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rotterdam, 31 december 2015

an ox-alien

Here we are, already in the third week of another new year! I hope it has been treating you well so far… and that in 2016 we can all be kinder to each other.

On 31 December 2015 the sun was bright and the sky was blue (a good omen for the new year ahead?), so we decided to take advantage of this winter clemency, laced-up comfy boots, and bade farewell to the old year with another visually rewarding city wander through the streets of Rotterdam… where lively street art, dynamic architecture and evocative tall-masted boats abound, and on this gloriously bright last day of the year all in vivid technicolour.

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

apparently rotterdam’s quirky ‘cube houses‘ are intended to represent trees, with all the houses clustered together making up a wood, but to me they seem to be inspired by that simplest (but undeniably classic) of Dutch bar snacks… the kaasblokje

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

lasers from on high
(probably wise to keep that window closed!)

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

(details from the garden wall mosaic community project)

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

beautiful bugs

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

abundant growth

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

no cat can resist the mighty allure of… STRING

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

vanishing point

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

go green… ride a bike

rotterdam, 31 december 2015

1991 mural by little-known dutch ceramics & textile artist harry boom (1945-1995)… so much more interesting than damien hirst’s tedious spot paintings!

rotterdam, 31 december 2015


rotterdam, 31 december 2015

beautiful beryl bay… a perfect spot to curl up with a good book and a cuppa!

rotterdam, 31 december 2015


rotterdam, 31 december 2015


rotterdam, 31 december 2015


rotterdam, 31 december 2015


rotterdam, 31 december 2015

and when, in the middle of the afternoon, the sun begins to set and the winter chill really kicks in, one must seek appropriate fuel!

We’ve been house-hunting for the past several months (OK… flat/apartment hunting. Whole houses in Amsterdam being a little out of our league! Perhaps a better term would be home-hunting), and it’s a very time-consuming and oft-demoralising process. But on the plus side it does mean I have had plenty of opportunity to explore parts of the city I wouldn’t normally find myself in. I was recently on the Prinseneiland, which is just a bit North-West of where we currently live and really so close that it’s ridiculous that I haven’t explored it until now!

Prinseneiland, where the writing’s on the wall and space invaders invade

prinseneiland words

Where birds are welcomed to bathe on a large oak table next to a canal (or to dangle, forlornly inverted, from streetlamps!)…

bird bath, bird lamppost

Where a mural pays homage to Nelson Mandela’s prison vegetable garden…  

nelson mandela's prison garden

Where greyhounds (with bright red collars) sprint apace, and red foxes frolic amongst the roses…

run rabbit run

And where the geometry rocks!

geometry rocks!


Right… after that little diversion I must get back to the books. I have a Dutch exam fast approaching and a vast list of so-called sterk and onregelmatige werkwoorden to get to grips with. Thankfully the postman delivered ‘201 Dutch Verbs Fully Conjugated’ a few days ago… so I’ve got plenty of fun reading ahead ^_^

Well, the Design*Sponge DIY contest came to an end yesterday and my mural/owl came in second. Thank you to all of you who voted for it – it’s been fun participating and great to receive all your positive feedback. Thanks also to Grace at Design*Sponge for organising the contest, and to the sponsors:, sparkability, growmodern and readymade magazine (looking forward to receiving my first issue… for more DIY fun!).

As the prize of $450 was entirely unexpected and came about in no small part thanks to your votes I have donated half of it (£115/€146 by today’s exchange rate) to the World Wildlife Fund for conservation projects in Southern Africa (in the hope that it might go towards the preservation of endangered owl species… or any other creature in need of protection). I hope you’ll agree that this is a worthwhile cause and thank you for making the donation possible.

World Wildlife Fund

When I saw that the image used for the donation link on the WWF website was an owl I knew it was meant to be :-)

DIY and other diversions…

‘Self-promotion’ is not one of my strong points, and although I really like making things I have a hard time actually showing them to anyone (that’s a problem for someone who is a designer / illustrator by trade!). So I don’t know what came over me when I decided to submit my mural painting to the ‘DIY Contest’ over at Design*Sponge. But once you’ve hit that email ‘send’ button there’s no turning back! I was surprised (and very happy) to learn recently that of the 500 DIY projects submitted the mural was selected as one of the 20 finalists. Thanks very much to all of you who gave me encouraging comments and helped me to ‘face the fear’…

You can check out the 20 DIY projects here (they were posted in five sets of four so you’ll need to view the earlier posts to see them all. My mural is listed as No.18). And you can vote for your favourite project here (voting is open until next Tuesday, 18 March ’08). I like Kirsten’s Suitcase Dog Bed (No.10), and Natasha’s Baby Doll Coat Rack (No.4) is delightfully creepy.

