I have always loved History, Literature and Art.........................................................................................................
beautiful things, the stuff of dreams..................................................

flowers, butterflies, fairy tales, embroidered fragments, Chinese blues, Botticelli angels, Blake's visions, Burne-Jones pictures............................................................................................

amongst many other hints and wisps of the past..........................

to catch in my net and weave into mydesigns..................

which I hope others might find as beautiful as their inspirations.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Health Happiness and Peace for 2012

Apologies for posting this picture again.......It is one of my favourite designs but that is not why I have used it today.  It is because a dove is the symbol of hope and love and LOVE is what I HOPE 2012 will bring for the world and so PEACE FOR EVERYBODY .
HAPPY 2012 !!!!!!!!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

And the bells were ringing out on Christmas day........the real fairytale

The real fairytale Christmas ............

Whatever you believe , the birth of any baby is a sign of hope and joy....... a long time ago so we are told a baby was born who grew up to be a great teacher and taught love peace, foregiveness and living in harmony .... so, in the spirit of that beautiful idea (which all the great and wise spiritual leaders seem to have also preached) ~Christmas hopes for us all this year and always....


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Exhibitions- Dark Matter at the Whitworth and printing at the DLI

Have been immersed in reading/research for my latest essay on Expressionism and Constructivism completely forgot to post about two exhibitions that I visited recently.

Dark Matter, at the Whitworth until January 15th was surprisingly well worth seeing!!!! Various 3d, film and performances related to shadows were on display where I had expected to see Victorian Pre-Raphaelites when I visited Manchester a few weeks ago. A little disappointed at first (although much better viewing for James) I followed the guide.  Upside down decaying trees with their rotting branches (not one of the shadow exhibits) at the front of the Gallery failed to impress.
However, walking in front of a huge screen ( Snow Mirror) covered in a snowstorm of pixels that coalesced into Banksy style outlines, directed by a computer, of the viewer did!!! Rozin's other exhibit, Peg Mirror was also interesting. Another favourite was the revolving table of tiny figures and strange cellophane shapes by Brass Art, whose shadows projected onto the cavernous walls of a large open space to create eerie cave  drawing like shadows. Idris Khans superimposition of multiple layers of text with Leonard's Mona Lisa and the virgin child was effective and interesting in the first image but lost its novelty value when seen in two other different images. Multiple images of 30 found pencils again was interesting in the first few immaculately executed drawings but lost its appeal

The same conclusion was reached when a similar idea, only connected with lithograph prints painstaking reproduced from graph paper pictures of stages in the drawing of a line curve ( used in the past for those hideous metallic thread nail pictures of curves from lines) was viewed two weeks ago at the DLI in Durham. However three or four amazing black and white lithographs of paintbrushes, pliers and two large scale portraits made this exhibition worth a quick visit. There was also a small print by one of the Turner Prize find out which you'll have to go and visit the DLI which is a small modern gallery above the thought provoking Durham Light Infantry Museum-which includes beautiful medals and uniforms as well as vehicles etc. It is located very close to Durham city with a large car park and a tiny cafe that has very nice home made cakes and scones which can be eaten with a view of the pond and ducks.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Lino Prints from Pascale Hemery/Bowes workshop-better late than never....

Just remembered that I hadn't posted my first attempts at Lino prints, inspired by a picture from the collection exhibited at Bowes. Following Instructions from Pascale Hemery, the French artist, who ran the workshop to pick an industrial subject from the catalogue (or memory!!!) I tried to produce a design that could easily be carved onto the lino block.

I chose a simple but striking building and added some extra details to it  as well as a row of houses and some curling smoke (which was to contrast with the simple straight lines of the buildings). I quickly found that the details I was used to producing with a fine liner were impossible. How I admire the woodblock printers and present day lino printers who manage such details. In my defence ....the tools were not meant for fine line prints!!!

I learnt practically what I am reading about now, for my 20th century art module, ie how to simplify/abstract details to construct an image!!!! I found the cutting out for the first stage/print relatively easy and enjoyed seeing it on different coloured backgrounds. However, I found trying to imagine backwards/inside out what would happen to the picure that would be printed by cutting away more of the lino VERY difficult!!! As a result I only did a little , mainly to the smoke. More could have been done as well as more/different colours used to print on top of the initial layers.

It may not be great, but I enjoyed making it, as well as learning a new technique-which I hope to use again one day.....
( I must point out these prints were only produced to learn the technique of lino printing.  I was instructed to use pictures from the museum catalogue, not to plagerise but for inspiration and the images I have made in the workshop, shown here, are not intended to be reproduced in any shape or form, (except on this blog for information about my post!).  I would love to be able to name the artist who's work allowed me to carry out the image making but I do not have a copy of the brochure and do not know his/her name! sorry. )

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

CCAD Graduation 2011 Congratulations!

Today we received our degree certificates, at what turned out to be a really memorable occasion, in the august setting of Middlesbrough's, Victorian, Gothic Town Hall!!!!!

To all those who graduated from my course today I hope you too had an enjoyable day, many congratulations for obtaining your degrees and great success and happiness in the future..................

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Naseem Darbey- textile/embroidery workshop at Bowes Museum

I have just returned from a lovely day learning how to use water soluble film and a sewing machine to create interesting free sewn lace/embroidery.

A few months ago I visited  the preview for Naseem's wonderful exhibition of  beautiful machine embroidered lace 3D textile sculptures, at Bowes Museum (the second most popular post on my blog!!) She returned today to explain to a group of fifteen how and why she had produced this display, as well as teaching us the techniques she had utilised.

Naseem is a lovely, enthusiastic and inspirational teacher. She has boundless patience and energy and somehow managed to explain everything, keep on top of all of our efforts and find time for each of us. She had ensured that everything we needed (apart from machines, which were our own) was available and kept the day running at a fast but easy to follow pace.

