Monday 19 April 2020


Dreamt about fruit in various forms throughout the night. In one dream I sat at the kitchen table at DARP and ate fake, plastic fruit and manifested it tasting like the real thing. In a dream that came early in the morning, I was told I had to stop eating so many apples because the world’s apples were in short supply. I was told to eat oranges instead.


Woke up very early today because I have a new schedule. Read a productivity book over the weekend and it taught me a lot about ­time blocking. I made an excel spreadsheet to give my life structure. It made me feel calm to see my life time-blocked and colour coordinated.


It was warm and bright all day.



At lunchtime, Ella and I sat at the table in the basketball court and ate a large beetroot salad with honey mustard dressing. Sean tinkered with the house bikes. We listened to an ambient/techno playlist on NTS and fantasised about being at a day time festival in Tempelhof. We decided DARP should have a school trip to Berlin, to go to art parties and get stick n poke tattoos. Or whatever people do in Berlin. I texted the group asking if anyone would be into getting a stick n poke tattoo saying DARP on them. No one replied.


Prag and Hugh arrived in the evening! They had taken the train up from London to Derby and then cycled the two hours here. They both looked tanned and lithe and they beamed and brought joy into the house in such a sudden way. Hugh – Prag’s new partner, a performance artist and activist with an absurd sense of humour and gentle way of meeting the world - told us stories about his own experience of communal living in a squat in London. I asked him what his housemates were like and he said there was 30 of them and the spectrum was broad but in summary the spread began with the Brazilian lady who lived at the end of the corridor upstairs, who had recently gotten married to God, and ended with the Calabrian man who lived at the end of the corridor downstairs, a drug dealer and gangster who went by the alias Serpentino.


Tuesday 20 April 2020


Spent a lot of the morning in the studio working on a pastel drawing. I was happy with how it went (I tried to work methodically, strategically) but drank too much coffee and smoked three roll ups by 11AM and then felt dry and unwell.





I had a shower and realised that I needed space to myself and made the decision to go back to Spain, to a residency I had done back in November in Almeria by the sea.


Did a too-intense workout.


Dipped in and out of the lives of others – Prag, Ella. It’s so interesting seeing the threads from such different worlds coming together. My childhood friends and art friends. Ella, Prag, Hugh and I messed about in the kitchen and compared belly buttons. We realised Prag had a really glamorous belly button, a neat vertical slit. We imagined a reality where Prag became the industry standard for belly button modelling. Her Wikipedia bio would say “human rights lawyer and belly button model”. We imagined her eventual downfall and the public apology she would have to give, following the inevitable backlash she would face on social media for reinforcing impossible beauty standards, and belly-button shaming teens.


Wednesday 21 April 2020


Had an emotional meltdown over some shit on the DARP group chat. Have been overwhelmed and not communicated properly with my housemates about guests arriving (A was visiting over the weekend too). Felt sad and tired. Keep waking up at 5:40. Thought about getting curtains.


Thursday 22 April 2020


Worked in the studio over the morning. The drawing was very nearly done but the background was still push and pull. Almost there. When I feel elated with work like this, I often feel scared too, sort of paralysed, worrying I might put a foot wrong and destroy everything.


I suppressed urges to tear up the drawing just to get rid of the problem.


Later, on the way to the post office, I had a long chat with my mum. I hadn’t spoken to her in ages. I had texted the family group earlier that day saying I missed everyone, and all I had got in response from her was a message saying ‘58kg’, which was the new weight she had reached since being on a diet.


On the phone, she told me about everything she eats in a day, about the vaccination centre she has been working in and something about Boris Johnson. I zoned in and out. We discussed relationships, and her and my dad potentially visiting DARP.


Had a session with my Jungian analyst, Gail. Discussed my dream from Monday about apples and oranges. She suggested that the apples were England and the oranges, Spain. A sign to go to Spain! Discussed another dream I’d had about flow states. She said Spain was my flow state. I cheered. Spain IS my flow state.


At around 6pm, we cooked communal dinner - carrot tortilla, crispy roast potatoes and balsamic glazed cherry tomatoes. Then, Ella, Jake and I retreated to the chapel (the room where we meditate, which has incense and candles in it, but not much else to differentiate it from an old school office, which is what it is). We were going to do some tarot readings. It felt like everyone in the house was having a spiritual crisis, and we needed some guidance.





We listened to a show called sacred spaces on NTS and fell into the whole experience. Our cards were accurate and affirming: Jake should take time and space for himself and perhaps start journaling, Ella should follow her personal life path, without distractions of excess (or her ex), and I should remember that all worries and heavy thoughts are just swords on the wall that can’t harm me, and that I also have an astrology blanket to protect me.





