31 December 2015

A nice light dessert

"Lemon Snow" is one of my favourite desserts from childhood, but I've rarely made it myself. Using gelatin has put me off - getting it dissolved without heating it so much that it loses its setting power. The recipe comes from Dr Oetker's "German Home Cooking" (vintage 1970s), in which it's called Lemon Cream, even though it's dairy free; there's another recipe for Lemon Cream with Milk, which as far as I know is not the one my mother made.
Putting lemon zest into little bags and into the freezer has nothing whatsoever to do with the recipe
(they are destined for gremolata at some later date)
Assemble tools and ingredients - dissolving the gelatin in a pan was a mistake
Lemon Cream
Needs a small bowl, a medium bowl, and a large bowl; whisk; pan with hot water
Separate 3 eggs; measure out 100g sugar; juice 2 large lemons (2 ½ smaller ones).
Put       6 Tbsp water in a small bowl
Add     a packet gelatine (12g) – sprinkle onto the water and stir, then leave to soak for about 10 mins. Put over simmering water and stir over low heat just until completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Whisk the egg whites till stiff; add a third of the sugar. (No need to wash the whisk before the next step.)
Add     4 Tbsp warm water
to the egg yolks and beat vigorously until very frothy. Gradually add the rest of the sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and creamy. Whisk in the lemon juice and dissolved gelatine. As soon as the cream begins to thicken, fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Put into individual serving dishes or a pretty bowl. Chill until set.
Ready to chill

30 December 2015

Plastic food storage container miracle

Untested as to efficiency and durability - but they stack compactly, give a range of eight sizes, and it's easy to find the right lid. What was once a jumbled drawerful is now a half-empty space - a minor miracle! Apart from two little ones, the old stuff is destined for the charity shop or the recycling bin. 

29 December 2015

Drawing Tuesday - Museum of London Docklands

What intrigued me, in this 1999 model of West Ham tube station was the passage between the houses and the wall
It was going to be just the houses and wall, from several angles, but grew into a general view
No label for this display of handles for gripping the bales (presumably)
... and not enough space between them in my drawing;
next time, start with the negative spaces
It was amazing to see how many different objects everyone drew - pages and pages!; what follows is their favourites among the day's work -
Keys by Marina

Najlaa's documentation of a previous visit to the museum...
... and of one of the ships she drew

Janet found it effective to add the edge of its glass shelf to the West African sculpted head

Joyce found a 19th-century tea trolley (bales of tea, that is)

Sue had another go at the rack of blacksmith's tools she started last time
and moved on to this box of tools

Afterwards we had a look at the new roof garden near West India Quays station
Next stop: V&A's stained glass gallery

28 December 2015

27 December 2015

Pots in books - Alison Britton

Having seen Alison Britton's jaggedy pot (Big White Jug) at the V&A recently, I now hear of her book, "Seeing Things", and am looking for a library copy to help decide whether to buy it or not. (The reason for indecision is that my bookshelves are too full!) Here's a little video that takes a quick flip through the book; and with a little fussing I was able to get a screenshot of a page
that resonates with my drawing of Lawson Oyekan's huge lumpy incised perforated pot. I'm curious as to how this image fits in with the jaggedy pots. And what other subjects are covered. And an "applied artist"'s point of view...

On the V&A website are two videos about her work - in the one about the making of the pot she says it's a "make do and mend" piece, real patchwork using lots of bits, built in a very casual way to start with (love that approach to clay!). In five other short videos, ceramicists talk about her work.

Alison Britton has taught at the Royal College of Art since 1984 and has had a studio in Stamford Hill (not a million miles from here) since 1986. Her first significant solo exhibition was at the Crafts Council Gallery in 1979.

Some of her work (via google images) -

26 December 2015

Drawn threads

Something so insubstantial, even invisible - how often do we notice the shadow of a thread?

I'm drawn to fabric, threads, stitches as a source of ... drawings! ... and am aiming to do a series, noticing these small things.

Linked to Nina-Marie's blog - Off the Wall Friday.

25 December 2015

Xmas traditions

The traditional angel on the tree, and traditional candles
carefully placed - they will be lit in the evening instead of the electric lights
The wreath from 2013 ... or maybe 2012 ...
... once again is revived with fresh greenery and woolly flowers,
including a daffodil because they're blooming in some parts of the UK
"Merry Christmas, EVERY one!" as Tiny Tim said.

24 December 2015

Poetry Thursday - Dust If You Must by Rose Milligan

Dust If You Must 
Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better,
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed,
Ponder the difference between want and need?
Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
Music to hear and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come 'round again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not always kind.
And when you go and go you must,
You, yourself, will make more dust.

by Rose Milligan (with thanks to Liz Davidson for bringing this poem to my attention, and reminding me that the fridge needs cleaning...tomorrow)

This charming poem is much blogged and has certainly done the rounds, sometimes with a new veneer of personal attribution, or explanation, like this:
This sweet poem was first published on September 15th 1998 in the 21st edition of The Lady (“in continuous publication since 1885 and widely respected as England’s longest running weekly magazine for women”).
‘Dust if you Must’ was written by Mrs Rose Milligan from Lancaster in Lancashire. Whose name we love too. It being a combination of the classic English bloom and that brilliant comedian, the most excellent Spike Milligan.

