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.

 

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June 2016 Thinking of Dad

Just got back from a Moderators Conference in Cardiff and listened to the Listening Project on Radio 4 that made me weep and think of dad. I miss him so much and it’s been 10 years. Could not get great sadness from my mind. Tried to read Tom Bullough’s book but it only made it worse as it is full of sadness and regret. That lead to my regrets and thinking about the waste in my past. Need to be more optimistic as I used to be. Come on…..Wondered what mark I will leave……

I’ve been missing my grandchildren – aged 3 and 1. It was good to see them again after my Spanish holiday. They give me great happiness when I look after them each week but it can be challenging. I want to see them grow and develop and blossom into beautiful adolescents and adults. I feel very protective of them yet also a little detached. I want them to love reading and drawing, going to art galleries, making things, helping people, be good listeners and be open minded about the world and find wonderful partners who do not betray their trust. No pressure then!!!!!!!

Today (Saturday) after my son dug out an old diseased cherry tree that dad had given me I planted, with great difficulty, an acer tree that has been growing in a pot on my patio. It looks tiny but will look gorgeous when it settles and grows taller. I am so pleased it brings a smile to my face every time I look out of the window and see it. The grass is a bit of a mess around it but that will settle eventually.

 

 

 

 

May in Spain

Spent May in Southern Spain in Estepona. A whole month reflecting on my life and spending time with my mum. Drawing every day on the beach or in the apartment was the icing on the cake. Thinking about death for some barmy reason was just my introspection gone mad. Swimming in the sea was sooooo good for me, my body, my skin and my mind. I find swimming soothes me, but also challenges me. I missed my grandkids and sos quite terribly which surprised me. Did loads of walking which helps me and just noticing things, looking at things was great. When you spend your life going places in the car you miss such a lot. Thinking was good mostly but sometimes made me think about what I should or could do now, thought about the past which sometimes makes me want to cry. Sadness is not good for me so I shall stop that now. The sunshine did not arrive at first so I was disappointed but when it did it was worth it. I’ve got a healthy tan and it makes me feel good. Talking to mum about her childhood and dad was lovely. She was born in 1927 so she’s 90 next year. She’s got many memories and it is so nice just asking her about things that happened in the past.

April at home, thinking about what to do with my last few years to make a difference.

No travelling afar this month but it’s been a month of thinking again! Also lots of drawing everyday- amazing I’m still doing it.  I was very pleased to be asked to put my eggshell drawings into another exhibition. Someone liked them!!!

March – a wonderful beagle, eggs, tennis and travelling

March began with the Women’s Festival Art Exhibition. I had to get my artwork ready for the opening on March 4th. I had experimented with drawing on eggshells and although the preparation of fragile eggshells was tricky, drawing on the curved surface was a challenge, but I loved it. Drawing with a soft pencil, having to hold it at the end and manoeuvre it inside the eggshells was crazy yet quite absorbing and mesmerising. There were a few disasters that went into the food bin but not as many as I thought. How to display them sent me on a journey of discovery. I knew I wanted to enclose them within glass so I tried my cheese platter with dome first then went on to different wine glasses and bought a small glass dome to try out. It was fun, felt really creative and inspired me. Eventually I settled on the cheese board dome, the new dome, a wine glass and an egg box. I was going into production!!! I wanted this to be a complete sculpture not just one sculpture. I thought everyone else would think that I and the eggs were a bit odd, but so far the response has been very positive.

I couldn’t make the opening event which was a great pity, but Karin decided to display them in a glass cabinet. Initially I thought it wouldn’t do them justice but they look great. I prefer them to be grouped together rather than on different shelves but it’s growing on me. Some of the other work is great particularly Kayleigh’s painting of Walter the wonderful mad beagle and Sue’s glass landscape. It’s a great space for viewing work.

So that’s the eggs bit. I’m still drawing in my daily book and still enjoying deciding what to draw each day. This month I’m particularly proud of my feather drawings, better than I ever expected, others I won’t mention so as not to burst my bubble of contentment.

