June on the road

This is my moderating month – a conference in Cardiff followed by three weeks of travelling to schools and colleges in England this year to examine a sample of their A level Art & Design examinations and coursework. It is so lovely to see new moderators and an absolute delight to get hugged by returning old friends.  Some of the oldies have given up so its sad not to see them. I only see these guys once a year but its like an adrenaline rush. This year I stayed in the hotel which was good as we were all together in one place and I could enjoy the after work socialising. We did enjoy ourselves. The work was manic and the paperwork crazy but I love it. I love seeing the work of young people – new inspiring ideas and I like meeting the art teachers too, seeing the way they do things and what their school is like. I don’t like all the computer work and report writing and sometimes I get lost finding the school – actually sometimes I can’t find the way in!!!!! I go to places I would never go to – this year I’m off to Poole in Dorset and Andover in Hampshire in the south of England. the second week starts in Birmingham and then to Coventry – the Midlands. the third week takes me to safer ground to Liverpool – nearer to my beloved Lancashire – I still miss it. It means I can fit in a stay with mum for a weekend too.

Last Thursday I got some sad news – Derek Stears has died. I first met Derek when I was 22 on the postgrad ATC course at Howard Gardens in Cardiff as he was on the team of tutors, with his long black hair and trendy leather jacket. We all sat waiting to be allocated our tutors, silently wishing we were in his group. We all trooped out on to the beach near Cardiff to build a pink wall across the beach with Adamstown primary kids – mad times!

Later our paths crossed again when I did my MEd at Cyncoed, Cardiff University – we had long conversations about creativity and also the changes I had to make to my thesis! A few years later he invited me to be part of the 2000 A level moderating team and I’m still doing it.

He taught me a lot and it was his respect for Art teachers and the work they do, often in difficult circumstances, often at the bottom of the pile within the hierarchy of a high school ( except when needed for inspections!!). He taught me to be realistic about what we could do and keep sane ourselves and always be inspired by those we taught. Enthusiasm and creativity was what I tried to give my students as he gave to me. His sense of humour was wicked and his eye for detail was often beyond me at times, but much appreciated.

I had a day of sadness and reflection then carried on as I had my amazing grandchildren to look after for the day. They were so special that day as cheered on Andy Murray on the TV as he got through to the semi finals of the French Open. George (aged 2) picked up the phrase “Come on Andy ” and said it in a deep voice in a broad Lancashire accent and it just creased me with laughter all afternoon.

 

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October 2016 Tenby and Glasbury Art Exhibition

 

One highlight this month were getting my egg sculptures sorted for the art exhibition in Glasbury. I felt rather special having a special plinth to display them, where people could walk around them, peer into the glass domes to see the drawings, getting multiple viewing points. Apart from the white tablecloth not being ironed it was perfect. Didn’t make any sales but I was truly chuffed and honoured to display my work there. It was a superb exhibition with a hint of controversy about the local life drawing class’s work displayed! An anonymous woman approached the organiser and complained that there was pornography on show – she hadn’t seen the work but had heard at the church coffee morning all about it…… (Enough said then). Is it really 2016? Soooooo daft. It made it to the B & R paper that week. Notoriety at last.

Secondly our annual visit to Tenby appeared at the end of the month, staying in a lovely huge house from the 16th century, walking on the beach, cooking together, the grandkids splintering the quietness of the thick walls  for a few days, playing cards, drawing, meeting old friends and sampling the new brewery ales. Such a delight. From mum at 89 to George at 20 months I like this little ritual. Good job I can afford to do it each year.

Helping others sounds like a cliche, but it’s true. I like doing it. Samaritans is one way but also in my old school too. Art workshops have been fun this month – drawing with food, Chinese ink painting. My own drawing comes up to the 365 day mark so I have been completing a daily drawing for a year…..I genuinely didn’t think that would happen. Roll on Year 2 of drawing. How can I celebrate this?

Bought a new Canon SLR camera off the internet with 2 lenses and 2 screens for indoor shooting. It feels good to get off my phone and shoot some proper photographs. I’ve missed that.

C is working towards the launch of his new book. Not happy about that….Need to work out what’s going on and how to stop it. Deeply hurt.