We began with a short lecture on her work in the Textile Gallery followed by some drawing exercises , which we used to create our own free machine embroidered pieces.

Unfortunately my pictures of Naseem and the group did not work.  However, Naseem very kindly gave me permission to photograph her work. They do not do it justice, but I hope they give a flavour of it's beauty.

The darkened textile gallery has various pieces displayed against illminated screens with what appear to be shadows. This is intential but the shadows are infact photographs, as the original display space  in Cliffe Castle Museum did not have the appropriate lighting.

Various garments have been produced related to phrases and script in letters Naseem found in the castle archives.  They were written by Mary Louise Roosevelt Burke Butterfield, who lived in Paris to her husband in England.  This chemise actually traces her handwriting. 

Mary Louise was a part of a circle of rich women who lived and entertained in Paris. This tiara is based on one from the same period.

This is an anotomically correct, internally lit heart, which as a stake driven through it. this is not  a reference to vampires, but to a sentence from another letter. She was pleading with him to return to her "if your heart is not nailed to Cliffe Hall."

Naseem runs similar courses and others, related to figure machine drawing and printing , for students and groups of individuals, in West Yorkshire. Details may be found on her website.,
 I can thoroughly recommend them after todays experience.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Within Temptation concert at the Academy Manchester

Better late than never!!!

Last Wednesday I travelled to Manchester to watch a Dutch symphonic rock group, 'Within Temptation',  perform tracks from their current cd, as well as old favourites (including mine, 'Sparkling Angel' ).  It was a sell out. I had a great evening and left with buzzing ears and a hoarse throat!!!

I had watched them perform in Holland a few years ago.

On their home territory they had pyrotechnics, flaming crucibles, huge statues and a small symphony orchestra,as well as some amazing stilt butterfly people. Didn't manage photo's this time so have included some of my sons brilliant ones from that concert

                                                                                          Rock and Symphony

Good versus Bad!!!!! Amazing costumes..........

Happy rockers!!!!!

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Today I am remembering ALL the people who have died, been injured  or fought for their beliefs.

Whatever 'side' someone belongs to it is, to them, the right one. They all leave family and friends behind to remember them and their bravery. Members of my family died in the trenches, whilst others helped the injured and fought in World War 2. I have visited war graves in France, Germany and the Far East. I lived near Belson. However, living in Germany showed me the same grief exists there too, for those involved with the war. Families mourn, wreathes are laid and the mental scars are still to be found amongst those involved.

I am particularly remembering my son's schoolfriend, Mark Reynolds (Royal Army Air Corps) who was killed, with his instructor,on his last training flight at the age of 24. He was awarded his wings posthumously.......

If only there were no need for conflict and all could live together in peace -whatever their colour, creed or political inclination...........................................................................................

Friday, 11 November 2011

Colin Thubron-'To a Mountain in Tibet' lecture

Not being a reader of travel books, I attended this lecture expecting a large number of beautiful pictures combined with amusing anecdotes, with a few thoughtful asides- related to the spiritual side of things referred to in the pre-lecture ads.

Instead Colin, a very well known writer came armed with just one slide ( a map of his route to the holy mountain he visited) and a wealth of knowledge and information about Tibet and the religions of the area he visited for this trip. After the death of the last member of his family he decided to visit the holy mountain in Tibet where the world is supposed to have begun and is also the place where Shiva is supposed to contemplate. His description of it and the nearby holy lake evoked a beautiful vista.  Whilst the devout pilgrims attempting to atone their sins and attain Nirvanah by making their way around the mountain by means of prostration was awe inspiring. Air burial, where the dead are cut up and fed to the sacred vultures was not a way I'd choose to go personally but I can see the environmental as well as spiritual appeal of it for some!

The talk was a most interesting, thought provoking and revealing experience that was informed by a wide range of texts. I was very impressed!

I was also left regretting the passing of occasions like this where one person can hold you with his experience and train of thoughts on such a serious subject (ritual, religion and death), without any other aid bar his voice and brain!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, exhibition at the Brit...

After having watched the full programme (that this has taken short extracts from) on BBC i player I have become an unexpected convert!!!!  Love the whole idea of this curatorial concept and the skill in contemporaneous antique forms-Chinese vases, reliquaries, pilgrims favours,and the viking/Sutton Hoo style burial. Not sure about Alan Measles, or some of the costume choices but really enjoyed the whole programme. Would have loved to hear the Germans reaction to Grayson!!! Well worth watching even if you hate it you can't help admiring the imagination and commitments applied to this exhibition. Hoping to go and see it and Leonardo da Vinci (a more conventional hero of mine-love the idea of Renaissance man being able to know a little about everything )exhibition in the New Year, if I'm lucky!!!:-)

There is a Grayson Perry vase in the MIMA collage exhibition (see previous blog) 'Transformer and Receiver'

Think five weeks of immersment in Modernist and Postmodernist art (handed in first essay yesterday) is having an effect on my Victorian/beauty mind set......?!!!!

PS Since writing this post I have watched various very iinteresting U-tube clips about Grayson Perry. Whilst very uncomfortable with the overtly sexual side of his art I find the ideas expressed with regard to the war on terrorism, class and religion very interesting. The same is true of how he has made antique decorative art forms contemporary ;tapestry, banners, pottery et al .Wish I'd watched these when told to do this for my design degree!!! The St Martins clips are very good, with film of a vase being made and a complete explanation of the thoughts that have informed all his work.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

MIMA- Middlesbrough Contemporary art-collage lecture ( Hamilton. Perry, elephant dung et al.......!!!!)

After a week incarcerated with my 20th century art text books felt it was time to experience the real thing, as well as attending a lecture to explain one aspect of the period-collage!!!!!

So I set off for Middlesbrough, to find the MIMA (Middlesbrough Institiute of Modern Art).  I found an unexpectedly spacious modern building, in the middle of a large expanse of green , near the Victorian gothic style town hall (a symbol of past civic pride and the taste of that period). Quite a difference from the last time I visited that part of town!!!

