Monday, January 28, 2019

Late January light

Silvana McLean: Sea Box Drangey Island (image from here)
The winter solstice is the darkest time, but with all the celebrations around then I always think of it as a multicoloured time, and a time to be cosy indoors.  Now, at the end of January I consider it mid-winter.  It is becoming lighter, slowly, and if there is snow it is even lighter.  I very much think of late January as a blue month.
Silvana McLean: Midwinter Snow (image from here)
This is a perfect time to be looking again at Silvana McLean's work.  On so many days the clear cold light brings sharp, pared down views out of the dark, so that we look for and find tiny indicators of the spring to come.
Silvana McLean: Slow Spring (image from here)
This year so much spring activity is starting even earlier than of late.  Squirrels are chasing around the oaks and willows, showing off with their leaps across the great gap from the electricity wire to the poplar.  The male mallards are practising their rape techniques, the pheasant struts with his harem of five, six, elegant beautiful quiet wives, .... 
Silvana McLean: Table with Winter Stars (image from here)
Late January is a lovely time to enjoy the shapes of winter, and to anticipate the increasing small delights of growth once more, especially when still cosy indoors with a warm drink to hand!

Friday, January 25, 2019

A most enjoyable exercise

Spread 6
I judge the Diving In book project a success for me.  It is not a good design - I once worked with a brilliant designer who became a friend, and I hope she does not see this.  It is not a good book: I included too many spreads, and thus the spine does not work.  There are many faults which I can see, and no doubt more which I cannot, but not only did I enjoy the process, I think of it like a successful preliminary sketch - even if it is never developed further.
Spread 7
The exercise also worked as distraction therapy for me.
Spread 8
After too long I have written a post in my work blog about the making of the spreads.  The remaining spreads can be seen there.  
Spread 10
Spread 11
Spread 12
Spread 13

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Really diving in

The approach to this project was to ponder as little as possible.  I wanted decisions to be instinctive with no or minimum mulling.  The book was going to cost me an amount which I was willing to pay for this experiment, this first pull of a print, so to speak.
Spread 2
The only rule (and that is too definite a term) I set myself was to include all sea and strand related images worked up in my files.
Spread 3
Spread 4
Spread 5

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Quick experimental project

At the end of last year I was in a plunge of depression, and in order not to disappear without trace I needed something to occupy all my time.  My husband was going away for a few days which gave me the specific time to launch myself into something.
Photobox had been bombarding me with offers of photo books at up to 70% off in the lead up to the festive season, and so I decided to use that as my project.
Over the years I have developed many images to do with the sea and the edge of the sea - several in finished stitched work, and others which have only got as far as digital designs.
So, over a long weekend I put together 17 double page spreads.  It was all-absorbing for all of each of those days.  It is not brilliant, but I am relatively pleased with the result, given the short time spent.
Photobox provide choice of layout, and do also have provision for text.  I decided however to put the text on the original digital images.  I made the common mistake of making the text too big - it's a fault I seem to repeat when designing using a monitor.  I should really have learned by now!
I'll put the rest of the spreads on the blog over the next few posts.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Surfacing before another plunge under

Yesterday evening I finished reading the recently published ninth novel in Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler series, and am more than happy to leave it finally ended.  It was just what I needed - my hibernation.  
Now I am enjoying revisiting the Elisabeth Frink exhibition through the catalogue, but was wondering what to embark on for my bedtime reading.  I try to read at least one book from the current Man Booker prize longlist, and another from the shortlist.  From the 2018 longlist I read Belinda Bauer's Snap.
I had read Bauer's Blacklands which I thought was a great novel, but had become increasingly disappointed with her second and third titles.  It was Val McDermid's recommendation of Snap as the best crime novel she had read in a long time which decided me to try again.  I did enjoy it, but I must admit that I cannot remember it now.  However, I still remember the emotions and surprises from Blacklands.
Anyway - now I've decided to try something from the 2018 shortlist: Daisy Johnson's Everything under. (Another review is here.)  It sounds like a complex read, and that's what I want now, I think, - another way of hibernating, or sticking my head in the sand (or under water!).
Objective obscured

Friday, January 18, 2019


Concern (preliminary doodle)
Over the festive season it was a relief not to hear anything about the current UK political situation because I had become thoroughly depressed.  I found that even reading anything serious during my usual hibernation period was not sufficient relaxation, and so I turned to my tried and tested means of escape: detective novels.
This time, however, there is a twist.  I had only just found out that Susan Hill had written a series of crime novels, and decided to get the first one for my Kindle.  Well, I enjoyed that - it did the trick of distracting me - and so I went on to the second, ... .
Darren Thompson: Winter Coat on Subway Reading (image from here)
Now I am on the 7th, and intend to go right up to her current latest one before I emerge.  It is rather like reading a doorstop saga of engaging quality, and is helping me to put news and commentary programmes into a small box.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

More pages

I decided to try using one of the illustration pages - this is the first design doodle.  The birds were the easiest place to begin.  Rather than a book to read, I have tried a notebook - or sketchbook.  

