Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Ryedale Open Art Exhibition

MORE than 1,000 people are expected to attend the 35th Ryedale Open Art Exhibition celebrating the work of artists in the district. 

The show, which opens on July 7 in the Milton Rooms, Malton will feature hundreds of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and other works of art.

It will run until July 14, from 10am to 4pm each day, although it will not be open on Sunday, July 8.  Yvette Turnbull, creative economy officer for Ryedale District Council, said: “The show is always very well supported, but this year we have a large number of artists who have never shown with us before – I hope that means that lots of new artists are being inspired to pick up a paintbrush for the first time.  The best thing about this exhibition is the way we hang the work of children and new artists next to professionals and people who have been submitting for many years”.

I'm very proud because Brandon, who has been coming to my workshop to learn stone carving as part of his skills section of the The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme has nearly completed his Fish, which he has submitted for the exhibition.  This evening he is coming to put the finishing touches to his sculpture so that it will be exhibition ready for handing in day next Monday.  Fingers crossed it will get accepted!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Five Stone Rings

I have felt a bit untouched by the Olympics so far, but this week the torch came near, and raised awareness and a little excitement.  It was delivered to Pickering by steam train, the locomotive Sir Nigel Gresley, which holds the world record for being the fastest steam engine since World War II, brought the Olympic torch into Pickering, from Whitby.

But Weymouth railway station have gone one better, and just installed a stone sculpture to celebrate the Olympics.  The rings were carved by local stone masons in Portland limestone.  The 9000kg piece, made up of 10 separate pieces,   and standing 2.5 metres tall, was carefully craned into position this week

'We are delighted to be able to welcome the world to Weymouth and Portland for the Olympic sailing events against this fantastic backdrop of the Olympic Rings. This sculpture will help the town really stand out and will showcase the outstanding craftsmanship of our local stonemasons using world-famous Portland Stone.'
– Cllr Mike Goodman, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council Management Committee Chairman

Image Duncan Sleightholme

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Stone Beads

I remember going to an exhibition of work by Frida Kahlo and finding the information about her completely fascinating, deep and exotic.  A couple of photographs of her, and some self portraits stick in my mind - one of her holding a small primitive stone carving and others showing her wearing large unusual jewellery.

Stone Bead Pendant

Stone Bead Necklace

On closer inspection I find that some of these bracelets and necklaces were made of stone.  These early Americas, Pre-Columbian/Pre-Hispanic adornments are utterly beautiful and seem imbued with knowledge, language, cultures, rituals and the arts.  Beads date back many thousands of years and have always been important decoratively, symbolically and socially.

I now know what to do with all my stone chips and off-cuts!

Images from Old Beads

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

North Yorkshire Elvis Bus Tour

From THE SHED to my shed!  The North Yorkshire Elvis Bus Tour  was on Saturday the 9th June - the first day of my Open Studio.  This Elvis Tour is part of The Shed's 20th Anniversary Season 2012.  The Shed is a small music and poetry venue on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors created by Simon Thackray in 1992. The Shed presents a feast of world-class music, comedy and poetry.

Here is Ian McMillan at my Open Studio

The North Yorkshire Elvis Bus Tour meets North Yorkshire Open Studios in Lastingham at my workshop! 
We've all been hoping for lots of visitors for Open Studios, but it was a big surprise when a huge, shiny white coach pulled up outside my workshop gate, and out poured lots of Elvis look-a-likes, in wigs and full of merriment!  In they filed, until my workshop was packed with bright orange, yellow and pink costumes and Elvis collars.  Too many in fact to fit in, and queues formed! 

The tour guide was none other than Ian McMillan 'The Barnsley Bard' - who has written a line or two about 'The King'.

What a good humoured and highly amusing group they were  - although it felt at times like a rather strange dream, and I could hardly believe what was going on!  Thankyou all for visiting and making me smile!  I'm still smiling!  A very thought provoking and interesting random event!

