16 December 2013

Presenting my personal practice to MA students

Following an invitation from Cinzia Cremona, which I was very pleased to accept, I spent a very enjoyable Saturday this week working at the Minories, Colchester School of Art delivering a presentation and workshops to a welcoming group of students on the MA Contemporary Art and Professional Practice.

I delivered a presentation detailing my personal creative and educational practices and I was inspired and challenged by the questions posed to me, during and following my presentation, by both students and course lecturers.  It is always a great educational session when I also leave with additional ideas and thoughts to those I had had prior to arrival!

Following my presentation, I invited the students to engage in an extended discussion about 'the book'.  They willingly shared experiences, thoughts and ideas with each other.  As a result of the final part of the discussion, the following definitions of 'book' were devised by the four groups:

Group 1    
A book should have different surfaces, three dimensions and an inside and an outside and it should be hold-able.  Book work is something that references the traditional or historical book.
Group 2    

A three dimensional, visual, tactile element of communication.
Group 3    

A book is a book if it is consumed as such.
Group 4    

A book communicates a memorable (semi) permanent message through a changed surface.

Following the break for lunch, I led a workshop on book making, which gave the students knowledge and practice in elements of the bookbinding / making process which they can each take away and practice, develop and build upon if so desired.

I would like to thank Cinzia for the invitation and warm welcome and to lecturers Marsha and Judith for additional questions and feedback.  I would also like to thank the group of MA students who were enthusiastic and participated fully in the programme of the day.

To find out further details about the course MA Contemporary Art and Professional Practice, led by video performance artist Cinzia Cremona visit the link HERE.

I now look forward to the MA group's interim show in the coming year 2014... 

A blog post relevant to the course students detailing links to equipment suppliers is HERE.

8 November 2013

Tutoring news: teacher inspiration

I have been very inspired preparing classes for and speaking about art with my GCSE level student - female surrealist artists (truly intriguing and under appreciated) such as Meret Oppenheim and Remedios Varo; collage artists including Peter Blake and Lynda Barry; poet and illustrator William Blake and more...

Exhibition: Francis Alÿs

I was pleased to happen upon an exhibition of work by Francis Alys at the Art Exchange gallery whilst on the campus of University of Essex earlier this week.  Having seen two exhibition of Alÿs' work in London, I was keen to view more recent projects.

Seven Walks is a fascinating insight into seven individual projects which Alÿs embarked upon during visits to London over a five year period.  Typically, Alÿs has created 'rules' to follow which have resulted in diverse outcomes represented in a variety of ways.

Of the seven walks, two stand out as of most interest to me: walks around London on the 'sunny/shady' side of the street, which have been represented by a line drawn on two large street maps; and a man walking, whilst banging a stick on traditional iron railings, thus creating a beautiful sound and breaking down the 'barrier' created by the railings, rendering them a musical instrument. 

I am reminded, through the content of this exhibition, of the work by the innovative French artist Sophie Calle and of conversations with and ideas explored by Royal College of Art alumna and friend and ceramics artist Joanne Ayre.

Sadly, I am missing the exhibition linked symposium Walking the Metropolis at Colchester's First Site today, but I high recommend a visit to the gallery exhibition if you are in the local area.

4 October 2013

31 tales | 31 words : Storytelling and Memory

31 tales | 31 words Storytelling and Memory began as a request sent to friends and family around the globe, requesting a short folk story to be written without prior research and in only 31 words.
The word limit references the number of functions identified in a set of folk tales, studied by the Russian folk tale specialist, Vladimir Propp.

Once compiled, I set the tales in hot metal type in the Letterpress Studio at UAL LCC and subsequently, hand made and bound nine copies of this exquisite book.

A set of illustrations were made, although these were omitted from the set of books, leaving the reader's imagination to illustrate the tales.

I hand bound two books with tales that I had been writing. The majority of the pages in these two books remain blank, highlighting the failure of my memory to accurately, or even remotely, recall more than ten tales.

In addition to the book arts work, I created graphic design data visualisations of the language and function content of the collected tales.

I also organised and hosted a storytelling evening at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, where guests were invited to take part in round table storytelling, thus further investigating the idea of storytelling from memory.  A sound recording was made and edited by Nina Welch and the CD made available to listeners.
A hand bound book exists which ensures a legacy for this project - I take this to workshops and events and allow participants to add tales at will.
Click here to view images of this project

9 September 2013

Circles and points

I am currently reading (and I may have mentioned this before...please excuse any repetition) the intended first book in a trilogy, second and I have already read the second book and currently have no intention of reading the third book.

