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UK: Unapologetic


Scheming Scoundrels: 23 Hope Street

Time And Time And Time Again They Only Croak About The Weather


There are tons of gargoyle-like cornices on massive buildings everywhere. I imagine the financial and banking leadership sitting around and brainstorming all the ways in which they can screw the population out of one more penny, or farthing, to pad their own pockets or fill up their pots of gold. Here the devil schemes with the dragons that seem to be holding up a huge bank and trust building. This building really is on a street named Hope Street. But I added the devil in the middle as the key stone and changed the number to 23. The 23 enigma is a belief in the significance of the number 23. The symbolisms range from the number of chromosomes in human sex cells, to the length of the Arecibo message that was sent to space in search of extraterrestrial intelligence, to the 23 degree tilt of the earth’s axis, to the Bible’s famous Psalm 23 - The Shepherd’s psalm to fear no evil, to the number of times Julius Caesar was stabbed in the Theater of Pompey, to 23 being the sacred number of Eris - the goddess of discord. It’s ominous, nefarious and underhandedly conniving. And the devil overarches it all. It’s also the number of drawings in this series! The question I wondering was…Hope for what? 

Beautiful clocks populate the old towns. It’s almost an obsession. Big stone building… well, it must have a gargoyle and a huge clock. These three particular clocks were all on the same street together. These folks really want to know what time it is. The weather vane on top of the castle was hilarious because all the clock hands seemed to point directly at it. And the conversations I heard on the street were all about the weather… will it rain, how long will the rain last, when will the sun come out, blah blah blah. The first comment people make after saying hello is, “How ‘bout that weather today, eh?” I felt like this statue with the frog coming out of its mouth just going crazy listening to how mundane the topic was. The letters on the ground stand for the months of the year because this weather conversation keeps going on all year long. Blah blah croak croak. I was also particularly attuned to the English language. Just before traveling in the UK, I was in Greece where I didn’t understand anything, nor could I read the language. I had headaches daily from hearing the indecipherable conversations all around me on the streets. Once getting back into an English speaking country I thought I would be happy to be in the land of my mother tongue. Instead, I realized that there is not much of substance to hear so it didn’t matter what language it was being said in.

It goes without saying the the British are obsessed with their tea. It’s almost sacrilegious to be disrespectful to the venerable tea. Here the tea bag wrapper is positioned in a place of honor. This particular frame is borrowed from the Virgin of the Rocks painting by Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most revered artists of all time, painting one of the most famous divine subject of all time, which is hanging in the British Museum of Art. My design concept included putting the tea plants in the wall paper damask pattern on the wall behind the painting. This type of wallpaper was in just about every apartment I rented during my stay in the UK. When I went back through my photos from the museum I couldn’t believe that there was already plant patterned damask wallpaper there, behind this very painting, nevertheless I made a slightly different design for the wallpaper pattern. Taking the most famous artist, and placing the most elaborate frame from the most sacred of subjects and inserting the most favored beverage and giving it a royal crown…well, it was so much fun to combine all of these elements




Neighing Neighbors

Keep Moving

Attitude is everything in these two kinds of guards. The British statues on the Helmsley Castle side are ready for action, working together, maybe even goading each other or bantering about which one of them is the better fighter. They have camaraderie. The Welsh guard of Conwy Castle is bored out of his mind. Sitting there all alone, half asleep, waiting for his interminable shift to end. An attacker would have no difficulty with this guy. The setting is on either side of Hadrian’s Wall. Which is also pretty interesting since the Roman’s built that wall in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason. It was unnecessary to guard this northern frontier land, and they finally gave up and left. No, Hadrian’s Wall is not near Wales, it runs between Scotland and England, it’s meant to be purely symbolic. If the wall weren’t there, nothing would change; if none of these guards were posted, nothing would change.


If I am having a tea or coffee with a friend and we’re really connecting conversationally and we’ve had our fill of tea and cakes, I want to keep it going, maintain the connection and continue doing something out and about. This graffiti was written outside the window of an apartment I rented in Inverness, Scotland. In a location where the weather is gloomy a lot, I appreciated this motivation to not just hunker down inside, but to get up, get out and live. Or as my husband used to say, to “Arise, go forth, and conquer.” The green color was chosen for spring time and a fresh new world to explore.