I spent the time before the lecture looking at the current exhibitions. Despite all  I've learnt,over the last few weeks, can't say I was impressed by the 'personal' images produced by Ben Nicholson, apparently 'one of the major figures of British Modernism'....... I did, however, stand in awe of the technical skill and tenacity of 'nationally recognised' local artist Richard Forster. He had produced amazingly accurate pencil drawings of  photographs he has taken of the shoreline at Saltburn and the construction of Bauhaus designs in Germany.

The lecturer, Dr. Anderson, took us on a bright and breezy whistle stop tour of COLLAGE in the 20th century.  With its roots in Print room decoration (lovely local one at Rokeby Hall if you like that kind of thing-I do, probably more than Moderism!!!) and Victorian scrap book making, it came into it's own in the 20th century. It peaked twice in popularity and useage.Initially developed by the Cubists Bracht and Picasso, it was taken on in the early part of the century by the Dadists for political means. Later it was again used extensively by the Post Modern Pop artists to raise questions about art and current concerns such as feminism.

Having briefly looked at the main exhibition of collage art- Transformer and Receiver, prior to the lecture I returned for another view, with the benefit of insights provided by the lecture. Must admit, although most not at all to my personal taste, it was interesting in its diversity, (film, printed banners, Grayson Perry vase, sculpture and many different kinds of traditional paper based collages, by many well known artists) as well as the varied messages the artworks were attempting to convey.

I think my personal favourite-if you can call it that, certainly wouldn't want it on my wall- was one which dealt with rape.  A large scale work, it consisted of about half a dozen coloured copies/replications of  famous past representations of women by the artist, under which were genuine newspaper articles, underneath those were simplistic sketches of articles and below those hand written transcriptions of rape accounts. I am sure the reason I took more time to 'look' was because one of the copies was a picture by the artist I researched for my dissertation. It gave me a new slant and made me think differently about the attitude of the original artist, as well as past viewers of art and representations of women. I guess successful art for me is that which engages us on a personal level, something that makes us stop and take notice rather than just walk on by........
The elephant dung picture (Pop corn) unsurprisingly left me cold, whatever it was trying to say!

Oh dear........think all that art speak is beginning to have an effect on my blogging ........................

Saturday, 15 October 2011

'Six weeks' John Lewis-Stempel at the DLI

Having visited New College Durham, to attend my initial OU tutorial, I decided to go to a lecture at the DLI. I am ashamed to say it was my first visit to this small, beautifully located,modern museum, which is devoted to the history of the Durham Light Infantry (with an art gallery upstairs). I had been drawn finally to visit by reading a flier, which explained the 'Six Weeks' referred to the length of time a young officer was expected ton survive on average during the First World War.
With my background, interest in history and the war poets I was intrigued......

John Lewis-Stempel did not let me down. He made the trip to Durham worthwhile, with his very interesting account of the young men who volunteered  to serve as junior officers in the trenches during the First World War. He explained that every aspect of the public school education ensured they were both fit enough, as well as embued with all the attributes necessary to lead their men, despite minimal training, in the face of adversity. Classical schooling, the house system and sports all played their part in forming heroic young men who were willing to lay their lives down for their country. It also was the foundation for the unique bond and paternalism that existed between these young men, in their late teens, and their soldiers. As a result whole year groups from all the public schools in Britain, volunteered  endured horrific conditions and lasted for approximately six weeks before being either killed or maimed. By use of statistics, photograhs,poetry and extracts from letters John built up a sympathetic view of their predicament tempered with humour, to lift the sombre mood it produced.

I bought a copy of his book and will be using it as an escape, albeit sad one, from my challenging but very interesting 20th century art after I have finished reading about Effie's escape from a loveless marriage with Ruskin see previous post)

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Modern v Victorian (Barnett Newman vThe model wife-Effie Gray)

Today is officially the first day of my course!!!

As I tried to get to grips with yet another 20th century artist (Barnett Newman),as well as  another art historians style of writing, a copy of 'The Model Wife', by Suzanne Fagence Cooper dropped through my letter box,courtesy of Amazons amaxingly efficient book service........ One sticky, long drawn out  20th cewntury art chapter later I was finally able to open my new book.......... and devoured three chapters in quick succession of the easily read and very interesting biography. Victorian won hands down!!!!!!!!!!!! Ruskin and Effie's doomed marriage and her subsequent marriage to Millais are set to be my guilty pleasure/light reading it seems!!!!!

However, I am now aware of what abstract expressionism was about,  as well as the place of readymades in 20th century art (Duchamp having been the subject of the previous equally dense but also interesting chapter) which can only be for the good!!!

Monday, 26 September 2011

OU course......beginning to get to grips.....

Despite a late application ( well about four days before the cut off) the OU -with the efficiency I remember from days gone by- has already got my box of goodies  delivered to my door. So, although the course doesn't officially start until October 1st, I have been grappling with Book 1 and Modernity/Modernism/avant-garde/extended fields/aesthetics etc. etc. for the past week or so. It is all proving to be very interesting and thought provoking. I am sure it will inform future gallery visits, as well as explaining much of the contemporary art I have been looking at over the years!

Had to smile as I read that many regard such as the 'emporer's new clothes.....that was exactly what someone had written in the comments book at the Damien Hirst print exhibition I visited at the Bowes in January!!!:-)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Pascale Hemery -french print artist's workshop at the Bowes Museum

Had great fun trying to produce lino prints at Bowes Museum today!!!!!

Pascale, a lovely french print artist, come to England, with her partner Luc, to take a workshop as part of the activities associated with the John P Eckblad 'Heart of Progress' exhibition. John a collector of imagery associated with industrial subject matter has a number of Pascales prints in his collection.

