One of the longest serving residents of Pullens Yards, Dale has had a studio here for thirty-seven years. Back then the artists had to be made of sterner stuff than now, there were no toilets, the studios had no electricity, freezing in winter, and much of the surrounding area was occupied by travellers and squatters.

As his life grew more sophisticated Dale became a commuter, dividing his life between his home in Battle, near Hastings and his studio in Pullens. The train that brought him from leafy Sussex into Cannon Street station, with the very last slow part of the journey rolling over the tracks on the Cannon Street railway bridge over the Thames, flanked by Southwark and London bridges, was to have a profound effect on him.

He began to make images of what he was seeing and experiencing on that part of the journey, realising that the city at that point was an epicentre of history, with connection to the past, as well as giving him all the classic aspects of landscape, the light, reflections in the water, the interplay of sky and water, the powerful silhouettes of the bridges and skyline.

Both the train movement and movement of Nature; light, clouds, water; makes the experience nebulous, there can never be an exact moment. Each second of each journey is, in its way, entirely fresh. Each journey is an entirely new start.

As a response to this idea of change, Dale’s paintings are themselves not static, continuously worked on, worked over, layers burnt off with a blowtorch, paint stripped, scrubbed off with an electric sander – and new layers slowly added and painted over and over, with palette knives, stencils. He has experimented with materials, not just stretched canvas, but wooden panels, adding the pages of books, gluing drawings onto the paintings, image sizes from gigantic to tiny, and multiple images of one surface, sets of pictures.

He is looking for unexpected effects, creating the context in which accident can join deliberate mark making, and get him closer to the unselfconsciousness. Connect him somehow to the coincidences and overlapping aesthetic effects of his Cannon Street journey. This same kind of self-abnegation was sought by artists like Joan Miró and Jackson Pollock, who developed automatic drawing and action painting as ways of accessing the same creative fluidity Dale is after.

Not surprisingly Dale considers the paintings never completely finished, some are returned to months, even years, later for more work. Yet, “at some point you stop”, the image brought to a close when instinct, or an exhibition deadline tells him to stop. He realises after years of this work, that the real motivation is not the Thames or bridges, or replicating the experience of being there, but the process of making itself. The paintings and images are testimony to an unending creative engagement.

As an observer, the obliteration and accretion, captures in artistic form a parallel to what is going on in that part of the city, buildings being destroyed and new ones built, the river’s surface roiling, the water bringing silt from elsewhere, night falling, day rising – nothing ever still. And he captures something profoundly true of Humanity, and profoundly true of Nature, in all that change.



For some years, Peacock Yard has hosted young artists who have trained at the local City & Guilds of London Art School. Their studios are arrayed with seasoning planks and beams and blocks, and various kinds of saws, benches and vices, mallets and bundles of chisels; creative havens for the intensive business of working wood.

City & Guilds, which was founded in 1854, is almost unique in teaching such an ancient art. This is the School’s description of the course most of the Peacock Yard carvers follow: “The Woodcarving & Gilding Pathway of our new BA (Hons) Historic Carving course, is a comprehensive, three-year course that will prepare you for a fulfilling career in architectural heritage as a professional woodcarver. Whether your ambition is to create new work in historic contexts or to restore sculpture and ornament, your aesthetic and historical knowledge will be as important as your manual skills.

“On this course, you’ll develop this wide range of skills and will graduate fully equipped to begin a successful career. The curriculum focuses on the wide range of skills required to become a professional wood carver. These include not only advanced carving techniques, but also drawing, modelling, frame restoration, casting, portraiture, artistic anatomy, ornament study, gilding, heraldry, design and the history of carving in architecture and sculpture. You are also introduced to repair and restoration techniques and to relevant conservation practices and ethics.”

Wilfe Gorlin

Enjoyed woodwork at school, and somehow ended up in Canada on a working visa, snowboarding during the day, and working on timber frame houses to earn money to snowboard. He got “really into” working with wood, especially when he started making his own furniture to furnish the little cabin he was living in. After his fill of snowboarding, he returned to Britain, and stumbling across the course, feeling that it offered a more “adventurous endeavour” than joinery. He is now studying on the new Post Grad Diploma course, drawing as much as he is carving.

