22 December 2012

Holiday Prep

Happy Yule & Midwinter Solstice to everyone!

I’m pleased to be across the solstice and back to days where the sunlight is returning.

There were no walks to carved rocks or photos of the sun shining through the trees this year.  Its not stopped raining for weeks (so it seems) and the sun hasn’t been out to play for a while.

In preparation for the holidays I’ve ignored the house, but have written all the cards, purchased presents and wrapped everything in hand printed wrapping paper (the Indian printing blocks are wonderful for this).

As a displacement activity I’ve made two skirts from tablecloths and then procion dyed them.
Excuse the quality of the picture – taken on the phone on a very windy day.


Yesterday I made my first ever wreath – using moss.  Paula’s wreath was very neat and tidy, mine is wild and shaggy!

Its now on display on the hall cupboard door with the birds hanging down in front (these are a permanent fixture – I seem to have a passion for “dangly” things in the house!)

moss Wreath

If it wasn’t raining so hard I’d be out collecting more moss and making more of these, lovely to use my hands in a different way and to make more practical items. 

Below is a photo of a rush pot I made a few weeks ago on a workshop at Etal– I added purple hemp thread for some contrasting colour.  It was a lovely day out meeting new people.


11 December 2012


Near Rothbury, a special place for many reasons, not least because its the place were we got engaged.

This is the most spectacular rock on the site (there are several others).

Lordenshaws rock art2

Rugged beauty of the land combined with art and mystery.

Lordenshaws rock art4Lordenshaws rock artLordenshaws rock art3Simonside

Looking towards Simonside from the Hill Fort. 

Lots of information in the Northumberland Rock Art Database here

10 December 2012

Jack Frost is out and about

When I was a little girl I believed utterly and truly in Jack Frost.
More than the Tooth Fairy, more even than Santa (well Jack Frost came more often).

Mother Natures Earth Magic at work in the garden.

Frosty leaves
In glorious Technicolour for the hit of yellows / oranges / greens / browns.

Frosty leaves 5

Frosty leaves B&W

B&W for the forms and shapes.
Hidden worlds under the leaves.

2 December 2012

Another course

As the MA in Archaeology is on hold for now I’ve signed up for another Oxford University course “Islamic Art & Architecture”. 

Turkey Basin

Basin, Turkey, probably Iznik. 1545.
V&A Museum

So looking forward to the start in mid-January.

The areas you will cover in this course are:
• Introduction and a starting point.
• Muslim places of worship and devotion.
• Calligraphy and arts of the Qur’an.
• Painting and figural representation in Islam.
• Ceramics of the Muslim world.
• Muslim metalwork.
• Islamic ornament: Geometry, Arabesque and Calligraphy.
• Arts of the book: Painted and illuminated manuscripts.
• Gardens and Palaces.
• Funerary landscape: tombs, mausoleums, and gardens.

By the end of the course:
You will understand:
• the main characteristics of Islamic art and architecture and its regional and dynastic diversity
• the different interpretations of works of art
• the significance of context and patronage for the development of Islamic art and architecture
And you will be able to:
• identify, interpret, and evaluate a range of images and source materials
• use the relevant technical vocabulary in discussing the subject

Lots to do before January though!

1 December 2012

London Part 4 – Tate Britain.

A first ever visit to Tate Britain was the afternoon activity.
I was in heaven with the main exhibition. More information
here and here.

When I walked into the room of Burne-Jones paintings I audibly gasped out loud. 
He’s my favourite painter and has been for many, many years. 
I love many styles and many artists work, but only BJ makes my spine tingle, my eyes widen and my jaw drop (I swear I did this too).
Here are a few of my favourites.

Ophelia by Millais

The detail on this dress was stunning.  Go look it up on Googleartproject and zoom in (see below).

Mariana by Millas

Ah yes, don’t we know that feeling of a stiff back and neck after sewing?

Love among the ruins.  Burne-Jones.

Am looking into getting a large poster of this work for the studio / bedroom.

Look here for more images.  What a wonderful resource at http://www.googleartproject.com

Other images at the Tate Britain were wonderful too – many of which I hadn’t seen before.


Tacita Dean.  Majesty 2006.  Gouache and photograph mounted on paper.


