Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Sketching at British Museum :Assyria Lion Hunts

 Another Tuesday  drawing with Margaret Cooter and Co at the  British Museum , this time in room 10A, Assyria Lion Hunts
 The carving of this 'doghandler'  ( and the pattern on his belt ) were exquisite. I've never really drawn reliefs before and it's difficult to capture the quality of line and the 3D aspect that is neither like sculpture or painting but somewhere in between. I wished I'd chosen something a bit simpler than the stylised hands. Love those thumbs but  an object lesson in drawing what you see rather than what you think you see.
 I  worked with pencil first then moved onto pen  when I got too frustrated losing the structure- and  found I was getting  things wrong in a different way!
  Still a very satisfying morning, not thinking about  being creative but just getting stuck in and observing.
No sketching next Tuesday as it's my birthday but I will be returning to the British Museum for the ' Indigenous Australia'  exhibition which opens on Thursday - these bright poles were already in position.

Printmaking Week 1

Week 1 of  10 week printmaking course on Monday evenings at City Lit - from next week I'll be doing drawing in the afternoon too.
 After  general introduction and induction and brief discussion   with tutor on previous experience and what you wanted out of  the course  it was time to play with scraps of aluminium and a selection of  drypoint intaglio tools. I particularly liked the ' roulette'  and a dressmakers marking wheel.
 Then inking up , preparing paper and running it through the press. I'd forgotten quite how messy it was and what a good workout  turning the handle on the press is!
 The marks on this scrap of plate  were initially  a bit insipid,  enjoyed scribbling with a large nail.

I booked this course a while ago - while I'm not as far along with packing as  initially planned ( tho over 5 days Ian and I packed 53 boxes, mainly books,  and dismantled a wardrobe and 2 bookshelves ) , it does the trick in terms of  having some creative time without having to think too much ! Next week lino cutting which I have done before but good to have a refresher.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

International Threads in Prague

Uta , Kathy and Barbara have done a fantastic job hanging our  International Threads quilts at the Prague Patchwork meeting. It's so interesting to see the different interpretations of the same  themes.
I blogged about my  contributions here 

Grey with a touch of Colour & Change of Scale

 Red and Repetition
 Evidence of Sketch &Blue

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sketching Amulets at British Museum

  After a couple of weeks of endlessly moving boxes around and weekends dismantling a wardrobe and bookshelves, it was time to get out the house and to finally get round to  meeting up with Margaret Cooter et al sketching in museums. The destination this week was the Islamic Gallery in the British Museum - the streets were solid with buses due to  Kingsway being closed after the fire last week and it took 20 minutes queuing to get in the building (lots of foreign student groups) so I was a few minutes late. So much gorgeous subject matter  to choose from -  I was sorely tempted by the glass but  got fascinated by the case of amulets including this fabulous cloth covered skull ( love those ears!) . 4 of us met up in the  Galley CafĂ© to look at each others drawings and  discuss favourite sketching implements ( a visit to Cornelissens  was a must). It was such a pleasure to  be with like-minded people after a few weeks home alone.

 There were several examples of clothing showing a variety of forms both in the gallery itself and in the section on 'life and death' in the main part of the museum

 I didn't get round to drawing this lovely drum-like  discs containing scared texts finely embroidered around the edges -  I had a preference for the more roughly hewn.
  The necklace above  had alum to  heal bleeding and prevent fires and a tortoise shell for longevity ( but not for the tortoise....)
 This Turkish amulet for a bellwether sheep  was fun  - loved the exuberant tassels and the crude stitching on the leather triangles. As it happens I have some  rusty sheep/goat bells at home in the garden bought in  a very non-touristy market in Turkey in  1990's  - each one has a different tone.

Travelling in  Greece, Turkey,  Tunisia, Iran and Syria , I've long had an interest in amulets and talismen. My copy of Sheila Paine's book is much thumbed even if she did mistake  rue for chickpeas, but then I did myself initially.  The photo above was of the  windscreen of the taxi we had in Syria in 2004 winding up a very narrow steep track to Saladin's castle  I'd wished he's had rather fewer and a better view! You can see how close we were to the taxi in front.
I've been thinking for a while of revisiting my idea of amulets against lost earrings. The journal quilt above I made in 2004  taking photo's of earrings and printing them on fabric combined with real examples attached to 3d  Flying Geese ( perhaps they could be found trapped in the folds...)
I think a visit to Pitt Rivers is long overdue.

Friday, 27 March 2015

So easy to get distracted...

I ran out of large plastic boxes  for packing up fabric in my studio  so had to  go to Wilkinsons for more. And while I was going to West Ealing, I thought I'd take some glass items to the charity shop  which entailed  finding the tissue  paper  and  bubble wrap  and sorting out the front room ( shoving stuff under the table)  so I had a flat surface to wrap them.   

