Today I am sitting next to an egg. It's about 4' tall, slightly furry and intimidating... It's one of David Nash's creations and I love it. It is so enticing and quite remarkable. To me it whispers of a new beginning - an idea. To others it will represent other things, but there it sits, dormant... listening and watching.
It is made out of a Palm tree, which is why it is a bit furry. I heard that it came from a tree hospital in Barcelona where they apparently try and help sick city trees before re-planting them out. There are always healthy trees from the hospital which can be used to replace the sick trees that are removed. Sounds fabulous and I wish more cities did this. I am trying to find out more about it on-line, but can't. Is there anyone out there who can point me in the right direction? I'd love to forward this story on to a friend of mine, but I need something to back it up.
Popped into the Amicus Botanicus exhibition yesterday in Mayfair. It was lovely to see a different botanical art show, to see the space, how it's hung and to see some new work. Carolyn Jenkins' work was beautiful. It was much smaller than I thought it was going to be (seems to be a common theme as we all kept having that feeling during the SBA exhibition). My favourite as the Cynara carduculus - she had managed to portray exquisite detail on the leaves. I also liked Sally Pond's Rubus painting - such a wacky composition - rather refreshing to look at. Linda Compton McDonald's work was also a personal favourite. You can see both of the paintings on the Amicus Botanicus website.
With this being such a short exhibition there wasn't a catalogue produced, so I am afraid I can't post any on as I thought I might have been able to. I have heard that Katherine Tyrell is going to do a little review on her blog soon though.
Held in the Union Chapel in Islington, this was a brilliant event which I thoroughly enjoyed. I even got some enlighten-mints! About 900 people gathered in the church to listen to six 20 minute talks by some renowned writers and speakers who covered several aspects of life in each lecture. My favourite one was 'How to change the world', but they were all good: Roman Krznaric (How to Find Fulfilling Work), Philippa Perry (How to Stay Sane), John Armstrong (How to Worry Less about Money), John-Paul Flintoff (How to Change the World), Tom Chatfield - (How to Thrive in a Digital Age) and Alain de Botton (How to Think More about Sex).
They gave me a lot of food for thought and I wanted to draw attention to them here because I thought the lectures were creatively executed and inspiring. They have published six small books that sit alongside these talks, I might be tempted in a couple...
After Chelsea I went in search for a sketchbook. I had finished my last one during my SBA Diploma so I slowly made my way on the district line to Aldgate East - Henry's stomping ground and the place of Atlantis. Atlantis is the most amazing art shop in the world, it is humongous and has everything and at reduced prices.
I spent a while scouring the watercolour sketchbooks, looking for the best buy. There were so many to choose from. Eventually I decided on a book of Saunders Waterford paper which wasn't that cheap in the end, but I am a firm believer in that you get what you pay for and I remembered that this was the paper Rachel Pedder-Smith used for her Herbarium Specimen Painting. I remember being amazed when I first saw the artwork - there was no cockling on the painting despite the fact that it had been dry mounted and the paper hadn't been stretched. I knew then that this was good paper. In the end I bought the sketchbook with the thought that I could try it out and see if this is the paper I want to use for the Bare Necessities Project.
Then I had a look at prices for BIG PAPER. This is some of Atlantis' own brand (which I have only just noticed)... only £91.80 for a pack of 10! Looking at their catalogue I can get a roll of Saunders Waterford for £125.60 (1.5m x 10m). Eek! I better start saving...
This is what they say about the paper in the shop:
"Saunders Waterford is a very high quality watercolour paper that can be used for acrylics, drawing, pen and ink, gouache, charcoal and calligraphy. It is made with 100% cotton fibre, gelatine tube sized and is acid free. It is internally starched. as a result, the surface is resistant to fibre lift when removed masking materials. Lines will not feather when pen and ink are used, it will also stand multiple erasures when using pencil or charcoal. Saunders Waterford is very stable and will have little or no cockling or distortion when soaking or with heavy washes."
So I think I will start saving for a roll from today.
I did a quick tulip in an hour when I got home. It's not a great sketch, but I was desperate to try out my new sketchbook and didn't have much time.
