28 February 2015

The view is much improved

While putting together the CQ newsletter - and trying to get most articles onto a two-page spread - I've been frustrated by seeing the PDFs that I send out to the authors as a sequence of single pages on my screen.

And I've been wondering, off and on, if they see them that way too ... but somehow I've never done anything about it, like finding out how to change the view ...

My digital-generation son has taught me that in order to find out how to do something "techy", use a search engine: "Just type in the question as if you're talking, Mum."

So I typed in "how do you get a pdf to display as two pages"  ... and quick as a flash came the answer (ok, I did have to click to get to the page) -

"When you open a PDF for the first time, it may display one page at a time.
You can change the view so that two pages are displayed side-by-side (like a book is). These instructions explain how to change the view in Adobe Reader (a common program used to view PDFs that can be downloaded for free from Adobe).
From the View menu, choose Page Display. 
Then select “Two Page View” and “Show Cover Page in Two Page View.” "

So I did -
"From the View menu, choose Page Display; then select "Two Page View" (or "Two-Up")"
Which means the PDF looks rather like this -
Now, is there some way that two-page view can become the default option?

The first answer to the question "how do you get a pdf to default display as two pages" is a little bit complicated - or seems to be, thanks to the amount of information on the page, and the terse jargon ... I need a digital-generation interpreter!

Back to the Results page, and anothr click brings this useful information:

"Change the default page layout (initial view)
You specify the default initial view settings in the Preferences dialog box. (See Set preferences.)
  1. In the Preferences dialog box under Categories, select Page Display.
  2. Open the Page Layout menu and choose Automatic, Single Page, Single Page Continuous, Two-Up, or Two-Up Continuous.
Note: The PDF opens with the page layout specified in Preferences unless a different page layout is specified in Document Properties (File > Properties > Initial View). The Document Properties setting overrides the Preferences setting. If using Document Properties, be sure to save and close the document for the change to take effect. Acrobat users can change the initial view, unless security settings prevent changes. Reader users cannot change the initial view."

(Preferences is in the Edit menu.)
Setting the default to two page view
It's interesting that "Reader users cannot change the initial view." Now that my view is set to Two-Up, readers of the PDF sent to them will automatically be able to see it as two pages ... whereas when it was sent to them as a sequence of single pages, they wouldn't even be able to change it!

Putting them away

As the delicate ceramics come out of the kiln and need taking home - as well as needing storing at home - there comes the question: how to keep them intact and safe?

Already I have many items made during previous ceramics courses -
... and those are just the ones left out on display - we're running out of space...

The obvious first step is triage -- sorting out what definitely needs to be kept and urgently needs to be kept safe, versus what is a waste of space and should be got rid of. And in between, what to keep on hand or leave out, gathering dust until ... when? For now, I still need to keep some of them - if only to review before the next time I have a chance to develop this project and can focus it more -
Broken bits - to be kept for "a while"
Next is recording, with photographs and dimensions and descriptions. Big job, needs a system, maybe a database? Or maybe just a folder on the computer for the photos, with captions containing dimensions, date, etc -

None of the works have titles (somehow I never even considered titles, these are works in progress not finished Art!) so my plan is to put a small photo for identification on the outside of the wrapping.

Ah the wrapping... Research finds this guidance for shipping delicate items. For the less hazardous task of storage, I'll mostly use bubble wrap - for the flat items at least - augmented with shredded paper for the more 3D and delicate-edged pieces. (Is there a better way?)
Broken bits are layered with crumpled newsprint in the bag;
dimensions have been recorded, for captioning of photos
Finally, gathering the pieces together in one spot - a big box in a cupboard?

All along, I have someone's wise words ringing in my ears - "before you start making it, think about how it will be displayed, and about how you'll transport and store it."

