Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Part two of the trip North

After the Pictish stones we drove to the East coast to wander up to Catterline and the Creel Inn for lunch.  (It is not possible to see the view shown on their website except by invading someone's garden.)
Catterline was where Joan Eardley lived for part of the time, and painted - outside, even taking her canvases down the steep drop to the beach.  Below is Salmon Net Posts, from here.
And here are some more examples.  A Youtube film shows the area beautifully - but here are my snaps anyway:
Just inland from Catterline are two stretches of yellow landscape: the one I have always known, with gorse,
and the new sight (for me) we were passing: oil seed rape.
And as we were driving away from Catterline I saw two fields full of narcissus.  It is extraordinary how long Spring has lasted for us this year: it started early in late February down at the Southernmost tip of Cornwall, and now we are still enjoying daffodils, little lambs, and fresh leaves emerging up here in northern Scotland.
We visited Dunnottar Castle next (my camera batteries gave out at this point), and then driving inland for a while, at the end of another warm sunny day we arrived at our destination for the next few days: Mar Lodge.  I am sitting in the white armchair as I type this.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

On our way there (part one)

The trip started with a day's solid driving to take us up to Dundee where we paused for the night.  This made the ideal starting point for our first stop on the way to Aberdeenshire: Meigle.  The Sculptured Stone Museum has one of the best collections of Pictish stones - and the best (we were assured) collection of Pictish stones found locally to its museum.  Meigle is a small village, and we arrived just before the museum opened, so catching sight of a café we thought we could park there, have a coffee, and then walk to the museum.  The café is the Joinery Coffee Shop, and the aroma of freshly baked scones hit us as soon as we opened the door.  Delicious!  (We had to move the car, however, because the coffee shop is so popular.)
The day was starting out perfectly: sunshine and warmth, fresh scones and fresh coffee, and a fascinating museum with an excellent steward. 
The stones are of red sandstone, mostly from the 9th century, carved with symbols, animals, and people, telling stories on one side and with a decorated Christian cross on the other. 
The Pictish Stones site has lots of information.  Here are more of the snaps I took - as you can see the sun was streaming through the windows of the former primary school which is now the museum.
This above is carved on the side (edge) of a stone, and the outline is used as the logo for the museum.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Preparing for a trip

The day after tomorrow we are setting off North, first to about the middle of the land mass on this map (from here) for a week.  We always like to pre-inform ourselves as much as possible, and usually stay in places which provide wifi in order to keep up that flow of information (we used to take a box of books).  We do not like wasting time faffing about - and we still always find our trips are full of individual delights and surprises.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In order to improve organisation...

... first one must create even more chaos!
Alex on wheelsI found brilliant sets of drawers at IKEA, and bought two - one for my smaller stitched work (great, that fitted in under one of my desks in the sewing room, and is functioning beautifully).  And one to help keep papers pristine for printing etc.  At present in the print kitchen I have a bookcase precariously piled and jammed with precious papers that really need more care.  So, I'm just about to away and cause chaos so that order may - eventually - reign.  I do like order.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Two blue sleeves

It has been a sunny holiday weekend so far, with interesting blues in the skies.  My thoughts have turned to two blue sleeves which I very much admire:
Titian's man with a quilted sleeve (from here) is glorious - that expanse of blue, I'm sure feels just like the silk I am quilting at present.
I am so attracted to Vuillard's women's clothing.  I can feel all those crisp blouses, this (from here) being a bright well ironed cotton, I'm sure.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Blink, and you are missed

