Thursday, 31 July 2014

A Finished Section and Some Holiday Reading

Section 1 of 21 completed last evening.

I am taking three books with me; 'The Ghost Road', 'Judaism and the Visual Image' and 'The Closing of the Western Mind', I bought this last one in 2009; time to actually read it, methinks. Two long ferry crossings and evenings in the cottage will allow lots of lovely reading time.

The art bag is full to bursting with materials and contraband (tea, coffee, salt, fixative) so I am leaving weaving behind. I will get my yarn fix from knitting if necessary. No iPad; I am taking a digital holiday too. I predict 317 emails awaiting when I return!


Monday, 28 July 2014

Happy Monday

Enjoying a studio day today, interspersed with domestic matters. My lovely Mum and Dad are coming to house / cat / doglet sit next week*, and their housekeeping standards are higher than mine!

*I am going to Sark with my WD friend Diana, my first 'going away' holiday since Iceland in 2009. We plan on painting and general larks. I may take a small frame and some yarns for little weavings. Diana is flying in from Ireland but I am driving to Poole for the fast cat ferry. I am therefore bringing the bag of sea salt, cans of spray fixative for Diana's pastels, proper coffee (D) and loose leaf tea (me); all items which might cause problems at Dublin or Gatwick.

There are distinct advantages to having a studio at home, which I had forgotten:-

Tea and bagels available whenever I need

An extensive library for reading breaks

A sofa for naps thinking

Being able to work in pyjamas or a sarong; neither necessary nor desirable
in either the Time Machine nor the Cathedral, even in the basement!


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sampling, Swatches, Studio and a Spectacle

I like a neat swatch book!

The weaving studio carved from The Boy's bedroom. The bed head makes a good impromptu work table for 'Abram'.

Now to head to the photocopier to turn an A3 tracing into an A1 cartoon. Cut and paste the old-fashioned way. The cartoon will then be cut up into random rectilinear sections for weaving. The piece is called 'Shrapnel', not 'Poppy' as you might have thought. I hope to get the warp on before the end of the day.

The spectacle? Me, this morning, tumbling down the steps in the quire at the cathedral. Part way down ( for I fell in three stages, each of which I thought was the last) my hand landed on the sign which reads 'Uneven Steps, Take Care'. Three people were there to pick me up and dust me off, my dignity more bruised than my body. Thankfully it was not during the service; I might have taken three others out :-))


Monday, 21 July 2014

Of Loom, Loot and Dye Baths

Loom assembled and ready to go.

Walking (very slowly) the Goldsworthy trail yesterday I found this skull near a ruined flint hut.

And this aluminium pot. I think someone has been taking pot shots (ha!) at it. I can hardly believe that no-one has picked these things up before. Am I odd?

In pursuit of the perfect red: a bath of 3% Red 2GL (now drying) and another of 4% (now rinsing). I am approximately the same colour after building the loom, boiling vats in a very small kitchen and moving more boxes upstairs. It is the only downside of living in a first floor apartment :-)

In my foraging in the garage - which will one day have plumbing and be my wet studio- I found the black silk I need for the centre of the poppy, and some pillar box red that I dyed while at Time Machine. I think that I now have everything that I need, so no more procrastination. Winding the yarns onto cones and some quick sampling of the potential blends and I will be off.

Tally Ho!


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Of Dyeing and Holding a Heartbeat in my Hand

The results of today's bloodbath; so called because the main dye is Acid Blood Red in all except the last one. The beakers of dye did look exactly like boiling blood and I some mad-eyed scientist - largely due to the heat in the dye room.

Linens, a stray purple wool and a cone of hideous orange acrylic - which works unexpectedly well in blends. I still have to locate the pillar box red wool that I dyed last year - or dye/ buy some more. Ditto for a true black, possibly shiny.

While I was in the dye room, a swallow flew into the office and was struggling against the window. It let me catch it and remained quite still, close-cupped in my hands as I carried it to the door and released it. I watched it soar over the roofs into the blue-grey sky. Really moving and remarkable to feel a heartbeat in one's hands and for the bird to remain so calm, trusting and resting. A happy moment.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Sanity Saving Spanner

Borrowed from the WD workshop. The bed is now dismantled, oh joy. The loom is not yet mantled - that can wait until the cool of the early morning.

I have spent some time working on the cartoon for the first new tapestry; it has doubled in size from my original plan, so I shall be doing some dyeing after my shop shift on Saturday. Having access to the dye room is a great blessing. It should also be much cooler on Saturday; leaning over boiling vats is not an activity for a heat wave!

This evening I have been listening to Britten's War Requiem and re- reading the first of Pat Barker's 'Regeneration' trilogy, in preparation for completing the set. Getting into the zone for working on 'Abram'.

Location:New Workspace

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

World Trade Centre Wreckage

House Collapsing on Two Firemen

Location:IWM North

Ball Patrol

Chess the Action Dog

Flo the bewildered


Monday, 14 July 2014


1. I have been unable to upload photos to this blog for a couple of days now. It churns away and then I get an error message telling me that there are 'problems' and I should check my connection. My connection is fine for everything else. Not life threatening, but irritating.