July 2016 thinking about the future

July has only just started but it feels like a different time. Not sure what this means. Politically we are going to one out of the EU which I wish we weren’t doing, so usually this would bring on a feeling of doom, and with the Chilcot Report arriving into the media and both the Tories and Labour searching for new leaders, you would be forgiven for thinking everything is in turmoil. Adding the Trump fiasco to the mix seems bizarre. However I am feeling centred and calm today which might be due to antibiotics which I need to fight an infected hand – horrible mess actually on both hands from an intolerance to paper I fear on my moderating weeks. Well that’s my theory, the doctors are having a guess too……

 

Today I went to Liverpool with a bus load of Year 10 pupils to see the Francis Bacon exhibition in the Tate. It was challenging for them but they were genuinely interested in this tortured view of his world. It set me off on an idea for a drawing again – going large scale – a feather drawing either in pencil or ink. Can’t wait to get started.

 

January 2015 Crash the car, Grandson arrives

First week of January was about taking my first call as a Samaritan, helping my son with moving house and his birthday on the 10th. New grandson was supposed to arrive on Jan 10th too but didn’t. We waited……

January13th
I went swimming in the morning. I watched the snowflakes from the pool and began to feel uneasy. Finished my sauna and quickly set off home in my little red MX5. Five minutes from the pool I realised the snow was heavy and the road a whiteout and I was in a little sports car on the top of the Brecon Beacons. Traffic slowed and I knew it was scary. I was slowly driving up a hill when I slid across the carriageway, tried to correct the skid, didn’t break but slid into a curb which then spun me round to face the opposite direction. It was a heavy hit and I felt pain in my lower back.

I took a moment to breathe and realise how lucky I had been as there was no traffic going in the opposite direction so I didn’t hit anyone. I could have been killed. I realised I was half on and half off the road so I started the engine and drove towards the lay-by. The car drove perfectly. I continued to the next lay-by and turned to face home. I checked the car – tyres ok, no fluids leaking. For some crazy reason – not logic – I was scared to stay there in the snow so thought I would go back up the hill and get home. I waited for a bus and followed their tracks and in second gear drove up the hill for a second time. It slid slightly but held and I got to the top. I was petrified but kept going slowly. I knew the road down the mountain would be tricky even though it was a main road. I knew now how unstable my car was in snow. But I got home shaking all over.

The car is being repaired now – two new tyres and an alloy wheel, realigned. It brought back memories of my other smash two years ago so I am still shaky.

January 14th
My daughter-in-law went into labour, my friend needed collecting from hospital, I had to get my car picked up to be repaired and get a hire car. Just a normal day! By midnight baby was having trouble arriving. Went to bed, didn’t sleep.

January 15th
12.12 Baby George Brychan arrived with help from lots of doctors and midwives. Only just made it. A close call. Gave us all a fright. My son thought he wouldn’t make it. The midwife pressed the panic button 5 times and the docs and anaesthetist swarmed in. We are all very emotional. First photo arrived. At some point I went to sleep. After breakfast we drove 50 miles over the mountains, past my crash site to see my gorgeous grandson who weighed in at 7lbs 4 oz. It was so special to see him and hold him on the day he was born, he is lovely, expressive hands like his sister, wrinkly tiny feet, opening his eyes to have a look around. Wow being a grandparent is something else!!

January 31st
The last day of the month makes me reflective again. Thinking this is now the end of my 13th month of retirement – so quickly I have become accustomed to doing other things. The year has been a roller coaster of emotions. I think I’m slowing down a bit now, not so frenetic. A friend from university told me she’s fighting cancer – that’s the second of our art degree group, Susie has already died. Not good route to be thinking about. George continues to thrive – been down twice more to cuddle him and play with Meg. He just curls up on my shoulder, snuggles in and sleeps. Sometimes he lifts his head up to stretch his neck in his sleep then snuggles back down. I’m besotted and I don’t really like babies that much! It has made me think about when my two sons were born, how they were at the beginning of their lives, what mistakes we made and what great times we enjoyed together. I love them all dearly.I would die for them. Now I’m getting all mushy. Stop it. Read a fab book about Clarice Cliff Bizarre ceramics – loverly. Next month should be fun – visiting Mum, lots of Tai Chi, travelling to Paris with 30 sixth formers, becoming a Samaritan officially after my mentoring, finishing my painting, must think of one new thing to do……

Could I possibly manage a drawing/doodle a day?
Shall I start loading photos of my artwork?
Would anyone want to look at it?