31 March 2016

Poetry Thursday - Ode to Things by Pablo Neruda

Ode to things

I have a crazy,
crazy love of things.
I like pliers,
and scissors.
I love
and bowls –
not to speak, of course,
of hats.
I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
small – 
and flower vases.

Oh yes, 
the planet
is sublime!
It’s full of
through tobacco smoke,
and keys
and salt shakers –
I mean,
that is made
by the hand of man, every little thing :
shapely shoes,
and fabric,
and each new
bloodless birth
of gold,
carpenter’s nails,
clocks, compasses,
coins, and the so-soft
softness of chairs.

... and that is just the beginning of Pablo Neruda's poem, one of many in the book of almost the same name -
Among them are odes to the cat, the dog, the onion, the tomato, a bar of soap, a pair of scissors. 

29 March 2016

Drawing Tuesday - V&A

Most of us stayed in the room that was displaying Alison Britton's work over the past 40 years. What an interesting exhibition, with wonderful shapes of pots and interesting decoration. 

It was hard to know where to start - so I started by giving myself permission to have a messy day ... and started with the blind drawing top left, then some pots seen from afar, then some combinations of colours -
Until the page was full -
I particularly liked these two plaques, which were quite chunky and had an additional raised rim so that they seemed like two framed mirrors hanging on the wall. (Lying flat, they could hold water, which could mirror the sky...)
The one on the right was first drawn from across the room - and looked quite different close up!

What was everyone else up to?
Janet K went for two big black/white pots, then focused on the decoration of another

Joyce chose this one, among several she'd drawn, to be photographed

Carol used her careful marks to show tonality, then brought in colour as a background

In a warmer room, Janet B found a horse on a Renaissance door lintel
Discussion of materials and methods brought out two good tips:
Using china markers to add white highlights

Inktense pencils - "mix them with water and WOW the pencil turns into vibrant ink"

"Edge" developments

You get a fixation  about what it's possible to do, and then someone says something that shifts it. I was fixated on having fabric in the middle of the Edge piece - and then Karen wondered about sanding the words off the pages. I thought of lots of reasons to not do that (it's not fabric; how to join those pages; how many would be needed; how long it would take;  would the paper withstand the sanding; the dust and mess...).

But tried it anyway - and I'm liking the look of it.
 It'll look different in the larger scale, but you get an idea of the contrast in value in the sample -
Might need to glue or bond the paper to fabric so that the large expanse doesn't come to harm if the quilt is juried in and has to travel round to the many venues that have been arranged for CQ's "On the Edge Challenge" exhibition in the next couple of years.

Next experiment: glue paper to fabric and sand it after glueing.

Further thoughts: gauze layer over top? Gesso (tinted?)?

You won't know till you try.

28 March 2016

Going, going...

Today's windy weather, the tail end of Storm Katie, is whispering "spring cleaning..." - so I'm having a stab at it. Nothing full-blown, just trying to make some more room for light and air and life.

It was easy to fill three bags for the charity shop and another for the bin, but there are always items that are hard to deal with.
Tweedy, bobbly hand knit, finally finished and worn just twice... any takers?

Love the red beads (happy 1990s memories); in fact all of this
is about memories, even the 1970s necklace made for me by an
uncle, and the Chanel soap brought from Paris when Mr T went
on a trip there with the school he used to teach at

These have found a home with book makers, to be scanned and used in collage

No doubt about it, you just have to harden your heart and say goodbye to things. "They're only things ..."

Research, they call it

Ah "research" - in art, it covers a range of activities. At the moment it means "collecting pictures/images" - the theme of the Extended Drawing class next term is Territories. Lots of scope!

I'm not at all sure what I'm looking for, so here are some images that appeal, from the many on my hard drive ... just a jumble, adding some randomness

possibly by Richard Long
"witchy trees" near Tate Britain ... others I see often are along Ladbroke Grove
December dusk along Stroud Green Rd ("my street")

The mystery of doorways

More mystery, with a starting point of marks on a floor

Limitless, somehow

Make up your own story!

