Sunday, 17 December 2017

Contemporary Art explained?

How do you explain or define contemporary art?

I'm not sure you can. I think you have to 'feel' it - to sense it, experience it, be part of it.

Good art is about an emotional response. So am I an artist? Well possibly since I was chuffed to hear that people loved my lampshades (each one is unique) but realistically I think I am still dabbling in the shallows of craft. And you know what? Maybe that is ok too. 

But, thinking about contemporary art I recently found this article and I think it helps explain contemporary art. 

Meanwhile, the images below come from the Hemmed In exhibition in Milton Keynes in 2012.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A wintery walk through Milton Keynes

We woke on Sunday to a garden full of snow!  Now looking back we haven't had snow like this for quite a few years.

The initial response was to go back to bed (which indeed I did, with a hot cup of coffee and my laptop to do a bit of writing and photo organising etc.)

But then we ventured out because dogs need walking whatever the weather (though I did wonder if Brandy would refuse to come. As far as I knew this was her first snow and she might have thought better of the idea.)

Brandy a little hesitant for a fraction of second but then she decided snow offered all sort of opportunities for hi jinks.

We met doggy friends out.

This is my regular morning dog walk. It takes on a completely different atmosphere when covered in snow. 

This is a little river that runs right through the middle of Milton Keynes. It links a number of lakes. I have seen Kingfisher but never been able to photograph one.  There are plenty of ducks, heron and small white heron and rumour has it there are otters.

Below is Bradwell Abbey - this was a medieval abbey that was never one of the great abbeys of England. It actually shut before the reformation when the crown seized much church land. More recently it was a farm and this was the farmhouse. The end you see in the photo below really is an old part of the abbey. The little chapel (out of shot of this photo) was used as the tool shed for years. Now its a listed monument because of the rare wall paintings on the wall. Not that I have ever seen them. They chapel is kept locked.

And here is the other side of the farmhouse.

The scaffolding on the end is a permanent fixture. I think the place needs a lot of work to make it useable again. It is a long time since it was a house. More recently it was used as offices though i suspect not very good ones.

Then onto the concrete cows. Oh I do love the concrete cows.  These in Bancroft are not the originals. Instead they are replicas, but this does not mean they have lost any charm. After all, they are concrete too!

Some ingenious takes on the traditional snowman.

I think the one below is supposed to be a snow rabbit. 

 Then back through Bradwell Village. This is one of the original villages of MK. Bradwell was listed in the Domesday book and actually predates the neighbouring Abbey,which was founded in the 1100s.

There are some victorian cottages in the village as well as some older stone cottages.

Very picturesque.

Once, Bradwell even had a castle. Nothing grand, really. Just a mott and bailey, but nevertheless a castle.  Consequently, there is not a lot to see now. Just a lump in the ground really.

But Bradwell has a lovely church.

And this tree was in the churchyard. I think it is a sort of plum. Whatever, the birds were having a feast. And it was like a tree bedecked with golden jewels.

Through the churchyard and you see these little houses, that are right against a wood. So much so that the one at the end feels as though it is in the wood.

Over the railway line. Even the trains were affected by the snow.

And home again. (thats not my house, by the way. Just a view up the road.)

And then I shovelled snow!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Christmas events Part 2

Did you see my last post? Our Winter Open Studios in Gosport?  This was a new one for us, but such good fun and so relatively easy to do that I think it is going to become a regular feature in the calendar.

And so to the annual event - The Workshop Sale.

How many times have I reported here about the Workshop Sale? I loose track.

There was 2015's report here, I focussed on Trisha Needham's work in my post from 2012 here, and here is another one from 2013 where I rambled on about Lush Designs (Lush used to be regulars at the Sale, but lately have focussed on other selling outlets.)

But before I launch into this years report I guess I should give you a bit of background because, of course, dear Reader, you might be new to my little piece of blog land and have no idea what I am talking about.

So, here is a little history lesson.

