Saturday, 29 January 2011

North Yorkshire Open Studios

Over the last week the selection group at Art Connections has been working its way through hundreds of applications from artists in North Yorkshire who have applied to be part of the Open Studio event in June.

I am very pleased to say I got a 'congratulations' note from them to confirm that I will be included in 2011.  In total 130 artists, from all over North Yorkshire, will be opening their studios for the weekends of 10/11/12 and 18/19 June to visitors, who will also be able to take part in workshops, talks and events.

I am already excited, and so much looking forward to it - I really love visitors coming to my workshop and all the questions about how my sculpture is made, and demonstrating the tools and methods I use (and also hopefully to have the work I have made admired!).

Lots of planning now - it is a great opportunity to have a spring-clean in the sheds - I also have a bit of building work to do (some tumble down walls in the depths of the snow and ice), also need to organise some plinths and design my invite.

Last year I did this sign, which I carried up to the gateway each day so people could see where my workshop is - it is very heavy and took a few knocks, so I would like to do another for this year - does anyone know of an unusual or special script style I could carve - I was thinking maybe to go for a circular shape?  (I could roll it into position then!).

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Mole Sculpture

More mounds keep appearing at the workshop - each morning another one, or two, or three.  I've raked them flat and filled in the hollows, but a very determined mole keeps digging!

The thought of moles immediately brings to  mind of one of my favourite Sarah Young prints 'The Early Bird Catches the Worm', where a tussle ensues between bird and mole for the worm. 

I always hope to see a little mole head appear in the top of the mound, but I never have.  While peering at the excavations I find bits of broken crockery, a piece with a blue pattern on, and a small curl of wire.  The soil is beautifully tilled, friable and fine - I've collected it in pots for planting my vegetable seeds when the time is right.

Mole carved in Yorkstone

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Eric Gill Engravings

What an unexpected surprise to find this sign in my local town, advertising Eric Gill engravings, a touring exhibition organised by Goldmark Gallery from Rutland.

For as long as I can remember Gill's work, particularly his stone carving, has been an inspiration.  His skill and scrupulous observance, precise, clean flowing lines and superb draughtsmanship are qualities I dream about achieving. 

In I went to gaze at a master.

Some of the engravings were very small, so an even greater marvel, and they were beautifully mounted.  I went round twice!  Here are a couple of my favourites, though there was one called Swineherd, with three lovely pigs in it.

This one is called My Love among the Lilies - though they look a bit tulipy to me - adore the spotted robe.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Siting your Birdbath

Apart from a position where it looks good, and you can see all the comings and goings, there are some other considerations in deciding where to put your birdbath.  The RSPB have tips, and interestingly, placement it seems, will affect the type of bird visiting and using it. They also suggest a prickly solution to the problem of our feline friends.

Mine gets full of leaves and bits in no time, so needs a quick scrub and clean before refilling - but the birds love the tree above,  congregating on the branches and chattering after their bathing. 

I sought Gertrude Jekyll's advice on the subject, and found in the introduction to her book Garden Ornament, she writes 'It is hoped that these illustrations of all kinds of garden ornament, now brought together for convenient study and comparison, may serve, not only to quicken the interest in beautiful gardening but also to show how ornament may best be applied, according to the quality or calibre of any place.  The descriptions and critical remarks are to be taken as suggestive rather than authoritative, but they will be useful in directing attention to the various objects and their judicious treatment, mainly as to the preservation of harmony and avoidance of incongruity'. 

However, have found nothing specific relating to birdbaths - so I'll leave mine where it is!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Birdbath heaven

My birds are so busy at the feeders put up for them, with lots of activity and noise. The blue-tits are already exploring  possible nest sites, excavating hollows and popping in and out of holes.  This morning there was a queue at the birdbath and impatient squabbling as birds waited on the rim, or on nearby branches.

It has been a hard time for birds, and during the freeze I defrosted and filled the birdbath a number of times each day.  The birds were very appreciative, and amazed me by constantly using the birdbath despite the minus temperatures, maintaining feather condition and waterproofing, which they did with frantic preening after the plunge.

When I started working in stone, one of the first things I made was a birdbath, and they are always a pleasure to carve, knowing that birds will come to drink and splosh.

I make the birdbaths in various sizes and styles, between 1" and 4" deep, with sloping sides, shallow at the edge and deepest at the centre.  The tool used for hollowing out the bowl leaves wonderful grooved marks, perfect to prevent little bird feet from slipping.

The heavenly bit is that I get to watch them splashing, flapping and sprucing. 

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Feel Good Year Planner

I've had a liberating clear out, de-clutter and re-structure (needed to be done) of my work area, have found long-lost scribbles which at the time I thought vital, and obviously weren't, and put up my 2011 year planner.  Already it is filling with exhibition dates, my open studio, talks, and courses I am running.  Surprising how strengthening a little organisation feels!  And how good.

Pinned to the wall, in front of my desk is a list of resolutions, fairly near the top of which is 'to read more'.  And I've begun with gusto, helped in great part by a Christmas gift from my sister of The Nude - a study in ideal form published by The Folio Society.  It is a book which was first published by John Murray in 1956 and based on lectures in fine art delivered at the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

I will confess to something of a fetish for art books, and this one hits the spot - it is a pleasure to handle, the paper, print and illustrations are sumptuous and it smells good - quite apart from the fascinating and edifying written content.

So I am more organised, sated and learned - good start!

(Incidentally, I have no prophetic dreams to report, despite repeated attempts with the leaves).
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