an artists' view

an artists' view

Friday, 24 December 2010

So This Is Christmas

In just over a month, I will be having a solo exhibition at Chantry Chapel in Wakefield, as part of the January Artwalk on Wednesday 26th January.

Got to complete a number of things for it, so it will be a very busy New Year!

The photo above, is from the stained glass at Chantry Chapel. The Chapel is one of only 3 remaining, standing as it does on a bridge above the River Calder, and dates back to medieval times.

Christmas Eve; the tree is up; shopping is done; nothing left now but to sit back and enjoy.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Bee House

This is photo of a Bee House, one that I've bought as a Xmas present.

I'm hoping to make something like this with the youth group I work with. Am going to get some patterns for birdboxes and bee houses and take them into work next year.
You can create bee houses very simply by drilling the right sized holes into blocks of wood. I'll explore how to make those, too.
Well, we're almost at Xmas.
Tomorrow is Xmas Eve. It's cold, cold, cold here. Keeps trying to snow, but has held off so far.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Winter Solstice 2010

I got up in the early hours yesterday to see the Lunar Eclipse. Put my alarm on for 6am, and had a cup of tea (thoughtfully made by Jon, thank you!) watching the shadow of the earth moving slowly across the Moon's surface, as I stood nice and warm in my living room.
Had a perfect view; the Moon was placed in between 2 of the houses opposite, so I could see the silver being steadily eaten away by the rusty, browned stain. Against the inky blackness of the sky, the Moon really stood out. I finished my cuppa, then put on my outside gear and walked out into the cold morning to see the rest of the Eclipse.
There was a tiny sliver of Moon left by the time I reached the top of the hill. And the sun was starting to come out on my left, which lightened the sky to a very washed out pale blue. That earlier blackness had gone.
The cold has given us some beautiful clear mornings; this one wasn't a dark and murky sunrise. It was a sky of colours.
The sky had gorgeous pale pink washes amongst the blue-turquoise and pale greys. Small clouds were lit up with more solid pinks, standing out against the pale water-colours of the rest of the sky.
As the sun rose the Moon began to fade into the greys and blues of the sky. It lost that red-ness, and the Eclipse shadow shifted into pink tones, before taking up the blue of the sky surrounding it.
I had to look really hard to make out the smudge of the Moon, as it faded away, eventually becoming invisible.
It was like a 'ghost-moon'.
Around me the world was waking up.
The central heating of houses down the hill were beginning to crank up, with steam coming from their boilers. Trains were running on the railway line; known as 'ghost-trains', without passengers, to keep the rails clear of ice. Very fitting companions for the ghost-moon!
The sunrise was firing up the sky with brighter yellows and reds, in the east, whilst in the west, I could see a band of pale grey on the horizon. These clouds prevented me seeing the Moon emerge from it's totality, as it set behind them.
I didn't get another view of the Moon until it rose again, on the evening of the 21st.
Because everything is covered with a dusting of snow, and a hard, hard frost, there was an incredible light around me. It didn't seem to be 'the darkest night' of the longest night!
It was a beautiful morning. A perfect winter morning. I didn't take my camera, as I knew I wouldn't be able to capture it. Only Turner would have done justice to the light and the subtle colours and tones in the sky.

Monday, 20 December 2010


Tonight I've lit some candles in the garden. This one has icey-frost on the glass, which gives it a look of crackled glass.
I woke up this morning at 2am, and peeped out of the window to see what the weather was up to. It was a freezing fog outside, illuminated by the streetlight. Everything was covered with a glittering white frost; a very thick frost.
It was very still, and silent. The darkness, the silence, the white filigree of frozen tree branches made the scene extremely eerie. I felt as though it was forever winter, but never Xmas, just like in 'The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe'.
And here comes the Winter Solstice.
With it is a Lunar Eclipse.
The Moon will be completely in the shadow of the Earth, and we here in the UK will be able to see it between 6.33a.m. and 7.41a.m. tomorrow morning. The Moon may be coloured, a copper colour, or brown-ish.
The last time there was a lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice was in 1638.
The next one will be in 2094 (presumably visible from the UK?).
I shall get up early and go see what there is to see. Hope the sky is clear enough. We've been having very clear mornings and evenings, with this bitter cold weather. I'm hopeful!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Winter Sunset