A room full of eager students, including a large french contingent, (consisting of members of John's family and friends) assembled at 10 am and began to create designs on an industrial theme. Having transferred them to lino we cut in to them and, after inking them up, produced large numbers of prints, with the help of Luc on the press!!!

Although I found it very much outside my comfort zone, being used to producing detailed fine line drawings, I really enjoyed myself. The medium isn't suited to fine detailed and so simple shapes/designs have to be created. So I made a simple factory scene with lines and stylised smoke. It looked very crude, on the lino, as I tried to carve out the lines for printing. Somehow the print looked ok!!!!!

I attended the session because I have wanted to try lino printing after seeing the beautiful prints on Mangleprints blog. I am even more impressed by them having had a go at the technique myself!!

I really enjoyed my day out. Pascale was a very good teacher,who was supported by a very enthusiastic , knowledgeable and helpful member of Bowes staff called Pauline. I met some very nice people, had a delicious lunch in the museum cafe, learnt a new technique and produced some 'art'. What more can one ask of a day?! Perfick!!!!!!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Blog fame!!!!!!!! THRILLED!!!!! (Bowes Museum, Naseem Darbey Exhibition)

Can't believe blog entry about Naseem's beautiful exhibition has been given a link on the Bowes Museum official website!!!!!!!

When I recently contacted Naseem, about the possibility of attending one of her workshops, I told her I had written about her work and hoped she liked what I had written!! She liked it so much that she has given a copy to The Arts Council (who I think must have given her funding-very deseradly so in my opinion).  Today I discovered she must have also given it to The Boews Museum who have included it, as a link, at the bottom of their entry informing visitors about the exhibition.

I am thrilled!!!!! Firstly, because I am so pleased to help such a talented artist in any way I can ..... Secondly, because, as my very talented textile lecturer ( will remember all to well, I was absolutely terrified at the prospect of setting up a blog for my PPF module. Like the 20th century Art History I am about to embark on, I felt the fear and did it anyway!!! In fact I became a bit of an addict. Although I have finished my degree and have not managed to do any design work since then I have continued to blog about Art subjects and events that I have found interesting.

So, for anyone out there contemplating blogging ....give it a try! If I can do it anybody can (after the initial registration it is incredibly easy. especially if you have used Facebook).  It has been a very rewarding experience :-)

Saturday, 3 September 2011

OU Art of the twentieth century................

Can't believe it...have just committed to another year of being a student!!!!!!

Some years ago I did an Arts based OU general degree. For various reasons I did not carry on to Honours. Having enjoyed the academic side so much of my revent Textiles degree I decided to look at options available to me, including OU courses....To cut a long story short I am taking this third level course in order to continue my general to a higher level, as well as continuing to extend my  Art History essay writing skils-in order to be able to study for a higher level degree in the future. This was something that was only a possible option/on a back burner until I made various enquiries about various options and discovered I could only afford (just about) to do this THIS academic year due to fee increases. £2,500 for this module, in autumn 2012 puts it way out of my league

So with some trepidation, modern Art being very much outside my comfort zone I had to make a very quick decision to 'feel the fear and do it anyway'.  So much for a relaxed year following my artisic whims and extending my design portfolion (though still hope to keep my skills by doing drawings etc.) !!!!!!

Now the decision has been made and forms filled in I am beginning to feel excited, like I used to when studying abroad with the OU, waiting for all the lovely new and, hopefully, very interesting and thought provoking materials to arrive! I don't have to like a piece of Art to find it interesting and I do like Dali, Warhol and some of the modern artists fingers crossed I've made the right decision!!!!

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Bowes Museum

The Bowes Museum

This is the link for more information on the Naseem Darbey exhibition with a few images (as I wasn't sure if they were copyright and so did not copy onto my last post!!)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Naseem Darbey- textile shadow sculpture preview at the Bowes Museum

Last week, whilst my computer was away for repair, I visited Bowes Museum for a preview of 'Between the Lines'.

Naseem is a textile artist who trained in Bradford. She uses a  sewing machine, thread and water soluble film to produce the images she initially created in her sketchbook as lovely three D sculptures.

Using phrases from letters, written in french, by Mary Louise Roosevelt Burke Butterfield to her husband Henry Isaac Butterfield Naseem has created six beautiful black 3D lace sculptures. Four are recreations of garments of the period (nineteenth century). There is a black lace christening dress (Mary writes of her confinement), a pair of black lace gloves (Mary asks her husband to bring her gloves, when he joins her in Paris), an amazing recreation of an embroidered gown bodice (that is supposed to heve been worn by Mary) and a beautiful lace representation of the actual words taken from Mary's letters on a camisole. There is also a machine lace tiara. All these larger than life representations are hung in a darkened gallery and the spotlights that highlight them create shadows on the wall behind the black 'shadow'textile sculpture/drawings.

The last sculpture is a heart, lit with a red light from within and impaled on it's plinth.  This represents Mary's request that her husband should come and visit her if "your heart is not nailed to Cliffe Hall"

For me this exhibition was a great success.

Beautiful nineteenth century lacework and clothing is something I love (see vintage project). I am intrigued by the relationships of nineteenth century people (especially it's artists-see dissertation on Rossetti) .  I love history and the primary resources that still remain  (like these beautiful copperplate laetters). I am fascinated by the idea of unrequited and romantic love (a la Wuthering Heights) and romantic . I love the colour black, especially contrasted with white, as well as light and shadow. I understand the concept of a heart being attached to a beautiful building (my own was to my old house) Lastly,I find black gothic fashion very beautiful.

Naseem was present at the preview and was kind enough to find time to speak to me about her work. She is a very enthusiastic young artist who deserved the accolades she was given that evening.

The exhibition (20th August-20th November) is well worth a visit, being a small but perfectly presented/ display of  beautiful sculptures embued with many layers of meaning and guarenteed to impress by it's workmanhip alone, if nothing else.