Back in the mists of time (well 1987, but that is a long time ago) there was a little band of artist/makers who worked out of the Sumner Workshops in Peckham. I have no idea if those workshops still exist or if they have been turned into housing, but back then they were a creative hub (just to be clear, I was not there.)

In Christmas 1987 they banded together and did an Open Studio event (before the term Open Studio was even born). It involved mince pies, mulled wine and a jolly atmosphere where they sold surplus stock, seconds, samples etc.

Over the following years the happy band of designer/makers changed, the venues changed (I have been involved for 3 separate venues) and fortunes have gone up and down. But one thing is a constant - the customers (many of whom are loyal followers), the fantastic quality of the work and the unique and eclectic range of work available. (whoops - that is 3 things).

I mentioned above that I have been involved for 3 venues. We are now based at the Christ Church Centre, Barry Road, East Dulwich (For years we were in an enormous but crumbling catholic church hall further down Lordship Lane, East Dulwich - but that is now a cinema! Later we were in the Push Studios - we cleared the yoga out of the way.)

So - on with the report.  And, lets start with me - not least because I was so close to the entrance.

This was the third year that I have done the show on my own (previously I have always helped Rob and Andy). And I am getting a whiz at setting up. This seemed to just fly up. And I was very pleased how it looked. 

These two lampshades (up cycled London A-Zs) went off to new homes.

A successful day for me - I will be back next year.  And the nicest thing was I met a couple of people who have bought lampshades from me before and they said how much they enjoyed them. Now, for someone who grafts away in a chilly studio in down town Milton Keynes this really made my heart sing. One lady in particular said lovely things about the shade she bought last year.  We need that sort of endorsement, don't you think?

Next up, Linda Miller.  The lovely, lovely, lovely Linda Miller. 

I did not take many photos of her stall this year - sorry about that - but did capture these few things. 

Including these charming little robins. Each one was different.

In writing this piece I found this absolutely wonderful video of Linda talking about her work.  Its worth 10 minutes of your time, what ever your medium.

Next up is Trisha Needham. Over the years I have collected some of Trisha's scarves and cushions. Indeed, as I type this I am leaning against a navy Trisha Velvet cushion.

Trisha's colours always sing out. 

Moving on, Matt and Amanda Caines made a return visit with their highly collectable one of pieces. 

I cannot find a web site for them but Matt has a blog here (a bit out of date, but still worth a look), Amanda has a blog here  (ditto) but they are very active on Instagram

Next, the stunning jewellery of Anna Lovell and Elaine Goff (they always share a space).

One of these rings came home with me.

And I also rehomed a pair of earrings - not these but very similar with blue beads. 

Of course, the stars of the show as always - Rob and Andy. Though this year, I failed to take a picture of their complete stand. How very remiss of me.

Next up is Sally Weatherill.  Sally designs and produces woven pieces from her studio on the Suffolk/Essex border using a 24 shaft dobby loom. Now I have no idea what a lobby loom is so I suggest you pop over to Sally's website to have a look. 

One of these cushions came home with me. Perfect for one of my knackered old sofas.

Another regular is Janie Bates.  Janie's work is unique. She collects either antiques beads from sources all over Africa or the middle east or she uses new beads from artisan workshops in those areas. The results are unique, ethnic but with a modern twist and absolutely stunning. 

A new maker this year was Sarah Watts. I did not do her work justice. My photography was somewhat limited by the fact that I had to keep popping back to my own stand and this is a case in point. But go and look at her website to get the flavour. 

She uses lamp work to create unique glass beads. The necklaces in particular are completely stunning. 

Now, there were others. But I completely failed to photograph their work and stands this year. So my apologies to:-

Catherine Tough (whose socks are positively covertable). Her on line shop is a veritable woollen haven and there is still time to shop. Get yourself over there.  

Pazuki, of course, a Workshop Sale regular.  She always has fabulous bargains. Her scarves are worn by a certain resident of Downing Street - and of course me! 

Musskett and Mazullo - textured woollen blankets and other home wares. Rob and Andy gave some of their cushions a new home. 

So, that's a wrap for 2017. We will be back next year.