28 February 2019

Poetry Thursday - excerpt from How to Clean Up in Spring and Fall by Fred Wah

How to Clean Up in Spring and Fall


point to everything lying around
try to remember
kind of frown and shake your head
all of a sudden
there's more than their used to be
keep track of it
organise it all by counting
do a dance
a real funny dance.

Fred Wah (b.1939) grew up in the interior of British Columbia and now lives in Vancouver; he continues to practise poetry.

"How to Clean Up in Spring and Fall" is from Owners Manual (1981), his eighth book; he has published 15 more.

Selected Poems: Loki is buried at Smoky Creek (1980) has a 13-page introduction by George Bowering, another eminent poet of the time, who talks about "the heady experiences of life among the famous poets in the sixties", a time when Wah was founding, publishing, and editing poetry magazines. At that time Wah was also a jazz musician, playing trumpet.

In the early '60s he was studying music composition and went along to his girlfriend's English class: "all of sudden writing poetry became more appealing than writing music. The Black Mountain poets opened it up for me. What jibed for me in this new mix was continuing to work with improvisation. Suddenly, for me, language became music, and that’s pretty much remained." [from the 2017 interview here]

His father's side of the family was Chinese, and his mother's side was Scandinavian. He talks about this "hybridity" in this video, entitled "the hyphen in Chinese-Canadian poetry".

Then ... (via)
... and now (via)

27 February 2019

Woodblock Wednesday - review

Given the chance to talk about my work-so-far to the rest of the class, I jumped at it. A wonderful chance to gather, consider and review what I'd done so far.

This "slim pocket" folder from Muji  -
was helpful in organising the work, chronologically. It now contains all my prints and is fairly bulging. I chose a few from each course  - my subject matter seemed to change with each course - and considered what was noticeable, important, or missing for it. 

Unwanted marks - learning to print carefully

Combining different blocks to see what happens,
cutting blocks to augment those in use.
The idea of making "books"...

Various circles, and "floaty leaves". Spot the potential book...

Some sample books, juxtaposing two prints

Paired up ... for books...

Simple, direct marks ... does this have book potential?

Adding circles, and making a - book! - with
waxed paper and machine stitching

"Mountain prints" from the advanced course
 And this time, back to circles....
 ... and "floaty things" ....
The day's output. The circle was used as a resist; next time I'll print the circles first and the floaters later, and use lighter colours for the circles and darker for the bits...
Looking at the photo, I'm getting an idea for a ... book ...

26 February 2019

Drawing Tuesday - King's Place

The "cave paintings" of Jean Cooke
 caught Jo's eye -

 and mine -
I spent the rest of the time in the Carl Plackman and his Circle exhibition, and especially enjoyed the Travelling Stones by Ann Christopher -
Also in that show, Alison Wilding's Cuckoo 2 - by Joyce -
 and by Sue -
 Elsewhere, Janet B found a piece by Bryan Kneale -
 and Judith cast her architectural eye on the building itself -
 Carol found a work by Bruce Beasley -
 and Janet K was unable to find the name of the maker for this, but it may be by Beasley as well  -

Extra-curricular activities


Joyce (at Kew Gardens)
 Last week Janet B was in Dundee, spending time drawing in museums -

25 February 2019

Parcel delivery panic warning

The message said this -

Parcelforce Worldwide
Your order from JACKSONS ART SUPPL has been despatched and will be delivered by Parcelforce Worldwide on Tuesday 26 February. If this is not convenient, please click on an alternative option below:

... and when I clicked on "local post office" I expected AT LEAST to get a message saying "this will cost you £1.50", which it has when a parcel couldn't be delivered and a card was left. Upon going to the website that time, I chose the "local post office" option and was shown that there would be a charge.

This time, clicking on the link, up came just a message, to the effect that "we'll tell you where you can pick it up". I'm on tenterhooks - will this be the PO across the street, or will it be the depot that takes 30 minutes to get to, whether on foot or on public transport? 

There was no way to say "hey, give me some more information, willya?" - it was one of those no-reply email addresses. 

So I clicked "deliver to neighbour" and sure enough, there was no way to tell them which neighbour.

Nor was there a "leave in a safe place" option. And I can't remember if there was an "instruction for delivery" box on the company's order form - with the PO, probably not.

Neither other date would find me in. No doubt I'll get the parcel someday, and there's no real rush for it, but it's just that bit annoying to have all this uncertainty, and decisions to make, and no information or way to contact anyone.

The wisest course would have been to wait to receive "the card" and go from there. Silly me to be panicked into a quick reply! There was no need to reply to the email - the PO has contingency plans.....

Hey ho, they're trying to simplify things and save operating costs. 

But in future, I'll look out for delivery options before buying from a website, and try to avoid those using Parcelforce. 

24 February 2019

Rainbows in art, life, etc

You get sent a link to a website, and it takes you in many directions....

Interview: Artist Stretches Delicate Strands of Thread to Produce Awe-Inspiring Rainbows Indoors
Plexus no.24
 "when people encounter my work ... they just go to this childlike wonder space ... 
the other thing is ... how the insulation is going to activate a space"
(see more at mymodernmet.com/gabriel-dawe-thread-art/)

Scrolling through, I found the thoughts coming and going faster than I could catch them. For one thing, this use of thread is like stitching without using fabric: "they dazzle with reflected light". I like that this artist, Gabriel Dawe, is "challenging the constraints of masculinity and the patriarchy" by through "embroidery" and colour; he uses "hues to help subvert the world’s narrow view of gender and identity ".