PS The museum tea shop serves very good food and Barnard Castle is full of antique and junk shops!!!!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Some of the best things in life are free....

I finally managed to gather some of the wild flowers I discovered a few days go, for identification and ,if they last, possibly to draw! Some of the individual blooms are so pretty, my favourite is the purple vetch. As my designs over the years show I love orchids and lilies but this little bunch of wild flowers is so pretty it proves the saying that some of the best things in life are free..........

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Star Inn Helmsley............

Have just spent a lovely few days in the company of my best friend who drove all the way from Wiltshire to see me.

She loves Helmsley, so we went for lunch and a walk around the eclectic mix of lovely shops.  As it was raining,when we arrived (:-( ) we decided to have lunch in the lovely Star Inn, Harome. Not only is the Star a very nice thatched country pub, but it is also a Michelin rated restaurant! We only wanted a snack, so enjoyed our soup and sandwiches in the quaint beamed pub. They have a lovely little country garden, where I used to take James, as well as the restaurant and a delicatesson and B&B across the road, in a couple of converted cottages. Well worth a visit!

Friday, 29 July 2011

SERAPHINE LOUIS, dite DE SENLIS-the naive, divinely inspired early 20th century painters pictures......

I purposely left images of  Seraphine's art out of the last post as the film/acting/story is so arresting I did not want to put anyone off trying a taster-actual art being very much personal taste.  However, thought it would be nice to show off the amazing colourful work of this relatively unknown artist. 

It is not my normal taste as I am not an Imprssionist fan, but as this is not really Impressionism (bar madness/colour/brush strokes making it reminiscent of Van Gogh), but divinely inspired naive art guess I am intrigued!!! I also love the divinely inspired work of Blake (who in turn inspired one of my artist hero's Rossetti).  More than anything I am in awe of the passion and dedication she showed, under such adverse consitions. To work so hard all her life but despite being so poor and tired she still managed to create works that were true to herself/unique at night after a very hard days work as a cleaner.

Having spent the last two weeks doing a very poor job of the latter and not creating anything at all (being made totally miserable and bored by the whole awful process of pushing objects and dirt around to create order from creative chaos) I admire her creativity even more-even if it does not conform to my usual idea of beauty.....

Friday, 22 July 2011

Country walks and wild flower heaven...

As well as sorting out the cottage I have also vowed to take Toby for longer walks!

Althought the village has a few places to walk dogs, most are beside busy roads or through fields containing herds of semi-wild horses!!!!!!

Today, however, I discovered a new public pathway through the fields to...nowhere exactly it seemed............................... 

Having followed it for a little while, it brought me to a tiny piece of countryside heaven-swathes of purple vetch, giant pink clover, sunny colts foot. masses of  ox eye daisies with all sorts of beautiful butterflies and the hum  bumblebees.  It was totally unexpected, and all the better for that. Unfortunately, as a result, I was unable to take any photographs as I hadn't taken a camera with me :-( Shall try to emember one next time

I am now beginning to desperately want to get on and draw these flowers but still have the mundane to sort.  A good thing as this means I shall finally be spurred in to action, just as I was whilst studying by hand in dates!!!!!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Carlos Schwab-symbolist (1866-1926)

Whilst exploring Geneva we fitted in a visit to the Musee d'Art et Histoire.

This is Charlotte being the human interest in my photo!!!!! The museum was large and contained a wide array of interesting items.  My 'discovery' (personal, as he wasn't lost!!!) was the work of Carlos/Charles Schwab.

The flier shows a beautiful detail  (of blue doves) taken from 'Pelieas et Melisande'. Schwab was a German born artist who was brought up in Switzerland. He then went off to France and became influenced by the Symbolistes and one of their inspirational Pre-Raphaelite artists (and mine!!) Edward Burne- Jones.  No wonder I like some of his work!!! The museum is hosting a year long, changing, exhibition of his work (ending 15th January 2012). At the moment it contains examples of his work as an illustrator.  Wish I could have seen'entre frayeur et hallucination' before it ended in June. Never mind, the taster I had was enough to make me want to discover more about him and the Symbolist Movement.

A quick 'google' revealed very little info, but found one or two pictures I like-particularly 'Death and the Grave Digger'. the angel of death is remarkable-beautiful in an awesome way!!!

So, I shall have to go looking in the deepest recesses of my book shelves, now I am home, for a book I bought on the Symbolistes some years ago, but never found time to read..........oh the luxury of of having time now !!!!!!!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Geneva and the Montreux Jazz Festival

Although I managed a few short posts over the last two weeks there was a distinct lack of photo's..... There is a reason for that!!!! I spent last weekend in Switzerland and managed to leave my camera at my Mother's.  I decided, therefore to leave all reference to my Swiss vacation until I had the pictures to accompany my news!!!

I had a lovely time with scorching weather, a visit to the Montreux Jazz Festival and sightseeing in Geneva.

Here is the famous fountain ( the only thing I remembered from previous visits, as a teenager and then on an inter-rail trip as a student!)

This view of the city has the French alps in the background.  They look very different to when I've seen them covered with snow on past ski holidays!!!

This is the one and only 'street' group that we found in Montreux.  They were very good.  However, as we expected many more we strolled on, past never ending food and 'tat' stalls, looking for more of the same, in the ever increasing crowds. Don't know where they hid themselves, but we ended up enjoying delicious cocktails on the verandah of the very lovely Hotel Suisse,after giving up the search!!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Suhail Shaikh-paper shaper....

Suhail was one of the winners of Isabelle de Borchgraves lovely competition. He submitted a beautiful dragonfly ring, made out of paper-based on model plane making techniques.

