Monday, November 29, 2010

impressionist style

so the module my painting course is now on, is Impressionism, some students liked the opaque painting, others hated it, I am ambivalent as I prefer a controlled build up, sort of , sometimes. heres what I did by way of play this beautiful blue snow shadowed morning during class ( from photies, its way to cold for Plein air ! )

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Doing a module with my painting students on Gouache and abstraction. Figure I have to do the exercises too rather than just looming over their shoulders at their work. Problem is I'm allergic to still lives, I think my art college experiences of them valuing frying pans and fruit over my fantastical and figurative leanings has put me off objects for life. I mean whats the point other than a technical exersise, what is interesting about looking at a bowl of fruit on the wall? no matter how beautifully rendered. But thats just me. So I took down to class some musical instruments and machinery. This is what I made of it. The first two were fun, but failed the opaque paint brief.
Next week we're into impressionistic style landscapes, much more my cup of tea....or rather sea, rock and cloudscape, no more crockery. Hurrah!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thought Bubble festival

We had heard many good things about Leeds Thought Bubble Festival and long wanted to go. As event organisers ourselves it’s good to have a nosey at the other comic events, to see what we could do better, differently, how they all fit into the UK comic event scene, and find ways that we can all work together. I certainly don’t view another event as competition, the UK comics industry needs all the promotion it can and I see us as all working on the same side, covering different genres, regions and demographics.

We usually can’t make this Leeds event, due to finances (none) and time (none), running Hi-Ex early spring means that by the winter months I am glued to the computer desperately trying to pull some funding, guests and exhibitors together. We have cancelled Hi-Ex 2011 to allow us time to catch up with our own projects and try to access funding in time for 2012. This has also meant we could change our routine and instead of travelling to the Big show at Birmingham in October to promote Hi-Ex, we could do Leeds, relax and enjoy the company of many great comic people instead.

Enjoy it we did! Its hard to describe events like this without shamelessly namedropping like mad. I love to get to spend time & get to know better people. I love meeting new inspiring people- always easier when I’m not trying to promote something. I love getting to put faces to names of social network contacts and talking to folks face to face. I love relaxing and laughing until I’m giddy with people on the same wavelength, talking art, talking storytelling, talking geek stuff, talking rubbish. Good times.

( Adi Granov and Tamsin, meeting the fans and sketching for charity )

( Sarah MacIntyre runs a packed children's activity corner )

( John Romita Jnr meets the fans )

Lisa the organiser and her team deserve many medals. Running our own convention we know only too well the brain frying utter exhausting months of graft, the frustration, the highs and lows. Yet Lisa always managed to remain charming, calm, helpful, attentive and radiant, all the time dealing with 73 things at once. Much kudos to her and all the others who worked so hard to bring this festival together.

( Boo Cook and Gemma )

Another lovely thing about Thought Bubble, was that I was instantly struck by the gender balance- this can only be healthy, the rest if the world seems to not have the same hang ups about comics as the UK ( and the USA? ). Comics are not just for kids, nor just for adults, not just for middle aged men who live with their mum- nor are they a Genre, but a medium, a medium which overlaps many others which normal non-geeks readily consume. Stories, pictures, words, art.

( Sasha is Time Bomb's booth babe )

(Tom as a clone trooper meets Darth Vader - with Dredd loitering behind )

 Comics are not just created by and for men. In Japan there is a comic for every taste, in France every household reads them, they are available on supermarket shelves. Wonderful then to see that Though Bubble reflected this balance, I can’t help but think that this was also down to the character of the organisers, does having women on the management team encourage women participants? or are things just shifting ?
During the Saturday convention there were also many small children and babies even which was wonderful to see.

( Ben and baby Dylan )

I ran a workshop on Sunday in the Leeds Art Gallery. There were Gormley and Moore statues in the entrance, Goldsworthy and Perry peices on the way to the ladies room- We forget living so remote, the impact that great artworks can have, I never thought of Leeds as an arts centre, but it certainly seemed that way this weekend.

( Rich and Dave, the ever popular Futurequake booth babes )

The workshop was on Eco-mini comics- We’ve taken a box of old comics, paper & cardboard down, add stables, hole puncher, string , scissors and glue and some great and groovy little comic books got created- the participants all assuring me that they’d got lots of ideas for books to make at home. Result! You see, a blank piece of paper can be too intimidating to a young person, the act of making their own books, out of rubbish takes away the pressure and it becomes fun, which of course stimulates creativity and imagination. Using collage, existing words and pictures can be a starting point- all on a subconscious level. Grown-ups would do well to remember the ‘fun’ word too, never mind creative blocks, start doodling and cutting up old magazines, see what happens, never mind what for, why, does it look good or is it art? PLAY.

