Monday, 30 April 2012

The view from here

Some long term readers may remember I went through a phase of making necklaces, I still do, just not very often, but somehow  knew I would not want to paint or draw on holiday so I took my bags of beads and managed to make some new necklaces. The main premise was a pearl one for my mother who had coveted her friends one. I had from a few years back a 4ft long mixed silver and pearl one I had tired of. I bravely cut it up and made one for mother using the biggest potato pearls and this one for me using slightly smaller pearls mixed up with some very random handmade silver nuggets. I love it. There is something perfect about the length and weight of it that makes it perfect to fiddle with. ( I am  the worlds most fidgety person) best of all it cost nothing, always a bonus.


Another success story was this painting, again I had drawn it years ago from a photograph I took at Kettles Yard, I then gave up on it for various reasons, but last week I was playing around with tones of cream and grey, I had some left over paint and rummaging around I found this and a couple of other unfinished still life paintings. I sat when I should really have been teaching, and painted this from the photograph. I can't tell you how satisfying it was, I just painted on default mode, nothing clever just plain old paint it how I see it. I LOVE it. I will never let it go. I am really loving going back to still life I was so tired of trying to rationalise landscape when I had all but lost my memory of Cyprus. HOWEVER I got out all my paintings of Cyprus and something is not working so guess what? Yes, I have to paint some more landscapes and the still life's will go back on hold for one more month. My exhibition deadline is looming the good news is I am not framing anything for my college show, so sanity saved for a while.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The view from here

Last nights art therapy session was an oil painting session looking at ideas from how Lucian Freud applied the paint to the canvas, we had a brief look at some of his portraits before being unleashed for an hour on some oil paint. What I love about these sessions is the embarrassment of equipment riches, copious paint new brushes and easels. I am definitely buying some easel next year. Sadly due to the effing trains I was late and so failed to procure an very good mirror, so ended up holding it. This meant that when I eventually stood back my proportions were skewed, I now fully appreciate the genius of Freud who barely sketched the outline before piecing the parts of a face together to create a far more accurate reflection, but it was great fun and not bad for an hours work!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Ich bin ein Berliner

So I just get used to loading the photographs in reverse order so they make some kind of sense, and then it all changes and now I have to unlearn that idiotic process and load the logical way, so in 5 years time you may see something in the order I intended. below is some house porn I spied in Interiors magazine, it is one of the magazines I can read in the college library which is great as there is normally only one house I love and this saves me nearly a fiver. Once again I seem to be drawn to that pared down basic look but how lovely are these?

 Oh and below, not house porn just where we will be spending Christmas and New Year and for the first time ever with both Daisy and Kitty too! How amazing will that be? A kitchen for Kitty and wifi for daisy to complete her dissertation. oh and maybe a table for me to paint at too. But best of all central heating. I am SO excited, we are just praying we love living in this flat as precursor to when we finally move to our own place in a few years time. Yes I know I said Cyprus but hey we can wander here to sometimes.


Yes I am postie lite, due to work load which I thought I had conquered but something else came up

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Yayoi Kusama

I first saw Kusama's work at an amazing exhibition back in 2000 at The Serpentine Gallery, she is one of those artists that once seen never forgotten. This exhibition was brilliantly curated with a mix of instillations and paintings. It was the giant morphic shapes I remember the most clearly, amazingly I still have the catalogue.
My father emailed with details of a guided talk curtesy of Nottingham university, it seemed a good opportunity to finally see her retrospective at The Tate Modern, and the talk was excellent as is the show, which is still  packed with visitors. And yes, the amazing spot instillations still pack a punch especially the infinity room, but this time what really stopped me in my tracks  was her Infinity-Nets series.
From a distance they appear to be painted dots, in fact the dark spaces are the spaces left by swirls of thick white paint. I was reminded by Richter's blanket series where he covered his paintings with a layer of thick white paint. The layer beneath just peers through as it does here, only these are very controlled swirls and spirals applied with such energy, they seem to pulsate off the canvas.
After the Richter show I had this amazing surge of creative energy and I feel it now too, especially now the written work is over all I have left to do is finish my next project based on Cyprus.

