19 July 2018

Poetry Thursday - a bit of Wordsworth

Quite a lot of unattributed poetry passed before my eyes this week, as part of a novel called The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Published in 1924, it's the story of a family of unhappy individuals and a turn of fortune that sends the micro-managing wife out to work and keeps the husband in a wheelchair to look after the house and children. He has a lot of poetry running through his brain, no doubt part of the literary currency at that time but rather tedious and/or obscure now. As well as the claustrophobia of the small-town setting, the social givens and constraints at the time, which come across so well in the book, make me so very glad to be living now, not 100 years ago - sisters, we really have come a long way....
DCF writing
Dorothy Canfield Fisher (via)
 "The scene where [Lester, the house-husband] surreptitiously watches his youngest child learning to use an egg-whisk is one of the great scenes in the literature of childhood" and this snippet comes from that scene:
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke?
It turns out to be from Wordsworth's "Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" - a good choice for the context, as the spirit of the poem comes and goes throughout the book, not just in that scene. Read all 202 lines of it here; it won't take long, and you'll recognise some familiar phrases. The excerpt is from the middle of the poem -

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
        Thy soul's immensity;
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep 110
Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal Mind,—
        Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
        On whom those truths do rest 115
Which we are toiling all our lives to find;
Thou, over whom thy immortality
Broods like the day, a master o'er a slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might 120
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight, 125
And custom lie upon thee with a weight
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!

An image of William Wordsworth
Young William Wordsworth (via)

18 July 2018

Jameel Prize 5

A quick visit to the V&A to see the Jameel prize show (till 25 November). Worth £25,000, the prize is an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition, awarded every two years.

It's spaciously displayed in the Porter Gallery, just off the front entrance, and there's a film introducing the finalists: Kamrooz Aram, Hayv Kahraman, Hala Kaiksow, Mehdi Moutashar, naqsh collective, Younes Rahmoun, Wardha Shabbir, and Marina Tabassum.

My favourite piece -
"House in Gaylani" by Hayv Kahraman

See examples of work by other finalists here.

And the winner? ... the first joint winners ... Mehdi Moutashar and Marina Tabassum.

17 July 2018

Drawing Tuesday - Tate Modern

Last week the Drawing Tuesdays group met at Tate Modern, and one of the first things I saw when entering the building was this preparation area. Preparation for what, though, I wondered ... never mind, get on with the work ... So I settled down on the bench behind the glass and focussed....

On closing the sketchbook and looking around I noticed a man in a white shirt in the preparation area -
Yes, it was He, The Artist. It was amusing to see that a pair of women who happened to be passing also recognised Him - they were exchanging quiet smiles (we British are a restrained lot).

Some of the props in the preparation area reminded me a lot of the shadows in the 2016 performance in Rome, Triumphs and Laments (now a permanent mural), and the back of the Tate's turbine hall was blacked out for "a rehearsal", so I went to see what that might be about. There was a decent view from the mezzanine ...
 Kentridge is very hands on -
The boxes open up into rooms, and an entire band occupies one of them at some point, if the snippet of the rehearsal that I saw was anything to go by.
 Many languages are used in the production, with subtitles projected -
 And yes, there are moving shadows -
It's a very ambitious work, and rehearsal time was short, according to this article, where you can also see a short video shot during rehearsal in New York (or catch on youtube).

The performance was 11-15 July; tickets were sold out for quite some time, and also for the talk he gave.

A second exciting event on the day was the RAF flypast of 100 planes - we got a front row seat at the riverside -

But back to the drawing..........

Janet B loves radios -
 Najlaa enjoyed Robert Indiana's sculptures -
 Joyce got involved in a textile piece -
 ... but didn't have red in her toolkit...
photographic rendition
 Judith looked across the river -
 and also at a Tony Cragg sculpture -
 (here's the real thing, or rather a photo of it) -
 Janet K engaged with Miro's Tightrope Walker -
 I was drawn to the "trumpets" and to the perspectival possibilities of the chair -
 Mags arrived late and hadn't settled to drawing (that rehearsal was a distraction!) but showed us some of the book in which she makes observations of exhibitions she's seen -

Homework - "draw some stairs" -

Janet K

My thoughts on perspective
Homework (optional!) for next week - based on this -
- "rub a leaf" .

16 July 2018

Birthday cake

A simple recipe, a wartime recipe -

It's from a book published for the Royal College of Art's 150th birthday in 1987, and ever since then I've used it for many a birthday cake. A simple filling of whipped cream, a topping of seasonal fruit - wonderful! 

