The House on the Hill – sort of


Last month I did some architectural model making and this was the result. It’s a scaled down model of a 2008 design for a 3 storey house.

As I worked I started to associate the model with the house we lived in when I was 5.  We once lived in a 3 storey house in a village called Stockbury in Kent; number 5 of 10 childhood homes. It was an Army hireing ( a private house the Army rented to house families that were waiting for accommodation on a nearby barracks) on the top of a hill. It was very large and only heated by a range and coal fires so we lived in the rooms on the ground floor. I remembered waiting at the window each night that winter and spring for the lights of Dad’s car to appear and then seeing him get out and climb the steps to the top.


I enjoyed making the hill, maybe even more than making the house itself and when I put the car in place I felt quite strange. Nothing is historically accurate, the house was pink not white, the bay window was at the front not the side, the conservatory was a greenhouse and the Ford Consul was blue and white. But that doesn’t really seem to matter 🙂

Post colonial Art at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park


Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in London, grew up in Nigeria and came back to the UK to study. His latest show Fabric-ation includes sculpture, film, photography and painting. He uses his signature Dutch wax print African style textiles to challenge colonial and cultural stereotypes in a series of historical contexts from the 18th to the 21st century.

The idea that there is a some kind of dichotomy between Africa and Europe, between the exotic other and the civilised European, if you like – I think is completely simplistic.

So I am interested in exploring the mythology of those so called separate spheres and in creating an overlap of complexities.” Yinka Shonibare

Top- Wind sculpture (2013) representing the sails on Nelson’s ship

Below- Moon walk (2002)


A week in Tuscany with baggage


A romantic wedding anniversary break in Tuscany; rolling countryside, medieval hill towns, cypress and olive trees, splashes of poppies by the roadside, wonderful food, fresh air, sunshine, wild cyclamen in the woods and the first fragrant strawberries.

So it was upsetting to find the stowaway grief goblin in my luggage a month before he was expected to turn up. Of course you don’t tell the grief goblin what to do, I should know that by now. All I could think of was the last time I had visited Italy with my brother Tim and how much he loved it, spending holidays with his family on the Italian coast and hoping to return in his retirement. It all felt so sad. I wasn’t feeling very creative but I was going to have to do something.

A couple of days into the holiday we drove to Rocca Sillana, an 11th century hill fortress designed by Giuliano da Sangallo. I like the fact the Italians credit the architect instead of saying which king commissioned it as the British would. It’s intimidating, 530m high and looking like a block of solid rock, it dominates Pisa, Siena and Grosseto provinces. It was restored for public access in 2009 and it feels more like a monument than a building. The steep climb to the top is rewarded by a cool breeze and stunning views of the Cecina valley.

I used a stone to write Tim’s name in the gravel next to the fort wall. This seemed right; we spent our childhood around military architecture of one sort or another, living in Army quarters and barracks and later making family visits to castles and Roman army sites at Vindolanda in Northumberland and Caerleon in Wales.

This was a way to make my thoughts physical and real, to have Tim with us and maybe even a small return for him to a country that he loved. I threw a couple of stones over the fort wall for the men of our family and a few more for the women from the path walking back down the hill.

I felt immediate relief, the grief goblin spontaneously combusted. Then I had a  holiday.


Susan Roberts 2013