21 April 2018

Then and now - a year ago, in photos

The magic of modern technology means that Google puts a message on your phone, if you have a year's worth of pictures stored, something like "Revisit your life a year ago" and you can cyberjump to April 21, 2017 and see what you were up to. And perhaps remember where that was, or what that was....

I seem to have been up to much the same things!

(1) Swooning over frilly tulips in my little garden -

(2) Lusting about books I might start reading, but never finish - 
Daunt Books, Hampstead Heath, 2018

A tasty selection, 2017
(3) Working at my desk - 
Desk (in alcove) hides books waiting for bookshelves, 2017

Improvised "standing desk", 2018
(lovely bookshelves either side!)

20 April 2018

An exhibition in The City

As the offices spilled out their workers and the pavements outside the pubs filled up with people enjoying an after-work drink in the sunshine, the very warm sunshine, I made my way to Guildhall Library for Mary Pritchard's "Under the Microscope" exhibition, which is a homage to her mother, Olive Aykroyd. Mary was inspired by her 1930s brass microscope and biological slides to investigate her early life and scientific research at Trinity College Dublin, from where she obtained a PhD in 1938.

 A couple of public sculptures provided momentary distraction and a chance to linger in the sun -

In the library, Mary had added substantially to the material she showed in an exhibition of the same name in 2014, not just the work on the wall but the layout of objects associated with her mother's scientific career, and photos from that time -

Mary has researched not only her mother's career at Trinity College Dublin but also the status of women students there in the 1920s and 30s, which was presented in a theatrical performance composed and performed 
by Peter Cutts, who played the lab technician in the Zoology Department where Olive Aykroyd did her research.

Waiting for the performance
The exhibition runs till 16 May, during library hours, and is free.

19 April 2018

Poetry Thursday - two views of April

April showers bring May flowers, isn't that how the saying goes? This year April has been cold and dreary - not a lot of that suddenly changing, showery weather - until along comes a heatwave! So the flowers are rushing into bloom and the tender blossoms are falling rapidly off the trees.

Contrasting views of April are offered by Chaucer and TS Eliot.

Let's start with the gloomy one, ie Eliot - from The Wasteland -
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Chaucer's view, from the Prologue of the Canterbury Tales, is much more cheerful -
When April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all
The veins are bathed in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower ….
He "goes on to write of sun and nature awakening and the mood changing so you feel jaunty and spry and ready to go on pilgrimage to thank the Saint for your survival over the winter, the crusades or the sickbed. A positive move to action to prepare yourself for the journey you are about to take (also the reader) and the excitement of meeting new folk along the way, all with a story to tell." (via)

18 April 2018

Wednesday is woodblock day

In the quest to make some of the current prints into some sort of book, I spent quite a good chunk of time looking at my bookmaking books - call it research, why not - and rather less time physically doing anything. 

From the handful of ideas I started with a very simple one - a long folded strip, ending up as a little square book. Making samples brought up new possibilities.

What if, instead of cutting the print into three (to get the square) it was cut in half and the bottom folded up to make a pocket on the back? Yes, that would work - but the area above the fold would need some sort of printing, if only a plain colour - well, why not add a few "holes" - ah yes, constellations ...

Here they are ready to cut - and then to be printed on some of the "spare" sheets of last week's "ikat" - 
The non-spare sheets, at bottom right, will be bound together and have a Khadi cover, onto which I'll glue or sew some ikat fabric. Which means I need to find the red ikat that I know is here somewhere.... 

An hour of searching found some interesting items, and a few that went into the bin unrecorded, but not a scrap of ikat. Plan B is to print "something" onto the cover. Meanwhile I can get on with the little folded books, which require a printing session and some hard covers (5cm square) into which the books will be glued. This fabric, shibori on silk organza, made maybe 15 years ago, might be just the thing, in the absence of ikat -
I'll make a sort of book cloth by backing it with iron-on interfacing. Another possibility is to attach cloth to paper by using fusible web.

17 April 2018

Drawing Tuesday - Chelsea Pensioners Museum

Chelsea Pensioners are "those old guys in the red coats" - retired from the army, living at Royal Hospital Chelsea since 1692, and surrendering their pension for the privilege. In 2009 women were included. The Hospital remained responsible for distributing Army pensions until 1955.
Accommodation is in "berths" in long wards. Since modernisation, completed in the 1990s, each measures 9 feet square (formerly 6 feet square) -
 and accommodates mod cons - but the berths had no lighting till electricity was installed in the early 1900s.
 Click on the image to read more.
The museum has many cases of medals that belonged to former residents, and an array of cap badges -
some of which depicted noble animals -
 I also found "Black Jack", a leather jug used to bring beer up from the cellar to the Great Hall, where the pensioners ate - it's huge -
 Najlaa went hunting for keys -
In the Army Museum next door, Sue found an officer's drab-coat, used for desert camouflage -
 ... and Janet K found 17th century fighting garb -
Back with the pensioners, Carol was take by the inter-department document trolley -
 ... and, having missed her train into town, had drawn some other passengers waiting at the station -
 Strange object of the week - Najlaa found it in a charity shop -
We concluded these must be rub-off transfers - but when or where (or why!) would you use them?

More useful is this souvenir from the shop -
It illustrates the major medals, and at the bottom is a key to some of the ribbons, which are an at-a-glance guide (to those in the know!) to the wearer's service history. To the rest of us, they are a secret, stripey code...

16 April 2018

Parliament Hill Mansions

These - built 1889-1906 - are near Gospel Oak overground station, to the south of Hampstead Heath. I had just missed a train so took a little walk and was struck by the different tiles in the doorways -

Flats 11-90
 ...and some former inhabitants -
Alice Zimmern, 1885-1939, pioneering advocate for women's education and suffrage

Haydn Wood, composer (1882-1959; 2nd floor) and RH Tawney, economic historian (1880-1962; 1st floor)

15 April 2018

"All Too Human"

... an exhibition subtitled "Bacon, Freud and a century of painting life" - at Tate Britain until 27 August.

Wandering through, I didn't pay solid attention but was pleased to find a roomful of work by an artist new to me - F.N. Souza (1924-2002), who came to the UK from Bombay/Mumbai in 1949, working initially as a journalist. After various exhibitions and increasing success in London, in 1967 he moved to New York. "His style was deliberately eclectic: essentially Expressionist in character, but also drawing on the post-war Art Brut movement and elements of British Neo-romanticism. His work was often highly erotic." (via)

Crucifixion, 1959

Souza's signature, and the other "asemic" writing marks,
are intriguing
Most of the work by Paula Rego (b.1935) shown in this exhibition - a room full - was new to me -
Watercolour and ink - but title not known, I forgot to
photograph the label


Detail of Bride, 1994 - a large-scale pastel,
wonderful use of the medium
Among the younger artists, this work by Lynette Yiadom-Boayake - though not the largest in the room - leapt out, perhaps because of those tiny but telling areas of light -