The weather was so nice yesterday and although I felt ill, I still decided to wander out into London. I considered Friday as a quarantine day where I needed to get back on my feet ready for work the next day. You know how it is when you've spent several days in bed - I forget how to walk and feel all stiff and horrible. So yes - time to blow away the cobwebs and I thought "Let's go to Chelsea Physic Garden"! Not only because it's integrated with my theme of sickness and health (a total fluke which I have only just noticed) but because I hadn't used my membership since getting it in October and I thought they might have some plants for me to paint for the Bare Necessities Painting.
So I ventured out, but didn't find a shop to purchase a new sketchbook from, so the afternoon was mainly spent looking at and thinking about things. I found this rather nifty cabinet of curiosities. I spotted last time I was there and remembered loving the idea then:
So what they have done is to grow the plant in it's product:
Rubus idaeus x R. strigosus
I think this is a great idea, I really do. It goes along the theme of my new project so well. So I will probably get in contact with Chelsea Physic Garden. They have also just made a new garden of useful and edible plants, which is due to open on 23rd May. It seems they have timed it with the Chelsea Flower Show week - something else I could see being prepared as I walked past the Royal Hospital. I am really exited about the new garden... it will definitely make it easier for me to do all my sketchbook work. At Kew I find I have to look for everything and it's such a huge place.
Lastly, I thought I'd mention that there is a botanical art exhibition on show in Mayfair. The works are by those in the Amicus Botanicus group. For more information visit: http://www.amicusbotanicus.com/links.html.
So I have been ill this week with a very heavy cold and temperature. I hate being out-of-action. There is so much to do and see that I find I just can't bare being forced to stay at home in bed. I did get a very nice letter from my mum today though. She has once again found some real gems for me on ebay. This time two beautiful, hand painted postcards from 1912:
The purple one is from Madeleine on 30th December 1912, who writes:
"My dearest friend I have painted this for you, it is not well, but I hope you will be however pleased of it. I should like to have a small flower painted by you, but I know you are like me, you have not much time, and you will paint something for me when you have a moment free. With love, Madeleine"
The Cyclamen one is again from Madeleine, she writes:
"Dear Constance, Your flowers are very well and as you had to ask me I had paint some flowers to you. I hope this will be pleasure to you. With best love, Madeleine"
I think they are a lovely couple of postcards... I wish I could see Constance's flowers. These postcards remind me of those blog groups you find where a group of artists send postcards of their artworks to each other. Funny to think they did this all that time ago too. It'll be one hundred years ago this December...
So yes, not on form this week, but rearing to go. Still plugging away at the Bare Necessities Painting and working out logistics. I have a month's worth of my own data now, so that's a start. The upside of this cold is that it has made me use all sorts of odd things that I may not have put in the painting, namely pharmaceuticals, tissues with Aloe vera and lots of ginger.
Other from that I have also been sewing and I will post some piccies of that tomorrow hopefully. Right, time for a paracetamol...
I spent my Wednesday afternoon in the printing studio, and this is what I produced. I began this plate at the end of June 2010 as an etching, then I aquatinted it in July 2010. I was very unhappy with the results -it was not dark enough and didn't have enough layering so I did some ore aquatinting in February 2011... and only now have I had the chance to take some prints from it. I really like the dream-like quality of the print - the weightlessness and the timelessness.
I was inspired to do this piece after I had an amazing dream about a Peony bud opening. In the dream someone came over to me and said 'Don't touch it! Beware of the Peony!'... It was the most tantalising dream I had had for some time - all I wanted to do was to touch it. The rich deep red of the new petals and the hairy sepals which encased them, all covered in dew.
I was exhausted after taking these prints. I took five in total, but only one was worth keeping - the others were either too light or too dark. It was surprising how much labour goes into inking plates this size and I obviously need to get back into the swing of things when applying ink. I guess what was so hard was being on my own in the studio. I had to think everything through several times and I was always worried I'd get ink on the blankets or on the screen printing table. I couldn't relax and get into the swing of it. Anyway, I am glad I got at least one good A4 sized print (paper just a bit off A3 size).