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.
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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My samovar

Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin: A portrait of Anna Akhmatova (image from here)
Another artist who particularly caught my attention at the Royal Academy exhibition was Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin.  I was looking out for his work, intrigued by this article which stated that he developed a system of using only three colours - as well as creating a line of perspective which showed the curvature of the earth. 
Petrograd Madonna (image from here)
I was also interested that his first art teacher was an icon painter.  And then I saw the dynamic picture below with an exact copy of my samovar, tray, bowl, knobs and all.
Samovar (image from here)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Body of work

Alexandr Deyneka: Textile Workers (image from here)
This morning we went to the Royal Academy's excellent exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932.  There is a great deal to admire, to look at, and to learn there - an extensive overview of art during that period, and a great deal to think about.  Here is a review, and here another.
One artist whose work made an impact on me is Alexandr Deyneka.  There is a lot I was intrigued by in his paintings, the details being one: above, for instance the cows, and below the horse and tree.
Alexandr Deyneka: Football (image from here)
The first painting of his in the exhibition was right at the beginning, almost immediately at the entrance, and is a large imposing image (see below).  It certainly made an impression on me; the work is so sculptural.
Alexandr Deyneka: On building new plants (image from here) 
And he captures emotion both in the endless supply of worker soldiers in The defence of Petrograd below, and in the completely different hilarious Ping Pong at the bottom (roll over the image in the link to get a larger view of the latter).
(image from here)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Destination of delights

Once upon a time I used to love just jumping in the car and scooting off to craft galleries and exhibitions hither, thither, and yon.  I had a car to myself (we have one car between us now), there was not much traffic, and there were several high quality craft shops within a radius of about a two and half hours' pleasant drive through lovely countryside.
(image above from here)
One of the destinations was Walford Mill, an attractive and interesting craft centre (with bistro attached) in the delightful small town of Wimborne, and with a large adjacent car park.  Yesterday I drove there to catch up with a friend and to see an exhibition.  From the end of our road to the turning for the Mill the traffic was constantly heavy and nose to tail.  The destination was still a delight, the encounter with friend definitely a great pleasure, and the exhibition rewarding, ... but the journey!  But this is now the norm, and what with the closure of so many high quality craft galleries, my scooting days are definitely over.
Yesterday was a much enjoyed day nonetheless.  The exhibition on at present is of sandblasted glass, and we were fortunate that the sun was shining to make the most of Ruth Dresman's lovely work.  Below are a few snaps I took, and here on Ruth Dresman's Facebook page are many more.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Inspirational sculpture - and some drawings

(images above from here)
This morning we drove to Hauser and Wirth, Somerset to see their exhibition  Elisabeth Frink:Transformation.  I am a great fan, and really enjoyed seeing so much work together.  As ever with Elisabeth Frink and her work, I found it inspirational.
Reviews of the exhibition can be found here, and here - image above from the latter
The Telegraph newspaper makes the point that Hauser and Wirth are raising the financial profile of Elisabeth Frink.  I'm not sure what I think about the art market, but I do appreciate the exhibitions that the machinations require.  It gives us all a chance to see such a wide range of work.  Unfortunately when a particular artist is not deemed popular it is sometimes difficult to see pieces outside public collections.
I was delighted to be able to see some of the Riache Warriors again - here are II, III, and IV which I snapped in the courtyard.  No.I belongs to the Tate.  They were inspired by the bronzes found in the Mediterranean, off the Italian commune of Riace.
(image above from here)
Frink found the faces of the bronzes to be intimidating, and we found the faces in the courtyard this morning to be uncanny and menacing.
There is an 'edge' to most of Frink's pieces, an ambiguity which I enjoy.  Are they oppressive, or are they vulnerable?  Are they oppressive because they are vulnerable?
Wondrous powerful work!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Fishy diversion

I have a box full of felted knitwear, and from time to time I try out ideas for using it.  Today it came into my head to try out one of my favourite designs.
Originally a linocut, my fish on a dish has had a few manifestations.  First it was a heat transfer stitched piece.
Then it became a couple of small quilts, one with 'found colour' - these were the colours the computer gave me when I scanned the original lino print with the colour setting on.
And today I've made one with different thicknesses of felted knitted Shetland wool: two colours/threads for the body and fish, and one colour alone for the plate (apologies for the rather foreshortened appearance in the snap).
As you see, I like the figure facing in either direction.  I am quite pleased with the pattern on the knitwear showing as it does.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

An opportunity

Saloua Raouda Choucair: Self Portrait (image from here and more here)
Following this link from Sarah Campbell's post I found a wondrous gesture made by MoMA in New York. We should take any indication of some people being superficially denigrated, banned, dissed in any way to find out more about them.  Far from being depressed and negative we will become more informed - definitely a positive opportunity!

