Sunday, 16 October 2016

Positives and Negatives

It was 'Sew Saturday' yesterday but I decided that I had enough material in my stash and couldn't really justify buying any more, no matter how lovely, so stayed away from the tempting fabric shops. However, to celebrate sewing, here is a photo of my latest make - it's the Sew Me Something Kate dress again (one of my favourites), but I have altered it so that it is without sleeves. I used denim for the dress and added some pretty floral bias binding around the neck and pockets.
I am quite pleased that I managed to alter the pattern to make a dress that I am happy to wear, with leggings and boots or tights and boots.  Previously, the pattern was just too big across the back, so the tops kept falling off my shoulders which I found a bit annoying.  I think I have solved that problem by taking in the pattern on each side.
On the negatives, we haven't been having a good time with electrical and domestic appliances just recently.  Our cooker had to go after many years of service and then the blender packed in, then the CD/radio we had in the kitchen stopped working properly and tonight, my old and much loved and used computer (Windows 2003 - almost an antique now, but a real workhorse) has decided not to switch on at all, no matter how many times we changed the fuse or checked the electricity flow.  I think I have kept various copies of things on memory sticks and/or discs/disks, but I didn't keep a record of exactly what was on there... *Sigh*

Thursday, 6 October 2016

October colour in the garden

 The garden is changing now but is having a last hurrah before Autumn really gets going.  Rose Frilly Cuff is flowering again.
 This small and dainty Japanese anemone Bowles' Pink has been in flower for weeks.
 Rose Ferdinand Pichard is also flowering again - the first time he has repeat flowered.
 Aster September Ruby (I think) is almost fluorescent and does not want to be ignored.
 Helianthus Lemon Queen is adding a bright sunshine yellow.
 Aster Ericoides has delicate, small pale lilac flowers which are loved by bees.
 A miscanthus adds an elegant stateliness and moved beautifully in the wind.
 Aster Little Carlow is reliable and lovely.  Once the flowers have been visited by the bees, the centre turns red.
 Dahlia Merkii, looking a bit bedraggled.
 Hydrangea Confetti, which was a new plant this year and has done really well.
 Cyclamen Hederifolium with beautiful marbled leaves.
 An unnamed fuchsia which has flowered non-stop all summer and is still going strong.
I found this skeletonised leaf which had got caught on a box bush and thought it was beautiful.  There is still lots to enjoy in the garden.

Wall update: we agreed on a fence and got in touch with the builder, but he has not responded, which is really disappointing.  We are going to get another company to give us a quote...

Thursday, 29 September 2016

More paintings, Poldark scything...and other things

 While we were at The Usher Gallery, looking at the BP portraits exhibition, we also had a wander round some of the rooms, and this watercolour, painted in 1828, was one which I was very pleased to see.  It is by Joseph Mallord William Turner and is of Stamford, Lincolnshire, which was my home for a good few years.  The church which can be seen is St Martin's, which is where I was a chorister for fourteen years and also where Chris and I were married.  It was lovely to see the original watercolour, rather than a print.
This painting caught my eye with the impressionist background of the cornfield.  It is called 'The Mowers' and is by George Clausen.  It was painted in oils in 1891.  I couldn't help thinking of Mr Turner as Poldark; even though I didn't watch the series, I couldn't help but hear about that scything scene.  

(photo from Radio Times - for all you Poldark lovers)
I also read about some historical inaccuracies in both Poldark and Victoria.  Apparently, anyone scything would never remove their shirt - it just was not done.  As you can see in the painting, all men are fully clothed! 
Out on the landing, we spotted this chest which had gold painted decoration (we think) of rather wonderful people, beasts and foliage.  I especially liked the border. There were no details, so the maker will have to remain a mystery.
This light caught our attention too - well, you couldn't fail to see it, as it was quite large.  It is made of lots of plastic items and we thought how clever it was to make something ubiquitous into something rather beautiful.  However, when we read the information, it became something more thought provoking as all the pieces of plastic were picked up along the British coastline.  That is not a nice thought, is it?  Unfortunately, I didn't note the artist's name, so there's another reason to go back.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

BP Portrait exhibition 2016

We were lucky to be able to see the BP portrait exhibition at The Usher Gallery in Lincoln last Sunday - it is on until November and the ticket enables you to visit as often as you like, so we hope to go back.  I took lots of photos (without a flash) of the portraits which I particularly liked.  Neither of us were that impressed with the winning portrait and I didn't take a photo of that.  The portrait above is by Jean-Paul Tibbles, of his son Jean.  He is one of the 'poster boys' for the exhibition. 
 This portrait had us discussing what material the artist's daughter had swathed around herself - I felt it was a silk with the blue/green sheen in certain light whereas Chris though it was more like a black plastic.  Whatever it was, it was beautifully painted and reminded me of a Velazquez painting, with the rich colours and dark background.
This is a close up of the sequins on the little girl's bodice.  This is one reason to revisit the exhibition as I neglected to note this artist's name.
This portrait is by the same artist as the one above, of the artist's son who put a bag on his head. 
Chris really liked this portrait.
 This is called 'Portrait in the mirror: the veil' by Antonio Lagua.
 The artist explained that 'the model's reflection became the starting point for work to begin'.  He has captured a really intriguing expression here.
This portrait is called Vacuum 2 by Thomas Ehretsmann as is of his friend Simon.  It is acrylic on wood panel and is incredible - it is hard to believe it is a painted image. 
This is the winner of the BP Travel award, of Petras, by Laura Guoke.  It is a huge painting, which I found quite moving.
The hands were fascinating. 
This was one of my favourite paintings called Alessandra by Daisy Sims-Hilditch and was inspired by the work of John Singer Sargent.  We both thought it would look perfectly at home in a country house - The Honorable somebody or other, daughter of Lord/Earl/Duke whoever! 
 This painting is the 'poster girl' for the exhibition and reminded me of a Waterhouse painting.  It is my absolute favourite as I love the expression and the way it is left sketchy in the background, really focusing on that beautiful face, neck and hand. 
She is the wife of the artist, 'Laura in black' by Joshua Larock. 
I was immediately transported to Wuthering Heights when I looked at this portrait (Mila by Simon Richardson), as she looks to me as Cathy might have looked when she was a girl. 
The portrait of The Rt Reverend & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO Lord Bishop Of London by Elena Vladimir Baranoff was a blaze of colour with the red and gold robes.
It was painted using egg tempera on gesso board and does share the quality of a medieval painting, with its small size and jewel-like colour.  The detail was beautiful.
The portrait of 'Dad Sculpting me' won the BP young artist award.
The portrait of Sir Andrew Motion also stopped me in my tracks.  Looking at the books behind the sitter was interesting, but it was the intense gaze which was so arresting and his eyes definitely followed me.
It seemed as though he might speak at any moment. 
The exhibition showed a huge range of styles of portraiture and shows that there are many extremely talented artists around the world.  It is well worth a visit, or two, or three...  