This was the sun setting near my house a couple of weeks ago. The snow was still deep when I took the photo, but until last night, it had all melted away. I woke up this morning to find it had snowed once more.
I suppose you can tell you're getting old, when you want the snow to disappear! At least now I'm on holiday I don't have to worry about travelling around in it; but seeing people struggling to stand upright, and wobbling as they walk, brings home what a problem the snow can be.
This Christmas I've been concentrating on making presents and cards; trying to cut down on the costs, but also trying to be more creative about it. I decided not to make my mum a nightie though......I thought she might not appreciate my attempts at clothesmaking!
So I have bought some things; but I've asked for presents for myself, that I can 'use up'; food, drink, smellies; though I haven't said no to books and music! There's always room for those!
The presents Jon has asked for includes the books 'The Moneyless Man' and 'Through the Eye of A Needle', about a man who makes his own clothes. Looking at the latter book, I was struck by the quote;
'The cost of home-made product was 20% - 30% lower than the price of factory-made merchandise', and he discovers this is due to increased distribution costs.
The more centralised production becomes, the further these products have to travel to us, the market. This therefore increases the costs of distribution. So while oil/petrol costs are low, distribution costs can be covered. But in the future, post peak-oil, these distribution costs will probably become exhorbitant.
Reason, if needed, to concentrate on locally produced goods, and more seasonal produce. Hmmmmm.
Another quote said;
'Our most important task is to consider of what kinds of labour are good for us, raise us up and make us happy; and to forego such convenience, or beauty, or cheapness as is to be got only by the degradation of the workman.'
The author mentions his inspiration of the the writings of Ruskin, and also how Gandhi was influenced by Ruskin; something I wasn't aware of!
The quest to live 'a good life' continues.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Winter Garden

This is one of the lanterns in our garden; wearing it's wrap of snow.
Candle lanterns lighting up the snowy world, cast a beautiful yellow light. It's been too cold to go out and light them though; the snow too deep and icy to keep the wicks alight, sadly.
I'm looking forward to being able to light up the darkness of the midwinter in a couple of weeks time when the Solstice arrives.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Morning Glory Give Away

This morning I've spent time on the pooter, printing out the pages for the Morning Glory Give-Away artist's book. They're all printed out, and ready to be cut and bound.
Above is one of the photos I took for the cover of the book; though it isn't the one I've finally decided to use.
It feels good to be at the end of this project; it's taken eight and a half months, since the seedlings first came up. Now it's coming to an end, there's the usual concern that their future owners won't like their finished books!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Snow blind!

This eucalyptus tree in my neighbour's garden looked lovely viewed through the latticework of iced washing-line!
I looked up to the sky, and there it was.

The snow is beginning to thaw now; turning to slush, but still freezing overnight. Today we went for a walk up towards Wrenthorpe. It was hard walking, in the deep snow; felt like a good workout! I had to cry off walking to our intended destination; but it will still be there for next time. I began to flag, feeling very tired. We decided better preparation was in order in future; take a banana, maybe an energy bar, so I don't get this draining of energy. Especially in winter...even more so in the snow...there's nowhere to sit and get your breath. So, like arctic explorers, I shall be prepared in the future! Or, more like a boy scout?

Batley Open Exhibition, Jewelled Serpent

This is a piece of work I've had accepted into the Batley Open Exhibition. Titled 'Jewelled Serpent', it comes from a series I made a couple of years ago, under the overall title '13Moons'.
This piece is made with pencils and gel-pens, and uses rock art as the starting point. For good measure, once I realised there would be a serpent involved, I included a real snakeskin tucked in the little box below the main image.
I alsways tell people, the snakeskin is 'shed, not dead'! Just in case people think otherwise! It came from a friend of mine who kept snakes. When one shed, I asked for the skin, and saved it; waiting for the art work that it would fit.
Sometimes my house and studio is just full of this 'stuff', awaiting re-incarnation in an art work!

