Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Big Red Barn

After our lovely tea at The Big Red Barn last Sunday we decided to take our friends (and neighbours) to the place to have lunch today. It proved to be a great decision and we had a most enjoyable time as well as a delicious meal. Of course I took my camera too to take that all important daily blip but managed to include myself too on the first try. Not so bad as this is still the week for self portraits on my photography class so I'm showing it there in our Flickr group.

For my blip however I took another picture this time with no distractions from that very red barn. This by the way is how you recognize where the place is (on the A702 going south just past Dolphinton) but not where the restaurant is located. That is in a modern building right next to the barn as you can see on their website.

And finally, I discovered that I am featured on the Studio Art Quilt Associates Europe website at the moment.

Here is the link.


Friday, 24 October 2014

North Esk Reservoir

Today promised to be the best day of the week weather wise so we set off early after lunch for a walk into the Pentland Hills from Carlops to the North Esk Reservoir. It was along a good track well walked and with signs which is always reassuring.
There are houses out in the hills and this dilapidated cottage was next to a house called Fairliehope. It seems a shame it's left in this state as the views from it must be quite good. But it has to be said that the roof looks beyond repair.
 Here is the reservoir itself. It was designed by Thomas Stevenson, the father of Robert Louis Stevenson, for a group of Penicuik mill owners in 1850 to regulate the water flow in the North Esk River to facilitate their mills. The mills have now all gone and the reservoir has become a haven for wildlife. Despite this we didn't see or hear a single bird in the vicinity.
Next to the reservoir is what was once the cottage where the water board staff must have lived and it's still inhabited. What an isolated spot it must be to live in, specially in winter but I have to say I wouldn't mind living there. The peace and quiet seemed very tempting although I couldn't help wonder about broadband! Also in the summer there must be lots of fishermen and women as there is a dedicated hut for that purpose.
The jetty is no longer what it once was and we didn't venture on it, after reading this ominous sign.
Here it is from the other side and you can catch a glimpse of how windy it was up there looking at the grasses. The reservoir is more than 1000ft above sea-level although it doesn't feel like that while there, surrounded as it is by high hills.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Sense of Self

I did sneak in the information that some of my work was going to be published some time ago but recently came the official notification that the book is in production and will be out early next year. You can see the cover above and 4 of my quilts (all journal quilts) are going to be in there. According to Amazon UK where it can be pre-ordered,  delivery will be on the 5th March 2015. Here is the link if you want to place an order. I'll post more about the book here and show pictures of my pieces once the book arrives.
It's always very pleasant to be included in such publications and it enhances the sense of self as an artist.

Self was also the subject for my photography class this week as it was all about taking self-portraits using different methods. The above picture was taken by photographing my reflection in a very old mirror (beginning 20th Century, the mirror that is, not me!). The old glass is what gives this portrait all the texture so no playing with Photoshop here. This is just as it came out of the camera.
For the other two photographs I used the timer on my camera set to 10 seconds which gave me just about enough time to put myself into position. I decided I wanted to take them in my studio as that is the place above all else that defines me best. Here I'm seating at my work desk where all the hand stitching takes place.
And here I am seated behind my trusty Bernina sewing machine. Like our tutor Susannah Conway I'm far from relaxed about taking selfies but with her encouragement I experimented away today learning much about my camera in the process too. Needless to say the fast majority of pictures taken were quickly deleted again but I'm pleased with the three I was left with,  and that I'm showing you here.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Sketch what you see right now

I'm very late with my week 43 page for The Documented Life Project. And my heart wasn't in it either! But needs must, and I grabbed a piece of china found on the beach in Largs many years ago and drew part of that, colouring it in with watercolour paints.

It felt a bit like cheating as it wasn't what I saw right then in front of me so last night I made a quick sketch of details of our woodburner, and added that to the mix by stitching it on. And it suddenly made sense to stitch some of the other lines on the page too.

I promised myself at the start of this project that I wouldn't spend too much time on it so I'm going to stick to what I have here and hopefully put a bit more effort in next week!


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Echoing through Time

As promised on Sunday I'm showing you the piece of art I bought during the Biggar Arts Festival. I saw it at the Open Studios event by Moira Russell and her husband Ken. This is a very textural painting by Moira called Echoing through Time and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. These photographs really don't do it justice but might perhaps give you some idea of why I liked it so much. It would become more personal than I want to get here, to try and put into words why I felt a connection to the work but something deep inside me responded to it.
I'm so happy to have it hanging in our house now!

