30 May 2007

A wet weekend

It rained so hard that the storm drain outside packed up. Sitting upstairs sewing, I could hear the swish of a car driving through the puddle too fast. Wrentham Avenue is used - at speed - as an alternative to roads with speed bumps.And it got so cold that the conservatory steamed up.
And it was so windy that a lot of creeper blew down. Tony freed it completely and left it lying like a wounded beast in the middle of the lawn.


This weekend I'm off to the CQ summer school, which is being held at Alston Hall, in Lancashire (up north). Last year it was held at Hartpury, in Gloucestershire (out west). I started this piece there - and it seems like a good time to finish it, lay it to rest.After hours and hours spend adding miles more quilting to the cloth, it was time to add the flowery bits of crayoned and stitched reworked photographs (once a beautiful white rose). But how? Various people suggested various things - even Tony contributed the idea of cutting windows and having the flowers at the back - so I decided to do one thing after another and not worry too much about the final result. Not that the brain isn't trying desperately to get it all to harmonise somehow!
During the hours of stitching, a name for it appeared: Morphing the Rose. But a more apt name might be - is! - Pastel Soup. This piece is full of valuable lessons in what not to do - most of all: less is more. The cloth is too, too busy. I might get out some white paint and ....

Accidental abstracts

From a skip (dumpster) on the way home.

26 May 2007

Put it in writing!

I find that making a mental list just isn't as effective as writing things down. There's some sort of "magic" about writing things down that helps make them happen. Possibly this is because to write them down you have to overcome your laziness, even in a small way, and this gets the process of action rolling.
Or it could be that once your thoughts are out of your head and visible ... hmm, what happens? In the case of lists of things to do, it's like you're getting instructions from someone else rather than "just"(!) yourself. In the case of "morning pages" or other journalling, getting those thoughts out of your head leaves room for the thoughts you actually want to think.
In between writing the list and getting up to find the camera and take a pic, three items "magically" got done. It works.
Some people have notebooks where they keep their lists all organised and in the same place - but give me the back of an envelope and I'm happy.


Northern France - from the train -Towards Tibidabo - from the hotel -
- and again, another evening -
Another from the hotel (we had our own terrace, what a delight) -
Against the sky, the inevitable roof furniture, as seen from the bathroom window of the hotel -

The birds of the air

These were part of the screen at the side of the roof terrace.
They've been there a while. Interesting crackling.
We enjoyed sitting on the terrace and watching the housemartins circling and swooping, and the skies changing.

25 May 2007

Music in Barcelona

Live music - yes! There was a folk festival in the cathedral square and these guys got out some planks of wood and a metal pipe and started hitting them ... magic! - such complexity, what pleasure. (That's a bit of Roman wall behind them, built about 300 AD when the town was increasingly under threat - the various materials show how hurriedly it was thrown together.)On Saturdays the square is full of people of all ages dancing the sardana, or watching. The lead musician has a little pipe, and a drum attached to his elbow - three taps on the drum indicate the dance is beginning.
Among the band are reedy instruments and some great brass, including that baby tuba at the end of the row.
We also came across a couple of young men sitting on a wall playing their guitars in that special spanish way. That took me 'way back, to when I was living in Menorca, and parties under the stars would usually involve people who'd brought their guitars and loved nothing more than to play them together.

The importance of keeping your nose clean

21 May 2007


Delightful, the geese in the cloisters of Barcelona cathedral.


After seeing all that graffiti on walls and doors, I found some more while tidying up the "handpainted fabric" drawer. It's just daubs of paint ["mark making"], now - but chosen bits and be recombined and transcend their random origin.

Which gets me thinking, again, about randomness vs intentionality. About "going with the flow" vs taking control. About input and output.

More graffiti

The question is:
What makes this stuff
so compelling
to photograph?
And: what happens next?

18 May 2007

Instead of Gaudi, what?

Today we went to the Palau de Musica Catalan, built by another Modernist, Domenech i Montaner, a hundred years ago. Every inch decorated! The film that was shown as part of the tour had some marvellous juxtapositions of decoration, showing how tiles, glass, metal were used to give the variations of the same patterns. It´s a World Heritage Site and the official website takes an age to load (impatient people should try this one). No photographs are permitted as the Palau is owned by the Catalan Orpheus choir. Interesting to hear how important music was in developing a nationalistic spirit, and to think of how music has done this in other countries at other time - for instance, in Estonia under the Russians.

Another alternative to Gaudi is Romanesque art at MNAC. The museum´s website has only a few images, but it does have to be experienced in person. The frescos were taken from 11th century churches in the Pyrenees, and the shapes of the walls rebuilt in the museum.

17 May 2007

All Gaudi´d out

All it took was Parc Guell. "Everyone" loves Gaudi and finds his work so inspiring, but I´m going to dissent on this one.

Can´t add a pic because I´m typing on the hotel computer and don´t have my "stuff" for downloading pix. Oh yes, the camera is holding on to dozens from Parc Guell. All those nice ceramics.

Back to bus rides and tapas bars -- two more days here, and there´s space on my chip for another 200 or so photos.

11 May 2007

Barcelona bound

In 1994 or was it 95 I filled a sketchbook with views from the hotel -objects in museums -
buildings by Gaudi -
church interiors -
The Miro Foundation was great -But going up the tower of the Sagrada Familia was scary (nice view...)
Making a list will cure scariness -

Royal College Street, London NW1

On one side of the road, these buildings in need of attention:Verlaine and Rimbaud lived here:
On the other side, "sensitive restoration":
London, city of contrasts!

09 May 2007

The urge to purge

It's that spring cleaning thing; brings on the need to dive under the beds and see what's there, and what can be disposed of. These things made me smile with pleasure. First of all, pleasure at Australian memories:Great logo, isn't it? And that's a fabulous museum. We saw the carpet-weaving machine at work, with all its spools of thread, and the patient man who was operating it taught us how to tie a weaver's knot -- when he did it, it was invisible!
These woodcuts by Helen Ogilvie come from the fine art gallery at Ballarat. I didn't get to the garden centre, but loved their flier.
Ah yes, gardens ... there's never enough time to visit enough gardens! Just look at that lavender....
Aboriginal art - I went to several galleries and picked up lots of leaflets. This pic is by Mitjili Naparrula - "if Matisse had visited Australia..."Jewellry by Helen Britton, from a booklet given to me by Linda, fabulous jewellry designer:
And now some non-Australian things - the January pic from a Gardener's World calendar I can't bring myself to throw away -A quilted bottro from eastern India, made of old saris and string, on a publicity card for Joss Graham's gallery (which doesn't have a website but is a wonderful place, as my chequebook knows all too well) --
Abbas Kiarostami had an installation at the V&A in 2005, Forest without Leaves - he's an Iranian filmmaker, artist, photographer and poet.
From the sublime to the ridiculou -- an old notebook, with painted islamic patterns - first you have to draw them, and there are "systems" for that!
You can never have too many postcards? Degas; Owusu-Ankomah; and Clarice Beckett, an Australian who lived with her parents and never had a studio (the father was dismissive of her painting) but accumulated a huge stack of canvases over the years.