Cassidie Alder

Studied English, tried an “office job that drove me nuts”, then bookshops. She took a joinery course, and wanted more of the same. She found work with a treehouse company, then onto McCurdy & Co, famous for building the Globe Theatre in the 1990s. Architectural woodwork gave some satisfaction, but Cass wanted more personal control. The first day at City & Guilds “she fell in love” with the craft and aesthetic impact. She has had an eclectic start to her career, wooden memorials, furniture, and decorative work for a newly built green oak frame house.

Joe Murphy

Apprenticed in carpentry and joinery. But he found joinery frustrating, describing the disappointment of having someone “just walk through” a door he had worked on for days. He wanted his work to elicit greater affect. He discovered the City & Guilds course, liking the teachers and the wide variety of skills on offer. Drawing is now of great importance to him. His work errs towards the figurative, current pieces are a newell post of intertwined animals, a dragon, and coats of arms.

Michael Leal

First became interested in wood and making through his grandfather who restored clock cases. Michael went on to study physics at university, but in studying it realised he didn’t want to spend his life immersed in it. He took a joinery course, and so loved working with his hands, he looked for a place to study more deeply. He was attracted to City & Guilds, since it teaches students to understand the principles and history of carving and yet also the practicalities of taking up a commercial career. Michael is particularly drawn to late medieval carving, when the craft reached its apogee of technical and artistic ambition. He has spent time working on restoration of Augustus Pugin’s gothic woodwork at the Houses of Parliament, and on ceilings at Mercers Company in the City of London and Peterhouse Cambridge.




It’s like the story of a band forming, three artists coming together for a shared endeavour. Simon Hiscock, Angela Lucas and Peter Massingham have each lived or worked on the Pullen’s Estate for many years.

“As long-term workshop tenants we were aware of the many creative people living and working on the Pullen’s Estate. We wanted to provide a platform for showcasing the work made here, both by artists and by people who would otherwise struggle to have their work seen in a public domain.”

The Yards’ first opening in 1990 was originally part of the Whitechapel Open, indeed it was the most southerly outpost of it, the first flyer featuring mostly painters, and with the imprimatur of the mighty Whitechapel itself.

The Whitechapel Open dates all the way back to 1932, when it was launched as an exhibition called The East End Academy at the Whitechapel, to feature “all artists living or working east of the famous Aldgate Pump”. This evolved to include possible visits to artists’ studios, and by the 1970s had become the Whitechapel Open.

The link to the Whitechapel Open was broken by the European Exchange Rate Mechanism recession of 1991-2, and Southwark Council’s inexplicable hiking of rents, which caused many artists in the Yards to shut up shop. When it began again, the Open Studios was confined to the Yards, yet usually with an eclectic pop-up exhibition by Simon, Angela and Peter in whatever studio space they could finagle.

“Our aims, as curators, are to promote the visual arts as a vital and integral part of self expression and self realisation, creating the opportunity of engagement with others which contributes to an evolving and civilized community, and that community contributes to a wider society.

“We share a belief that the ‘art establishment’ is somewhat bogus – a stultifying hierarchy which sets trends and fashions that restrict genuine creative expression.

“To celebrate the genuinely diverse work created within our small community, our approach has always been inclusive. As curators, we don’t apply a thematic selection process and provided we have sufficient room, we accept any submission without imposing an artistic or political ideology. And so, you could expect to see photographs by a fireman (who has never previously shown his work) alongside the highly collectible paintings from the internationally renowned artist Frank Bowling RA OBE.

“The mix of work from enthusiast to professional generates an extremely positive response from both the immediate community and wider public. People are able to see how their creative ideas can contribute to an inclusive community identity – one that is creative, enlightening and educational.”




Kasia, as her name suggests, hails from Warsaw. She came to Britain fourteen years ago, learned English, studied at the London College of Communication and photography at the London College of Fashion. She first encountered wet plate collodion as a technique half way through her training, and was immediately fascinated by both the images it produces and how it slows down and intensifies the process of making a picture.

The internet has greatly speeded up our consumption of images. My daughter, for example, who at eight years of age has probably seen ten times the number of images Kasia had seen at eight in a Poland only just starting to recover from the impoverishment of every aspect of life brought about by Marxism. But how many images will my daughter remember, how many does she look at long enough for them to burn themselves onto her retinas, and absorb their mysteries? Kasia’s father was a photographer, using the heavy and indestructible cameras available behind the Iron Curtain, Prakticas and Exaktas, with Carl Zeiss Jena or Russian lenses. He processed film himself, and printed, which if you have never done it, is a kind of miracle, using aesthetics and chemicals to freeze a moment in time. He brought photographs for Kasia to pour over.

