like the version with the free hand best. The flute can be more more goblinesque. When I’m sure of proportions and the arm pose I’ll adjust the angle of the torso and shoulders.



Things in the garden #7

About a month ago I lost my Easter lily vine — the one that was looking so good. I had bought a new pot for the solandra, and the chaps who sell the pots persuaded me to buy a new one for the Easter lily as well, citing its slightly chartreuse leaves as a sign that it was overheating in its plastic pot. I doubted that it was overheating, as I had (and have) loads of other plants that are just fine and dandy in plastic. But the flowerpot men had a lovely big ceramic pot, and given how big the vine can grow, and the fact that it had reached a height where I was going to start twining it around the fence, making any future repotting a difficult prospect, I decided to go for the pot swap.

The chaps did the repotting themselves, in their singularly brisk idiom. I was slightly concerned, but the perfume flower tree which they had also repotted for me had survived without missing a beat, so I thought I ought not to worry so much. However, within a day of repotting — indeed within 12 hours, if I recall correctly — the vine’s leaves drooped, and it never recovered. I thought it was perhaps planted too deep, so a few days into its decline I raised it, and noted that it had grown very little in the way of roots, despite having shot up tall above ground. This rescue attempt having made no difference (except perhaps to hasten its demise?) when I at last removed its sad dead stem a few days later and took a good look at it, there really seemed to be only one main root and a few much smaller ones, and the main root was damaged near its join with the stem. I fear the wound may have been made by the trowel I had given the men to help release the plant from its old pot.

I felt awful — very guilty and sorry for the plant, and mad at myself for having lost it. I went to Chatuchak to buy another, but nobody had one for sale, since they aren’t currently in flower  — and won’t be until December. I can still go to the Or Tor Kor market, where the shops are permanent, and see if somebody has one lurking around. In the meantime, however, I’ve bought a Giant Pinwheel Tree (as in, its flowers are giant pinwheels; the tree isn’t a giant — it came home with me in a taxi, roots in front and branches in back). Stu and I very carefully installed it in the pot I bought for the late Easter lily, and it seems to be fine. Its flowers have a beautiful, unusual spicy scent, just like Peru balsam.

I also bought two crimson crape myrtles that are now in front of the porch flanking the doorway, and a mauve hibiscus that I’m pretty sure is an Australian native (technically not a hibiscus but an alyogyne, but close enough). I put it next to a vivid yellow hibiscus, and the colour combo looks great. I also bought a morning glory and hung a trellis on the fence for it to grow up.

I think the daturas have done their dash. I had hoped that in this climate they’d be perennials, but I guess they really are annuals after all.

I was going to buy caladiums, but for some reason they’re more expensive than many other plants here. As a cheap alternative — and a very cheerful one, I think — I went for some coleus, four different ones, and put them all in a pot together. I did splurge, however, on a hydrangea, and also picked up a smaller and cheaper one. Nothing says home, and grandmothers, and all the rest of all that I miss, like hydrangeas. These aren’t the blue globes of my jardins du temps perdu (so underappreciated by me at the time, so cherished now that temps are perdu), but smaller and paler, almost moonstone-coloured — and, the vendors told me, heat-tolerant and unaffected by soil pH.

The rose is growing well, though hasn’t flowered in the last three months or so, and the maple-leaf hibiscus is entirely recovered from its aphid episode. It is growing tall, and I do hope it flowers again.

Last but not least, I bought a young green jade vine, which when it gets going looks like wisteria from the planet of the space dragons. I tried making a wire trellis for it to grow across the porch, a job which I thought would be fairly easy, but which turned out to be a right mongrel, with the wire getting all tangled and whipping around, assaulting other plants and generally not being at all tractable. In the end I just made a ladder for it up one porch post, which I’m now not happy with. I think I either want to wind the vine around the post or just get another trellis and hang it from the porch frame.


Loncon and after

I’ll be at Loncon from 14 -18 August, and attending a workshop at the Sculpture School in the Buckinghamshire town of Wendover at the end of the month. In between I’ll be loitering in the Chilterns, rambling through woods and hopefully doing some walks on the Ridgeway, and generally revelling in England’s green and pleasant land.

I note that in Wendover there’s Rumsey’s Chocolaterie, tantalisingly reviewed here. Don’t have to wonder what I’ll be eating, do I?