21 November 2017

Drawing Tuesday - Parasol Unit

Out back, a tranquil autumnal scene ...
 Indoors, interesting objects by Martin Puryear (till 8 Dec) -
 I couldn't resist this one -
 and its straight-sided (but oh so irregular!) shapes and negative spaces -
 Two hours of grappling were a learning curve, and I got to wondering how "Brunhilde" was actually built ... steamed wood over a form? -
Carol was on the other side, having a close look at the intersections -
Sue caught the autumnal outside view, with that large bronze -
 ... as did Judith -
... and Janet K caught a different angle -

Joyce was upstairs with the prints -
Janet B was outside, elsewhere, happily drawing a warehouse till the cold drove her in to the nearby McDonald's to warm up -
 We persuaded her to join us at this jolly cafe (note the painted curtains) -

Extracurricular activities
Janet B, drawing at the veterinary college

Janet K, doing the collage homework from last week
 Also from last week:
Carol's work at the British Museum
 Tool of the week

Judith's  Pentel brush pen was satisfyingly dark, almost like charcoal -

20 November 2017

British Museum members' evening

The Chinese gallery at the British Museum has recently reopened, with a brighter, fresher look - and the South Asian gallery beyond is nearly ready -
 These tomb figures go back to 728 AD -
 One day I happened to be in the gallery and caught a talk on the roles of horses in Chinese culture - the big ones brought from Turkmenistan and points west in the 2nd century BC, gradually replacing the small native horses. And it was these big horses, raised in the north, that allowed Genghis Khan to take over not just China but a huge chunk of the world.

Here's a lovely delicate golden thing, over a doorway -
 ... and a long corridor full of jade through the centuries -
 A delicate dragon from the Ming dynasty, 1300-1700 approx. It's about 6cm wide - and jade is tough stuff to carve -
 In this grouping, the green bottle needs to come just a bit left, don't you think?
 These are modern jades - the teapot so thin it glows, the incense holder quite the opposite, and the jue vessel on the right looking sumptuously buttery -

 I wanted to hear about Scythian metalworking techniques, and it was worth the effort. Plus it's so special in the museum when it's not filled with bored tourists and inattentive schoolchildren. The cafe in the courtyard serves wine, and people patiently queue for the chance to attend the lectures as a string quartet plays nearby...

19 November 2017

Friday, Saturday

"Tasteful" xmas decs in a shop window...
 ... on the way to the ICA with its fabulous floors -

 ...to have tea with new artfriends -
 None of us got much out of the current exhibition - a series of screens with "rescued videos" by a "postconceptual" artist, but we did enjoy speculating about what postconceptional - oops, postconceptUAL - art is. Or, might be.

On, to the RA to see Jasper Johns, via the xmas lights on Lower Regent street -

 We took the free audioguide, and it was good to get the extra information, but only for the first few items, then I gave up on it. I found that having a "voice in your ear" diminished the enjoyment of the exhibition - the headphones put everyone in their own little bubble, and this was not very different from watching a video. I like the social aspect of seeing an exhibition - or rather, the shared expereince of it, shared with all those strangers. And the unchangingness of written labels, rather than the asynchronous temporality of listening.

Saturday, a walk in the park on the way to Hooked in London, where various projects are ongoing -



We are scheduled to run a workshop at the Museum of London in a couple of weeks, and will be taking our work along as inspiration, as well as samples of small items that participants can make. We'll be showing people how to "transform old fabrics into beautiful designs".  The date is Saturday 2 December, and more details can be found at www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/event

Having not enjoyed the "screens" at the ICA exhibition, it's ironic to receive, somewhat but not entirely unexpectedly, a new screen of my own, which will undoubtedly make my computer time easier on my eyes. It's bigger than the current screen - and it's not shiny - but oh my, its blackness does rather dominate the room. "Dan Hays" is't entirely at ease with its new neighbour, a situation that might be alleviated by keeping the desk clear
The Cardboard Clock has had to be moved to the other side of the room. Not ideal.

