Monday, 24 September 2012

Another lovely musical recital - Matisse's Dancers sprang to mind...

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Here’s to courage, strength and hope.
Here’s to love, embracing the faltering in warm arms
And never letting go.
Nothing but the here and nowness of you matters;
Tides persist, skies heave and sway and the damp earth nurtures.
Still, the smell of you feeds me, my soul’s small self.
I cannot breathe with joy!
Here’s to everyday miracles.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The next issue of Okido is all about LONDON.
Here's the poem I wrote for it, illustrated by the very talented Maggie Li

Monday, 2 July 2012

photo curtesy of my cousin Kate, who noticed it recently and took a snap

Here's another commission from a very musical client!

I've been a slack and lacklustre blogger recently - too much work on and many parental duties as the end of the school year approaches...

Submitted the first draft of my Postman Pat script, sub-editing and proofing the next Okido - a corker: all about LONDON..

Talking of London, here's a little reminder of Alex Barrow's gorgeous illustrations  

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Jinty's Birthday!
Did a couple of new invitations..and have been writing a script for the very special Mr Postman Pat.
Roaring with laughter at his delightfully deft and genuinely hilarious adventures...My episode is called The Moving Tree...look out for it in 2013..!

Postman Pat!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Telegraph article on My Head-to-Toe Body Book by OKIDO
Here's a great article in today's Daily Telegraph magazine all about the new OKIDO Head-to-Toe Body Book. Lots about Okido magazine; Sophie Dauvois' words are both articulate and resonant. 

Spot-on bit of writing by Lorna Bradbury, who had road-tested the book on her kids (aged 4 and 7 years). I sense the time is coming soon when we'll all be seeing a lot more of OKIDO. I'm speaking cryptically and my fingers remain firmly crossed...just watch this space for the next installment.

THE NEW OKIDO MAGAZINE IS OUT! This is issue 20 and it's all about MUSIC...
I've written The Riverside Band, beautifully illistrated by Alex Barrows and set to music by the wonderful Severed Limb! Listen to it here by clicking on the song:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

sketch of turquoise boots
Boots by designer meher kakalia. They have sheepskin insoles and are lined with scarlett leather; the zips are royal blue.

Monday, 16 April 2012

I have to admit to feeling far more excited/thrilled/moved upon entering this small-but-crammed sweet shop in Brighton on Saturday, than walking around the Damien Hirst exhibition this afternoon at the Tate.

 Cyber Candy art you can eat - and as a consequence, far more satisfying.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

I've just discovered the charity Fine Cell Work which:
 "trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework undertaken in the long hours spent in their cells to foster hope, discipline and self esteem. This helps them to connect to society and to leave prison with the confidence and financial means to stop offending."

Several years ago, I worked as a volunteer in "B" Prison Visitors' Centre, via another charity called PACT  - the Prison Advice and Care Trust. While I was there, I also attended a couple of art classes within the prison, run by a rather wonderful and enlightened teacher. 

And having now discovered the calm industry and satisfaction of cross-stitching (see my step-by-step tapestry developing!) the very real and practical benefits of these quiet disciplines are clear. Following a pattern brings with it a kind of security; it forces a focus that leaves little room for other thoughts as you become totally "in the moment". But you're also creating something tangable and real and lovely.

My mother, looking pensive

Which confirms yet again, the place that art, in all its shapes and forms, has within all parts of society; not simply as something that can be beautiful or evokative or thought-prevoking, but something that is absolutely necessary if we are to survive and thrive. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Green shoe

Easter arrangement
Remarkable Orchids
We went to my parents-in-law for Easter; dreary weather but wonderful, restful time. Beautiful garden bursting into new life; blossoms and buds and blooms. The scents of Springtime emerging at last...
Swan and blossom

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

One of my favorite children's books; each time I read it I can hardly speak by the time I get to the end. This animation is narrated by the author, the late and very great Shel Silverstein.

Another beautiful day that begins chill and grows into glorious blue. Our little magnolia is gorgeous but some of the trees I see along the streets are really magnificent and positively fat with fist-sized blossoms!