Needless-to-say there are plenty of statues around the UK — kings, commanders, leaders, gargoyles, lions, and a horse or two here and there, well two of them are here. This is the opposite of Keep Moving. This is, in my mind, a stagnant scene. The negative, gossipy conversation will never move anywhere, the neighbors are stuck in their positions, literally and figuratively, and they can’t even enjoy their tea and cake time on their front stoop. It’s all about complain, complain, complain. It’s old and heavy and there is no substance to them. The green was chosen here for it’s connection to envy and jealousy.




Lofty A-spire-ations OR Looming Con-Spire-acy

Sheepishly Eyeing A Knit Sweater


I saw these two particular owls while out and about. They were being handled by volunteers of a local owl sanctuary. They are beautiful and stunning and oh so very wise looking. I thought they would work well on the goofy gargoyles I encountered on a wall in York.


So many towers, steeples, and crosses oversee the rooftops. Everywhere, even in small towns, some sort of monument stands above all the rest. One way to think about their presences is to see them as something to look up to; some higher standard to a-spire to uphold morally, financially, physically. In which case this drawing could be named A-spire-ations. A more sinister way to perceive them is as something keeping a watchful eye over the people to keep them in check and to stop any kind of dissent from gaining even an inch of traction. The powers that be are in cahoots with each other, collaborating on all fronts to retain power over the ignorant, innocent, naive citizens just trying to make ends meet in their daily lives. Similar to the concepts in Scheming Scoundrels, but here the church and state snug up to their corporate counterparts in keeping the people down below them. 

I did actually purchase a beautiful Aran wool sweater while visiting this area. Made in Ireland? Made in Scotland? Was the sheep treated well? Was it sheered using traditional techniques? One can only guess that it lived a life free range like this pretty content guy in this drawing. Is this Fair Trade and Organic? I don’t know. It’s soft and warm and perfectly knitted and I love it.




Scottish Highlands Hairy Coo Coup

Right of Way/

Whose Way is Right

Upholding Tradition

(as best they can)

I visited the decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia docked in Edinburgh, Scotland. Admittedly, I thought it was impressive. I loved the history, the technology, the details, the royal family aspects, the tea room and so forth. It was huge and mighty. And then I forgot all about it and went on a trip to the Isle of Skye. While on the day tour, the Scottish guide starting railing on about the yacht. He hated everything it stood for; he hated that it was an eye sore in his beautiful country, he hated the imposing in-your-face symbolism it had for his fellow countrymen, he hated what it cost the taxpayers and vowed to never set foot and drop a single cent on visiting it. It made me think twice about the impact that boat had on the regular people. It really does cut a divisive line between the privileged elite and the resentful people. I created this scene with the regal yacht and it’s owner’s castle high up on the hill once again looking down on the work-a-day fishing villagers. All the while benefitting from their labors with luxury and authority. How gullible was I to think that everyone appreciated the Britannia the same way I did….it is, after all, voted the number one UK attraction.


These adorable, gentle hairy coos were so much fun to visit with and hand feed carrots to. They are docile and agreeable animals that look perfectly at home in their wild heathered, wind-swept, undeveloped environs. I imagined what the UK would be like if these animals ruled the country, decided policy, were international ambassadors; what if the Scots made the decisions and called the shots for the union? It would be a very different landscape. What if the world could be run by gentle, docile and agreeable people? That would be a very different landscape indeed.

Ildiwch i gerbydau sy”n dod atoch basically means ‘yield’ in Welsh: Give right of way to on-coming traffic. This scene has multiple layers of context. 1. again the gap between the royalty and the townspeople. The imposing castle dominating the village. This one being Castle Conwy in Wales which was built by Edward I between 1283 and 1287 during his conquest of Wales. The Welsh couldn’t have been too pleased with his domineering project. They had to give way to him. 2. the Welsh language is today alive and well, I didn’t understand anything as an English speaker. The Welsh have asserted their right to make rules and state them in their language so now the English give way to the Welsh. 3. this part of the castle is in ruins and has given way to nature, being overtaken by vines and shrubs. As a symbolism for living life, is what’s barreling toward us always right? Do we always have to accept the rapid pace of life? The impulse to have, be, do, buy more and more and more? Does that pressure have to constantly push us in a way that might not be right for us? Being cautious of what we are yielding to out of fear, apathy or habit, it’s food for thought. The laid back Welsh lifestyle could very well serve as a model.