The tennis was my visit to the first day of the Davis Cup in Birmingham where I met my younger brother and we had some delicious classy tapas in a cocktail bar, everyone was teetering about on 8 inch heels and had been poured into tiny dresses. I enjoyed a good dose of people watching sitting on white leather sofas eating off a glass table with twinkly lights above. The hotel was superb and gave us a 3pm checkout as I joined the Hilton rewards club! We went into the centre and shopped, saw the market full of life and colour, then after trying to buy lunch by the canal (waited 55 mins then left) we returned to the hotel to catch the first set of the doubles with Andy and Jamie Murray on the TV. We finished with  crepes on the new railway station/shopping centre and upgraded to first class for the return journey. I got off at Preston to visit mum and my brother continued to Edinburgh. It’s always good to spend time together, settles me as I can’t really do that with my elder brother as he’s so ill. It always makes me start a train of family thoughts, what it means to have ease with some family members and the total opposite with others. We all live so far apart yet we’re only a train journey away so it comes down to prioritising love and relationships I suppose.

The next travelling followed straight afterwards – to Northern Ireland with mum (88) to where she grew up in a little place called Culleybackey in County Antrim. I’d arranged to meet members of the Culleybackey Historical Society – an unknown quantity that proved to be the highlight of our visit. The tour of the now derelict Fraser and Houghton linen factory was amazing and quite emotional, these genuinely interesting people were a mine of information as we picked our way through these buildings that once were the hub of the area – everyone was employed by these two families. many lived in tied houses like my mother. There was a whole hamlet of workers’ houses that we were taken to. Mum remembered having her 14th birthday party by the weir and her cousin Jack falling in and her brother Tom rescuing him. She recognised the “Big House” where her father worked as a chauffeur to the Haughton family and she remembered the death of the wife Mrs Haughton and having to go to see her in her coffin. She remembered that she came to mum’s house every year and gave them ten shillings to go on holiday with every year. Grandad took them to Blackpool and to see his relatives in Barrow-in-Furness. This was very special and unusual at that time to have a paid holiday like that. After our tour Elizabeth, Liz, Joe and Gordon took us for lunch in Culleybackey. Mum wanted a final visit to her old house and insisted on knocking on the door to see inside. A young woman answered in her pyjamas – she was a nurse on night duty. She kindly invited us in and mum went through the back door she left 70 years ago when she was 18 years old to go to Preston on the ferry. She told us what was there when she was growing up – the parlour and living room are now knocked into one. The kitchen was extended across their yard to their ‘barn’ (outhouse and toilet). It was beautifully restored with exposed stone and beams. Mum was delighted with the way it was improved. Quite an emotional moment. She talked about the fact that there was no-one else but her alive in the family who would remember it as it was that she could tell. It was a magical day. The rest of the visit included revisiting places we’d been to with dad – Giant’s Causeway, Glenarriff waterfalls as well as walking on the beach everyday collecting stones and driftwood. I loved those walks, felt so refreshed from inside out. I continued my daily drawing.

My last March travelling was to help my brother move in Edinburgh from the city to the coast to Portobello – my favourite beach and promenade. Although it was hard work I had time for walks on the beach, had a swim and a Turkish Bath, two lovely meals – a Portuguese and Spanish Tapas and two foodie markets. Their new house is lovely. I had some more good train rides – I find them very calming and did some lovely tree drawings using the rhythm of the train as part of the drawing – really works well.

 

February travelling to Barcelona, Drawing, Thinking

Visit to Barcelona with sixth formers was interesting as I went to a few new places like the Musical Palace. The Labyrinth Garden as well as my favourites- Park Guell and La Pederera. Silliness on last night was nauseating and annoying. Enjoyed working in my sketchbook.

