Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Harvest Colour

Last week we spent a glorious day out at Geoff Hamilton's Garden at Barnsdale.  The fields were a glow with harvest corn.  The skies were high with white fluffy clouds and the flowers and vegetables at Barnsdale sang in the sunshine. Soak it all up, I feel the seasons changing as the planet turns.

Back home we were inspired to clear the garden and put some late crops in the greenhouse and the polytunnel.  We gathered our produce from the allotment and have been feasting.  I've packed as much of summer as I can into jars; Glutney and Plum & Damson jam abound.

On their way

I'm very nearly ready to start distributing my new greetings card range.  I'm very happy that the National Centre for Craft and Design have agreed to stock them and some of my other products.  I'll let you know when they are in my shop.

Friday, 26 August 2011

New work

To the Rookery 18cm x 70cm

Valley Deep 40cm x 50 cm

Finally I've finished some work!  These are inspired by our time in Yorkshire earlier in the summer.  I loved the depth of the landscapes in Yorkshire: in contrast to East Anglia where we were last week, where the skies fill your vista.

These pieces are heading off to be scanned to become prints.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Francis Davison. Through a Window, 1963

Scouting around the internet I came across the work of Francis Davison at Goldmark Art.  I love the fresh simplicity of his collaged compositions.

Reading his biography, I realised he was partner of Margaret Mellis, an artist whose work I was much inspired by after seeing an exhibition of her work at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art in 2008.

Margaret Mellis, 1914-2009

Margret Mellis, Trees on the Shore, 1958

Margaret Mellis,  Driftwood relief III

More news from a very busy summer soon!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Upcoming workshops

Back by popular demand!  This Autumn I'll be running another 'Recording Memories' workshop.  To see how the Spring workshop went, have a look here.  The one day workshop will be held at Long Eaton Art Room, near Nottingham on Saturday 8th October. The room is large and airy with plenty of parking and disabled access.  I'll be providing tea and coffee and cake made by my own fair hands!  All for £40, including materials. The day will run from 10-4.  Get in touch with me through the website if you'd like to book a place.

I'm also running a 'Creating for Ceramic Transfer' workshop at Beans Coffee Shop Gallery on Sunday 25th September 2011.  I've fallen in love with ceramic transfers!  It's a great way of translating your art into an embellishment for any ceramics or china.  I'll show you how it works and during the day you can create an original piece of art work using ink, collage and stitch which I will then have made into a transfer and fired onto a tile for you.  These make great presents!  The day runs from 10-4 and costs £40 including a lovely lunch and most materials.  There'll be an additional £5 charge for each tile you would like to have made.  If you'd like to book a place, please contact Karen at Beans Coffee Shop Gallery.

Both courses are suitable for beginners and will be an informal introduction to techniques and ideas.  I hope you can join me for what I hope will be a fun and inspiring day.

ps.  Whilst I'm telling you about my courses, I'll also tell you about David's Life Drawing courses.  These will run on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from the start of September at Chilwell School and at St.Mary's Church Hall, Draycott.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Venue for Melbourne Festival

I've been over to see my venue for the Melbourne Festival artist trail (September 17th/18th). It's the most charming cottage, just the type that I like to draw. It'll be perfect for showing my new British Landscapes series. I have to move in ever decreasing circles in the studio for all the boards of work that I've started.  Feeling the pressure of Melbourne just a little bit but mainly excited and looking forward to being there.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Pale blue dot

Yesterday we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.  It felt like a real achievement.  Looking at this photo, the 'me' I was then felt very different to the 'me' I am today.  The most amazing part of these ten years has been the creation of our wonderful boys.  Having them has taught me so much and been such an intense experience.  By my side, supporting me, growing with me has been David.  Still together, still strong, still my best friend.

We celebrated by having a date at the wonderful Broadway cinema.  We frequented it a lot before we had children.  We went to see the 'Tree of Life'.  I've always loved the symbolism of the Tree of Life.  I knew the film was about a couple with boys.  It knew it starred Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and had a strong philosophical message. 