London is watched over by a slew of dragons. Dragon statues guard the various roads into the city and the dragon is also found on the city’s coat of arms. Even beyond London, dragons can be found in smaller towns and castles throughout the UK. Dragons are rich in folklore and literature. They have many different symbolisms but generally represent independence. Here I use the dragon to represent The People. Those who are trying to hold everything together just a little bit longer by taking on the heavy weight of tradition, or business as usual. The stained glass widows are wobbly, rickety, and deteriorating. They represent the “establishment” as in the government, or the church proper. Or anything that could “lord” over the times. Beautiful in their day, perhaps put in place to solve a problem and at one point celebrated and satisfying. But for today’s world, they are struggling to stay relevant. Once these dragons realize it is no longer in their best interest to continue to uphold the old ways, they will see that all they need to do is fly away and what was once regal and grand and steadfast will crash down and cease to be a prominent force. 2024 is also the Year of the Dragon and much transition and change is predicted to take place, making this something of a roller coaster year of ups and downs and dramatic transformations.


On The Fence


Mind The Gap

Deeply Intertwined


This is the fence that blocks off Downing Street, London to prevent people from approaching number 10 Downing Street, the location where the Prime Minister lives, works and entertains ‘dignitaries’. I put 3 peacocks ‘on the fence’ (an expression meaning indecisively straddling two sides) so to speak, to stand for England, Scotland and Wales. Ireland is alone pecking outside of the protective/defensive fence. A Downing Street sign post is capped by the symbol for the British pound while the Ireland peacock is pecking at the Euro symbol by itself. Everything political and economic seems to be at a standstill. Not only is the gate closed to outsiders, but the Road Ahead is closed to insiders too and the Dead End sign seems to be the last waypoint before the road drops off the end of the earth. England, is at the end of the road. I think this drawing could be interpreted many different ways given the political satire of the day, of any given day really, or even any given century. There is deep seeded conflict with these folks. Makes me wonder which side of the fence the US$ is on. ’Tis tricky. No matter how much England flaunts it’s tail feathers in a show of dominance of wealth, power and pride, fewer and fewer entities are left who will even pay it any attention. Ironic, too, that the British appropriated peacocks from India and they were seen as an aristocratic status symbol. Times they are indeed a-changing.


The top roof portion of Mind The Gap is from the interior Great Court of the British Museum which is totally unexpected as you enter through the exterior classical Greek revival architecture with its massive ionic columns and intricate pediment depicting the “Progress of Civilization”— super humorous coming from the Brits who claim to be the most unapologetically civilized nation in the world. The lower portion of the drawing is from the interior of the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and its Gothic revival Nave Bridge (Dulverton Bridge). Both of these buildings demonstrate impressive architecture for sure. The British Museum is the largest museum in the UK, and one of the largest in the world. It got to be that way through a history of world dominance, colonialization, plunder, cultural appropriation and brutal trade practices. The British, over the centuries, have assumed ownership of nearly every object of value all over the world. It’s easy to get sucked into the largess of their position and collection. Similarly, the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is the largest cathedral in the UK. It didn’t get that big by accident. The church has also assumed ownership. Not so much ownership of stuff, although their is no shortage of gold and silver rattling around the church, but ownership of people’s souls. While in theory there is a distinction between the church and the state, often times throughout history they were in cahoots together to keep the people in line and under control. The church was excellent at generating fear, and the state rose up as the valiant defender, or persecutor depending on which side one happened to fall into during any given reign. It’s a scam and a trap. There is a huge gap between the story the people have been made to believe and the truths of life. I keep hearing over and over in my head the constant warning piped over the speakers in the tube trains to mind the gap between the train and the platform. Don’t fall into the gap, whatever you do, or you’ll surely get crushed. Equally as crucial is to not fall into the clutches of the church or the state. Keep ahold of your senses and be your own person, lest the piggy beast that this drawing morphs into will be eager to lure you into its gap to keep it fed and strong. Keep your wits about you and mind the places where gaps could be lurking.

