Monday, 24 August 2015

Catching Up - June to August 2015

June -  Capri.
July -  Move into new studio.
August - Working long days with plenty of space - bliss.

Whenever I'm in London I often go to The Chelsea Physic Garden. It is a hidden paradise, to rest, refresh, recuperate.

Well, my daughter and I did bring back a lot of plants from Chelsea needless to say. She has a very neglected area on the roof of her rented house just waiting to be turned into a lovely garden retreat.

Silver dishes by Gilbert Leigh Marks - one of the most remarkable exponents of floral silver chasing.
An aide-mémoire for papier-mâché, gesso and silver leaf.
 We arrive in Naples hell's kitchen and melting pot for refugees and migrants from everywhere.
 And take the ferry to Capri. My spiritual home.
 First stop as always is Buonocore for espresso and wild strawberry tartlet. Fuel for the journey.
Rest awhile in dappled sunlight.
 Time to buy fruit to take on our walk and our first adventure.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Catching up April - August 2015

April - Moving out of one very small studio and into another.
May -  Work continues, London, Chelsea Flower Show, Capri.
June -  Capri.
July -  Move into new studio.
August - Working long days with plenty of space - bliss.

April - My time in my studio at Seale Hayne in South Devon came to a natural end simply because I  needed much more space to work in. I am no stranger to change, in fact I really like it and actively seek it. I like the challenges it throws up and the new things learnt.

I moved temporarily into what really felt like a cross between a cattle market and an industrial block in an Eastern European country in the 1950's. Of course I exaggerate.
It was an experience, the reality was - a dawn chorus of early morning expletives, large white vans randomly parked in front of the front door, torn rubbish sacks ravaged by ravenous seagulls, fly tipping, heavy metal music reverberating around the unit. It was open plan. And numerous burst pipes, flooding and a leaking roof in rainy weather. However I continued to work, imagining myself in a little studio overlooking the sea from via Tragara on Capri. It is amazing what a healthy imagination can achieve. I may even have a photograph or two. All in a days work.

May - To London to see my daughter, who is getting the gardening bug and hence we are both going to Chelsea Flower Show and marvel at reconstructions of old fashioned artisans gardens.

and a Gold for a huge installation of Tyvek paper flowers - rather up my street.
and to see the wonderful Bearded Irises.

 and those of Cedric Morris, now rescued from obscurity and returning to Chelsea after an absence of over 60 years.
We went on Saturday - thats the last day when most exhibits are sold off to the public. Much excitement is displayed and even more ingenuity is required as one inevitably buys far to much for the boot of the car!

And then there are the Chelsea Pensioners in whose garden the whole show takes place every year.

I also went on a little foray to Hammersmith where William Morris used to live.
A beautiful old house needless to say -
The home of the Dove Press was also here down by the river. Thomas James Cobden Sanderson, along with engraver Emery Walker, established the Doves Press in London at the turn of the 20th century. Commissioned in 1899 by Cobden-Sanderson and Walker, punch-cutter Edward Prince’s single-sized 16 pt type, used in all of the press’s publications, was a key element of the Press’s influence on modern book design. Without doubt my favourite typeface, so I was fascinated by this story of one mans passion - Robert Green - and his remarkable recovery of enough type to re-establish it - remarkable story -
A great little pub here too - overlooking the place where the type was originally abandoned and rediscovered. 
Also I have to share this lovely tribute to enduring love - a very rare commodity.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

MARCH 2015

I have been making large papier mache platters. This process involves many layers of paper and glue plus extensive drying time followed by making and applying numerous coats of traditional gesso. My present studio is rather small for my requirements so is challenging. As a consequence I have been working in four different places - different processes in different places - lots of walking back and to. Soon I hope to be moving into a much larger and much sunnier studio where all processes can take place in the same space. 

Sunny days call as spring unfolds at the allotment and by the river where primroses, wood anemones, periwinkles, violets, wild daffodils and the first bluebells are flowering. I am starting to make a series of plaques recording the unfolding year with flowers. The process is the same process as I have used many time over the years since I first pressed flowers into porcelain and put shards of coloured glass into the impressions before firing - my first product for sale in galleries when I was in my teens. I realized then that if I can sell one I can sell a hundred and one.