So Kasia grew up seeing her father record and aestheticise the world around him, and she studied monochrome images in her family’s photo albums, showing herself in the past, and people she knew, and people she vaguely knew. All emotion and imagination stirred by the potency of an image. She studied old cartes de visite found in junk shops, she says the image exerts “a trick of the mind”, which frees the imagination to summon up the lives of the people presenting themselves to the camera, imagining the true colours of their hair and clothes, what they thought about, how they spoke.

The method she has chosen to work with is wet plate collodion. Which involves chemicals being carefully layered onto a sheet of aluminium or glass in the darkroom (which is a portable one when Kasia works away from her studio), and then covered and placed in a frame that can be loaded into the camera back. The camera looks like one you see in a Western, a wooden box on a tripod, with a black cloth at the back, a lens with bellows. This is not a rapid way of taking photographs.

She shoots people. Split between fashion and portraits – although the fashion is undertaken as if it is portraiture. The great advantage of the process is how it encourages Kasia and the model to think about each shot, its more akin to theatre with everything in the frame thought about, like creating a tableau, far from the rapid-fire-increasingly-wild cliché of fashion photography; Austin Powers or the photographer he was parodying, David Hemmings in the movie Blow-Up.

Kasia has stayed in London because of its diversity, the world in a city. Here she finds the cultural mixtures endlessly interesting. You can see this love of collisions in her work; past clashing against present, spontaneity crashing against permanence, beauty being subsumed by the swirl of chemicals.




Their ambition is nothing less than a new art school. Based on something most art students rarely encounter – discipline. Because what at first seems to be an Aladdin’s Cave of alphabets, ink pots, wooden type, drying racks, and printing presses takes discipline to operate. Their manifesto offers both a promise and a challenge to today: “as an antidote to the immediate & often dispensable nature of modern technology, the slow articulation of the technical side of letterpress allows the designer to immerse themselves in the focus on craft & revel in the simple joys of making”. They plan to pass on their knowledge, and develop student’s skills with a programme of workshops.

Alan Kitching is a well-known innovator in graphic design, he has spent fifty years first learning the craft of letterpress and wood letter printing, and then using it in ever more inventive ways. His monograph “Alan Kitching: A Life in Letterpress” was published two years ago. Kelvyn is an experienced teacher, and has an highly varied portfolio of work – commissioned and self-motivated – that shows he is of a like-mind with Kitching; although letterpress is beset by restrictions in how it must be set up and handled, those restrictions can melt away to yield typography of the most imaginative and unexpected kind.

After all, much of the greatest innovation in typography to date – from the playful geometry of Hendrik Werkman to the precision of Jan Tschichold – was all made using exactly the same metal and wooden type, viscous inks, and heavy iron presses in this workshop. Indeed, Johannes Gutenberg’s workshop would have looked very similar, we are channelling history here, a living connection that runs backwards through five hundred years of typography.

I have done one of these workshops, with Alan Kitching, and discovered more in a day than a decade of reading books and fiddling on computers. The first revelation was that the type is physical, you have to lift, carefully position, lock, ink, pull, to get even one letter onto a piece of paper. The process itself leads to consideration, weighing, deciding, which is simply not there with a computer. The second revelation was about aesthetics; the old typefaces, the way letters looks made of metal, the aged wood, the smells, the coarse paper, the entire process is an aesthetic overload.

The website lists the range of courses to suit every level of capability from civilian to experienced, and the fonts and equipment available, sufficient to enable infinite variation. And they have amassed a long list of visiting consultants, that reads like a who’s who of current British design; Anthony Burrill and Hamish Muir of fabled design group Octavo to name but two. Any student or young or even older designer lucky enough to come and study here is going to leave stuffed with all kinds of knowledge; a firm grasp of typographic theory, lots of practical ideas, and creative inspiration to last their lifetime.




Stephen restores Georgian houses, using traditional materials and methods. Stephen trained as a graphic designer – he and I worked for the same company, publisher Mitchell Beazley, just a year or two apart. He and his wife worked together, but found being busy professionals and good parents wasn’t working, so Stephen became a househusband.

