31 October 2016

Tis the season...

... to support your local, independent art supplies shop!

Seen at Cowling & Wilcox, Shoreditch, which admittedly is a chain... but full marks to them for wit.

London Art, near Finchley Road tube station, is my current local, and very helpful they are. Open 11-5 on Sundays, too.

Back at the flat, my nearest source of art supplies, albeit a patchy one, is Fish and Cook, a long-established stationers, open 9-6, Monday to Saturday.

On the Clerkenwell Road, Stevensons packs an unbelievable amount of materials into a "deceptively small" shop. (For some reason it's not on the map.)

Cornelissen, near the British Museum, is a lovely old-fashioned shop.

Others, for you who live in other areas of London, are on the interactive map (here), and most have websites for online shopping - eg Jacksons.

I'm deliberately avoiding the chains, with their constant "sales" and brash marketing. With the independent shops, it's a matter of "use it or lose it".

30 October 2016

Along the Grand Union

The clocks went back, and the autumnal morning mist rolled in -

A quick coffee and toast, and out for a short stroll along the canal. But it was so beautiful, so quiet, I just kept going .......

 along the towpath
past moored narrowboats and barges
The smell of woodsmoke

Mad! (note the canoodling couple in the bathtub)
Hallowe'en reflections
past various sorts of wildlife
The 'regulars' meet near Ladbroke Grove Sainsburys

Double layers of spider webs

The patient heron

A gaggle? covey? glide? of swans

Cygnets en famille

A collusion? intimidation? spacing? of terns (spot the magpie)
In one of the industrial estates that line the canal are murals of horse and heron -
 and the canal (and towpath)
 crosses the North Circular -
 Elsewhere, structures glimpsed over the wall -

 In suburbia, edging a golf course, lovely reflections -
 And finally, near Greenford station, the marked path (Capital Ring) passes through wetlands -
For (only) a tiny moment I was tempted to go the extra 9 miles to Richmond Bridge ... but decided to leave that little jaunt for another day. 

Plenty of led, group walks were on offer, but they involve travelling for an hour or so to the start of the walk. How wonderful to have "green walks" so close to home! I was out the door at 7.45 [GMT] and back home, with a coffee-shop stop in Kensal Rise, well before noon.

29 October 2016

Reasons to be cheerful

Some of the Paolozzi murals at Tottenham Court Road station - those in the arches over the escalators - have gone to Edinburgh and are being restored and will be put on public display. This is after a mini-furore about their destruction and a petition signed by 8000 people - and the intervention of the Twentieth Century Society

Thus it was heartening to see that murals had been left on the Central Line platform, at least. Here are a couple of photos of details -

More images of murals throughout the station are here. They were completed in 1984.

28 October 2016

Chair tales

A new desk chair is needed, to replace this - or rather, its twin - back at the flat. 

I'd been walking past the Aram shop on the way to City Lit and spotted this chair in the window -

but ye gods, the price!

So the hunt was on, involving a trip down Clerkenwell Road, in and out of the "posh office furniture" showrooms, sitting and assessing, and capturing the possibilities -

and then to John Lewis -
Simple and practical - and only £60

Tom is looking for a desk chair of a very different sort

Loved this one, but the fabric seemed flimsy (£349)

One possibility, once you decide that you really don't need casters, or upholstery, is to go round secondhand furniture shops looking for a singleton chair that is both charming (vintage, retro?) and comfortable - "don't buy a chair without sitting on it first"; there was actually no hurry to get this "new chair", the "new desk" is some weeks off being ready...

...but in Liberty that a strange possibility came to light, which saved all that fruitless running around to the secondhand shops. A "church chair" - wooden but comfortable, and with an upright back to aid the posture (lumbar cushion is a possibility, easily attached).

We took it out for a meal at Cha Cha Moon, Kingly Court, and then it went home on the tube -

This strange journey of a chair takes me back to a similar journey in Oxford in 1982, furnishing the "new house" (43 Norreys Avenue) and bringing a rush-seated chair back from a secondhand shop, on the back of a bike. Recently it had to go - the seat had worn through and a stretcher was broken, and there was no place or need for a broken chair, no impetus to repair the seat... 

Chairs are powerfully evocative, with their occupants either missing or potential.

27 October 2016

Poetry Thursday - Toad by Norman MacCaig


Stop looking like a purse. How could a purse
squeeze under the rickety door and sit,
full of satisfaction, in a man's house?

You clamber towards me on your four corners -
right hand, left foot, left hand, right foot.

I love you for being a toad,
for crawling like a Japanese wrestler,
and for not being frightened.

I put you in my purse hand, not shutting it,
and set you down outside directly under
every star.

A jewel in your head? Toad,
you've put one in mine,
a tiny radiance in a dark place.

Norman MacCaig (via)

This poem was used in a recent BBC Radio4 programme in the Natural Histories series (available as a podcast), 

The poems of Norman MacCaig (1910-1996) are known for their simplicity of languageand humour, and are greatly popular. "Always suspicious of literary and political dogma, he remained true to the lyric impulse. Whether writing about people, animals and places either in his beloved Assynt in the west Highlands (his mother’s ancestral country) or the city of Edinburgh (where he lived all his life), he combined ‘precise observation with creative wit’. "

26 October 2016

25 October 2016

Drawing Tuesday - V&A

The meeting place was the cast courts, because of the splendid stuff they contain ...

 But the other cast court is being renovated, with screeches and bangs that reverbrate disturbingly, so we each found somewhere else to go.
 I stayed for a while and took some photos - the next is a closeup of the one above, wonderful cascades of cloth -
 ... and Ms Threeface is at one corner of the monument -
A convenient bench gave this view -
 ... and again the camera was useful for "seeing" the details

 and pulling the upper areas into focus -
Result, a page of careful looking at shapes and patterns, and of trying to get the column to fit on the page without measuring (third time lucky). Measuring with a pencil held at arm's length is a good check, but as a tutor in some class said, "try it by eye first". That helps with getting the proportions intuitive - you do a lot of checking against what's nearby, and switch back and forth with the negative spaces.
Finally fleeing the noise, I went to the Chinese room and was captivated by the colours of these vessels, part of the emperor's rituals to ensure that heaven and earth didn't get out of synch.
 The museum's website puts it better: "Chinese emperors of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) performed rituals every year at the Altars of Heaven, Earth, the Sun and the Moon. The rituals were considered essential for the well-being of the empire. Porcelains of different colours were placed at different altars. Dark blue was used for the Altar of Heaven, yellow for Earth, red for the Sun and light blue ( 'moon white') for the Moon. While performing the ritual the emperor would have worn a sacrificial robe of a matching colour."

Miniatures - Ming dynasty (1368-1644) tomb furniture included garment hangers and a tower stand -
What did we find this week? Going round the table ...
Janet's madonna and child

Michelle rubbed back the graphite background, then added the jar
(and couldn't resist the jagged shape)

Najlaa's closely observed mosaic flooring

Carole's staircase and finial

Sue's golden mask of a king, 1700-1800

Jo's bronze vessel, 1200-1100BC

Joyce was in the 20th century gallery
 Showing and telling ...