Friday, 30 April 2010

.. and while on the subject of food

Jean-Simeon Chardin, Basket of Peaches and Red and White Grapes with Wine Cooler and Stemmed Glass Oil on canvas (1759)

"Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine - good God, how fine. It went down soft, pulpy, slushy, oozy - and its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large beatified Strawberry"
(from The Letters of John Keats (1795-1821))

Helen Dunmore, novelist and poet, describes (My Hero: John Keats) how for her "at school, poems were all about meaning, and that did'nt correspond to what I experienced when I tried to write them. Keats knew that you could write with a nectarine in one hand, and the juice would run into a poem".

I like this thought and I believe that the importance of the senses currently tends to be sidelined in favour of the conceptual and the rational. I love rationality as well and think there it has its own poetry, but that it needs to be balanced with the unpredictability of the senses. It has taken me a long time to accept this. SORRY THIS IS RATHER A PONDEROUS POST but I have wanted to include for some weeks.

Inverleith House and a Russian restaurant in Edinburgh

An image from Morton's 2002 exhibition in Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

Today I went into Edinburgh, mainly to get some paper from print workshop for my Open Studios preparation. But I took the opportunity of visiting Inverleith House in the Botanic Gardens to see the exhibition by Victoria Morton.

I admire Morton's painting, as well as her strong feminist agenda.
Her work has three aspects: the social role of painting (or its folk lore), her personal experiences, and her engagement with the materials. I was interested to see that she acknowledges how important "bodily drives" are, as well as conceptual exploration, in complex image making.

In this exhibition she includes small exploratory works on paper or board, as well as sculptural pieces. These are shown alon
gside large "completed" canvases, which show all the enviable complexity and beauty I associate with Morton's work. I was still feeling a little tired from my cold today, so only stayed a few moments at Inverleith, otherwise I could write more.

On the way back to city centre I
stopped at a small cafe in Canonmills for a quick lunch. Memorable, also. This place, called "Russian Passion) (no website as yet) is the only authentic Russian restaurant in Scotland and is a site of pilgrimage for many. I had cabbage soup and then some ordinary looking shiny bread rollls, piroski?, which were deliciously filled with cabbage, or else a mixture of sausage and cabbage.

This particular bodily experience was of the highest quality. Tastes and textures were delicate but robust, and everything felt as though it included that vital ingredient of love and care. A rare experience.

I do not always feel that great on my city trips. Perhaps I am just unaccustomed to the bustle and buzz! But I get such a delayed boost from the visits to Edinburgh, Glasgow and far beyond.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Those screens again

Halfway stage for screenprinted silk scarves

I know I have quite a bit of new work to do, and fairly soon. But today I did not yet have the energy. And I needed to sort out my messy silk screens first. Some needed new mesh, others needed a new border of gum tape plus varnish protection, others need to go to the jet wash to remove remnants of photostencil. So I got started on this. These jobs are such an important part of my work, and they prime and balance me, too, for when I really need to collect up all my energy! Then it flows naturally.

Tomorrow I will go to print studio but not to work as I still have cold symptoms and it is anti social behaviour to spread those around. Just to buy some paper.

I tried out some thin blue stencil liquid to make a pattern direct onto mesh. I like that way of working. But...I have had this product for a VERY long time. How strange that only now is it making sense to use it. I think my experiences at the print studio have taught me so much and helped me be more confident about new possibilities!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Doing what it takes

I seem to be writing the same thing over and over this week. But here goes again.

I have cancelled all my appointments this week on grounds of not wishing to spread cold. But today I drove into Edinburgh to Ikea store in order to get frames for Open Studio exhibition.

It was such a treat. An easy quiet drive, then a different world, one of relaxed free-spending folk enjoying themselves in the beautiful store. I bought some non-work things, too, like a few new mugs, plate, bowls. My own showing distinct and depressing signs of chipping and cracking so time to throw out or retire them to workshop. Also a mini standard lamp for sitting room, one which works, looks elegant and does not tip over all the time. And a letter file for desk. All things which really enhance my existence.

