30 September 2015

"The pictures are better on radio"

It's interesting to see radio being "made", and the Why Music? weekend was a great chance to be in the audience for some interesting programmes. Radio 3 was broadcasting live from the Wellcome Collection all weekend, and all the programmes can be found on the iPlayer (if you're in the UK) for a few weeks - the clips are available internationally, I believe.
The studio in the foyer. With the headphones, you could listen live throughout the building

My first stint as an audience member was at "Playing with Patterns" - the way composers have worked patterns and mathematics from nature into their music, from Bach and Mozart to Messiaen and Berg. Here we are in the Reading Room, waiting for the presenter and performers to arrive and oust the photographer -
Later that day, the lecture theatre was packed for "The Psychiatrist at the Keyboard" - Dr Richard Kogan showing how mental illness shaped the works of Robert Schumann and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Leaning on the piano, he spoke without notes, and every now and then sat down and played without notes - for two hours, which passed in a flash. Well worth a listen.
The lecture theatre was packed again to hear sound recordist Chris Watson in "The Sounds of Nature", which included not just natural sounds but a live cellist duetting with a recorded nightingale. (But his favourite birdsong is ... the blackbird.)

As we waited for our live events to begin, we caught the tail end of the previous programme - yet more fascinating listening to be had.

How about "Shaping the Brain" - the ways in which music can influence - even mould - the brain from a neurological and social perspective, to discover how our musical tastes, education and preferences shape more than just our social lives.

Or "Why Music" - Author Philip Ball asks why music is such a universal human trait. How do we recognise music, where does it come from, and how does it affect us so deeply? Philip Ball speaks to scientists and musicians from around the world, including Tecumseh Fitch, Joe Stilgoe, Aniruddh Patel, Robert Zatorre, Laurel Trainor, and Daniel Levitin to explore these questions and some of the insights provided by neuroscience and evolutionary theory.

Or "The Listening Brain" - the benefits of listening to and performing music ... plus ... how and why the brain responds to music, and how musical experience shapes the brain.

Or "Music as Medicine" - the many issues, recent discoveries and theories around music and health, including how music helps both physical and mental wellbeing, and the health problems encountered by musicians.

And more ... at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02zjcpx, "for 30 days" (until 26 October).

29 September 2015

Drawing Tuesday - British Museum

We were in the Islamic Gallery. Here's a collection of objects that caught our attention, starting with my "black slabs" and their wonderful letter shapes -

Glassware in a cabinet - 
Ceramics -
 More glassware -
 Large, symmetrical objects -
 Helmets, their detail bleached out by strong overhead lighting -
 And the sketchbook work -
Jo's colourful collection ...
... and her delightful "glass pot"

Mags' approaches to glassware ...
... and in colour

Cathy B's candlesticks

Cathy M's loosely-textured pottery jar

My black stone carving - two hours spent, and the drawing not finished,
but I did love doing it

Sue's glass collection ...
... and script ...
... and helmet
Useful item of the week - plastic envelope to carry pencil crayons in a way that the colours can easily be seen -

28 September 2015

Autumnal ride

This week I'll be missing the cycling session at Olympic Park. Last week the park had a hillside covered in sedum and sedgey grasses -
 .... and asters under a birch grove -
 ... not to mention the great clumps of grass on the way to the velodrome -
 Their colours currently at their best -
 Various school groups were using the mountain bike area -
 I found my way to the Middlesex Filter Beds, now a nature reserve, and came across the cover of the central section - well you could hardly miss it -
 Further along, past the Nature's Throne sculpture, is the site of mills -
The water supplied power to the mills - to grind corn, a logwood mill to bore holes in (wooden) water pipes, and a cutter's mill to make pins - one workman could point 120,000 pins and needles in one day.

27 September 2015

How lucky ... and thankful ...

My little pink purse fell out of my backpack yesterday - and I didn't notice. Didn't need it all afternoon, so it was a bit of a shock to open the computer after I got home and see among the emails this subject line: Found your purse - that was my first inkling that it was lost!

Heartfelt thanks to Emily, who took it to Lost Property at Euston station. (She was able to email me because the purse contained some business cards.) I am so very grateful to Emily for taking the time to hand it in at the station and to let me know.

And thanks to the attendant at Left Luggage, which is where Lost Property is at Euston, who,  on seeing my dismay when her colleague told me that Lost Property was open Monday to Friday only, decided to go find the little pink purse for me nonetheless.

As for letting the purse fall out of the bag - that is ridiculous behaviour and must not be allowed to continue. I have pared down the contents of the backpack, and will be making sure all the zips are closed at all times.

The point of this little story is that it's easy to overlook things.

And that there are everyday heroes - who make a difference.

As they say ... "pay it forward".

Pot luck

tallest pot is 8cm

smallest pot is 4cm

and these are "medium-sized" - about 6cm

26 September 2015

Packing up

Having got my newest ceramics home, I had to unpack them to audition them for a combination that will fit in a box frame. Then they have to be carefully put away again. I use 1.5 litre water bottles and bubble wrap for storage, though shredded paper is good too.

But how do you know what's muffled up in there? Next task is to print out a thumbnail pic of each pot and tape it to its container. I'll rearrange the contents so that similar ones are together. Measure them before repacking.

It's not just making the work that's the work, is it, it's the looking after the work that makes more work!

Meanwhile here are the first candidates for the box frame -

25 September 2015

Desk downsize inspiration

The desk belongs to Keith Hau, a recent illustration graduate from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, and comes here via the Uppercase newsletter.

It hints at a compact, but not restrictive, way of working. How many materials do you need?

24 September 2015

Folded envelopes

A surprise in the post - two types of folded envelope (thanks, Tina!). The one at the top is straightforward  -

The small one, also made from an A4 sheet, is raaather more complicated -
There's a version - somewhere - with instructions printed on the actual sheet, but can I find it? Here's what it looks like -
The instructions are placed so that you see them when it's time to make that fold. V.clever. But it does take some mental manipulation to understand what to do!

And here's another I haven't tried -

This one tells you what to do rather than shows you -

Poetry Thursday - Vermeer by Wislawa Szymborska

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum
in painted quiet and concentration
keeps pouring milk day after day
from the pitcher to the bowl
the World hasn't earned
the world's end.

"Vermeer", Wislawa Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

The shape of the poem is like a stream of milk pouring itself out, says this reviewer.

I encountered it in Ali Smith's "Artful",winner of the Foyles/Bristol Festival of Ideas Prize 2013, a book with poems (and their permissions)  and longer quotes and a section of pictures - hence also picture credits - "both heartfelt fiction concerning a character haunted by a dead lover and dazzling essays on literature and art".

Wisława Szymborska[ (1923 – 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, and translator; she received the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature and is described as a Mozart of poetry. She lived most of her life in Kraków. In Poland, Szymborska's books sell as well as prominent prose authors, but she once remarked in a poem, "Some Like Poetry", that no more than two out of a thousand people care for the art.