( eco mini-comics workshop in progress )

Which is what I did this weekend- many many thanks to the many folks that accompanied us in all our fun and those that organised Thought Bubble. We’ll be back!  ( and so will Hi-Ex in 2012! )

( rollerskating, zombie, hotpant girls )

( one for the dads )

Friday, November 19, 2010

Artswap, art fair & Leeds here we come

another fun thing I heard about on twitter is, Artswap. heres a great way for artists to give & receive other artists work from all over the world. The date for posting was 17th November, mine went far far across the sea. I hope the person likes it! above is what they will get.

The Christmas Fair exhibition at New Lodge, Kelso, Strathcarron is nearly hung and looking great!

I'm pleased that folks like my stag painting & its getting hung up by the stove in the centre of the room. All I need is to sell it and that would keep us in potatoes and lentils for a wee whiley!

Next> we are off to Thought Bubble, the festival of sequential arts in Leeds. Its a comic festival with a one day convention on the Saturday. I'll be doing a workshop on teh Sunday which John Freeman kindly wrote about on his Blog here. It will be on 'eco mini comics', so thats wee books, with pictures and stories, handmade from rubbish. I shall be working on mine on the train down there tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to share pictures & stories from the weekend & will try not show off too much about all the fabulous comic people I'll be hanging with. > must dash! its a 5.30am start

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

a week in art

Tuesday, received my complimentary copy of Sci-Fi Art Now, edited by John Freeman very inspiring and exciting to be in such a fantastic big glossy book, alongside so many incredible top name artists. I got the USA version with gorgeous Steve Sampson artwork on the cover. I did a little dance.

A manic few days has left me no time to keep up with Blogging.
so there was the community Firework display on Friday 12th- Myself and some of the firefighters run this, so that involved days of lugging palettes in the rain followed by getting to light Ginormous fireworks on Friday night. Great feedback from people. success.

Saturday I headed through to the Inchmore Gallery Opening, this gallery is under new ownership. I had been so busy I'd got the dates wrong and needed to collect paintings from my lovely Framers -The Fussel's at Kishorn ( recommended ) days early- between collecting generators and floodlights for Bonfire night. I dropped into the Inchmore before the opening and left a selection of my new style paintings with Jane Inglis who was a whirlwind of activity. At the Opening that afternoon there was time to take in the lovely bright exhibition. There was a great atmosphere, very friendly and warm. Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie's new paintings were particularly stunning and hung to great effect. The gallery is open Tuesdays to Saturdays 10- 5. Do make the effort to go and see this lovely exhibition with some surprisingly affordable pieces.

sadly on the drive home I hit a small Hind ( female Deer )- luckily I was driving slower than usual as I was just enjoying sitting down. Unluckily the poor animal wasn't killed outright so I had to find a gamekeeper, it was pretty upsetting. I was also furious that no-one stopped to help or check I was okay, even the two vehicles that witnessed the accident. You have got to wonder what is wrong with people sometimes. My van isn't too badly damaged, nearly all fixed now. Except a deer shaped dent.

Sunday and Monday, painting like the wind for the next exhibition.

this canvas is 40cm x 40c,. acrylic. 'Tempest'

This one is 100cm x 80cm acrylic on canvas ' a Hard Winter '.
paint wet as I delivered it this Tuesday morning.
I have put in 18 paintings in all, in both traditional and 'squiggly' styles. also prints and cards.
The exhibition is:

The venue is Fantastic! owner interviewed, press releases sent. Next!

No days off scheduled for the foreseeable...go go GO!