 And while I was at  it unwrapping the   outer packing of the cardboard boxes  so can commence packing up the Portmeirion and books, lots of books. Taking the outer packaging down the cellar led to cleaning a section of the  storage area down there, Then with the gasman coming to service the boiler today, I needed to move the exercise bike out the kitchen  into the conservatory  which meant sorting through all the tools from under the stairs that had been sitting on the table  for several days. With the gasman gone,  I took advantage of the kitchen being clearer than normal to hoover and mop.

So after lunch as a change from  packing, I finally got round to putting my 'Sew-Ezi' table together.  Finding a clear area was a bit of a challenge. While quite straight forward and excellent instructions, it took 3 goes of putting it together  as with the recommended 2 spacers ,  my   Bernina  stood a little proud and I made the mistake  of taking one off rather than adding one on...  I must put it away again now, hand sewing only at the moment, but I'm  looking forward to using it, it feels very sturdy.   

  Here's the desk that it's replacing - its' mainly been used a dumping space  but  at least  1 set of drawers would be handy.  It's very heavy so  it's going to be difficult to get out ( I'll have to clear  and move out the table first)
Meanwhile  my computer desk needs   clearing, still have boxes of documents from work that need sorting  but I'm more interested in deciding on what masterclasses I want to do at FoQ this year , to be ready for booking on Monday. I've also been practising alto part of 'A Gaelic  Blessing'  for memorial service in a few weeks time ( caterwauling with earphones on, probably just as well that the builders next door are drowning me out) and of course checking emails.   

We did have a grand plan of what needed doing in each room and a rough idea of what order things  needed to be done in  but the devil is in the detail. When I said I was 'project managing' our move, I knew it would be complex - the examples used when I went on a training course  were nothing like as complicated. Just as well we don't have specific  deadline, but do feel we're making some progress.  

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Cai Guo-Qiang and Cornelia Parker at Whitworth Gallery

 Last Saturday I combined  a British Bryological Society Council meeting  in Manchester with a  visit to the newly re-opened Whitworth Gallery. As an extra bonus I  met up with Julie who happened to be in Manchester anyway for  Urban Sketchers  crawl.  
It was interesting to see how they'd combined items from collections with new exhibits  and installations. We spent some time poring over the watercolours and  in the 'portraits' section trying to guess the artists  when there were no information sheets left!  Having no labels or numbers  did  mean it looked great aesthetically but was a bit frustrating when trying to work  out who was who.  Didn't get to see everything in a couple of hours, it'll be good to make a return trip.  
 The Cai Guo-Qiang  installation 'Unmanned Nature' , a 45 metre -long four metre high gunpowder drawing on hemp paper was spectacular. They  only  let a few people in at a time to enjoy the effect of being immersed in the landscape.

 The materials used are  pivotal to the work of Cornelia Parker: the bullet drawings  of lead wire;  the squashed silver-plated objects.
  My favourites  however were  in the section on 'Room for Margins' - canvas linings from various paintings by Turner mounted behind glass. I loved their patina  with subtle marks, reminding me of the beauty of  backs of  stitched textiles, the  'unconscious side'.

 In the textile section I was re-acquainted with this quilt by Michele Walker. It caused a huge fuss at the time being made of plastic bags  but now it looks quite traditional , apart from the materials used ( the quilting patterns are tyre tracks)

  The train journeys there and back were not  without incident. On the way there lots of trains were cancelled so the train I was on was delayed and overcrowded ( mainly with Man City fans).  The return journey was a'58 mins' late getting into Euston ( magically below the  hour where can apply for full refund). I missed out on the eclipse  on Friday  due to cloud but the orange globe of the  sun setting partially made up for  it

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Moving Forward

Or should that be ' March ahead'! Back from Weymouth I  finished stitching my 'Shore Lines' quilt for International Threads exhibition in Prague. Before posting them off to Uta today I took a  quick photo of them all on my 'Display Wall'  (aka wardrobe and studio doors with over door hooks and curtain rods- my working design walls are polystyrene and cork boards). Ian is very patient, asking permission to get his shirts out  the wardrobe.

Mostly though, last week was spent down in the 'Catacombs' clearing out and cleaning the  front cellar ( above) and rear storage area ( below), in order to sort out and  store temporarily  our stuff for 'keep, store, giveaway , disposal' . They weren't both clear at the same time , there was a lot of stooped shunting of  boxes from one to the other and back again. Hard hats and dust masks essential.

 Before Ian went back to work we sorted through the kitchen together cupboard by cupboard and have a satisfying load on the dining room table awaiting charity shop/freecycle.
Kiwi Landscapes are coming tomorrow for some 'garden maintenance'(we 've hardly been out there for 6 months -seriously overgrown) but in preparation I cleared the way to the compost bins and installed another catscarer (local moggies have been using the gravel as catlitter while we haven't been around so much!) . It already looks so much better and I was rewarded by the hellebores in flower. They don't seem to have come to too much harm from the harvesting last year for 'Fast Forward' experiments.
Now its' time for some cleaning, and  going through my studio space. Currently sorting through contents of  desk used as sewing table - my 'Sewezi' has arrived.