Friday, 23 March 2012

 ..and what if there's a slug on the other side..?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Reading a book called LOB to youngest. Magical; simple, poetic and beautiful book that also tackles a difficult issue with tender and gentle understanding.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Have done a little more stitching - it calms me and is deeply satisfying - I would recommend it to anyone who can count and wants to "stop" while still doing something. Like a good book I'm sort of in a hurry to finish it - but I also already feel the saddness of completion..
But there is still a long way to go - all that white you see and more to fill...
This is indeed soul food

Now a little snip of music to herald the Spring ...this is kids two and three dancing to Elephant Gun about four years ago.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Have been listening to this for a while - something really quite mesmerisingly dramatic about it.

The weekend was full of gardening; digging and planting in a new garden for the kids' school - and on Sunday morning, radically pruning our own, very small and shambolic garden. Satisfying work. A cup of tea after a few hours of gardening is about as good as it gets.

What a cool mist there was this morning and now such beautiful sunshine...Spring surely on its way?

Recently, encouraged by a friend, I've been mulling with the idea of serialising a story I'm writing here on the blog. I have many reservations about doing this. The main one being that once I start I shall have to continue and if it's dreadful I'll become more and more exposed...But perhaps you just have to be brave and go for it.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Loathsomely dreary day. A tv and hot tea day. A day to take to one's bed and read. Currently 3/4 way through The Corrections, by Jonathen Franzen. Such an astonishing ability to communicate the inner lives of his characters. And so funny and often ghastly are these lives (as of course are ours) and so almost alarmingly fearless his writing.
That's why I'm also such a great fan of Edward Gorey (see photo).
I believe he was as extraordinary as his books...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

This is an old Morcheeba song but I've just seen this sweet animation that goes with it...

Went to Tate Britain on Friday night to see the Picasso. Insightful comments heard such as: "You've gotta admit, he's got a cool signature" and "Well, you could say he's worth an exhibition but I don't like that one..."
He was just so massive, so non-stop, such a force; and again, this compulsion to create. He just did what he had to do, and out it all came and kept coming...and to have that self-belief. Felt very mortal in too-tight shoes. We were accosted later, walking along the pavement (feet in agony at this stage) by a rather tragic young man going off to a club who told us his life story. He was 24 and had had botox 6 times (and "I still look like sh**" he said, sadly) It was fittingly, surreally, Picasso's evening.
Girl in a chemise by Picasso

Friday, 2 March 2012

Red shoe 2 by Gabby
But for some really tiny people, this is great: The Little People Project

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The new OKIDO Body Book (I have two poems in it - here's a bit of FEELINGS below...)
Out April 16th 2012

FEELINGS p.2 by Gabby, illustrations by Alex

Check out Alex's blogspot for more info...
Today's song: Grateful Dead - Unbroken Chain

"Fogiveness is the key to every door"

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Yayoi Kusama exhibition at TateModern
We went to this at the weekend with the middle and youngest. Youngest volunteered to be covered in stickers, a request enthusiastically fulfilled by middle one (although I have to confess to some shamefully conrolling stage-management ..) All very strange and strangely moving. It was art as self-medication, really, by someone obsessively driven to self-express via a whole range of OCD-friendly art forms. But I found it very interesting for all that, and some of it very beautiful indeed. The light installation at the end was mesmerising; sausage furniture not so. Large net paintings exquisite. Youngest really enjoyed it all; middle raced round and went in search of the cafe...Made me think that doing something methodical, repetitive and concentrated was indeed a good balm for the mind (cf tapestry enthusiasm).
Go to Tate  for details...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

King Creosote and Jon Hopkins - BUBBLE...

 ...and a bumble. Because the colouring seemed right. And becasue so many people like them. Mid-week dipping..

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Wildflowers from a London park in winter
No iron Pride
But soft Humility
& rich veined Hope
Cleft from a
sunny slope.

(from "A Bell" by Clinton Scollard)

This fragment of a poem was on a hand-printed Christmas card from some dear friends. It sits in our kitchen and is read from time to time as a gentle reminder. It seemed right to post it today.

Monday, 20 February 2012

LOVE tapestry

I've only done a little more on the tapestry - it's been half term. I also spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to "embed" music in the images on this site. I just CAN'T do it - my brain simply doesn't get it - can't process the jargon. I was listening to a programme on the radio this morning talking about the "beautiful symetry of equations" - and I DO get that. (I'd also like to add how wonderfully neat and perfect the 9 times table is.)

