Worst Blogger Award

OK, I admit it, I’m a rubbish blogger. After all of two posts last June, I’ve been useless as getting my blog as up to date as I’d like it.

However, I have completed a lot of craft projects – some of which worked out better than others. My latest, a quilt for my Gran, completed for London Quilter’s exhibition at Swiss Cottage in March is below:

I started the ‘kaleidoplates’ for this quilt at a workshop with Chris and Barbara way back in 2008. Then I looked at them for about 3.5 years, buying a bit more fabric or another gadget at FoQ each year, with every intention of completing the quilt but never actually getting there. Then in January, I pulled my finger out and by working day and night (as well as doing the full time job, I hasten to add) I got it finished in time for the exhibition. I am delighted with the finished item. As was its new owner (who made the journey up to London especially to see it):

Other recently completed projects are shownbelow – enjoy (and I promise to be back soon to share more with you – in the meantime if anyone can recommend a mosaic builder that’d be ace):

 

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Red Shoes for my Sister

Today is my sister’s birthday. There are 2 years and 3 days between us.

It is just the two of us. We get on a lot better now that we did growing up (various members of our family will tell you this wouldn’t be hard!). Whether this is due to the fact that she currently lives in Dubai, one can only speculate. Anyway, I miss her.

As the eldest, I was the first to do pretty much everything – school, high school, uni, graduation, work…. then she met my brother-in-law.

And she got to do something first.

This is the hair accessory that Rachel and I designed and made for the wedding. Yes, it is knitted wire, and yes, my fingers bled (but I was sooo chuffed when it was finished, I didn’t mind).

It is a well known fact that my sister loves red shoes. (I think the status of her undergarments are between her and her husband.) However, when I saw this shop window over the weekend, I had to take a photograph for her:

Happy Birthday Sis – may you have all the red shoes (and everything else) that you wish for. Love you, B x

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35

Saturday was my birthday. Not a big one, but one that could be considered a milestone of sorts. I’ve now reached the half-way point of my ‘three score years and ten’.

It is fair to say that my life is not where I thought it would be by now. Rather than dwelling on what has come before, one can only decide how to shape that which is still to come.

And so I decided I’d start crossing things off the ‘things I want to do in London’ list.

I started in Notting Hill, with one of these. As the weathermen had predicted, it was an overcast start to the day. However, the walk was excellent, I found out where Kylie likes to breakfast, and where many of the scenes in the film were shot.

Next, to the creative part of the day. Knitting, with friends, in the Park.

This was the point in the day when I really truly hoped the weathermen were right.

And then, as if by magic – the sun appeared!

We had knitting (a new year, a new project), and chatting,

And the most fantastic biscuits sent by my sister from here

And some really lovely (and very unexpected) gifts.

It turned out to be a fantastic afternoon – and we really didn’t want to have to leave. The sun was beautifully warm, the park was lovely and relaxing, and the company was excellent. I think knitting in the park may become a regular feature in my future birthdays.

Oh, and before I forget. I bought myself a gift too – from the Oxfam bookshop in Notting Hill. Don’t you just love it? In fairness, I’m not planning to knit any of the designs from it, but the instructions are so clear and well illustrated, I think it will become a well loved addition to the bookshelf!

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Things I have learnt in 2010

  1. Crochet is great, I find it easy and it grows quickly, however, I love knitting more (this surprised me too, and joining a knitting group has really helped me to become more confident even if Giselle and Stephen bullied me into using DPNs – more about that another time)
  2. Patchwork and Dressmaking are vying for poll position in my affections where sewing is concerned. I have a feeling that dressmaking may win, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.
  3. I have far too many unfinished objects. The list is embarrassing (as is the mountain quietly growing in the corner of my room).
  4. I am fascinated by Contemporary Art. I didn’t ever think that this would be the case, however, I’m going to explore it some more.
  5. I write too many lists (in fact, I’ve been known to write the same list more than once just in case I lose another copy of it in the pile of lists……)
  6. I spend far too much time on Facebook. I should really spend this time doing something constructive instead (much as a like my friends, I don’t need to know what they’ve eaten for lunch…..)
  7. Making Christmas gifts for EVERYONE and thinking that I can stay sane AND get sufficient sleep in December is misguided in the extreme.
  8. I need to stop being so hard on myself.
  9. I am blessed to have such wonderful friends and family.
  10. Manuka honey kills a cold stone dead (ergo my mother is sometimes correct – note the ‘sometimes’).
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Lowlands Away

