Friday, 27 April 2012

My Clever Goose

Earlier in the year one of my geese LB went broody, and rather than select the warm, dry, full of clean straw shed I've provided, she chose to make her nest outside between a pile of logs and a tree stump near my workshop door.  Though March was warm and dry, the last few weeks have been so wet, windy and cold, and I have worried about her out in the open.

On Wednesday it rained nearly all day, and overnight was torrential, but on Thursday morning, there in the protected nest was a perfect little miracle of soft yellow fluff.  LB sat on six eggs, the gander Beaky, on investigating the nest and doing his bit to cover it whilst LB was taking a morning wash, broke one of the eggs by standing on it.  So, of the five remaining two have hatched - one gosling seems to have perished, perhaps trodden on by mistake (geese have big feet and this is LB's first time at raising a family).

The instinct of animals never ceases to amaze me - during the rain she covered the nest by spreading her wings over it, fanning them out like an umbrella - she nudges the little gosling with her beak to the edge of the nest while she turns the remaining eggs, and shows it grass stems, chatting to it all the time.

I'm very proud of her - and have collected dandelions this morning for her breakfast.  If we have any dry today, I'm hoping she'll walk out with her baby.  Better think of a name - what do you think we should call him/her?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Snail Graveyard

I was reminded about all these shells, whilst on the subject of snails here.  Recently I visited a local quarry, now disused, so I could take some photographs.  My idea had been to get a good atmospheric quarry image for my page on Facebook.  

Old quarries, where stone is no longer extracted are beautiful places.  Nature very soon takes over and they become quite special environments for wildlife.  In this quarry, large areas of stone were covered with a thick layer of moss, and small alpine like flowers pushed up through rubble piles.  There was a lone, weak (what looked like) red-current bush. All was blissfully quiet, with the occasional call from a bird of prey and the clatter of wings.

I saw an area which I thought perfect for my picture, and as I went about setting up the camera I found I was 'crunching' as I walked about and moved.  On looking closer I noticed that the whole area was covered in snail shells - empty ones - as if this was the dying place and all these snails had come here to their mass burial site.

Do they do that?  Or have they just found something very tasty to eat which turned out to be poisonous?  Maybe they all gathered to hibernate in what seemed like a good place, but it became too severe in the winter. It isn't something I've seen before.

I also found a lump of stone with extraordinary crystals in it, presumably they got trapped as the limestone formed millions of years ago.  What amazing shapes they've made.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Slow Art

Slow Art is something I've been hearing a lot about lately, and actually thinking about more too.

Slow Art is a creative development by Chrysalis Arts inspired by the Slow Food movement, it highlights current changes affecting rural living and working, landscape, agriculture, and the impact of climate change on the environment. It means that artists make work from low environmental impact materials and use sustainable processes and perhaps challenge some of the perceptions about contemporary art making.  There is a Slow Art Trail in Skipton which was a pilot project defining the concept for slow art and reflects on the slow concept of taking more time to appreciate art.

There is a Slow Art Day (it is on Saturday April 28th, 2012) - which was started with the hope of changing the '8-second rule' - a widely reported statistic that when visiting a museum most people spend only about 8 seconds at each piece of art, and then leave the museum tired, not inspired.   

I love this idea - being encouraged to slow down and really see art - if you look slowly, your experience will be transformed.  If you'd like to get involved - first find a venue, visit on Slow Art Day and look slowly at a piece/s of art for 5-10 minutes, then if you like, meet up with the host and other participants and discuss the experience.  It seems most of the venues are in America - currently the only venue listed in the UK is Gargrave, North Yorkshire - presumably because Chrysalis Arts are based in Gargrave.  I'm glad to be reminded to see and perhaps create in a slow way too. This practice is about being mindful of detail, valuing the history inherent in re-usable materials, putting time into creating small items. The practice encourages the maker to be naturally meditative as they create. "Slow" ends up being a way of being.

It seems the slow movement is gaining pace (so to speak!), and now we also hear of Slow Gardening - actually I discovered my very own piece of Slow Art whilst gardening.  I went into my greenhouse to see how my seedlings were getting along, and there it was on the glass - a very beautiful snail trail.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Stone Samples

I've just received two small slabs of stone from Cotswold Stone as samples.

I contacted them as they supply Guiting Stone which is a beautiful golden honey Oolitic Limestone from the North Cotswolds, and I have seen sculpture I like in this stone and was interested to see how it worked.

The paler piece is Stoke Ground Top Bed and the golden slab is Oathill Quarry.  Both are quite soft stones and therefore ideal for beginners learning stone carving, and I wondered if it might be suitable for my courses as well.

So, I put my chisel to them and had a little explorative carve.  Certainly it is much softer than my normal sandstone, and a little more crumbly in texture - but heavenly to work.  A pallet full will be making its way to my workshop - and it might just arrive in time for the course next weekend too (there are one or two places still available if you would like to join us).  

