Monday, 17 December 2018

Walking the Thames path - a 'retirement' project - part 1 - Thames barrier to Deptford

Retirement beckons.

OH (my other half) and I are doing a lot less work than we used to.

Neither of us has completely given up the day job, but there are a lot more days when there is no 'job'.

Which means we have to think of something to do to keep ourselves amused, trying to find something that we both enjoy, in order to avoid sending each other to an early grave through too much time spent at home together.

Some friends happily enjoy long breakfasts together and drink coffee in cosy cafes....

Another couple take it in turns each week to choose an activity that the other must join in with.

Those options might push us to the limit; I do not wish to attend a football match, and OH would hate to go to a poetry workshop.

So we must walk. An activity that we both enjoy, that gets us outdoors, and gives us something new to think about.

We will walk the Thames, from mouth to source.

It will take as long as it takes, and is a relatively easy project to start, as a short train ride gets us to the start.

Day 1

A grey overcast day.

Thames barrier to Deptford.

day 1 Thames barrier to Deptford

A salubrious part of London, much of which was new to us.

Across the river, tidy blocks of flats on the north shore.

On our side, a selection of building sites and unusual art.

You may have noticed a man in a red anorak striding off into the distance.

And this on our very first leg.

We may be doing this together, but we are not together......

Every time I stop to capture the view, OH keeps marching on. I run to catch up, and then take another photograph.....

No matter. At some point we will find coffee, and later lunch. And even talk to each other.

Quantum Cloud by Anthony Gormley 1999

There is very little vegetation on this stretch of the river, so some reeds were welcome.

Only 24,859 miles around the world , north to south, from here to here.

'here' by Thomson and Craighead 2013

Pylon art next, as we drew nearer to the Greenwich peninsula.

inverted pylon by sculptor Alex Chinneck

Building sites and industrial areas.

Not a pretty walk, but interesting, none the less.

If you would like to know more about the route there are books and guides aplenty.

There's a very detailed unofficial web guide of The Thames path national trail with much more history than you will ever get from me.

Blame that on Mrs Newsome, my history teacher. She killed history for me .


(She probably is too by now).

And there is the TFL guide  which tells you how to walk along the river, and that by doing so you will avoid diabetes and heart disease.

And then some trees at last, followed swiftly by new developments of riverside living.

The broken concrete pathway gave way to immaculate new surfaces.

new housing, north greenwich
everything clean and tidy in Greenwich

New gave way briefly to old in Greenwich.

Cutty Sark pub, Greenwich

 past the Naval College and our first selfie taking tourists of the day.

Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Past the Cutty Sark, sitting in its strange new housing.

Cutty Sark , Greenwich

 None of the guides tell you where toilets might be found, where you can get a cup of coffee, or something to eat.

But we did not go hungry or thirsty.

It is not in OH's nature so to do.

lunch, Deptford

All photos were taken with my iphone. Travelling with OH does not allow time for fancy photography. We are walking. Not stopping.

You get the picture.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

So said the Sun ; a new artist book

So said the Sun

When I was studying book art we spent a whole morning debating the question

 'when is a piece of work finished?'

It was a rather silly session involving lots of equations and collaboration in groups.

At the end of the morning I came to the conclusion that the answer to this question was not a mathematical equation but was

'when I say so'.

And now the book that I have been working on for the last 3 weeks is finished.

I wrote about its progress in my last post, and after enjoying the Japanese aesthetic at Japan House, I had a clearer idea of how to make my book of abstract images of light on water work( for me at least).

Along the way a new title came to me that I hope expresses what the book is about.

So Said the Sun .....

Messages from the sun.

Asemic text ( an abstract text that cannot be read except by one's imagination)

So Said the Sun © Caroline Fraser 2018

 I finally mastered getting the thin Kozo paper to print, by temporarily sticking it to a sheet of more robust paper.

I bought some strong but soft Satogami paper for a hard cover, and for the first time in years made a hard bound book.

satogami paper cover

It looks and feel so much more serious than a soft card covered book.

The inside is delicate and fragile.

The outside is firm and protective.

title page..... So Said the Sun © Caroline Fraser 2018

So Said the Sun © Caroline Fraser 2018

So Said the Sun © Caroline Fraser 2018

So Said the Sun © Caroline Fraser 2018

 And on the last page appears a rabbit.

So said the Sun

It is done.

I will be making 5 copies to sell as a short edition. 

Message me if you are interested. 

So Said the Sun © Caroline Fraser 2018

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Paper, paper everywhere at the Takeo paper show 'Subtle'.


My other half is away, working.

Dealing with heavy rain in the desert.

Most put out he is. He was planning a lie down on the beach after work.


While he is away, I am having a paper fest.

It is too cold to work in my studio, so I am staying put in suburbia and converting the house into a papery haven. Paper all over my study floor, the kitchen table, and the floor.

