Saturday, 6 September 2008

Jellyfish Tree, Pojagi and Hockney on Turner

This week started and ended with quilting of various kinds, with several days of intense concentration at a work-related conference in between. I took Monday off to complete a cushion cover/quilted wall hanging for the outgoing Sandwich Student, Poppy. It's based on photos (manipulated in Photoshop) of some of the work she's done through the year she's been with us on Medusagyne cryopreservation.

The images used were: shoot tips growing on culture media; visor and gloves used for cryo; alginate beads from cryo experiments; highly magnified stained thin sections of Medusagne leaves. I found a batik with a pattern of what looked like plant cells to join it all together. I have some printed fabric sheets left over of the stained cell sections which I have plans for!
Most of the week ( 8.30-8.30 some days!) was spent at the British Ecological Society annual conference, this year held at Imperial College. It felt odd being back at the University where I did my degree - I thought I should know my way around but so much has changed that I didn't ! It was a very stimulating meeting (if somewhat sobering, with many of the sessions I attended being on monitoring effects of Climate Change and a presidential address on the devastating effect of parasitic plants on dryland harvests). On a lighter note, Honorary Membership was awarded to Prof John Beddington ( Govt Chief Scientific Advisor ) who described the interview process for his post including a grilling on the 'Today' programme. He was told that one of his main assets was his regional accent which people find trustworthy and reassuring. If you hear him say 'There is no cause for concern' in a broad West Country accent, be very afraid!!
The conference finished on Friday afternoon and being in South Kensington, I naturally gravitated to the V&A. I concentrated on the Japanese and Korean Galleries, impressed again by the pojagi of Chunghie Lee. It was a difficult piece to photograph being black silk organza but I rather like the reflections of the ceramics in the case opposite included in the photo. The attention to detail in the seams and construction is amazing ( I notice that she is about to run a workshop at the Alsace Patchwork show - I wish I'd known )
I was also rather taken with these Korean bronze spoons and their shadows. I like how each spoon is slightly different.
After a reviving coffee and cake in splendid surroundings (remember the Satchii-devised campaign "An ace caff with quite a nice museum attached" ?)I headed upstairs looking at the modern design galleries and then the oil sketches of John Constable (particularly his cloud studies). These are wonderfully lively, as David Hockney said in 'Hockney on Turner Watercolours'
" Put next to the finished paintings , they make the finished works less exciting as the finish has covered up the marks, covered his energy".
His comments on Turner's watercolours also resonate for me.
"They're fresh because you can see how he has made them. You can sense the trace of his arm, ......painting has to be about this sense of gesture and movement, the sheer physicality of making a picture"

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