Monday, 31 March 2014

Artsite's Associate Artists Spring Exhibition

The handing in for the spring exhibition is today 31st of March, a birthday for some!
Here's a copy of the poster:
The first main event is the preview this Friday 4th of April from 6-9pm onwards, everyone is welcome, refreshments and a good social event.

While there, pick up one of the Artsite's new large postcards, they are fab:

and on the reverse side:

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

There really isn't a Spring in the Garden

We have had a lot of rain in the last 5 months so I didn't think too much about a squelchy area of grass by the washing line, but when the grass grew longer and lusher around the damp area, I began to wonder whether there was something different about that area. Crows began to pull some of the grass out, and blackbirds began drinking from it. Here's the original photo taken of it:

Today I took a grass rake to the area and discovered a small spring where water could clearly be seen emerging from the ground, it looks like a circular area on the photo:
I'll have more of a prod around tomorrow, but it certainly seems to be a spring, or at least I thought it was. My daughter was very sceptical about the idea of a spring suddenly appearing, and suggested I got a plumber to look at it . The fact that the 'spring' stopped when the mains water was turned off pointed to the fact it's a leaking pipe, now fixed. The spring was such a romantic idea.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A Perfect Woodstore

There's something about the way this woodstore is made with a proper roof and carefully stacked wood that is very satisfying. Old wood on the left, and new wood on the right.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Good and Bad News on the Allotment

Today was the first day I have tried to prepare the soil for planting potatoes and onion sets both of which are ready to go in now.
At first glance, the allotment looks like a right mess:
With fallen canes and lots of weeds. in an average year, none of this matters, if the ground has been turned over in the autumn, which it was, by the spring all that is required is a bit of raking and collecting up the weeds and the ground is ready to plant. Not this year, we haven't had sufficient frost to break up the clods, and far too much rain, and recently some drying winds. The result is very hard ground which will take much longer than usual to coax into shape.
The good news however is that the protection for the purple sprouting broccoli worked so the pigeons haven't eaten it:
 There were also about 4 lbs of parsnips still in the ground that I'd forgotten about, plus Swiss chard and leeks.
Here are the gorgeous parsnips, there's only one on the left that's a bit misshapen:

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Women's Art Association Exhibition and other Cardiff Joys

Last Wednesday's trip to Cardiff was so interesting that it requires 2 blog entries, part 1 was the previous one about Sunflower &I, this one covers the rest of the day.
Firstly we went to see the Women's Art association Open Exhibition at the Butetown History and Arts Centre in Bute Street:

 Above 'Across the Channel' by Gwyneth Price caught my eye, and the painting used for the poster shown in the last blog entry was also a lovely image:

It's by Shirley Anne Owen and entitled 'Garden Path, Summer'
Here's my friend Jocelyn Kynch beside her painting 'Three sofas and Concorde'
After looking at the exhibition, we looked through the postcards submitted as a fundraiser for WAA, here are a couple held up by Kathy:
More postcards including Jane's postcard can be seen on Jocelyn's blog:
From there we went down to Cardiff Bay, a real favourite of mine, it's a great area, with the fabulous John Clinch couple and their dog a popular attraction, people queue to be photographed with them:

We then went to have a look round the Pierhead building and into the Futures Gallery in there where there was a joint exhibition called 'Towards Transformation'

 Rose Gwyn's 'Labyrinth' was impressive among many impressive mosaics.

Here's an impressive fireplace in the Pierhead building, and below a detail of the fireplace.          

There are so many fabulous features in the Pierhead building, if you visit Cardiff Bay, do try and have a look at them.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Finding 'Sunflower & I' in Bute Street, Cardiff

What is 'Sunflower & I'?
 It's a florist, a cafe, a source of interesting objects shop and an art gallery, and there's a postcard exhibition opening there on the 16th of March as part of International Women's Day events.
My friend Jane has contributed to the exhibition, I handed in her postcard last Wednesday to Jocelyn Kynch, and am hoping to see some photographs of the postcard exhibition after the opening.
Here's Jane's postcard:
And the event poster with the exhibition at Butetown History and Arts Centre listed:
And a glimpse of Sunflower & I cafe/florist/gallery:
 Jay and Kathy can just be seen in the far recesses of the shop above.
 Above some of the things for sale.
 Below is the floristry part with a bit more illumination.
Their website is:
Bute Street is between the centre of Cardiff and Cardiff Bay, and the shop makes a change from the usual shopping experience. In fact it's worth a trip to Cardiff to have a look round, I'm very pleased with the Fuchsia and other lovely plant I bought from there.

Have you been to Kettle's Yard in Cambridge?