But feel that for now I have exhausted Cyprus and its landscapes, only for now though, to move forward I have to return and work back in the field as my memory is too dimmed to create any more landscapes. I had thought we would return this coming Christmas, but I think the misery of last year stuck in a cold, damp house as the rain lashed down with nowhere to sit was too much for Emin. Coupled with both Daisy and Kitty's desire to Christmas with us this year, we are now looking to rent an apartment in Berlin over Christmas and New Year instead.
images from here, here & here

Friday, 20 April 2012

Fat & Fifty

I am still uncertain how or when it happened, clearly the birthday I knew was coming, but it was still a hefty milestone and what heft it came with. How did I get so fat? It was such a shock, almost overnight I could feel that slight wobble around my back as I walked, like a time delay the fat always lags a few seconds behind the rest of my body as I move.
I took most of these photographs when I was very bloated, but that is a good thing, for me to see myself this big may just focus my mind, on what goes in my mouth, which I was not aware was so very much and to try and keep this all in check. Any bigger and I will struggle to artful disguise and skim over the flab.

I spent a few hours ruthlessly pruning my clothes. Much has been donated to Daisy, ( that was a relief,) and some bagged up for a skinnier day. Will that come ? Well it has in the past, I have had wobbly moments before and I can with some effort shift a few pounds so you never know.
Of course the first thing I  noticed was how forgiving skirts are, and I do have numerous tunics to fall back on so I am not without a stitch to wear.
You will also notice the tights which it seems will be a staple of the next couple of months as finally bitterly cold winds and rain have arrived. This is no bad thing, I am stuck at work marking most days and anything that discourages me from shopping is a good thing. I did go up to London last week to see a brilliantly curated show at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, it featured collaborative art work from husband and wife artists, of which there are many. The gallerina was a delight and Kitty came too which was lucky as we couldn't find it for ages and then realised via her iphone it was upstairs.
Kitty was shopping for a swimming costume, she hates bikini's and of course that is all that the fashion shops have when you are a petite size 8. They can't seem to grasp that slim girls don't always want to bare all. We finally found some in the ever dependable John Lewis, and even then it was a struggle as despite her slender figure few were cut to flatter, so what hope larger women have I don't know!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

We need to talk about Paris

The problem with using Eurostar is to get the cheap tickets you have to book months in advance. What on paper looks like the best time to go, in fact often turns out to be the very worst time to go. I was up bright and early and made it to the station in plenty of time, I even had my ticket and passport, the first warning that all was not well was that I slept the whole way there, a deep drugged sleep.
The weather was not too pleasant and once off the train I could not decide what I wanted to do first, I prevaricated for way too long, bumped and jostled by a sea of tourists, if most of Paris is in London this Easter all of England seemed to be in Paris.

I decided to do the galleries first and wander the streets later, marching down the hill past delicious cake shops I to this day marvel that Parisians stay so slim, and they do, but the statistics say that 50% of France is obese.

I decided to save myself for lunch, the biggest mistake of the day, I was so thirsty I queued for 20 min's in a Carre Fore whilst one dazed and confused shop assistant slept walked processing the shopping of others, making sure that each and every customer waited an eternity whilst she called for a key to rectify her mistakes, all the while checking for texts on her phone.

I finally made it to the Musee de l'Orangerie where my mood elevated a little, the park was glorious and the sun came out and the very nice lady on the till explained that my duel ticket would get me past the queues at the D'Orsay

It was almost impossible to stay so glum when you are standing here, looking over there.

The trip was booked so I could see some of Manet late flower paintings, but a fringe benefit was the newly revamped Musee de l'Orangerie and the added bonus was an amazing exhibition of paintings from the collection of Paul Guillaume, there was even a little doll's house facsimile of what his display must have looked like, it was adorable.

It was only when I went to the toilet that all became clear, my period had started it suddenly explained the intense lethargy and why since returning from Norfolk I felt so bleak and miserable.

Worst of all my hands were swollen to the point that I could barley make a fist and this of course meant my whole body felt bloated and tired.

The first time I made it to the Musee de l'Orangerie I was still in college laid up in a hotel bedroom with students I struggled to get on with, I was suffering from a deep burning cystitis, I drank a gazillion litres of water and then bored witless got up and walked down to the gallery, only to be caught short half way. My French is poor at the best of times but miraculously I managed to order a coffee before fleeing to the cafe's toilet. The gallery was a joy after that pain and it was the start of my recovery.

The second time was 10 years later, hamstrung by a particular virulent hangover I was in Paris as the token female teacher on a trip, I was very kindly excused supervisory duties, not least because the students were sixth former's and a great deal more sensible than the staff. Again bored of gazing at a hotel ceiling listening to the traffic I once again limped down to the gallery to nurse my hangover, it again managed to lift my spirits and so it did this time too

This Matisse is so beautiful, I only really know him by his much brighter paintings, but this was just gorgeous.

I often crop paintings with my camera, I find that they can often look better! Rude I know when we are dealing with Gauguin!