Suhail has just started a blog showing some of his new paper cut designs following themes,;such as 'Earth','Air' and 'Water'.  It is well worth taking a look at his wonderful paper creations.  Some are realistic, being based on natural objects such as fish, dragon flies, birds and , more unusually, a praying mantis!  He has also produced a series of much more abstract designs; based on simple shapes and also aeroplane parts, for example  propellers.  The designs are all beautifully photographed, as well as being described in a very lyrical/poetic way by Suhail. He has already had over 1000 visitors since he set it up this month-quite an achievement!

You can see his very interesting work on his blog which is;

Monday, 11 July 2011


Cinderella can go to the Graduation ceremony......:-)

(Although it did seem for a while that my usual computer jinx was at work.......discovered it wasn't just my pass word that wouldn't work and most of CCAD had had problems accessing their results. )

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Over a thousand visitors....

Would never have believed when I was FORCED (!!!!) to set up my blog that in under a year I would be an addict and have had over a thousand visitors :-) So much fun to have done , after the first few teething problems !  :-)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Sarah Morpeth book making day on Friday...

Set off, on Friday, for Sarah Morpeth's bookmaking workshop at her studio (in the very pretty of Elsden, near Otterburn  in the Borders), two hours drive away.

Was absolutely'blown away' with Sarah's work when I saw it at the The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in the Autumn.  It was lovely to be able to see some of it close up in her studio, as well as being able to see her working environment and talk to her about her designs.

However, the workshop wasn't about paper cutting. It dealt with making the various book types that can them be customised according to a theme by an individual.  Sarah bases her books on a favourite inspirational film.  Her cascade of individual words,machined, torn and then pulled out from a page on a thread, in multiples was amazing. Some of her unique works are able to be seen in the background , below.

Sarah was a good teacher.  She is very enthusiastic about her subject matter, explains everything clearly and is EXTREMELY patient!!!! We all  (five students, on this occasion) had great fun making  popup, beak, pant s(!!!) and concertina books in the morning.

 We then enjoyed a delicious home made lunch , produced by her lovely Mother, in their home, which is next door. In the afternoon we had the opportunity to learn how to make a traditional book with fabric covered board ends and stitched pages. Four o'clock came too soon and sadly I couldn't linger, as I had a long drive home.

Sarah runs workshops on request and is able to be contacted via details on her website

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Village festival -Faith, Hope and Charity/Love!!!

On Thursday I put up a display in the little village, church ready for todays festival.

The festival organisers had asked people to produce Art/ craft/ flowers or whatever to illustrate a favourite biblical verse (as it is the anniversary of the King James' Bible this year).  So, as I had a number of personal items, plus some boards I designed for a project I did in the second year (on the theme of religion/designs for the Durham Cathedral bookshop), I decided to help them by filling a window!!! Hopefully you can tell it illustrates verse 13 Corinthians 13 ???!!!!!

Regulars to my blog will recognise the Hat stand and the heart box and necklace from previous posts!! My display drew  a lot of favourable comments, including are they all yours.  To which I replied yes!!!! I have an unusual collection of bits and bobs that I like to think are eclectic-others have called them eccentric !!!  They all fit Morris' criteria, i.e. only have things that are beautiful or useful in your home, most are the first but a couple cover both! I am not particularly religios having my own weird and wonderful view of life but I do love the embroidered textiles associated with the Cof E and similar groups, so have a few examples found over the years in junk shops.  I also have various hats even though I NEVER wear one.......maybe they are right....eccentric may fit the bill!!!!

The festival itself, that the display was part of, went brilliantly -after alot of hard work by the organisers and some luck with the weather. It is always very traditional and has Morris dancers who, this year, were joined by a group of mummers! I love old things and keeping old traditions alive is very important, I believe.

This shows the back of a Morris dancer and a couple of the mummers in mid flow/fight!!!

Everybody came out in force to support the event,.  It is so nice to be in a village with such a community spirit, and much as I  love foreign travel/living abroad and the lovely countries I have known, it is still nice that there is still a little bit of 'Old Englande' managing to survive in such a technological age.......Long may it continue and thrive for future generations.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Hand drawn lace....

Re the previous post and hand painting lace.....I did draw two very detailed fragments of old lace for my vintage project. I did them by using a very sharp pointed parchment craft tool on parchment paper.I was pleased with them but they were very time consuming and I had lots of other ideas to develop. However, I did use them, printed on coloured paper, for one of my favourite designs, based on my version of a vintage dove and an embroidered card my Grandmother's fiance sent her from the trenches in WW1 , before he was killed (see Valentine's Day post for full explanation!).  I used this composition for  Valentine's Day/Wedding cards and a favours box.

(Please note, this image and all the other designs and photographs placed on my blog are meant for interest, information and possibly inspiration only and are my intellectual property/ copyright
. Please do not copy-thank you)

The lace drawing can be seen in the background.  The drawings were made from a vintage collar and cuff I was given by my other Grandmother-so in one card I have memories of both of them! The vintage dove has a lace body. I cut out the interior space with a scalpel. I then placed the outline over some real lace, which  was placed over a sheet of pink paper. My Grandmother's card is held in the doves beak, in minturised form and is also in the favours box along with miniture hearts (designed by me and dried pink rose petals- I'm such a romantic!!!!!

Isabelle de Borchgrave competition

Speaking of competition ( in my last post), I have actually entered one! Those who know me will be shocked!. The only other competition I have 'gone in' for was forced on me by my degree and I hated it, as wasn't happy with what I had to submit. Also,I usually hate the thought of anything competitive. However, one of my inspirational paper artists,  Isabelle de Borchgrave, advertised one and the first prize is a weeks experience in her studio.  Anyone who has followed this blog will know that, in the Autumn, I wrote that it would be a dream come true to do work experience with Isabelle (that is my most popular post, coincidentally:-)). Isabelle produces the most amazing paper replicas of fashions from the past.  My personal favourites are the Medici and fortuny collections.  She has just had an extrememly successful exhibition in America-Pulp Fashion.

So, I entered, with the paper copy of my childrens Christening gown.

