Saturday, 30 April 2016

Time and Tide Exhibition

I was invited by Maria Walker, on behalf of Art Untitled, to take part in their group exhibition entitled ‘Time and Tide’ at Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse in Northwich. The artwork was inspired by the proverb ‘time and tide wait for no man’. Artists responded to this central theme using a diverse range of media ranging from stitch, mixed media and print to photography, paint and ceramics.
I created two new illustrative mixed-media characters (Reginald and Agnes) and a more abstract piece based on an old family garden plan (155 Kingsway) specifically for the Time and Tide exhibition. Considering the idea of time marching on by whether we want it to or not, my characters had an undeniably melancholy narrative. Both Reginald and Agnes had a sense that time and ambitions were passing them by. They felt duty bound to always do the right thing by others but deep down wished they had the courage to pursue their own dreams.
I was really impressed with the standard and quality of all the work on display. Not to mention the fascinating nature of the museum itself. I should imagine that the original residents of the workhouse would have been intrigued by our art work and the modern use of the building!
‘Time and Tide’ ran from Saturday 12th September to Sunday 15th November 2015.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

We’ll Meet Again (*)

Sadly, my lovely grandad died on Sunday 27th December 2015 after a painful and prolonged struggle with cancer. I was determined that he should have an illustration on his Order of Service booklet that reflected his personality and love of nature.
The final illustration for his Order of Service uses old and new drawings taken from my sketchbook. My favourite illustrations have been collaged together into a colourful wreath using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Each image represents his interests or the idea of remembrance.

Rosemary is a traditional herb used in funerals as a symbol of remembrance and memories of loved ones.

Pansies were grandad's favourite flower and symbolise loving thoughts. Forget me nots mean 'remember me forever' and symbolise love.

Two birds are jauntily perched at the top of the wreath as he adored them. The robin was a frequent visitor and could be seen following him around when he was busy working in the garden.

The text is taken from grandad's handwriting. This is particularly poignant as when I went away to university, grandad wrote to me at least twice a month. This continued up until his first admission to hospital in October 2015. I've treasured each and every letter that he sent me. They are all over my house in little bundles, there's even a few boxes of them in the loft.

I've loved the detailing of our everyday lives in the letters ranging from the weather and worries to jobs and children. They document how much our lives have changed over the years. Some of my favourite letters are from when I lived in Japan. I think grandad struggled to get to grips with my address in Tokoname as it is different on each envelope, although his letters always found their way to my little flat there.
I feel very sad that our letter writing is at an end. It would take a lot of paper and ink to thank both my grandparents for so many beautiful memories. They have been my anchor, my constant in an ever changing world. For now, I'll look at the birds eating the juicy bright red berries on the berberis shrub outside my kitchen window and be reminded of all the happy times that we spent together.

(*): We'll Meet Again - Vera Lynn

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
'Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won't be long
They'll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song…

Monday, 18 May 2015

Garter Pot

Here is a simple, lace textured slab built pot decorated with my own screen printed ceramic decals of my grandmother’s handwriting and finished off with a bright gold lustre. I have made the pot to commemorate my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary, commonly known as a ‘sky blue anniversary’. A bit of a rarity I am certain!
It plays on the bridal tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. In this case the old is the garter lace, the new is the pot, the borrowed is the handwriting and the blue is the glaze itself (and one of my grandmother’s favourite colours).

I chose the garter lace to imprint into the surface of the clay as it is symbolic of weddings and my grandmother used to demonstrate the making of lace at Nottingham Lace Market several years ago. Her handwriting is not meant to be read but to be appreciated for its beautiful flowing forms. I have cut up and rearranged the text on the outside of the pot so it takes on a wholly decorative purpose. 

Let’s hope they like it. Although, I suspect my grandmother will be much more excited by their congratulatory card from the Queen!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Adventures in Catalonia: Calçotada

Earlier this week, I was reminded of the wonderful tradition of the calçotada after a chance comment by a foodie friend. A calçotada is an annual barbecue held during the winter months in Catalonia to celebrate the harvest of the calçot. A calçot is a type of mild flavoured onion (known as blanca gran tardana) that I can best describe as a cross between a leek and a spring onion. It is thought that the calçot originates from Lleida, one of the oldest towns in Catalonia.
We were invited to a calçotada up in the Prades mountain range by my husband’s work colleagues from Valls when he had just moved to Tarragona. It was a particularly memorable experience as the region was hit by unexpected gales that weekend and our small convoy of cars struggled to drive up the narrow, winding mountain roads at times!

On this blustery January day, our destination was a public picnic spot complete with benches and outdoor cooking areas. Preparation for the calçotada involved placing fresh and still muddied calçots side by side onto large grill racks before cooking them over fierce flames until the outer layers were charred. Once the calçots were blackened, they were then wrapped up in several sheets of newspaper. This process of wrapping helped to gently steam and soften the onions. Various meats and sausages were also barbecued as an accompaniment to the calçots. Bread and delicious sauces were also served alongside plentiful quantities of red wine.

It was a fun and messy meal as the tasty, soft white insides of the calçots had to be revealed by stripping of the blackened outer layers with our bare hands. The onions were then dunked into salvitxada or romesco sauces. Plus the red wine was shared amongst us all via a porrón (glass pitcher with long stem) and this was a very tricky technique to master! Infact, I am sure that we gave up in the end and cheated by drinking the wine from cups.

For me, it was a truly memorable experience and the start of many exciting adventures in Catalonia. More information about the calçotada can be found by clicking here.