Bird box

Mini artwork on a station platform.

I’ve made an artwork in a bird box as part of Isobel Smith’s project, Art at Glynde station. 

Local artists are given a bird box to work with. When complete, their mini art works are hung on wooden walls of the long shelter on Platform 1, on a mural painted by the Baron Gilvan.

My birdbox is called Soil Microbes. The viewer looks into the bird box through the hole covered by a lens. Inside, on a background of green lined graph paper, are colourful shapes of bacteria floating in their own micro-world.

I’ve been reading about the web of microbes in the soil as part of an interest in organic gardening, earthworms and the other creatures in the soil. The garden birds, that may live in this garden centre bird box, are part of the soil food web, which begins with an unimaginable number of bacteria, moving through to fungi, arthropods and worms.

The bird box bacteria are represented as if they are under a microscope, through the distortion and uneven focus of a lens (a magnifying glass) so it feels as if we are looking into another world. The graph paper gives the impression of measuring and gathering data and evidence. It’s a nod to idea of basing decisions on findings and evidence.

Thinking of the techniques of scientific visualisation, close-up scientific imagery is often coloured or tinted to make the content clearer, hence the multicolour microbes in the bird box. The colour also gives it a sense of play and fun and looks like a 1980’s fashion fabric design.

I’ve had my eyes tested on large like machines, which look like they could be in the film Metropolis, at the opticians and I bought some cheap glasses to help focus on close work. I found a 1960s microscope from Glynde fete brick-a-brac to look at finds from the garden, though I have yet to master it.

There is physical movement required to focus on a subject – leaning into the bird box, moving a book forwards and backwards or twisting the rings on a microscope.


Bread made with olive oil

To Bella and Tasha. This is the recipe for white bread, made with olive oil.


500 g of white extra strong bread flour
About 300 – 320 g of water
1 tsp of easy bake yeast
3 table spoons of olive oil
1 tsp of salt

Use the best and ‘strongest’ flour  e.g. Waitrose Canadian bread flour


Do you have a magi mix? If so, put all the ingredients in the magi mix, set up with a metal blade (or dough hook).

Combine the ingredients.
The dough will be quite sticky to start with. 

Process (to knead)  for 1 minute.
It will warm up with the motion. The dough changes as it is kneaded, becoming smoother and more flexible. It should come away from the sides easily.

If you don’t have a food processor, knead by hand for 10 minutes.

Use a spatula to ease the dough into a spacious bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with cling film (use oiled cling film if touches the dough)

Leave to rise for 1.5 hours
It likes a warm place. You can also leave it overnight. When the dough is double the size, fold the dough in on itself using the spatula and a little extra flour to make a neat ball.

Grease a baking tray &  pre heat the oven to 230 C degrees.

Tip. Sprinkle polenta on the greased baking tray or use a piece of reusable silicon baking paper to stop it sticking.

For a Pizza

Press down the dough to make a pizza base (like we did). Cover with tomato sauce and mozzarella.

Bake at the top of the oven for about 20 mins, checking to see how it is going. It slides off the tray when it is cooked.

For Focaccia.

Press the dough down so it is  3 cm thick. Cover with oiled cling film.

Leave to rise for a second time.
It takes about 1.5 hours.

Tip. If you want the dough to rise more quickly put a hot water bottle under the tray.

Pre heat the oven to about 230 C . i.e. a hot oven. Every oven is different so you may have to experiment.

Punch a few holes in the doubled dough with your fingers or the end of a wooded spoon. Drizzle olive oil over the dough over so it pools in the holes. Sprinkle with salt. and add a sprig of rosemary, olives or cherry tomatoes.

Bake for 20 mins
You may have to check after about ten minutes as every oven is different. When bread is ready, you can wrap it with your knuckles underneath and it should sound hollow. It’s hot though, so this is not easy.

Cool on a wire wrack.
The bread is still cooking as it cools.

Cord for macrame

I am learning macrame and I’ve been looking for cord that would work well for a macrame plant holder project. It needs to be fairly thick, flexible and not too resistant to being knotted and flexed, and strong enough to hold a pot of earth which may be watered.

A plant holder project requires eight strands of 3 metres of cord.

In a DIY store in a retail park in Newhaven, I measured out 30 metres of red rope in an aisle of B&Q and then searched for an assistant who had a pair of scissors. I’ll go back another time for some lengths of the other types of rope, but I am trying to force myself to finish one project before buying materials for the next.

This large scale rope (in the photo below) is tethering a passenger ferry to the quayside at Dieppe. The port of Dieppe is a four hour crossing directly from Newhaven.

At the ferry dock, there is a cluster of concrete shapes. They look like letter press glyphs, rubber stamps inked up with a green seaweed colour or lengths of extruded clay.

Gun Girls

Gun Girls.
A short film by Victoria Harwood and Lucy Newman. 1997. 5 mins.

Gun Girls is showing at the ICA on Saturday 14th Feb 2017 as part of the London Short Film festival programme, White Trash Girls, Gun Girls & Riot Girls.

“All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.” Jean Luc Godard

What is it about?
The pursuit of free will. Its visual, fun and from the female point of view. Sci-fi, low fi kitsch. (The guns are water pistols.)