He lives in a Georgian house, and during his now relatively unbusy days, he began reversing the clumsy alterations made during its life, restoring it to its original state. When the house was finished, neighbours were so impressed, he was asked to work on another couple of houses, and that, as they say, is how it all began.

There is no book you can read that will teach you everything you need to know. Georgian architecture was not a coherent movement, it covered a hundred years, and by far the majority of the highly variable houses were built by almost unknown developer-architects, often guided by exigencies rather than Palladian ideals. The best way to understand how a house was designed and built is to engage with it.

And this is exactly how Stephen works. I visited his latest project on Kennington Road, one of a terraced row, with the house next door boasting Charlie Chaplin once lived there. Light streams in, windows everywhere, most especially lighting the stairs, it is far brighter than a modern house. Stephen starts with the structure, adjusting floor levels, repairing stairs, straightening doors, relaying floors with boards of the right width. The issues are usually a mixture of subsidence, warping and previous fixes.

The weather in the 1700s was several degrees colder in Britain than it is now, which caused trees to grow more slowly, with tighter growth rings, making it stronger and easier to carve. Stephen sources pine and larch from Scandinavia, which have a grain close to the pine of three hundred years ago. For repairing walls, he reuses shallow flat bricks from the building itself, using lime plaster with horsehair mixed in.

My favourite feature is the window sills, which hinge down to reveal shutters that slip upwards on pulleys. Much of the woodwork in Georgian houses was by carpenters who brought space-saving practicality from other jobs building ships for the Navy.

Some things are irredeemably lost. Changing fashion made a previous owner chip away the coving, the plaster moulding that sits at the top of the wall covering the angle that joins the ceiling. Stephen has had to reimagine it entirely, as a parade of acanthus leaves and Prince of Wales’ feathers, a reference to the Prince’s ownership of the manor of Kennington. The floral wallpaper has been reprinted, by hand, from tiny scraps discovered when they stripped the walls.

The human hand is in use everywhere, tipping molten lead, chiselling slate, planing wood, giving everything an organic imperfect beauty machines cannot achieve.




Like a scene from a fairy tale, Veronica presides over a scented supper club. Candles glowing, the diners eat with wooden skewers dipped in and infused with carefully picked scents, each of which makes the food taste subtly different. There is no right scent to eat with a particular food – there are five main tastes but a myriad of smells, making the whole experience an open-ended adventure.

Veronica is always expanding her repertoire. She trained as a 3D designer, moving on to spatial design, bringing aroma into her work by scenting spaces – altering the experience of a room and the associations that the sense of smell vividly conjures.

She works with extracts, oils and resins, all derived from the natural world. A pipette transmits these miniscule droplets into the carrier liquid which, as it evaporates, transmits the scent into the air. There is a complex art to the blending. Every good scent should have three notes: a top note that strikes you first, a mid note that comes after, and, finally, a base note.

Veronica makes perfumes of various strengths – eau de parfum is twice as potent as eau de toilette – but as is her way, stretches what perfume can be used for. There are practical perfumes to drip onto blotters to combat moths; spatial aromas and bath scents; ways to sweeten carpets to keep them bug free; very unusual aromatic chocolates; and a series of scents inspired by songs (Perfect Day is a bestseller). And the supper clubs: the advent of food.

Food has opened up another avenue, as Veronica has just finished training as a natural chef; a combination of a chef’s techniques with a nutritionist’s knowledge of the effects of the ingredients.

Veronica is in pursuit of creating new and powerful experiences. She began with casting and model-making, went onto more ethereal light projection, and now she’s almost left the physical world behind entirely – planning to use nothing more than molecules on our taste buds and olfactory nerves to summon up entire vivid worlds.




Ceramics is steeped in history. Pots and domestic objects. They go back millennia, as far as the first human settlements. I was lucky when I was young I went to a school that had did pottery, there was something about it I loved and I was interested enough to pursue it as a degree, and then very lucky again being apprenticed to Lisa Hammond MBE and then Julian Stair.

They are both very talented, but working with them I learned what I didn’t want to do. I don’t want to make art pieces. I wanted to achieve something different, more modern, and reaching a broader demographic, everyone if possible, I want to be in everyone’s homes.

