an artists' view

an artists' view

Sunday, 30 June 2013


This weekend is the Glastonbury festival. So I've been listening to it on Radio6, and having a peek at the BBC iplayer. I've come to the conclusion that the laptop speakers aren't adequate for the noise I want to listen to....they're not LOUD enough! Necessitates a trip to the pooter shop for a pair I think. Sadly the ones I've been using on my old computer don't have the right connection. Such is the pace of technological change!
Above is a photo of a splendid Hawthorn tree that grows in the grounds of the Quaker building in Wakefield. Absolutely awash with blossom earlier in the year...though later than usual. The late spring brought an abundance of blossom everywhere. My apple tree was beautiful; and I now have lots of apples coming through. Nice to see.
I've come across an artist called Sharon Etgar, in Israel. She does some gorgeous stitch works on paper. She can be found here
Have a look on her website to see more of what she does.

Saturday, 29 June 2013


Some public sculpture in Wakefield.
Carvings, with the identifiable spirals of ammonites cut into the stone. I couldn't resist photographing these, being interested in geology. The marks on the stone made by the cutters are lovely, too. Don't know if these were hand or machine cut. But the marks are a connection to the person who made the sculptures, and I like that. Almost as if it's a thumbprint from that artist; a mason's mark. Something of that person, left behind.
I quite fancy going along and making a rubbing of these. Collect those marks onto paper. As I'm using the Labyrinth spiral for my textile course, this sculpture seems to resonate with me. Hard stone; soft fabric. Echo back, amplified.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


The sink at my textiles course; paint & dyed
A 'technological first' for me! This photo was taken on my fone; downloaded onto the new pooter; and uploaded into my blog. Phew, I'm quite embracing the technological world these days!
The course is coming to the final 3 weeks now. I still have some samples to complete, and my final piece to work on. It's starting to get a bit urgent. Gotta spend a good part of my upcoming weekend on the textile work.
My portfolio needs to go in next week, for preliminary verification. So this weekend coming will be especially busy working on that, as well as the textiles.

I have a piece of silk wrapped around an avocado stone, and encased in the skin; popped into the compost, to see if there's any different results from my first go. I have a backlog of photos I need to upload; and sort out the changeover from one pooter to this one.

I got a bargain from the newspaper, The Guardian; 2 books for a song. Robert Macfarlane's 'The Old Ways', which I've been promising myself for a while, along with 'Holloway' by Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood, and Dan Richards. This latter book is a beautiful slim hardback book, with illustrations. Treats in store for me there!

Friday, 14 June 2013


Things are shifting here. I have a new pooter.
This is so exciting for me, as I have never had a new computer! However....the impact of this, is that I have to copy everything from my old pooter (the one that has been switching itself off and on, randomly!) onto the back-up drive, then transfer it onto this.
Not done this before, so it's a bit of an experiment. Meantime, I may be more randomly 'here' than before, while I sort everything out. My experience of pooters and IT is that nothing is ever as straightforward as one expects! I'm anticipating problems!
Happy days everyone!
Here is a photo of the wondrous light fitting in The Orangery in Wakefield, as taken on my fone when I went to the Long Division festival. Natural light flooding into the room; no need for the electric lights switching on. A lovely summer afternoon.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

sample #5...again

The completed sample. A mix of cotton/linen blend fabric,with marbled colour, and recycled dyed silk. A stitched labyrinth, and some weaving.
I'm working on another sample; which has a lino-print, and stitching. Feeling that I'm cracking on with these samples for the course.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Long Division - Wakefield

'A Maze for Yorkshire' - at the Orangery
Though it sounds like a maths test, 'Long Division' is in fact a music festival held in Wakefield city centre.
I spent yesterday walking from venue to venue, listening to bands I'd never heard of, let alone heard their music! But it was fascinating, and great fun, and the music I heard was wonderful.
The venues included The Hop, Wakefield Theatre Royal, The Orangery, Warehouse 23, a nightclub, and Velvet, a small bar.
The other venue was Drury Lane Library; the old Carnegie library, which has been closed since we had our spanking new library opened last autumn. The Arthouse, of which I'm a member, is taking over the building, and has got funding to turn it into artists studios.
So this was a one-off opportunity to include the building as part of the activities.
 Inside Drury Lane Library
 Some of the lovely fixtures & fittings
 Outside; the back wall. Complete with, I think, a kestrel?
The bands I particularly enjoyed were Dead Flowers; Maia; Post War Glamour Girls; The Wave Pictures; Jeffery Lewis & Peter Stampfel.
There were others I'd have liked to go see, but either they clashed with those above, or the venues were rammed solid!
Today there's some films on, up at Drury Lane Library; 'Sound It Out', about the last surviving independent record shop on Teeside; and 'Searching for Sugarman', a documentary about musician Sixto Rodriguez.
No photos for this; I used my phone, but the quality was rubbish; and it's always hard to get a good photo at a live gig. I'm not really a 'people' photographer; they tend not to stay still for long enough! 