Two androids are sent to Earth on a mission. The mission is aborted and they become Gun Girls. Gun Girls have a brief taste of Earth life before their battle with El Pimptronic, their former alien controller

The Geffrey Museum (fire alarm went off)
Trafalgar Square, The Mall
Tooting Bingo
Duxford Air Museum
Heathfield, Sussex
New York
Heathrow Airport
Camberwell, London
Royal College of Art
Charing Cross club
Kings Cross, London

Trashy, control, robots, rebirth, girl-power, dysfunctional domesticity, earthlife, recreation, poses. 

We saw

Pepi, Luci y Bom – Pedro Almodovar
Harryhausen animations
The Avengers / Captain Scarlet / The Man from Uncle
50’s Sci Fi
Faster Pussycat Kill Kill Kill – Russ Meyer
Comic strips
Daisies (but afterwards)

We looked at
Jeff Koons
Carnivalesque ideas
Kitsch (in clubs) and parody.

Mostly analogue. Low fi. Super 8, cardboard, silver paint, silver foil, cotton wool and face paint.
Props from boot fairs.
Stop motion models.
Early photoshop and After Effects.
Special effects are real – explosives and firecrackers.
A mix of methods and techniques.

An empty London. Round the back of Covent Garden and Denmark Street. Low security at Heathrow. The towers stand in NY. British seaside resort. Fun fair.

A store of film costume of Shuna’s.
A mix of eras. 1950s sci fi, 1970s Pimptronic, 1960s domestic, 60s spies.

Messing about with costumes and super 8 cameras. The shots then the storyboard. Applications for funding. Self funded. Vic organising locations. Telecine in Soho. Sound at the RCA.

80’s dancing disco scene
A cooking scene – a mess of food and food processing – not quite the Semiotics of the Kitchen.

At the time
Shared house
Vic  – working in film wardrobe depts and theatre and production design, pre RCA
Lucy – scanner and graphic designer in multimedia, post RCA
Charles Barker – painter – writing films



Worm holes

I can’t think of much else but building worm towers.

I can’t think of much else but building worm towers.

I began by listening to Audible’s The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart. It’s an appreciation of earth and composting worms, and explains the huge impact they have on our lives. Like bees, who pollinate our food, we can’t live with out worms, who condition our soil. Evidence of their importance includes the interest of  Charles Darwin who chose them as one of his major subjects of study, other than Natural Selection.

We have a raised bed where the earth has no life at all so I have been trying to bring it back to life. It needs organic matter, minerals and compost. To make the finest compost, I was going to ask for a Wormery for my birthday, like the one Amy Stewart has on her veranda. A wormery  kit can cost about £70.00.

I also saw a clever planting system at Firle Garden show, a structure like a giant strawberry pot, with a vertical pipe running down the centre. In this pipe live the compost worms, and, as you feed them your kitchen scraps, they fertilise the soil around and the plants grow from this rich soil through the holes in the pot.

I often find myself thinking – I can make that! And it could be an inexpensive option.

A permaculture video, with Geoff Lawton, showed me how to build my own worm tower using a drain pipe. I dug as far as I could in to the soil, hitting a hard layer of chalk, using a post hole digger. B. cut the drain pipe (left over from a guttering project) and drilled holes in the lower half. Once it was in the ground, I stocked it up with food that worms ‘like’- damp shredded newspaper, manure, egg shells, damp cardboard and plant scraps from the kitchen. But they are not keen on wet grass clippings, garlic and onion.

B. could not find many compost worms in the compost heap – not such a nice job! We were looking for red wrigglers or tiger worms. Not having the 50 worms recommended by the video tutorial, I ordered two types from Yorkshire Worms on Humberside, Tiger worms and Dendrobaena. The arrived in the post, via Royal Mail, and looked fine in their small bags of compost. B. shared them out between the two worm towers (by now I had made two) and we covered the top with a upside down plant saucer.

Two plastic bags containing live worms  compost worms in a hand

I have kept the towers cool and damp. The worms seem to be moving around in the kitchen scraps. I am learning how much to feed them and how much they can eat in a week.

One website suggested ‘you can overthink what food you give to worms’. On my art piece for Empty Space’s art project, Common Sense publication called Love and Hate, I had made a reference to WORM TREATS.

Now when I see an old newspaper, tea bags, coffee grains, egg shells and leafy scraps, I think ‘good worm food.’ This is one element of permaculture that amazes me; turning waste into nourishment, of one kind or another.

Express Myself



During the working day, I often spend hours talking through graphic design jobs on Skype. I enjoy use the pictoral emojis. They are funny, expressive and functional and have a lot of admiration for the animations. So I have made the video This is how I express myself. The emojis and omnipresent icons in our digital lives are our modern hieroglyphics. Over the past few years, we have become so used to using them.

Express myself. from Luce on Vimeo.



Love / Hate

Digital print.
Part of Common Sense limited edition publication by Empty Space



Gardening is a new subject for me. It seems that part of this activity is to nurture some species and discourage others.  The garden centre offers delights to be loved and cherished,  as well as methods of killing, hence the pages in the Common Sense book, described by Empty Space’s Tim Copsey as a Night of the Hunter mash up (from the 1955 film). The Love-Hate hands are from the warped character of the preacher in the film who dishes out his terrifying and fabricated sense of justice.