Friday, 3 December 2010

'Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow......'

Another day of everything grinding (or sliding?) to a halt.
I walked into work yesterday; a lovely quiet, crunchy, snowy walk, with very little traffic about, and the few people I met all friendly, and chatty, and smiley, and saying hello.

The snow has made people talk to one another; we all make comments about the cold, the slippery-ness, the effort of walking, the lack of rocksalt.........
Those people with dogs talk about hypothermia, and towelling them down after their frolics in the snow.....the dogs that is!

The sound of people shovelling snow from their drives and pavements, brought back childhood memories of when the coal would be delivered.
A ton would be landed outside our house, creating a 'mini-mountain' of black carbon. This would then have to be transported from the pavement to the coal-house in the back garden. Large and small shovels would be brandished; a bucket (for little ole me) and wheelbarrow (for my dad) would be filled, then taken down the path to the coal-house.
Of course coal is black; the snow white. 'Polar' (?) opposites.

Once I got home, I managed to get out into my garden and take some photos. Once I've got them made smaller, I'll upload them here.
The snow has created beautiful sculpted folds laying sparkling over everything. I wish I could capture it with my camera. But all I can do is try to capture details, patterns, and shapes. It's strange snow; because the weather is so cold, it's remaining crisp and powdery. Usually the snow round here gets very wet and slushy, and is quite fugitive.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Snow, Snow, quick quick snow!

The winter's here.
It's been snowing since Saturday; today it's continued snowing...and snowing...and snowing...Deep snow, and cold with it.
I've had to cancel one of the courses I teach, for today. So a good opportunity to write here.
Today is the first day of Advent, the lead up to Christmas. If I had an Advent Calendar, I'd be opening the first window!

I took lots of photos in January and February this year of the snowfall we experienced then. Haven't been out to take photos yet of this recent white-out. Am making sure I keep warm, and enjoying the time spent at home; it feels a bit like a holiday! Nice! Feeling quite Christmassy already.

Am trying to work at home on one of my knitted pieces. It's something I've been working on for the last 18 months. Initially I intended it to be attached to a larger textile piece I'm working on. I realised that to sew it onto the calico would cause the calico to buckle had to think again. My friend Berenice suggested 'stretching' the knitted 'pelt' on a frame. Great idea!
I got some sticks from my garden, and have made up a frame, which the pelt will hang from. It's now at the stage of working out the 'engineering'.
Working on it, it has become obvious that it's growing in size. Becoming a free-standing piece, seperate from the larger textile work. This means that I have to re-think the textile piece, as an integral part of it will now be missing! Blimey! An unexpected effect.
But this is the beauty of making art. You think you've got something worked out; then just when it's at a stage of nearing completion, the art throws up a different path!
Problem-solving; a crucial part of art making.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Between Here and There

This is a photograph of a 'weaving' I did, last summer in July 2009. Using flowers, grasses, stalks, from my garden, and things growing in the fields out the back of where I live.

I'd been working on a project with some visiting Israeli artists. The person I was working with was a photographer, and I was hoping we would be able to use natural objects to create Land Art and take photographs of the results. We were taken over by the short time-frame we had (2 weeks to produce work to put into an exhibition), and so I put my ideas aside, ready to return to them at a later date.
In July, the flowers were at their peak; the herbs were blooming in my garden. I was able to pick some, and take them out into the field and try to weave something together.
This is my first attempt.
It is something I want to return to in the future. It was a step into my experiments this year (2010) with Morning Glory plants, and Parsnip Spirals. A development of artistic interventions in the natural world.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Autumn 2010

Cerulean Sky
Golden Trees
It's almost a haiku!
But not quite......

Autumn 2010

Golden autumnal light

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Here are some berries in the trees;
the sunlight low in the late afternoon sky, illuminating the reds and golds.