Friday, November 12, 2010


This is a painting I did at the weekend based on photos I took at the STUC march & Rally 23rd October 2010 against proposed government cuts. Its about 44 x 34 cm acrylic on paper. It was a pretty exhausting process, as these are real people who I work with the pressure was on to capture the photo properly, to capture the mood- a moment in time.
When I usually paint firefighters they are done fairly anonymously, the uniform and job gives us a common purpose.In the eye of the spectator we become a symbol, something much bigger than the individual, defined by our role and responsibility to others and to each other.
 A fleeting moment in time can tell many stories. A camera can capture some of this, prehaps freezing a second that the eye missed. A frozen image also takes on its own romanticised idealism. a family picnic years later where we remember the laughter and forget the arguing and sandy sandwiches. I want to avoid Romanticising the fire fighting scenes I paint, painting reality- not weeping angels and big eyed puppies. However any captured image will become something different to each viewer, laying their own stories upon the subject. To paint an image removes it further from a photo, it takes time to draw out the colours, shapes, mood- it tells the viewer that this scene means something, they are obliged to take the time to work it out. Those artists who take everyday objects and place them in galleries are in a way doing the same thing, demanding that we look again with fresh eyes- its the artists job.
I never wanted to be an observer in life, always to participate fully, yet of course an artists role is to always observe- then capture, create, communicate. I was very proud to walk under that banner that day with those men ( and wonderful women just off camera ). I hope this painting gets a little of that. I hope the government backs down on its cut backs. I hope to do this job a while yet & be part of more special moments in time. Be part of something bigger than the individual.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Manon Art - mini-interview

When I first met Manon, she was sketching incredibly detailed gory and scary werewolves at a comic convention. I was intrigued that such gross images could come from such a beautiful and charming young woman- there is Clearly a lot more to this artist than meets the eye! Her recent work explores historical and mythological subjects close to my heart, as well as some cute horror and very lovely erotic mystical ladies. I asked Manon to tell me a little more about her work.

How do you describe your work?
It is a mixture of fantasy and realism. It fits into two areas really - traditional portraits, fine art and fantasy/horror illustration which is mainly painted digitally in photoshop or painter (if painter behaves!)

What or who helped/ or inspired you to become an artist ?

I can't remember my first inspiration since I actually started making marks and scribbling when very young.  For some reason i've always had the desire.  But when very young, cartoons would definitely make me then want to go and draw afterwards, and then later on, any classic fantasy movies like Sinbad or Jason and the Argonauts with the fantastic Ray Harryhousen monsters in them would get my imagination going.  I think they were responsible for my love of fantasy art and subjects.

Did you receive any formal art education? If so was it a good or bad experience?

Yes and no! I went through the usual GCSE's and A-Levels at school, but they were fairly restricted - how do you mark art? Since art is soo subjective and it all depends on who is looking at your work, it is not really a very reliable way of measuring someones 'talent' or skill sets.  I think all school based art should be classics and basics - leave the abstract art until you can paint from life first.  That is something they are tending to get wrong at art school.  I remember a student of illustration showing me his work and i asked if he had done any life drawing classes and he said there were none... on his ilustration course!!  I did a year's art foundation course which i did not find useful as they were not interested in what I wanted to paint - they wanted to produce more conceptual artists, they didn't seem to encompass all art areas and certainly they deemed my 'traditional' approach a bit dull.  For anyone wanting to get into fantasy art I would tell them to join as many life drawing classes as possible and draw from life as much as possible - the best fantasy art has a basis in classical drawing techniques and fundamental skills.

Do you make a living from your work? do you do other work if so what and how do you manage the different activities? 
I do, although it is not easy.  I have done two jobs at once in the past, but find it very hard to be inspired if i am doing a 'normal' job along side my creative work.  I tend to consider my portrait work as the 'bread and butter' work and the fantasy work as the thing I really love and want to do all the time.  Animal portraits are very easy, and therefore not particularly creative! 

What is your inspiration?
 I am inspired by old myths and legends - particularly feisty females or femme fatale's from ancient stories.  Any classic fairytale or parable is just aching to be drawn.  Beowulf is one which I hope to have a go at in the near future.  I also can't fail to mention my favourite horrible beasties like Werewolves and Vampires - favourite subjects of mine.  Artists who inspire me are MANY.  The Pre-Raphaelites including JW Waterhouse and Alma Tadema, Degas, Van Gogh, Mogdigliani, Gustav Klimt, Turner and SO many others.  

What are you working on now?

 A great project doing the cover for Murky Depths magazine, but I can't disclose the subject matter! I am also working on a book idea with Kev Crossley which is very exciting. 
Manon has also just told me that she is  " doing Q&A for imagineFX ! it Should be going into issue 66 - just doing two Q&A sessions in the magazine! :) - won't say what i'll be doing though... that would be telling! "

In an ideal world what work would you be doing?

Oooh, designing monsters/creatures for movies? I would love to be involved in that at some point - but I am doing what I want to be doing, I am very lucky. 

