Friday, 27 March 2015

So easy to get distracted...

I ran out of large plastic boxes  for packing up fabric in my studio  so had to  go to Wilkinsons for more. And while I was going to West Ealing, I thought I'd take some glass items to the charity shop  which entailed  finding the tissue  paper  and  bubble wrap  and sorting out the front room ( shoving stuff under the table)  so I had a flat surface to wrap them.   

 And while I was at  it unwrapping the   outer packing of the cardboard boxes  so can commence packing up the Portmeirion and books, lots of books. Taking the outer packaging down the cellar led to cleaning a section of the  storage area down there, Then with the gasman coming to service the boiler today, I needed to move the exercise bike out the kitchen  into the conservatory  which meant sorting through all the tools from under the stairs that had been sitting on the table  for several days. With the gasman gone,  I took advantage of the kitchen being clearer than normal to hoover and mop.

So after lunch as a change from  packing, I finally got round to putting my 'Sew-Ezi' table together.  Finding a clear area was a bit of a challenge. While quite straight forward and excellent instructions, it took 3 goes of putting it together  as with the recommended 2 spacers ,  my   Bernina  stood a little proud and I made the mistake  of taking one off rather than adding one on...  I must put it away again now, hand sewing only at the moment, but I'm  looking forward to using it, it feels very sturdy.   

  Here's the desk that it's replacing - its' mainly been used a dumping space  but  at least  1 set of drawers would be handy.  It's very heavy so  it's going to be difficult to get out ( I'll have to clear  and move out the table first)
Meanwhile  my computer desk needs   clearing, still have boxes of documents from work that need sorting  but I'm more interested in deciding on what masterclasses I want to do at FoQ this year , to be ready for booking on Monday. I've also been practising alto part of 'A Gaelic  Blessing'  for memorial service in a few weeks time ( caterwauling with earphones on, probably just as well that the builders next door are drowning me out) and of course checking emails.   

We did have a grand plan of what needed doing in each room and a rough idea of what order things  needed to be done in  but the devil is in the detail. When I said I was 'project managing' our move, I knew it would be complex - the examples used when I went on a training course  were nothing like as complicated. Just as well we don't have specific  deadline, but do feel we're making some progress.  

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Cai Guo-Qiang and Cornelia Parker at Whitworth Gallery

 Last Saturday I combined  a British Bryological Society Council meeting  in Manchester with a  visit to the newly re-opened Whitworth Gallery. As an extra bonus I  met up with Julie who happened to be in Manchester anyway for  Urban Sketchers  crawl.  
It was interesting to see how they'd combined items from collections with new exhibits  and installations. We spent some time poring over the watercolours and  in the 'portraits' section trying to guess the artists  when there were no information sheets left!  Having no labels or numbers  did  mean it looked great aesthetically but was a bit frustrating when trying to work  out who was who.  Didn't get to see everything in a couple of hours, it'll be good to make a return trip.  
 The Cai Guo-Qiang  installation 'Unmanned Nature' , a 45 metre -long four metre high gunpowder drawing on hemp paper was spectacular. They  only  let a few people in at a time to enjoy the effect of being immersed in the landscape.

 The materials used are  pivotal to the work of Cornelia Parker: the bullet drawings  of lead wire;  the squashed silver-plated objects.
  My favourites  however were  in the section on 'Room for Margins' - canvas linings from various paintings by Turner mounted behind glass. I loved their patina  with subtle marks, reminding me of the beauty of  backs of  stitched textiles, the  'unconscious side'.

 In the textile section I was re-acquainted with this quilt by Michele Walker. It caused a huge fuss at the time being made of plastic bags  but now it looks quite traditional , apart from the materials used ( the quilting patterns are tyre tracks)

  The train journeys there and back were not  without incident. On the way there lots of trains were cancelled so the train I was on was delayed and overcrowded ( mainly with Man City fans).  The return journey was a'58 mins' late getting into Euston ( magically below the  hour where can apply for full refund). I missed out on the eclipse  on Friday  due to cloud but the orange globe of the  sun setting partially made up for  it

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Moving Forward

Or should that be ' March ahead'! Back from Weymouth I  finished stitching my 'Shore Lines' quilt for International Threads exhibition in Prague. Before posting them off to Uta today I took a  quick photo of them all on my 'Display Wall'  (aka wardrobe and studio doors with over door hooks and curtain rods- my working design walls are polystyrene and cork boards). Ian is very patient, asking permission to get his shirts out  the wardrobe.