Last month, I went out for a walk near where I live, and took some photos. We are having a fantastic autumn, with stunning colours of golds, reds, browns, oranges. The sky was cerulean blue, and the trees stood out gold and silver against it.
I used my macro setting too, to capture intimate pictures of leaves and berries, hidden away in the undergrowth.
Since then, we've had gales and winds, and the trees are becoming increasingly bare of foliage. Mostly gone now. But here is a reminder of when the season was turning, before the cold of winter came, and took away the colour.

Sunday, 7 November 2010


This wonderful sky, with a section of an upside-down rainbow (!) was above my house a few weeks ago, and luckily I managed to get a photo of it.

Recently I went out taking photos of the brilliant blue skies we're having this autumn, and the outstanding colours of the changing trees.
I'll upload them later. Haven't got round to putting them onto the computer yet.

Things have been difficult and hectic for the last few weeks.
Westgate Studios, the organisation that lives in the building where I have my studio, has gone into liquidation. Along with many of the artists who have studios at Westgate, I've had to move out. Three years (plus), worth of accumulated 'stuff' for my artwork, had to be hurriedly packed away, and moved. My studio had to be stripped bare.
It was very distressing, for me, and all of us. Now we're into November, I'm hoping that things will soon resolve, and I can get back to creating again.

In the meantime, I've been doing tiny pencil drawings, that I'm calling my 'disposables'!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Ari Up

Not an 'art' blog this time, but a music blog.

Heard the news on Radio 4's Woman's Hour this week that Ari Up formerly of the Slits, had died of a long illness. Word is it's cancer, but one never really knows.
It's not really how she died though, it's how she lived.

I was one of those few (?) people who bought 'CUT', the first Slits vinyl in those days. Had to travel to Leeds to get it from Jumbo records. And Jumbo records, like me, still exists!
I couldn't get it in Wakefield, as we only had 3 independant record shops. They've all gone now; we now have one HMV which increasingly sells DVD's and games rather than cd's and music.

The Slits did a tour, and I went to see them at Bradford. Still have the ticket somewhere! I used to save all my tickets and things in those days. Before the days when I was up to my eyes in 'stuff'.
I was at art college in Wakefield, doing my Foundation course; 1979/1980.
Went straight to Bradford from Wakefield. It was a sparsely attended gig, it has to be said. Not a sell-out. But I loved them; the space in the sound, the loping reggae rythyms. I danced around to the beat. A couple of my friends were there, and afterwards we talked about what we'd thought of the Slits. I was enthusiastic; thought they were great! My two friends hated it! Hated the ramshackle-ness of them! Wanted more 'musician-ness' from them.
But how cool was it to see those 3 women on stage doing just what they wanted; playing with stereotypes of what women 'should' be. I was inspired. I didn't go and start a band; couldn't play an instrument (well it never stopped the punks, did it?) and I never knew many people who were interested in starting a band. Funny that; we all loved the punk ethos of D-I-Y, but never did the music ourselves.

But I did go and D-I-Y the art; I went off to University to do my art degree.
'Cos art colleges were where much of the music of the 1960's, and the Situationist-inspired London punk scene emerged from.
By the time I went to art college, it had changed slightly. Not very revolutionary or Situationist up here in the provinces.
But I continue with my D-I-Y ethics; in my art, my creativity. Re-using and re-cycling; planting parsnip spirals; planting Morning Glory plants to make into give-away books.
And at this time in the world, where we have a government hell-bent on finishing off the job that Mrs Thatcher started, and cut-backs in public services, the D-I-Y ethic is going to become more and more important.

Ari Up and the Slits inspired me to be a woman as I wanted to be. I may not be a screeching musical banshee; not even a screeching artist. But I make the noise I want to make, the sound of brush on canvas; the sound of pen and pencil on paper. The sound, to mis-quote Seamus Heaney, of a 'hunter-gatherer of meaning'.