Sunday, February 05, 2017


Perhaps we shall now witness another era of stunning political posters.
(image above from here, image below from here)
More on and by Paul Peter Piech can be seen here.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Love of trees

Catherine Eaton Skinner: Mti (image from here)
Trees are such marvellous creatures.  There are many beautiful portraits of trees, but a few seem extraordinary to me.  I have just stumbled upon some which I find inspiring.  Catherine Eaton Skinner has produced some stunning work.  I shall be returning often to her website for nourishment.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Simply pencil

Amanda Hall: an image she created for a greetings card (image from here).
I have been thinking of pencil drawing since reading Idaho Beauty's post the other day.  The simple pencil is such a versatile implement which I first started thinking about seriously when I used to commission illustrations.  One artist in particular, Amanda Hall, produces gloriously deep and rich evocative art using her crayons/coloured pencils. 
David Hockney: Ma Maison 1978 (image from here)
There was a time at the end of the 70s and early 80s when coloured pencil work was popular, and of course I had long been an admirer of Hockney's pencil drawings.  So perhaps it was inevitable that when we went to live in the USA and my visa did not allow me to work, that one of the creative ways I explored was to try working with coloured pencils.
I only have a handful of pieces still from those days.  The work was very stylised, but I have liked it enough in one case to work on it further, rendering it in cloth and stitch.
Plantlife 2010
One of the things I liked to do was draw the weave of cloth, or of basket as a background to a figure.  I was experimenting with a backstrap loom in those days, and I enjoyed thinking about structure both with workings in pencil and in yarn.
Sarah Cawkwell: Large Plait No.1 (image from here)
Recently I received notice from Sarah Cawkwell that she is to have work in an upcoming exhibition from 8 February to 12 March at the Millinary Works in Islington, London.  She is a master of the pencil - I love what she does with it.  The work is both meditative, and evokes a sense of meditation - and there is an interesting recording of her talking about the image above which is in the New Hall Cambridge, Women's' Art Collection linked at the foot of this page.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Deep thought

(Image above from here)
Last night I finished reading Peter Frankopan's The Silk Road: A new history of the world.  It is a fascinating read, and one which is so dense with historic instance that I found that I had to take breaks - often between individual, but long, chapters - in order more fully to chew over the content.  Reviews can be read here and here and here and here and here.
Leopold von Kalckreuth: Artist's wife reading in bed (image from here)
During the breaks I would read much lighter books which distracted the flibbertygibbet aspect of my brain, so that deep thought could take place.
It was unfortunate that I'd chosen the Frankopan for bedtime reading, especially as it is so long - even without the extensive notes.  I suspect that my choice was governed more by it being on the Kindle, and that my other serious reading at the moment consists mostly of art books, which are definitely not suitable for reading in bed. 
Juggler, 2009 (the first of many!)
I don't know whether it is despite or because of the pauses I took, but the deeper thinking awoke an aspect of enjoyment which I have not really experienced since university days.  I suspect that my jugglers have been trying to tell me this over the past years: less pointless frivolity is needed in my diet - although we all need a good pinch of regular diversity.  I am too addicted to whodunnits to give them up of course, and besides, some of them are so well written that they too provide thought-provoking input, as does so much of the general fiction I read.  It's just that I definitely now feel the need for more deep diving.
Design for Underwater encounter
Of course this leads to more juggling of time: to fit in more reading and thinking.  Something will have to give way.  How I wish it could be the chores!  But I have increasingly been feeling that even at my slow pace I produce too much stuff which clutters the attic, and will doubtless eventually become landfill.  So I shall eat into my creative endeavours which at the moment take most of my thinking time, in order further to indulge my two other favourite occupations: reading and thinking.  I will still be shopping - which as all economists tell us makes the world continue going round - buying books, which in their physical form are highly biodegradable, and in electronic form almost don't really exist.
Strange pages, 2009