Category Archives: Mobiles

Two Autumns – Jackie Kay


“This autumn,…
The trees have slowly been undressing their leaves
Here I am
Open eyed, beginning, beginning all over again
Astonished at the naked girl in the exhilarating rain”

I really loved this poem by Jackie Kay. The second verse was the  inspiration for this mobile.

I’m very grateful to Carolyn Yates who introduced me to Jackie Kay’s work. I haven’t quoted the poem in full because unlike other poems I’ve used this one is not freely available all over the internet and I don’t have permission to use it. It’s a great poem – seek it out!


The video above shows my second attempt at this mobile, the first is shown below.  I think the new version dances better!


Photographs above courtesy of Alistair Hamilton of Eurgain Studio



Left hand of Darkness


Photographs courtesy of Alistair Hamilton of Eurgain Studio

This mobile is based on a poem which is central to Ursula LeGuin’s fantasy novel “The Left hand of Darkness”.  If you haven’t read it I urge you to do so. Published in 1969 its the first book I read which really challenged the idea of binary gender, but most importantly it is beautifully written and conceived.

“Light is the left hand of Darkness
And Darkness the right hand of Light
Two are one
Life and Death
Lying together
Like Lovers in kemmer
Like hands joined together
Like the end and the way.”

Pied Beauty

This Trout mobile sprung from the wonderful poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins “Pied Beauty”

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

I don’t share Hopkins’s religion (or any other) but I can’t help sharing his delight at the play of light on various surfaces.  I think he’s also marvelling at and celebrating the variety of our world.

Swallows Mobile


Photographs above courtesy of Alistair Hamilton of Eurgain Studio

“They’ve made it again,
Which means the globe’s still working”

This mobile was loosely inspired by the Ted Hughes poem “The Swifts” .

The birds, however, are Swallows because they are the birds which, for me, show the arrival of spring and they always call to mind the lines above.

The birds are made from black walnut, black walnut veneer and sycamore veneer.  The wings and tails are bent and laminated and then trimmed, while the bodies are carved from slid wood.  I wanted the movement to be circular to follow the poem rather than the varied motion of more conventional mobiles, hence the central circle and perspex rays.

Caxtons mobile


Photographs above courtesy of Alistair Hamilton of Eurgain Studio

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Some of these are courtesy of Alistair Hamilton of Eurgain Studio, others are by KSB photography

This mobile was inspired by the Craig Raine poem “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home”  in which he refers to books as Caxtons.

“Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings –

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.”

The Caxtons are made from Oak, Birch, Sycamore, and Cherry veneers, the wings are laminated into shape. The letters are cut from acrylic sheet provided by Pete Machell of DGMYO.

Published by OUP