So the process is - roll out some clay - terracotta will leave traces of coloured stain that looks good. Press in the flowers that you have gathered. Then roll in with a wooden rolling pin. I have marked the edge here with a wooden frame though I prefer the less controlled edge of a free hand clay pinched wall.
Begin to carefully remove the flowers - use a pin to lift the stems.
Flowers removed and impressions left behind.
This is the example where I used a wooden frame. If you choose this method make sure to thoroughly apply a releasing agent - I use Vaseline. Frame repositioned and pressed into place. Clay drawn up around the sides to prevent Plaster of Paris from seeping out before setting.
Plaster of Paris poured into cover the clay - depth dictates thickness of plaque/tile.
I made a second impression from the clay without the wooden frame. I prefer this piece - without boundaries that are so defined. I have plans to make much larger pieces that can be hung in place over inglenook fireplaces - arches of old man's beard - wild clematis - catkins over grasses and wildflowers beneath. I will also take a silicone mould so that I can made repeats. Smaller ones will be made in chocolate. 

I have to take you to a garden,
It is essential that you tell our friends.
I only have one lifetime here.

There is a void 
And the a vision.
The summer rain is felt a music.
The water and the wind whisper through eternity,
A language that we dream of.

Above the mist,
Behind the storm,
Beneath the rain.
Together in a thousand moments.
A delicate symphony of light,
Like diamonds shine and play.
Shadows fall away.
Beauty would be these and death sweet, not sad.

All an elaborate chain of life.
All an elaborate chain of love.
We went up onto Dartmoor to watch the eclipse. I mainly wanted to record the light on the landscape rather than look at the sun/moon. It all began with cloud but cleared enough to see although via my phone I only have light and shadow.

To Hill House Nursery for tea and cake in the garden with friends and to pick up a couple of fruit bushes for the allotment. This little piece of heaven is on my way from studio to home so is a favoured place for meeting up. Photo taken from their website so not quite so abundant just yet.

New beds under way.
Fruit bushes in. When I began this allotment I had visions from flights of fanciful imagination of a form of idyll reminiscent of Marie Antoinette's farm at Versailles crossed with a various French Potager gardens, however I have come back to earth somewhat and am now more inclined to the side of the homely and very traditional ramshackled British Allotment. Although after conversations with fellow allotment holders/neighbours I can't help wishing that our planning laws were broad and generous enough to be akin to Dutch, Swedish and French Allotments where you are encouraged to spent the night and/or weekends in your shed. They are wonderful. 


The Queenhithe MosaicDown by one of my favourite haunts on the foreshore of the River Thames can now be found a most wonderful mosaic charting over 2000 years of Thames life. Designed by Tessa Hunkin and made by Southbank Mosaics - I have captured it's details, alhithebeit on my i-phone. More than one million tiles cut and layered onto the 30 meter long mosaic, bordered with mudlarked pottery shards, clay pipe stems, shells and fragments of our shared social history, developed by up to 300 volunteers bringing the history of over 2000 years of Thames life to life.

Gathering and Collecting

The Plan
The Work

January 2015
Short days and long nights hunting by moonlight.
Modroc - scrim and Plaster of Paris form for displaying necklaces.
Fizz settling into his new home.
Dartmoor horizons.
Painterly via photoshop tweaking.
February 2015
Boxes from Shepherds - perfect packaging for necklaces.

iphone photos - a little blurry - of tiles - birds from the fireplace surround at Birdwood House Gallery in Totnes - every week a new exhibition of work.
Very large and exuberant paper snowdrops by Heidrun Guest from PaperWorks - a wonderful emporium run by David & Heidrun Guest that is one of if not the most interesting paper shop in the U.K 
Down to the allotment today - the mown grass marks my boundary. The stacked wood is to be used for posts and possibly a shed but most definitely a shelter for Bella who relaxes and watches me work or sunbathes and dreams.
The Lasagna method is working beautifully - all the layers have transformed into an enriched mulch and many of the larger thistles and dandelions appear to have disappeared. Now to plant the roses that have been pot bound since leaving Dartington.
Adding compost from the compost bin.

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