30 September 2009

In Paris - the wildlife

This is an experiment to see what happens when an InDesign file is saved as a jpeg and used on the blog. It kinda works...

And the meerkats are worth a closer look -
These are all in the area east of the Canal St Martin, behind the legendary Hotel du Nord - oh I have a photo of that too (what a great old film - a gripping drama of guilt made in 1938) -

In Paris - along the canal

Hotel du Nord is right along the Canal St Martin, now a trendy area (with a wonderful market down by Bastille on a Sunday). This mural picks up the watery theme, though rowers surely are more common on rivers than canals -This tour boat, going through the lock (huge, deep lock!) had just two passengers -After the boat was through, the gate had to close ... the finally the waiting traffic could go again -
Here are the jolly shops above the lock -
and the interior of one of them - the spotty china reminds me of my aunt's breakfast service, in Hannover in the early 1950s - like mushrooms in fairy tails -
To resist temptation, I sat across the street and watched the world go by till it was train time -

Sculpture week 2

The task is carving - I'd made a model (thinking ahead to finishing up with a much-needed doorstop) -but after a bit of "encouragement", the design got modified to use the space better (lots of little sketches). It's a bit of a leap to think in 3D. Here it is, ready to go -
We got some instruction in correct technique. Point the chisel away from you -
and you can use a saw or wire to cut out slabs and chunks -
By lunchtime, the multi-dimensional doorstop was taking shape. I'm not sure what shape the holes will take - that will "just happen" - it's a learning experience, and exactly what happens will inform what I consciously do next time.
The scrap heap is interesting too - we can take that home, dissolve it in water, then put bits of the goo onto a plaster block - the plaster will absorb the water and make it back into usable clay.
Then it was off to the Eurostar terminal, past the British Library piazza where the hordes were enjoying the beautiful day. Doesn't the new building sit well with the old St Pancras hotel behind it?Hmm, wonder what this bit of "news" was all about -
On the platform, ready to go - the clock is showing "smiley time", 10 to 2 -
Next stop Paris, change there to get the sleeper to Berlin. Some stitching comes along for those moments when you need something to do with your hands...These little patches might end up as part of a piece on the many languages we hear spoken in cities nowadays. For now, they are experiments in mark-making and getting different "qualities" with different threads.

29 September 2009

Site specific - Hampstead Heath

An intention in the landscape - in fact, one of three similar ones along the path -Almost invisible, certainly unnoticeable, from a distance.
And on the path on the right, No Cycling - also with a round area crying out to be filled in.

28 September 2009

Earlier moons

January - Winter Moon - the moon is a hole, with the thready branches passing over it. Of course all that machine stitching caused a lot of puckering of the unstitched background. Lesson learnt.

February - Snow Moon - this was fast - simply dots on grey organza, and a few french knots.

March - Crow Moon - what does a crow look like, when you want to cut one out of fabric? This is what got me drawing crows, and interested in crows.

April - Egg Moon - this one cries out to be redone, even though that was the last of the fresh green linen (recycled from a shirt).

And then Flower Moon and Rose Moon, as in the earlier post. Onward, to the final journal quilts of the year!

On the 45 bus

...the other evening, on the way to a talk about the Jerwood Drawing Prize (interesting exhibition, on in London till 25 October, then travelling to Cardiff, Aberdeen, Cheltenham, Cambridge, Bideford). Around King's Cross, you can see the before-and-after as rejuvenation takes hold -Jolly scaffolding poles on the way to the bus stop. Not somewhere I catch the bus very often ... a chance to look around with "new eyes" -
A familiar sight, but one I haven't seen for quite a few years, certainly not from the front seat at the top of the bus - the back of the lawyers' chambers on Gray's Inn Road, built in the 18th century -
And as you get to High Holborn, this half-timbered survival - Staple Inn, built in the 1580s - the last surviving Inn of Chancery -
So quaint, so British!

27 September 2009

Looking down on London

From the top of Hampstead Heath, over the houses in the Vale of Health -and looking down Highgate Hill - you can see a blue haze, that's "downtown". It was at the bottom of this hill that Dick Whittington famously sat in the 14th century, listening to the bells telling him "turn again Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London".
The 210 bus turns past Highgate School, but you rarely see the pupils - there's a lot of expensive education on view here -


Before starting on the Crow Moon journal quilt, I had to find out what crows "looked like" - and happened to see some while walking on Hampstead Heath. And whipped out the sketchbook. They do move around quite a lot - but the idea wasn't to make beautiful drawings, it was to look - to notice mass and angles -After that I started noticing crows everywhere, and sometimes having another go on paper -
So when this book appeared I just had to buy it, if only for the cover -
It's marvellous reading. The author moved to the Norfolk countryside and became fascinated by a large rookery nearby. The books starts with the birds arriving to roost for the night - "they tunnel into view as if breaking through a membrane". Apart from wonderful word-images, the book is full of information on corvids - the largest black one in UK is the northern raven, then crow, rook, jackdaw; the "colourful" ones are magpies and choughs.

