Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Sinking into mundanity on a Sunday. In which we take a ride on the Airline skyride over the River Thames

I am feeling a bit stir crazy after a whole day at home in the rain.

I worried myself quite a lot by doing things that have been left undone for months.

  • some ironing ( don't tell my other half )
  • cleared the dead coals and ash from the fireplace ( our last real fire was at Christmas time)
  • tidied my desk and polished my keyboard. no more dirty querty.
  • found my ipod ( missing for 8 months)
  • created a large pile of stuff for the charity shop, but didn't go to the charity shop as it was raining.
  • paid bills

What was all that about?

Life is too short for household chores.

I need adventure.

New Zealand beckons, and my visa has been approved. I am probably just getting organised, about 3 months too early. Wanting to leave the house clean and tidy.

I shouldn't complain.

Other Half treated me to a mini adventure on Sunday.

He took me on the London Emirates Airline cable car ride over the Thames. Last time we attempted the crossing it was too windy and they closed it just as we arrived. This time the air was still, and the sky was grey.

He knows how to give a girl a good time.

He allowed me to use my Oyster card. Who would have thought a sky ride could be purchased with an Oyster Card?

We took off in our cabin from the foot of the O2 and headed skywards towards  Royal Docks, East London.

The view was scenic.

East London is growing fast. New builds everywhere.

I spotted some cones.

And a beach.

No swimming allowed though.

  Danger of drowning.

We explored the Royal Docks, walking all the way around, inspecting the rapidly changing scenery.

No ice cream. No coffee. OH was heading towards his lunch. I had just had breakfast.

We walked down to the foot bridge that you can just see in the distance in the image above, doing a circular tour.

Happy hikers passed us by; one dragging a tyre behind him perhaps in an attempt to get as much exercise as if he were climbing a grassy mountain or distant hill.

A lot of concrete here.


I didn't try to climb the wall. Nor was I thinking of it. Wallspikes or not.

We encountered a new sport; riding on a jet of air pumped out of a tube by a jet ski. It obviously doesn't count as swimming.

I heard the instructor advising his client

'time's up mate'

'on the way back I want you to swim like a dolphin. Push your head under the water'

And to my surprise, he did.

And looked just like a dolphin to me.

The lift on the footbridge is broken.

At the far end, more development opportunities abound. An old Spiller 'millenium' building. Built in the 1930's.

Coming back round we could see the dome, the airline and the new houses. 

We flew home again. Across the river and back to the Greenwich peninsula.

Back on the South side we popped over to the dome to find out how much they charged for climbing onto its roof.


I am sure you can guess that we didn't take the opportunity.

The airline ride goes much higher. And all for a few pennies on my Oyster card.

A fine morning out, before the rain arrived. We completed the day with a trip to town to buy a new wire brush to clean the BBQ as the mouse has eaten the old one,  and a new sink tidy.

We know how to have a good time.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Photography and collography.......... finding my way in the print room with Birgitta Wilson.

Collographs by Birgitta Wilson

I like to play with scissors and glue.

Photography is not meeting my needs for mess.

So I decided to learn how Birgitta Wilson creates her beautiful collographs as a way to get an opportunity to be messy, and to understand how my print making friends create their work.

Words like 'intaglio' and 'scrim' finally understood. And a chance to play again with the mighty printing press. Technology free, and a very physical process.

I spent two days at The Arches Print Studio in Hastings learning from Birgitta and other very talented artists who also wished to explore new ways to make art.

It is a very different way of thinking.

Find 'materials' .........      anything with texture. not too thick. PVA, tile cement, egg shells, different textured papers

Plan your image in your mind.

Create the image with sticking and glueing.

Then add more stuff to create texture and shading.



So I created a very simple grid and scotred it with a knife, added some sellotape and brown tape, and hey presto; I have a 'collographic plate'.

Of sorts.

Ink it up, put it through the press, and bingo; my very first collograph.


I think I prefer the plate to the print.

I also prefer the tissue papers used for cleaning the plate before printing.

And the marks on the work table in the room next door.

Self doubt creeping in, big time....


A cup of coffee and a piece of cake restore my enthusiasm, and I get to work on my second plate.

I am still not thinking of a picture, but can manage abstract squares; no change there.

Everyone else is busy creating forests, rivers, trees, frogs, beaches, and other proper landscapes.

scrim and eggshells on tissue paper and tin foil

I am stuck in square mode

Adding plant material to the already inked plate creates a silhoutte effect.

This is not mine....

flowers and egg shells; also not mine.

It takes a very long time to ink up the plates and then wipe off the excess ink.

Too much ink and you have a dark splodge. Cleaning off the ink in the crevices with a cotton bud is essential.

over inked print getting a bit murky

But running the same plate thought the press again without inking futher creates a 'ghost print'; a paler and more subtle version of the original. Handy if you have too much ink the first time.

my ghost print of scrim squares

I prefer the lighter look.

I am not a patient person and all this cleaning was beginning to get me down.

I have only just got over the extreme ironing that I had to do for the wedding.

photograph by Istvan Magyar

 Thanks to Istvan for my favourite shot of me at the wedding.

The others were churning out elaborate prints of great elegance.

I knew this wasn't my style.

But then the lovely Birgitta handed me a gift.

She asked me if I would like to try blind embossing.

No ink required. She could obviously see that I was struggling.

I had to think what to make.

Agnes Martin came to mind, and I created a grid.

 First I printed it plain, without any ink, and was surprised by the pleasure that this gave.

Then she allowed me to choose a colour.....

I broke the rules with a pretty playground pink.

..... I was away.

Creating something that felt true to me.

pink collograph

ghost print

scrim inked up and placed directly on the board

 I finished with a  little piece of scrim applied to a little square of card.

I liked the result. Something about creating art from the materials that are used to create art......

 I knew that I would be back for more.

Less sticking and glueing and more cutting and inking seems to be the way foward.

And more photography.......

of course.

bird on wire

blot on the landscape

Monday, 3 August 2015

a red dot and a new dress

Having worked hard at my day job last week, I have some time off for good behaviour.

I have entered the artists' world that is Rye for a few days.

It is a colourful world.

I have had coffee, tea and lunch with my artist friends, and found time to inspect the Rye Society of Artists Summer Exhibition.

I liked what I found; a bright and breezy new space with its very own cone.

Everyone seems to agree that the new venue is a success. It feels light and airy, and has been hung beautifully.

I am in the 'subtle shades of grey and black' zone, artfully hung beneath a print by Fred Cuming RA.

In the colourful zone I particularly enjoyed the works of Matt Hardman on wood panels.

Matt Hardman at Rye

And downstairs small sketches from Dungeness  by Denise Franklin.

It is a varied and inspiring exhibition, and there are lots of red dots already.

I have one, as does Fred.

Which made me so happy that I went straight up the hill to Rye and spent my 'winnings' on a new dress.