Sunday, 27 October 2013

Morning Glory Magic and a New Sort of Rudbeckia Flower

It's almost the end of October, we haven't had a frost and many days have been pleasantly warm and almost summery. In the garden, the Morning Glory flowers are still numerous, with as many as 10 this morning.

The other endlessly fascinating plants in the garden are the Rudbeckias, I sowed some annual ones 2 years ago, they have been through the composting system and now seeded throughout the garden. Maybe the seeds were F1 hybrids which don't breed true, or maybe they have been crossed with perennial Rudbeckias because there is a great variety of flower colours and sizes. Today I discovered a totally new 'frilly' flowered Rudbeckia:
Totally unlike any of the others which look like this:

As you can see, there is quite a range within the normal flower type.
maybe this perennial Rudbeckia had an influence:
This summer Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy may also have interbred with these flowers, so next year will produce even more interesting flowers I hope.
What will St Jude, the expected storm, do to these gorgeous flowers still blooming into late autumn?

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A Visit to Stroud's Museum in the Park and Lunch at the Butcher's Arms in Sheepscombe

On another of those last days of summer/autumn that we have had so many of recently, we set off on the train to Stroud, from Swindon, it takes less than half an hour. From the station the intention was to find the footpath heading north, for a transition town, it seems unusual that Stroud does not publicise its footpaths at all. Beside a modern ram sculpture

 there was however a map that mentioned the Museum in the Park, and since the OS map I had showed a 'M' sign near where we wanted to walk, we attempted to find the Museum.
It's in a fabulous setting beside a fabulous Cedar of Lebanon:
 The Museum is in here with a new part attached shown below the main building.
And on the side of the house there's a great sign:
Inside the museum is carefully arranged with great displays:
An old fireplace with masses of things on the mantlepiece:
And the strangest watering cans:
Above tools found in the area.
There are two galleries, one featured work by Matthew Harris entitled 'Material Matters':

More on Matthew's
There was also a large piece in the foyer area loaned by Nick Cudworth:
After an hour and a half of pleasant distractions and walking in totally the wrong direction, we set off for Sheepscombe, a beautiful village, approached on this occasion from a wood. We could see the church and the pub before we descended from the wood:

And arriving at the Butcher's Arms before 2.30pm, we were able to have lunch as well.

The route back was through Painswick and the route through Painswick valley in glorious sunshine.

Apple Juicing Event in the Secret Garden at Queen's Park

Last Sunday SCAN, Swindon Climate Action Network, and SALGA
Swindon Allotment and Garden Association held a joint juicing event in Queen's Park's Secret Garden. It was a well run event and really good fun, I'll make an effort to publicise any future juicing events. On arrival, everyone was given a board and a knife to cut the fruit into quarters after washing it if that hadn't already been done. I sat opposite someone I used to teach who was there with his son, it was a great opportunity to meet others over a bit of chopping and slicing:
After being chopped, the fruit it put into a scratter which grinds it to a pulp
 The pears I took are shown below after being in the scratter.
 They were now ready to go into the press which is lined with hessian
 Now the lid is placed on the scratted fruit
 And the jug put in place to collect pear juice which is squeezed out of the fruit by turning a handle to squash the fruit as shown below:
From 3 buckets of pears, approximately 10 pints of delicious pear juice was extracted, the remaining pulp was given to Vowles Farm to feed to their pigs. Even with the juice removed, the pulp tasted really good.

 Exchanging jugs and a jugful of pear juice:
Refreshments were provided by Vowley Farm, they can just be seen beyond the green and white gazebo, they produce all their meat organically
Here's their banner:

The last time I looked through the gate at the Secret Garden was about 3 years ago when there was very little remaining of the former rose garden. At that time, Paul Dixon and others were appealing for people to help them develop a community garden on the site. A few years down the line, it's looking really good, with a vegetable garden, a pond, a wet area, some flower beds like this one made form railway sleepers in an interesting way:
There were some lovely flowers like this Dahlia:
To find out more about the Secret garden, visit:

The pear juice is still as tasty as the day it was squeezed after 6 days in the fridge.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Christine Smith at the Beehive

I missed the opening night of Christine's work at the Beehive and so took a few photos of the exhibition the other night when listening to Ben Sures.
Those of you who know the Beehive will know that there are 2 main walls where exhibitions are hung, to the left and right of the window of the bar on the right as you enter the pub.

 Above an Avebury series of drawings, and below the rest of the exhibition
And a close up of the pictures above:
Do go along and have a look.

My Alternative Gallery

It's not easy displaying works by other artists in a house where an artist lives, creates and displays their work. A solution can be to use a downstairs toilet as a 'Lav Gallery', here's mine, largely featuring the work of Jane Milner-Barry:

On the top row, 3 fabulous flower paintings which were above the door to Jane's studio during SOS, I couldn't believe they didn't sell, so bought them myself.
Underneath a lovely painting done in the grounds of a cottage we stayed in near Hay on Wye, and below that an Agave in Madrid's Botanic Gardens.
On the top right, there's another MB of flowers which was a wedding card.
There are also cards of paintings by Eric Ravilious and Louis Turpin and embroidery by Janet Haigh.

Anna Dillon's paintings of the North Wessex Downs in the Library Corridor in October

Anna Dillon has painted a series of 10 of the most iconic features of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the paintings can be seen with text explaining more about each feature, in the Central Library corridor adjacent to the cafe.
Above a poster advertising the exhibition and displaying all 10 works.
The corridor display, beautifully hung and well documented paintings.
 Above the 'Kennet and Avon Canal', with an example of the sort of detail Anna has employed for each painting.

 Above 'Wittenham Clumps'.
 'Wilton Windmill' above.
Anna has written quite a bit about herself, included here in case you are unable to visit the exhibition.
Many more things happen at the library, I'll add a list below soon.

Is this a trompe l'oeil?

Which is a real bottle?

In this case, because the red wine has been drunk, it's very obviously the bottle on the left.

I looked up the term trompe l'oeil, and from the definition below, I am not sure the painted wooden bottle qualifies.
The fine art term trompe l'oeil is French and means to "trick the eye."
In visual art, the French term is used (as there is no English word) for the style of painting that fools the eye into thinking the painting is something real. It is often used in murals to give the appearance that a solid wall is a space opening up further into the distance.
Trompe l'oeil is also a decorative painting finish that transforms a plain plaster wall into one that looks like speckled marble.
Renaissance painters were fond of using trompe l'oeil painting techniques.

The October Window Gallery

After looking at the Swines exhibition in the main Artsite Gallery, I walked past the Window Gallery, it looked so lovely, I took a general photo and then a few close ups:
 The arrangement of the work is very good, and both signs look good. So much better than obscuring the 'Window Gallery' lettering and having the framer's sign above the window!
Above Sam Silverton's ceramic pieces, and her details.
Above a drawing of the model at Juliet Woods' drawing session on the 5th of October. You will need to go to the Window Gallery to see it without reflections.
A glorious mosaic torso possibly by Lynette Thomas.
Above mosaics by Paula Sullivan, again with reflections.
More reflections, and no attributions on these.
I think these may be Sally Taylor's paintings.
More on the artists taking part here and also details of how to hire the Window Gallery. I realise comparing this exhibition with SOS ones, it's much better not to have paintings behind the pillar in the window.