Rooks and crows are hard to tell apart - adult rooks have a bare patch of skin around the beak, and the rook's bill is larger than the crow's. But mainly, crows are solitary or in pairs, whereas rooks are sociable. The East Anglian adage is: "Where tha's a rook, tha's a crow; and where tha's crows, tha's rooks".

Crows fly in a dead straight line when going somewhere in particular - hence the phrase, "It's .. miles as the crow flies."

26 September 2009

More sampling

A continuation of the work seen here - the shapes have become eggs, and something is trying to break out -But these shapes, especially the one on the lower right, are more like what first came to mind. I wanted to do hand embroidery, but might try some other form of crackly patterning - batik? starch resist? shibori?
The interesting thing about nests-full of eggs is that though they're laid over a period of several days, they all hatch at once - there's some sort of signalling going on between the eggs. And it's not just bird eggs ... eggs are smarter than we thought.

While googling "hatching" to add a link to support this interesting fact, I've realised that hatching is also a system of mark-making -- cross-hatching. Sometimes it takes a while for the penny to drop. This opens whole new vistas - it might even be a breakthrough!

25 September 2009

Core studies week 2

The topic for "critical studies" in the morning was: Putting art in place(s): Contexts and modes of display. This involved talking about what museums and galleries are for, and what the role of the curator is. Interesting to think of William Blake in, when, the 1780s? as an "artist curator" - arranging exhibitions of his own work - just as Damien Hirst did in the 1980s with Freize ("hardly anyone went, but he did drag Charles Saatchi along, and he bought a lot of work").

New to me was Turner Prize winner (2004) Jeremy Deller, who controversially admitted he had no "artistic talent", but he could organise things - for example, in 2009 a procession to celebrate Manchester's "everyday culture" - including Big Issue sellers, Goths, modified cars, and "homage to the chip" to celebrate the world's first chip shop - see a 9-minute video here (warning: starts with an advert).

Then it came to the matter of displaying art works - what needs to be considered. Curatorial concerns are that "all aspects of display can affect the meaning of art works" - for example, Jeff Wall displays his photos in lightboxes, to give them an aura that separates art from the ordinary. I'm very fond of his "A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) -Relationships of one work to another can be important too - for example, when setting out collections thematically - fans of Monet's Water Lilies might be upset to see them displayed next to a stone circle by Richard Long...Our task, in small groups, was to analyse how putting works together would affect their meaning and function; find a theme that links them, and give the exhibition a title; and decide what other art works might be shown with them. Here are an inflated bin bag by Ceal Floyer, and Balloon Dog, and Moon, by Jeff Koons - our title was Inflation and referred not just to the air within the items (though the balloons are metal in the sculpture) but to the value of the art works. Then, the politics of display, and the artist of note was Maurizio Cattelan, memorable for his "Pope hit by Meteor" at the Royal Academy some years ago -
In regard to the "white cube" gallery as a "framing device" for art, the artist example was Michael Asher, who alters the actual building, so that the viewer is actually entering the space of the artwork.

Land art and earth works - Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels, both from the early 1970s. And James Turrell's Sky Spaces.

Less excitement (but rather more chaos) in the afternoon, as we continued painting our coloured squares - enlarging them.
At least we shared palettes, so rather less paint was wasted.

Fences, Hampstead Heath

24 September 2009

It's not all about pots

After all those posts about ceramics and other non-textile-related things, I started to wonder if there's any fabric and thread in my creative life these days! Good news -- it hasn't completely disappeared. Today I'm off to Berlin for a long weekend, and am taking a sewing kit along for the train journey -
These are snippets towards "something" about languages ... the marks represent writing (or speech) seen or overheard and not understood. Using the black fabric as background and frame is an idea from Dorothy Caldwell's class at FOQ last year.

One of these "mark making" pieces got favourable comments in my course assessment in July - which rather encourages me to go on with them!


There's been some progress in reducing the accumulation - several dozen magazines have been eviscerated and recycled - but there's still a long way to go, much more than this, unfortunately --As a child I never seemed to get enough to read, or enough pictures - I loved cutting out, especially paper dolls! These, and children's magazines (Jack and Jill was my favourite - gosh, it startedin 1938 and is still going) were special treats, usually when you were ill and needed something to amuse you. So, I seem to have become a hoarder of magazines....

But in this age of pictures-everywhere, and with so much else that needs doing, why hoard magazines that won't be looked at again? Why buy new ones, with just the "same old stuff"?As Mae West said, or was it Oscar Wilde, "I can resist anything but temptation."

23 September 2009

Ceramics, week 2

Last week's work - pinch pots - has been biscuit fired -This week, coiling. A demonstration, and out with the cameras -
My various coils - textured, twisted, large, small -
The spiky-rimmed item (sea creature?) is simply coils on the rim of a pinch pot. The rest are a variety of ring shapes ... let's see what happens next, and if they lead anywhere...
Coiling used to make or embellish yet more pots, including a disk of "agate ware" -
I was encouraged to photograph various arrangements of the pinch pots -
Then they went into my "storage drawer" - awaiting glazing -
And for people who like colour, here are the sponges we use to clean the aprons and tables at the end of the day -