Thursday, 22 October 2015

Andy Tucker's Wonderful Pieces

Andy Tucker wasn't visited by anyone from the committee over the two open studios weekends, so I decided to ask him if I could visit and take a few photos of what he had left. I have some photos of his wonderful wooden items, but unfortunately no photos of him demonstrating how to use a pole lathe.
 Above is a small table, with detail of the wood grain below:

 Here's a stool with detail of the wood grain above and stool below

 Above the small table with two stools in the background, and below a bowl and some coat hooks
 And here are some of those wooden plates, or they could be cheese boards
 I'm not sure I've done the items justice, it's hard to convey their beauty in the photos.

Why not Get an Allotment?

There probably hasn't been a better time in the last few years to get an allotment than now. There are various reasons for this, there was a surge in take up of allotments about 6 years ago when people realised how wonderful it is to have a piece of land to grow your own vegetables and fruit. At the same time however, it was recognised that some people didn't want a whole allotment, at least until they knew they could put in the necessary work into it. Many were divided in half, effectively increasing the number of new allotments, because as each allotment became available, it was divided up. This means that on many sites, including mine, the Shrivenham Road site, there are vacant plots available now.
So what should you do if you think you'd like your own plot of land to grow things? Firstly visit the council's website: where you'll find out where the 26 allotment sites are in the town, and instructions on how to apply for one.
I was down there today when I met Kim and Naj who I'd previously met last year at a Christmas fair at the Pilgrim Centre, they were looking for allotment 2b, the vacant plot next to mine!!
Time to be encouraging about how easy it would be to get it into full working order with a bit of weed clearance and digging; I think they were convinced, they took photos anyway, and so did I:
You can just see in the bottom left where I dug a bit of the ground to show the wonderful soil.
Keen to encourage more people to experience the joys of allotmenting, I've taken a few more photos over the last few weeks:

 These two allotments were wonderfully productive
 This was one of the largest sunflowers I've seen
 And here's another weedy one, just waiting for a bit of clearing to be done:
I've had great success with sweetcorn this year, particularly with the variety 'Swift', much sweeter than the old variety 'Kelvedon Glory'. Here are 2 cobs with a bread knife to show how big they are
 The strange thing about the damsons on my allotment is that they are much smaller than the ones off a recently purchased tree, variety 'Merryweather'.
 Here are the damsons on the allotment tree, probably an almost wild variety which came originally from my Father's garden
I've only recently thought I might like to sit around the allotment rather always work on it, and found this table and 2 chairs dumped in the car park this week, so they are now rather jauntily arranged in freshly dug ground.
 There's not much to see at the moment but lots of freshly dug ground
but it's very satisfying to get it dug over before the autumn rain makes it too heavy to dig.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

An Overnight Stay in Weston Super Mare

Having visited Weston Super Mare recently in an attempt to visit Dismaland, and written about it on 26 September, I thought I'd like to make a return visit, and stay overnight and explore the area. I loved the area around Birnbeck Pier, so thought Claremont Cresecnt would be the ideal place to stay, I was hoping to see a magnificent sunset and some more of the blue skies experienced on the last visit. quite a tall order for the 11/12 October. Some brief research revealed there were 2 hotels in Claremont Crescent, The Anchor Head and Dauncey's, both with excellent views if you had a room facing the sea, although possibly half the rooms don't face the sea. I decided to book Dauncey's Hotel, and rang up to reserve a room with a view of the sea hoping to be able to see the sunset on Sunday evening, and glorious sunshine on Monday morning.
On arrival, we went for a walk to the north of Weston, through the wooded Worlebury Hill and through Kewstoke, and found the wonderful Monk's Steps linking the two areas
 There is are a lot of Umbellifers flowering at the  moment, here's a lovely example of one:
 Below there's a view of the steps from below
 We were hoping to reach Woodspring Priory and the coast to the north of there, but walked along the aptly named Sand Bay to its most northerly point and came back again. You can see from the view of Birnbeck Pier that the day wasn't sunny, although there is a slight break in the cloud
 Arriving back around 5.30pm, and after a few hiccups, we sat down in our room with a view of the sea and Steepholm in the distance:
Still a bit dull, but I thought if I sat beside the window, I'd get a view of the sun going down maybe, I looked up every so often, and suddenly saw the sun going down behind Steepholm
 And below almost disappeared:
 As the sun disappeared, the sunset just got better and better and for about half an hour, the sea and sky were red:

 I've added lots of photos because I don't want to leave any out, they show the amazing development of the sunset.

