International desk day: or, nosing around other people’s spaces.

In the early morning hours with a messy desk.

It was dark when I began to work this morning. My desk ( above) was a mess and a magnet for kittens. Away across the country Catherine Rayner ( below) was also working early.

Catherine Rayner's desk


Intrigued at nosing around this creative chaos I thought to ask others to send in pictures of their desks to make a blog post with links. But meanwhile the sun came up. My desk changed over the day. It begins and ends this posting, which may grow as others send through.

With kittens Clearer and now the sun is up

Above, a little bit of space on my desk.

Below, Laura Parfitt’s desk. Laura is a radio producer, and whenever I hear a stunning bit of radio I am never surprised to find that she and White pebble Media are behind it. I had the great privilege of working with her once, in 2007. Here is what she said about her desk:

“I am sending you a photo of my desk.  It has been newly tidied for the new year.  Apart from sound gear –  items on it include a spoon bent by Yuri Geller for me – interviewing him  was a highlight of last year (quite eccentric, but somehow very intelligent and kind).  It also has a child’s red tin racing car that belonged to my dad – reminding me that he had very few toys as a child and also  to drive forward (ironically only recently discovered that what I thought was the front of the car was actually the back so have been driving it backwards).  Also, something I love dearly and have had on my desk for  years, a resting block from the Himba tribe in Namibia – used instead of a pillow – to remind me to rest and take it easy and not always drive myself forward.   i’ve got a Cornish tin paperweight  – I love the design on it and it’s from my mother in law and reminds me that in cornwall life is peaceful and history is important.   most of it is taken up with a very lovely Mac computer which is fast and helps me make sound – music and radio in that order.”

laura parfitt's desk.

pillow toy car

Below, Erin Keen’s desk, looking busy and interesting.

Erin Keen's desk at uni.


Hannah Stowe ( my daughter), below, with new acrylic inks that she is using.



Malachy Doyle ( writer) below, and his desk in Ireland. He says : “just took an untidied pic of my desk for you.  features a card from Jac Jones, two little sculptures of me and Liz made by my son Liam (presents for Christmas), and a bronze hare.  it’s a big old leather-topped lawyer’s desk, and I love it!” I spy a big pile of papers and The Snow Queen illustrated by Errol LeCain. Always wanted a rhyming dictionary.

Malachy Doyle's desk in Ireland.


catherine hyde

Catherine Hyde’s ‘desk’, ( above) working on so many paintings at the same.

A musical desk, below, belonging to Helen Morris. I have known Helen since we were 6 years old. She has always played the piano.

Helen's piano in Gosport

Emma Coode’s desk ( below). Emma is one of the editors at Harper Collins for Voyager books so gets to read the Games of Thrones books before the rest of us, and edits Robin Hobb and  Peter Brett and Mark Lawrence.

Emma Coode's desk

Leslie Sowden’s desk is a riot of colour and business.



June Pearson, teacher at Ennerdale primary school and a couple of the children’s desks there. Wonderful school. They have red squirrels in the playground and the children smile a great deal. There were only 64 children in the school when I visited last year.

June Pearson Child's desk in Ennerdale School in Cumbria Child's desk in Ennedale shcool in Cumbrial



September 12 014

Above, one of the best pictures for a good nose around, from Joy Williams. Loads of interesting books and a desk dog. And her website is a joy too. Love the paintings especially.


Above, Jennifer Crook.

Nicky Desk DSC_6616



 Harusami Is: looking peacefully cluttered. She can also be found here.

Cheryl Lloyd’s desk is largely dominated by a beautiful cat.

Cheryl Lloyd's desk, with cat

Hilary's desk in Broadhaven

Hilary Brookes’s office, above, over-looking the sea at Broadhaven. She sells books with Barefoot Books and has a website.

Louise McClarey

Above, colourful, Loiuse McClary, table with a very interesting array of bamboo pens and a lurking glass pen on the right. Beautiful.

desk with clay creatures

Above: Tracy McNicoll. Below: Diane Patmore.

tidy desk

 Chris Ruston says of her desk ( below), ”

It is looking relatively tidy today as everything had been cleared away for Christmas. On the left a current project – a painted book which is in the final stages of being finished. The book is a response to a Shakespeare quote, where he describes how everything eventually “turns to dust”. I have used  the idea of the seasons/cycles and autumnal colours to suggest the closing of summer when seeds are dispersed waiting for springs renewal.

Next to the book are the tools of the trade- a Stanley knife/scissors, pencil, and a trusty old paint brush (which has really earned its keep over the years!), and the book makers “must have” a bone folder. All this is resting on another essential item a large cutting mat.

The small pieces of paper on the plastic sheet are waiting for another layer of ink, and will eventually become seeds in the centre of the book. Above these you can glimpse one piece of the folio cover which will contain the book when it is finished.  An image of a dried seed head can just be seen.

The obligatory jam jar with water sits next to the cover panel, complete with rubber and pencil shavings.

To the left of this lies a stack of painted pages covered in inky  marks which are awaiting a direction/structure. I frequently start projects by painting and mark making, then respond to the marks. I like to be open to where the work takes me. This book is more of an exception having been specifically commissioned. Once it has been completed viewers will be able to see it on my website.

Finally in the top left hand corner is another stack of “beginnings” waiting for a bit of space to emerge on the table!!


Denise Gary from Kids Need to Read, looking a bit tidy, despite a small tower of books and a wobbly headed Yoda.