2. The battery on the MacBook has died. I have resurrected my old PowerBook. We shall see what ensues.

3. I swapped my work days so that I could have a WORKroom making and WORK day today. The cunning plan was to
(a) Dismantle The Boy's bed (he does know and has approved this measure)
(b) Assemble the Ashford loom and put a warp on it.
(c) Finish the cartoon I began yesterday and sample the colours on aforementioned warp.
(d) Bring a table up from the garage for the sewing machine (I am making a stitch-drawn piece)
(e) Bring up the easel and other workroom bits.
(f) Clear the dining table of art materials / sewing machine
(g) Restore social space to normality
(h) Enjoy having a workroom again

I failed at (a). Could not find either the special IKEA spanner required nor a sufficiently small adjustable spanner. The mattress is now on the (small) landing, easel and folding table in the (small) hall. The whole place is an obstacle course, and, worst of all, I have run out of milk, so no tea.

I am usually quite good at 'zoning out' mess and just getting on with the work I need to do, but not this time. I am regretting the big house that I once lived in and annoyed with myself for doing so. The temptation to hide under the duvet wailing, even in this heat, is very great.

I need a fairy godmother. With a spanner and big muscles.

And tea.



Saturday, 12 July 2014

Road Trip

I have been up to Manchester for a few days to help The Boy move house. It is bit of a trek, but traffic was good and the drive not unpleasant. After my failed attempt to visit IWM in London, I was determined to make it to IWM North at Salford Quays, and my visit was not a disappointment. It is a fantastic building, with a vertigo-inducing 'Air Shaft' viewing platform - which I braved, holding onto The Boy the whiles. The nice guide at the top coaxed me to the edge so that I could see Old Trafford and "into Coronation Street", and then started telling me about the zip wire that they run across to the Lowry. He was so excited about "opening this wall here" and "running this gantry out over there" that he failed to notice my green tinge. He suggested that I come back and try it, but I pointed out to him that my screams would break all the windows in a mile radius at least so he agreed that it might not be such a good idea. The other member of our party of two is, however, rather keen. It remains to be seen whether I could watch.

The main exhibition space contains a piece of wreckage from 9/11. Monumental and profoundly moving.

Inside one of the 'silos' is an archway made of suitcases, backpacks etc to represent migration and refugees. It stopped me in my tracks

Another highlight for me were two handwritten drafts by Wilfred Owen; one for 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' and the other for 'Dulce et Decorum', the latter including a couplet which did not make it to the final draft:-

"And think how once his face was like a bud
Fresh as a country rose, and keen, and young"


On Wednesday I visited Dunham Massey, where the National Trust have re-instated the Stamford Military Hospital within the house. Too many people to really get the full impact of it, but rather well done. I shall visit again for a more thoughtful progress and read of the personal stories.

All in all, a good research trip, with many ideas now brewing / reinforced for September.

Airports passed:- Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester, East Midlands, Luton, Heathrow.

Counties crossed:- West Sussex, Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Surrey, West Sussex

And my back held up throughout, TBTG.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Mission Accomplished - In Part

After a late start (enjoying coffee and conversation with a friend in Chi) and a circuitous route (notes to self: take your A-Z, get off at Aldgate East NOT Whitechapel) the stretchers were duly delivered to my painter friend. I had help on my journey across London: an East End chippie, a Spanish tourist and a Bangladeshi lad who kindly picked up a bicycle that I had knocked over when I turned round forgetting my new wooden dimensions!

Painter friend EB was on a break and she took me to Spitalfields City Farm where we petted the donkeys and (myself alone) sang "I'm a troll, fol-de-rol" to the billy-goats, despite the absence of a wooden bridge. I apologise if this reference leaves you culturally alienated!
After EB went back to work I had a mooch round the Brick Lane area; antecedents of mine (one a Scandinavian immigrant) were married at Christchurch Spitalfields and lived in a house in Hanbury street, long since demolished. I have also just been reading Rachel Liechtenstein's book of the history and people.

In my thought-doodling about the September show on the train up to London, I had decided that I would visit the Imperial War Museum for some research. Not having my A-Z or Moleskine City Notebook, I had to take a guess at where to find it, not having visited since I was about 11. Things I learned:-

It is important to know the difference between Kennington Road, Kennington Park Road and Kennington Lane.

Named bus stops and maps in bus shelters are marvellous things!

An earlier destination decision and some preliminary research would have told me that IWM is closed until July 16th, when they re-open with a new WWI gallery. This will be very useful in a fortnight.

London was hot, HOT, HOT!!!

Another bus ride took me to the PV at Espacio Gallery in Shoreditch. Good stuff in the main. Free wine.

Bus, tube, train and car home. Shower, sarong and sleep.

This morning's thought-doodle: a name for the show, 'Not Only, But Also'. And there will be a poppy.
In some form or other.

Location:Brick Lane Circular

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Coals to Newcastle

Today I am going to London carrying four stretchers made by the lovely workshop guys at WD and delivering them to a friend at an art shop where they make stretchers. Predictably, tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest day of the year and I shall be looking like a walking bonfire. Perhaps I should get someone to film it as a performance piece.
PV at Espacio in Bethnal Green Road early evening; I have not decided what to visit beforehand. I shall wait until I have done my delivery and then 'choice myself' as my Nannan used to say.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Exhibition News

Well, I have 'been and gone and done it' as a school friend used to say. I received word this morning of a cancellation at a local gallery, and by tea time I had booked and paid the deposit. It is just as well that always work better with a deadline, since it is September 22nd that I am now working towards. I will be finishing some of the work that I did not include in the 'Rebuilder' exhibition (e.g 'Abram'), revisiting some older pieces and following up some new ideas; all touching on a Remembrance theme.

"Lawks!" and I say again "Lawks!"!

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