Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Lovin Your Work Sister!

Isn't it funny that when someone else promotes or features your work, it feels doubly good - and today I'm feeling really, really good as Lovin Your Work Sister! have just done a little write-up about me on their Facebook Page.  Do pop over and see my appearance, and all the other amazing ladies!

It is a lovely site, and such a good idea -  Lovin Your Work Sister! is is a networking page to celebrate all the Wonderful, Creative and Inspiring Ladies out there! "From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks Grow".  

The clever Alyson Fennell is the founder.   After 20 years working as a hair and makeup artist, 10 of which were spent in London working on photo shoots and filming for the music industry, advertising and celebrities, she has spent the last thee years pursuing her original passion for Fine Art and Nature Photography.  You will see from her website Alyson Fennell Photography how talented she is!

She says - "I always found it easier to promote other people than to promote myself. (Very British I know!)

I also really wanted to give something back to the people who had always supported me.

So the idea for "Lovin Your Work Sister! was born! I would begin by promoting them and in turn each of them will nominate someone who has inspired them, and so the network will grow!"

Wish you every luck with it Alyson and many thanks for your support!


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Autumn Feeling

It feels very damp this morning, heavy dew and droplets misting the spider's webs - altogether a sense of Autumn.

Sunday, 26 August 2012


At apple harvest time I'm reminded of a childhood pursuit called 'scrumping' - the act of stealing apples from an orchard or garden.  Usually this applied to our own garden, or that of a relative or friend we were visiting.  It seemed great fun, and always related to apples that had fallen and been left on the ground.  (Scrump I think means something withered or shrivelled, and a scrumple a wrinkle or crease). Or did the word come from scrumpy?

My small apple tree, in its second year, has grown a lot and has quite a good crop of small, at the moment very sour apples.  The geese have taken off all the ones from the lower branches, but I have noticed some part eaten ones higher up in the tree.  It must be birds, and they don't seem to finish one apple, just half eat it and then move onto another apple the next time they visit.  I don't mind at all sharing the odd one, but at this rate I won't have enough for even the smallest pie!

This morning I heard a clatter of wings and saw a Jay fly out of the apple tree, beak full of apple.  A scrumping Jay.  Caught in the act.

 Jay oil painting by Bruno Liljefors

It is not uncommon for Jays to visit apple trees for a meal, but I have usually seen this later in the year, when food is less easy to find.  Or maybe they've been too cunning for me in the past, and left before I've seen them.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Sycamore Keys

Recently I agreed to take part in doing a drawing each day during August.  I am really enjoying this and so far have managed to produce a little sketch every day.  

Over the last week or so, I have been noticing signs of Autumn, in the hedgerows and trees and in the heavy dews in the morning, so I thought I would pick an Autumny thing to draw for today.  The keys on my Sycamore tree are turning brown and are gathered in huge clumps amongst the leaves, and I chose these for my drawing.   I plucked a stem and began to draw - but noticed that there were three wings and seeds on some of the keys.  I wondered if I had found a lucky one, like a four leaved clover, and went to the tree to see.  There were lots of three winged, four winged and six winged keys!

I've certainly learned something new today, I always thought there were only two lobes per key.  This is the wonder of drawing, making me look closely and carefully rather than making assumptions. 

Whatever you call them ... samaras, whirligigs, spinning jennies, helicopters or keys... these incredible aeronautical seed-carrying spinners can be seen throughout autumn, and have cleverly evolved for best seed dispersal and effectively maximising the seed's chances of becoming a new tree.

 I wonder if the tree knows something, and that it is going to be a very windy Autumn and Winter, (or not windy) so has made some keys with extra wings?  Or is this normal?  I would be very interested to hear what your trees are doing.

All the drawings from the 'drawing a day in August' group can be found at #ippdailydraw.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Bone Carving

Recently when I was at Rural Arts I had a look round the gallery - and enjoyed the exhibition very much.  One thing caught my eye - Bone Carving Courses!  I found the idea at once both peculiar (in a squeamish sort of way) and intriguing.  I remember seeing lovely carvings in museums in bone, maybe the only material available, and being inspired by their small intricacy.  I have applied for details from the tutor Fraser Simpson, and will let you know what happens.

Since then, I have come across Rose-Marie Crespin who carves motifs into tiny bone discs, and drills holes in the middle, she then engraves them in shallow and deep relief.  Other carving is on biscuit fired porcelain tokens, inspired by ancient cameos and beads and discs of fired brown clay, incised or simply modelled.  Some are tiny, and fine and others have bold, more distinctive engraving, pressed, printed and worked with lines.

I love these sculpted beads and tokens - they feel to have an old mystery, and I find myself gazing at them for ages, in their little boxes, waiting to be selected - I want to lift each one out separately, roll it in my palm and examine it.  Maybe in a previous life I was a jeweller, or was adorned by beads and amulets, to me these little objects are hugely satisfying and I feel some sort of affinity with them.