Frank Bowling.  Detail of Pandora’s Box I. 1974.  Acrylic on canvas.

tate pollock

Think this is Pollock?

Art & Language (Michael Baldwin; Mel Ramsden).  Portrait of V.I. Lenin with Cap, in the Style of Jackson Pollock III.  1980. Enamel paint on canvas
A random mess, but not, at the same time.
Official picture here.

tate turner 7

Whistler. Detail of Crespuscle in flesh colour and green: Valparaiso. 1866.
Oil paint on canvas.
Official picture here.

Despite the unwieldy title I was drawn to the very ethereal colours.

When you visit Tate Britain you can’t ignore Turner.
My good friend had advised me spend time in the Turner galleries and print room and I can honestly say I was utterly blown away.

Have seen Turner’s work in 2011 in the annual exhibition in Edinburgh. 
But the work in the Tate was so varied and so ……wonderful (have I used that word too much in this post? Probably).

Joseph Mallord William Turner, 'Norham Castle, Sunrise' circa 1845

Joseph Mallord William Turner.  Norham Castle, Sunrise c.1845
Oil in Canvas.
Official picture here.

Turner made several drawings and paintings in Northumberland.  Norham is very close to home, making it all the more special.

tate turner 2

Joseph Mallord William Turner. 
Dunstanburgh Castle: The Lilburn Tower at Sunrise. 1797.

From Turners North of England Sketchbook.
Official picture here

tate turner 3

This might not look very interesting, but it was!  Its a wall, with a map of Europe showing how the colour palette Turner used changed with his travels.
More information and a better photograph here.

I stopped and listened to a gallery talk and was amazed at how much I learnt in 10 minutes. 
War in Europe stopped a “grand tour” when Turner was younger, however when he did start to travel his work changed immensely.

The main features being “yellow” (Turner started to use a lot of yellow to bring light and warmth to his paintings) and “perspective” which he used very successfully to draw the viewer right into the picture. 
I tried to capture this with the photo below, where you can almost step into the picture and walk along the lane.

tate turner 1Turner.  Frosty Moring. 1813.
Oil on canvas.
Official picture here

tate turner 4

Turner.  Music Party, East Cowes Castle. c.1835.
Oil on canvas.
This is an unfinished canvas but I loved the atmosphere and colours.
Something in it just clicked with me.
Official picture here.

Details….. I loved the details and the figures that were there, but weren’t there.  Details only suggested, but also visible.

tate turner 5

tate turner 6

Turner. Details from Venice, Bridge of Sighs.  1840
Oil on canvas.
Official picture here.

A book landed on my doorstep not long after I arrived home.
Turner in the Tate Collection

I caught the 17.00 train from Kings Cross > Berwick Upon Tweed where DS and DH collected me and drove me home; one exhausted, but very happy and inspired stay-at-home mummy/artist/tutor/ex-biologist!

Did I really cover all that ground from the 11.55am arrival in London on Friday to leaving at 5pm on Saturday?
Can’t wait to to do all again in the spring.

29 November 2012

London Part 3

Saturday morning and all was quiet in the Medieval Galleries at the V&A museum.

Unfortunately at this point my camera picked up some dust. 
Classy, civilised and well educated dust maybe, but a pain in the *** dust. 
Please excuse  any “shadows”.

V&A London british galleries 10

Below are two small items which caught my eye for their shape, colour, design and pure craftsmanship.
Who wore them?  Where did they go?  What did they see and hear?

V&A London british galleries 8

Fastener 500-700 CE. Silver, partial gilded, with garnets. Northern France.

V&A London british galleries 9

The Milton Brooch 600-700CE. 
Gold, silver, bronze, garnets and shells.  England.

V&A London 2q

Tunics; Childs 450-650, Adults 670-870. 
Linen and wool, Egypt.

One and a half THOUSAND years old.
Mind blowing to see textiles of such an age and in such good condition.
I stood and looked for quite a while.

The next room I found by mistake as I was trying to get from A>B (as it turns out I couldn’t as it was locked and had to go via C,D Z and E).
Its the only room I loved and hated in equal measure.