I constructed the dress, after making a detailed fine liner drawing (I love fine liners!) out of hand mulberry paper and doilies- attached with glue (held together wi,th clips whilst it dried-looks like the poor dress is being tortured).  I then hand painted little emulsion paint flower copies of the original embroidery.( one of the things that fascinates me about Isabelle's work is how painted lace/ brocade/ can be made to look so realistic).

I can honestly say I never thought a competition could be so much fun or so rewarding! Since entering I have been able to view my own and other peoples entries as well as seeing comments from viewers and being sent messages etc by some of the lovely competitiors.  I was advised by one of the competitiors to put a link to my blog and so have also been very pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have visited it since doing so,as well as some very nice comments.

I don't for one minute think I could win, as there are some interesting entries. My favourite is a lovely dragonfly ring, based on old model aeroplane methodology. I also like a pretty blue headdress and a very clever folded paper Tudor influenced dress.

So, if all competitions were as much fun as this one I might consider entering another one....maybe......

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

a little gift too.........

I may consider putting in with a bought gift, for the new parents, one that I  designed for my minor project (along with the previous cards).

I made a pair of shoes,in a shoe box and garlands/wall hangings for a nursery or play room, out of a drawing of a pair Charlottes old shoes. These shoes were brand new BUT vintage when I bought them in a little brocante shop in Holland a couple of decades ago.  Charlotte actually wore them and looked adorable in them and her little smocked dresses and frilly socks (sorry Charlotte!!!!). They were lovely to draw and then produce as 3d by decoupage-think I used about 5 layers and it made the soles look just right. I was really proud of the shoes in the box because they were so like the originals even if I say so myself!!!!

I also produced cards to match, so may keep the Christening card for when the baby has its naming day and give a matching card instead....decisions decisions....

This board looks a little overcrowded to my eye now!! As a lovely lady ( and fellow student) Joy  always- said 'less is more'...and  she was always right....and her designs were always very successful in the Bradford Textile Competition......:-)

...and parents

I shall be selecting a new born/Christening design for the happy parents-when their new baby puts in his first appearance, as he seems happy to wait for a few more days before making an entrance into theworld! His poor mother , in this heat!!!

 These designs are also from my Vintage and lace Minor Project.  They were produced by printing copies of my drawings of both a long and short Christening dress that my children wore at their respective Christenings in England (Charlotte) and Celle, germany (James). I printed the images onto handmade mulberry paper and silk, for the first board.  the second boards cards were produced like the blue design of the previous post, by cutting out the interior space with a scalpel. this time I inserted antique lace and used a vintage edging to finish off. The photographs do not do the cards justice, in my opinion!

I really enjoyed this particular theme, as I have loved old things long before they were popular with everyone else.  I used to look in junk and antique shops etc. as a teenager and since then have built up an eclectic collection of old/vintage bits and pieces, that suited me and my home/s!!!!

I hope my neighbours like my cards.......

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

New Arrival

A neighbour is going  to have a little boy, at some point, over the next few days-due day today, but men are always late!!!! I have a little gift for her baby and her very sweet little girl, Grace. As a card and gift designer (!!!??!!!;-) ) I shall have no problems chosing a card for her two children..........

This is a board from my Minor project.

The little pink dress card was designed using a coloured drawing of a vintage dress -given to me by a friend, for my daughter Charlotte.  It had been her husnbands, when he was a baby in India, and has exquisite embroidered butterflies attached by the body (but with free wings). It is one of my favourite card designs (probably because I love butterflies). I printed the design on hand made paper and cut it and tiny individual butterflies  and flowers for added decoration

The blue card is drawn from a smocked traditional romper suit that I bought for my son James.  It was cream, but I cut into the picture with a scalpel and padded it out  with blue tissue paper to colour the image.

So, that's the children sorted....... 


Just realised it is five years this week since I moved from what was my dream house (but where I was the most unhappy I have ever been!) to my little 'Hope' cottage (where I have been very happy, generally, since the day my children gave up their last week at uni to help me move in)
I commerated both of my homes, lived in over the course of my Art odyssey, in stitich for one of my earlier projects, which concerned surface embellishment for fashion. As I love the willow pattern and blue and white china and the colours I drew an updated version and then stitiched it on shiny silk.  Unfortunately that has made the design difficult to photograph :-( sorry...

This picture is supposed to show my cottage,between the trees, but it is very faint! It is near heaven and is like the place the lovers escaped to.....!!!!

This picture shows my old house in the far right hand side again rather faint and lost amongst the embroidery and beads.

The bridge I walked my two old dogs/friends, Copper and Gunnar ( a golden retriever and flat coated retriever) over for many years is shown in the bottom shot. It is like the willow pattern bridge that the lovers escape over.

My little cottage has been a godsend-it ticked all the wish list boxes when I came to see it the Easter before I bought it. I have been so lucky................


Sunday, 26 June 2011


I love blue and so blue flowers are my favourites,as well as white! Blue iris are so wonderfully constructed and look lovely, however they are depicted !! The orientals (followed by Van Gogh , among others) loved them too. Here is one of my own attempts.

It was painted using watercolour crystals, called Brusho, that are dissolved in water but, due to variable solvency, give the lovely varied colours perfectly suited to an iris flower. These can be easily bleached and drawn into with pen, biro, crayon etc., so are more versatile than ordinary watercolour, it seems to me. This is one of my favourite studies, hope you like it too.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Good News- drawing being used by international cotton trader!!!!

I am very pleased because an international cotton company is using a drawing I produced for my Minor Project as part of it's client presentation powerpoint! :-)

This is just a sample of the A1 drawing  sheet I produced whilst trying to design a 'Cotton' Anniversay card! I also used different media on the sheet. The cards I produced, using the different kinds of imagery, included; straight forward prints of the image mounted on different backgroud papers, one that was printed on cotton fabric and the one I liked best that was printed , cut into with a scalpel and cotton wool inserted!!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Chelsea Show bike look alike!!