In this way, I am experiencing greater intrigue that I feel that I would have felt had I read the books in the intended order.  I read and absorb and then find that I have forgotten.  As a result the names, words and actions of the people and places in the first book (which runs on a chronological parallel with the second book) are striking a chord but I cannot put my finger on the exact links being made between the notes of the chord.

Following a comment that I feared I was reading 'like a literature student' (a habit formed over years as a student of French and Spanish literature) I have been advised by AD to read, enjoy and then to reread and compare if I so wish.  Good advice.  I am taking it - although I remain frustrated by my lack of ability to recall clear facts from my previous reading...

This leads me to be thinking about the idea of circles and points and to wondering if I can create visual work with an intended / unintended order and overlap.

Food for thought.  I am off to make notes...in the manner of 'an art student'!

Inspiration Monday: Talking with others...

I have been in conversation with many friends of late and I would like to thank them for their listening ear/s, enthusiasm and wisdom.

Amongst others, thanks to

Emma for talk of words and language and teaching.

Cinzia for talk of theory, reading, study, art, language and teaching.

Sarah for talk of music.

Paula for talk of getting out there again.

Alison for talk of photography and exhibiting work.

Adam for talk of our new studio space :-)

Christina for talk of opportunities.

Filling my head with excellent ideas...

As autumn approaches it's time to re-enter the blogosphere...

...with a vengeance!

I have been working full time in a teaching EAP post over the summer and this has left little time to focus on and order my creative thoughts (outside those for creating enticing English lessons!).

Now, however, time is on my side once again (relatively speaking) and I am ready to think, make, create and share on my blog once again.

It is time to begin the journey of nurturing the seed of an idea and exploring the growth that takes place.  A journey into a new realm of thinking and ideas...for me, anyway.

I also want to practice and develop my existing creative skills including photography, stitch, drawing and bookbinding.

I'm enthused of late and wish to venture into the world of writing poetry and of the spoken word.

At the same time it is time to read.  Theory, literature, journals.

And to view.  Exhibitions, blogs, Pinterest inspiration images.

And to listen.  To family, friends, colleagues, specialists, students.  Ideas come from all angles.

And to write.  Blog posts and more blog posts.  Sharing ideas, inspiration, news and more...

14 August 2013


Inspired by former colleague and award winning East London poet Meryl Pugh, performance poet Aoife Mannix and many more spoken word artists on the current scene, I have begun to experiment with words and create some work - poetry, dialogue and more...

I'm not sure where this creative adventure will lead - and isn't that just the beauty of creating?!

abc def ghi jkl mno pqr stu vwx y & z

13 August 2013

Trilogy: Second, First (and maybe Third)

I have just read Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Prisionero del Cielo prior to reading La Sombra del Viento - and I want to advocate reading / viewing trilogies in the incorrect order!

I started to read Shadow of the Wind a few years ago and found myself lacking in motivation to continue as the tale progressed.  I suspected, at the time, that Zafón's original tale may have got 'lost in translation'.  Finally, several years later, I bought the Spanish language version of the two books and have been inspired and intrigued...and now intend to read the first book second :-)

It is interesting to compare Zafón's writing of teen literature to these more recently produced tomes.  Marina and El Palacio de la Medianoche are gripping tales and keep the reader's interest, but the difference in language is remarkable.  The adult novels are full of idiom, cultural reference and a certain humour, which are all omitted from the teen works.

My current interest in creative writing has led me to notice these differences in the use of language and I am inspired to think more about tone, register and use of such techniques and possibly explore these in my own (as yet unwritten) writing...

Work Life Balance

Having fun planning decor for new house and teaching languages at present - but leaving little time for actually producing the creative artwork that I have in mind!

Thermostat Control by Mary Pullen Deacon ©
Still, better too many plans than no plans...surely??!!

I went to Write Night last evening and joined in a collaborative and inspiring session.  I am really pleased as I wrote a scene of dialogue which I am happy with and feel is veering towards the surreal (my current aim).  Thanks for a super session, Emma!


Following a wonderful weekend in the forest at the festival of Latitude in Suffolk, I want to share my discoveries with you...(before I accidentally delete the 'notes from Latitude' from my mobile phone!)

Spoken word artists:
Catherine Smith (amusing and a little risqué!)
William Letford (clever, varied and highly innovative)
Caroline Bird (inspiring, fast paced and diverse)

Literary guests:
Tracey Thorn (great to hear about the years before I discovered her way back in the late '80s)

Roció Molina (expressive, dramatic, emotional and gripping)

Music performers:
Bloc Party (super laser show)
King Creosote (poetic)
Everything Everything (great dance numbers)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs (loved her outfit...and that is all...)
Kraftwerk (super synth and entertaining show with need for 3D glasses)
Alison Balsam (wonderful, dramatic and ceremonial brass)
Laura Mvula
Stealing Sheep (super lively, enthusiastic, enthralling)

Comedy performers:
Nina Conti and puppets (intelligent, innovative and hilarious)

For more information about the Latitude festival click here.