The Elvis Bus Tour is reviewed here by James Kilner, of the Yorkshire Evening Press.

Thanks to Martin Lea for the images.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

North Yorkshire Open Studios 2012

Preparations are well underway now, setting up and organising for opening my studio this weekend, 9th and 10th June and also the following weekend 16th and 17th June.

Thought I would post some images of the chaos of clearing stone chips, moving pallets of stone, making signs, painting plinths, cleaning, hanging, moving, lifting, changing my mind and rearranging!  But, despite the damp, it is calm here and all coming together well, so I'm showing you Owl in a Hollow.

 I do love this stage of getting ready to show my work and how I make my sculpture, excited and proud with a tinge of panicky nervousness.  Just me and my pieces in my workshop, where they were made, quietly deciding where they will sit, or stand so they look their best.  

Hope everyone enjoys visiting!

North Yorkshire Open Studios - June 9, 10 and June 16, 17, 2012 - opening 10.30 to 5.30 daily.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Fantastical Fumi

The Fumi gallery do hold some eye wateringly good art and design pieces.  It is always a real pleasure to see beautifully crafted and designed work.  

The work of an artist they are showing, Zoe Ouvrier fills me with such pleasure.  She uses the traditional methods in book and scroll making to engrave natural materials. With nature as her inspiration, she creates unique pieces hand carved from plywood as well as paintings and lace-adorned decorative screens.

In these wooden screens Ouvrier has chiselled depictions of tree forms blowing in the wind, which portray the tree progressing through the different seasons.

Gallery FUMI was the first design gallery to open in Shoreditch, London, in 2008. Its directors, Valerio Capo and Sam Pratt, have since made it into a fixture of the London design scene through a series of groundbreaking shows.  I first came across Fumi as they were exhibitors at the Pavilion of Art & Design in Paris where they showed the work of Faye Toogood, an British designer whose work I love - her Portland stone lamp and this table, including a block of Portland stone, are favourites.

Gallery FUMI specialises in design pieces, usually produced in a limited edition or as a one-off commission, that while still functional can often teeter on the very edge of usability.

Friday, 1 June 2012

A Walk in Lastingham - on the wild side

A neighbour passed the other day, having walked her dogs and mentioned she'd seen a young owl at the edge of a field nearby, the dogs saw it first, setting it with intense stare, a white fluffy owl shape, motionless in the grass.

 It is quite common at this time of year that young owls are found on the ground, having plopped out of the nest, or attempted a first flight.  It is always best, unless the bird is obviously injured, to leave it where it is.  The parents are usually close-by and watching over it, and the baby owl has an amazing built-in ability to find its way back up into the branches to safety, using its talons and beak, and little wings for balance.  I've seen them clamber in this way, inching their round fat bodies around obstacles and up vertical tree trunks.

Young owls are always a lovely sight, so I ventured to the spot where it had been seen.  It reminded me that I have not walked locally for ages.  Lastingham village is nestled in a pocket, with the rugged moors rising away on one side and woodland and open farmland at its other edge.  There are a number of local walks, a circular one which takes in all the different habitats, lush grass and sparkling streams leading to cool, dark, thick woodland and then on to bleak, high moorland, and others which venture further afield including nearby villages and dales.

It was lovely to catch up with all the familiar places.  I've explored the paths, woodland, stone walls and seen where burrows are, nests have been built, followed the runways of animals and tracks of deer - visited the oldest oak and the newest hazel - and know where the nut caches are and the latrines.  It is an important part of living here for me, to have an insight into the natural world all busily going on around, to have a respect and care for it and know its cycles.

It cannot have been more than a few hundred yards that I walked, as I had to stop to take in the busy scene.  Squirrels leapt, woodmice darted, stoats hunted, and the baby Tawny Owl perched - it had managed to get up about three feet into a young beech sapling and I heard adult owls calling.

What a beautifull time of year and what good a little walk in Lastingham does.

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