Tuesday, August 04, 2015


On Sunday we decided to take an outing to Wisley, a garden which we had not visited for a year or so.  It was a bright sunny day - usually not suitable for photography - but the 'prairie' planting is just stunning.  The mix of shapes and shadows, tones and colours was entrancing.
There was a duck with two teenage ducklings in the pond above.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Experiments (printmaking)

I have been experimenting with a couple of images printed from two sides of a block of vinyl.  The first is Scary story - here is the block before I decided to carve away the hair.
I have been experimenting with printing on different papers, mostly tissue, either altered by me, or pre-printed, as in gift wrappings.
Below I've printed on this last: a white and silver unobtrusive floral pattern, which I think worked rather well.  I have used this tissue before, and like the way it takes the ink.  I also pasted the tissue onto black khadi paper so that the silver shines - unfortunately not visible in scanned reproduction.
I have also been experimenting with using digitally printed patterns which I have designed.  I made the background the wrong size in the one below, but went ahead with the trial anyway - not only because I wanted to see how the ink sat on the paper (I used printable lokta paper), but I liked the idea of her hair extending beyond the background.
I also like to try out different papers - such as scrunched up and then ironed brown wrapping paper.  Although it does not work with this print, I do like the effect of the ink on the scrunch edges, and would consider using it with a larger scale shape.
On the other side of the Scary story plate is that for Jazz flute.  First I tried a textured tissue - a coarse-ish fibrous tissue with bits in it.  I like the result, and am now thinking about what paper I might mount it on.  By the way, creases such as the one bottom left will smooth out in the pasting.
The digitally printed paper has also pleased me, and despite the rather faint inking on this print I do think that the dark-ish background will work.  I have also designed some lighter coloured versions to use.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Both blue and pink

Our hydrangea is looking really good this year, flowering all over, and covered with hover flies.  I find it extraordinary that one plant has both pink and blue florets.  It is delightful.
The various clematis plants are also looking good at present as we have not had enough rain to damage the flowers.
The hollyhocks are also benefiting from not being battered by heavy rain.  We are having humidity rather than a proper downpour, and the ground is really dry.

Monday, July 20, 2015

From Panda to Polar bear

This morning I encountered a snippet in the Guardian newspaper.  Art critic Jonathan Jones wrote about Jeann-Marie Donat's collection of old photographs showing at the Arles photography festival this year.  I would not normally have been interested in the article, except that I have a picture taken of me, my mother, a toy polar bear cub, and a man dressed in a polar bear costume (looking I must say more authentic than the one in the German photographs!).  We were in a park in Aberdeen in 1951 when I was three years old.
More of the German photos like the one above here

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer reading

I have been doing quite a bit of non-fiction reading recently, and needed some fiction which would whisk me off somewhere other, both geographically and in mood.  When reading the Summer Reading article in last weekend's paper I encountered this sentence by John Banville:
 Also in my bag will be Pascal Garnier’s Boxes (Gallic Books £7.99), which is sure to freeze the cockles of my heart nicely. For those unacquainted with Garnier’s work, think Simenon and Patricia Highsmith mixed, with jokes added to the black brew.
These two authors are enormous favourites of mine, and so it was a no-brainer to look up Pascal Garnier - of whom I must admit I had not previously heard.  Perverse as ever, I decided to start not with the newest title, but to go back to the first - or the first translated at least.  So I acquired The Panda Theory for my Kindle.
Last night I finished it: Brilliant!  I have already acquired Moon in a Dead Eye (I hope that the new translator will be as good) to establish  that this will be a summer binge! 

And I reiterate my delight at the qualities of James Robertson's 365 stories, which I anticipate missing next year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

So many sad stories

There are so many sad stories around these days, I felt the need for a ballad with guitar.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

In pursuit of a potter

We have a small collection of ceramics which continue to delight us.  Often the pieces were bought when the makers were young or starting out.  From time to time I wonder what the potter is making these days, and thus it was that I googled Archie McCall
In the early 80s I bought a tea bowl (pictured in the three snaps above) of his from the Oxford Gallery - a wondrous treasure house that was, but sadly has not been around for decades now.  I had not known anything about him.  No biography had come with the pot, only his name on the base.  But now with the Internet so much can be discovered: that he is still living and potting after a career teaching at Glasgow School of Art.  I am delighted to find that his work is in important institutional collections such as those of the National Museum of Scotland, and of Aberystwyth University (the image below is from the latter site).
It is reassuring to see that my instant attraction was endorsed by the institutions, but even better is the discovery that he took part in this year's Dumfries and Galloway Spring Fling (their open studios event), and so I hope to be able to visit his studio in a future year's Fling.
Not only that! I also discovered that my missing abbey - Sweetheart Abbey - is in the village where he lives and works.  In my childhood, living in the Borders of Scotland, and in Edinburgh I visited Melrose, Jedburgh, and Dryburgh Abbeys many times, but have always wanted to see Sweetheart.  Even more reason to plan a holiday south west of Dumfries!