The recipe is rather strange - it uses vinegar and bicarb as leavening, rather than beaten eggs, and I found that adding the liquid ingredients to the dry ones produced a lot of lumps ... and by the time they were sorted, the fizz had rather died down. (Perhaps this is why it's called Gunpowder Cake?)
Thin layers, waiting to be stacked up
With a bit (!) of whipped cream, and the contrast of the redcurrants, it was definitely palatable, delicious in fact.

The occasion today was Tom's birthday; we had a "special family meal", as you do...  Portuguese Pork with Peppers is a favorite - tenderloin is cut into medallions and pounded thin, then marinated in a mixture (made in a pestle and mortar) of garlic, peppercorns, coarse salt, and olive oil.

First the meat is cooked (it's keeping warm, in the photo, over the baby potatoes) and then julienned red peppers are added - in the cup is wine, which gets added next, the meat returned, and all simmered for 10 minutes or so.

 A squirt of lemon juice finishes it off, and if you want to be fancy, thin lemon slices are the garnish.

Along with the little potatoes, serve with a green salad or a green veg. Simple and delicious.
Birthday boy

15 July 2018

Another gardening weekend

It's been three weeks since work on the T&G's back garden started in earnest (see early stages here). It feels like it's come a very long way in a short time!

Gemma brought back some plants from a garden centre she visited with her parents - Fatsia japonica variegata, a curly hydrangea, a jasmine, and a rescued honeysuckle -
 They had to sit in their pots for quite a while ... until this heap of leftover bricks could be moved -
 ... which happened on Saturday. But first, brunch in the sunshine -
Croissants from the supermarket, and home made fruit salad
The handmade bricks, 256 of them, are now for resale on ebay -
Frequent pauses -
 but by 5pm, trellis had been bought and put up, and the honeysuckle tied on -
The fatsia and the hydrangea were in the ground, and the eucalyptus (bought last year and still in its pot) had been moved from the front garden, ready for planting -
The extra boards are for redoing a section of the fence (see previous photo)
Three weeks after purchase, the purple calibrachoa has spread gratifyingly and is blooming profusely, and the echinacea is looking pretty good too -
There wasn't much to do on Sunday, apart from buying a gas barbecue and assembling it - and burning some meat on it, sort of an offering to the gods ...
One man and his barbie
Beyond the folding doors, in the new extension, is where the kitchen will be, one day. Meanwhile the garden really does function as a room, or rather, rooms - sitting room, kitchen, dining room. Storage, meanwhile, is in boxes in the most distant rooms - we retrieved plates and cutlery; if the weather holds, they'll be in great demand for barbecue dinners -

All this is quite a change from "the early days" - 55 weeks ago -

14 July 2018

Studio Saturday

Gosh another week gone, three sessions in the studio and a couple of hours every morning spent sewing new pots while catching up with favourite radio programmes and podcasts, including: 99% Invisible, Five Live Science, The Inquiry, In Our Time, The Living World, Words and Music - so many interesting things are available! 

I also have the earphones in during the walk between home and studio, but in the studio I like to pay attention to what I'm doing, because the dipping and "tidying up the pot" are still fraught with little problems to solve. Once the problems are all solved, it'll lose interest??

While sewing is in progress, at home, the new pots tend to spread over the table -
New coffee cup, among the pots-in-progress
Monday - These four have dried and the bases have been trimmed, but a few cracks need filling -
Large plastic bottles are proving very useful - firstly, for holding my cobbled-together suspension system for holding up the floppy pots till they've dried. The strings get suspended on the skewer, the pot is carefully balanced. Ah yes, first the height must be adjusted - tiles under the (weighted) bottle do that -
And the notebook is for trying to remember to Make Notes
 These were destined for dipping -
 and kept under plastic to dry more slowly, in hopes of preventing cracks -
Wednesday - the bubble wrap had stuck to the wet pot and left some texture - let's see what it looks like after firing -
These are all stitched up and went to the studio -
and some larger pots were destined for dipping -
 What happens if some of the fabric is wet - will the clay be thinner?
 Careful with placement of plastic -
Friday - what came out of the plastic was ...
 The strings are carefully removed and the excess clay is chipped off the base and smoothed away with a little sponge -
Sometimes some of the fabric appears in a ring round the base ... what will happen in the kiln, will it fall apart? -
 Today's candidates for dipping -
 Experiment in double-dipping, to try to get rid of a myriad of cracks -
 The fabric for this was a thick cotton; the thin silks dipped at the same time didn't develop cracks. So does the slip need to be thicker or thinner on the thicker fabric?

Another use for cut-down plastic bottles: to cover individual pots and slow down the drying -

Diversion - What on earth is this then? The thread snippings fell into what resembled a primitive horse, a winged horse (maybe reminiscent of this "geometric" style) -