30 April 2018

Postcard exchange

Received - on the left - Robert Metzkes [b.1954], Sitzender Akt auf einem Stuhl, 2004, from Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin

To be sent - on the right - Goya (1746-1828), Le portefaix, Lavis brun [ink wash], from the Louvre, D├ępartement des Arts graphiques. "Man carrying a huge load" is one of the drawings Goya made in the period 1812-1823. Sublime.

29 April 2018

More found objects

A book that I thought was unused turned out to have been thoroughly used - "Edinburgh in February" has a quick drawing, or sparse writing, on every page. It documents a week of walks into town along the Water of Leith, pauses in coffee shops, the searches for lunches, and of course the museums and art galleries visited.
 It starts with things seen on the train journey -
Leylandii hedge cut back on one side

 and brought back many memories of things seen - eg this "object poem" -
 One of the exhibitions was on Robert McBryde and Robert Colquhoun (artists new to me); it included a Monitor film made in September 1959 of them painting in adjoining empty rooms in a rural cottage, and then rumbling off in a cart to find another, "taking with them the essentials of their own world" - canvases, presumably paints and brushes, and not much else that you could see.

At least that's how I remember it, but watching it again (here) I'm more taken with "perhaps I paint canteloupes and lemons because I like yellow, not any yellow but the yellow of citric fruit" - oh my, to be an artist in those heady days!

In the notebook are many other new-to-me names, and objects - Paolozzi's "Thorns"; Ponte City; Belgian painter Raoul de Keyser; Pat Douthwaite; Marion Smith (Daylight Diary); Frances Walker; Lorna MacIntosh; James Castle; many more, to be investigated some other time.

Also from the back of the shelf, this embroidery in progress -
Screen printed at Camberwell (2011) onto an aged damask tablecloth. I had the urge to fill the spaces between the lines with stitches, to hide some of that runny inkiness.

The back shows a parsimonious use of thread -

28 April 2018

Family history - three generations

Germany, 1975
Susan, me, grandmother Maria Langendoerfer, and Mom (Hildegunde Schleicher). We girls met the whole family, and relatives on Dad's side too. 

Mom went to Germany again 20 years later, to visit her sisters; I spent time with them then, too. Dad resolutely never went back; he embraced life in Canada, looking forward.

27 April 2018

An evening with friends


Shallot tarte tatin

An explosion of photography!

A lovely bottle of wine!

And, of course, the washing-up - in pastel colours this time

26 April 2018

Poetry Thursday - The Trees by Philip Larkin

The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf 
Like something almost being said; 
The recent buds relax and spread, 
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 

Is it that they are born again 
And we grow old? No, they die too, 
Their yearly trick of looking new 
Is written down in rings of grain. 

Yet still the unresting castles thresh 
In fullgrown thickness every May. 
Last year is dead, they seem to say, 
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

- Philip Larkin (1922-1985) (via)

Some years, the greening of the trees happens too quickly. In colder climates, the buds must wait and wait.

25 April 2018

Home is where the heart is

Today I'm taking the train to Spain, and will be walking day after day for an unknown length of time (probably only about 10 days). Although it will be an adventure, already I can't wait to get back home!

What follows is a reminder of what this "home" used to be like; then I was still living at Tony's, waiting for that house sale to go through, not a happy time.

Some of the unresolved issues chez moi still need dealing with, and perhaps The Walk will give me courage and determination to do that on return.

(While I'm away I hope to be posting on Instagram (as margaretcooter) but doubt blogging on the move will be possible, so some "flashback" posts have been in preparation.)

14 January 2017

At the flat

During December, the flat made great progress, thanks to Tom working on it weekends and evenings. (Hopefully all the sawing is finished and the neighbours can relax now.) 

