Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Fleeting Moments

'shibori 'Clouds
'Shibori' waves on Chesil Beach
You would be forgiven for thinking that our breaks in Weymouth revolve around food and real ales! Today we had the treat of a traditional afternoon tea at the 'Height's' Hotel and Restaurant overlooking Chesil Beach. The first time we've been inside, we usually make our way there at some point for the amazing views.
Probably our favourite spot however is the'Taste' Cafe at Chesil Beach Nature Centre- we walked there for lunch both yesterday and today. I never tire of  watching how the Fleet lagoon changes by the minute, with the tide rising and falling and different light and weather conditions.It formed the basis of my 'Fleet Mudflats' quilt  and I've had various bits of fabric marinating on my design wall for the last few months.


Lots of little waders (Dunlins?)spotted when I didn't have my  new binoculars with me ! 

colourful beach debris 
Seedheads at Smallmouth Bay 
Thumbnail sketches 
The dining table becomes my studio space - scraps of fabric for journal quilts today, mono-printing planned for Thursday (we're  visiting friends in Wellington tomorrow) and beer festival on Friday ( our 3rd)

Monday, 29 September 2014

Just Being





After a frantic few days finishing things up at work (ordering chemicals before we transfer to a new finance system, joint union meeting, setting up new experiments) we're down in Weymouth again for a well-timed weeks break. We travelled down on Saturday with the football crowd, yesterday (Sunday) was our first full day and we soon got into the swing of doing not a lot. After the best Sunday lunch we've had in a long time ( apart from our own!) at the New Inn, Portland we had an afternoon siesta( got a lot of catching up on sleep to do this holiday) and then walked  a short distance from our cottage in Ferrybridge to the 'Painting Promentary'  near Smallmouth Bay at the end of the Rodwell Trail.  I've got painting materials with me with the intention of doing some mono-printing towards a little book and scraps of fabrics for composing some journal quilts. Meanwhile we were very content to send an hour sitting on a bench watching the changing light over Portland , hearing a lolloping labrador continually chasing after stones in the waves, just being.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Researching Plan B in Whitstable


 This morning we made  a trip to the seaside, to Whitstable on the North Kent Coast. Unlike other outings we've made to Bexhill, Margate and Weymouth, I set out on this one with butterflies in my stomach as this wasn't just  a pleasant day out or  holiday but potentially the place we're going to live.
I'd made a list of properties within our potential budget  within 1 mile of the train station  and marked them on a map and then we  wandered around the areas concerned , several helpful people asking whether they could help us, whether we knew where we were going! Anything near the beach ( including this  'des res' of an old fishermans hut) is definitely beyond us but there's a surprising amount of ordinary houses that might fit the bill.
 Then we had a very pleasant lunch of  fish and chips and real ale at the 'Old Neptune' which reminded us very much the' Cove House Inn' at  Chiswell on Portland to cogitate on our findings before doing  more touristy stuff walking along the beach to the harbour.



 Lots of inspiration - peeling paint, a nice bit of rust and Thames Barges
The reason   behind our day out is that we're in the process of developing 'Plan B' .
As I said in an  earlier post, there is no job for me in the new structure for science at Kew Gardens  and after some heart searching have decided to apply for voluntary redundancy. The time table for this has not yet been confirmed  but I will probably be leaving in January and I've got my work cut out over the next few months  winding up the projects I'm involved with. 
We're fortunate that Ian has the potential in his job to work more from home   and the value of properties in our road  has increased markedly since new developments have shot up near us ( I never thought I'd live in a house worth in excess of  1/2 Million pounds!  ). If we sell up and buy a house  in a cheaper area within commutable distance of London  we can be mortgage free which gives me some  breathing space  to find a job more locally.
Whitstable seemed to fit the bill for us  with fast 'Javelin' trains to Kings Cross in the morning and evening, good local buses to Canterbury.There's a thriving arts scene ( we intend to go back in a few weeks for the artists house trail) and potential for jobs  in the area for me -   conservation consultancy, lab work, who knows. Most of all it's by the sea , our dream for retirement- we're just moving  a bit earlier  while we're still working. In any  case I intend to have at least 6 months creative time  to recover from moving house and for grieving. I've worked at Kew for nearly 25 years  and am desperately sad to leave my colleagues who  are currently in a great state of uncertainty about their future. I'm  doing all I can to provide constructive feedback as part of the consultation process, the fight is not yet over:  our Prospect Union rep Julie Flanaghan  continues to be absolutely  committed  to continuing the fight against loss of jobs and expertise.