Could be a map of an ancient settlement

What's more "territorial" than a pillow?

Gewitterbild by Floris Neususs - photo made by lightning; love the idea

~Transparent Drawing" by Ellsworth Kelly

Mosaic doorstep / threshold in Mayfair
Building site (Crossrail), Dec 13 - underground/overground
Layered view ... consider mistyness

"Walk this way" (another building site)
Folding "maps", an intermittent project
A non-view? (limitless, again);  Hampstead Heath
Christo's wrapped trees

Piles of ceramic "paper" by Sarah Dodd

27 March 2016


Found, along with dozens of other modern, desirable books (mainly novels) in a skip. Seemed a pity to leave them there....

They join the unread books on the shelves. It seems a small act of kindness to rescue these few, among the hundreds of thousands of books  thatget pulped every year. Which certainly seems like a waste.

As my grandmother said, "Be careful with books. They take a long time to make." 

26 March 2016

Edge and middle

"Edge" now has an almost-final title - On the edge of silence. It's about the world of words - with their nuances and expressiveness - that we live in and indeed take for granted; it ties in with the "loss of memory, loss of language" theme from my MA work. We're so used to happily using all the wonderful words  that we gather throughout our lives ... and then gradually as we age, the right word isn't always there - until, in the worst case, words fail altogether. 

Looking for the misremembered (and perhaps misattributed) quote about the roar that lies behind the silence, I found other quotes that are worth recording, if only to show different perspectives on what that flat, still, central region in my quilt might represent:
Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation... tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation. ~Jean (Hans) Arp 
We must have reasons for speech but we need none for silence. ~Proverb 
Silence is medication for sorrow. ~Arab Proverb 
To silence another, first be silent yourself. ~Latin Proverb 
Silence was never written down. ~Italian Proverb 
Silence is a fence around wisdom. ~German Proverb

The silent man is the best to listen to. ~Japanese Proverb

Silence is as deep as eternity; speech, shallow as time. ~Thomas Carlyle
A beige piece of cotton  that emerged from the stash seems to have the right colour - but it wrinkles dreadfully, and I don't want to add lots of quilting or stitching - it needs to be flat, calm, boring ...
... and unwrinkled.  What could be done to avoid wrinkles? Perhaps ... add some purposeful wrinkles*?

Having made the 8" sample of the border, I auditioned some gathering -
And then thought to do a mockup in photoshop. Unfortunately some threads found their way in - not the effect I was after, at all! -
It took a long time, and a lot of help, and a lot of explaining! to learn how to do this ... and when I try to repeat it, without the distraction of the threads, I've forgotten. 

In any case, I think the gathering is too fussy. (Austrian blinds, anyone?)

The hunt for a non-wrinkly, plain, boring background turned up some grey linen-look furnishing fabric which might do -
(looks much darker than in reality!)

Again through the wonders of Photoshop (filling with 50% grey), this is what it would look like if the centre was made one row larger, at the bottom -
The grey shade in the edited photo is making me rethink the grey, or at least have a closer look at it tomorrow (it did look ok when I took the 8" piece in to the shop with me). There's still time for another riffle through the stash in search of mid-tone neutrals of the non-wrinkling sort. 

*Another thought about purposeful wrinkles - perhaps a grid of self-colour machine stitch would be "unobtrusive enough" - some thread came to hand - worth a try, if only with the 8" sample.

Homey coincidence

Seen within minutes of each other, the first  on a window sill in a meeting room at Craft Central, Clerkenwell -
An invitation - too nice to bin right away
 the other, in the window of an architectural office on the way to Farringdon Station -
West Quay Study Models "draws upon and reinterprets the historic context [of West Quay Waterfront in Poole]
in a contemporary idiom. the roofscape includes pyramidal and long-ridge roof-forms which echo the
Maltings and Warehouse roofs in the town. The ceramics heritage at Poole continues today at
Poole Pottery and the practice used this as inspiration for the gateway building at the Old Bridge.
The model by Lorraine Ruff Ceramics, Camberwell, was commissioned by the architects."