It has made me realise how much I can achieve when there are no distractions.

I am churning out small books by the handful. Trying out differrent shapes and covers for my current project of a book on the subject 'Translation' for the Instagram #areyoubookenough monthly challenge.

First I tried making a panel book , but decided it was a case of structure taking precedence over content.

panel book

Next a pearl drop binding and conventional pages.

I liked the minimalistic style of the cover, but the inside was a mess.

messy book
I am working with images of sunlight on water.

When I told OH ( my other half) that I am working on an abstract book, his reply was a groan of despair......

which is why it is better that he is far away.

I called the initial versions 'Lost in Translation', for the sunlight scribbles are not possible to read. I think of it as asemic script ( a form of abstract text).

Later a phrase popped into my head 'So said the Sun'.

And I realised that if I used selected parts in small circles of 'text' (like the sun) I could make it appear more like a written text.

I experimented with horizontal and vertical patterns.

So Said the Sun

So now I am working on this idea, and hope to refine it further. A concertina feels more appropriate, and I am trying to find some finer paper that will be slightly translucent, and yet be accepted by my temperamental printer.

In the midst of all this fun I took a research break to the Takeo paper show 'Subtle' at Japan House in London.

And what a treat it was. Perfectly timed for this project.

An elegant, extraordinary show exploring the word subtle in relation to paper and ordinary life. Accompanying this are luxurious photographs of paper by Ueda Yoshihiko.

paper fan and photograph by Ueda Yoshihiko

A selection of pale pink papers by Miyata Yumiyo reminded me of babies and powder puffs.

'Something like a necklace connected sharing a light contact' by Miyata Yumiyo

Moulded pulp packaging for Parisian cakes.

Probably very expensive cakes...

moulded pulp packaging

Then the tiniest paper 'Chocolate's Hats' by Hara Kenya.

So delicate that their shadow was easier to see than the paper itself.

Like plankton floating on a sea of white.

Japanese calligraphy by Ishikawa Kyuyo.

Initially I thought the lines were created by thread. But it is all ink on paper.

by Ishikawa Kyuyo

Wakana 1 by Ishikawa Kyuyo

In his transcription of “The Tale of Genji”, Ishikawa recorded the “vibration” of  every letter of 55 chapters across the page in a single line as if it was actually pronounced.

He is said to be feeling the words with his brush, across the page.

A very personal interpretation of an ancient text.

 Next a very zen single sheet of paper on a lacquer tray.

White paper symbolises the signal of a new beginning, where the person using it begins something.

I found this all very calming.

When did you last open a handwritten envelope.

And why does a diamond seam have more prestige than a straight one?

Sealing envelopes and then opening them are irreversible acts. As is folding a sheet of paper.

Not something I had ever really considered before.

But obvious really....

Suitably amazed by all of these delicate paper creations I made my way home determined to make my book much much better than it is right now.

Perfection takes time.

Tomorrow is another day.

And I have some new ideas.

paper at Japan House © caroline fraser

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Vancouver in the fall - an autumn leaf fest

autumn leaves © Caroline Fraser
I am visiting family in Vancouver at one of my favourite times of year; autumn ( or fall if you live over here).

The colours of the acres and poplars dotted between the tall pines fill me with wonder.

A richness of colours that I don't find back home.

In between rain showers I have crept out with my camera to collect leaves and wander the forest paths. Water dripping from green mosses; the sound of creeks running down the hillside towards the ocean.

I have been playing with fire trucks and reading toddlers' stories in a cosy home at the foot of the mountain. But outdoors is where I really wish to be.

autumn colours © Caroline Fraser

waiting for fall

autumn gold © Caroline Fraser

I started with some long exposures in the dark of the forest, but found myself drawn increasingly to individual leaves.

So many leaves. Not a single one the same.

This is the preoccupation that has been with me this week.

 I tried capturing them first against stones and wood in the landscape, but soon realised that I was looking for a more pure isolation of each leaf.

a single leaf

A portrait, set against a backdrop of some clean creamy paper felt more delicate.

Turn it over and a different beauty emerges.

 More subtle and sparse.

Each different from its neighbour.

Suddenly I am no longer interested in blurry images. I am drawn to the detail.

I keep collecting leaves of different shapes and sizes.

a leaf with no name

And will be carrying some home to work on if they survive the journey.

Finally I found a wonderful jumble of leaves amongst some hostas in Stanley Park.

They form a different scene; resembling a still life with rich dark hues.

Add caption

fall © Caroline Fraser

fall © Caroline Fraser

fall © Caroline Fraser

fall © Caroline Fraser

They remind me of currants and berries.

Organised chaos.

It will soon be all over, as we head towards winter.

All of these images different from the ones I made last year in the same places.

And that is what I love about photography; there is always a new way to find things, as our thoughts about what we see change and develop.

Here are some leaves waiting to fall.....