Thought for the Day: Never send the cakes in first...I believe we've all experienced this at some point in our lives.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Holocene by Bon Iver

HOLOCENE (from the Greek, meaning "entirely recent") by Bon Iver

PS I had forgotten to mention that I bought the Emily Peacock LOVE tapestry kit 4 years ago but I couldn't get my head around it all. Inspired by the utterly fabulous Grayson Perry exhibition at the British Museum, and the purchase of a small Alan Measles tapestry which I hoped would set me on my way (it did) and a firm New Years resolution, I've overcome my fear. And I'm now addicted. And btw, Emily Peacock has been brilliant at answering my emailed questions; her enthusiasm is infectious. 

Friday, 17 February 2012

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him...
Needlwork by Kate.
Words by Oscar Goldman (in character)
Tune of the Day...
Postcards from Italy by Beirut

...and a bit more work on the tapestry.
Once this is finished I'll be designing my own one. Ha-haa!
Noticed that Gavin Turk is doing it..

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Girl with a cat

Girl with a cat
This picture is a mystery. It had been dumped outside a semi-crackhouse on our street (about 5 years ago) and after walking past it a couple of times, I rescued it. There is something Scandanavian and '70s about it - I wish I had some idea of its old art school study..?

Friday, 10 February 2012

LOVE this so much I'm posting it again...

See it -
It's a life-affirming, inspirational and beautiful film.
I'm adding to the earlier post as I don't think I made enough fuss of it before. If you can see it please do - it's magical and extraordinary.

"Back past the pub across the street,
the dog on wheels, the boy on feet"
llustration by Alex Barrow from A Possum's Tail by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow

"What place is best
For a bird to take rest?
A nest in a tree
Is the best place to be..."
(Fragment from HABITATS) 

Friday before half term

Snow outside, battle with oldest about going to school "It's snowing, do I have to go? Come on. Oh you're SO mean, I thought you were nice I can't believe it no one else is going eurgh.." etc etc
It's not even that cold, he admitted as he set off.
Middle one driving me nuts as I receive all the facetime messages from his friends - phone in almost continuous state of bonging. And it's generally from bobajob saying smilyface symbol so not even anything interesting.
Youngest is just heartbreakingly adorable - but she's young. Soon she'll hate me too, soon...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Long neglected

Back again after about 2 years.
1. inspired by awesome film called Bombay Beach.
2. Battling with new story
3. Still waiting for news on next job...

BACKGROUND information...

My first picture book - called A Possum's Tail - is a collaboration with brilliant illustrator Alex Barrow and came out 6th February 2014. A second book called London Calls! is a whistle-stop tour of London, led by a Pearly grandma and her granddaughter. London Calls! came out on 4th September 2014 and is my second book with Alex Barrow. A Possum's Tail was nominated for the 2015 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.
Both books are by Tate Publishing.

Please see my CURRICULUM VITAE for more details & updates.

As well as writing children's books, for children's television and two award-winning children's magazines, I do both private and commercial art commissions, a selection of which you can see here.

The children's shoes are part of an ongoing series of "first shoes", including several cards commissioned by the Almanac Gallery.

Hand-drawn, bespoke invitations, announcements, portraits and menus, such as the examples here are also available upon request..

Any enquiries please email:


I've been a regular contributor to children's art and science magazine OKIDO since 2007. HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY (WOW) beautiful Okido!

An Okido animated kids tv show, based on characters from the magazine is currently in production with Doodle/Squintopera The original adaptation of the show (co-created/adapted by myself, producer Ceri Barnes and Doodle Productions) was acquired by CBeebies. 52 x 11 minute episodes will be coming to a screen near you soon in 2015.......... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............................
N E W S F L A S H! MESSY GOES TO OKIDO Series TWO is now in production, following a super-successful 52 episode first series!



Cartoon Forum 2011 Okido booklet

Cartoon Forum 2011 Okido booklet
Okido Cartoon Forum 2011

Happy Birthday OKIDO!

Happy Birthday OKIDO!
Okido was 5 years old this issue...the wonderful art and science magazine for kids I've been lucky enough to have worked on for the past - 8 - years now