I'll dig out my old Slits badge from that Bradford gig, and wear it in honour of Ari, and all the inspiration they streamed out to us women who saw, and listened, and went out....inspired.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Miner's Lamp

This is a drawing I've done of a miner's lamp from the National Coal Mining Museum for England. I used gel-pens to create it.
I love the 'scribbly' effects of gel-pens, and the way white gel-pen can be used over the top of even the darkest colours.
At the NCM, there is a whole wall of lamps, illuminated from behind. It's very sculptural. There are many wonderful things to look at, and draw, and photograph....not just the pit-ponies!
I'll keep returning to the mine, and continue being inspired by the place, and the objects in their collection.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Morning Glory Give-Away

Today 16 (that's SIXTEEN!) flowers have bloomed on the morning glory plants! The conservatory is awash with white trumpet blossoms!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Morning Glory Give-Away

Here is the very first flower that came out on the Morning Glory plant. It looks almost square rather than that trumpet shape it's supposed to be. You can see the delicate veining of the blue, in the white petal.

This is the flower of the Morning Glory just before it emerges from the bud.
A beautiful spiral, like the horn of a unicorn.

This is how the Morning Glory plant grew in the pot out in the garden during the summer.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Morning Glory Give-Away

The Morning Glory flowers are through! Hurray!
I've been taking lots of photos of the trumpet flowers as they emerge, so will have a lovely selection to put up here.
And as I thought, they began to come out the very day after I last posted. The flowers are white with a delicate blue veining through them; the 'tricolour' species.
We're getting at least one a day flowering now. Brightening up the gloomy grey mornings. It will be sad when they stop, and die back. As annual plants, once they've finished flowering, that's it! Off into the compost bin.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Morning Glory Give-Away

Well the good news is that there are LOTS of flower buds showing through on my Morning Glory plant; and 4 are about to burst forth at any moment!
I've taken some photos of the buds, and hoping that I'll be able to catch the flowers as they emerge. It would be terrible to miss them, after waiting all these months.

Once the flowers are out, the photos will be put up here! I can hardly wait!
Maybe tomorrow?

Monday, 20 September 2010

'Jack Scout'

On Saturday we went to Silverdale, on Morecambe Bay, to see an outdoor performance called 'Jack Scout'.
The performance included, dancers; singing; music; and a one and a half hour walk through the local landscape. This walk travelled over the limestone pavement (passing by glacial erratics) then we wound our way down to Morecambe Bay, and walked on the sands.
Morecambe Bay is a treacherous place, and we had a health and safety warning before we set off. A few years ago, a number of Chinese cockle-pickers drowned in Morecambe Bay. The performance included being handed a cockleshell right at the end, to take home.

A 'memento mori' of those who have lost their lives on the shifting sands of Morecambe Bay.

At the end, Jon and I were silent; both quiet after the journey we had taken. We remained quiet, for some time after, trying to take in what we had experienced.
For the performance wasn't about us sitting passive in a theatre; we had participated in it; the artists looked at us; we looked back at them; it was direct, immediate communication. We had been blown about in the wind, just like the dancers, singers, musicians.
We had all shared our resources; shared a grapefruit together as sustenance.
We had shared a vision of the landscape, opened up to us through the intervention of the performers.

It was remarkable; and we will look out for other environmental performances by the same team.

It is created by Sap Dance and Louise Ann Wilson Company, and runs from 18-26 September 2010

You can find out about 'Jack Scout' by going to

Duggleby Howe

On our recent visit to the east coast Jon and I visited Duggleby Howe, a large green 'hump' in the landscape. We drove past it at first, then had to retrace our steps.

Julian Cope writes in his book 'The Modern Antiquarian',

'Excavations in 1890 revealed that the mound was built above a rectangular rock-cut shaft ten feet deep. No burial was discivered, but a large double grave of ten bodies was found in a central pit-grave, along with a fine flint knife, stone arrowheads, and bone pins. Later, fifty Beaker cremations were inserted into the mound alongside more bone pins and arrowheads.

Duggleby used to be surrounded by a deep ditch and high bank so large that the local B1253 now cuts right through it.'