Every year I have wanted to go to the Turner Prize Exhibition, and never made it. Admittedly, I hadn’t lived in London until 2010, although in 2009 I did make a trip to London and managed to end up at Tate Modern (bit of a schoolgirl error, I know).

However, this year, especially with all the furore in the press, I was determined to see the exhibition. With Tate Britain being within walking distance of where I live (which, unfortunately isn’t Pimlico, but a girl can dream) I really didn’t have an excuse not to go.

So off I set, early one Sunday morning in November to ensure I was there before it got really busy, and definitely before any children in attendance had got bored. I wasn’t sure what to expect, however, I wasn’t disappointed.

In brief, the Turner Prize exhibition shows the work of the four finalists shortlisted by the panel. The criteria for nomination are that the artist is either British or works in Britain, is under 50 years of age, and their nomination is for an exhibition of their work within the previous 12 months (so, in theory, you could be nominated more than once, and it isn’t a lifetime achievement award). The winner was announced on 6th December, however, I wanted to record my thoughts on the exhibition here, if only for my own reference.

Dexter Dalwood paints pictures where the main protagonist is often absent, however, is often referred to in the title. I’m afraid my general ignorance did mean that I was unaware of what some of the paintings were about, however, I was impressed by the combination of painting styles within the paintings.

The Otolith Group had produced a film entitled ‘Otolith III’. I was determined to give it a fair viewing and I have to say that I became mesmerised by rhythm of the images and footage used. I’ve never really given ‘art through film’ a fair hearing, however, given time and the correct setting I do think it has its place.

Angela de la Cruz takes monochrome canvases, often supersized, and then deconstructs them by removing them from their frames, or disassembling and assembling their frames. Taking something 2-dimensional and making it 3-dimensional. It was an intriguing approach and definitely gave a different perspective.

Susan Philipsz had put three speakers into her gallery (and a conventional, old-fashioned bench). Her installation under three bridges on the River Clyde in Glasgow, featured her singing a 16th Century Scottish lament (of which there are three different versions) called Lowlands Away. Each speaker (originally positioned one under each bridge) broadcast a different version of the song. I sat  and I listened and I was stunned.

Susan, who originally trained as a sculptor, considers her work to be ‘sound sculpture’ and I can see where she is coming from. It was so interesting to sit and listen to how the songs split apart for the verses and came together for the choruses and the wall of noise that this created.

I remember hearing a quote once where a little boy was asked whether he preferred the radio or the television and his response was ‘the radio – the pictures are better’. And I have to say that summed up how I felt about Lowlands Away. The haunting melody of the lament, the clean and tidy lines of the room, and the complete nothingness aside from the sound was amazing. And I could totally see why everyone had got so touchy about what the press were going to say at the preview.

Helpfully, each artist had made a video explaining their work and these are shown in the last room of the exhibition.

I left the exhibition not knowing who would win, and not even really having a favourite. All I do know is that Susan Philipsz’s work definitely stayed with me.

I went back to Tate Britain today, and made sure I went to the Turner Prize exhibition again (it ends on Sunday). It was still as good as the first time, there were just more people there, and I still stayed the longest in Susan’s room.

Fingers crossed (and weather willing) I intend to experience Surround Me tomorrow – I’ll be letting you know what I think!

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December

Oh my goodness – how did that happen already? It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since the summer (although it does seem a very long time since I was back here – ehem, less said about that, the better).

I was hoping to share some crafty goings on with you, however, all my current projects are a little ‘hush-hush’ so to speak. Something to do with it nearly being Christmas (ssshhhhhh – if we whisper it, it might not happen).

Yeah, right, I wish. Anyway, I thought you might like to see some little piles of things that might be being worked on now, before I go and get the heck on with them, and I’ll post more details once they are done and delivered.