23 December 2015

New gallery at V&A

Europe 1600-1815 suddenly appeared near the "tunnel" exit from the V&A - or rather, I vaguely knew this refurbished gallery was now open, and on leaving via the tunnel the other day, decided to have a quick look, at least at the nearest room, late 18th century.

Textiles are plentiful in Room 1, both in cases on the walls and as costumes in glass cases -
The costumes aren't on plinths, and standing beside them, you realise that people were not as tall in the 18th century. And the tiny waists, of the women at least!

This wonderful cover/quilt ("inlaid, applique and embroidered with raised work"; made in Prague, 1790) is tucked away in a corner -
(sorry about the wobbly photo; light levels are low)
and this suit is half size, too small even for a child; it was probably a tailor's sample, made in England or France in 1765 -
 In the section on Comedia dell'Arte is an interactive Masquerade film. Harlequin demonstrates and you emulate his movements - the camera above the screen compares your movements and an indicator appears at the bottom of the screen to tell you how well you did (this little lad was a star) -
 What really excited me was this cabinet, "the Roentgen commode", made 1776-1779 -
Wonderful marquetry, using the natural colours of different woods - and wonderful mechanisms that, with a single key, opened a series of secret drawers, as shown in the short video -
"It was chiefly made as an object to inspire admiration and envy," says the museum's information, and also: "In 1817, the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) published a fairy story, The New Melusina, that had been written some years earlier. In it he described the fairy palace, comparing it to Roentgen's work: 'Whoever may have seen a trick writing desk made by Roentgen, with springs and secret drawers that can be set in motion, whereupon writing space, paper, letters, pigeonholes and money compartments are all revealed all at once or one at a time, will have some idea of how this palace unfolded before our eyes....'"

22 December 2015

Calendar lust

Now this is what I'd like to see on my wall, filling my eyes every time I add an appointment -

Jeanne Williamson is selling these calendars, with 12 images of her work ... but to US addresses only. If you live in the US, you can order yours here.

Drawing Tuesday - ceramics gallery, V&A

"My" green bottle, with buffalo and lion - from Isfahar, Iran, 1600-1700
The colour definitely adds something!
 These were in the case behind me - tools and cobalt used in the production of blue and white wares in China -
 Later I found these giraffes cosying up to each other
Group of giraffes by Stella Crofts (1898-1964),
made in Billericay, Esses, 1923
I dreaded putting in "all those spots" and tackled it generically rather than as an exact copy -
Not enough time to draw these, this time -
Seraphin Soudbinine's style is "a mixture of Russian and Chinese" ... but to me it looks rather Meso-American.

Going round the table ...
Marina's decorative tile design 

Sue got wrapped up in Merete Rasmussen's twisty red piece

That tile again, by Janet B this time

Jo decided the stoneware sagger must have been used in the kiln to protect small pots

Cathy's colourful page of shapely pots

Two versions of the same Nigerian coil-built pot, by Joyce and Marina

The angles of Alison Britton's pot, by Joyce

21 December 2015

A whale of a drawing

Researching the galleries at Docklands Museum for tomorrow's drawing day, I came across this whale skeleton that had been on temporary display in 2010 (whaling is part of the story of London as a port) -
with a link to an article about Gabriel Orozco's "Dark Wave", a 14m skeleton of a roqual whale that he calls "a drawing" - it's covered in graphite, describing the topography of the object -
"The entire skeleton has been drawn over in black graphite. Sections of concentric circles bend and arc across ribs, zebra-striping massive jawbones and tracking over the uneven, organic forms of the animal's bones. The circles and arcs intersect and overlap, passing around and across the fragmented vertebrae, working their way into the intricacies of the skull and the pelvis, and skittering over the bones of the flippers. Pattern is everywhere, the yellow-white of bone and greasy, shiny graphite black. "
Seeing that brought to mind the - quite different! - work of Lucy Skaer, seen in 2009 show for the Turner Prize - 
The grids contain various depictions of bone; if
you look hard you can make out the shapes
of Hokusai's well-known print (via)
That drawing (which appears in Tania Kovats' book "Drawing Water") was extremely important in my art-life, both for its size and its intricacy. It became the basis of my travel lines and a lot of work in the foundation and MA course. (Between then and now, I had completely forgotten about it!)

Isn't it interesting how you return to the same topics (or themes, or threads) after a long digression elsewhere - or is it that the real thread (or theme, or topic) is something deeper down that you're accessing via the different iceberg-tips that appear, seemingly randomly?

A few months back I came across the great whale hall at the museum in Bergen - via the internet, rather than in person - and somewhere in the subsequent research, found this wonderful photo taken inside a whale skeleton -
 It's under investigation by means of making an ipad tracing -
with a view to, through the action of the hand, finding a way of abstracting "something" about it.