06 May 2016

Upheaval - ps

Plus ca change, and all that! While searching my photo files I found these from November 2011, during (or after, or before) a previous upheaval in the flat. It's amazing that four rooms can be the site of so much intermittent chaos, on their (eventual) way to being the ideal refuge - comfortable, calm, welcoming, self-maintaining. 
A sparse version of the living room, awaiting a second chair
(and sofa, and revamped bookshelves)
In 2011 Tom was starting out on his carpentry and decorating business, practising his skills at, on, and in the home - notably with a workshop setup in my studio (mothers know when to make sacrifices - and keep out of the way!). Now he takes his tools and sets up at the job, and has an efficient tool-storage system for between jobs.
What I take from this retrospection is the notion that Home is always in flux ... yet constant. When I go to visit the current scene of upheaval, I know that underneath the heaps of objects in the other three crowded rooms, waiting patiently to be restored, is a functional, comfortable way of living in the space ... and that the space and what it holds isn't set in stone.

What the photos bring to my musings is a chance to inspect the captured moment in time. The one red chair ... the trunk used then as a seat and currently as a coffee table ... the unchanged items on the wall of the studio, the constant piles on the floor ...


Meanwhile, back at the flat ... the carpenter/decorator is doing drastic things.

This is the room before it was gutted -

Everything in it, including hundreds of books, is heaped up in the other three rooms.
The double bed needs to fit into the living room

My studio has become a clothes cupboard, among other things
110 bags of rubbish, "none of them light", had to be carried downstairs (43 steps down, and 43 back up to get the next bag).
The inside wall is soundproofed, but floorboards and much else is needed

Insulation has been started and will make such a difference
Of course it will be worth it in the end!

05 May 2016

Poetry Thursday - The Trees by Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf 
Like something almost being said; 
The recent buds relax and spread, 
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 

Is it that they are born again 
And we grow old? No, they die too, 
Their yearly trick of looking new 
Is written down in rings of grain. 

Yet still the unresting castles thresh 
In fullgrown thickness every May. 
Last year is dead, they seem to say, 
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

- Philip Larkin (via; he reads the poem here)

It's that time of year

03 May 2016

Drawing Tuesday - Docklands Museum

In the new introductory gallery on the top floor - dramatically lit displays, a few areas with slideshows on a large scale (but no annoying commentary, just atmospheric noises)

a  window with a view -

 and many interesting objects related to docks and warehouses, unloading and measuring

Jo's capstan, used on a dry dock, with its interesting cracks

Joyce's jolly wooden sailor, which decorated the roof of a building
(Baun & Co) on West India Dock 

Sue's deadweight platform scale, late 19th century, and its shadows

Carol's box of tools, with and without colour

Janet B's portrait bust of philanthropist William Vaughan

Janet K's collection of trolleys

My collection of dockers' hooks (and shadows)
Tool of the week - a nice little blank notebook to fill up with drawings, the cover reminiscent of scraperboard (make your own?) -
Surprise of the week - nuggets of snow, or was it soft hail, as we left the museum!

02 May 2016

Extended drawing

No class this week as Monday is a bank holiday. Last week started with consideration of the work of Jessie Brennan. This is A Fall of Ordinariness and Light, 2014, and involves photos on crumpled paper, redrawn, to mirror the decay and demolition of the Robin Hood estate in east London -
the green cast is due to the decay of the projector in room 406 of City Lit. Suboptimal, wot?

The next artist is Norbert Schwontkowski, with unsettling, atmospheric landscapes ... mostly brown and yellow; there's a sense of isolation and melacholia -
 When it came to "doing something" I started with a found bit of paper and splashed it with ink, having put torn bits of masking tape here and there to mask some clear space
 The clear spaces were filled with simple drawings of cups and bowls, and the centre became a sort of vortex of washing-up. While I was doing it, I had no idea what it was "about", and still don't ... it was just something to be getting on with until a better idea arrived.
"Something better" did come along. I started folding cartridge paper, thinking either to make a book out of splotchy inkyness, and go on from there, or to flood the folds with ink and let it puddle ...but during the folding (folding bedsheets??) remembered Durer's pillows and gave a corner of the (cartridge) paper a good crumple -
 Inky splotchiness on one side - not nice ...

 But on the other, a sort of frottage of the hills and valleys -
Something to be getting on with -

Sokari Douglas Camp at October Gallery

The show is called Primavera (till 14 May) and is based on the Botticelli painting also known as Allegory of Spring (1486) -
I was intrigued by the shadows, arbitrary as they are. "Complete" images, and good closeups, are here.

Three Graces, 2015, shows the differences involved in moving from 2D paint to 3D metalwork

Posing with a Gun, 2015

Prick Gun, 2016

Primavera herself - among the gaudy flowers are toy cars -
"the flowering tip of our modern technological civilisation"?

"Lovers Whispering" 2016
"As the goddess talks, her lips breathe Spring roses" wrote Ovid, telling the story of Zephyros and Chloris,
shown at the right of the Botticelli painting

"Europe supported by Africa and America", based on a 1796 print by William Blake

"Red Grace"
Douglas Camp works in welded steel, making lace-like structures with a plasma cutter, adding paint, gold and copper leaf, perspex. Her website is http://sokari.co.uk/; a short interview in her London studio is here.

The publication accompanying the exhibition talks about the fabrics she references in her sculptures.
In "Europe supported by Africa and America", she clothes Blake's naked figures in fabrics that denote the material styles of the different continents. "The subtle implication is that dressing both defines and displays culture. As Sonya Clark indicates, when it comes to African cloth, the material is the message. Botticelli was also aware f the critical importance of clothing. Best known for his newborn, naked Venus, few realise she is actually on the point of being coered with a sumptuous cloth to hide her nakedness. ...

"The importance of cloth fabrics in denoting status and wealth is common throughout West Africa, and Kalabari culture puts particular emphasis on its value as the significant vehicle of cultural transmission. Sokari's figures dressed in identifying clothing are less vulnerable to misinterpretation than their predecessors, and in her modernised version of the "exchange" that occurs between the three continents, subtle shifts have been introduced to imply that the imbalance and exploitation of former times is at last, finally beginning to be redressed."

01 May 2016

Sunday strollings

A familiar route for a Sunday jaunt - off the bus at Notting Hill Gate, and a walk across the park to the Round Pond

 (that's Kensington Palace in the background)

Then to the Serpentine Gallery, which currently is showing the "esoteric cosmology" of Hilma ap Klint, "Painting the unseen" -
Continue the walk down Exhibition Road to the V&A, with coffee and/or lunch in the Friends' Room; on the way out there's usually something that catches the eye in the glass gallery, this time these lamp-worked dancers, designed by Fritz Lampl for Bimini, 1928-38 -
Do they remind you of Josephine Baker? A figurine of her, also by Fritz Lampl, is nearby
also a case full of work by Marinot and his contemporaries (c.1930), the glass characteristically with little bubbles, wheel cut and deeply engraved -
Out in the courtyard, one of the bank holiday "Japan Festival" family activities - drumming -

 If you look closely you can see the samurai helmets that kids were making out of card inside the museum. And it wasn't just kids wearing those helmets.