Hopefully I will get to make some of my own in bone.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


Megaliths according to Alastair Ross.  Alastair is a photographer, whose work I discovered recently because of his stunning images of stones.

He has captured such a stoney feeling, showing the texture, earthyness and solidity of stone - and putting it in such a magic light.  

I am enjoying the output of his current fascination with stone circles and structures from the Neolithic period.  He lives near The Peak District which has an abundance of stone circles, ring cairns and burial mounds.  Some obvious, like the “Stone Henge of the North” at Arbor Low, some not so obvious. 

I share his feeling that when amongst these stones there is a distinct feeling of quiet and calm, of 'slowing down'.  To amplify and as an extension of this he uses film  for his photography and in particular a pinhole camera.  Using a pinhole camera slows the whole photographic process down, as the exposures can be quite long (38 minutes in some cases!).  This seems to allow the stones to 'reveal' themselves - anyway I feel he captures something very magical.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Stone Sculpture in a striped apron?

There is a lovely article in this month's Coast magazine - Try it now - Stone Sculpting.  I agree, if you get the opportunity, do try it!  Though beware, it is addictive!

Anyway, the article is about the famous Portland Limestone, ideal for carving and the tuition you can receive at the open air studio on the coast, overlooking the sea with local sculptor Sarah Gilpin.

A page follows titled 'Stone Sculpting Kit' - essential items needed.

I've never worn an apron whilst sculpting, for me it would get in the way and actually wouldn't work in preventing the ingress of dust to just about everywhere!  However, it did make me think about suitable clothing for carving.  Really you need clothes you don't mind getting covered in dust, which are comfortable and tough - handling stone harshly abrades any garment.

I have often wished there was an outlet for good, honest, simple workclothes for women - I usually buy men's 'bib and braces' and wear steel toe-capped boots, but cuffs of shirts are worn through very quickly.  

I once bought some of those boiler suit type things, but quickly discarded these as you have to nearly get undressed every time you want to go to the loo!  I felt restricted and got far too hot.

I confess, I did giggle when I saw the stripey apron, but actually it is not such a bad idea if you are going to 'having a go'.   The stone dressers of old used to wear leather aprons for protection. These were beautifully made with brass eyelets and strongly stiched leather ties, and became utterly soft, supple and smooth from the work and wearing.

Happy carving if you do fancy shaping your own stone sculpture - let me know how you get along!

Or, would love to see you in September.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Fears, Foes and Faeries

Fears, Foes and Faeries is an exhibition currently running at the Scarborough Art Gallery - coinciding with this is a new venture for the Gallery, called the Thirteen Club (a supper club at the Gallery, taking the idea from the Victorian gentlemen's club of the same name). On Friday, 31st August, 6 - 10pm there will be two talks, inspired by the exhibition, and an informal supper.  I've just booked my place - it sounds really fascinating.

Ammonite fossil

Social psychologist Professor Stephen Sayers from Leeds Metropolitan University and paleontologist Dr Paul Taylor from the Natural History Museum will be speaking.

Stephen Sayers said: “One of my interests is in the psychology of folklore. ‘Folklore’ is shorthand for myths, legends, fairy stories, astrology, superstitions, tarot, runes and so on. My interest is not in debunking it, but in the very opposite: I'm interested in how these things work.

For almost a year now I've been transcribing four volumes journals by William Clarke, the Scarborough naturalist whose collection of charms and amulets form the basis of Fears, Foes and Faeries.

I'll be talking about the collection – I want to know why certain objects were thought to be lucky, or able to protect you, or cure you. Why was this object thought to do it and not another one? I want to know too, what the psychological effects of belief in these amulets are: how does believing in their power change you? In what sense, if any, do they really help you?

There are real mysteries to be found amongst these things; real mysteries that can be explored and understood and enjoyed. If I can do that, it might restore the enchantment of childhood to some people's lives.”

Paul Taylor said: “My talk will explore the peculiar myths that developed around fossils in the pre-scientific era, some still believed by modern societies.

I will show how most of these myths have their basis in the chance resemblance between these fossils and objects to which they bear no relationship.”

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Stone Turtles

Although they look rather 'fish out of water' on the grass, the sculptor of these Turtles has managed to capture this beautiful, benign creature perfectly.  You can sense the heavy lumbering and see the simple gentleness in the eye.  I just want to hug them.

There is a frog too, which is equally charming.  In a previous life they resided in an estate in Surrey, and have now been reclaimed by UK Architectural Antiques.  I wonder about the owner of the estate and what the garden was like, and whether he commissioned these pieces to be carved specially.  They are wonderful stone sculptures, and I wish I had an acre or two and a large pond to make them happy.  

Friday, 10 August 2012

Heather Moor

A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting in Danby, with fellow artists Sue Morton and Gail Hurst as we are exhibiting together in September at the Inspired By... Gallery in Danby.  It is a lovely drive over the North York Moors and a journey I don't often make, so I left myself plenty of time to take in the beautiful moorland in all its glory.