Daily drawing is amazing and now I’m experimenting drawing on eggshells. Amazing fun. Broken a few preparing the shells. A real challenge to draw on the inside of the shell- holding the pencil at the end means total concentration and no mistakes. I’m sure other people will think it a bit strange but it’s addictive and compelling. Been thinking about how to present them in the Women’s Exhibition in Brecon on March. Globes, wine glasse, wood bases. Thinking about this is challenging and interesting. Satisfying.

Went to exhibition in Carmarthan Art College of drawing books – once again the connection is Diana Brook. Inspired by so many different ways of recording life and ideas by so many artists and students. Such talent in the world. A privelege to look at these personal drawing books.

November – a reflective month and birthdays galore

November continued to let me have a straggle of blackberries and apples for jam making and I added some quinces to my activities from my son’s garden, ripening them on the kitchen windowsill then making jelly jam. Quite a success. they are a strange looking fruit – wrinkly, but interesting inside with a clean scent.

I have been inspired to continue drawing everyday – objects around me, objects in my cabinet of curiosities from my travels, trees and seedpods, whatever takes my fancy. I’m trying to get inspiration for a pendant design that an old friend is designing and making. I met Lyndsay Cameron on 22nd November in the Tate Modern – last meeting June 1976 at our final art shows at Aberystwyth University. (I was in London on our annual trip to see the tennis at the O2 near the end of November) I was excited but also a bit nervous and I think I gabbled on a bit, but it was lovely. We had a lot of life to catch up on. We discussed our ideas looking at each others sketches and materials she’d brought. It was so creative. I can’t wait to see the finished designs. This is a gift to me for my 61st year.

Walking across the Millenium Bridge my son called me and I spoke to him and my granddaughter in the darkness watching the light reflect on the Thames water, magical. Both me and my granddaughter have birthdays in November 7 days apart so on consecutive Thursdays we were a year older – she being 3 and I was slightly numerically older at 61. Nice to be able to spend them together. Naturally I think about the past as we are reminded about age and time passing. Dum spectas fugio. I enjoyed being 60 – something I haven’t been able to say since before my early 40s.

Visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford helping on a school trip was amazing as usual – EVERYONE should go and enjoy a sense of awe and wonder – it blows my mind every time and I can draw some truly weird and wonderful objects.

I am so loving my daily drawing using very soft 8B and 6B pencils – now beginning its second month – I feel grounded and more content. Not sure why? I thought it might be a chore to do and to choose what to draw, but it’s not, it’s making me feel creative. I’m quite surprised at myself. It makes me really happy. Not sure if it will last as Christmas chaos and pressure is on the horizon.

Going to Germany at the beginning of December – that makes me happy too – meeting some people I have known for 10 years seeing them once a year, some I met about 19 years ago – Benito from Galicia hasn’t seen me for 16 years and some will be new to me. They are all part of the International Youth Meeting group from Poland, Germany, Finland and the Basque Country. Watch this space – it should be fun…..

 

 

July 2015 Inspiration and Occasions

Spent a gorgeous day with Meg and George and Helen on Barry Island beach – last visited in the 1970s. Ice cream and fish and chips, lots of sandcastles and paddling.

Helped with school art exhibitions in Brecon – great opening in the Muse – music, art and Pimms!
My mum was 88 on 14th July and we celebrated it together in Brecon.
Violently sick on 19th July.
George my grandson was christened on 20th July.

Finally dismantled the old fitted wardrobes on 27th July to reveal blackened wallpaper, different carpet and 4 holes with steel nuts and bolts sticking out. Chose new wardrobes but need to do all this work first. Whole room needs redecorating, the walls stripped in the corner and repapered, bolts to take out, holes filled, new carpet ordered and furniture taken out – possibly repair bed. Might get it done in August.

June 2015 Travelling Art Moderating and sons

Travelling huge distances this year – Week 1 to Peterborough and Cambridge, Week 2 to Truro, Week 3 to Bradford and Sheffield.