27 February 2015

Ceramics, weeks 6 and 7

It's been disappointing that there has been no porcelain casting slip available for the past three weeks. After my success with the black-and-white porcelain I wanted to get on with using more metalic threads for subtle effects and slumpy shapes, but that will have to wait. Meanwhile the black and white pieces that came out of the kiln so long ago are sitting in a vitrine at the entrance to the building, with a little explanation that these are personal research combining textiles and ceramic and using colour to define the forms (not my wording!) -
I had hoped to cast a flat piece, which was embellished with metallic organza and gathered (and steamed to keep the pleats), but ended up using it to texture some paper clay -
That didn't make me at all happy, though, so I started poking at some leftover paper clay with my pencil to create an interesting texture -
With a bit of flattening and further poking, it started to look quite interesting -
and after a while I had two "chimneys" to put in the kiln -
Unfortunately they were still in the kiln at the next class, so I won't know how they turned out ... and whether I want to make more using this technique ... till next week.

In the interim I had made various textile shapes for dipping -
and the plan was to dip into earthenware casting slip, then fire it at stoneware.
Before and after 
Dip and drip
This one will be upside down, but it'll be wobbly (three legs good, four legs wobbly...)
Painted, not dipped; supported with paper
Dried with a hair dryer so it doesn't collapse
Seven pieces ready for the kiln

26 February 2015

Gone home to roost?

In preparation for the next Fourth Plinth commission, Katharina Fritsch's Hahn/Cock has been removed; it was unveiled in July 2013. The new commission, Gift Horse by artist Hans Haacke, will be unveiled on 5 March. Get a sneak peek here - brace yourself for a very different kind of equestrian statue.

Poetry Thursday - "Sixteen" by Brian Patten


Sixteen, Rimbaud and Whitman my heroes
"PS I Love You" playing in the loud caf├ęs
In a Canning Street basement Adrian Henri
Painting The Entry of Christ into Liverpool
Adrift in an attic, in an ark buoyant with longings,
A map drawn by Garcia Lorca open before me
There was nothing that was not possible
Nothing that could not be reinvented
Ah poetry, at sixteen
Words smelled of tulips and marigolds
Their fumes made sentences
That the bees stole for themselves
- Brian Patten, 1962 from "Jubilee Lines: 60 poets for 60 years" ed Carol Ann Duffy (via)

Brian Patten was born in Liverpool in 1946 and educated at Sefton Park Secondary Modern School. He began to attend and perform poetry at various Liverpool venues, during which time he met Roger McGough and Adrian Henri. In 1962 Patten began to publish his poetry magazine Underdog, in 1967, along with Henri and McGough he published The Mersey Sound, followed by his first major solo poetry collection Little Johnny's Confession. In 1970 published his first book for children The Elephant and the Flower. His many published works include various anthologies, including Love Poems (1981) and Storm Damage (1995), and works for children, as well as extensive writing for the stage, television and radio. He has won several awards and now lives in Devon. 
His archive was acquired by the University of Liverpool in 2007, with the archives of Adrian Henri and Roger McGough. It is complemented by manuscript and printed collections for other Merseyside writers, such as Matt Simpson, and such major literary figures of the 20th century as Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.

25 February 2015

"Exploring Art & Medicine"

First session of a course, run through Mary Ward Centre and tutored by Lucy Lyons, that takes us to places that the public usually doesn't get to go ... but then, how many of the public like drawing medical specimens? Some people are revolted by the thought of "diseased things in jars" and anatomical models, and in fact one person in the class found it all too much - so numbers are down to danger level in terms of the course continuing. If you'd like to join the class, please do so here!

Next Wednesday we'll be at the Pathology Museum of the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, NW3 (class runs 2-5pm) and after that at Barts Pathology Museum, the British Red Cross Archives, Gordon Museum of Pathology, and finally the Old Operating Theatre, SE1.