I love the lone thistles, which seem to grow and stand tall despite the gails that blow across their stems and the wonderful cotton grass, whose tufts need the wind for dispersion.  

Really this plant is a sedge, not a grass and likes to grow in acid wetlands and peat bogs (another name for it is 'bog cotton').  The fluffy white tops are actually the plant's petals, modified, each tuft having a little seed at the base.

Cotton grass was once used for stuffing pillows and mattresses (I can see why, it is gloriously soft) and for making candle wicks. In the First World War it was harvested with sphagnum moss to make wound dressings.

The Bell heather was just starting to colour, attracting bees, insects and butterflies, and is the first to flower of the three heathers that give the rolling moor its vibrant purple. It has dark pink or purple flowers.

The other two are Cross Leaved Heath, which has leaves arranged in crosses of four on its stems. It has pale pink flowers and can often be found in boggy areas. And Ling which is the most common type of heather found on the North York Moors. It has very tiny pink flowers and generally flowers in mid to late August. 

Pondskaters proliferated on the black peaty ponds and reed stems exploded with flower. 

I even managed to capture a meadow-pippit, whose insistent alarm call alerted all to my presence.

I made a note to get up onto the moorland more often.

Our exhibition is called Texture, Light & Colour and runs from the 13th September to the 25th September - 10 am - 5 pm daily at the Inspired By ... Gallery, North York Moors National Park Centre, Danby.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

More on Hawes

 Cairn at the Countryside Museum in Hawes

Just wanted to share with you a little cairn that was built at the Countryside Museum in Hawes, where I ran my stone carving workshop at the weekend.  I have run a similar course for the last few years, around this time of year, and one of the groups of youngsters made pieces based directly on items which had inspired them in an exhibition about the countryside staged by the museum.

Hoe carved in sandstone

Scythe carved in sandstone, with lichens patinating nicely

We built all the pieces into a dry stone wall cairn at the entrance, which later the volunteers at the museum moved and fixed permanently close to where the stone carving workshops are held.  It looks wonderful and beginining to mellow and weather.

 Wild Flower meadow

Wild Flower Meadow with Butterflies

Swallows and butterflies in the sky above - carved in sandstone

Leaf design carved in limestone

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Countryside Museum, Hawes

On Sunday I ran a Stone Carving Workshop at the Countryside Museum in Hawes.  It is about a two hour drive from my workshop, but a beautiful drive.  It is fascinating to watch the countryside change and the styles of housing and walling alter depending on the stone and building materials available in each area.

It was a really misty/foggy start, all the wheat fields were strung with dew drop filled spiders webs, creating soft silvery swathes between the tips of golden crop.  The sun pressed hard and soon it had turned to a beautiful morning.  I saw deer in the roadside verge.

I'm always made to feel very welcome at the Museum and got help unloading my work benches, tools and stone.

Soon we were underway and after a quiet start, I was throng with visitors coming to have a go at stone carving.  There was spectacular thunder about midday and a short shower, and although the thunder continued to rumble, it remained a beautiful sunny day with some very enthusiastic carving by youngsters, and parents!

An Abstract Carving

A wonderful self portrait carving by this young lady sticking her tongue out!

Very proud of his letter carving.

 Carving with real verve, individuality and experimentation including lots of textures on the surface.

After a happy and busy day, I set off for home.  The sky had become greyer, steel grey and more thunder - as I climbed up out of Hawes there was a beautiful section of rainbow.  Aren't they always a wow!?

Very soon it had vanished and only moments after big rain came.  Just ahead the road was closed and I had to take a detour along a wiggly windy road back to Leyburn.  It got wetter and wetter.  Water was bursting up out of the tarmac road, breaking the surface and driving mud, silt and stone in waves ahead of me.

A farmer, up to his knees in water frantically rodded a drain in the road, but his fields were already submerged.

I was rather relieved to get home safely!  And now feeling for all those caught in this flooding.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Country Living Fair - Harrogate

Actually I should say, The Country Living Christmas Fair - Harrogate.  The Country Living Magazine has for many years held Spring and Christmas Fairs in London and other venues, but this year for the first time they are staging a Christmas Fair in Harrogate at the Harrogate International Centre from 29th November to 2nd December, 2012.

I know it seems very early to be talking of Christmas, but I have been selected to exhibit at the Fair - Stand M49, so it is very much on my mind. It is making me feel very excited, if apprehensive about all the preparation I need to do.  I'm not quite sure yet how I will design the stand to best show my sculpture and am looking out everywhere I go for ideas and suitable ways to display.  

Can you help with ideas or advice?  Should I stay white and simple, or try to decorate?  

As an exhibitor I have one or two Limited Offer tickets to give away - it is buy one ticket and get one FREE, as long as booked before 17th September, 2012.  If you would like one, or more,  please let me know.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...