MV Independence Island and MV Christmas Island

Here is the fleet is being readied for Wirral Open Studio Tour at the Williamson Gallery. The smaller cargo vessel is ‘Independence Island’ and her larger sister ship is ‘Christmas Island’. Both are not based on real vessels in whole, although take inspiration from real vessels.

Construction is a combination of laminated cereal packet cardboard, thin brown cardboard, PVA glue, cocktail sticks, kebab skewers, art straws, matchsticks, poster paint and tip-ex. Both date back to 2008 and have been rebuilt and modified since. Construction is such that they would not really be suitable for actual sailing, however their building and modification has provided a great deal of learning experience.

Whilst these little creations are nowhere near the standard of the fabulous models exhibited in the Williamson, it is intended to display them in small dioramas and to have at least one vessel being worked on.



At the beginning of April I picked up a nice bound notebook with lined paper and started some ‘fun with cars’ scribbles.

The subjects are pretty much whatever talks my fancy, although Wheeler Dealer episodes also help with the inspiration.

This post is work in progress; so expect a few more here shortly.




Part 2 The Awkward (and ongoing) Question

Having some free time after Wirral Open Studio Tour meant a revisit my penguin characters for the EU referendum. A previous penguin outing being the story “It’s a penguin trick”; which dated from the time of the Conservative-Liberal coalition. The penguin characters do me favours as my likenesses of politicians etc. are hit or mostly miss. So I found plenty of penguin source images, some David Cameron source images and got to work with the notes and initial pencil scribbles.

June 19th 2016

The cartoon (below) could be possibly interpreted either way in terms of leave/remain; however my aim being to be as neutral as possible in terms of ‘the actual question’ bias. The reasons being that I didn’t want to influence people around me one way or the other. Generally I was quiet on the matter, because I believed from what I could tell near the end, it was finely balanced decision. Almost everyone will disagree this I’m sure.

This was in contrast to a lot of posting and re-posting on social media of very strong opinions (both sides) telling me what I/we should be thinking. Much of this I found particularly patronising and there seemed to be a lot of unchecked facts. But hey if lots of people re-post it, it must be true??

Yes, if you want to shout loudly, please do.. but leave me alone!

What I wanted to explore the reasons and the nature of the referendum. Early in the cartoon I established the penguins in an election night studio (hijacked from a well known high street store ..) , the right place to try and explain the referendum. Part of me couldn’t see the point of the referendum, especially the way it was presented by ‘the remain ‘camp’ and those who created the legislation to bring the referendum to existence.

My point being what was the point of even asking the question, IF there was only one sensible answer. If, as the party, asking, commissioning the referendum, you believe so strongly that leave is wrong why even ask the question?

As put by Italian PM Matteo Renzi(3) ; –

“The problem was one problem,”

“When David Cameron decided to use a referendum to solve some internal problems of the Conservative Party, this was the problem."

“We cannot use foreign affairs to solve internal problems.”

So very cynical reasons being the starting point, the referendum creations being rooted in age-old internal Euro-sceptic Conservative politics. At the last General election (4), there was closely related issue of stopping the Conservative vote leaching away to UKIP which would have denied David Cameron an absolute majority to be free from the Conservative-Liberal coalition.

Spring, David Cameron’s renegotiation of EU membership for Britain (5), then after this the prospect of referendum. The question itself being an apparently simple Leave or Remain in the EU.. very binary, very final.

No third, fourth option. As I saw it in the cartoon one option a drastic withdrawal from the EU, the other a ratification of the above deal and a big tick to the EU. One had big, unknown consequences, the other appeared to change very little.

The UK would remain as a slightly awkward, not completely committed member of the UK. A part that didn’t want to take the Euro currency, effectively wanted special treatment and threatened to leave when it didn’t get it’s way. One that was at odds with closer political integration. Even the Thatcher era project of digging a 31 mile tunnel under the tunnel hadn’t closed the gap of the channel up.

What’s was for sure was that the remain camp, who’s leader asked, prompted the question, believed there was only one answer…


As the cartoon shows, this was my feeling; why are you asking me this question? If you really believe leaving the EU could lead to all out war… why be the leader to bring that option to the referendum?

This piece being Biro over pencil lines for speed of drafting. The pencil lines are removed by rubber giving a cleaner appearance.

I also touched on Nigel Farage’s controversial poster ‘Breaking Point’. I felt this was potentially a big own goal. I didn’t and still don’t believe immigration is quite the problem it is portrayed as, both in quantity or type of problem. However, that isn’t a headline maker.

Concluding, my likenesses of David Cameron aren’t very good and we have the wrong referendum, at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. The end result of events set in motion by the 2015 General election having massive implications for the future.

But hopefully we did have a thought provoking cartoon for the week before the event..

(3) Italian PM Matteo Renzi chastises David Cameron over Brexit vote

(4) United Kingdom general election, 2015,_2015

(5) UK Renegotiation of EU membership, 2016,_2016

Part 1 – The awful (and ongoing) portmanteau ‘Brexit’

Satire, especially cartoons around UK EU referendum (1) looked too good to miss back before June 23rd 2016. As 2017 rolls closer the topic is routinely still in the headlines.

Early 2016 saw the awful portmanteau ‘Brexit’, not alone (2) in thinking it sounded like something to do with breakfast, I managed to produce the first of three pieces of work relating to the referendum. Admittly they probably rank among the poorest offerings of satire out there, but they did at least give me some practice.

Describing them here, in hindsight, alongside some of my observations and opinions of the referendum. By the end of campaigning, many more things came to mind, many of them not positive at all .. at least a few I’ll cover in Part 2, 3 …

May 30th 2016


A half day’s pen and water-colouring produced my first cartoon depicting ‘Brexit’. It came straight from the ‘Brexit’ depicting a kind of Breakfast bar in a style of a lion-related bar. Boris Johnson seemed the best character to replace the centre piece on the bar’s wrapper. Mostly because of his wild mane-like hair.

(1) United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016,_2016

(2) Is ‘Brexit’ the Worst Political Portmanteau in History?

Spring Days in London

1 Vauxhall Bridge


After jogging from Tooting to Clapham Junction for brunch and then wandering on through Battersea, Lambeth to Vauxhall, we sat to sketch beside the Thames.

In foreground is the Thames river side path (South Bank), beyond that is the river shore. There were a few people on this muddy/sandy shore. In the river is the yellow duck bus/boat which runs from next to the Vauxhall headquarters of MI6. Looking upstream there’s the Vauxhall bridge, beyond that the Vauxhall Tower (St George Wharf Tower) and the ubiquitous cranes of a London constantly under construction.

So for our sunny (slightly overcast) lunchtime sketch I used a selection of waterproof and water soluble pens, a brush pen (handy) and a limited palette of raw umber, burnt sienna neutral tent and cerulean blue.

2 Primrose Hill


After wandering through Camden Market and along the Regent’s Canal we ended up spending part of the afternoon on Primrose Hill.

For this piece my palette is limited to the soluble pen ink, neutral tint and cerulean blue. The trees around Primrose Hill weren’t yet properly in leaf, so I was particularly interested in depicting the large regency houses ‘peaking’ through the trees. The skyline was an added bonus.

Also during the afternoon we watched the sky turn from a sunny day to darkening for showers and then rain.



The promenade and marshes at Parkgate on the Wirral are a favourite subject of mine. Here is a finished piece worked up from a sketch of the town behind the marsh grasses in the foreground. I’ve used pen and washes of neutral tint watercolour to produce this piece for the Two Rivers Group exhibition at Ness Gardens in 2015.

The Scribble


Here is original scribble from my scribble journal (notice the ring binding across the base of the picture).