Mostly though, last week was spent down in the 'Catacombs' clearing out and cleaning the  front cellar ( above) and rear storage area ( below), in order to sort out and  store temporarily  our stuff for 'keep, store, giveaway , disposal' . They weren't both clear at the same time , there was a lot of stooped shunting of  boxes from one to the other and back again. Hard hats and dust masks essential.

 Before Ian went back to work we sorted through the kitchen together cupboard by cupboard and have a satisfying load on the dining room table awaiting charity shop/freecycle.
Kiwi Landscapes are coming tomorrow for some 'garden maintenance'(we 've hardly been out there for 6 months -seriously overgrown) but in preparation I cleared the way to the compost bins and installed another catscarer (local moggies have been using the gravel as catlitter while we haven't been around so much!) . It already looks so much better and I was rewarded by the hellebores in flower. They don't seem to have come to too much harm from the harvesting last year for 'Fast Forward' experiments.
Now its' time for some cleaning, and  going through my studio space. Currently sorting through contents of  desk used as sewing table - my 'Sewezi' has arrived. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Golden Time in Weymouth

Just  returned for the evening  to our 'home -from-home' cottage in Weymouth after a tasty fish supper of local plaice at the Chesil Beach Visitor Centre, accompanied by golden views as the sun set  
This was  first place we went to on Tuesday   for a leisurely lunch overlooking the constantly changing colours and shapes of the Fleet Sandflats ( as featured in one of my quilts)   One of my favourite places anywhere, I never tire of it. 
Well fed and watered , we went into Weymouth for some shopping ( Dorset Red cheese and a new rucksack) , watching all the dogs  being walked on the beach (they're not allowed on in summer so make up for lost time in the winter) 

Wednesday we visited our friends in Wellington, very early start  but lovely to see them ( could have done without the delay at Castle Cary tho')
Thursday we walked across the causeway to the Cove House Inn in Chiswell, Portland for lunch - very low tides revealed sandbanks and it was a glorious sunny day. After lunch we walked to West Weares- amazing patterns of waves on Chesil Beach - they looked too regular to be real!

 Today (Friday) we caught the bus into Dorchester to have a look around the Roman Town House and lunch at the Blue Raddle.
In between walks and eating, not much stitching has been done but I've painted several 'thumbnail' watercolours the  proportions of  this years journal quilts to develop design ideas


I've also just had fun experimenting with recording the variety of weather conditions and looking out of the bedroom window attempting to capture the colours of first light over Portland

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Rydal Retreat

Last week I was on my 4th annual  retreat with NWCQ in the Lake District, the 3rd at Rydal Hall. Perfect timing a week after leaving Kew for some reflective time painting and stitching with friends in a tranquil, uplifting environment. As in previous years, I'm basing Journal Quilts on my sketches (beginnings of first above) and I was lucky enough to have a room this year looking out to the front  with a glimpse of Windermere in the distance  and remains of snow on the surrounding hills, so I didn't have to venture too far for inspiration!

 It took a little time to arrange the tables in the 'Old Kitchen' (conveniently next to the bar) but once established  in our niches, it didn't take long for everyone to pick up  from where we left off last year. It's great to see how varied peoples working methods are and everyone is so generous in sharing.
Several of us had brought 'Gelli' plates with us and I  had a go comparing it with my usual acetate sheet (and got a bit carried away as usual with monoprinting - I even used up all the colour catchers I'd brought with me)
Apart from crossing the courtyard each lunchtime for delicious homemade soups at the  tea shop, I  made only a couple of walking/sketching expeditions.  


On my first on Tuesday I was fortunate enough  to be doing my annual sketch of   Rydal Falls from inside the 'Grot' when there was a sudden hail/sleet storm. 5 minutes later the sun was shining again.!

 On Wednesday night there was torrential rain  so on Thursday there was about 4 times as much water in the beck ( see difference above ). Further downstream, the river had expanded into the nearby field -it had cleared again by Friday. I wish I'd taken a picture of the bright pink ice-cream van parked on the bridge  next to it, catering for the damp visitors!

Too cold to hang around sketching at Rydal Water this time  but I enjoyed absorbing the view before heading back for hot chocolate.

On Friday afternoon after a visit to the Quaker tapestry in Kendal and collecting sourdough bread from 'Lovingly Artisan' , I was early for my train which was  just as well  because all trains to  and from London  were cancelled because of an earlier broken down freight train at Lockerbie ! After a few minutes panic, advised to  take the train to Manchester airport, and change at Preston where I caught up with the train I was booked on  so all was well. Arriving back at a packed Euston station ( usual Friday night plus extra mayhem with train cancellations) was a bit of a shock after the tranquillity of Rydal.
We've already made a booking for next year  It's such a  supportive, fun group ( and lovely location), we feel so comfortable with each other, it just goes from strength to strength.