Monday, 3 June 2013

sample #5

Working on my next sample for the City & Guilds course.
I was busy in the 'alchemical kitchen' last week. Went out to pick cow parsley, and make a dye for some of the re-cycled silk (wedding dress). Success! It's a gorgeous yellow. Though the colour in the dye-pot may be more intense than the final fabric colour? Well, there's enough cow parsley out there to do another dye-pot.
I also bought an avocado, to eat, then use the skin and stone to try compost dye-ing again. As the weather is so much warmer, it might have better results.
The 'Time Team' programme focused on Star Carr last week. Showed the reindeer masks that were found there. There's a display of some of the finds from Star Carr at the Yorkshire Museum, so I'm hoping to go visit over the summer. 
I began a painting after I visited Star Carr last summer. Once I've completed this course, I'll get that painting out again. Work out what I want to do with it. I'm looking forward to painting again, after the last 9 months of textiles.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

ice age art @the British Museum

Last Friday I visited London to go to the British Museum. It was the last few days of the 'Ice Age Art' exhibition, which finished today. Above is an engraving on the tip of a Mammoth Tusk; which, it is thought 'may' be a 'map'. As I'm very interested in maps, and how we envisage our environment I spent a long time peering at it. 
Above is the 'Zaraysk Bison'; also carved from mammoth ivory. It was found in 2001, in archaeological layers dating from 22,000 years ago. This is an exquisite carving. I spent a lot of time gazing at it. I almost expected it to breathe, and walk out of the display case, such is the skill of the carver.
Above is a linocut from Victor Pasmore, from 1952. 
In the catalogue Jill Cook writes how Professor Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist 'proposes that it is the function of the visual brain to "seek knowledge of the constant and essential properties of objects and surfaces." (and) This information is then transformed through abstraction or metaphor to mimic or perfect the received knowledge in some material form'.
Though I haven't read the catalogue yet (well it is huge!) this seems to be the hook that the exhibition is based upon. To relate modern abstract art, to art made thousands of years ago. 
Which is funny to me; because much of the art shown, was very representational, as can be seen in the Bison carving.
I'm not convinced; it's true that Modernist artists of the 1930's were enormously influenced by so-called 'primitive' art of the past, as can be seen in Hepworth and Moore's sculptures. And ancient art created a bridge between modern representational art, and the development of abstract art in the twentieth century, this is true.
The British Museum exhibition seems to present these artworks as 'Art'. Which to our modern view, they most certainly are. The skill and craft on show, display the work of artists. What is missing, or was missing from the display, (but which may be explored in the catalogue?) was a larger context. 
We can never know why these pieces were made; we can never know why some of them seem to have been deliberately broken (eg; the leg off the bison, above), and thrown into a pit. These objects are a mystery. Western anthropologists have given us insights into tribal societies, that suggest 'art' is not made for purely 'artistic' reasons in those cultures. There are other purposes. Ritual; religious; spiritual purposes. Which was missing from the exhibition; though may be addressed in the catalogue? 
I hope so.
But whatever my thoughts afterwards, nothing can interfere with the beauty of these carvings and engravings. I feel so privileged to have got to this exhibition. To have stood in front of them, and witnessed their timeless connection to the world.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

sample #4

The next sample for my City & Guilds course is about completed. It includes a cornucopia of techniques. Stitching (those seed stitches continue to be my favourite); transfer printing; applique; dyeing; painted bondaweb.
I'm using the motif of a labyrinth, loosely based on the one I visited at Alkborough....though that one is a much more complex shape.
And I have some silk currently in a dye-bath I made up from cow parsley. It's come out a lovely yellow; though I'm not sure how deep the colour will be when I take the fabric out. The alchemical kitchen was in full swing last week!

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