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Morning Glory Give-Away

Playing some more with the macro setting on my camera, I took this photo of the Morning Glory plants growing in a pot in my garden.
As the weather is getting much colder, (and the weather forecast says to expect frosts soon!) I thought it would be a good idea to bring the pot inside; so it's sitting in my conservatory, with clumps of what I hope will be flowers!
The news on the give-away front is disappointing. A lot of plants have been eaten by....something? My suspicions are blooming slugs. They seem to adore Morning Glory plants. So the book I'm planning to create, is losing pages, fast! I've suggested to people that they could make drawings or collages to include in the book. See how folk run with that idea.
On the plus side; I put in some Passion flower seeds (a whole packet!) and got 3 plants come least I think they're Passion Flowers?
These are now safely in the conservatory with the Morning Glory, so kept nice and safe from the outside elements.
Onward marches Autumn, soon followed by Winter; so I'm going to spend the season completing the projects I started over the course of year. Still on with the knitting. Lots to do.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Flamborough, South Landing

On Bank Holiday Monday we visited Flamborough for the day. It was lovely and sunny; very bright sun, though there was a strong wind coming from the sea.
It was wonderful to be beside the sea again.

A sculpture made form the rocks at South Landing.

The limestone cliff.

A rock pool from Flamborough's South Landing.

Autumnal Day

Today has been a very autumnal day; the morning was misty, and damp. It's warmed up, with snatches of sunshine this afternoon, and become one more indian summer's day.

The poppies from my garden shown in this photo, are long gone.
The summer has ended; the nights are drawing in and getting darker earlier. Soon be time to turn on the fire, and get out the woollies to wear.
The wheel of the year has moved on, and we're approaching the Equinox; the time of equal light and dark. After that, we'll be hurtling towards the dark of winter.
Well, these poppies are a memory of the summer.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Thirty Year Old Patchwork

This is a photograph of the patchwork I hand sewed more than 30 years ago.
It remains a 'working document'! as I have to replace squares when they become threadbare. The sewing never ends!
Earlier in the year I sewed another sheet onto the back of it, using my mum's 70 year old sewing machine. This is the result. A working patchwork for the bed.

The High Peak

This is a sculpture of Brigantia, on show in Castleton Tourist Information Centre, which houses a museum.
The information about it says that it was found near Russett Well, and is thought to be connected to the practices of fertility.
It dates from approximately 1000 years B.C.E., and had been used as part of a garden wall!
I took this photo because I'm fascinated by ancient carvings; by archaeology; and by ancient belief systems.
This particular sculpture also resonated for me, because the Brignatian tribes-people were found in West Yorkshire, where I live, and where I come from.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The High Peak

This is a gravestone found in the churchyard at Castleton. It looks as if it is that of a man who was a mason.
There are many masonic symbols; the set square and compass; the eye and sunrays coming from it; the moon; the key; the stars, including the Star of David.

The High Peak

In the mouth of the cave called 'The Devil's Arse' (or more politely 'Peak Cavern'!) was the remnants of the ropemaking industry in Castleton.
A handmade rope for use as a washing line was given to all new brides, right up until the 1970's when the last ropemaker retired.

The High Peak

Rose Cottage Tea Room in Castleton is part of a cruck barn built around 1450.
When we went for some dinner there, we found some information about its' history in the menu. The waitress very kindly gave me a copy, when she saw me copying it out. It reads;
'Rose Cottage is built on an ancient track that was used by people from the village of Edale. They used it when they walked to Castleton Church for services, or to bring their dead for burial. It was the custom to keep one of the doors at Rose Cottage unlocked as it was the legal right of way, existing from at least the C12th until the 1970's when it was legally closed.
The North Door of the church, or the Devil's Door, was the entrance by which the people from Edale, living and dead, entered the church. Until Edale became a parish separate from Castleton, church goers had to walk the 3 mile track over Hollins Cross, down the hollow way, along Hollowford Lane, round the back of Millbridge Farm, over the river, and then through what is now Rose Cottage.
The coffin party entered the church through the narrow gap, the Devil's Entrance. The coffin party would have paid a toll to enter the churchyard. Only some people from Edale were allowed to enter the North Door, lepers from the leper hospital which was situated somewhere on Hollowford Lane or just over the ridge in Edale, were restricted to the churchyard.'