V&A London 20

This is the National Art Library. 
Such wonderful old books looking totally wrong with the modern art.
And so totally untouchable.
My fingers were itching to open these.

I wanted to set up a home in here and start at one end and keep reading until I grew old!  (I know another blogger who would probably agree with me, actually no doubt she would!)
You can access the catalogue here.

V&A London 19

From books back to textiles and costumes.

V&A London british galleries 4

Spitafields Silk. 
I give a talk on the “Story of Silk” and have always been intrigued by this exotic fabric. 
More information here
Excuse the light, it was very, very dark in this room. 
No, that's not quite true.  It was very, very, very ,very dark.

V&A London british galleries 5

Burse for the Great Seal of England. 1560-1600.
Silk velvet with applied linen canvas, embroidered in silver and silver gilt, silk, sequins and beads.

This piece of embroidery has long been a favourite and despite the very dark conditions I wanted to get a photo.
Of all the textiles in the museum this is THE piece of embroidery I would take home.
It would look good in my red/gold sitting room.

Elizabeth I might even have handled this. 
What tales could this item tell?

A better photograph is available here.

That's its for the V&A, for now.
But all being well I’ll be back in the spring to see this.

25 November 2012

London Part 2b

Where were we?  Ah yes, in India. (Its taken me far too long to finish this post, I started over a week ago I think, so I better get on hadn’t I?) The Chola bronze in the centre is stunning.
More information on these amazing sculptures here. 
After taking the online course on the History of Indian Art it makes it easier to understand the context of the items seen in (the rather sterile) context of the museum setting. 
As the MA is financially out of reach atm I’m considering signing up for the Islamic Art course next, but that's another story.

V&A London 17

I love looking a the the shapes and patterns. 
I find this Eastern Art is just so beautiful and pleasing to the eye.

V&A London 16

The Jina Rishabhanatha, Uttar Pradesh, Northern Indian. 800-900.

V&A London 18

Vishnu.  Eastern Indian or Bangladesh 1100-1200.

The journey continues from India to Old Britain.....

The British Galleries contain some super objects, so important in the history of Britain.

V&A London 15

Leather gloves with silver and silver-gilt. 1615-1625.

V&A London british galleries 1

Head Cloth for a Bed. 1554-1575.
Woven silk damask, silk and metal thread.
For the wedding of Henry Wentworth and Elizabeth Glemham.

V&A London british galleries 2

Long cushion ~1600. Silk velvet with applied linen canvas.
The label reads “Patterns composed of isolated motifs such as these were almost exclusively English and owed little to outside influences”.
Elephants? In Elizabethan England? In the Tower menagerie maybe.

V&A London british galleries 3

Womens smock 1575-1585.
Linen with silk in Blackwork style.  Almost 500 years old.  How utterly amazing is that?

V&A London 11

The V&A has beautiful views around every corner. Only the V&A could give you a view such as the above.
The Friday I was there was a “late night” opening until 10pm.  It was a wonderful atmosphere and though not all the galleries were open it felt special to be there after hours – and NO KIDS!

V&A London 10

Each time I visit the V&A I come across something new – this is the Cast Court, looking down from a balcony as I was on my way to the Ironwork section I couldn’t believe this sight.
I think the above is Trajans Column, originally in marble, erected AD113

V&A London 13

Can you see how quiet it was in the galleries?  In that time between the schools leaving and the workers arriving, it was magical.

V&A London 14

This is a Grille, Copper Gilt, Italy C16th, said to be from Venice. 
There is a beauty in all items here.  

Sometimes I think the V&A should be renamed the 

“Museum of Beautiful Objects”

V&A London 12

The Chihuly Glass sculpture. 
(See more of his work in museums here).

Around 8pm I wandered a few minutes down the road to the Natural History Museum.

Natural History 2

I had a wonderful evening here too.
Had a look around the dinosaurs gallery (again no kids – pure bliss), the atmosphere was wonderful with the bar and band. 
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition was busy but a stunning display of photography, I came away inspired to capture the animals of Northumberland as well as the landscape.

Though I wondered what Darwin would make of all this as he sat on his chair behind the band?

Natural History 1

The morning view of Kensington was very different to the usual view of garden and fields.
These chimneys caught my eye. A huge number per house. 

London 5