Here are a few of the thoughts the photos of the work gave rise to, in no particular order. 

1. Thread installations of Chiharu Shiota, filling entire rooms (at Blain/Southern last year, and this one (from a Berlin show) with boats is gorgeous -  
Chiharu Shiota (via)

also Pae White, at South London Gallery 2013 - 
Pae White (via)

 ..........google "thread installation art" to see many images and other artists

2. Large airy outdoor sculptures, such as those by Janet Echelman - some years back there was one at the winter lights event, at Oxford Circus - 
Janet Echelman (via)
A different medium but the same "omg" effect on the viewer, the desire to see "more" of the work, in Dawe's case by walking around, for Echelman just waiting to see the changes

3. Interaction of colours in stitched work of ...?... about 20 years ago (not easy to find, it was the pre-digital era, but I'm sure it will simply appear, soon*)  and more recently Evelin Kasikov - 
Analogue-digital embroidery by Evelin Kasikov (via)

4. Barbara Hepworth's use of string in some sculptures like this one from the late 1930s -
Barbara Hepworth (via)
And Naum Gabo, this "translucent variation on a spheric theme" is from 1937, for instance -

5. Double rainbows and other atmospheric phenomena, which often occur because of factors unknown to the viewer, eg this one -
"Rainbows take many forms" - http://www.atoptics.co.uk/bows.htm 

6. Exhibition that included threads+dark room+lighting - Lygia Pape at Hauser & Wirth, 2016 -

7. The idea of the loom waiting to be woven upon, the warp stretched ... lots of metaphors there!

8. The single stretched thread - It can connect two points, and/or its length determines the frequency of the note sounded when it's plucked, and/or other physical phenomena (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/stretched-string) - that makes my brain hurt, so let's move on to consider the metaphysical question "how long is a piece of string"...

9. A few more questions ... (a) where are the shadows (b) how is the work best displayed (c) how does the site affect the work - and, a very practical question: what happens when it's taken down, is it binned and remade afresh next time 

10. Moire, and perceptual processes [my psychology degree contained a lot of info about perception, especially visual perception - no doubt research has moved on since the 60s! - something to research on a rainy day....]

11. Songs with rainbows in them ... "somewhere / under the rainbow ..." etc

12. Superstitions and folktales about rainbows - pots of gold, wot? But there's so much more .... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbows_in_mythology

13. Can you see rainbows from space? Would it look like a circle? The conditions have to be just right, and full-circle rainbows are most often seen by pilots. Like this -

*when the name does eventually appear, or a photo of the work shows up, it will suddenly reappear, and probably several times - apparently this is called the Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon: 
"The illusion in which a word, a name, or other thing that has recently come to one's attention suddenly seems to appear with improbable frequency shortly afterwards  ... (not to be confused with the recency illusion or selection bias). This illusion is sometimes referred to as the BaaderMeinhof phenomenon." (from Wikipedia, cognitive biases article)

23 February 2019

Letting go of quilts

It's easier to let go of your "old" quilts and quiltlets when you know they're going on to a new life, or are helping a good cause. I met Ruth in a textiles class at City Lit and over the years she has had several "tea and textiles" events in aid of various charities, Greenpeace among them.

This time she's fundraising for Medecins Sans Frontieres. I'm happy to contribute some of the quilts made for Contemporary Quilt's challenges, and also some journal quilts (those will be mounted on board to fit into a standard frame, or glued to deep-edged commercial canvases), as well as embroidery that dates back before The Quilting Years.

Here's the selection so far -
Celtic Connections

Verge Blur

"The Rose in Winter" was in the "Figure it Out" suitcase collection

"And Flowers Almost Poems" incorporates old
silks from a friend's mother's stash

"It was her favourite tipple and it done her in" was made
in 1999, before I knew anything about dyeing fabric, and
many of the squares were appliqued on car journeys.
The long thing shape rather reminded me of a coffin cover
(hardly cosy!), hence the title

The theme for the fabric-printing challenge on the Quiltart list
in about 2001 was "Ten" - I hadn't learnt how to photo edit then, in fact
hadn't moved to digital camera, so it had to be text...

Columns were constructed by randomly pulling strips from
one or another bag of fabric, then sewn together. These fabrics were
mostly samples made in a textile printing class in the late 90s
and finallyput to some use. They look rather geological.

Same construction method; the fabrics are mostly silk,
but don't seem to have been affected by hanging in a
bathroom for a few years!

Made in Calgary or Halifax, Canada, late 70s. Hand quilted.

Sunshine and Shadows; made in Halifax, 1979. It hung in a
staff exhibition at the university and I was surprised to see how
small it looked on the wall!

More pink - the largest of the three, and made in the late 90s.
Enlivened by confetti and some rather "electric" machine quilting.

If you'd like to come along to have tea and cake, and be tempted not so much by my textiles but by the prints and ceramics, photography and smaller items that are being contributed by others, get in touch and I'll send you details. Ruth's home is in Camden (north London) and we'll be there on the last weekend in March and the first two weekends in April.  All proceeds go to MSF.