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The High Peak

On our walk up Mam Tor, we passed a number of 'markers', set into the pathway. They were representations of objects from the Iron Age; because at the top of Mam Tor there had once been an Iron-Age fort.
I particularly liked this one, which is an image, etched into metal, showing what an Iron-age fort may have looked like.
I wished I'd have had some sheets of paper and a big stick of graphite with me, so I could have done some rubbings from the metal casts of the markers.
I had to make do with a photo.

The High Peak

A vein of Blue John
Whilst on holiday in the Peak District last week, we visited some of the mines and caves of the Hope Valley. This is a cavern where the Blue John mineral is mined. One of only 2 mines in the area that still mines for Blue John.
Derbyshire Peak is the only place in the world where Blue John is found.
This photo was taken in Treak Cave.
There were some wonderful stalagtites and stalagmites, and fossils when we went on the cavern visit. We were encouraged to take I did!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The High Peak

From Mam Tor you can see over to the valley of Edale.
The sun was shining hot on us when we walked up to the top of Mam Tor. Clouds would pass overhead, and we'd get cold. The wind was blowing, and we had to put our waterproofs on.
But this changing light meant that our views of the land were dappled with bright sunlight, and dark shadows, always changing.
Edale was more green of grass, and less of the darker green indicating trees and undergrowth. There was also more purple heather on the uplands. Apart from the other people on the hill, and the wind, the only sounds were the occasional thrum of vehicles climbing up the roads from the Hope Valley.
Beautiful clear air; beautiful quiet.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The High Peak

Atop Mam Tor
Last night we got back from a few days away in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire.
In between sunshine and showers, we saw wonderful museum displays in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, and sat at the top of Mam Tor ('Mother Hill') looking down the valley at the lush, green landscape.
On the one side, the Hope Valley, is limestone; on the other side, Edale, is shale and millstone grit.
Visible differences in the make-up of the land.
A noticable reminder that whatever is below the land determines the shape of it upon the surface.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Beechwod Spiral

After a great deal of carving, rasping, and use of a surform, this is the result so far! The white wood of the beech is coming through, and the surface detail of the grain revealed. The knots and inner blemishes and flaws are also becoming part of the surface pattern. I'm trying to keep these on show, and not simply carve them out. I like the blemishes. It prevents the carving from being a smoothed surface of uniformity. Arthur did warn me that beech would crack, and this is indeed the case. Still, these too are part of the attraction of the wood's surface.

Woodcarving course at YSP; Day 5

Day 5
Well the 5 days are over.....though not the work!
I brought home the spiral that I was carving, and have some more work to do on it before it's completed.

Today I spent the final session on the pole-lathe, turning a spoon!
In cedarwood.
It was a gorgeous hot and sunny day, and we had lots of onlookers visiting YSP and standing watching us carving away. This must be what the monkeys feel like in the zoo!

I have had an extremely tiring 5 days, but feel that I've achieved a lot.
One unfinished beech carving, and an almost completed spoon may not seem like much, but for someone whose background was spent ignorant of toolboxes and fuses were changed by using a knife to loosen screws, I think I've covered quite a lot of ground!

I shall get the photos downloaded, and put up on here, when I've got more time.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Woodcarving Course at YSP; Day 2

Day 2 of carving the beech.

It is beginning to take form; I've carved deeper into the wood, where the groove is, that indicates the uprising spiral.
I've worked on the chisel marks too, to emphasise the corkscrew twist that's already evident in the wood. At the tip is a broken and frayed section of wood, which I'm endeavouring to keep. There are also some knots, which create features in the beech; I'm trying not to carve out both these aspects.
I realised that the spiral was too flat on one side; so I need to carve away much more of the wood. But very slowly, the shape is beginning to emerge.
I'm beginning to see where the cuts need to made deeper, and where the rise of the wood needs to be kept.

The beech is a very white wood currently; the gouges I've made have a look of feathers on an owl, or a hawk. I'm beginning to be very aware of the marks I'm making on the wood, with the chisel/s.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Woodcarving course at YSP

This is the beech wood after the first day of carving it. You can't really see the spiral that I've begun to delineate. But as I cut deeper and deeper into the groove, the spiral becomes more noticable.
More photos to follow.

