Friday, 20 February 2015

Art Adventures

  Bela Kolarova ' Swatch of Snap Fasteners 11'
 Josef Albers 'Homage to the square:post autumn'
 Lygia Clark 'Red Matchboxes'
Klara Liden 'Untitled (Poster Painting)'

 My first week  since finishing work has mainly been spent sorting out finances and paperwork  with  visit of estate agent to value property and beginning to sort out my stuff for retreat next week at Rydal.  But yesterday was my first expedition up to town to visit art galleries during the working week ( first of many  I hope).  The current Whitechapel Gallery exhibition ' Adventures of the Black Square'   was  definitely worth the entrance  fee (alas,  I had to hand  in my staff pass which got me in free to  many exhibitions   when I left Kew).  Besides the familiar Mondrian and Albers ,more  powerful in reality than in print, there  was  much that resonated in terms of subject matter ( peeling posters of Klara Liden; crumbly walls and doors of Clay Ketter; David Batchelor's 'found' monochromes ) ; so many artists new to me( many of them women); such imaginative use of materials.  Textiles featured prominently - I'll be writing more about  that in a Ragged Cloth CafĂ© Blog post  including  Anni Albers; Rosemarie Trockel; Adrian Esparza; Sophie Taeuber-Arp.
As with the Emily Carr  exhibition I had to buy the catalogue straight away - I couldn't wait to have it posted!

 Besides the  biological recording  courses I'm doing to revive my rusty botanical skills , I've just booked for 2 courses at City  Lit  to  give my art-making  a kick start - ' develop your drawing'  and 'printmaking  on Mondays starting 20 April.

Monday, 16 February 2015


On the blackboard at the 'Botanist'  
Friday 13th February  was my last day at Kew - my  main leaving do  at the 'Botanist' on Wednesday  was lovely,  with touching speeches ( I hadn't thought about  my legacy  in  growing plants),over 80 messages in cards with numerous inserts  and emails  and  generous  gifts of books  for my  UCert Course and some very special wine.  I also had lunch and drinks with my close colleagues in the  lab -  they'd cunningly sussed out my interest in a 'weatherwriter'   which they'd found useful in  Madagascar   and I was  delighted  to receive one  of my own  along with a scarf, bag and earrings ( they know me so well!)   I can see it's use for sketching as well as recording in the field!
With going in at weekends I managed to sort out  things  more or less to my satisfaction. It will take a little while to sink in I think  but at least I can still pop into the Gardens whenever I like as I received  a Life Pass.
Now it's on the next phase - an estate agent is coming on Wednesday  to value our property.

 My last days annual leave allowance was used  a couple of weeks ago  to travel up  to  Warrington for the funeral of   Nigel Haynes  who I knew at school. We were both  on the German  school exchange trip to the Black Forest in 1976  and  in the 6th form production of 'I have Five Daughters' ( based on Pride and Prejudice). I'd only gone to the auditions to offer help painting scenery but ended up as Charlotte Lucas   while  I still think of Nigel as  the definitive Mr Bingley.

A lovely man , the Facebook page brought  so many of us together  in  some cases for the first time in 30 years ( even my closest friends there I haven't see in 5 ) it was  good to catch up even though in such sad circumstances.  It was  such a  special occasion in so many ways,  remembering the people we were as well as honouring Nigel, the years just melted away. At  a time when I'm facing up to huge changes and saying goodbye to friends and colleagues  at work, meeting up  with old friends means such a lot to me.  We exchanged contact details and are determined that we'll meet more often in future.

One friend , Julie Scott,  who I did A level art with,  went to art college  while I went to university and I've been thinking seriously about paths not travelled and the opportunities  now to take them up again.
 Melanie  kindly collected me from  the station and took me back to lunch with her mother  who still lives in the village. Pip Sumbler was one of my mums best friends  and  it was lovely to see her, still stitching (  she has a quilt in book by Dilys Fronks ) and we found we had some quilting contacts in common.
I don't believe much  in  a physical  afterlife  but  the power of  retaining   memories of people you know and love,  both living and dead.  and sharing and passing on their stories,  has been reinforced and amplified  over the last few weeks.