Denise at Kids Need to Read

And then there is Hannah Willow who gets two pictures, because she has entered into the spirit and not tidied up, and because it makes me laugh so much that someone, somewhere has a messier desk than mine! Nothing like anything you might see in Country Living and yet she lives on a farm, surrounded by hares and owls and makes beautiful things that are like silver dreams.

Hannah Willow Hannah Willow

Tamsin Abbott makes glass of superb and excellent designs. Her tables are below. Her workshop is a beautiful building in itself, so I might just cheat and put a picture of the workshop in too.

Tamsin Abbott's work table tamsinabbott 209219_10151134357026881_273486064_o

Tamsin’s studio looks suitably like something from a fairy tale!

Next, Mary Baker, who once gave me a beautiful stone age tool when we were out walking and I still carry it in my pocket. She runs Archaeotours from a house near the beautiful woods in Mathry.

Mary Baker of Archeotours

Natasha Hoffman’s desk, with corvidae.

natasha hoffman

Amy Blaza’s desk has interesting things like a quill and a rather large book on Ottoline and a Latin dictionary and some books I recognize and others I don’t. And I want to know what is in the leather journal in front of the laptop.

amy blaza

Jennifer Crook’s desk is portable. On the day she took the photo it was the corner of the sofa. ( There is music from The Shed on her blog).

jennifer crook's desk, a sofa corner

Jane Elliot’s is a stitching desk, complete with a Singer sewing machine.

jane elliot's desk


Below are two of  desks, one more recognizable as a ‘desk’ that the other.

piano desk, Cea Vulliamy More conventional desk, Cea Vulliamy

A desk that looks more like an ‘office’ desk from Roberta Zanasi.

Roberta Zanasi

Karine Polwart’s desk with ” Chief rogue items today? A suitable for 5-12 year olds box with lego police car, handcuffs and sour-faced “bad guy”. Two cassette tapes (what are they?). Earrings as sent to me (and received today) by the gorgeous Matafirska Katarina (thanks Kat!!). An incomplete jigsaw of myself aged 2 (don’t ask/not symbolic). A tax reminder. A CD of British bird song.”

Karine Polwart's desk

Judy Dyble’s desk in a lovely house surrounded by honeysuckle.

Judy Dyble's desk

Tabitha Suzama promises that she didn’t tidy up. Very much a ‘writer’s desk’. Interesting for me to see how other writer’s work.

tabitha suzama's desk, tidy, ordered.

My writing desk is elsewhere. My writing desk is outside as I write when I am walking. I usually find a high place, in the shadow of the wind. Sometimes a cat comes with me.

One of the places I use as a 'desk' when I am writing

And my studio desk again, with lighter fluid!

My desk with lighter fluid ( which is for cleaning woodblocks after printing)


This page has grown so much and is still growing so have moved and added more to The Day of the Desk.  Please feel free to post on your own blog and link back and leave comments. Email pictures of your desk with links to your website. And DON”T tidy up first!

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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17 Responses to International desk day: or, nosing around other people’s spaces.

  1. Chloe says:

    Oh I love being nosey at people’s work spaces! Will have to try to get a photograph of my own 🙂

  2. Georgia says:

    I love this! You always see studios in Magazines or blogs looking so pretty and elegant and yet none of the creative people I know (myself included) work like that. What a lovely idea.

  3. christine says:

    This is the way living should be. A little bit of chaos, many ideas swinging through the room, kitty is meeting the snow leopard and between Mother telling the old stories and petting hares and bears 🙂

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  5. What fun! I absolutely love being allowed a sneaky peek into other artists’ work spaces!
    I used to live in Wales, am now on an island in the Caribbean but carelessly left my soul somewhere in the Cambrian mountains! I admire your work enormously and regularly enjoy your posts here and on FB. Thank you x

  6. Christina says:

    Goodness, Hannah’s desk is almost as bad as mine…thank goodness, I am NOT alone!

  7. Mo Crow says:

    what a great collection of desks!

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  9. Tamsin Abbott says:

    I have really enjoyed looking at these- it helps that ‘connected’ feeling of belonging to a community of artists, thinkers and dreamers the people I love most. However, your outdoor ‘desk’ has made me cry. Oh to be free in the summer sunshine with a dog, the swallows and ravens……

    • Jackie says:

      It is always my ambition to make at least one woman a day cry Tamsin, so thanks! Now, it is time I think that the artistic community was joined by a woman with a glass blog!

  10. Leslie says:

    What a marvelous post. I ended up here thru someone mentioning your kittens but got so hung up in the desk post that I haven’t made it further down to see them. I emailed you with my messy desk pics and a link to my blog. Oh how I loved seeing everyone’s work areas!

  11. margaret says:

    It’s great to nose round in other people’s spaces! I’ve put my own desk(s) on my blog,
    – and didn’t tidy up first!

  12. Liz Brownlee says:

    Fabulous – they all make me yearn. Who would want to be in a soulless office after they have witnessed such a riot of colour, creativity, and artists’ wares! My favourite shop as a child was Frank Herring and Son, Dorchester, I used to go in and breathe in that unique art shop aroma (which is still the same to this day in any art shop, something which cannot be said of many shops) and hanker after pens and glue and coloured pencils and paints of every hue and papers in piles and easels gangling against the wall. My own desk is usually piled high with paper and rhyming dictionaries and books, but was tidied for Christmas. AND polished. Really enjoyed looking at these.

  13. rosie says:

    I love all these desks and would like to move into Tasmin’s studio…

  14. gwen simpson says:

    Love every ones desk photos, and would like to add my own desk photo not sure how to do it ???? Gwen

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