Dan Hays is much happier with this set-up -

18 November 2017

Wreckage at the RAF museum

The RAF Museum isn't all perfectly-preserved planes and heroism. "The other side" of the "glories" of war is shown by putting some wreckage into the museum.

From an aircraft collision, 1940, over London -

 Reconstruction, complete with dripping water, of a bombed factory -

Click on the images to read the story -

This plane, a Halifax bomber, lost in an attempt to put the Tirpitz out of action, was found in a lake in 1971 -

The museum decided not to restore it - it's an amazing sight.

17 November 2017

Planting, and musing

With the necessary bricks replaced, finally the tulip bulbs could be planted. The window boxes became a bit dusty during the repointing and need some attention and possibly replanting -
 Out back, the rubble mountain continues to grow, though with the plasterers almost finished in the front room, it may have reached its summit - for now. Later, this area will be rebuilt as an extension to the flat ... but that's "later" -
Out front, though, quite a few hours went by as I happily planted the tulips, and winter pansies, here and there, keeping a photographic record of which went where (though, does it really matter...). Also the pansies indicate places where tulips are expected to appear -
 Garden done - for now. Let's see what survives the winter, and the cat-toilet situation: for 20 years and more, during The Weedfield Years, they've looked upon it as their own -
It would be unfair to say that it's not what I planned. There was no plan, just a vision, a photo in a book with tiny plants spreading through the cracks in the paving, and greenery round the edges.

We went "with the flow" - a couple of trips to the garden centre, filling the car with plants - extravagant, yes, but when you're living through the renovation phase, some instant results, somewhere, are a necessity. The groundwork was a bit laborious, so adding Big Plants was a treat.

And the plants themselves turned out to be quite surprising. There are two "lollipop lilacs" (will they survive...), a tamarisk (not enough sun?), a small eucalyptus still in its pot, for out back eventually, a tall, thin yew in its pot (probably a mistake).

In the sunnier corner is Gertrude Jekyll, the beautiful rose; around it are cyclamens for now and primulas and forget-me-nots for spring, as well as pansies and violas for a bit of colour right now.

The grasses - pennisetum, miscanthus - were an impulse buy and a good idea.

A hydrangea, japanese anenomes, delphiniums (the slugs seem to love them), an astilbe (to be moved nearer the house; they don't mind shade) - and one of those lovely-leaved "forget-me-nots" - Brunnera - rescued from Tony's garden, via a sojourn in mine.

Agapanthus in the corner, still in its pot (perhaps to go out back, "later") from Sue. 

Lavender, despite Tom's protestations - in the sunniest spot, and also in the sunnier window boxes, along with fuchsia and this'n'that, and those flourishing ferns.

Not to forget the remnants of bushy chrysanthemums, which I know from a tiny pot that's been in my garden for a couple of years, can grow enormous; perhaps they'll be moved to a window box...

Before leaving to find some lunch on the way back home, I stood for a long time just looking at it all, without a thought in my head. Isn't that the joy of gardening: in the changing of seasons, to be paying close attention to the jobs at hand, and to have done it all, for now, and put the tools away, and then to stand back and Just Look.

The earliest photo of the garden was taken in August (gosh only three months ago) - the weeds had been whacked, and the ferns put in place (so we thought) - but beneath that scattering of pea gravel and the regrowth of bramble and alkanet* lurked enormous roots, which hopefully have all been dug out - it looked like the craters of the moon for a while, and pitchforks were broken along the way. As for that pea gravel, it's been sifted into rubble bags: undoubtedly it was meant to keep the weeds down, but didn't do the job. The paving slabs, and a little TLC, will do better.

*"what is green alkanet good for? For some it's a weed - I let it grow around my pear tree but try not to let it spread about. It will grow where little else will, and the flowers are pretty and come in a long succession from spring to autumn: if you hack it back to the ground it will return, unperturbed. Finally, and most importantly, the flowers are popular with pollinators, just like its tamer relative lungwort (Pulmonaria)." (via)