The sculptor Peter Randall-Page has carved this stone to great effect.

Multiplication By Division, by Peter Randall-Page, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2000, Guiting Limestone (Cotswold Stone)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

North Yorkshire Open Studios 2012

On Tuesday I went to a meeting in Malton at the Ryedale Council offices (thankyou for hosting and for your hospitality and goodly supply of tea and biscuits!) for North Yorkshire Open Studios 2012 participants to catch up with information about the event and to collect catalogues, brochures and posters.

Quite apart from this it is lovely to meet up with all the artists participating in Open Studios, discovering what they are up to, and seeing their new work in the brochures.

I picked up mine - they're very smart!  The event produces a large catalogue and also a smaller brochure, which is easy for visitors to carry and for quick reference and route planning.  They are full of all the artists' details, and also all you need to know about the programme of events organised, like exhibitions, installations, commissions, workshops and talks. 

Alongside these we are all allocated a number of posters, and I will put mine up in the village here on our notice board, in the pub and wherever possible in surrounding areas.  We all also get direction signs, to use on the open days so visitors can find us easily.

 The meeting was run by Helen Berry, who is the curator of the Pannett Art Gallery in Whitby where there will be an exhibition of Open Studio artists' work to run alonside the event.

She gave us all the relevant paperwork, and lots of ideas and tips on publicity and promoting the event, planning showing our work, making sure everything was safe for visitors and a really useful tick-list to check we've done everything needed before we open.  Lots to do!  But I'm really looking forward to opening and welcoming everyone in June.

If, after all my distrubuting of brochures and posters, you haven't got one, or the details you need about the event, you can get a copy from Art Connections, or leave a comment here and I will make sure you receive one.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Garden Art, Sculpture and Tools

Made by Hands of Britain, the award-winning online marketplace featuring fine British craft and design for home and garden, has announced its new collection of handcrafted garden art, sculpture and gardening tools. The new range coincides with National Gardening Week (16th to 22nd April), an inaugural event launched by the Royal Horticultural Society. 

Made by Hands of Britain invited me to have a mini-site shop on their wonderful website where you will find my sundials, birdbaths and sculpture for the garden, including the new 'Zig Mini Sundial'.

I got a little mention here - read all about what inspired their artisan collection of functional and decorative items for gardens.

Made by Hands of Britain is the award-winning online boutique that showcases the handcrafted products and services of over 200 of Britain’s finest artists and craftspeople. It truly is the new destination to find handcrafted design items for home and garden.

Inspirational objects from across the art and craft spectrum can be found on the site ranging from visual arts pieces and sculpture, to jewellery and luxurious textiles and furnishings, clothing, toys, interior furniture and accessories, to bird houses, garden sculpture, tools and ornaments. 

The site also caters to those seeking artisan foods with a wide selection of delectable cakes, cupcakes, chocolates, liqueurs, cheeses, ales and sustainable meat products.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Dawn of Egyption Art

The Egyptions were master stone carvers we know, and when I think of their art what comes to mind is the monumental scale, the inscribed hieroglyphs and depictions of the eternal life of the pharoes.

But their early art is fascinating too and full of beautiful animal carvings.  When the people of the Nile valley were settling and building their houses of woven sticks and plastered mud, they were also producing sophisticated and naturalistic sculpture and artefacts in stone.  They often depict the wide variety of animals that would be found at that time roaming the flood plains.  Archaeologists believe that certain animals were associated with fertility, such as the frog, which hatched by the thousands after the spring rains.

Animal Sculpture - A stone jackal on the prowl from the fourth millennium B.C.

The exhibition The Dawn of Egyption Art just opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and brings together some 170 objects gathered from the Metropolitan Museum's important collection of early art, and from the collections of twelve other museums in the U.S. and Europe to illustrate the origins and early development of ancient Egyptian art.

Stone objects include a game board in the shape of a coiled rattlesnake and numerous wafer-thin hand-size stone carved palettes, used for mixing makeup, whose minimally inflected silhouettes nonetheless intimate various animals, including fish, lions and a pair of mating turtles. 

Animal stone carving - Turtles

The New York Times review by Roberta Smith articulates 'One of the show’s most valuable lessons is that the art of dynastic Egypt was able to suspend nature in such perfect stasis in part because the art of early Egypt devised so many lively ways to distill and abbreviate it or to precisely depict it. In this sense the show attests once more to the tension between the abstract and representational as one of the animating engines of visual form'. 

Which I think is an interesting observation.  Hope this comes to a museum near me - will have to invest in a catalogue I think.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Zig or Zag?

Or zig-zag?  These aren't terms for stone carving techniques, or the tools I use, but the names I'm pondering for one of the little mini sundials I made.  This design  is one very close to me every day, as it makes up the edging on the table I use to sit my computer and printer on in my office.  It makes a bold border and I have thought for a while it would look striking in stone. 