Week 1

First hotel at conference in Cardiff – Travel Lodge on M$ services – just try and imagine it – it’s worse.

Second hotel in Peterborough lovely- old historic mansion – with pool and spa – perfect for me so I could swim every evening. Only bad thing was the traffic – it is crazy, crazy – traffic jams everywhere. A14 should be closed and everyone made to take a bus. I could not live with that level of traffic stress every day going to work – I love Brecon, much saner, except during Hay festival, Jazz Festival and Royal Welsh Show.

Third Hotel – Holiday Inn in Cambridge on a business park – imagine it…….. me on my own, duelling with traffic jams and directions, not good. But next door I find a David Lloyd Centre so sign up for a day membership and end up swimming in the outdoor pool, sauna and steam room, sunbathe – yes it’s sunny. Traffic worse and its impossible to go across the centre of Cambridge so I went the long way round with the lorries to a lovely village the other side. Some fabulous art to see and be inspired by.

Not drawing but taking lots of photographs in between all the paperwork and ideas are swimming around in my head. Drawing with food.

Driving home was horrendous on Friday afternoon around Birmingham – quite surreal watching the traffic at a standstill going north and south and as expected it took my 5 hours…..

Home for Saturday so did a Sam duty.

Week 2 Truro

Now this was special as I stayed in Newquay – overlooking Fistral Bay. I watched the surfers every morning at breakfast and every evening at dinner. I walked on the beach at 7 am and at 7pm, once getting soaked up to my knees when I misjudged the waves. Having sand and seasalt between my toes was heavenly. Paddled and searched for shells and a white stone – found them. One evening I joined a yoga class on the cliffs above the sea and it was just magical. Met some lovely people in the hotel, walking on the beach, in the college, which made me feel very at ease. Went to Perranporth one night where we used to spend our summer holidays when we were small. Lovely spot – found a B&B which would be perfect if I come back. Artwork was great – more inspiration – painting on photographs, weaving wallhangings, free embroidery. Lots to do when I get back. Should I put surfing on my bucket list?

Can you imagine – another Friday afternoon surrounded by traffic jams – bit of a theme here. Another 5 hour journey. Not going back except by train. Pembrokeshire is just as good.

Next weekend one son is moving into his first house, one son is leaving his job and starting a business. Brave beautiful boys.

Week 3 Bradford, Sheffield, Preston
Unfortunately the motorways were grid locked and it took me 50 minutes to get from my hotel to the school – manic! I dreaded every morning having to negotiate another route to another school. Bradford schools were varied – one impressed me with some amazing large scale oil painting and imaginative photography. Very inspiring.

Decided to go home to Preston via Buxton – a log way round but over the Dales and NO motorways until M6 which I was familiar with. Had a lovely walk round Buxton – quirky.

A weekend with mum calmed me down and steered me towards thinking about the family again. Didn’t manage a lot of drawing this month but painted a seascape in a new sketchbook and some tree trunk drawing – sharing the work with 2 others in a sketchbook circle. Felt weird giving my sketchbook to someone else but also a catalyst too as lots of ideas are flying around in my head – a bit over stimulated this month I fear…….

March – Edinburgh trip – Brecon Women’s Festival Art Exhibition

What a special trip. Loved travelling on the train – drawing trees in my little purple sketchbook. Felt connected to the landscape, felt content, going between places and people, just myself. Drawing is helping me escape from uncertainty. I’m not sure what I’ll find, but it’s got to be better than what I have now.

Spending time with my brother was just great, had fun, nothing serious, Crammond Island was well worth our visit – across a causeway at low tide – watching the time – back before the tide came back. Cafe Royal was my special place as usual Gavi and food perfect.

Brecon Women’s Art Festival – my first painting in this – bit scary, but I like my red landscape and it was good to get it out of my head and on to canvas. Karen  and Hilda are so wonderful – their energy and desire to expand other people’s art is impressive. Met Ruth too – another special person with lots of generous energy.