If you haven't been, Kettle's Yard certainly lives up to it's reputation, try and visit soon.
I nearly missed out on the visit because the other three people I was with wanted to look round the Fitzwilliam Museum, I was saved by the fact that Cambridge traffic was disrupted due to the Cambridge marathon, resulting in half the roads being closed. As we were driving round, suddenly the letters spelling out 'Kettle's Yard' appeared on the side of a building at the side of the road, andwe were able to turn into the road beside Kettle's Yard.
Kettle's Yard is the former home of Jim and Helen Ede, Jim was a curator at the Tate Gallery in the 1920s and befriended some of the most promising artists working in London at the time including Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Christopher Wood. He began to collect contemporary art, and eventually in 1953 moved to Cambridge and looked for somewhere to display it.
In addition to a house comprised of 4 houses knocked into one, there is also a purpose built  gallery which at the moment is showing a wonderful exhibition entitled 'Art and Life 1920-1931' with work by Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis and William Staite Murray
Here's the catalogue cover:

And Ben Nicholson's 'Cornish Port'
Winifred Nicholson's flower paintings were fabulous, so bright, lively and conveyed her love of flowers so well, I've included 'Polyanthus and Cineraria' here:
I loved them so much, I bought 6 of Winifred's flower paintings on postcards for £3, here's 'Striped Jug of Flowers':
After looking round the gallery we looked round the house which remains as it did when the Edes left in 1973. The experience of visiting the house is wonderful, it's so well thought out, so comfortable and a delight. Jim Ede wanted it to be a place where people would 'find a home and a welcome, a refuge of peace and order, of the visual arts and music...a continuing way of which stray objects, stones, glass, pictures, sculpture' are arranged in 'light and space';.
Here's the cover of the guide book which gives a glimpse of a table top:
There is  more information about current events on the website:
Kettle's Yard is beside St. Peter's Church, also worth a look:
 And after the delights of Kettle's Yard, there's lots more to do in Cambridge including of course a punt down the river.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Gainsborough's House in Sudbury

A visit to Gainsborough's House last Saturday was filled with unexpected pleasures. The house itself looks fairly average for a house in the old part of Sudbury, but once inside, it has depth and height not anticipated initially. The first paintings on show are an exhibition of work by Richard Wilson (1713-1782) and Masterworks from the Ford Collection, of particular interest to me were the watercolours of Moorish Spain and the Middle East by John Frederick Lewis (1805-1876).
From there onto the magnificent Gainsborough portraits  painted wherever he found patronage and critical success, this included moves to London, Bath and Ipswich although he never lost the influence of his native town Sudbury. Although known for his portraits, Gainsborough also produced many other rural scenes reminiscent of Edward Palmer's work.
Photographs were not allowed, but here's a copy of the latest handout with Mrs Mary Cobbold with her Daughter Anne:

From the house, we wandered round the garden where there was a violet nodding in the wind, its colour still obvious:
And a very old Mulberry tree:
 And below the back of the house showing a rounded wall:
Lastly the bookshop held some delights, notably a book on a recent exhibition entitled 'Diana and Actaeon' featuring Gainsborough's painting of the scene depicting Diana bathing with her nymphs while being watched by Actaeon about to be turned into a stag which is subsequently hunted and torn apart by his hounds. Here's the front of the catalogue:
Also I leafed through a 'must have' copy of a book entitled 'Edward Bawden and his Circle'

 It's available elsewhere, and enjoyed by 'Dove Grey Reader Scribbles', who also likes Ravilious and Bawden, writes:
'In fact to be very honest I had really ordered a copy of Edward Bawden and His Circle by Malcolm Yorke for the pictures. I have a growing collection of Eric Ravilious-related books but nothing on Edward Bawden, and that was a balance to be redressed given their close friendship and artistic collaboration. At 271 pages the book is certainly hefty and is generous with illustrations, but it is also blessed with a genuinely interesting biography of Edward Bawden's life.'

More on the museum
And here's the town hall in Sudbury looking quite showy:

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Farewell to the Landing Arts Gallery

Jaime Bullock has been organising exhibitions at the Landing Arts Gallery on the first floor of the Arts Centre in Devizes Road for the last 2 years. There have been some memorable exhibitions, each had an opening night with drinks and nibbles and an entertaining group of people, and now that the Arts Centre management is changing, Jaime has given up the running of the space.
Hopefully there will continue to be exhibitions there, but from an exhibitors point of view, the opening times at the weekends aren't great. Certainly when we have used it for Open Studios, out of our usual 12 hours of opening per weekend, artists were only able to open for 3 of those at the Arts Centre.
Gordon Dickinson took some great photos of the evening, and put them on Facebook, they are here:
I took a few photos, only two of which are worth showing:
 And just one of two paintings in close up, but didn't photograph the information.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Finding out more about Social Media to Publicise Swindon Open Studios

I spent a very useful day today at Stroud Valleys Artspace at an event hosted by Gabriella Smith of Open Studios Network about how to use social media to advertise your open studios event.
It was an interesting and entertaining day led by Graham Todd who introduced us to the many different forms of social media we could employ, here he is below.
 And Jane talking to Rosie about how to achieve the blue and purple hair colours when she should have been discussing Facebook and Tweeting.
 Here am I asking for help getting my phone onto the WiFi:
 Below a general view of the room and a few people wandering around in a break
So what have I done as a result of the day?
I have tried using my Twitter account more, it's and adding a photo taken last weekend as my photo:
I thought I looked OK until my daughter pointed out my eyes were closed.
After the event we wandered around Stroud before catching the train back to Swindon and admired the lovely former art college with faces of Rosetti, Faraday, Newton and various others just visible:

 And below Queen Victoria graces the end of the building.

Pat Elmore's Sheep in the Courtyard at the Central Library

Our exhibition in the Central Library corridor has already attracted a lot of attention, partly due to the fact that we have a flock of Pat Elmore's sheep in the courtyard:
and also 2 of her sculptures on plinths:
 and together

Here's a poster advertising the exhibition with work by Kimmy Thomson featured as the background to the poster: