Friday, 19 September 2014

Impressions of the day


Today Lenna and I visited both the American Impressionists exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and Rosslyn Chapel. Although it had been permitted to take photos during my previous visit to the Impressionists today we were told not to, so instead I pictured the ceiling of the coffee shop there and also the very colourful toilets as seen below.
After enjoying our time there we made our way to Rosslyn Chapel as I really wanted Lenna to see this iconic chapel with its astonishing carvings.

Many photographs were taken, although non inside as again this is not allowed. I vouched not to take too many pictures but could not resist a few!

Such as this Green Man!

And this magnificent entrance way.
We walked to Rosslyn Castle too with its stunning views of the environments.

And as we had to pass the graveyard on our way it seemed silly not to capture that too once again.

I apologize for keeping my words short and sharp. We have no broadband through our phone and both Lenna and I have to use the satellite connection, which has limited usage and might have to do me if the other one doesn't return in the near future. Another engineer might come tomorrow, fingers crossed, not that they seem to do much good.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Jupiter Artland visit with Lenna


Will we still be connected to the rest of the UK by tomorrow? We will soon find out. Somehow much of what we saw today had relevance for this particular day of the all important vote. Lenna and I got away from it all in Jupiter Artland ( The above art is by Ian Hamilton Finlay.

Lenna enjoyed being inside this stone house art installation bt Andy Goldsworthy.

She also embraced one of the weeping girls by Laura Ford

I was attracted to the details in their footwear.

Will there be a titanic revolt today? I found the words in the Temple of Apollo by Ian Hamilton Finlay quite appropriate.

And of course I had to take a picture of my favourite art in the park which is Over Here by Shane Waltener.

This is not an art installation but some kind of fungus growing on a tree. It was as large as a plate.

The amethyst is part of The Light Pours Out Of Me by Anya Gallaccio.

Nature in Jupiter Artland is just as impressive as the art works.

Stone arc in among the Life Mounds by Charles Jencks(some of which Lenna and I climbed).

And this artwork is a recent addition this year. It's by Nathan Coley, and again seemed to be imbued by meaning for our Scottish Referendum.

And finally an update on the phone. We have had two engineers since I last updated this tale but alas, neither the phoneline nor the broadband is operational. This saga will sadly have to be continued.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

On the Edge

Today Lenna and I made our way to Traquair House, the oldest inhabited house in Scotland, and after 900 years still in the hands of the same family. We made our way through the rooms and admired the intimate and lived-in atmosphere. We loved watching the hunting dogs recently found painted on one of the walls where they have been since the middle of the 16th century.

We had a lovely lunch outside and then made our way to the back of the house where there are two identical pavilions. In one of them was the artwork The Debatable Land by Peter Sacks. A mixed media work featuring many vintage fabrics and papers, some with text from an old typewriter added by the artist, this art is imbued with the history of Scotland and the relationship with its neighbour. Specially commissioned it is hugely topical right now as we will be voting tomorrow whether or not we remain a United Kingdom or whether there will be a split as seen below in the Act of Union.

Quite apart from such connotations the art itself rewarded the careful observer (and both Lenna and I were such) with many delightful, historical and political details. The artist had clearly given all the elements careful consideration, both from a historical and compositional point of view. . Here are some more pictures.
Recognize the clear divide by these two? On the right the British Prime Minister David Cameron and on the left Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.
We spend a long time observing the triptych in detail and then moved to the other pavilion and watched hugely interesting videos where the artist talked about his work, how the layers came together, which details came from Traquair House itself and the techniques he used. We lapped it all up!
The art will be on display at Traquair till the 5th October, and if you are even halfway close I urge you to go. Whatever the outcome tomorrow this is the iconic image for the occasion. I'm finding it hard to put into words what an impact it made on me. And Lenna too, I think.

For some light relief we made our way into Traquair's maze and then had quite a bit of trouble to make our way out again.
But I was still mentally engaged with the art and the referendum, and even seeing this pygmee goat finely balanced brought the momentous decision of tomorrow back to mind. Are we all hovering over the abyss?

Serious stuff, but nevertheless Lenna and I had a fantastic day together that we both enjoyed. Havingher there, and knowing she was as engaged by the art and interested in the techniques as I was meant that the enjoyment was doubled!
We even managed to fit in a visit to Innerleithen graveyard to put everything into perspective.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

In Dawyck with Lenna


Lenna arrived this morning with her plane landing 15 minutes earlier than expected, and it was so amazing to see her appear in the Arrivals Hall. Finally after knowing each other for about 10 years we could give each other a hug.

Lenna really wanted to visit Dawyck after seeing my many pictures of the place so that is where we spend the afternoon!

The colours have started to turn beautifully and it was pretty breathtaking to be there together for the first time.

I won't be writing very long blog posts this week as I want to spend time enjoying Lenna's visit.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Star Book

I have had several projects on my desk which I finished quite some time ago but that I haven't blogged about yet and this star book is one example. It's one of Kiala Givehand's free videos on YouTube in a monthly series on book making. This was her June book. I didn't make her May book as it involved a book binding machine and I don't have one (although I'm thinking about it!). Kiala made this star book without content using gelli plate printed pages but I wanted to add text so instead I used coloured craft paper. Above is the front cover.

This is what the book looks like from the top and it explains why it's called a star book. I haven't added a closure and when folded the book is flat.

However when it is open it acquires the star shape and as a consequence is difficult to photograph. Above and below are some of the pages. I have used printed versions of my own photographs inside (printed by Printagram from my Instagram pictures) and on the front and back cover used two of my Polaroid pictures.
I also wrote a poem for this book using sentences from a vintage book. Here is the full text spread out over the pages:

For what then was I born?

The day-dream of deep thought

Shall all things else be in mystery.

The vision was sealed upon my soul

How small the glimpse of knowledge.

I saw, and asked not its name.

Reflection is a flower of the mind.

The glance of recollection.

As you can tell below on the back cover, I finished this book back in August and I love the shape although next time I would make a separate cover to go with it and a means of closing the pages.

I won't bore you with the power upsets we had during the night. Poor John was still awake and dressed well past midnight (2 am in fact) to accommodate 2 Scottish Power engineers who fixed a loose connection on the electricity pole replaced back in July. Ever since then our lights have been flickering but despite reporting it to inspectors nothing had happened. Last night the flickering became non stop and we called out an emergency engineer who discovered that a fault had been made installing the connections and had we not called them out last night the entire pole would probably have gone up in flames. Between the pole being erected and last night we have had engineers looking at it three times and all were told about the flickering! None took any action. Glad to know we are in safe hands with Scottish Power!!!

At least that has now been fixed and we're left with our ongoing telephone saga. Is it really possible to call out a British Telecom engineer and end up with a worse line than before. Yes, it is! More engineers will be arriving to work on the line tomorrow. Fortunately I will be doing lots of fun stuff with our visitor and will leave John in charge which I have to say is lucky for the engineers in question. I'm a much harder task master than he is. And far less polite!

And they talk about an idyllic life in the country.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Feather Page

There is not much time for art at the moment but I did manage to produce my page for week 38 of The Documented Life Project. We were told to: Draw, paint, doodle, sketch a feather, or use a real feather on our page. As you can tell I used a real feather from one of our chickens that is conveniently moulding. She has lovely speckled feathers and I found an almost perfect example.
For the background I used a previously made gelli print and I found a matching bird transparency (from Alpha Stamps). Both the feather and the transparency were sewn on as you can see in the detail above.
I added a detail from a French dictionary page about the definitely of bird (oiseau), which mentions that these are "couvert de plumes", or covered in feathers. I added three more bird transparencies and stamped some leaves at the bottom of the page and antiqued the edges with a vintage inkpad. and did some outlining with a sepia pen. And voilà, the page was done!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

All good things must come to an end

It was both a happy and sad occasion when I gave my very last talk/workshop to the Borders Textile Group ( in Foulden, near Berwick. They are a great group and I have enjoyed visiting them regularly so it was sad to think it was the final time. On the other hand I have had many far less pleasurable experiences travelling the country as a jobbing quilter and the thought that I will never again have to make my way home, driving for hours through the dark, snow and rain is a huge relief.

In all those 20 years I have never been late, had an accident or car trouble so I count myself very lucky.


Today too I was early and I took the opportunity to sit on a bench near the Foulden carpark, a spot blessed with glorious views over Northumberland. I could not help but think of the fact that by this time next week that might become a foreign country!

But no point in worrying about the future. Today I concentrated on my talk. It was, surprise, surprise about journal quilts. These were done in the year before and after 2012 when I did my weekly challenge, the 52 Journals now on show in Peebles.

I'm retiring to my studio from today onwards to do what I love to do best. Making my art. It soothes and nourishes my soul like this sunflower is feeding the last bees of the summer.



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