It's a beautiful film.  It's also very sensory, the visual imagery beautifully crafted, you can almost feel the textures of the film. I knew of the sequence in the film that sets the evolution of our earth to music.  There were other surreal elements that I appreciated less than the story of a family; the highs, lows, love and pain that we all endure as residents of our planet.  The film moved me but not in a way I expected. I felt little empathy with the characters.  They seemed unreal, in spite of great casting.  Perhaps that's the achievement of the film.  We watch the characters play out their lives, as we watch those real lives around us, never really knowing the full story.

In the night I woke, and lay there.  Scenes from the film played through my head.  I could hear the ticking of the universe, the turning of the world.  I remembered how David and I had played Massive Attack's 'Big Wheel' at our wedding. I thought of our life, our blessings, and all the other lives being lived on our planet, and the surge of time, ever onward. No going back.

This morning David introduced me to the Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan.  We are such tiny specks on this dot called Earth.  Our lives so filled with self importance, self delusion.  Yet here we are, all bound together in this tree of life.

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. 

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. 

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

For our anniversary, David bought me a beautiful ring made by Susanna Hanl.  It is made from strands of silver and gold and a small opal, symbol of fidelity and assurance.  I put the ring on this morning and realised that when the opal catches the light, it is a pale blue dot.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Going Barefoot

Not content to have spent a week in nature, on Sunday we spent a day at the Barefoot Festival.  Our local, fledgling festival was a really chilled out, family friendly event.  There was a strong healing vibe, great music and a great feeling of shared enjoyment.  The boys ran free with a band of children, circling back to find us listening to folk music, watching a circus skills workshop, or drinking a smoothie, squashed by riding a bicycle (the smoothie, not the boys)!  We returned home to build a tent in the garden and cook a tagine outdoors. We spent the evening telling fairy stories to a boy whose imagination has suddenly been ignited by pixies and elves and who donned his own pair of (very manly) fairy wings.

Monday, 1 August 2011

We're all going on a Summer holiday!

We're back, tired and windswept from a week camping in North Yorkshire.  We camped overlooking Robin Hood's Bay on a windy site with magnificent views of the sea and valley.  It was such a pleasure to sit and watch the landscape and the small changes that occur across the hours and days.  Fields changed from verdant green to mellow mustard, white mists rolled up the valley, kissed us coldly and moved on; a combine harvester turned a golden field into one spotted with huge hay bales. The week was such an outdoors, outward experience for someone who spends a lot of time indoors!  

I wanted to visit Staithes, inspired by reading Attic 24. It's a picturesque outpost on the Yorkshire coast, with houses huddled around a small harbour.  The houses bear the brunt of the scalding sea breeze, paint peels to be re-coated in lovely red, turquoise and blue. It's a place out of time, the only commercial ventures being to supply ice-cream and crab lines for the families that visit to enjoy timeless pleasures.

Jessica Hogarth-Robin Hood's Bay

The North Yorkshire coast is an artists' paradise, sandwiched between the sea and the earthy moors.  The light changes in an instant, clouds descending swiftly and then being broken through by shards of sunshine.  The meeting of man and nature, the will to live in what must surely be a place to endure through the winter; a truth belied by the charm of cottages that seem to tumble one atop the other down the valleys, bright doors and bunting filled windows housing the pleasures of Summer.  Jessica Hogarth's charming drawings perfectly capture this.

Jane Jackson-'White House'

Howard Hodgkin-'David's Pool'

In amongst the days spent fossil hunting, eating ice-cream and refuelling ourselves with coffee, we enjoyed the galleries of Whitby and Scarborough.  The Scarborough Art Gallery has a show of Howard Hodgkin's hand coloured prints running until the 18th September.  Infused with the intense colour for which he is famous, their inky freedom has inspired me to embrace some larger scale work.  Likewise, the colour in Jane Jackson's felted fabric collages, captured the colours of the moors and has given me a palette to combine with some of the sketches I did whilst away.

So today I'm back in the studio with my mind filled with beautiful memories, a sketchbook of ideas and a fear that I won't be able to realise the images in my head......here goes!
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