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The bees have made a start collecting honey and bringing in pollen, the blossom is glorious, the grass is growing again and we are waiting – for a baby to be born.
There are still some things in life we can’t make an appointment for and I like that.
We had friends staying, one was waiting for the wind to be right for paragliding. He had one good flight of 4 hours from Malvern to Oswestry, powered only by the wind and his canopy which fits into a rucksack. The other days he was hopeful and waited and once had a brief upward flight, but mostly it was waiting and watching the sky. Our other friend, joined me with the children making the most of each sunny moment as her husband waited for the wind and we waited for the baby.
I’m trying to complete a small book based on paintings of children, fitting the work in between looking after these same grandchildren. It’s touch and go as to whether or not I’ll have a finished book in time for my Artweeks exhibition as the new baby is overdue by a week, having been expected to arrive early – she has thrown everyone’s plans. It looked as if it was about to arrive a week ago and so we had 4 glorious sunny days – the sort of rare magical time you remember for ever - with the 2 older children and dog here. We built a stick house in Foxholes wood,
we had a picnic by the Oxford Canal, we made nests for an easter egg hunt, made bread, excavated the vegetable garden….. The children came with me to see proofs for cards at the printers and to take paintings to be framed. This week we’re looking forward to our York grandchild coming.
So now in the lull before the storm – because the baby WILL come – I’m sending out my mailing, updating my website and trying to get the book designed and planned. There are so many decisions to make with a book – format, type face and colour, size, binding, cover, end pages, box……. so come to the exhibition and see if I made it. Two of the children will be here (playing shop) the second weekend. It all creates the texture, tone, line and colour of life and I love it. This waiting means we live every day as it comes and with no expectation for tomorrow. Young children are good at this too.
Children are welcome at my exhibitions.
A perfect September Sunday, sunny and still after a misty start. I have cut the long grass on the bank,under the apple and plum trees ready for the spring bulbs and primroses. I have written copy for the invitation for the Christmas exhibition. Mulled wine and mince-pies in 8 weeks time seems too soon. There’s the Windmill in Norfolk with the migrating birds next weekend. I am trying to find a space to paint – that inner still space that needs to be open and ready is something intangible and difficult. I can’t quite grasp it……….and remember the summer………….
A visit in March to see our son in Tbilisi, Georgia – with a side trip to Armenia and a stop off in Istanbul on the way home to find where my grand-parents met in the 1920′s.
Wild cyclamens are for sale on the streets for woman’s day, picked a day ago in the mountains.
Soviet era blocks of apartments edge the city with a backdrop of snowy peaks.
There is the old door of our guesthouse and the wooden balconies in the Old Town of Tbilis.
There are the cave monasteries of Davit Gareja, with their frescoes, that date from the 6th century, in a bleak and open landscape. We stepped in and out of Azerbaijan high up on the mountain.
In the museum in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia is the world’s oldest shoe. It’s leather and it’s 5500 yrs old, found in a cave in 2008.
Two academics are staying in our guesthouse, who are researching the geology and pollen environment surrounding the finding in Georgia, a couple of years ago, of the 1.8 million years old remains of Homo Erectus.
And then there are the Caucasus mountains. How old are they…..?
The hardest thing is to make a complicated idea into a simple visual statement. When you achieve this it a once seems obvious, but getting to that point is a challenge. Seeing things clearly through the possibilities and technical problems takes commitment and focus, which isn’t always easy.
Going with the flow can help. The materials themselves have limitations which narrow down the possibilities. You have to keep your vision very clear and not waiver when doubt creeps in.
I am on this journey with a ‘book’ idea I had a year ago and which is only just becoming a reality. I did the etchings, linocuts and woodcuts of the treasure last spring, but was unsure how to continue. The idea had to ferment. The book is based on a hoard of Pictish silver found by a school boy in 1958 on St Ninian’s Isle off the main Shetland Island. It explores ideas of finding something bright in the dark – uncovering, discovering, hidden, precious, glittering………. It will fold into a larch wood box with a slate cover.
I’ve always liked advent calendars – the anticipation and discovery. Opening a door to discover the picture. Each page is 18cm square. There are 28 pages – there were 28 pieces of silver found. the pages are joined by ribbon and unfold to hang.
I think I’m getting there, but there have been moments of despair when it hasn’t turned out how I imagined e.g. when the doors which I thought would stay closed without a latch came open. How could I possibly make a catch which wouldn’t prevent the folding of the pages into the box? Then the exhilaration when a solution slowly formed in my mind involving thin wire bent to form a small flat clasp .
Experimentation followed – trying out different thicknesses and colours of wire – ending with the satisfaction of having risen to the challenge. Now I am making a smaller version and I have a pile of very thin birch ply squares to make a wooden book. The possibilities suddenly seem endless.
This book is dedicated to Suzy Straw. I heard she had died while looking across to St Ninian’s Isle and spent the time of her funeral on this wild island where the treasure had been found.
A rare visit to London last Wednesday – last time was August. We left our snowy hills behind and entered a different snow-free world. I felt a real country mouse, daringly getting the no 242 bus from Liverpool Station to a haberdashery shop – William Gee – on the Kingsland Rd near Dalston Junction. I went to buy 200 metres of ribbon for the book project I’m embarked on and trying to finish for Artweeks. On my invoice it describes itself as: Stockists and converters of linings and interlinings. Accessories and trimmings for coat, dress, fur, shoe, handbag and allied trades. There’s a fascinating article about William Gee on www.spitalfieldslife.com.
I also went to get thread and paper for the same project from Shepherds paper and bookmaking shop in Holborn – but was shocked to find it’s just moved to behind Victoria Station. So I continued from Dalston on the overhead line to Highbury and Islington, changing onto the Victoria line. The shop still has all the range of papers stacked in shelves and chosen from books, but it lacks the atmosphere of the old shop. It is the most tempting shop I know and I am always seduced and buy much more than I ever plan to.
I walked past Buckingham Palace and over Green Park in the gathering dusk past remains of snowmen looking like ancient megaliths, to browse the galleries behind the Royal Academy. I found a new exhibition of Richard Cartwright paintings at the Adam Gallery propped against the walls about to be hung. I like the way he has bright glints of colour and light against darker backgrounds. I found 2 Ivon Hitchen paintings and a catalogue of paintings by Brian Horton who paints the areas of Britain I also Know including around Dolgellau, Buckinghamshire, Scotland and Pembrokeshire.
I met up with Tony and we proceeded to a private view of the Manet exhibition at the Royal Academy. A string quartet, champagne, wonderful bowls of flowers and the paintings. Manet’s use of black is striking – but also he uses greys and white wonderfully, sometimes lifting the painting with touches of deep red or a lovely blue – the one my Granny liked. My favourite paintings are the ones he did of Berthe Morisot.
Back to the icy wastes of Chipping Norton. We feel like hibernating now………..
Jan 11th 2013
This is a new website, which is still in construction – I still have to edit some of the images, add the correct titles and information and change a few things around . I will be working on it in the next few weeks. Not sure about the font etc ……………………..