I’d like to thank the Americans for Halloween…


We have a tradition in our house. We carve a pumpkin every year for Hallowe’en, we use it regularly throughout the following week and it lights up our garden on bonfire night. After the fireworks are over, the pumpkin is left in the garden, on a plant pot or at the side of the lawn, to melt back in to the earth.

It’s an amazing sight, the decomposition of a pumpkin. It filled our children with wonder and disgust when they were younger – it still amazes me now, how the dark, soot-stained interior is intensified as it is slowly blackened by decay. The furry mould around the lips changes the expression as it get older, sometimes softening, but more often making it just a bit creepier. Everyone in the household gets called up to the kitchen window to witness the first implosion – the collapse as the face disintegrates and the lid falls in. By Halloween the following year all that is left is the stalk, grimly hanging on albeit in a slightly desiccated form. Sometimes there’s the remains of the tea light, if we’ve forgotten to remove it. But the rest of the pumpkin has dissolved back into the ground, food for slugs and hopefully a bit of organic waste to help the flowers grow better next year.

So I’d like to thank the Americans for sending us their pumpkins for Halloween. In olden days I would have to carve out a turnip, hard as the hobs of hell and even harder to carve when your dad will only let you use a table knife to painstakingly shave away the insides. Strangely, health and safety concerns went out the window from that point… It would take hours to carve; I would always end up eating the raw turnip and feeling just a little bit sick. And then, gluing an old-fashioned stick candle with its own wax to the base of the lantern (before the invention of the tea light), tying a piece of flammable old rope to the top and carrying it round the dark streets without any adult accompaniment. This was best done on a foggy night with shouts of ‘Jack shine the maggie’ (not exactly sure why we chanted that), while trying to scare the pants off each other, while the rope itched the cuts I’d manage to inflict on myself with the blunt knife and while the stench of burnt turnip itched at the back of your throat…

…and then it never really did decompose in a satisfactory fashion.

Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy

S.A.C.R.E.D by Ai Weiwei Studio at the RA

Interesting trip to the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy yesterday – on the day that the Queen met the Chinese president…

Walking through Chinatown after lunch, we spotted a lot on people carrying banners and flags in protest against the state visit, but a trip to the RA gives you a quieter yet more potent protest against China’s human rights record.

Most of the works comment on state censorship or refer to China’s cultural vandalism, though one piece highlights China’s failure to protect its population. ‘Straight’ features hand-straightened steel reinforcement rods from the Sichuan earthquake – substandard building materials gathered from schools where over 5000 lives were lost. The rods create an enormous floor sculpture in the main gallery, whilst the walls house a poignant reminder of the victims by listing them individually.

Let’s hope that the new power station proposed by George Osborn and subsidised by Chinese money will be built with more regard for human life.

Straight by Ai Weiwei Studio at the RA

Lovely Fungus!


Did I ever tell you about my obsession with mould?

Well I think you should check out some of the amazing pictures on this website and you’ll probably be able to understand my preoccupation with all things fungal…

Knitting Inspiration

Those of you familiar with my other work at Greenwich Market will know how much I love looking through old knitting patterns from the 1940s for inspiration. But it’s not just the patterns I love looking at – I also love old photos. The Mary Evans photo of the kids looking through the fence featured on the home page is a great image – I never get tired of looking at it.  That hat is just marvellous and has inpired many a pixie hat on my stall.  And the sandal and sock combination…. What can I say!?


Well this is one from my own family archive and I think it would be amazing to replicate that jumper my dad’s wearing on the right there – with all its rips and wear-n-tear.

I also love the large expanse of wall the photographer has managed to capture…..

RA Summer Exhibition infiltrated by Art Tourists!

SJ_RA1_web SJ_RA2_web SJ_RA3_web

It was the final day of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy today. In a break with tradition this year the RA allowed the public to take photographs in the galleries. I have mixed feelings about this – I can’t remember how many times I’ve been in an art gallery and wanted to take a photo. Not necessarily of a painting or sculpture, but of a view through a doorway, a person or a detail. Generally, it hasn’t been allowed, so I was really surprised to see people taking pictures.  And it just felt, well – wrong! I asked the staff and there were various explanations, but basically it looks like most of the artists signed an agreement allowing photography – except for a minority… the big names like Tracey Emin managing to stand their ground.

So in amongst the people jiggling their way through the gallery to get a better look at something that had caught their eye were a number of art tourists, hardly pausing for breath while they snapped another painting and moved on. Art in a hurry with no time to stand and appreciate the work, the meaning or the skill – just another digital image to look at later. Why bother? Why not just look up the artist on the internet – you can easily see them all on the RA’s website. But how can you possibly appreciate it that way? One guy took a photo of one of Tom Phillips’ versions of ‘A Human Document’ almost at a run without seeming to look at the work while he pressed the button on his phone. Did he realise it was one of a series? Did he know which version?

Anyway, it took me a little while, but I did whip out the camera in the end and take a couple of shots. I’ve always wanted to take a photo of the grates in the Royal Academy….


Brighton Beach Bubble

PC_bubble_webWhen I was young and didn’t need much sleep, the current Mr Jenkins & I used to spend hours on the seafront at Brighton watching the colours change with the rising sun and trying to capture them on film. We had some good results, and we had some failures…. All on photographic paper, developed, probably by SuperSnaps, at great expense. Wish we’d had the flexibility of a mobile phone with its digital camera and massive amount of memory then…. Having said that – this little bubbly-beauty was the only one snapped by Mr Jenkins last weekend…


Leave it to the Professionals….

sj_olympic_park_webI’ve just spent much of the weekend at the Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford and I was thinking how brilliant it was that there is at least one part of my professional field of expertise that hasn’t been overtaken by camera phone enthusiasts. You can have a phone-toting stalker shooting off pics of celebrities and selling them to magazines, natural history geeks with their shaky shots of rarely-spotted beetles and transport enthusiasts with camera coverage of steam trains, but I doubt there was one camera-wielding spectator in that stadium who managed to get a decent shot of Mo Farah on the home stretch. I know – I’ve tried before! But without the long lenses and press access to ground zero, there is no hope in hell that you’d be able to replicate some of the amazing images of athletics, football and cricket taken by the professionals.

I remember watching the Athletics Grand Prix at Crystal Palace in the early 90s and the guy next to me in the stands had a long lens and was trying to capture the athletes…. It wasn’t long before we realised that he was only shooting off when one of the female athletes was bending over. I elbowed him a few times as he went for the trigger, then I chose to drop my drink in his lap….

Welcome to My New Website

I’ve been looking forward to launching my new website for some time…. But you know how these things go – silly things like work often get in the way!

Anyway – thanks to Peter Coomb – the best web designer I’ve ever been married to – for the re-design of the site. I’ll be adding more of my favourite photos in due course, but for the moment I’m just gonna sit back and enjoy it!