Time is interesting.  Listening to the radio the other day I heard the theory that we experience time speeding past when we are older because we are familiar with what we are doing.  Time seems to travel more slowly when we are younger because we are exploring through unfamiliar territory.  And therefore the way to slow down time in later life is to try something new - plunge into the unfamiliar.  Nice idea.
I like to take time.  I like an art or craft magazine for instance to present articles which provoke thought, contemplation beyond what is there on the double page spread.  I am not fond of magazines which dazzle superficially with luscious photographs which sell a kind of blink bling.  Show but no tell.  No time.
I like the way I work because time is taken.  Ideas percolate, drawings show different sides even after the first use in one setting - with time and contemplation they sometimes demand many more settings.  Ideas persist, but are sometimes incomplete until time brings more ingredients - and it often takes time to realise that they are incomplete.  The physical making takes time, stitch by stitch, and now that my hands begin to ache from gradually increasing arthritis, longer is taken.  But I love that I can think, I can listen to the radio, I can even watch some television while stitching.
Changes over time can be delightful, especially in observing the plant world - but we also seem to be drawn to a beauty seen in the gradual disintegration of buildings, paintwork, the fabric of our surroundings ... the quaintness of rust.  The rusting takes time, but our cameras blink at it, just as we blink at our friends and ourselves with our phones. Next!
Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy from here
This week I received a card from a friend who knows of my passion for the work of Georgia O'Keeffe.  This appreciation has lasted over time - from before a time when so many greeting cards of her work were available, and it was wonderful to be brought back to that joy again, to think once more about the quality of that persistent attraction.
We may take time to produce our work, but we makers seem to live in a world of blink, of the fleeting: we decide instantly, subliminal brand recognition rules, and in competitions we are afforded but a glance of time to catch the good opinion of the gatekeepers.  Hey ho.  Time to take out my glorious big Georgia O'Keeffe books again for some savouring.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

A brilliant day out

Yesterday we went to Compton Verney, a country house which has been turned into an 'art destination', housing a permanent collection and excellent temporary exhibitions.  The weather was good, and the exhibition is one which we would not miss, as it involves two of the artists we both have admired for many decades: Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore.  I find that each has indeed influenced my own work more profoundly than I had realised.
It is such a bonus to have so close together two excellent exhibitions about Moore's work, the first being at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford: Francis Bacon/ Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone.  I wrote a post about our visit, and Eirene also wrote a post in A Place called Space.
The grounds of Compton Verney have several examples of Rodin's and Moore's work, and we would have lingered longer had the wind not been so biting as we made our wandering way to the house itself.  I always enjoy the four sphinxes on the bridge across the lake - they of course are neither Rodin nor Moore, but permanent delights.
The first Moore is on the car park side of the lake, and affords a tantalising view across to the other pieces and to the house.
Moore:The arch
Rodin: Cybele - I just love that folded back arm of hers.
Moore: Seated woman
Moore: Three piece sculpture: Vertebrae  with a view to The arch and Rodin's Jean d'Aire, Monumental Nude on the near bank.
We had a lovely light lunch in the restaurant before embarking on the exhibition proper indoors.  Then on to several rooms of sculptures and drawings.  There is also a display containing fascinating objects from the two artists' own collections: examples of classical art, ethnic artefacts, and natural forms such as shells and stones.  It was such a joy to re-encounter familiar pieces, and to find completely new works which took my breath away, such as this bronze by Moore:
Henry Moore: Working Model for Mother and Child: Upright (image from here, although the piece in the exhibition was part of the Henry Moore Foundation's collection).  I was entranced by this piece in particular because to me she looks as if she is singing with her open mouth, and that the 'child' resembles an instrument such as a harp (the right hand being well placed to be pausing from playing such).  I also very much like the marks on the lower body, and the snail-shell-like curves of the dress at the bottom back. 
I love Moore's work for its stillness, and Rodin's for the gestures.  The examples chosen throughout the exhibition are wonderfully complementary and we found the whole a thoroughly enriching experience.
Rodin: Monument to the Burghers of Calais from their normal place near the Houses of Parliament in London.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Parallel lives

There are often times when I need to split myself into several parallel versions - there just is not enough time to do everything I want!  Recently I have been on a great roll as far as designing has been concerned, but completing the design is only part of the picture.  I still have to stitch the piece, and by hand - which is lovely, and is necessary for me ... but takes time.
And with all that I have the temerity to want to read too!  So many books, and magazines, and blogs, ....  Thank goodness I can listen to the radio while stitching.
Here's another design on the drawing board:
Building a boundary
Well, I shouldn't be hanging around here - back to the needle and threads, ... and thoughts of even more designs!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014