I visisted occasionally, even cleared a path to my bed and used it, but there was plastic over the stair carpet for a long time, and strips of wood - indeed the planks for an entire floor - piled up at the sides of the stairs. Not to mention the books (which still had plastic under them even though the rest had been ripped away) -
The only untouched area was the kitchen, which did seem to gather "stuff" (washing up!), and I took great pleasure in clearing the counter whenever I came -
You'd never know that the rest of the room was a total tip, would you? Furniture pushed out of the way, and tools everywhere -
That was before we (er, Tom, actually) got the floor in, to cover the gold underlay. 
 While all that was going on, good things were happening, like the building of 18 drawers along one wall -

Making headway with any sorting or decluttering was so difficult - there was just no space for making useful heaps, for that preliminary assemblage of categories. Occasionally I'd see something that could go in the charity shop bag or even the bin, but those were rare. As soon as I entered the studio

(nope, not showing that, too sordid)

a very despondent feeling came over me - and this has continued till just recently, but more of that part of the story later perhaps. Not wanting to be in the room. Not knowing where to start. Wondering how it got like this. Thinking I just didn't want to deal with it. Wishing we'd thought to move things out of the rooms in a more deliberate way (but there wasn't time). Regretting ever buying anything. Feeling a great deal of sympathy, or possibly empathy, for people with hoarding disorder....
Gradual return of furniture
We had a deadline - the xmas eve dinner, very important. By dusk, it must be done - all the tools out of the living room and stashed in Tom's room -
Even at this stage the living room was looking (and feeling) so much better - the xmas tree helped, and the ersatz coffee table, covered in The Special Xmas Tablecloth That Grandma Made, gave it a burgeoning cosiness. 

Carpenter and client
My xmas wishlist had just one item on it - skirting boards. Once they were up, the books could be gathered from the stairs and various rooms and piled around the walls, awaiting their bookshelves -
The rug returned, and a reading lamp, and the chest, and "Dan Hays" and the little lamp with tree branches painted inside. Suddenly it's "Home" again -
Upstairs, Tom's room waits for his return -
 and his toolboxes wait to go to the next job -
He might be surprised to find that a few piles of his things have reappeared....

The towers of books in little bedroom are elsewhere, and the heap of bags in the "hell hole" is gradually getting sorted -
 Down in the studio - brace yourself - there has been definite progress, from this, months ago -
 to utter chaos a few months later, and piles of fabric that really did cut out the daylight -
 Major mental gymnastics were needed to get going on this room. The precipitating event was the need for a chunky pen ... there was one in there somewhere, and the search involved a lot of moving items to different rooms - after all, there was lots of floor space available upstairs. Gradually floor space appeared in the studio -
 and after a bit of fabric sorting, daylight appeared again -
... even to the point - hallelujah! - of being able to use the table and sit reasonably comfortably (on the rediscovered kneeling chair) -
The sorting job varies between microsorting - those disparate sheets of paper found in a heap and needing to be dealt with - and mere categorisation, such as adding yet more books to the towers in the living room. It's not very efficient to be constantly on the move between rooms as things turn up - much better to have a box for the room, and then move quite a few items at once ... but I'm afraid that system would lead to the box staying  where it is because finding proper places for all those things at once would be daunting. Though, thinking about it, it's also daunting to remember just where "those things" were put last time. Probably the emphasis should be on saving energy - and I don't have a lot of rooms, so three boxes shouldn't be an impossibility! 

The charity shop bags are on the landing outside the studio, and get taken out two at a time (very, very satisfying). 

Yesterday - a dry day - the surplus mop and bucket was put out by the gate and disappeared in no time.  How kind of people to do the job of removal.

I am left with some big categories to deal with "later", among them ...
The books, of course

Several bags of notebooks and sketchbooks going back to the 1980s
- my "external brain"

More magazines than these, collected for decades
Worst of all - "miscellaneous"  - these are the items that require tough decisions -

24 April 2018

Drawing Tuesday - British Museum

Many or most of use were in the "Early Europe" section. 

My object of focus was this pendant with its emeralds, sapphires and pearls - it led to a couple of good conversations with passers-by - 
 Enough of us were BM members that we could use the members' room, and by great good luck the big table was (almost) free -
 Out came the sketchbooks and...
 Jo's Staffordshire (pottery) dovecote -
Janet K's cat, or rather John Craxton's, from the "three friends in greece" exhibition -
 Carol's collection of small objects -
 Janet B's head of Claudius (or Nero), with the asymmetrical ears -
  My bits of jewellery made between 400 and 700 AD -
 Sue's bronze headdress from the Stony Stratford hoard, 3rd-4th century AD
 Michelle's graphite portraits of sculpted portraits -
 Joyce's Roman glass -
 Mags' exploration of "Town & Country" earthenware, American, 1945 -
 Najlaa's Spanish tiles -

 On the extra-curricular front, Mags has been reworking sketches based on the Wellcome's Electricity exhibition for the latest Sketchbook Project -