Best get cracking – there are some last posting dates I need to hit (and I’m off to the Bothered Owl Christmas yarn event tomorrow – I will post all about it soon).

Take care and until next time (it won’t be so long, I promise) B x

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Exhibition Road

On Saturday, I finally got my act together and took myself off to the Victoria & Albert Museum to see ‘Grace Kelly – Style Icon’. It is something I have been meaning to do for ages, however, prebooking is definately advised and I just hadn’t got around to it.  So I opted for an early start. Yes, I can hear you laughing from here. Saturdays and early starts don’t normally go hand-in-hand with me. So I set off, late, and got to the ticket queue at 11am. Not early.

The sign at the ticket desk said ‘next ticket available 13:00’. As I stood in the queue, I flicked through my A-Z (I may have been late, but this weekend I was organised) to see what else I could do whilst I was waiting. And realised that at the other end of Exhibition Road sits Hyde Park & The Serpentine Gallery. Kerching! went the lightbulb above my head. Another one to cross of the list (a long story, the short version is that I aim to ‘do’ every museum and art gallery in London whilst I’m here – I’ll be keeping you posted!).

So, having purchased my ticket to see Grace Kelly at 12.30 (there are definately some benefits to sightseeing alone), I set off up Exhibition Road and past my ‘first choice – second choice’, The Natural History Museum. The queue was already well down the road. Good decision there then.

Saturday was a nasty grey day. I’m not sure exactly what has happened to our summer here in London but it seems to have rolled over to have its belly rubbed by the autumn. As a result, my photos aren’t great (and yes, a better camera would probably help there too). Before long, I arrived in Hyde Park. I love London Parks. Nowhere else would you have big shiny gates into a park (or that they would still be there a week later if you did).

 However, it didn’t take me long to find my chosen destination, mind you, its hardly sublte I feel.

Jean Nouvel’s Pavilion. It is red. You may have gathered.

A quick peek inside, and rain was threatening. And so I went into the Gallery to have a look at the current exhibition by Wolfgang Tillmans. I’m not really sure how to relate this to you – I have to say, I will look at most art, and I can normally at least ‘appreciate’ the perspective of the artist. Perhaps I was lacking in caffeine, however, I can safely say, I’m afraid I didn’t ‘get it’. Nope. I could see where the folded photographic paper printed in various different colours was possibly coming from, but quite why you would sit beneath a man wearing a surgical gown and take a photograph upwards, I’m really not entirely sure. I did see the whole exhibition, I felt I owed it to Mr Tillmans. I then left.

On turning the corner out of the gallery, I realised the reason for all the red. Ah-ha. Jean Nouvel. I get you.

It transpired that there is another landmark in the vicinity. The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. I’m trying to find something positive to say & struggling. Even the ducks looked a little disinterested. So, in the interests of tourism, I took some photographs

and then went on a very important mission

Tea. It HAD to be done. Earl Grey with skimmed milk. Ahhhhh. In a sea of red. Where I sat, until my cones and rods could not take any more. And then, it was time for Grace

Well, it exceeded all expectation. It was brilliant. It was busy, and the lighting was low, and lots of people who were there at the same time struggled to read the labels and so stood right up against the cabinets, however, it was worth it. I was 6 when Grace died, and so I really wasn’t very aware of her influence, or even her style, per se. The outfits were stunning, she was beautiful, and we all oooh-ed and ahhhh-ed in unison (and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to add the ‘Kelly’ bag to my secret Christmas list, you know, the one you have that you know no-one will ever buy you anything from it but it doesn’t stop you wanting it!).

Unfortunately, you can’t take photographs inside the exhibition. However, they have a lovely book and a set of postcards that you can buy. And the exhibition is in the centre of the Costume History room. Ah, flash backs to ‘A’ level Fasion & Fabrics and undergarments of the 19th century. They’ve also got some excellent examples of 20th Century fashion.

And so to the gift shop. For some Christmas shopping no less, then I decided I’d ticked enough boxes for one day and went home for a bit of sewing and another cup of tea.

Until next time, B x

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