Today we were at the Hunterian again, looking first at some paintings that were in Hunter's collection - depicting "otherness": a Malay woman, an Inuit woman, two Cherokee men (racially "other"), and also people with disfiguring conditions - dwarfism, endocrine disorder, skin pigmentation conditions -
The art area (via)
Piebaldism (via)
Daniel Lambert (via)
It was Count Boruwlaski, a Polish-born dwarf (1739-1837), who caught my eye (and could dance while playing the guitar, even in old age); he certainly got around in the courts of the day, giving subscription concerts, and at one point met Daniel Lambert. He eventually went to live in Durham, and there's a life-size statue of him in the town hall there.
Drawing from paintings is strange - you'd think it's easier than drawing from 3D objects, but somehow there's less freedom, and perhaps you're your own worst critic of the accuracy. Also, the pencil leaves out much of what a brush full of colour can put in.

I used to use pen all the time, rather than pencil, but even though I don't bother with erasing, doing this with a pen seems a step too far at the moment. (Must have a go...)

Next we looked at "the Irish giant", Charles Byrne, who was 2.31m (7' 7") tall, and betrayed by his undertaker - he wanted to be buried at sea but his corpse was sold to Hunter for £130 -
I was intrigued (or distracted?) by the shadows above his head, overlapping shadows of ribs cast by the bright little lights at floor level -
We also looked at the skeleton of "the Sicilian fairy", Caroline Crachami, allegedly the smallest person in human history -
Double portrait by Alfred Edward Chalon (via)
In the same room was a necklace of human teeth brought from Egyptian Sudan in 1889 by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley, which interested me more than the bones of this sad exploited child (now recognised as having Seckel syndrome) -

The Corryvrechan Tapestry

One of the memorable sights of Edinburgh, for me, was totally unexpected and hanging in the new wing of the National Museum of Scotland -

Obviously by Kate Whiteford - those are "her" colours, "her" shapes - it turned out to be the Corryvrechan Tapestry, woven in 1997 by the Edinburgh Tapestry Company at Dovecote Studios.
Here's a little photo of it being woven, to give you a better idea of its scale -
and on the museum's label are the weavers, with the artist -
The text on the label reads, in part:

"This tapestry was commissioned as part of a scheme to integrate contemporary art into the Museum of Scotland displays. The title of the work refers to the notorious whirlpool to the north of the island of Jura and draws on the artist's fascination with signs and symbols of ancient civilisations.

"Whiteford feels that the tapestry 'reflects the potential energy of both ancient and modern cross currents in the Museum and in contemporary society'. The design highlights links between the Museum's collections and the building, for example the runes at the base of the tapestry refer to our archaeological collections."

Of course I had to buy her book -

24 February 2015

Tuesday is drawing day, wherever you are

Last Tuesday I was enjoying Edinburgh - and aiming to fill a new little sketchbook -
I realised, on the way to the train station, that my all-purpose black notebook was still lying on the ironing board, a silly place to leave something important - who checks their ironing board before leaving for a holiday? Fortunately there was a Paperchase at the station, with a selection of unlined notebooks - despite the many pages, it came at a good price (£3.50). The brown paper wasrather seductive....

After trying out a few different media on the first few pages, I found myself using the soluble graphite for the rest of the book. And developed the aim of filling the entire thing ... which meant I had to "draw like the wind" as we moved around various museums. Coffee shops gave more leisure, but how many coffee cups do you want to draw?
Hmm, always room for improvement... handles are tricky!

Looking back through the hasty pages, a few of my favourites - sometimes because of the ambience and experience and object, rather than the outcome -
Wall of hats at Roseleaf pub
Wonderful deer skeleton (from behind) at National Museum 
At a drawing exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery
Looking south from the flat, with Edinburgh Castle at centre top
That view, for "real"
Waiting for the train to leave Waverley Station
Of course there wasn't always time to draw, or you simply lost the energy to even write a note, so I have a camera-full of images and their labels ... to look at once, and then leave to clutter up the computer??

Still digesting these intense experiences. It will be a nice change of pace to sit quietly and contemplate the object and draw it slowly (there's no hurry to fill the large sketchbook!).