19 November 2017

Friday, Saturday

"Tasteful" xmas decs in a shop window...
 ... on the way to the ICA with its fabulous floors -

 ...to have tea with new artfriends -
 None of us got much out of the current exhibition - a series of screens with "rescued videos" by a "postconceptual" artist, but we did enjoy speculating about what postconceptional - oops, postconceptUAL - art is. Or, might be.

On, to the RA to see Jasper Johns, via the xmas lights on Lower Regent street -

 We took the free audioguide, and it was good to get the extra information, but only for the first few items, then I gave up on it. I found that having a "voice in your ear" diminished the enjoyment of the exhibition - the headphones put everyone in their own little bubble, and this was not very different from watching a video. I like the social aspect of seeing an exhibition - or rather, the shared expereince of it, shared with all those strangers. And the unchangingness of written labels, rather than the asynchronous temporality of listening.

Saturday, a walk in the park on the way to Hooked in London, where various projects are ongoing -



We are scheduled to run a workshop at the Museum of London in a couple of weeks, and will be taking our work along as inspiration, as well as samples of small items that participants can make. We'll be showing people how to "transform old fabrics into beautiful designs".  The date is Saturday 2 December, and more details can be found at www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/event

Having not enjoyed the "screens" at the ICA exhibition, it's ironic to receive, somewhat but not entirely unexpectedly, a new screen of my own, which will undoubtedly make my computer time easier on my eyes. It's bigger than the current screen - and it's not shiny - but oh my, its blackness does rather dominate the room. "Dan Hays" is't entirely at ease with its new neighbour, a situation that might be alleviated by keeping the desk clear
The Cardboard Clock has had to be moved to the other side of the room. Not ideal.

Dan Hays is much happier with this set-up -

18 November 2017

Wreckage at the RAF museum

The RAF Museum isn't all perfectly-preserved planes and heroism. "The other side" of the "glories" of war is shown by putting some wreckage into the museum.

From an aircraft collision, 1940, over London -

 Reconstruction, complete with dripping water, of a bombed factory -

Click on the images to read the story -

This plane, a Halifax bomber, lost in an attempt to put the Tirpitz out of action, was found in a lake in 1971 -

The museum decided not to restore it - it's an amazing sight.

17 November 2017

Planting, and musing

With the necessary bricks replaced, finally the tulip bulbs could be planted. The window boxes became a bit dusty during the repointing and need some attention and possibly replanting -
 Out back, the rubble mountain continues to grow, though with the plasterers almost finished in the front room, it may have reached its summit - for now. Later, this area will be rebuilt as an extension to the flat ... but that's "later" -
Out front, though, quite a few hours went by as I happily planted the tulips, and winter pansies, here and there, keeping a photographic record of which went where (though, does it really matter...). Also the pansies indicate places where tulips are expected to appear -
 Garden done - for now. Let's see what survives the winter, and the cat-toilet situation: for 20 years and more, during The Weedfield Years, they've looked upon it as their own -
It would be unfair to say that it's not what I planned. There was no plan, just a vision, a photo in a book with tiny plants spreading through the cracks in the paving, and greenery round the edges.

We went "with the flow" - a couple of trips to the garden centre, filling the car with plants - extravagant, yes, but when you're living through the renovation phase, some instant results, somewhere, are a necessity. The groundwork was a bit laborious, so adding Big Plants was a treat.

And the plants themselves turned out to be quite surprising. There are two "lollipop lilacs" (will they survive...), a tamarisk (not enough sun?), a small eucalyptus still in its pot, for out back eventually, a tall, thin yew in its pot (probably a mistake).

In the sunnier corner is Gertrude Jekyll, the beautiful rose; around it are cyclamens for now and primulas and forget-me-nots for spring, as well as pansies and violas for a bit of colour right now.

The grasses - pennisetum, miscanthus - were an impulse buy and a good idea.

A hydrangea, japanese anenomes, delphiniums (the slugs seem to love them), an astilbe (to be moved nearer the house; they don't mind shade) - and one of those lovely-leaved "forget-me-nots" - Brunnera - rescued from Tony's garden, via a sojourn in mine.

Agapanthus in the corner, still in its pot (perhaps to go out back, "later") from Sue. 

Lavender, despite Tom's protestations - in the sunniest spot, and also in the sunnier window boxes, along with fuchsia and this'n'that, and those flourishing ferns.

Not to forget the remnants of bushy chrysanthemums, which I know from a tiny pot that's been in my garden for a couple of years, can grow enormous; perhaps they'll be moved to a window box...

Before leaving to find some lunch on the way back home, I stood for a long time just looking at it all, without a thought in my head. Isn't that the joy of gardening: in the changing of seasons, to be paying close attention to the jobs at hand, and to have done it all, for now, and put the tools away, and then to stand back and Just Look.