For a long time I have been in extreme frugal mode of non-consumerism. If something does the job, why get something else? I figured. I used to be a joyful spender, though, and today I "reverted" to that pleasure. A little bit of something new and shiny heals the soul.
I must remember to do this slightly more often. It feels so good, like a sweet reward or gift to myself.

The garden is a joy, too. There is a lot to do, but it feels this year like a friend, especially after the savage winter we have all survived.

Election fever continues. Only a week to go. I have never felt engaged by the campaigns before, but this time is different. Today my heart went out to an exhausted Gordon Brown speaking his mind about a member of public and forgetting he was still miked-up. What were his people doing to allow this? Someone will be for it.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Low key but getting things done....

... like sleep and more sleep. More seriously, even though I have been laid low with big cold and general exhaustion over the past few days, it has been the chance to live at a civilised unforced pace for a bit and surprising how many big things have quietly been resolved.

For example I have sorted out the tacky sticky business of what shows to do for the rest of the year and taken the big step of doing Christmas shows in Newcastle and London, as well as on my home turf of Edinburgh. Now the pattern is set ( , I can relax. I have done a good deal of thinking during the first few months of the year, set up new structures and explored new ideas, now I can benefit from that and let it run for a while.

I have also planted much of the veg garden (only with potatoes so far, but at least I know they will grow and be eaten by me rather than slugs or rabbits), done the yearly thing of buying bag of compost and some little bedding plants for the hanging baskets.

And I am starting to think about my exhibition for the Open Studios event in June. So exciting!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

James Shaw the tai chi equestrian

Audrey, James and Gillian (l-r) - out of focus but the best picture!

Last weekend down in beautiful Dumfries doing a workshop with James Shaw, the tai chi equestrian teacher from USA. Someone kindly lent me a pony so I was able to join in the riding part of the clinic. Halfway through my lesson the pony stopped to say an emphatic "hello" to a lady sitting among spectators.

I was thrilled to discover later that the lady was Audrey Townley, also a famous equestrian expert, who wrote a book called "The Natural Horse". When I started riding and being with horses nearly 20 years ago, this book had just been published, and was one of my first purchases. What a pleasure to meet Audrey and under such appropriate circumstances.

James teaching Lynda

Getting a weekend off

Big relief to get a weekend off and do basics like tidy house and tackle garden - also just to get time to hang ou
t in beautiful weather.

See (left) how much there is to do

Blackbird singing its heart out in the rowan tree, first sign of robin following me around garden hoping for worms and insects. I thought they had disappeared over the icy winter.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Back to basics

Recent lithographic prints inspired by visit to Berlin in 2006
. I am glad to have time to return to printing on paper, and my interests in "experienced space".

Monday, 19 April 2010

Release and relief, getting rid of toxicity by working in a natural way with the dyes.

How strange. I have been working for months to get depth and "meaning" into my work, give it some strength and structure, and ended up in rather an arid place. I was not allowing very much "right brain" and sense of the physical into what I was doing.

This weekend I have been working with a a tai chi master both on foot and while riding a horse. Suddenly today I began to be more spontaneous, abandoning the silk screen (knowledge gained at great labour) for sponging over bits of paper and tape to give a shape, enjoying the mottled moving effect of sponge and brush rather than the flat screen. In the process a lot of bottled up feelings dissipated! I feel tired all over as well.

Today is the first time I have felt like writing the blog for a while. Picture to follow.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Blog with website attached

Good to be back in blogosphere.

I have just reconstructed my website in time for the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate, Yorkshire this weekend.

I owe much to this blog, firstly because I am far more relaxed about creating work online, secondly because I find myself clearer about my priorities, that is, to develop an identity that is not entirely based on textiles.

There is more to do within the website, but further pages will have to wait until after this show!