I rarely get to see the work of Utrillo so this was a treat, as was being allowed to take photographs. Sadly having saved my money and my appetite for something special, I went to a cafe just around the corner from where this was painted only to be served cold mashed potato and some dried up chicken, truly the worst meal I ever ate anywhere, and the wine was so expensive. I hate wasting money on poor food and this came to 20 euros! I had been so spoilt in Norfolk and Madrid that the shock of being taken for a fool ruined the day, and so tired and bruised I returned home vowing that this time was the last time I come here.

I did make it to the d'Orsay, I waltzed passed the crowds as directed and it was joyously re hung and curated, I saw not one but two of my favourite Manet flower paintings and realised I have a very long was to go before I understand a tenth of what he did about paint.

You could argue that I achieved what I set out to, but there was something very unpleasant about this visit that had I not felt so miserable I would barley have noticed, even the journey home was grim, sat next to a squirming young girl unable to sit still she all but sat on my lap at one point, it was a joy to get home.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The view from Norfolk

This now all seems months away, we all had a lovely time, the house was not as expected and yet we settled in as if it were our home, it was very Agatha Christie.
Daisy joined us half way through the week and all was very calm. We ate very well, drank quite a lot too, the pubs were amazing as was the food. Best of all I got to see Avocet's, such delicate birds, a joy to watch.

Walking over the marshes there were some wonderful views, the tide was often out but that meant we saw more birds, some of which were quite unusual. Sadly my DSLR has got a lot of muck right inside the digital lens and is going to cost a lot to clean, this means many of the images are unusable, as the sky photographs seem to feature lots of flecks of dirt not clouds.

Close to the house were some wonderful beach huts, due to the rising sandbanks they did not have much of a view, but they must be wonderful for children, and as it happens yes, as a child I did spend time on these beaches, as did my mother, who would get the train every day for a week with her various siblings, umpteen cousins and assorted aunties, as they could not afford the cost of a b&b. I think she enjoyed this holiday a lot being back where she had so many memories,

This is the edge of 'that' beach, this was a box ticked for my sister and we even watched the film! We also watched some grim stuff too including We need To Talk About Keven and Captain America!! As well as gentler stuff for mother.

I read a lot of books for my essay as well as a very short but poignant book by Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending.

We were remarkably lucky with the weather, not always blue sky like this but warm enough for us to walk a lot, well maybe too much on one day. I managed to finally spend some quality time with daisy away from her more demanding siblings. I think she appreciated it and she very generously celebrated my birthday with some champagne.

This was the first Easter without Kitty and it felt strange, after Daisy arrived I kept looking for her as if I had lost something. Ironically next Easter is shaping up for all three to come with me, so from the sublime to the ridiculous!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The view from here

They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, I was contemplating yesterday just how different my parents lives have evolved and I thought about that book. I did not read it, I think you can pretty much get the gist from the title. So yes, I met my father for lunch the other day, for reasons way to complicated to relate Kitty came too. She has the lightest of touches in these situations and so was very much a good thing.
My father is king of the grand gesture, so he is armed with Easter eggs from Fortum's and a very extravagant birthday cake for me from patisserie Valerie. He has changed only in that he has put on weight and appears to have morphed into his mother. Not necessarily a good thing, but I get the feeling his medication doesn't help and of course what is the point of watching your weight when the sword of cancer has already pierced the body.
So we had a chatty lunch after a meander around the Courtauld Institute. So good is the art work and the Mondrian-Nicholson exhibition in fact that I had to go back the next day!
So my father lives in a modest one bedroomed flat, he seems to spend most of his time out, the flat sounds dreary and functional. He is clearly making the most of his life by immersing himself in all things cultured in London, theatre concerts talks you name it he is there plus he is holding down two jobs, since learning to speak fluent Mandarin he is in great demand. He lives apart form his wife yet see her regularly, she got her passport, he got companionship and someone to drop off food parcels once a week.
In stark contrast my mother who briefly contemplated London and all its treasures, has settled near friends, seeking the touch of familiarity. She has nested and and created an environment to hunker down in and see out her remaining years with the last skerrick of sight she can cling on to.
You may think I too obsessively crave the sights and sounds of London, I spend enough time up there, and yet walking he dog I reflected that if Emin did not come home, I too would have the house decorated and fit for purpose in a year. Emin suppresses all I hold dear, and so to save my sanity I escape and chase something that probably does not exist. Which is the best way to live? I don't know really, but the price of a relationship does seem high sometimes. Is my future his future? Like my feelings for both my parents I will never know, because it is all buried so deep, compartmentalised and stored neatly away to be aired another day.