The earliest photo of the garden was taken in August (gosh only three months ago) - the weeds had been whacked, and the ferns put in place (so we thought) - but beneath that scattering of pea gravel and the regrowth of bramble and alkanet* lurked enormous roots, which hopefully have all been dug out - it looked like the craters of the moon for a while, and pitchforks were broken along the way. As for that pea gravel, it's been sifted into rubble bags: undoubtedly it was meant to keep the weeds down, but didn't do the job. The paving slabs, and a little TLC, will do better.

*"what is green alkanet good for? For some it's a weed - I let it grow around my pear tree but try not to let it spread about. It will grow where little else will, and the flowers are pretty and come in a long succession from spring to autumn: if you hack it back to the ground it will return, unperturbed. Finally, and most importantly, the flowers are popular with pollinators, just like its tamer relative lungwort (Pulmonaria)." (via)

16 November 2017

Poetry Thursday - an exequy by Henry King

This poem has several titles - "Exequy on This Wife"; "An Exequy to his Matchless, Never to be Forgotten Friend"; or just "The exequy poem".

You many be wondering what an exequy is - it's a funeral ode. This section is an excerpt from the longer poem.

Sleep on, my love, in thy cold bed,
Never to be disquieted!
My last goodnight! Thou wilt not wake
Till I thy fate shall overtake;
Till age, or grief, or sickness must
Marry my body to that dust
It so much loves, and fill the room
My heart keeps empty in thy tomb.
Stay for me there, I will not fail
To meet thee in that hollow vale.
And think not much of my delay;
I am already on the way,
And follow thee with all the speed
Desire can make, or sorrows breed.
Each minute is a short degree,
And every hour a step towards thee.
At night when I betake to rest,
Next morn I rise nearer my west
Of life, almost by eight hours’ sail,
Than when sleep breathed his drowsy gale.
Thus from the sun my bottom steers,
And my day’s compass downward bears;
Nor labour I to stem the tide
Through which to thee I swiftly glide.
‘Tis true, with shame and grief I yield,
Thou like the van first took’st the field,
And gotten hath the victory
In thus adventuring to die
Before me, whose more years might crave
A just precedence in the grave.
But hark! my pulse like a soft drum
Beats my approach, tells thee I come;
And slow howe’er my marches be,
I shall at last sit down by thee.

- Henry King (1592-1669)

Image result for henry king bishop chichester
Henry King held the position of Bishop of Chichester in a turbulent period of British history. "His poetry is a chronicle of eventful times. The public, political turmoil of the state was matched by private, personal turmoil for King. Most movingly, he suffered, and wrote about, the death of his young wife, Anne. [The poem was written in 1657.]

His loyalty to the king during the Civil War led to Parliament taking away his estates in 1643, but he lived to be reinstated at Chichester at the time of the Restoration.(via) He was a friend of John Donne. 

I came across the poem in a short story, on a podcast. The story (The Surrogate) is by Tessa Hadley, and it's read on "The New Yorker: Fiction" podcast. Every month, a current writer (in this case, Curtis Sittenfield) chooses a story from the New Yorker's archive, reads it, and then chats with the magazine's literary editor about it, which can be very enlightening. Someone had a good idea when they set this up!

15 November 2017

Photo du jour

A bit of tidying up in the garden produced these. How lovely flowers are from underneath - and how rarely seen that way.

14 November 2017

Drawing Tuesday - British Museum

We were in the Ancient Cyprus gallery and had enough "Friends of the BM" cards among us to go to the Members' Room for lunch. When we settled round the table to share what we'd done, I tried to take a photo of the group, with the camera held high. The result is plainly ludicrous -
 My morning's efforts started with using a magazine as the source for collage - cutting out shapes through many layers -
 Horrendous arrangements! -
 Fun and games -
 All this "drawing with a scalpel" was based on the weathered head of Dionysius -
 And this is what happened when the pen got involved -
... which led to a discussion of collage and some suggested homework, based on Michelle's example -
... take a painting (eg in the National Gallery, or from a book) and analyse its colours - find them in magazines and make a collage of the colours in the proportions that appear in the painting.

But first, "round the table" -
Sue's Cypriot kind, c.425BC

Janet B's horse and rider

Jo's boats

Janet K gives the details on just half the head - if it's symmetrical, that's all you need

Mags' statuary group - from the back

Judith used two shades of grey markers

Michelle's small statues, made large on the page
 Snap! two versions of a fertility goddess -

 Extracurricular activities
Autumnal glories, by Sue

Hippo at the Royal Veterinary College, by Janet B

Jo's discovery in a charity  shop - is it meant to be a pencil case?

Collages by Mags ...

... leading to printmaking on fabric