7 June 2013


Am narrowing down my 'Work in Progress' list and aiming to focus on one or two (or more!!!!) main projects in the coming months...

We'll see if this happens or if the WIP list gets longer!

Art exhibition at Essex Uni gallery Art Exchange

Working at the University of Essex, I am well situated to visit the exhibitions at the Art Exchange gallery.

I have been very impressed and inspired by the exhibitions / installations that I have come across in the past two years.

A man 'living' in the gallery without provisions, reliant on donations by visitors, made for a very interesting and noteworthy live installation work.

Calls of open submission of work by UoE students led to a diverse and impressive exhibition.

Most recently, I was very inspired by the Refractive Distance exhibition.  The work is extremely diverse and represents highly reputed artists from around the globe.  In particular, I was intrigued and impressed by the need to alter perspective of glance, position in the gallery and angle of viewing of the work on display, in order to gain the full experience of viewing.

The exhibition runs until 22nd June.  I highly recommend a visit to all of you able to get to the UoE campus...

Colchester School of Art Degree Show 2013

I am really looking forward to this event.

Last year, I was inspired and so impressed with the art work from all disciplines within the Colchester School of Art and I look forward to seeing the work of the Classes of 2013...

Keep an eye out for news of the MA Final Show by MA Art, Design and the Book students in partnership with the MA Sculptural Practice and MA Contemporary Art and Professional Practice in July.

24 May 2013

My FaceBook Page

Just added this as the header image for my professional artist FaceBook page.  I created the image whilst sitting at my stall during a craft fair. 

Click the image to head to my FB page

22 May 2013

Idiom and Colloquial expressions from the Print

Mind your 'p's and 'q's.

Out of sorts.

The wrong end of the stick.

Type and Museums

I spent many a happy hour composing type at the London College of Communication and enjoyed a truly amazing visit to the Type Museum in London during my (mature) students at the University of the Arts London.

Today, I spent more fascinating, informative and enjoyable hours at the Jarrold Printing Museum in Norwich.

Many sincere thanks to the team of volunteers for sharing invaluable knowledge and experience with myself and my group of students.  The group gained an in-depth insight into Print history; the lithographic printing process; letter press techniques; type casting machines; printing presses; bookbinding and the story of Jarrolds.


Warmest thanks go to:
John Hutchinson
John Rumball
Duncan McEwan
Fred Stubbs
William Feigh

and to members of the team who I have not mentioned by name - solely because the afternoon was packed with activity and I did not get to ask the names of all the staff that I met.

20 May 2013

Playing with clay

Once I had seen the wild sculptures of the Gert and Uwe Tobias, I became inspired to get out the DAS air drying clay that I bought...well, a long while ago...and get making in 3D.

I attended pottery classes in Castle Hedingham, Essex as a child and loved making with clay.  Since then, I have taught classes in making with clay but not made my own work.  I had great fun!

Here are the results of foray number one:

Inspiration Monday: Whitechapel Art Gallery

Inspired by the wild, colourful and inventive work of the Tobias twins, macro photography of natural forms by a scientist and a room full of unconventional portrait works, I feel I have to recommend the Whitechapel Arts Gallery to those readers in, around, or visiting London.

The gallery has long been a favourite haunt whilst living, studying and now visiting London as the team curates diverse, wonderfully exhibited exhibitions in a fantastic building with a great cafe and bookshop and it is FREE!

Also in the vicinity and of interest are:

Toynbee Studios Artsbar and Café
The Womens' Library (just found out this has moved to LSE but still well worth a visit)
Atlantis Art Supplies
Whitechapel Bell Foundry

...and of course Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market!

Here is an image of the twins work

(for some inexplicable reason, I have, to date, viewed the Tobias' work as if it were made by one male and one female twin - and it turns out they are both male.  Therein lies another discussion about knowledge of the background and context to artwork versus ignorant response!)

I have been knitting...

I have enjoyed knitting these two lovely infinity scarves - one for myself and one as a gift.

I created them to my own pattern (made up as I went along!) using beautiful mohair wool and odd pins needles.

Photography by M C Pullen

11 May 2013


I have embarked upon an enjoyable and absorbing stitch project to celebrate Forty.

Here is a sneak preview of the work in progress...