What is your biggest frustration as an artist?
Not enough time and somtimes not feeling the inspiration - which you have to work though regardless of what kind of thing you are painting. 
What is your biggest pleasure in art? What keeps you going?
My biggest pleasure is probably creating something which has surpassed all my previous efforts. Every now and then there will be a piece of work which I will always enjoy going back to.  Also when I see how happy my work makes people - I can't get away from how good that makes me feel. The other pleasure is getting an audible reaction to something really gross I've drawn.  Hugely satisfying!!  

Have you a preferred medium ? If so what is it and why?

This is a really tricky one!! For my fantasy work i think i prefer digital because it is sooo flexible and means i can do things fast which would otherwise take me a very long time in traditional media.  However, nothing quite beats getting the oil paints out and creating something full of energy on a huge canvas. 

What sort of hours do you work at your art?
Probably on average 8hrs a day - and that will often include weekends.  Some days I will do longer, and other day shorter - the joys of being self employed!!  I tend to work better later in the day than early though, so usually don't start my day till 9.30 or 10. 

What is your studio or working space like ?
At the moment its very small and just consists of me and my computer, and my canvas/oils set up is in a spare room in the house which is not ideal because I can't make a mess, but it does me fine for the moment. 

What else other than art is important in your life?
My friends and family and dancing!

Where can people see and buy your lovely work?
You can see my work on my website at and buy prints through it and make commissions - there are also links for other places you can view my art through my site. 

 Thankyou Manon!

Monday, November 08, 2010

mini interview with artist Lynn Bennett-MacKenzie

Artist Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie lives and works on her Croft in Gairloch with its wide open vistas and Sandy beaches, contrasting to the rocky inlets on my part of the North West of Scotland.
I first met Lynn at an artists networking event, back in the good old days when there was funding for the arts.
I was instantly struck by how unique and different her work was, bright and refreshing. While most of the other highland artists seem to concentrate on landscapes, textured, abstracted, primary colours on the east coast, browns and grays for the west, Lynn painted figures, lively joyous mermaids in a lovely loose impulsive style. We got to know each other better through serving on an arts committee and also through social networking, which is a real sanity saver for us creatives who live and work in isolation.

Through the strength and subject matter of her work, Lynn was invited to the Arts symposium in Russia this year. She was kind enough to extend the contact out to her artist friends- I jumped at the chance! and thus we travelled together to Tatarstan for a life changing adventure. See previous blogs for much more about this! It could have been a disaster, imagine all those artists egos clashing? But Lynn's patience and humour in a high pressured environment were magnificent! We west coast mothers just seemed to have the same approach to things. 

I asked Lynn a little about her work which is currently going from strength to strength-

How do you describe your work?

I would describe it as illustrative, emotive, narrative

Do you make a living from your work? do you do other work if so what &
how do you manage the different activities?

As with most artists, it is difficult to make a living from my work, but I supplement it with selling cards & prints, and also offer a picture framing service.  I manage to juggle both pretty well at the moment and one complements the other.

What is your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from many things.  The area in which I live is atmospheric, with legends and tales of the sea and woods.  Also, words, thoughts, people - anything can inspire a picture in my head, but not all ideas make it onto canvas or paper.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a few things, some watercolours, a pen & ink drawing and I have a couple of oil paintings in progress.  I am also working on a project with Shinod Akkara Parambil, an artist who I met online, and then in Russia at an art symposium.  We had discussed doing a joint show months ago,  and then after meeting in Russia decided turn the idea into reality.

In an ideal world what work would you be doing?

I would be working full-time as an artist and travelling to meet artists in other countries.  I would also like to do some sculpture at some point.

What is your biggest frustration as an artist?

I try not to dwell on frustration as it just gets me down, I try to look upon life as a series of lessons, and if something doesn't go the way I want, there is a reason for that and I will find another solution that may end up being better for me in the end!

What is your biggest pleasure in art?

When someone really "gets" my work because I don't always know myself where a work has come from.

Have you a preferred medium ? If so what is it & why?

I work in 3 mediums - oil, pen & ink, and watercolour, and it depends on my mood which is the favourite!  I have also recently begun using charcoal again and really enjoying that!

What or who helped/ or inspired you to become an artist ?

My art teacher Alex Young in Tain Royal Academy.  Up till then I had been discouraged from taking art at exam level, and then when I changed schools, he really encouraged me to take art  further and after 3yrs of school and doing a portfolio, I found myself at art school!

Did you receive any formal art education? If so was it a good or bad experience?

