30 June 2018

Studio Saturday

Nine small pots have emerged from the kiln - I was very excited to see them!
A before-and-after comparison would be useful, and I've resolved to keep better records. It's great fun to do different kinds of stitching, but at this point I need to get a grip on the technical stuff - especially the consistency of the slip.
The slip was to thick - no transparency!
These were dipped into the parian slip, which was much thinner - the pots seemed very fragile and the one is front just didn't work from the stitching point of view.
Parian gives a glossy, waxy finish - not sure I like it
The one with the fragile thread loops was a surprise - a few of the loops had fallen off, but the "blobs" worked out well. It has to be handled very carefully, and that will make a difference to where to put the loops on any future loopy pots  -
 Out in the sun, you can see the broken areas of the pot on the left, and the way the seam on the right could be made into a feature of the pot -
These were about the texture of the stitch and also whether various threads were actually metallic -

The bottom of the pot was wetted before dipping -
is that why some of the thread marks are so clear?
"Further research is needed"
I was also checking how the crack repair (paper clay plus gum arabic) worked - it worked well. But slower drying to avoid the cracks in the first place would be better.

Seventeen more pots are ready for dipping - but before they get covered in clay, I'll photograph each separately and write some notes.

These two are the start of a different series - using bias fabric. I went through the drawer containing silk fabrics and found different weights, and the plan is to make simple pots, not much more than a tube, and try different consistencies of dip along with the different weights and weaves of the fabric.
Once the bias tube is sewn up, a firm ring of thread is added to top and bottom, to help the pot stay round. The magazine that's put inside expands to the size of the tube, and the right amount of thread can easily be wound round and held in place for sewing -

 On Friday afternoon Jackie brought in a seasonal treat -

Though I've settled in a bit, what I haven't done much of is ... pottering about, like other people do (for example).

Along with my generally slower pace of life, the commitment to the studio, to making work, means that a few things have to fall off the life-menu, among them rushing around to exhibitions here and there - for instance, Cathie Pilkington at Dorich House Museum, Kingston University (till 28 July, open Thurs-Sat). I haven't been keeping up with exhibitions - ah well, "later"....

29 June 2018

Festival season, Finsbury Park (with afterthoughts)

This year is the 8th Wireless festival, and someone has woken up to the fact that only a fifth of the bands include women, so suddenly there's a women-only stage. About which I have mixed feelings - remember, in the 1990s or was it 80s, those courses on Women's Literature - probably they were a step in the right direction, necessary to get more air-time for women writers, but really what you want is for there to be no need to have special courses for men or women (or LGBTHXIQYYY).

I mention the festival because it's one of several that happen nearby, in Finsbury Park. With windows open - it's another beautiful clear warm evening - I can hear the music and the voice of the crowd, filling the streets that warm bodies will soon be coursing along, on their way home or elsewhere. The tube station ... well, this is what they have prepared, and the barriers were being put out as I hastened home -
What's nice, though, is the way the young folks put glitter on their faces and are relaxed and having a good time. Yeah, I remember being young and having a good time with music and friends.... long may it continue!

However a tickets cost upwards of £55 a day, and the official tickets are sold out, with warnings not to buy from ticket touts.

This is what it looked like in some previous year, in the park -
Wireless Festival has announced that there will be all-female stage at the Finsbury Park event
Bird's eye view of Wireless Festival (via)
"They" put up a big fence that leaves a tiny bit of park around the edges. And "they" impose a strict curfew and send letters round to residents reassuring them. Which is good.

And there are several events, several weekends in a row, because once the fence and stages are up, it makes sense to use them more than once.

About 45,000  people are expected. If 5,000 fill the Albert Hall, and on leaving you're part of a seemingly endless stream of people going to South Ken tube, then nine times that number heading home is quite mind boggling. No wonder the main road has to be closed for an hour or two.
The lull before the flood
The music has stopped. Across the street, as I write at 22.22, Tesco has its shutters at half mast (showing it's closed - against the rampage of hungry festival-goers, I cynically thought, but it had suffered a power outage about 6pm. [And this happened again on the subsequent night!]) and a few people are making their way north, towards the overground station. All quiet on SGR. Probably quite busy down at the tube station. Going through it at 9.15, I saw posses of high-vis police, travelling in groups of six or more.

The music continues Saturday and Sunday, with gates opening at 11 and the programme starting at 12.30.

Addendum - Walking in the park in the cool of the morning, I discovered that the fenced-off area fills half the park -
 ... and got set straight on what was on, when -
Wireless is next weekend....

28 June 2018

Poetry Thursday - Mrs Icarus by Carol Ann Duffy

The Fall Of Icarus 1975 By Marc Chagall
The Fall of Icarus by Marc Chagall, 1975 (via)

Mrs Icarus

I'm not the first or the last
to stand on a hillock,
watching the man she married
prove to the world
he's a total, utter, absolute, Grade A pillock.

-- Carol Ann Duffy

When "The World's Wife" appeared in 1999 I bought several copies, which were well received as presents. The poems are of varying lengths; they don't get much shorter than Mrs Icarus, only Mrs Darwin, and for most, you need to turn they page.