The lovers is an obvious one. Lol. I'm most into that very phallic, erupting volcano in the background though.


We made ourselves a G&T. Ella and I smoked a cigarette out the window of the chapel and something about the lighting and music made us feel very elegant. For a moment we felt like we were in a French bar. Jake took a photo of us, though, which sadly revealed that in fact we were both wearing ski-jackets, and also made it look like it was 3AM and we were coming off drugs in an empty room at a house party.


Friday 23 April 2020


Went to the gardens by the cottages to take photos of myself for drawing reference. Decided to nap on the grass. The whole place was sun soaked. Listened to an episode of Talk Art with Rachel Whiteread. Wondered why Russel Tovey kept saying the word ‘arty’ to Rachel Whiteread. Thought about how much better Talk Art would be if the hosts were less simpy.


A didn’t text me back all morning. It triggered something in me - made me alarmed. I started projecting, imagining irrational things like he had got back together with his ex or had decided that I was an evil person. He texted me at 2:32PM with an emoji of a cat with heart eyes. I think I have an anxious attachment type.


Saturday 24 April 2020


Woke up stressed. Still overwhelmed. Fantasised about running away. Scrawled lines of affirmations in my morning pages: life is playful and fun! life is playful and fun! life is playful and fun! I had chewed the end of my new muji pen though, so every time I got to writing the and fun! bit, spit would fly out of my nib and soak the paper through.


A arrived that afternoon and I was so happy to see him. It was the first time I had felt

pre-bonded to him. We spend so much time on the phone to each other, so in the past seeing him irl had resulted in some sort of initial disconnect. He had said it was like like I would thaw over the days we would spend together. This time it felt easy though. We drank cocktails and laughed and caught up. In the garden. In my room.


That evening, we all had a bonfire. We ate a small amount of mushrooms and continued to drink, excessively. Hugh played the banjo and told absurdist stories, and Jake and A bickered about free memberships to private members clubs.


Sunday 25 April 2020

Hungover. Of course. Long morning in bed. A and I walked through the park to Nutbrook Café. I ate a large jacket potato with beans, cheese and tuna mayo, which felt like a little much but both A and the lady behind the till egged me on. A and I discussed the benefits of practice-based PhDs, what living in Sweden might be like, and then panicked over suddenly feeling so middle-aged, holding hands and drinking flat whites at a charming café in the East Midlands.


The day was slow. And nice. At some point A worked on editing his film and I hung out with Prag and Hugh in the basketball court.





Prag had a fat love bite on her neck. Hugh told us more about his squat, about his housemate Liam, who had set fire to his other housemate, Arianna’s, feather boa. We laughed and discussed the merits of structural tension processing procedures. A later pointed out that burning a feather boa is, in itself, a form of tension processing. Hugh agreed but suggested that maybe it would have been safer if Liam had burned the feather boa outside the squat, rather than inside by the electrical cupboard with a blowtorch.


In the evening A and I practiced inversions in the corridor and then we all had vegetable curry for dinner. There were so many of us in the building it felt like we were at an opening. The melodic sound of people meeting, getting to know each other, giggling.

(originally published at: https://darp.substack.com/p/sophies-diary-12-april-18-april)


Monday 12 April 2020

Had coffee in bed with Ella this morning. The light is so beautiful in her room, coming through in hazy slithers. We gossiped and stared at the blackboards on the wall ahead of us, and considered the to do list she had written on them. There were dead flowers in a vase on the windowsill and an empty dominoes box by the door. She looked soft and angelic and had a squashy voice from recent sleep. I complained about various things to her, thought about how coarse my voice sounded comparatively, and then ran out to write my morning pages.

At 9AM we had a house meeting. We have recently become the local Co-op’s food waste partner, meaning there was an abundance of free food for breakfast. Sean stuffed the surplus croissants with cheddar, spinach and pineapple chutney. I poured an entire punnet of blueberries onto my porridge, which felt excessive, but also good. We cleaned together and then I got myself ready to make a trip to London. I was excited, I’ll be honest. I love DARP and, despite being a devout Londoner, have grown to crave the reclusiveness it provides. But as the UK starts to open up again, I have to admit that all I want is a chaotic London street, to go to small galleries and look at art irl, to almost have an anxiety attack on the tube and to buy some overpriced stationary. I’m heading to London primarily because I am showing a series of pastel drawings in a group show at The Sunday Painter (alongside Harminder Judge, Kate Newby, and Gillian Lowndes). This is the first time I have been in a show at a commercial gallery in London, and, as a Sunday Painter fan girl, this is quite a big deal for me. I feel proud and excited, but am also dealing with intense imposter syndrome. (website for exhibition here!)