I did a 4 yr BA hons course - I enjoyed college but did struggle sometimes - one tutor in particular really knocked my confidence, but there was another, Frank Convery who really opened my mind to imaginative work.

What sort of hours do you work at your art?

I work full-time with art & framing, but there are times when it really takes over and I have to be in the studio to get the ideas down.

What is your studio space like ?

It is a converted loft space in my home - I am really lucky as it is well lit & north facing.  My only gripe is I would like more upright wall space so I can do some larger works!

What else other than art is important in your life?

My family, friends and keeping positive!

Where can people see of your work?

They can see it online at,,
 follow me at twitter - lynnbmackartist.

Physically at Bridge Cottage Gallery, Poolewe, Stepping Stones, Dundonnel, and Inchmore Gallery, Inverness.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


'Samhain' 44cm x 34cm mixed media on paper.
I think celebrating annual festivals is a good thing. I don't care exactly which date it falls on according to which calender, what religious, philosophical or political significance people ( or rulers & leaders ) put onto them. Its easy to sneer cynically and claim 'trick or treating ' is commercial and american, Christmas is all about coca cola Santa. But without any sort of festivities, traditions, dressing up, feasting and decorating where are we as a species? If you look into the roots of any annual bizarre folk customs, you will find their origins from the dawn of ancestral memory and has been nudged and tweaked by each era. Samhain is the Gaelic for Halloween these days, the more modern Guy Fawkes bonfires also have their origins in this ancient Celtic fire festivals ( and their equivalents across the world ). Summer becomes winter, the mother harvest goddess relinquishes power to the winter hag goddess. we remember the dead, the ancestors, we fear and respect the winter to come. The veil between the world of the dead & living quivers a little in the night. Give it what name or symbol you like, lets celebrate being here. How does that explain that painting ? any way you like.

Friday, November 05, 2010

End of the Harvest

Mixed media on paper, 44cm 34cm.
This has taken a week or so to do, it got more sombre and wintery as the days went on. It follows on from the pen drawings I did of autumnal woodland maidens previously, but no fox here, no wonder she looks sad. Have to get these to the framers - last week- to have them ready for 2 exhibitions this month. Painting ( 'wrestling with' ) another one tonight. Not sure what happens next, possibly back to the sea and boats, we'll just have to wait & see what comes out.
meanwhile theres a realistic/ representational painting itching to be done now, I wonder how that will come out after doing these swirly/fantasy/imaginative ones.

watch this space.... and don't forget you can order prints direct of my website with paypal now, please fund my need for lentils & chocolate.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Artist Shinod Akkara Parambil

Art should not exist in a vacuum, so while this blog serves the function of showing the world what art I'm doing, and also to talk about some of the things behind and around about this artists world- a major part of that world is of course other artists who inspire.

This is I hope the first of  I hope many blogs showcasing other creative people.   I had the privilege of meeting and working alongside Shinod Akkara Parambil at the Yelabuga Symposium in Russia this August. Shinod hails from Kerala in India.

He bought laughter and joy to the event with his infectious humour and wonderful philosophy. We had some brilliant and challenging debates and discussions, comparing our cultures and attitudes, there was no escaping Shinod's piercingly perceptive observations and questioning. Behind the clowning and fun is a deeply sensitive and passionate artist. In our spacious Yelabuga studio I worked next to Shinod, my watery layered blue canvases contrasting starkly with the opaque vivid red which Shinod painted in. 

The theme of the Symposium was 'Breath of the Epos', Shinod definitely bought a connection with Kerela into that room, he sings and dances while he paints, evoking the spirits, tradition, story, tradition and culture on the canvases. I was struck by the breadth and diversity of his portfolio. Shinod seems able to turn his hand to any style or medium.  He became quite a celebrity in Russia, with people looking out for him to pose for photos or  sign autographs. It was a fantastic opportunity for international peoples to come together and learn from each other. Shinod made a fantastic ambassador both for his own country, but also for an idealism in art we sometimes loose sight of in the cynical UK

I asked him some questions about his work;

How do you describe your work?
My work is based on 2 aspects one is my surroundings that I was brought up with and secondly the illustrations in the media I work for.

Do you make a living from your work? do you do other work if so what &
how do you manage the different activities?
Yes, I earn my living from the media I work for, also I find enough of time to spend for my paintings. All the spare time I kindle my creative and artistic mind to bring in innovations in my work.

What is your inspiration?
The day to day experiences in life that I encounter, happiness and sorrow in my life and the world around has been the best inspiration.