Blipmeet in Cumbria

As promised here are all the photos of my most enjoyable blip meet with Paula yesterday. Paula lives near Appleby in Cumbria along a little lane that is just as tiny as ours. She had provided me with excellent instructions so I found it easily. We had lunch at a fun place called Llama Karma along the A66 and for the first time ever I had lunch while watching llamas have theirs too. I was very taken with the button mosaic at the entrance too.
Afterwards we visited the little church of St. Ninians that Paula had discovered and blipped in the past. She knows how much I enjoy visiting old churches and graveyards and this is a very unique place the likes of which I have never come across before. You can see above how the church and graveyard sit in the middle of a field and are surrounded by a very substantial, circular stone enclosure. The only time I have come across such a surround is at Lamington Church and graveyard which by pure chance I had passed on my way down South that very morning. The walk to the church from the A66 took about 20 minutes or so and the weather gods were very kind to us. The walk was a pleasure with beautiful views over the river Eamont.
Paula found some information about the church online here, and this is just about everything I know about it so far. It was amazing to see this church is open to visitors and there is even a visitors book. It is looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust who seem to be doing a sterling job maintaining disused churches of historical and architectural interest. They are active in England and Wales, but not Scotland thus far.
Surprisingly the graveyard seems to have been used till fairly recently but there are also many old graves to be seen here. The church itself was built in 1658 although it is believed an older church stood here before that time. The church was built by Lady Anne Clifford after she fought a prolonged battle about her inheritance.
 According to the visitors' book people come to see this lovely building regularly and evidence of that is here with the little wooden cross tied to this gravestone that has some connection to the Borders Regiment according to the inscription.
The inside of the church is sober but lovely and to my surprise I discovered that there were (and are still present) locks on the pews. Were people locked in during the sermon? I suppose that's one way to keep their attention.
 There was one beautiful stained glass window from a much later date (1860) in memory of John Jameson who died aged 25. The window was donated by his parents and above is a detail.
The thing I found most fascinating and intriguing was a carved  oak wooden screen which according to the information in the church was supposed to come from a Jacobean vestment chest but although the dating seems to be about right I cannot imagine a vestment chest being decorated with what look to be very pagan images.  The detail I showed yesterday has no religious connotations that I could detect and seemed to be more like a goddess than anything else.

There are dragons depicted too (you can see part of one on the top left of the picture above) as well as an energetic drummer.
At the very top (and thus quite dark and hard to photograph) is this very determined looking personage and after reading about Lady Anne Clifford's fierce determination I can imagine she could well have looked like this. We will probably never know, sadly.
There are also some ancient grave monuments in the church itself, connected to the important local Brougham (pronounced Broom!) family of nearby Brougham Castle. I could definitely detect some wings on the one seen above, perhaps connected in some way to the winged souls seen so frequently in Scottish graveyards.
 An impressive array of church brasses was also on display, connected to the same family.Some paint was still present as you can see.

 I was very taken by this Agnus Dei (lamb of God) detail.

After we came out there was a magic moment of light over the surrounding field where a farmer was busy rounding up his sheep. One (seen at the left) was in danger of being left behind and my mind made a brief connection back to the Agnus Dei just seen. Paula captured this for her blip yesterday..
And then as if the day hadn't been special enough already there was a rainbow to be seen over the hills once we got back to where the car was parked.

It was a very special day all round and many thanks are due to Paula and Gordon for giving me such a wonderful time!

Monday, 20 October 2014

St. Ninian's Church near Brougham, Cumbria


Today was a really fabulous day filled to the brim with enjoyment. I'm going to write a long blog post about it tomorrow as tonight I'm taking a break since the day also involved quite a bit of driving. So for now two pictures only. Above St. Ninian's church itself and below a detail of some exquisite woodcarving we found inside the church.

I found her during a blipmeet with Paula in the little church of St.Ninian's near Brougham, Cumbria. According to the info in the church this carving dates from Jacobean times. Paula has just send me the following link with a bit more information. You can find it here We had a wonderful time together exploring this place and having lunch in the company of llamas. I also delivered the journal quilt Paula bought during the 52 Journals Exhibition.

There are loads of pictures as you would expect when two blippers meet and I will show some of them when I write about my outing tomorrow!





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