After the apprenticeships, I realised there were gaps in what I knew. I could have gone back into education, but I thought the best thing was to learn out there in the world, so I went to Stoke-on-Trent and knocked on doors. All these years after Spode and Minton and Wedgewood, Stokeis still the centre for ceramics, from smaller places to big factories. Initially I was trying to repeat what I knew, trying to make thrown objects, on a wheel, which is a slow process, and there were some disappointments with factories trying to copy my pieces – so to exert more control over the results I applied for a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship (QEST) to study model and mould making. You design and make a model by hand, but then make a mould, which means the pieces can be produced in greater numbers, very close to your original, either by pouring in liquid clay, known as slip, or pressing in sheets of soft clay, known as jiggering and jolleying.

I had a meeting with the designer Robin Levien which was very important to me. Robin has designed some staggering percentage of all the ceramic basins and baths and toilets in the UK, he manages to blend spare modern design with mass production, elevating the quality of ordinary objects. I think its because of him that I see myself as an industrial designer, fully at home with the modern world and modern processes, who specialises in ceramics.

I aim at an end result that is as stripped back and simple as possible, without losing character or compromising the function. I want the things I produce to be understated, to blend into people’s everyday landscape, to be ubiquitous, to get used and bring satisfaction everyday.




I am not by any stroke of the imagination conventional, but still I call myself a potter. I am drawn to deep history, in all senses of that word deep.

For the latest project, I have managed to get clay from 30 metres below London Bridge. It took countless calls and emails, but eventually I managed to get big pieces from the spoil of Costain’s piling machine. And then the real work begins. I have to work that stuff to extract workable clay from it. Soaking it, sifting, then sieving, until I arrive at something that is mostly clay.

And then I test it to see how it responds. Fire it to 1,250˚C. At that extreme temperature clay is on the edge of melting, and the trace elements of metals within it at that temperature do melt, or suck in air like bicarbonate of soda when you bake. It’s exciting to see what comes out, will it be flat and shiny like black glass, or coarse and bloated like a loaf of bread?

Only when I have extracted enough clay, and discovered how it behaves, do I think about bringing things to a conclusion – creating a set of pieces, forms that trying to summarise and hint at the story of the site, the extraction of the clay, the nature of the clay.

I am so interested in the idea that I am capturing the clay at this moment, this point in its journey, it’s already been so many things; hurtling through space, liquid in the earth’s core, lava blasted out of a volcano, solid rock, under the sea, in a mountain, and then fleetingly in my hands. That’s what I mean by the line of history, by deep history. The human dimension is so brief in comparison to the time without humans. Who knows what this clay has seen, what would talk about if it could talk? I suppose that is what I am trying to do, make the clay give up some of its history, encourage it to speak.




After graduating as an economist from the University of Adelaide, I was off to Macau. I have a Portuguese passport, and became, and am still, a permanent resident. I made great money. But in one sense, I was not sure what to do. I got married. I spent money. I worked. The big change happened like this: we went to Ko Samui, and I bought a little digital camera, another toy to play with. How was I to know that I would fall in love with photography? I loved it so much, I decided to be a photographer. And it’s been a rollercoaster since then.

I bought a Nikon F100, a serious professional camera at the time. I made preparations. The day that I left my economist job I had a portfolio, and a studio full of equipment. But, as I soon discovered, Macau had no market for photography. I was going to have to go somewhere else.

Shanghai was the first choice, I wanted to stay in Asia. It is so vibrant, you feel anything is possible. But its very hard to set up in China if you aren’t Chinese, the language and the absence of connections make it unfeasible. London was fifth choice.

There were years in London when I have felt like giving up, I felt as though I had nothing, it’s not home, I had no work, no money.

I met Alan Robertson through a friend, who offered me a share of his studio in Iliffe Yard, and he has been a big support in getting me established. I love studio work, and one of my main clients is the V&A, who need me to photograph things they sell in the shop and online. But my curse, in a way, is that I love all kinds of photography. I just bought an old Nikon F3, and I use it obsessively shooting black and white film, in the street and a wedding. But I have also just finished as a DP on a film, using a Sony F55, filming actors emerging from a Scottish Loch.

I have five websites, it seems a lot, but each one reflects an aspect of what I do. There are all about image-making and storytelling with images, but some cover images and film clients want me to make, and some show what I want to make. The biggest project right now is a feature film, I am passionate about it – it’s going to mean me putting a lot of myself in it, but I also have to rely on and listen to others, so it brings both areas together, but a film is big enough adventure for everyone to get something. I can’t wait for it to start, its going to be such a wild ride.