So here it is carved round the top of my latest small sundial in Yorkstone.  I'd quite like to experiment with it now in a curved line.

Or perhaps ziggy-zaggy Sundial?

Yorkstone Sundial - 6" x 6" x 7" by Jennifer Tetlow

The source of inspiration - my office table

Ziggy Zaggy Sundial in Yorkstone by Jennifer Tetlow

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A very lovely package ..

A little while ago I responded to a giveaway run by Celia Hart at Purple Podded Peas she was celebrating five years of blogging - actually it was so easy as she inventively posted 'live' - do go and see - she also introduced us to her lovely hens, her pond and her garden - so somehow I managed to enter, and moreover win,  just by watching her films and enjoying her posts!

This morning my parcel arrived, (I think the mail call it a Large Letter, but it was definitely a parcel, a perfect parcel).  What an excitement.  After tearing away the outer, the most beautifully wrapped goodies were revealed.  A pack of Heritage Vegetable Cards, from original illustratioins by Celia,  and three packets of Pea seeds - that is Purple Podded Peas!

I just can't wait to get planting and include them in my vegetable patch - may even have to make a new bed in their honour!

They are seeds saved from peas grown in Celia's garden - which makes them very special.  Each packet is printed with her beautiful red hen and she thoughtfully included a sheet telling me all about each of the three varieties - their growing habits, flower colour and hints on harvesting.

It has made a rather grey, drizzly morning very bright indeed.  To see more of Celia's work her website is a treasure trove of illustration, prints and magic.

Thankyou Celia Hart at Purple Podded Peas.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Stuck in the Mud

Had such good plans for the weekend, but spent far too much time digging myself out of a hole.  The more I tried, the deeper stuck I became.  The ground just too soggy.  Up to the axles - or was it the hydraulic ram!  Muddy and soaked I admitted defeat and went home for a hot bath (where I dreamed of owning a rough terrain lifter).  The stone I wanted to move, and the forklift stayed where they were.

Will have to beg a tow from the lovely red tractor that goes past my workshop.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Wishes

The modern English term Easter developed from the old English word Eastre or Eostre.  The name refers to Eostur-monath (old English 'Eostre month'), a month of the Germanic calendar attested by Bede, who writes that the month is named after the Goddess Eostre, Mother Goddess of Anglo Saxon paganism.  Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures and were celebrated in the Spring time, Ishtar pictured here, from Assyria.

Ishtar - the Great Mother Goddess 
her name means 'Star of Heaven'

Easter is steeped in the Mysteries of ancient Babylon.  Legend says that each year a huge egg would fall from heaven and would land in the area around the Euphrates River.  In her yearly re-birth, Ishtar would break out of this egg and if any of those celebrating this occsion happened to find her egg, Ishtar would bestow a special blessing on that person.

 Ishtar - Goddess of love and fertility
Reproduction of Original from the Louvre Museum, Paris. 2000 B.C.

Ishtar was worshipped as the Moon Goddess, the Goddess of Spring and Fertility and the Queen of Heaven from Babylon. 

Ishtar - Babylonian Fertility Goddess

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Big Stone Eggs


Erosion Egg - more info

Friday, 6 April 2012

Hares Leaping

For a Good Friday

Hares Leaping - linocut by Jennifer Tetlow

I'm practicing my lino cutting - more needed, I have injuries and ink on the carpet! 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Contrasts of Weather

It wasn't very long ago that I put up this bird box, ready for my little friends at the workshop, for nest making after their avid spring activity.

I am not sure if this is a result of the extremes in weather this week, or if it was a likely outcome anyway, but I am very disappointed.  Thank goodness there wasn't a little nest and clutch of eggs in there.  Perhaps the birds knew better.

Blizzards at the Workshop

What a differance a day!  Last night was awful, cold wind blowing cold sleet and snow.  This morning wet snow.  Fingers frozen.  Hard work trying to do anything.

Snow blown everywhere.  My poor little plants!

 Hope my rhubarb survives.

Monday, 2 April 2012


All this sunshine is perfect for telling the time by a 'Sundial'.  I've always been fascinated by sundials, reading the time by a shadow cast onto displayed numerals and have fond memories of when very young, in my grandmother's garden, clambering up onto a stone sundial, which was taller than me, excited by what magic I would find at the top. The dial was made of lead which was warmed by the sun and I searched for the shadow, then rushed inside to see if it was right.

Now I am enjoying making them - though my part is in carving the stone, and then insetting this lovely dial from 1760 which is cast in brass, with two flighty gargoyle type birds, with the inscription 'Tyme Flyes'.

This 'Mini' dial has a lovely smiley sun face at the centre, and 'Sun's Tyme' written at the base, which it tells it perfectly.

There is lots of information about the science of how sundials work, and the history of sundials, with beautiful examples, at The British Sundial Society.
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