If you’re looking for another diversion check out this beautiful sashiko pincushion (and all its equally beautiful non-sashiko pincushion pals) that Kate from needled has made.

In my other life (as the aforementioned designer/illustrator) I have been working on some research for a set of illustrations for a client. My research has taken me, desk-bound, to Cape Town, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Singapore, Durban, and across the length and breadth of New Zealand. It has left me with a serious case (more so than usual) of wanderlust! So it’s very fortuitous that I have a trip to Cape Town planned in the not-too-distant-future (17 days and counting!).

And finally, here are a couple of the specimen drawings I’ve been working on when I haven’t been researching far-flung sunnier climes, admiring beautifully hand-stitched pin cushions (and entering DIY contests?!). I still have a few more creatures to complete before I can begin work on the repeat pattern design I have in mind, but I hope to be able to get started on that soon. In the spirit of ‘facing the fear’ I’m throwing caution to the wind here and posting them at a bigger size than last time.

Octopus & Frog, ink drawings

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Squid & Snake, ink drawings

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images at the top of this post are l to r:
diy contest – mural detail | rocky outcrop, cape point, south africa, april 2005 | seaweed specimen detail | sunset, paternoster, south africa, april 2005


Here is the completed owl (the ‘work-in-progress’ in my previous post).
He’s a tubby little fella…


… but that doesn’t seem to bother him.
He’s quite content perched amongst the branches of his chosen tree.


some of my work, available on etsy
support worldwide wild cat conservation


All images and words on this site are © suzanne norris / sakurasnow unless otherwise specified.


A gift from a friend @jessebreytenbach a couple of years ago, this tiny, beautiful artwork has taken on a deeper poignancy and significance… [Artist: Stephanie Simpson @me_and_norman] - #stayhome #isolation #art #hope #collage #foundtext #goldleaf #gold #crescent #moon #spring #blue #sky #birds #seagulls #soar -
There’s a cat among the pigeons... A very good reason to #stayhome Be safe, be well. - #idiom #pigeons #cat #grayson #grey #greeneyes #ThinGreyDuke #onelungedwonder #MegaLung #GraysonTheGreat #socks #catsofinstagram #catsofholland -
Venetian grafica, part II - #venice #winter #urbanenvironment #streetart #graffiti #urbanart #vermeer #scubamask #architecturalsculpture #stonework #pinecone #water #reflections #canals #seaweed #shrine #jesus #lion #planetearth #strongman #flare #emergency #climatechange #pattern #texture #colour #art - Credits: The ‘woman in scuba mask’ street art is by Blub, based on Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ c.1665. Other artist’s unknown (to me). - [Photos taken in November 2019, shortly before this vulnerable, fascinating city was once again flooded, and long before Italy went into the current lockdown state]
Venetian grafica, part I (part II to follow, because Venice is an incredibly visually rich place – what textures! what colours! what magnificent, ancient urban decay! – and I was incapable of culling my photos down to just the ten permitted by IG in a single post!) - #venice #urbanenvironment #streetart #graffiti #urbanart #architecturalsculpture #stonework #medieval #embellishment #grotesque #chimera #water #reflections #canals #damp #edvardmunch #scream #selfie #baroque #vivaldi #scubamask #violin #owl #tourist #raven #plaguemask #pattern #colour #art #climatechange - Credits: The ‘man with violin’ street art is by Blub, based on an anonymous portrait of (probably) Antonio Vivaldi c.1723. Other artists unknown (to me). - [Photos taken in November 2019, shortly before this vulnerable, fascinating city was once again flooded, and long before Italy went into the current lockdown state]
The only thing crazier than one one-lunged-wonder is two one-lunged-wonders! - #grayson #onelungedwonder #MegaLung #ThinGreyDuke #GraysonTheGreat #doppelgänger #doublevision #tightsqueeze #thecrazies #grey #cat #greeneyes #darkroom #blackoutcurtain #window #reflection #russianblue #catsofinstagram #catsofholland
Glasgow grafica… - #glasgow #scotland #winter #urbanenvironment #streetart #graffiti #urbanart #mural #mushrooms #amanitamuscaria #highrise #highway #creatures #animals #cat #entangled #yarn #birds #beak #steeple #sandstone #gardenshed #hedgehog #treeskeleton #silhouette #concretejungle #pattern #colour #art - (December 2019)

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