Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gearing up for winter projects

This end of year is proving to be a busy one, especially in the garden.  We have almost completed an area of gravel near the dark side of the house.  We chose a local flint which has a lot of white and has already made a difference to the light on darker days.
Last year we had a deer fence erected on one boundary, and this winter we propose to plant a hedge just inside this fence, eventually to overgrow it.  I'm busy sorting out the quantity and variety of native hedge plants which will feed the birds in years to come.
Hawthorn grows well here, and provides lovely blossom as well as berries - and thorns to repel unwanted visitors!
Holly has the same qualities as the hawthorn, but the added benefit of being evergreen, and thus providing a bit of all round privacy.
Guelder rose, the common viburnum is a plant I really love, also with blossom and berries, but it has the added beauty of glowing red leaves in autumn.
Spindle, euonymus, has berries like earrings - such an exquisite delight to discover when looking closely.
Dogwood, cornus, provides interesting leaves in the summer and attractive stems in the winter.
And I am assured that they will all grow quickly at about the same pace.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Not rust, but salt

I am learning about salt in the FutureLearn course on Exploring our Oceans this week, and we were provided with this link to fantastic photographs of volcanoes, such as the one below -
Like in a coral reef, yellow ridges of salt rise to the surface of the blue lake (Dallol, Ethiopia).

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The rust age

Natural dyeing is so popular these days, and particularly the use of rust - just put the words rusted textile into Google and look at all the divers images that pop up.  I have written a short post about this in Ragged Cloth CafĂ©, but encountered so many more examples that I've continued here.
I particularly was interested to see what folks made of their rustings, and was struck by the following:
I really like the combination of indigo and rust in this piece by Jenny Bullen.  The image came from here.
And I very much like the combination of colours in this piece by Constance Rose.
Mixing the rust element with colour gives it another dimension, it is more than an end in itself -
although having said that, I do like this photo of rusted cloths hanging out to dry (from here).
I also like this checkerboard weaving of rusted cloth with batik by LuAnn Kessi.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mellow yellow

November certainly rings the changes.  We awoke to steady rain, and it took a long time for the light to dawn this morning, yet here we are in glorious sunshine with not a cloud in the sky!  I dashed out without pausing even to put on a cardigan - though I suspect it will be chill once the sun goes down.
The grasses have developed highlights of yellow through buff to almost white.
A lovely contrast between the yellowed leaves and the darkening red sedum flowers.
More grass, with one of the cemetery oaks in the background.
As some plants are fading, so the mahonia is developing its buds.  By January it will be covered in sweet scented flowers and accompanying feasting blue tits.
A young hazel, planted by one of neighbourly grey squirrels.
One end of the beech hedge, allowed to grow taller to help disguise the electricity pole.
The other end of the beech hedge with some willows still with their leaves.  Without their leaves after some windy days are our black poplar to the left, and the cemetery sibling at the right back.
The dogwood on the edge of the wetland,
and across the wetland the yellow leaves still on willows in front of the Lombardy poplar, which was shaken leafless.  Note the blue sky!
The wisteria leaves are only just beginning to turn yellow, above the winter jasmine
which is blooming in the warm sun.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reviving a memory

Anselm Kiefer The Rhine (Melancholia) image from here
Spurred by Eirene's post on Sigmar Polke I started remembering German artists whose work I admire - but I do not think of artists by nationality normally, and so it was only when I was thinking further about Kiefer's wondrous woodcuts in the Royal Academy exhibition (see some above) that the image of Matthias Mansen' Das Haus prompted me to explore more about both him and Kiefer's woodcuts.
Matthias Mansen About the house  image from here

Image above, and more information about woodcut illustrations here.

German woodcuts were attractive to me as an illustrative medium first, always striking me a having the drama which so many other illustrations lacked.  And I mean woodcuts rather than wood engravings.  I admired the latter, but they lacked joy for me. 
Woodcuts in the British Museum collection (images from here)

As a child early religious illustrations in woodcut such as these always struck me like stills from animations of icons.  My admiration of woodcuts continued as part of my general interest in art, not becoming separately specifically interested until I became drawn to the image by Matthias Mansen above.
A young friend who was at art college at the time saw an exhibition of the woodcuts at the Alan Cristea Gallery in London in 1998.  I am sorry to say that I have never actually seen any of Mansen's work other than in reproduction.  The friend gave me a gatefold card of About the house, and I was smitten - I have had the card up on my pin board ever since.  However, it would be several years, not until 2011 before I explored printmaking for myself.
Matthias Mansen: Gehen 1994 (image from here)

In this recent exploration of Mansen's work I am delighted to find that he too is interested in combining, as is Kiefer, though in different ways.  Anyone with sufficient interest, and a bit of time can read a fascinating article here.  And there is a quick introduction to the About the house exhibition here

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Smoky November

Parts of our smoke bush seem to have a virus that is quite beautiful.  I gathered some of the affected leaves to scan.  The two leaves at the bottom are the normal ones, and the one at the left is showing the equally attractive back.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Windy doodle

The bitter wind whipped up in the past couple of days brought to mind the poem by Sara Coleridge in which November is characterised thus:
Dull November brings the blast;
Then the leaves are whirling fast.

And while I was thinking about something else, I doodled:
I do like the seasons to be distinct, and each month to make its particular presence felt.  It is monotonous weather which gets under my skin.  It will doubtless have been noted that there are no leaves in this image; that's where the stitching (if this gets that far) will come in.