Category Archives: Art by Asphyxia

Journal cascade


I like to vary the page size in my journal because then larger pages layered behind smaller pages become a border or backdrop for the smaller pages. And sometimes there ends up a really interesting cascade of pages. Like this one here.

When I go to write on one of the smaller pages, I don’t have to do anything fancy to make it look good. In fact, it looks really cool and edgy if I just scrawl roughly. Because the book itself is so interesting, my daily journaling can be pretty simple and the end result is still a visual feast.

I teach an e-course in how to make and use a journal like mine, Make The Book Of Your Dreams. It would make a great gift for a creative person. You can download it online, or just between now and Christmas, if you want a DVD to give as a gift, private message me after you’ve bought the course, with your postal address, and I’ll send you the DVD for free.

What skills will we need?

While the threats we face from climate change have become well known and understood, the twin challenge of peak oil is not. And yet, it’s just as great a threat to our lifestyle as is climate change. So what is peak oil?

This video from Transition Towns Totnes gives a pretty succinct overview:

There’s more to it than that – to truly understand, you might like to look up some of the films, books and websites mentioned on this page here.

The moment I truly understood peak oil and how it could potentially affect me and my lifestyle was quite shocking. Also the fact that it’s not just some far distant idea, but a reality that is likely to happen in my lifetime. Apparently it’s normal for people to have this ‘moment’, and to feel quite horrified and shocked, before being propelled to do something about it.

That’s when I created this artwork. It was a part of my processing and understanding how dire things could potentially become. Sitting on my desk as a daily reminder, it helped to springboard me to a better place. I decided to change my lifestyle to become less dependent on fossil fuels. To learn the skills I would need in order to live without them.

These are skills that were once passed from generation to generation, but which we are disgarding and casting off as unnecessary. These skills – think darning, think preservation of food to eat out of season, think making shoes and fabric and producing our own food, all without fossil fuels – are the ones that will help us not only survive peak oil, but live a good life.

Once upon a time, our parents and grandparents would have taught us all we needed to know, but my parents and grandparents don’t have the knowledge themselves. It has been a huge journey for me to source people who can teach me skills in all the basic areas of survival. I now know how to produce serious amounts of food from my backyard – both plant and animal-based. I can make baskets and string from plants. I can make shoes and clothing from the fur of a rabbit raised on weeds. I can preserve food to eat it out of season. I’ve learnt to live locally, to get around on my bike and to use the car far less. My life is so much better for it, even though I don’ t use every one of these skills every day. I know what to do now.

When we are faced with the real challenges of peak oil, I hope I’ll be one of those who share my skills, to help others get them when they need them. This artwork is about gathering, learning, knowing and passing on the old skills, the skills that will help us live and thrive without petroleum. Now that I’ve arrived in a comfortable place in my journey with this, I’d like to offer it up to someone else who is also going through this journey. If you’d like it, it’s in my shop.

What skills will we need_-2

Encaustic paintings on reclaimed fabric and plaster

Here’s another collection of small paintings I’ve done recently, by rubbing plaster into reclaimed fabric, and then finishing it all with an encaustic of beeswax and damar resin. They have a satiny texture and I’m in love with the grungy raw edges.

Which of these paintings do you like best? And why? Words, colours, characters, textures?

My favourite is Warning: non-conformity may be disturbingly liberating, which is definitely my experience of breaking the mould. It’s hard to go back to a compliant, socially acceptable life once you’ve had a taste of that kind of freedom, I think!

If you’d like one of these, they are in my shop, except for Resilient girl who has gone off to her new home already.

Encaustic paintings on plastered wood and canvas

Finally I have broken out my paints and made some new stuff. I felt like my old self, pottering around in my studio playing with plaster, encaustic resin and my favourite rubber stamps.

Which of these paintings do you like best? And why? Words, colours, characters, textures?

My favourite is ‘surrender’, because that’s what I need to do right now. It’s quite a challenge to accept my new life circumstances, but I am trying.

I’ve just listed these in my shop.

If you’d like one of them, head over to scoop it up.

Hold me when I’m hurting

Hold Me When I'm Hurting-1b (Facebook)

I created this piece, Hold Me When I’m Hurting, when my niece and nephew, twins, were born. One twin was smaller than the other, and despite the fact that she was in perfect health, the hospital insisted she be placed in a humidicrib and fed formula. Social services even threatened to remove her if her parents didn’t comply. This piece protests against the harsh, impersonal practices of many hospitals surrounding birth in our society. It’s about loving our babies, and holding them close to us rather than keeping them in boxes.

Hold Me When I'm Hurting-3a

If you’d like it, it’s in my shop, here.

I don’t ask the world to revolve around me


When I was growing up, I was often reminded that the world doesn’t revolve around me. Instead of walking into a conversation saying “What?! What are you talking about?” I should wait, listen, and then thoughtfully contribute.

I get the idea behind this, I really do. In fact, I’ve totally internalised it. The problem is, it doesn’t work for Deaf people. I can’t slip into a conversation being held by hearing people and make a contribution at an appropriate moment.

Stella Young, comedian, activist and feminist who died in 2014, taught me that actually, it is appropriate for me to ask for access. We all have the right to be included. I still find it hard to accept this, and believe it, but I’m trying.

Instead of making an excuse for why I can’t go to a party or social event, I’m trying to learn to explain that I don’t want to come because if there are no signing people there, I would be excluded. Instead of accepting that I can’t take this course or that course, I am learning to ask the teacher to make the effort to adjust the curriculum so I can access it.

It’s hard, it’s awkward, and whenever I do this, I have that inner voice piping up: ‘the world doesn’t revolve around you!’ But when I think of OTHER people, of, say, Stella, who couldn’t get up a flight of stairs no matter how hard she wished it, I think, ‘Of course she should have access. Let’s all make it happen.’

This painting is a reminder to all of us, to make the effort to provide access to everyone. It might be someone who can’t read a sign because their glasses are at home, it might be an elderly relative who can no longer hear at the dinner table, or it might be someone like me, or Stella, who have to ask over and over, for access.

If you are in a position to provide access, maybe you can do so without being asked. Simply offer. Arrange for an interpreter if you are inviting a Deaf person to a hearing-only event. Check out a venue for access and toilet accessibility when inviting a person who uses a wheelchair, and let them know that you did so. I’m learning to ask… but when I don’t have to, it means the world to me.


If you’d like to do your bit to raise awareness about deafness, feel free to share this post. Thanks!

Oh Deer

I painted this sweet little deer on a piece of plastered reclaimed hessian, affixed to an old piece of weatherboard that has been sanded back to reveal years of paint below.

When kids come into my studio at the Abbotsford Convent, I often ask them which of my paintings they like best. Over and over again, they point to the deer. I ask why but no-one ever quite knows – something about the cuteness of the big eyes and head, toy-like spotted body seems to appeal. Anyway, if you are looking for a gift for someone aged ten or under, this could be it.

If you’d like it, it’s in my shop.