The rose is the national flower of England, the thistle is the national flower of Scotland, and the daffodil is the national flower of Wales. These three countries make up the Isle of Great Britain. Their roots run deep. They’ve been intertwined even before they united over 300 years ago. The design for the roots is based on the woodwork from the Great Hall (built 1511) of the Edinburgh Castle which I found far more impressive than the weapons on display right underneath the carved panels


Nature Reflected

Do What Makes You Happy

A Frantic Race

to Help God Save the Queen

The Kelvingrove Museum (Glasgow) - This museum is a wonderful cornucopia of strange things. It’s part science/nature museum and part fine art museum with a huge organ in the center atrium offering a free concert during tea time. It’s a place to get lost in thought. Maybe that’s what this tree is doing…lost in its own reflection.


Near the place we rented in London was a fantastic statue of Spider Man climbing this fence outside a beautiful building. It’s whimsical and unexpected. In another location I found a statue of Icarus climbing to the sun and, on yet another wall, was Blue Man also trying to climb up to something, to some destination unknown. I transported them all to this scene grounded by the graffiti statement of God Save the Queen. Given that the queen had recently departed towards the heavens, I realize the futility of the challenge I assigned to these three characters.

This quote was on a temporary billboard art wall near my apartment in Glasgow. I designed the image based on wallpaper from that same Glasgow apartment and an iron door hinge from a local church door in the neighborhood. It made me happy to collage all these elements together.


Black Watch Tartan Tea with Sugar


Honky Cat 

Trying to Get Whiskey From a Bottle of Wine


Double Crossed

Black Watch is the name of this tartan pattern of overlapping stripes. Usually a clan will have its own distinct colors and patterns that it used for pants, kilts, bagpipes, blankets and other items. This particular color/pattern combination was adopted by the soldiers “on watch” in the Scottish Highlands beginning in the 1720s. The watch was composed initially of six different clan groups although more were added over the centuries. These watchmen were loyal to the king and part of the king’s service. It is said that the blue represents the sky and the green represents the land, both of which they have sworn to protect. Symbolically this tartan represents tradition and bravery. Tea first came to Britain as a luxury for royalty and aristocrats, started gaining in dominance in the 17th century, and is foundational to the rise of the British Empire seeing tea imports quadruple between 1720 - 1750 as it became adopted by the working class. So, the Black Watch defended the land and black tea expanded the empire. Tea and sugar also have a history “steeped” in tradition and bravery, so I combined them here with the tartan. Along with my Aran wool sweater, I also brought home a Black Watch tartan kilt and a huge box of York black tea.


Honky Cat is based on a concrete wall relief I saw in Liverpool. I immediately saw funky faces in the design. As I was looking over the photos of the wall I had Elton John’s Honky Cat song playing in my head. I realized he was indeed British, and a Sir to boot. While there is rich musical depth with many many famous pop stars (The Beatles, Sting, David Bowie, Adele, Phil Collins, Freddie Mercury/Queen, Sade, Rod Stewart, Annie Lennox, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton to name just a few!) I felt I could pay homage to the fun side of UK music culture. The adult beverage theme fits well in our travels because my son was discovering distilled spirits and taste testing Scotch/Whiskey every chance he got. I, however, stuck to wine, never whiskey. Wherever we went, we were invariably ordering whisky and wine. I can easily see Honky Cat tilting an empty bottle of wine into a classic Glencairn whiskey glass and being horrified that nothing is coming out…


As kindred spirit to Mind the Gap, Double Crossed pulls together two graphically simple elements with deceptively complex interpretations. First element is the modern roof structure from inside the western concourse of London’s Kings Cross Station. Originally constructed in 1852, it was refurbished in 2012 with a striking and prominent steel cross grid. As so often happens in city architecture, the new is merged in with the old. Such is the case here with this modern aesthetic installed right next to a classic traditional building— the 1860s Victorian Gothic St. Pancras Station. Another Victorian era Gothic site is the Necropolis Cemetery in Glasgow. It holds tombs, stones and crosses that easily date back to the mid 1800s. The second element is an old Celtic cross memorial from the Necropolis. While the Kings Cross Station marks the beginnings and ends of many goings and comings, the Celtic Cross marks the eternal journey of our souls and our eventual crossing overs. Cross can also mean to be angry or irritable. It can also mean to come in contact with or cross paths with someone. It also has roots in sailing where winds could deliver cross currents thus preventing a ship from sailing anywhere. A double cross came about in the mid 1800s to refer to a scam, treason, betrayal or cheat by someone you thought you could trust. This drawing is about multiple levels of comparing and contrasting: the old with the new, the everyday and the eternal, trust and betrayal, intricate interplays of personal life and public life in politics, business and spirituality. In the end, no matter what, the cross will win out.