What are you working on now?
I am closely working with a Scotland artist Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie on a new project that we plan to exhibit here in India.

In an ideal world what work would you be doing?
I would be working as an artist with a message to the world focusing on unity and integrity.

What is your biggest frustration as an artist?
When some unprecedented incidents happen in the world that can harm humanity and living, causes frustration and they immediately reflect on my work.

What is your biggest pleasure in art?
Well ….When I sit back and look at my work that has gathered appreciation by the public, is the biggest pleasure I experience in art.

Have you a preferred medium? If so what is it & why?
I have worked on all sorts of painting but now I am concentrating on acrylics and illustration with the assistance of technology.

What or who helped/ or inspired you to become an artist?
The Famous artists like Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock have been my inspiration from the time I had started my career on arts.

Did you receive any formal art education? If so was it a good or bad experience?
I had done my 4 years diploma in fine arts; it was a good experience which had helped me to unveil my talents in an appropriate way.

What sort of hours do you work at your art?
There are no specific timings for my work on art, as and when I experience an urge to work I do so, may be even during the wee hours of the day.

What is your studio space like?
I have a studio room which is convenient, well ventilated and equipped with all things necessary for my work.

What else other than art is important in your life?
Family is also an integral part of my life, which inspires and motivates me to work on my creations as well.

Where can people see of your work?
My work can be seen on websites like
also in the form of illustrations in the The New Indian Express newspaper 

I was a genuine pleasure to meet Shinod and I look forward to opportunities in the future to meet again. Thankyou to him for taking the time out to answer my questions.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

STUC womens conference-Perth

I do not run about being busy for my own gratification. As an artist I would much rather be creating, painting pretty pictures & gazing at the sky- however, how can I do that when all about me is chaos & injustice?  I feel obliged and compelled to participate and play whatever small part I can to help. We can't all save the planet, but together, by helping each other and uniting - people have achieved amazing things throughout history.

We artists can be very isolated, starving away in our freelance garret, relying on social networking for a little human company and news. I first became distanced from trade union activities and politics 22 years ago when as a young homeless single mum I left the city to try & raise my kids safely. I felt being chained to a barricade wasn't a good place for babies.

Fast forward > I joined the local fire brigade because they needed people & I could do it. I became the union representative because my team needed support against a barrage of management mismanagement and things making it near impossible to do our job ( of saving lives ) effectively. Thus the circle is complete and I've been propelled back into politics and union activities.

1st & 2nd November is the STUC ( Scottish trade Union Council ) Womens conference, I attended the first day, to meet the other FBU ( Fire Brigades Union ) womens reps and see what the conference was all about. I'd never really got involved with the womens side of FBU activities before. I'm not a girlie girl, prefer the company of guys & can't stand talk about shopping and have found women to be rather competitive etc. Also when one has fought hard to be accepted as an equal in a mans world, why take oneself off to the side and make an issue of it?
On a Firefighting level, women Firefighters have specific issues that can best be tackled by a womens section in the union. eg. our fire kit is badly designed for womens bodies, we are likely to suffer 20% worse burns than our male counterparts. We have different health issues, different roles in our families, maternity issues etc etc etc. This STUC womens conference in Perth also highlighted for me the wider roles in society that women have and how the proposed government public sector cuts will have a devastating effect on our communities, and women in particular. We heard many wonderful speakers talk of their work, and personal experiences in all walks of life, the prison service, education, health, support work, libraries, public transport, fire service, as mothers, daughters, domestic managers, friends, sisters, colleagues. It was a revelation and rather emotional to be dropped into such a supportive environment, where was this female competitiveness I was expecting? instead a calm, warm, non-conditional accepting room full of hundreds of strong understanding women. Take the issue of domestic abuse for example, this is not an academic discussion, a quarter of the women in that room have experienced domestic abuse, and overcome it, and are now able to support and campaign for other women who need that support, both one to one and in legislation. This is one of the many reasons why its important that women are able to get together, unite and share in the fight against cuts which will rip through this country, effecting all workers, people who are unable to work, the poor, the vulnerable, why we must unite with international womens movements to protect those with less rights than us and learn from those who have overcome problems we face.

I'd like to rant on about the specific issues we discussed and passed motions on, women in the criminal justice system, human trafficking, the targeting of sexualized products on little girls etc etc But I've probably lost enough readers as it is, politics being the elephant in the room that it is - that is all, we can go back to shoe shopping and farmville now.