an artists' view

an artists' view

Monday, 23 September 2013


Entrances. Exits.
Passageways between one place and another.
I seem to be experiencing many transitions at present. Transitions of people. People leaving. 

I went to the funeral today of Ann, my friend of many years.
We did so much together; went to gigs, exhibitions, walks, food. We shared books, ideas, music. Put the world to rights so many, many times. We laughed. God, how much we laughed!
We were there for each other for so many events in our lives. Bereavements; relationship breakdowns; work; and fun. We had such a lot of fun in the years we knew each other. And it was a lot of years.
Ann was brave. She lived life fully. She wanted the world to be a better place. She worked on that through her work in the union movement, and in her voluntary activities, for Citizens Advice amongst others. We were in a women's peace group together, back in the 80's.
Ann travelled the world on her own, and with others. When she got her free bus pass, she went all over on the buses, on her own...and with others. She was kind. She was clever. She knew what was important in life. She kept friendships going for years. It was wonderful to see so many friends of hers at the funeral, going right back to when she was 4!
Ann was loyal. She knew we all had problems in our lives, and she didn't judge, or hold things against anyone. She knew we were all weak, and made mistakes. She forgave.
She called a spade a bloody shovel; you knew where you stood with her! I miss her terribly. We all will miss her so very, very much.
The world was such a brighter, better place for Ann being in it.
All I can do is to light a candle against the darkness that her death has brought.   

Sunday, 22 September 2013

ring of brodgar

All three pieces are reunited — the original one discovered three weeks ago is on the right.
Isn't this beautiful!
It's stone/s, maybe tiles, found on the recent excavations at the Ring Of Brodgar on Orkney. They have incised patterns on them, which are particularly noticeable on the stone on the right hand side. A 'butterfly' design, of 2 triangles, attached by their points, can be seen.
My initial response to this photo when I saw it, was to think that it had painterly qualities; texture, colour, form, composition. It's like an abstract painting. Wish I could make paintings with such power.
They also found one of those mysterious carves stone balls in the dig. I've come across many of these carved balls during my visits to Scotland.
The website has a photo of the carved ball, with the following text;
'hardly anyone has ever found a carved stone ball in a modern archaeological context.'
So a very important find indeed! 

You can find out more about the archaeological dig here, which is where I got this photo.

View image on Twitter
And here's a photo from the twitter feed of the website. The carved stone ball, rediscovered after thousands of years hidden away.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

woad - dyeing for a result

I've had this fabric in a small dye-pot of woad. I folded it, and clipped the folded cloth, but there are only the most subtle of lines to see. It's still a mottled, patterned effect, which is nice.
My brother bought me some woad powder a couple of xmases ago, but I've only got round to using it this summer. I used the good ole interweb to seek out recipes, and discovered that urine was traditionally used with woad. So; I collected the urine; I 'took the piss', and mixed up the powder.
This was my second use of this dye-pot; my first go was to dye a white cotton top that a friend had given me. I tie-dyed it, to lovely effect. Will get that posted another time. I've worn it, washed it, and worn it again. I hand wash it, in ecover washing liquid, to avoid any bleaching effect from biological washes. It's fine so far.
This fabric will get used on some piece or other; no idea yet! I'm planning to pop another cloth into what's left in the dye-pot, to get what I can out of it, before I have to dump the remains in the compost.
Blimey though; you DO need a lid when using urine for the mordant! It absolutely REEKS!!!!!  
And the call has gone out for walnuts!
Having read and seen the results of walnut dye, as it is the season for them, I've got people out asking around for walnut tree owners, to see if I can have some fruit. I'm also gonna do the supermarket looksee, and try and find them there. And a friend has got a packet of walnuts from last year, which she says I'm welcome to use. I don't know how well walnuts last, or keep, and how well the dye comes out when they're not fresh, so I'm gonna hedge my bets, and experiment with fresher ones, and her older ones.
The alchemical kitchen is twitching, getting ready to crank up once more!

Monday, 16 September 2013

sketch book

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to catch the final few days of the 'FABRIC-ATION' exhibition by Yinka Shonibare MBE.
The textiles he uses are brightly coloured and made into items of clothing often worn by headless figures.
Patterns printed on the fabric relate to the idea behind each figure. A figure given the title of 'Air' had the patterns of birds printed on the fabric, similar to the sketch above. On her head, was a weather-vane, its arrow topped by the metal die-cut owl landing to catch the mouse.
The story of the fabric is fascinating; Shonibare first became aware of it in Brixton Market, and it's lineage
' was fantastically rich in meaning and metaphor, as the wax-resist batik cloth originated in Indonesia but was copied and manufactured in Holland and Manchester and sold to the African market. Hence the material exemplifies trade routes and legacies of a colonial past.'
The fabric was gorgeous; vividly coloured, and with complex patterns. Shonibare uses layers and layers of them, in different items of clothing. To see such fabrics used in the formal outfits of an C18th footman, was laugh out loud funny! 
I had a lot to think about with this exhibition, not simply the ideas presented by Shonibare.
My work with textiles over the last few years has resulted in a narrowing of my palette; whereas once I would have splashed colour around in the way it is done on these fabrics. This has affected my paintings too; I'm not using as wide a range of colour as I used to. Here I was shown how effective the mass use of colour can be. Juxtaposition and contrast can create complexity; and also, joy. My friend Ann would've loved to see this exhibition.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

hexham #2

Another of those striking carvings from Hexham Abbey. I love the hat/hood that the person is wearing. And the miserable face; nice!
I'm on with printing some collographs.
I've discovered that one of my photos of rust-dyeing using a tin-can have been put onto a number of pinterest sites. Nicely, they have credited me, which is good.

And Wakefield Literary Festival will be here later in September. Looking forward to that.
Highlights for me will be the historian Michael Wood; the poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy; Paul Morley, and 'The North'; and John Cooper Clarke. Not necessarily in that order.
It's good to have things to look forward to.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

weaving #3

Am working on the weaving I began months ago.
My tension is rubbish, but as this is an experiment I'm not too concerned about it. Originally I wanted to print onto the fabric I've woven but I don't think I'll be doing any printing on this piece. If I can bear to weave another piece, I might print onto that.
It's good to have something that's repetitious and that I don't have to think about too much, as I do when painting or stitching. This is just back and forth, and back again. Don't even have to think too hard about the colours, as I chose just two colours of thread, three if you include the white at the bottom. So it's quite therapeutic really; which is just what I need at the moment. Small movements; small steps; small focus. 
And Seamus Heaney died this week.
To re-post his quote upon accepting his Nobel Prize for Literature, how poetry has:-
'that power to persuade the vulnerable part of our consciousness of its rightness in spite of the evidence of wrongness all around it, the power to remind us that we are hunter-gatherers of values, that our very solitudes and distresses are credible.'
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