Tove Jansson

Last November we went to the exhibition of Tove Jansson’s paintings and graphic work at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

I’ve attempted to draw her portrait from a photograph online.


I intend to have another attempt before too long.


Alice Hawkins, Leicester suffragette

A couple of weeks ago, I went to an entertaining and informative talk in a local library. Peter Barratt was talking about his great-grandmother, Alice Hawkins, a woman born into an ordinary working family in 1863.

She left school at thirteen, working as a shoe machinist in Leicester. Her sense of injustice was aroused when she realised that women were paid far less than men, and this set her on the road to trade union activism. The Unions were much more concerned with the pay and conditions of male breadwinners and she became disillusioned.

In 1907 she took part in a demonstration and march in London organised by the WSPU. Votes for Women! She was arrested and spent seven days in prison.   In 1908 she spoke at a mass rally in Hyde Park.  In all she was jailed five times.

Her activism was supported by her husband Alfred, with whom she had six children. A busy woman, she gave speeches around the East Midlands,  raising support for the cause.  She died in 1946 at the age of 83.

For more about Alice, read this . There is also a book by Dr Richard Whitmore of Leicester, Alice Hawkins and the Suffragette Movement in Edwardian Leicester.

Here is my version of Alice:


Alfred the Great

No burnt cakes here. I started drawing kings and queens about a year ago, from a reference book. My motive was not any love for royalty or the institution, but simply to try to learn the names and dates, which I never bothered to do before, although I did ‘A’ level history long ago. Inability to answer quiz questions was a much stronger motivation than exams.

I’d done all the ones from William the Conqueror onwards, but none of the earlier ones.

This was a fairly quick copy of a photograph of his statue in Wantage.



Pablo Neruda

When we were in Chile last August-September we visited Neruda’s house in Santiago, la Chascona. A fascinating place, with stairways and gardens and collections of objects that appealed to him.

He was also a diplomat and politician.  The name was originally a pen name, derived from Jan Neruda, the Czech poet.  He was an advisor to Salvador Allende, and won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1971.

We saw another of his houses in Valparaíso, la Sebastiana – he certainly knew how to live!

I haven’t read much of his work. It’s on the to-do list, with a lot of other things.