Thursday, 15 September 2016

More kumihimo necklaces - finally completed

 I have made a few of these kumihimo (Japanese braiding technique) necklaces now and have finally finished three which just needed the ends completing.  I chose colours that I wear at work in the winter.  The purple one above uses 6mm faceted and plain gemstones.
 The blue one uses 6mm faceted and plain gemstones too...
...whereas this blue/green one uses gemstone chips.  I wanted to use the Chartreuse S-Lon cord in a piece of jewellery, so decided to try it out here.
Here's a close up of the purple stones which include amethyst, fluorite, agate, lavender amethyst.

 The blue one has aquamarine, different agates, lapis lazuli and sodalite in it.
The blue/green one has peridot (which matched the Chartreuse cord beautifully), amazonite, apatite and aquamarine.
I really enjoy the repetitive aspect of kumihimo which does become a relaxing and meditative activity.

Update on the wall situation:  the wall man came to have a look at the damage and said that a fence would be cheaper, but a wall could be put back, although not with the old bricks.  However, this would involve foundations four bricks width each side, so would mean the raised border would have to go and I would need to save the plants I wanted and then start again.  We are waiting for the quote...

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A Dis-arrr-ster (and hoorah for scones)

We have had ivy growing on the Victorian wall which separates our garden from our neighbours' garden for many years.  The owner of the house now rents it out and although he tried to cut back some of the ivy, it really needed a serious amount of controlling.  It was a wonderful food source for insects and birds and provided handy roosting and nesting areas for the birds too, so I didn't want to lose it all, just cut it back, as it overhung our raised bed and all the plants were straining to get some light.  We also thought it needed reducing in height by at least half, so that was the plan.
With our neighbour's help, we attempted to cut some of it away from the house.  Unfortunately, quite a large amount of the ivy came away and a couple of the top stones came off the wall too.  Deciding this was not a good thing, we stopped and got a tree surgeon in to tackle the rest.  Well, the ivy has been cut fact, it had to go altogether, as the wall decided it had had enough and collapsed, right the way down the garden.  The ivy trunks were huge and had pushed the wall out in a couple of places - but possibly it was also helping to hold the wall up.  Some of the wall fell into the neighbour's garden, (which has no plants in it) but unfortunately, some fell into ours, damaging various pots and plants and making a big mess.  On a positive note, no-one was injured and it could have fallen at any time.  So, quite a lot of clearing up took place, and lots of damage limitation pruning.  I had to replace a couple of pots which had been smashed. I was a bit depressed about all the damaged plants, even though Chris did a great salvage job.
We are now waiting for a wall and fencing firm to look at the remains of the wall and give us some advice about replacing it with a new wall, or fence.  As the raised bed in our garden is built against the wall, it could mean a complete re-design of the garden, which could be a great opportunity...but I would have to lose lots of plants.  We shall know more once the wall/fencing firm has visited.
I am sorry to have lost the wall as it provided a lovely backdrop for my plants and stored heat during the day, helping to keep the plants sheltered.
 In other news, we went to our local cake shop to have some cream cakes as a treat, only to find it was too late and they had none left.  Undeterred, I remembered we had some cream in the fridge, so when I got back home, I made a batch of scones.
They were delicious topped with raspberry jam and cream. Hoorah for treats which make us feel just that little bit better!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Steampunk - The Asylum 2016

 The largest Steampunk festival in the world took place over the weekend and a couple of friends were taking part so went went along to meet them and soak up the atmosphere (and gawp at the costumes).  Steampunk is based in Victoriana, but with steam based technology, although, having said that,  there are many interpretations including Goth and Wild West.  It is all-inclusive, all ages and there is a friendly feeling as you walk around, even if you are not taking part.  The main Asylum website is here.  Lots of activities and workshops had been arranged over the weekend - tea duelling seems to be popular!
 Some people had put a lot of work into their costumes.  There were lots of top hats and pith helmets, feathers, frills, corsets and bustles.
Face painting could also be included.
 We loved this man's costume although he did admit to being rather hot and was pleased when the sun went in.
 We watched the Belly Fusion Dance Collective who were appearing at different venues throughout the weekend.
 The steampunked bike drew lots of admiring glances.
 Castle Square was busy and had lots of stalls where steampunk accessories could be purchased.
There was a good atmosphere but it was very crowded.
Here is a link to a news report on the festival.  Chris and I are thinking of taking part next year...maybe.