Following an amusing comment about my 'cottage garden soft top', here's one I did earlier...Chelsea Garden, 2010 style!!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


I love the magic that that phrase evokes .  It makes me think of fairies, dancing in toadstool rings, making wishes and when I was a child I believed in all those lovely, pretty things........ That's one of the reasons why I love little children for whom the magic still lives and whose eyes glisten with wonder, when they listen to fairy stories.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

....and blue/yellow !!!

Here's a picture of the rest of the flowers that I bought yesterday, which are more suitable for my main room! So pretty and cheerful, with one of my favourite flowers blue iris ( a very popular choice of subject for oriental pictures  in the past, as well as for a fellow oriental fan- van Gogh).

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

In the pink!!!!!

As a reward for final tutorial bought a mass of beautiful flowers that were reduced at Tesco, when I stopped to by storage boxes for all my craft materials!!!! Pink isn't really my colour now that I haven't got a pink and white spare bedroom any more.  However, I love peonies and lilies so at 75p couldn't resist!  They look beautiful in my cream/white/black and blue bedroom and smell wonderful too.

 Feel like a Queen....

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Final show Hartlepool Gallery Church Square

Thursday was preview night for our displays of selected designs from our FMP.  My design area  is card and gift. So, although I have embellishment/embroidery (like the fashion designs) and repeats (like interiors) due to the scale differences and use of product boards to show my designs, my area looked very different to all the other displays

I was, therefore VERY worried that it would not be liked and so wished I had opted out of this non-compulsory part of the degree, However, my sister and Mother, a lovely lady called Anrea who spoke to me at the end of the preview evening and all the lovely people (especially the lady from Texas) who came and talked to me when I was 'on duty' at the gallery today made me glad I hadn't chickened out!!!! THANK YOU  so much for making me feel so much better about my work and saying such lovely things. SO  MUCH APPRECIATED. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Leonardo da Vinci flowers and Henrik Simonson

One of the reasons I like the vintage/sepia painting by Henrik Simonson is because it reminds me of the Leonardo da Vinci's flowers. The pre-Raphaelites were very good at botanical detail in their paintings, as 'The Tree of Forgiveness' and 'Ophelia' show.  the latter was cited as being as good as a walk in the country by a Victorian Botany Professor!!!

One future option for myself is botanical drawing.  The Royal Botanical Society have produced a distance learning course.  However, as it is very expensive, like all education these days, I may just follow the course by myself, using the two course books available from Watersones etc.

Must say, can't wait now to 'move on'.....just a few more weeks left........

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Cottage garden corner

I have placed the flowers I bought the other day in the spaces left by plants that had  died (due to the severity of last winter).  They have formed an old fashioned floral corner in my tiny garden.  I think they look beautiful, especially as they are really very simple flowers that have retained their popularity over the centuries, but were most liked in my beloved Victorian times. I love old fashioned and wild flowers. The foxgloves look particularly pretty

Henrik Simonson uses wild flowers in his designs and has used pink foxgloves in the  Midnight Garden.

I think I need to 'rearrange' the evergreen clematis (that never flowers :-( ) and the brash pink rambler that was in the garden when I bought the cottage (and have kept because it has the most wonderful perfume and flowers prolifically).

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Henrik Simonsen

I love this artists work. Tthis one is particularly beautiful, although must admit some of his latest work is rather bright for me! He is a danish artist who trained in Denmark. America and at Exeter College of art U.K. He produces beautiful pictures related to Baroque, Chinoiserie etc. and uses wild flowers and butterflies in many of his works.  No wonder I love him!!!!

If you want to see more of his imagery follow the link below for Opus Gallery Newcastle, which is going to stage an exhibition of his work in the autumn.  Eyestorm, his agents, show more of his lovely artwork on their website.....enjoy!! :-)

Henrik Simonsen

Thursday, 2 June 2011

cottage garden soft top!!!!!

On the way back from a meeting about the final show I stopped off at a garden centre to buy some old fashioned flowers for my little garden-honeysuckle,hollyhocks, foxgloves,catmint,lupins, delephiniums and pansies.  It is just as well my little two seater has a fold down roof and that the sun was shining, so I could get everything in to transport back to my little cottage!!! I did receive a few surprised looks from people I passed in the village!!! :-)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Painting boards!!!

Instead of using paint for trying to produce beautiful designs,spent the morning painting boards for our show. The preview is next Thursday and it is open to the public for a week at Hartlepool Gallery Church Square. There will be some lovely designs on view. My year is very talented and have produced amazing designs for fashion and interiors.  We have a large number of design competition winners so....if you would like to see their brilliant work DO COME ALONG!!!!

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Lady Of Shalott (1 of 2)

For those who do not know the beautiful poem which inspired many Victorian artists, here is a taste.  It is accompanied by a musical version I have not heard.  I designed most of my Minor project to another version, by a symphonic rock group called Autumn.  Unfortunately I couldn't find that one .  However, this pretty folk style song seems pleasant enough!
Some years ago I read this poem to a group of 7 yr olds.  You could have heard a pin drop....they loved it too

The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse

William Waterhouse was a third generation Pre-Raphaelite.  This u-tube clip shows his artistic response to  my favourite poem.

Visit to York

Had a lovely day in York, chilling out with a spa treat that my daughter gave me :-) 

Little Toby was a very good boy...his first city visit ever. He loved the birds and squirrels in the park. 

Dropped into Easingwold on the way home and discovered a fellow Elena Deshmukh lover and designer at Angel.  The owner of this lovely card and gift shop runs her own design business from her farm,used to work in Hartlepool and sells her products at Cloud Cuckoo too.  Small world!!!! We had a very interesting conversation about trade shows etc etc !!!

Have had difficulty with comments over the last few days....can't comment on my own or anyone elses blog!! Hope Blogger resolve the problem soon...