Out To Pasture

Finally, the series ends with a haunting image of a UK phone booth in an empty field. These red phone boxes (this version is known as the K6) were once ubiquitous in the UK and its colonies with over 100,000 in service at its peak. They used to be how everyone communicated— there were pay phones inside. Drop in a coin and make a call for 2 or 3 minutes. Clearly, with the advent of mobile cell phones, the new ubiquitous technology, there is no more need for a K6 on every street corner. Some have found a new purpose. I saw an old K6 converted into a defibrillator station and emergency heart health responder box. Others have been repurposed into hot dog vending machines, coffee stands, a free book exchange, repainted into art exhibits, and one K6 on the British Virgin Islands was transformed into a beach shower. While 20,000 K6s still exist, the majority have been decommissioned, or sent out to pasture— retiring after having seen better days, no longer useful. Part of me wonders if the UK itself is heading towards the same fate as the K6. They are no longer the financial bulldog of yesteryear. Their demographics are in decline, their economy is in recession, their politics are chaotic. If they can’t repurpose themselves, set up a new framework for relating to the rest of the world, will they end up being irrelevant, too— just a shadow of a once mighty and integral part of the world? The trees indicate this is their winter season of decline, but the blooms on the shrub seem to invite a new spring. We’ll see. After all, anything is possible for a place where, technically, the sun never sets. Maybe this is the hope that is alluded to in the first drawing, Scheming Scoundrels: 23 Hope Street. A hope that it’s time for the old ways to die and for better ways to lead the future. In the lyrics of another quintessentially British band, The Kinks, from their 1981 release Better Things:

Here's wishing you the bluest sky
And hoping something better comes tomorrow
Hoping all the verses rhyme
And the very best of choruses, too
Follow all the doubt and sadness
I know that better things are on the way

Here's hoping all the days ahead
Won't be as bitter as the ones behind you
Be an optimist instead
And somehow happiness will find you
Forget what happened yesterday
I know that better things are on the way

UK: Unapologetic


Outside Helmsley Castle

In the Spring of 2023 I spent six weeks traveling around Great Britain with my college-age son. We navigated around with trains and buses from London, York, Edinburgh, Inverness, Isle of Skye, Glasgow, Conwy, Liverpool, Bath and back to London with side trips and plenty of excursions and adventures. We stayed in a combination of hotels, hostels and apartment rentals. We saw castles, cathedrals, archeological digs, museums, concerts, and plenty of restaurants and cafes. We happened to be there during coronation season where the entire nation came together to say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II and witness the anointing of her eldest son as the new King Charles III. Many places were amok with coronation fever, pomp and circumstance. In spite of the festivities, the UK is certainly knee deep in politics and controversies of all sorts— strikes, Brexit, protestors, scandals and such. Yet there was still a sense of national pride, dominance and grandeur.

An attitude of strength and superiority permeates the United Kingdom. There’s a deep sense of satisfaction that they were the ones who wrote history, everyone’s history, on their own terms, for their own purposes. This is witnessed all over the world through colonialism, idealogical superiority, cultural snobbishness, and financial power. Britain, Scotland and Wales all seem to carry remnants of this history in their bones. The folks are living proof of the confidence and backing that being a British citizen is really a fortunate thing. They are unapologetic about who they are, hence the title of this series. They really believe that they are really terrific. They are like the eldest male child of a traditional family who was raised to know that he is fabulous and will inherit the family fortune all in due time. While the younger siblings are just pushed around to accommodate his fancies or are ignored altogether. The world is all there for his taking and he will never apologize for happening to be born first.


These drawings play around with the unapologetic attitude of the United Kingdom. The subjects interact with each other in a conversation of sorts. Characters talk to each other, scheme together, complain together, ignore each other, and make satiric statements. Some designs might seem a bit odd or off kilter and warped, but that’s the character of the Brits. They are an odd, unapologetic, conversational lot. Not every drawing is intended to be suitable as wall decor. Instead, they are simply expressions of ideas, my thoughts and impressions reflecting my visit.

All drawings are done on 9x12 lightweight drawing paper using pen and colored pencils.

They are available for purchase as prints. 

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