Thursday 24 September 2015

York Museums: Quilts,Ceramics and Hoards

 Recovering from a long  yet stimulating day in York visiting  various museums. The object of my  excursion was seeing the exhibitions at the Quilt museum before it closes  at the end of October. I spent some time looking round  'Quilt Art - Dialogues' - I was loaned a copy of the catalogue  so it was interesting to read more about the work and artists at the time ( and good advertising, I bought one  later).  I'd seen 'Small Talk' at FoQ  but with so many galleries there competing for your attention, it was good to have a longer look ( although the light was rather dim).
After tea and a chat  in the members room , I  headed over to York Art Gallery and after buying  a YMT card  had  delicious lunch ( with discount!) in the café there with the view above.  It's  run by the team at Café no 8 ( of rhubarb  and custard pavlova  fame!)

Suitably refreshed,  I headed up to the 1st floor to reacquaint myself with  some of my favourite paintings  including Paul Nash 'Winter Sea'.  The refurbishment of the gallery included comfy, quirky sofas, books and catalogues to look through, drawing materials  and  mini guides to looking at art incorporating a view finder.  I ordered the books on Paul Nash and Wilhelmina Barnes- Graham  this morning!  

I spent most time however in the fantastic  newly opened Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA). The first thing that caught my eye was this installation  by Sara Moorhouse, the interpretation of landscape reminding me of the piece 'Around Here' by Elizabeth Brimelow that I'd  been absorbed by in the morning.    
 Another installation   by Clare Twomey represents the 10,000 hours it is said to take to become a master craftsman ( each bowl takes an hour to make). In the same, light, space there were cabinets devoted to individual artists: Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, Ewan Henderson etc
 The gallery next to it on one side had a whole wall of 4 shelves organised by colour ( following, appropriately enough , the 'Richard of York.... mnemonic spectrum) , I could have spent days looking at these wonderful objects! They have dedicated touch screen computers   in front of them so you can identify what you're looking at ( and computers to search for particular artists)
On the other side of the room the collection donated by Anthony Shaw was displayed in domestic style space with furniture and other artwork and artifacts, inviting the viewer to share the experience of living with a collection 
In the shop I added to my own  collection   with a small bowl by Barbara Wood, saggar- fired after burnishing, it's so tactile,  and sits very well alongside my sphere by Elspeth Owen and my recent  'Upwey' purchases. 
In the hour before I caught my train back,  I wandered around the Yorkshire Museum,  so many hoards of silver and gold , with other galleries devoted to Richard III and to the  Romans. There were plenty of  screens around with video clips of  experts  talking  with passion about the archaeology and the conservation behind some of these treasures.   

Being  still in 'pottery mode', it was the prehistoric vessels which as ever drew my attention- the hand of the maker is so evident, a connection through millennia
And a hoard just as precious in my eyes as the silver and gold - a  huge quantity of partially made flint knives and scrapers.  I have a few myself among the 'small treasures' I'm recording through drawing.  

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Drawing Tuesday: Islamic Glass at British Museum

 I made good use of my watercolour pencils today  attempting to capture the colours and quirky shapes of the glass in the Islamic Gallery at the British Museum

  These  photos I took in April when I last visited - the light was rather better than today
  I chose this collection to sketch first  with a blind drawing  in watercolour pen , then in  pencil  before concentrating on the yellow-green bottle with the odd-angled twisted neck (a rose water sprinkler apparently!)


Having had enough of sitting down , I stood up to draw the even more bizarre shapes on the top shelf 

 It's always a dilemma whether to use waterbrush on the watercolour pencil drawing - decided not to risk  losing the fine lines  but did another little study of the  bottle top  where I did use a brush.
Loving colour as  I do, I'm inspired  be  use them  more and  maybe hunt out  my Inktense pencils.

Off to York very early tomorrow  for the ' Quilt Art -Dialogues'  exhibition - last chance to visit the Quilt Museum before it closes  for good at the end of October.

Monday 21 September 2015

Drawing Small Treasures update

 In preparation  for tomorrow's return visit to the Islamic Gallery at the British Museum  for 'Drawing Tuesday' I've been practising sketching old glass using different materials  - this fragment  with patches of iridescense  came from Syria .

  Today's other subject was  a shell with  lots of worm-eaten holes ( worth drawing on a much bigger scale to analyse the different shape holes.
  More shells - this time  a couple of mussels from the '100 objects' exercise in Puglia

 An exquisite  piece of lacy coral.

  A stripy shell
A stripy stone 

 A white flint nodule

 A partially worked green flint
A piece of wood with a beady 'eye' 
Meanwhile overnight  a large inkcap popped up in the  gravel - I did consider  sketching it but it was already oozing with black 'ink' and our buyers architect was visiting so  it was tidied up into the compost. 

Meet 'Ms Incy'. This splendid garden spider has been building her web against the outside glass of the conservatory  so we've had an excellent view of the process. Late one night we were also witness to the courtship  advances of 'Mr Wincy' as he very cautiously  vibrated the web and inched forward with one leg tentatively reaching out to touch her leg. They both  recoiled several times - he seemed to be making some progress but then she lowered herself on a long line out of the  way - 'not in the mood'. At least he wasn't eaten.  

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Drawing Tuesday - Flying in the Science Museum

 It's years since I visited the Science  Museum ( probably not since I was at University round the corner over 30 years ago)  so I  got thoroughly lost  finding the 'flight'  gallery, destination for Tuesday's drawing session. Memories of the   aviation section of the Royal Army Museum in Brussels .
  I was enchanted by the  early planes, so fragile, and spent most of my time sitting in front of the case dedicated to  Hiram Maxim ( as in gun) 
 It was the curves of 'Phillip's Propeller  which attracted me but  it proved a challenging subject with all that foreshortening!
  As  bit of light relief , I turned to the boomerangs in the next case , trying to capture the different qualities of their surfaces  using graphite and eraser.

 And finally a quick biro sketch , not taking the pen off the paper,  attempting to untangle what was happening in this model ( which it looked like it had evolved rather than  being planned).
  Waiting for others  to finish,  Margaret  showed me the different kinds of rivets - this seaplane   being a good example. Definitely lots of things of interest for another visit
 After a leisurely lunch, I did a little more exploring in the museum on the gallery devoted to 'challenge of materials'
 There were 2 polyester dresses in a case on 'Perceptions' where unusual materials had been used for clothing ( like the Vivian Westwood  Axminster carpet dress). These had stainless steel coating with permanent embossed images of spoons ( above) and of hands( below), playing with the idea of transparency/solidity.
 This sculpture using layers of different flooring materials was fun

  Then a bit of retail therapy in the museum shop - couldn't resist this heavy cotton lined bag  showing  how a sewing machine makes stitches on one side and about cotton production on the other.
Then a bus ride to  High St Ken  and Cass arts. I only went in for a fine eraser   but somehow  came out with 2( Tombow Mono zero and Derwent eraser -pen)   and a tin of Winsor and  Newton   watercolour markers..... I made them work hard in the shop as the packaging just had dots of colours  on the front, not a list of what they were  but they helpfully looked it up on the computer so I could work out what additional ones to buy  to replace the green and black.  I'll let you know how I get on.