27 June 2018

Woodblock Wednesday - sosaku hanga

In the absence of opportunity to make new woodblocks or print those already on hand (ceramics is absorbing all my studio time), research continues - via instagram and hashtags #mokuhanga, #japaneseprints and similar. Such a lot of inspiration there, and sometimes there is pithy information.

Thus, via an image by Tokuriki Tomikichiru (1902-2000), I came across the Sosaku Hanga movement. (A "short overview" is available here; the site also goes through 20th-century artistic developments in Japan decade by decade.)

Tokoriku turned from painting to woodblock prints in 1929 and became a leader of the Kyoto sosaku hanga (creative prints) movement, which emphasized the artist's participation in the entire process of printmaking and the exploration of more modern styles and trends. However, he made his living from designing woodcuts of landscapes and city views in the traditional manner. Today he is mostly known for these shin hanga style prints, like this one -

From Wikipedia: "Hanga [printmaking] was considered as a craft that was inferior to paintings and sculpturesUkiyo-e woodblock prints had always been considered as mere reproductions for mass commercial consumption, as opposed to the European view of ukiyo-e as art, during the climax of Japonisme. It was impossible for sōsaku-hanga artists to make a living by just doing creative prints. Many of the later renowned sōsaku-hanga artists, such as Kōshirō Onchi (also known as the father of the creative print movement), were book illustrators and wood carvers."
"By 1950, abstraction became the mode of the creative print movement in Japan. Japanese prints were perceived as genuine blending of East and West. Artists such as Kōshirō Onchi, who had shown passion for abstract expression since his early years, turned completely to abstract art after the war (abstract art had been banned by the military government during wartime)."
Fiction no. 1
Koshiro Onchi, Fiction (1953) (via)
Other artists of the sosaku hanga movement are listed in the Wikipedia article. The list doesn't include Tokuriki Tomikichiru... but this list does, with the explanation "made by far more shin hanga prints. But his heart was with sosaku hanga".

26 June 2018

Drawing Tuesday - at Somerset House

The River Terrace provided tables and umbrellas, and a view across Waterloo Bridge - mostly hidden by trees  -
 I enjoyed the cranes but got fed up with all that foliage -
Then the underside of the umbrella proved fascinating both in terms of proportions and angles, and the mechanism itself -
Not quite right, but I could see where it had gone wrong. Getting those first lines in the right places is vital.

Jo drew an interior with her non-dominant hand

Michelle was in the Courtauld Gallery

Sue's view was bisected by a large pole

Janet K's furniture kept changing as people came and went

Carol caught multiple aspects in her view

The "homework" was to copy a 2D work. See if you can recognise the original -

Janet K
 and three by Jo -

Sue missed out on the homework - she'd been in Berlin, and had few chances to sit and draw...
View onto balcony

Her friend with favourite blue jug

25 June 2018

Domestic diversion

Some amazing stripey petunias - £1 for 10 plants, who could resist - came home with me yesterday, and 7am found me putting them into the window boxes while drying laundry (mainly bedding) was draped on every surface. Possibly not the best start to a Monday, or to a week. 

This bit of sprucing up beyond the windows led, now that I have a stepladder, to cleaning those windows, which is where it got complicated - the task needed the ledge clearing and furniture moving and all sorts of other distractions, such as moving some plants down to the garden (and doing a bit of maintenance there).

Can you see the difference? Left - clean; right - still to do -
It took till lunchtime to get to the point of "curating" the collection on the window ledge -
and I'd just about had it domestically by then. There are still a few things to put away, and a few plants to repot and/or reposition - but first, a bit of fresh air on this grand summer's day.

24 June 2018

Gardening weekend

A year ago, when T&G bought their flat, the front garden had been filled with alkanet, nettles, brambles for years, and well-used by the neighbourhood cats -
but a few trips to the garden centre later, and with the investment of many hours of labour and rather a lot of topsoil, it became "much improved" -
 So hopes were high for the back as well -

and in spring - when, maybe two months ago? - the work started, levelling the ground, building a 3m extension and adding raised beds -
The raised beds were raised further, paving and steps put in, topsoil ordered, and finally the bed for the "grass" could be prepared
 and the beds filled with soil -
 Work had to stop just before noon on Saturday, leaving some soil still be be dispersed -
Early(ish) Sunday, while Tom got on with laying the "lawn", Gemma and I went to the garden centre for some instant floriferous gratification -
 and came back to find Tom watching the World Cup -
before bringing out and assembling the garden furniture bought last autumn in hope of just this moment -
This rose, a birthday present, was the first thing to be assigned a place (where it gets most sun) and after five hours or so, almost everything was planted -
As with the front garden, I'm amazed at how long it takes to get a carload of plants into the ground. The decisions of what goes where ... some plants went into the front (more decisions) ...
After a break for a take-away supper and a chance to enjoy the sofa and the carpet, the rest got done quickly -
 Here it is, in its bare-earth glory - fuchsias, impatients, echinacea, mandevilla, rose, verbena, penstemon, foxglove, snapdragon, lavender, astilbe, sweet william (a rescue plant), lupin, veronica, and the punctuation of those stripey petunias -
south wall

east wall

north wall
 And the (north wall) fence has been rebuilt, though whether it will keep the cats out is doubtful -
Still to come, climbers - evergreen clematis, honeysuckle, jasmine ... all the usual suspects.