(Note to self: Fuck! The clouds look so good out this train window! They have that beautiful violet shadow on their underbelly, and are cartoonishly fluffy and white on top. The trees also look so good: their shadows are long and there are acid yellow fields in the distance, interrupting all the muted, English greens and browns.) Tuesday 13 April 2020, Wednesday 14 April 2020

These days have been lost to London. I can’t really tell you what I’ve been doing, but basking under sky scrapers and eating disappointing food in panicked restaurants. I’m in the very early stages of seeing someone, so, I must admit, I spent a lot of the time buried under their duvet. They live in a place described as ‘serviced living’ in a massive block in Canary Wharf; it’s a bit like a domestic WeWork. Everything is painted grey and there’s terrible art on many of the walls and floors. Here’s a pic of m favourite artwork, ‘paint, yoga, words, war, jelly, art, MMA, apps’.




Thursday 15 April 2020

Finally made it to my show at the Sunday Painter today! Will and Harry had hung the show so thoughtfully, with so much breathing room and dynamism in the room. I went with Divya and after we walked over to our friend’s café in Kennington, Sugar Pot, to collect Daisy. After wondering around aimlessly for a bit, we decided to hang out on the skate ramp in Kennington Park. Daisy smoked cigarettes. I thought about how we had gotten so old. And what we were sill doing in a skate park. At 5PM I realised I was too cold and tired to be in London, and so impulsively made the decision to return to DARP. I went to M&S at Kings Cross and bought two packs of percy pigs for my housemates here, but then accidentally ate one of the packs over the course of the journey back. (London is depleting and I really, really needed 700 calories of percy pigs) I got back and there was hot pasta on the table. We ate together and I told everyone that it was better at DARP, and that I would strongly recommend they didn’t leave. We came up with a new slogan for our as-of-yet immaterial merch: “LOVE DARP, HATE YOU”. (jk, we hope to foster a nurturing and inclusive environment at DARP). Friday 16 April 2020

Today was slow. I went to the studio at some point and slightly messed up a drawing that I had, until that point, been happy with. At lunchtime I returned to my bed to nap and read. I had just started my period though, so I felt this was an acceptable thing to do. At around 7PM, a friend of mine and Jake’s, another Sophie, arrived. We ate lentil stew and chips together. Sophie was very impressed with DARP but expressed concern over it potentially being spooky in the night. Saturday 17 April 2020

Breakfast time at DARP is always the best. The windows in the kitchen are south facing and the room becomes a sun trap. Jake made Sophie and I porridge in a bain-marie. I took the piss out of him initially, but must admit, the results are very creamy. After a walk to the café in Shipley Country Park, Jake, Sophie and I headed out to the basketball court to paint each other. We each took it in turns to pose and then gave each other 25 minutes to get something down on the canvas. We all studied at the Royal Drawing School together, so you can understand from where we may have picked up this rather romantic activity. My paintings were not great, but the exercise is always good training for the eyes. And good training in letting go, in making something. Anything.



In the evening we made bbq food (which we cooked inside in the oven, rather than on the bbq, so perhaps the food was more bbq adjacent) and talked about memories from school. Sophie told us an incredible story about a year 7 who’s bum got superglued to a toilet seat, and how they had to be taken to hospital to have it surgically removed.

Sunday 18 April 2020

Another slow breakfast. More porridge. Sophie left! Back to London! Ella, Jake and I stayed at the table and gossiped. Discussed painters at Project Native Informant. Discussed potential plastic surgery. Decided it was more authentic if artists were ugly. Jake and I did a work out whilst Ella programmed on my bed. Spent the afternoon teaching students over zoom, reading, writing this. Realised I had slightly overdone it with the workout. Lay horizontally for a while. At 8, went to eat communal dinner that the others had made! Rice that tasted like stuffing from Christmastime and roast veggies from Trinity farm’s surplus food. Nothing was out of a packet (apart from the Sriracha, which I am addicted to and keep, shamefully, under my chair at every meal). For dessert we had an experimental bread-and-butter pudding and there was an exciting moment when I blowtorched the top of it with a heat gun from my studio.



(!Note to self! consider going into food writing, since all I seem to want to do is write a love letter to porridge)

Updated: Apr 23