26 May 2016

Poetry Thursday - an extract from TS Eliot


Time and the bell have buried the day,
The black cloud carries the sun away,
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?

Fingers of yew be curled
Down on us? Ater the kingfisher's wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.

from Burnt Norton (written 1935), one of Eliot's Four Quartets

Chosen at random ... from a random book -

from the shelf -

opened to a random page -

The book is the Folio Society edition, 1968, and has stood unopened for many years.

24 May 2016

Drawing Tuesday - Petrie Museum

The vitrines are crowded with artifacts, mostly pottery, from all the dynasties of Egypt, as far into "now" as Roman times. We were suprised at how many visitors the museum had.

I sat down in front of some convenient jugs and filled a page with their shapes. These are coiled pots and were not always perfectly symmetrical -

Lots of pen lines, no chance of erasing any. Trying for a decent composition on the page spread, but basically I started at top left and worked across each page.

The patterning of the snail shells spoke to me -
Pen again, not terribly accurate ... but it was about the pattern, yes?
They look better with dark accents, and a bit of shadow -

Later I found these tipsy jugs -
 But what was everyone else up to?

Michelle used several page spreads in her handmade coptic stitch book, then did something simple on the first page -
 Coptic stitched books, it must be mentioned, open up perfectly flat.

Janet moved on from single objects, here combining several in a well-chosen scene -
 Jo found the "spirit houses" entrancing -
 Caryl's landscape of ancient pots, carefully observed -
 Sue's fragment of a relief from Thebes, subtly coloured -

23 May 2016

"Home" thoughts

The more I think about this topic, and about the drawing project, the more that everything says "Home" to me.

In the photo of the rescued birdhouse, other elements of Home are the doormats, the threshold, the post waiting to be picked up, the way the hall flooring leads in ... what I know that flooring leads past, and the way it changes into carpet just beyond the stairs -
 This next photo is of someone unknown's home. I love their display of carved wooden trees and am intrigued by the things that people but in their window, to be seen from inside and outside but also acting as a barrier between us-inside and them-outside -
 Making the home a better place ... and the turmoil or even agony that accompanies the process. Protecting the possessions kept in the home, preventing their contamination with the tiny particles of sawdust, paint, whatever. Better to take them all out of the room to keep them pristine, and aim to cull some in the process of putting things back -
 Yet living in one's home is often an automatic process - you don't see the things in there, as long as they let you get around them and carry on a "normal" life. They pile up, you get used to them being there (my inevitable heaps of paper! the unread novels! those few dishes that won't fit into the cupboard!), and it can be a real surprise when someone asks, "what's that doing there?"

These drawings, coloured with coffee, are of my first London home - the shared kitchen -
 and my own room, with too many books (the rest hidden under and behind other furniture) and the useless but decorative fireplace, the limited clothes storage, the sofabed, the desk which grew sideways to accommodate that latest thing, the computer -
 Fortunately that was before I discovered textile art, so no need for extensive fabric storage.

Ah yes, art ... this is towards an art project. So what might it look like? I'm drawn to this reflection, or layering -
 Here it is elsewhere, this time with the addition of holes, seeing into (or through) -
 Resonant, somehow, but I'm not sure where it might go.

I'm drawn to paintings of uninhabited interiors, like this one by Mark Entwisle
and Hammerskoi did similar, based on a place he had lived in ... a sense of quiet, with interesting light and spaciousness.

Extended drawing (is it for the birds?)

Later today, before class, I am to have a tutorial and, given the distinct lack of work done outside class, and the still-woolly nature of my topic, I'm dreading it.  However - perhaps these are the very circumstances in which a tutorial can be most helpful! 

Let's start with last week's class. I'd photographed the bird houses and put them outside the gate for people to take -

then drew them (big) with conte and charcoal -

and captured some very crazy - whimsical, even - thoughts about birds bedded down in feather duvets in the privacy of the birdhouse, rather than exposed in nests -

One of the sheets of paper had a tear, which made a door in the book/house structure - I saved that "for later" and started with the smaller pieces -
This fold-awayable, open-upable, inside/outside book structure is my go-to option at the moment. Why fight it? Much can be done with a sheet of paper and a few folds!
Nests inside (with a very dark area at the centre ... rather like the dark hole where the birds enter, or disappear) ...  On the outside, using an eraser to take away the charcoal. Not really "nests", more like strange spidery things...

