24 April 2018

Drawing Tuesday - British Museum

Many or most of use were in the "Early Europe" section. 

My object of focus was this pendant with its emeralds, sapphires and pearls - it led to a couple of good conversations with passers-by - 
 Enough of us were BM members that we could use the members' room, and by great good luck the big table was (almost) free -
 Out came the sketchbooks and...
 Jo's Staffordshire (pottery) dovecote -
Janet K's cat, or rather John Craxton's, from the "three friends in greece" exhibition -
 Carol's collection of small objects -
 Janet B's head of Claudius (or Nero), with the asymmetrical ears -
  My bits of jewellery made between 400 and 700 AD -
 Sue's bronze headdress from the Stony Stratford hoard, 3rd-4th century AD
 Michelle's graphite portraits of sculpted portraits -
 Joyce's Roman glass -
 Mags' exploration of "Town & Country" earthenware, American, 1945 -
 Najlaa's Spanish tiles -

 On the extra-curricular front, Mags has been reworking sketches based on the Wellcome's Electricity exhibition for the latest Sketchbook Project -

23 April 2018

A green time of year

Once the greening of the year gets going, it's in a hurry to do its job properly. And not just leaves and blossoms, there are swathes of flowering beside the path and quite a lot of green underfoot -

Photos taken in Highbury Fields, Islington's largest open space (29 acres).

22 April 2018

Running in the sun

Today was the London Marathon. We watched from Waterloo Bridge, a couple of miles from the finish. It was the hottest on record - and apparently water ran out at several points.

The view towards our view, at the other end of the bridge in front of Somerset House -
The crowd - and runners - stretched all along the riverside
(click photo to enlarge)
We got there just as "the fast guys" were passing -
The first of the elite men goes by, with cameras
on motorbikes and the roar of the crowd

A louder roar for Mo Farah, third in the race but breaking
the British record with a time of 2:06:22
With a background of cheering and clapping, thousands of runners passed through the dappled shade of the new-leaved trees and threw their shadows onto the hot, glaring pavement. There were bright colours, and there were costumes - including lots of tutus, some vegetables, a caveman, and Big Ben; sorry no photo of that one, but it must have been hell to run in ...

 and an endless stream of runners, some of them walking for a while -
We walked along the South Bank and over Tower Bridge to find that the barriers were being packed up -
But "runners" - now walking - were still en route - the people with less training, perhaps, but lots of determination -
Quite a few costumes...
... including these guys from Gotham City

 There comes a time when the route has to be closed and the signage taken down -
 Time for all the rhinos to head home ...

There's a lot of cleaning up to be getting on with ...
Of the 40,000 runners, more than 38,000 finished, 386,050 had applied for the race, a third up on last year.

21 April 2018

Then and now - a year ago, in photos

The magic of modern technology means that Google puts a message on your phone, if you have a year's worth of pictures stored, something like "Revisit your life a year ago" and you can cyberjump to April 21, 2017 and see what you were up to. And perhaps remember where that was, or what that was....

I seem to have been up to much the same things!

(1) Swooning over frilly tulips in my little garden -

(2) Lusting about books I might start reading, but never finish - 
Daunt Books, Hampstead Heath, 2018

A tasty selection, 2017
(3) Working at my desk - 
Desk (in alcove) hides books waiting for bookshelves, 2017

Improvised "standing desk", 2018
(lovely bookshelves either side!)

20 April 2018

An exhibition in The City

As the offices spilled out their workers and the pavements outside the pubs filled up with people enjoying an after-work drink in the sunshine, the very warm sunshine, I made my way to Guildhall Library for Mary Pritchard's "Under the Microscope" exhibition, which is a homage to her mother, Olive Aykroyd. Mary was inspired by her 1930s brass microscope and biological slides to investigate her early life and scientific research at Trinity College Dublin, from where she obtained a PhD in 1938.

 A couple of public sculptures provided momentary distraction and a chance to linger in the sun -

In the library, Mary had added substantially to the material she showed in an exhibition of the same name in 2014, not just the work on the wall but the layout of objects associated with her mother's scientific career, and photos from that time -

Mary has researched not only her mother's career at Trinity College Dublin but also the status of women students there in the 1920s and 30s, which was presented in a theatrical performance composed and performed 
by Peter Cutts, who played the lab technician in the Zoology Department where Olive Aykroyd did her research.

Waiting for the performance
The exhibition runs till 16 May, during library hours, and is free.

19 April 2018

Poetry Thursday - two views of April

April showers bring May flowers, isn't that how the saying goes? This year April has been cold and dreary - not a lot of that suddenly changing, showery weather - until along comes a heatwave! So the flowers are rushing into bloom and the tender blossoms are falling rapidly off the trees.

Contrasting views of April are offered by Chaucer and TS Eliot.

Let's start with the gloomy one, ie Eliot - from The Wasteland -
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Chaucer's view, from the Prologue of the Canterbury Tales, is much more cheerful -
When April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all
The veins are bathed in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower ….
He "goes on to write of sun and nature awakening and the mood changing so you feel jaunty and spry and ready to go on pilgrimage to thank the Saint for your survival over the winter, the crusades or the sickbed. A positive move to action to prepare yourself for the journey you are about to take (also the reader) and the excitement of meeting new folk along the way, all with a story to tell." (via)

18 April 2018

Wednesday is woodblock day

In the quest to make some of the current prints into some sort of book, I spent quite a good chunk of time looking at my bookmaking books - call it research, why not - and rather less time physically doing anything. 

From the handful of ideas I started with a very simple one - a long folded strip, ending up as a little square book. Making samples brought up new possibilities.

What if, instead of cutting the print into three (to get the square) it was cut in half and the bottom folded up to make a pocket on the back? Yes, that would work - but the area above the fold would need some sort of printing, if only a plain colour - well, why not add a few "holes" - ah yes, constellations ...

Here they are ready to cut - and then to be printed on some of the "spare" sheets of last week's "ikat" - 
The non-spare sheets, at bottom right, will be bound together and have a Khadi cover, onto which I'll glue or sew some ikat fabric. Which means I need to find the red ikat that I know is here somewhere.... 

An hour of searching found some interesting items, and a few that went into the bin unrecorded, but not a scrap of ikat. Plan B is to print "something" onto the cover. Meanwhile I can get on with the little folded books, which require a printing session and some hard covers (5cm square) into which the books will be glued. This fabric, shibori on silk organza, made maybe 15 years ago, might be just the thing, in the absence of ikat -
I'll make a sort of book cloth by backing it with iron-on interfacing. Another possibility is to attach cloth to paper by using fusible web.