Handmade Wedding

I spent many enjoyable hours in the autumn designing and making for this Spring wedding.  Bespoke invitations hand bound with ribbon; a sixties style dress hand made using my favourite Liberty fabric; bouquets created with flowers sources from a local wholesale florist; a ring box using oyster shells from the beach on a local island; menu and place setting cards with hand written wedding logo; and button holes for the groom, Father of the Bride and Best Man.

image by Justine Ferrari

image by Justine Ferrari

image by Justine Ferrari

25 March 2013

Bookbinding workshop | TACMEP Colchester

A warm welcome and fun afternoon spent as an invited workshop leader at TACMEP in Colchester.
Lovely books made by participants of many nationalities and many lovely personalities.

What I wore today (love taking these...)

Bookbinding Maxi | March 2013

Two lovely evenings running my bookbinding intensive workshop, resulting in these beautiful, skillfully bound, hand made books...

Drop me a line on my Facebook page to add your name to my mailing list - ready for the next workshop :-)

18 March 2013

Book Arts and Embroidery

Pootling around Colchester last week, I came across three lovely exhibitions showing work which combine two of my creative passions - book arts and hand embroidery.

Book Art | Art Book, an exhibition curated by Paula Macgregor inspired me a great deal with altered books, beautiful bindings, imaginative content, installation pieces, varied materials and in particular, as a large number of bookworks are by my current MA Art, Design and the Book students.

Wendy Allen 2013

Peter Kennedy 2013
I had previously seen one piece of work in the Nine Lives exhibition as a work in progress in the studio of artist Julie Howe.  I was so pleased to come across the finished work in the Nine Lives exhibition room.  In the small space the nine artists had managed to fit huge, emotional and fascination ideas.  The small boxes spilled their contents and objects, words and images combined to create visual narratives of intrigue and interest.

Julie Howe 2013
Ellen Duval
Popping in to the Red Lion Books store I was very pleased to come across the current exhibition by the members of the Colne & Colchester Embroiderers' Guild.  The work is truly skilled and so detailed and exquisite.  Feeling a little off colour on entering the room, I left feeling really positive after viewing an embroidered text piece depicting a flow diagram with questions and answers - all leading to 'Don't worry'.  Wonderful.

I recommend a potter around the town to view these exhibitions yourself (if you are local to Colchester).

3 March 2013

Rankin on 4

My love of photography dates back to the age of six when my mum kindly gave me her Brownie camera.  I snapped away and have been in possession of numerous cameras ever since.

Today, on the subject of photography, I was inspired listening to Rankin on Desert Island discs.  Rankin's portrait photography is bold and striking and beautiful.

I plan to return to portrait photography in the next week or so...

Check out these photographers on my (long) list of all time faves...

Mary Mccartney
Bill Viola
Mario Testino
and click the image to view more of my photographs...
Copyright Mary Pullen 2008

6 February 2013

Bookbinding Maxi Intensive

My course Bookbinding Maxi Intensive is back by popular demand :-)

Details as follows - or click here to view the FaceBook event page.


March 2013


Bookbinding Maxi Intensive

My Bookbinding Maxi Intensive course is back by popular demand :-)

The course runs over two evening sessions and will lead you on a creative making journey, learning paper manipulation, a traditional, hand stitch bookbinding technique and you will use specialist tools and materials to make your own hard cover, hand bound codex book - to treasure or give as a gift.

Your book will make an excellent journal, luxury sketchbook or home for recording treasured personal experiences.

The intensive course is suitable for those with experience of bookbinding and participants with little or no experience alike.

You are welcome to bring additional materials and, of course, your life knowledge and expertise will enrich your design choices.

thursday evening (7:00 - 9:30 pm)

12.03.2013       Creation of text block

19.03.2013       Casing in to hard cover


The workshops are to be held at the lovely, calm location which is the Quaker Meeting House. The venue offers a fabulous, spacious and comfortable making space - and a great kitchen for preparing essential refreshments to fuel creativity!

The ground floor of the venue is fully accessible.

Venue: Quaker Meeting House, 6 Church Street, Colchester, CO1 1NF

Price: £55 per person (tuition) + £5 per person (materials)

Included: Use of specialist bookbinding tools |
Specialist materials | Tea, coffee and cookies |
Relaxed, creative atmosphere

Booking: Advance booking essential. Payment in advance.

Contact: Mary Pullen
e     mary.pullen@yahoo.co.uk
t     + 44 (0) 7941 594 888

A festive season, New Year and one Wedding later...

... I am very pleased to be here again and ready for a creative, intriguing and inspiring 2013!

Good to be back :-)

Flowers by Mary