This is a piece of cedarwood that was cut from the end of a bench someone was making.

I love the pattern in the wood,and the knots.

Woodcarving Course at YSP; Day 1

Today I started a 5 day woodcarving course at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
I'm carving a piece of Beech wood; spent most of today stripping the bark off the wood, then attempting to work out how the shape I want to carve, could emerge from it.

I'm not 'naturally' a 3D artist; I'm a painter, so don't have to concern myself with what's 'behind' the picture surface!
So this is way outside of my comfort zone.

So far, it's been a lot of hard work; but as the session drew to a close, I began to see how I would move on with the carving tomorrow.
Arthur, the tutor, was really helpful, as was James, from YSP.
I forgot to take my camera today, so I'll ensure I take it tomorrow, so I can show the stages of development with this carving.
It's quite exciting doing something so different. Carving is absolutely NOT painting! I wonder how doing this carving will impact upon my 2D work?

Monday, 9 August 2010

MALTA; April 2009



The Atlantic Seaboard

Here are the 3 canvases of the Malta Triptych, with their individual titles.

'Overlay' Malta Triptych

Finally this is complete!
This is the first time I've attempted a triptych; if I'd have had had space, and a big enough studio, I would have loved to get 3 massive canvases, and splash loads of paint around on them. But; I had to also consider my quite slow working methods. Tackling 3 huge canvases would have taken me a long time, and so practicalities had to be taken into consideration. So it goes.
The 3 canvases are about my visit to Malta in 2009. As an archaeolgy fan, I enjoyed Malta enormously. All the temples; the museum/s; the exquisite archaeological carvings. It was a wonderful holiday, full of jolting bus journey's across the Maltese landscapes, fantastic food, and warm sun.
The stone carvings in the museum (and the replica's in situ at the temple sites), had many decorative connections to stone carvings I've seen at neolithic sites in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The spirals in particular, are found in Mediterranean Malta, as well as Orkney Scotland, and the Boyne Valley in Ireland.
Taking Lucy Lippard's book 'Overlay' as inspiration, I decided to title this work 'Overlay'; making explicit the artistic links of both cultures.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Tissue Text

Here's an extract of the strips of tissue which I've 'written' on using black perle cotton.
I've used the quote from Seamus Heaney, which I wrote up on this blog earlier.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Morning Glory Give-Away

Today I've spent time today designing the pages for the handmade book I'll be making from the photographs provided by artist/gardeners of their Morning Glory plants.

It was a fruitful day; I managed to get all the pages put together, with details of the place, the artist, and the plant number.

I'm aiming to create a botanical/specimen look.
Once the photos start coming in, I'll have a lot of work to do with organising the individual pages, and then making each book.
Currently it looks like I'll have 15 or 16 books to compile! One for each artist/gardener.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Barbara Hepworth 'Mother and Child' 1934

This is the second photograph Julie Clarke took of the Barbara Hepworth sculpture.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Barbara Hepworth 'Mother and Child'

This is a photograph of Barbara Hepworth's sculpture from 1934, entitled 'Mother and Child'. It was taken by fellow studio holder Julie Clarke.

It was installed in Westgate Studios for the last Artwalk, on Wednesday 28th July. We studio holders had the opportunity to go and draw the sculpture, before the Artwalk began at 5pm. The Project Space was empty apart from this single sculpture, and a member of staff from The Hepworth Gallery was on hand at all time, to look after it.

I was particularly intrigued by the reflections onto the acrylic case surrounding the sculpture. I asked Julie to take a photo, as I hadn't thought to take my camera with me. This was one of the results.

The sculpture also cast a reflection onto the inside of the case; it created a black silhouette, and this caught my attention. The sculpture is very rounded, and curvaceous; making it hard to draw. The reflection however, seemed much more angular, and blocky. I was reminded of the Aztec sculptures of goddesses giving birth, squatting on their haunches. Of course Hepworth studied ancient scuptures when she moved to study in London, so I wondered if the images were being called up in my memory, because I had read this about her, or if the reflection really was squarer?

That was the reason I asked Julie to take the photograph. What do you think?

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