Monday, January 14, 2019

Cawing of the crows

Bird (image from here)
The title of the Elisabeth Frink exhibition is Humans and Other Animals.  One category of those animals which always has an effect on me is her birds.  Ravens and the crow family generally come with menacing baggage, and although I can see why, I also find them of great interest.  I find jackdaws playful in their gang, and persistent in attacking the bird feeder.  My father used to hate the crow family largely because they walk like man which he described as obscene.
Laura Ford: Bird boy (image from here)
He definitely would not have warmed to Laura Ford's sculptures which match children's legs and stance with bird bodies and heads. And I must admit that I find the one I have seen at the New Art Centre sent creeps up my spine - while also attracting my positive curiosity.
Douglas Gordon: Looking down with his black black ee (image from here)
With the Frink works and those of influences there were two contemporary artists, one of whom was Douglas Gordon.  We were fascinated by his three video piece, and the sound of the cawing could be heard in the room where Frink's birds were displayed, adding to the atmosphere.  The title of Gordon's piece is from a Scottish poem which begins  
A corbie sits at the tap o' thon tree
And he's looking doon with his black black ee, ....
Corvids are popular in folk tales, and there is a lovely one The Stolen Sun written and illustrated by Amanda Hall, with whom I had the pleasure of working many years ago. (images above and below from here)

A couple of years ago I read an interesting book: Corvus: A life with birds by Esther Woolfson.
I am attracted to the rook/crow etc. family in my work as seen in Stretch, below.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Ceramic delights: two servings

Our exhibitions and landscape tour took us from Cumbria across first to York, and then to Norwich.  Two much admired women and one man were the reason: Frink in Norwich, but also in both destinations the two potters, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper.  My admiration for all three has been firm since forever, and increases as time goes by.
There is currently an exhibition of Lucie Rie's work at York Art Gallery.  Eirene's blog A Place Called Space has many photographs showing the exhibition.  The image above (from that blog post) shows a Lucie Rie bowl with a beautiful work, Portent, by Claire Curneen in the background.  She is also an artist whose work I have admired.  The added benefit of the York Art Gallery is that its collection of ceramics gives the opportunity to admire, enjoy, refresh, and introduce the pleasures of others' work as well as that of the main focus.  Gordon Baldwin's work was well represented too - see again Eirene's specific post on him.
While at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich to see the Elisabeth Frink exhibition, I also made a point of seeking out the ceramics collection.  There is a large vitrine each for Lucie Rie 
(image from here)
and Hans Coper, 
(image from here)
and both vitrines full of such extraordinary pieces.
It has been a positive stimulating start to a new year, and I am raring to go on my own work.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Humans and other Animals

A wondrous exhibition of Elisabeth Frink's work, sculpture, prints, and drawings at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.  Description here and here.  The show is beautifully laid out, with excellent information, and also showing examples of the work of sculptors and artist contemporary with her.  I was particularly delighted to see again work by Lynn Chadwick, Henry Moore, Louise Bourgeois, Francis Bacon, Marino Marini, and Genevieve Richier (Storm Man, seen below from here).
I absolutely loved a piece I'd not encountered before: Cesare Baldaccinni's The Man of Saint-Denis, inspired by Leo Valentin - the Birdman who also was a great inspiration for Frink.  (image below from here)

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Mist, mossy 'trousers', and other details

When the mist comes down, it's what's in the immediate vicinity which grabs the attention.
So much moss, and these looked like mossy trousers.
The ladybird was still active - just.
Not so long till full flowering:
Mysterious, and rather menacing, ... strange growths of twiglets.
What lies down the magical path?

Saturday, January 05, 2019

A new year trip

Kate Bentley: Woodsman cottage (image from here) 
We decided to take a few days away, touring landscape and exhibitions.  A start, through thankfully quiet-ish motorways, took us to Cumbria and the Great Print Exhibition.  Of all the exhibitors there the one which made the most impact with me is Kate Bentley.  From her website it seems that she is better known for her oil painting, but I really was attracted to her photographic prints with watercolour.  Their feeling reminded me of the prints by Elizabeth Magill, that kind of hovering state.

Kate Bentley: Fern Woods (image from here)

Kate Bentley is a member of the Society of Women Artists, and more images can be seen here.