Underneath is a pattern of negative spaces from rubbing away the excess charcoal before using the rubber to draw with -
Once I noticed what was happening, I was a bit more careful about where the paper got put for the next bit of wiping-off. I like the way it almost looks like a pile of papers, and their shadows.

But how does it work in combination with the book/house structures ...
Research, still. Pootling about. Not getting anywhere much, just at the moment. 

Too much thinking, not enough doing...

But nice to get feedback from last time, attached to the sheet of "aims and objectives" we fill out at the beginning of each session -
More to think about.

Meanwhile, one of the birdhouses didn't get taken to a new home, so I'm keeping it, for now anyway -
Seeing it in the photo makes me wonder where else it might comfortably sit ...

22 May 2016

Upheaval, continuing

Not all that long ago I showed some photos of my flat amid the chaos of renovation. Much has progressed in the two and a half weeks since the room was stripped. Now it's been insulated, rewired, replastered, and a skylight added -

This stage was preceded, of course, by this sort of thing -

Elsewhere in the flat, the chaos remains, with all the contents of that room, and others, needing "rationalisation" - basically, paring down to 10% (at a guess) of what has been and is hidden in cupboards and odd corners. The aim is to put back into the room ONLY what should BE in the room. So, I've lost my convenient hiding places for the books I might never get around to reading and the swathes of fabric I might never get around to sewing. 

Good, they need to go on to other places, new lives. But the hardening of heart needed to let them go is a wretched process. 

At the moment I'm concentrating on the books. This lot, some 3 dozen volumes, went to the Oxfam Bookshop early in the week -
As it was a sunny day, I put another dozen books "on the wall" and they disappeared in no time.

Which left the rest of the books that had been gathering dust under the desk, on Tom's carefully custom-fitted shelves - a practice piece, it turned out, for the bespoke shelving and cupboard-building that makes up a large part of his "carpentry" livelihood. 
On the left, the keepers; on the right, 44 books looking for new homes
The pile isn't down to 10% and there may have to be some new bookshelves somewhere, but 50% is pretty good.  I'd actually enjoy this if there was an obvious difference, such as a rewarding expanse of empty shelves.

And the sorting is the easy part - without a car to carry many bags at a time, getting the books (etc) to the charity shop takes time. So much easier to put them on the wall on a sunny day, and enjoy seeing them disappear.

This is from one of the older books (1929) that went out -

21 May 2016

Saturday in the park

It's been a long time since I've walked across the park "early" on a Saturday morning. The cafe is full of young families, and there's lots of football instruction going on -
And in the quieter areas, some protected trees get on with what trees do -

In the wild areas, cow parsley in bloom under the trees - no time to stop for a photo though.

20 May 2016

Home thoughts from a birdhouse

Birds sometimes have houses ... do they have feather duvets in their bedrooms?
Feather duvets, backlit
Unnaturally feathery

19 May 2016

Poetry Thursday - New Gravity by Robin Robertson

"pieces of the tree's jigsaw" (via)

New Gravity by Robin Robertson

Treading through the half-light of ivy
and headstone, I see you in the distance
as I'm telling our daughter
about this place, this whole business:
a sister about to be born,
how a life's new gravity suspends in water.

Under the oak, the fallen leaves
are pieces of the tree's jigsaw;
by your father's grave you are pressing acorns
into the shadows to seed.

From A Painted Field (2004),Picador £6.99 (via)

Robin Robertson (b. 1955) is a poet of austere and meticulous diction, tempered by a sensuous music [says www.poetryarchive.org]. He was born in Scone, Perthshire, and brought up on the north-east coast of Scotland but has spent much of his professional life in London where he is currently Poetry Editor at Jonathan Cape. Robertson came late to publishing in terms of his own work, his debut collection A Painted Field appearing in 1997. However, the assuredness of his poetry made an immediate impression [the book won several awards].