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Weekend In Edinburgh

 A quick trip to Edinburgh  in interesting times ( tourists and TV film crews in equal measure! ).  I wonder  what  my dad would have thought of  the referendum , he always called Glasgow 'Home' despite living in England from his 20's and the family tree going back to the 1760's is very firmly rooted  around Lanarkshire.
I got a very early train on Friday  arriving just after midday and had a free afternoon  so I caught the 'Gallery Bus' from the Scottish National Gallery to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, concentrating  on the extensive range of work by artists as part of 'Generation'. The grounds of 'Modern 1' include this amazing earthwork and the grounds were scattered with sculpture. I downloaded  the ' arthunter' app as I had my tablet with me and  picked up copies of the 4 trails which highlighted different pieces. Alison Watt's portrayal of  fabric started giving me ideas.
 
Friday evening and all of Saturday I was involved with meetings associated with the British Bryological Society, great to catch up with people and some very interesting presentations. We were at the 'Botanics' and we had a few  minutes at lunch time to dash out and admire the gardens , especially the magnificent trees. 

 My final morning on Sunday before I headed off to the train ( I was  able to leave my bags at the excellent 'Ashlyn' guest house  where I stayed) , I caught up with the rest of the Generation exhibition at the SNG on the Mound .  I  spent ages looking at the paintings by Callum Innes ( I first came across his works on paper at the Tate Watercolour exhibition a few years ago. In his 'Exposed ' series, he applies oil paint to canvas then removes areas of paint with turpentine. Through the art of unveiling, he likens  the process to alchemy, turning ordinary substances into gold (I always think of indigo dyeing as alchemy). The result remind me of chromatography - I  still remember the chemistry classes where the colours contained in black ink were revealed    
  My 'find' of the trip though was the  new acquisition from the Art Fund of the 'chalk cutting' by Arthur Melville , one of the 'Glasgow Boys'
 I didn't leave myself enough time to the  National Museum of Scotland justice ,  just enough to grab lunch and I only saw the new part (including this massive tapestry from the Dovecot studios) on my way out. Will just have to come back - I  only ever seem to go to Edinburgh on work-related trips.     
 Return train journeys are always more tedious than the outward journey but at least the sun was shining  as we followed the coast
 
 


 
Even a snapped view of a castle in the distance!  

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Lost for Words

If  it's seemed a little quiet here, that's partly because I've been writing a series of posts on painting with acrylics on the 'And Then We Set it on Fire' blog.
Mainly though it's because I've been attempting to absorb the implications of the proposed new structure for science at Kew announced last Thursday. It's far more radical than we ever imagined and although there will a few weeks of consultation, there is no job for me. Meanwhile have to attempt to carry on as usual, to deliver the conservation projects I'm involved with.
We're  also numb with shock by the tragic loss of our colleague Nigel Veitch. I  didn't work directly with him  but  knew him through  being  a member of the Kew staff choir  he directed with such patience (photo here of happier times in rehearsal). So  sad.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Indigo Gloat - quilt sections old and new

 Dipping sections of old quilt into the indigo vat was hard work - heavy once soaked and difficult to manoeuvre and to ensure no air got in (I left them until last). So worth it though! This very tatty quilt with remnants of red baskets was my favourite.
 Closely followed by this section of a log cabin coverlet with a lace-like holey backing


 It wasn't all old quilts though - I also included a strip I'd cut off a quilt I made myself several years ago, one of my first experiments in machine quilting. It has quite a lot of different  cream and red fabrics, some silk, some cotton and I was interested to see how differently these took the dye.

 I wrestled with a rather boring thin Durham quilt ( not the best stitching), wrapping it around a pole. I love the difference in the marks on the front and back and some quilted circles have become more prominent - an interesting piece to work with I think.
 And lastly the 'snake' wrapped around a vacuum  hose - lovely variety of marks both front and back.
Now  time for them to marinade on my design wall and work out how to make the most of their charms , making them my own.

Indigo Gloat- Overdyeing

 Over-dying some fabrics for my 'mudflat' series  was also one of my indigo aims: both special fabrics such as the kola dyed stripe from Magie Relph( above) and cheap and cheerful purchases from Sandown , below ( they were rather gaudy before their indigo dip )

 Also  the opportunity to try some larger unwieldy pieces such as this linen canvas .