 Until there was a gradual diminishing of the colour:
 And it was almost over
The sky remained a bit pink for a while, and I'd experienced the most amazing sunset after a very unpromising start.
The next day dawned bright and sunny, with marvellous blue skies, almost as if they'd been ordered. Here's the view of Birnbeck pier from the balcony of the hotel
 This is one of the nearby buildings at Knightstone silhouetted against the blue sky
 and another:
 I love the walkway beside the mariner lake, it really does look as though people are walking on water.
 It was decided that  we'd walk south on Monday, and ended up on Uphill Hill at St.Nicholas Church, the Old Church of St Nicholas at Uphill, Somerset, England, dates from around 1080, and was built on the site of previous places of worship. It stands on a cliff top overlooking Brean Down and the mouth of the River Axe with great views for miles around.
 A tower near the church has signboards around the top of it like the one below so you can identify features in the distance
What a fab couple of days, I'm hoping to visit again.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Kurt Jackson at the Victoria Art Gallery

I'm on the  Victoria Art Gallery's mailing list, and was idly looking through the email they sent to find out what exhibitions were coming up and was delighted to find there was a Kurt Jackson
exhibition entitled 'Place', opening on the 10 October and running until 3 January 2016. Not only a KJ exhibition, but also a talk given by him on the opening day at 11.30am.
I arrived in plenty of time, about 10.15am, and watched the gallery fill up, and levels of excitement reach fizzing point as 11.30am approached. I bought a copy of the book accompanying the exhibition, the poster, some postcards and cards before the talk in the hope I could get the book signed.
 Above the poster for the exhibition which is the culmination of a project where Kurt wrote to 33 people asking them if they'd like to take part in the project  to choose a location somewhere in Britain that has special meaning to or for them. If they wanted to take part,  they were to write to Kurt naming the place they had chosen, followed by a page about why that place is important to them, taking whatever angle they wanted, then send it to Kurt with any instructions to special times of year or day to visit it. In return, Kurt would give everyone taking part a limited edition etching of 'his place'. He also produced three paintings or responses in the form of mixed media collections or bronzes or ceramics, photographs of which appear in the book 'Place' which accompanies the exhibition, along with the writing from people asked to join the project by naming their place.
I took photographs of the paintings I loved the most before Kurt gave his talk, here they are:
The one above is one from Kurt's residency at Glastonbury, and although Michael Eavis was one of the writers, this wasn't one of his responses to Worthy View, but is glorious.

The photo above shows the gallery space at the Victoria Art Gallery with two large paintings at the end of the room, and a few people gathered by 10.30am.
Above is Bat Hall, Dorset the painting is called 'Summer's evening, Bat hall, pigeon coo, rook caw', chosen by Ian Collins, a writer and curator whose books include the best selling monograph on John Craxton.
Above this is 'And behind me the cliffs of Penarth are slipping and whispering', from Penarth Head, chosen by Philip Gross, poet, a writer for children and professor of creative writing at the University of South Wales.
The painting above inspired by Chalk Ford, Scorriton, Devon called 'Midge nibble, stream trickle', was suggested by poet Alice Oswald.
Above 'Frozen Loch Morlich, ice crack, chaffinch song, geese honk' from the Cairngorms chosen by Robert Macfarlane, author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places and The Old Ways.
This is 'It's all so wet. Bristol Docks. Sirens, traffic, sparrow cheep' , and below
 'Scorcher Femi Kuti on the Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury.', a massive painting measuring 200x320cm
I did take more photos of favourite paintings, but they weren't very clear; it's of course best to go and see the exhibition for yourself.
I was very pleased with this photo of Kurt Jackson during his talk, possibly talking about large canvasses. I've now almost read the book 'Place', it's very moving and has changed the way I feel about my sense of place. A fab experience hearing Kurt Jackson speak about his love of the environment and interpreting it through his projects.