Friday, March 24, 2017

One felt solution

Although a couple of ideas have presented themselves as to how I can use up my felted knitwear in a way which fits my work - as can be seen here in my work blog, it suddenly occurred to me that one way of keeping a sample of the colours which I find so seductive, and the feel which is scrummy, is to make mug mats.  A selection of samples, in effect, of which the below are the first.
I cut out a circle from the main body patterned felt, using two yarns, and then another matching circle from the collar, using one yarn.  So far I have only stitched the reds together, using a blanket stitch round the edge.  It seems to work OK - a little precarious with a tall glass, but definitely good for a mug.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Carving books

Brian Dettmer: World Series (image from here)
In the current issue of Sculpture magazine there is an article about Brian Dettmer who uses books to make his work.  He cuts away books, leaving the contents he chooses, and contrives new shapes for them.  There is an interesting TED talk by him here about his work.

Household physicians
 
(image from here)
I like the sculptural aspects of Dettmer's work, that he takes the books well beyond the conventional book appearance - I found the photos of the clamped and constrained books in his studio fascinating.  There seem to be more and more artists using existing books as raw material in their work and Dettmer joins Tom Phillips and his A humument pieces at the top of my list of those most interesting and thought-provoking.  But it is an intellectual attraction only; I do not find this kind of art viscerally moving.  I find my thresholds becoming increasingly high these days - perhaps the result of seeing so/too much?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring

Looking out of the window the garden looks bright and inviting - a slight warning from the drops on the glass.  Outside, the rain is coming in icy needles at a difficult angle - but still the flowers bring a sense of promise.
But thank goodness I'm back inside now that downpour is in full flow, with an edge of hail!
With gardening we learned that instant is definitely not the order of the day.  I bought three snowflake plants to cheer up the entrance to the annex for my mother-in-law when she moved in 26 years ago.  Now we have this magnificent clump.
We chose narcissus to be out at different stages, so that the flowering period lasts as long as possible.  Dead-heading the earlies is not such a chore when there are fresh blossoms and more buds to come around.
One garden plant I had not known in my childhood, because of the lack of chalk soil, is the euphorbia family.  In this garden in particular I'm delighted that the plants love it so much they self seed and grow spectacularly.
More yellows are provided by mahonia flowers, and many primroses - also self seeded.  I brought only a handful from our previous garden 27 years ago, and the damp conditions underroot suit them well.
For years we have had visiting deer who find tulips delicious, and we have stuck to daffodils in order to avoid pain at seeing neatly chopped stems when anticipating the opening of buds.  Now, however, we and our neighbour have fenced the whole area, so last year I planted a few species tulips, which today have braved the icy air.  They go so well with their neighbouring euphorbia.
Bergenia and hellebores provide a range of pink tones, as well as all that new growth which starts out red or pink before declaring itself green.
Last year also we planted 100 fritillary bulbs in the rough grass.  It is so difficult to spot them, but I have found a few.  Patience once more I hope will be rewarded - I just hope that the pesky grey squirrels and the jays have not dug up too many bulbs over winter.
There is so much to admire at this time of year when the speed of growth can astonish and delight.  But there is also evidence of other elements in Nature's complexity: the fox has been feasting, and frequently returns to the same patch of grass where there is evidence of a supper of crow and pigeon.
And the unnatural green stop-gap is evidence of storm Doris a couple of weeks ago when two fence panels were violently flung open like the double doored exit of a furious Boreas.  It was fortunate that there were no small children going to school along the path that day as it was the half term holiday.
Isn't it curious that despite Nature's extraordinary range of greens it is so difficult to make a green that looks natural.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The next big project

It's not the beginning, because apart from the idea, the making started with the lino prints.  But now I have 25 pieces of printed fabric to begin the stitching.  There was a little remedial work, which I've described in my work blog, and now I'm making decisions about thread colours - before embarking on the Grand Projet
Is it a kind of madness which has me hooked on hand stitching?  I've designed a whole made up of 5 x 5 pieces sized approximately 38x33cm (15x13"), each filled with hand stitching in fine silk.  The fabric is cotton lawn which at least will be easier on my fingers.  I will also be stitching other projects for a change of scene - and at some point trying out printing with my otherwise redundant pasta machine (see Jac's blog for a brilliant idea).  So, will I have finished Soliloquy (the project pictured) before next Spring - I wonder.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The art that chimes

This morning I read in an article in the Guardian newspaper that there is to be an exhibition of Paula Rego's pastels, and also a film about her on the BBC (25 March).  I find Rego's works powerfully moving, and I found myself thinking that of all painters she probably respresents most closely what I feel / think / experience.
Paula Rego: The Policeman's Daughter 1987 (the first of her paintings I encountered - image from here)
I had recently had a conversation about styles of writing, and had said that the author who made me feel most myself when reading her work is Patricia Highsmith. Or, at least if I could write fiction, I would wish to be able to write like her.
Paula Rego: Scarecrow
I admire a wide range of artists and their works - moving, inspiring, thought-provoking, informative, exciting, disturbing, ... as they might be.  But some few artists just set up powerful vibrations which chime with my own bones - like Rego and Highsmith.  In sculpture it would be Henry Moore, but I would use Elizabeth Frink's means of making: building up rather than cutting away.
Henry Moore: Draped seated figure

Friday, February 24, 2017

If in doubt ...

It was a principle of mine while editing: if in doubt, cut it out.  The decisiveness of it made me focus narrowly on the problem to clarify what exactly was the doubt.  I did not always cast 'it' out, but came to a positive path to solving whatever the problem was.
For some time now I have been wrestling with the whole question of getting rid of stuff.  Throughout the years we have acquired more space which we have carelessly filled with accumulations, useful (sometimes), potentially useful, sentimentally potentially useful, ... so it goes.  As long as there is space in the house, attics (at this point it is definitely a disadvantage to have two attic spaces!), garden, garage, then we might as well hang onto whatever it is.  It might come in useful.
But.
As we rapidly approach three score years and ten - I know that's just middle age these days - I want to be in control of the disposal while I am in control.  So begins the turmoil.  I am disciplined about acquiring new stuff (except books, and that will probably continue till I drop - in any case we donate box-fulls to Oxfam regularly), but am still a little lax about hanging on to shall we say occupational accumulations.
Sharper, 2005 (patchwork felted knitwear, metal mesh, cotton, flint)
Recently I have grasped the nettle of forcing myself finally to look at the yummy felted knitwear to see if anything positive can be made of it in my work.  Could I move forward through using it?  I have used it successfully some years ago as a patchwork background to Sharper (above).  And I recently have experimented as written about here and here.
There are also various inherited items which cause problems; items which have been in the attic almost as long as I have had them.  There is for instance the samovar suddenly brought to mind as mentioned in the previous post.  There are the ivory items from parents' time working in Africa, etc.  We have no children or other suitable relatives onto which to push the problem.  Ebay is not a solution in most cases as the value is only sentimental - and marginal even then.  And of course ivory cannot be sold - nor taken to the recycling centre.  But this year I am determined that decisions must be made.  I want to enter my 70s feeling as light and positive as I entered the 1970s - well, almost.