Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Labour of the month: April

My Labour of the Month for PPPs this April has to be garden related – this is the peak month for sowing and planting, that window of opportunity when the soil warms up, the hours of daylight lengthen and frosts are few and far between (and hopefully gone until late autumn).

April is traditionally the month of heavy showers, when the sky turns an inky grey and the rain pours down drenching the soil; then the sun comes out again and the air smells fresh and drops of water glisten on the leaves like diamonds . . . yeah OK I'm dreaming!

This April, have we actually had any rain at all? I've been trying to remember when it last rained and I can't recall even a short shower – did it perhaps rain a teeny bit on Mother's Day on the 3rd April? So the laborious labour of the month has to be . . .

Watering the garden

We have three large water-butts in the vegetable garden,
the one next to the greenhouse is almost empty
so I'm now using water from the two linked butts
which take water from the house roof.

Everyday there is more to water!
More seeds sown and plants getting larger
and needing potting-on.

The sunshine is gorgeous,
it's lovely to wander around in sandals
– but I would like some help with the watering!

If it rains on the parade on Friday
please can my garden have some too!


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Happy Easter!

27˚C !!!! That's summer dress weather – and it's St George's Day . . . or is it? apparently that's been deferred to 2nd May this year, it's not just the weather systems that are all mixed up this year!

But, it is Easter – and on cue the Pasque Flowers are blooming on the Devil's Dyke near Newmarket. They are pretty rare in Britain and only grow in the wild in 19 sites, we went for a stroll along the high banks of the dyke the other evening just to check out how they're doing this year.

So, this amazing hot, dry and sunny weather has brought out the Oil Seed Rape flowers and wooo! the land turns yellow! I know lots of you loathe this garish stuff, but I rather like the drama of it . . . here's a view across the rolling field of 'High Suffolk', just east of were I live. We went for a lovely walk here yesterday evening as the temperatures started to fall, we're checking out footpaths for Cliff's next 15 mile route for the local walking group.

We found some beautiful tracks, some with big views and others through cool meadows spangled with Dandelion clocks in the evening sunshine.

Have a lovely day tomorrow, whatever you have planned. I'm not sure what we'll be doing, but I've just baked a cake . . . I'm sure we'll eat some it ;-)


Friday, 22 April 2011

One ha' penny, two ha' penny . . .

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!

One ha' penny, two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!

If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons

One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

Thanks to Joanna who posted this recipe on her extremely useful and informative blog at the beginning of last month. Amazingly I remembered and decided to check out the instructions this week – and a good thing I did, because you need to do some pre-planning and start the buns rolling the night before the morning you want to bake them.

And, yes! they turned out pretty good . . . they taste very good!

Happy Easter holiday weekend everyone :-) We're doing some traditional Easter things (gardening, DIY and maybe a walk to see the bluebells).


Monday, 18 April 2011

Is it? or isn't it?

Is there an archaeologist in the house?

Is it or isn't it a flint tool?

When I'm working in the vegetable garden I often pick up pieces of flint (the soil is full of them!) and wonder if it's just a broken stone or a flake of flint worked by someone thousands of years ago?

I picked up this one while I was planting potatoes the other evening – and found it in the pocket of my trousers today!

Does anyone know an expert who can tell?
I'd love to know.

Thank you

PS: Here's the reverse and a 50p coin for scale:

Thank you girls!

a reason to be cheerful –

each of my five hens laid an egg today

Saffron, Sylvie, Tarragon (the supervisor), Phoebe,
Ginger and Nutmeg


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Who you are

This afternoon I went to an event at Cambridge Wordfest, entitled 'Fenwomen' – the author Mary Chamberlain was in conversation with Liz Calder about her "Portrait of women in an English village" based on interviews she made in the early 1970s. The resulting book became the first book published by the feminist imprint Virago, and is a pioneering work of oral history.

This year the East Anglian publishing house Full Circle Editions brought out a new edition of 'Fenwomen' with photographs by Justin Partyka; I saw a review on the blog Caught by the River and realised that my family is from a very similar village in the Cambridgeshire Fens, not far from the one where Mary Chamberlain did her research. I ordered a copy and read it – to me it wasn't a glimpse into another world, but a reflection of my own family's history that I know from personal experience and the stories my parents, aunts and grandparents told me of their lives.

Today I felt a little bit like someone from a strange tribe sitting in on a National Geographic lecture. It's made me think about how we see the lives of other people, while our own is familiar and normal.

This short video was filmed last Friday at two locations
on the edge of the village where I grew up.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Perfectly packaged

Yesterday the postman delivered a package from Japan . . . I knew what must be inside – I'd made a purchase on Etsy, but it was a surprise that it had arrived so quickly!

For a while I just enjoyed looking at all the stickers and stamps on the outside, then it got even more interesting when I took out the contents . . . like 'Pass the Parcel' there was another package inside and I remembered how packaging is an art in Japan. I won't be throwing this paper away!

This is what I found inside: two fabric covered buttons (one with a 'C' for Celia on it); two pairs of chop-sticks in little folded paper packets; and some pretty decorative stickers.

Ooooo . . . there's more: little packets of tissues with Miss Kitty designs on them and a map of the Tokyo subway – these made me laugh. They reminded me of my holiday seven years ago – they are so typically Tokyo!

But, wait a minute! I didn't order any of those things, they were just little extra gifts that Mayumi had popped into the parcel :-)

This is what I'd bought from her Etsy shop, Karaku . . .

Wooden rubber alphabet stamps – and what's more it's an old fashioned type-writer style typeface, like the one I use for my studio's stationery; and they are in lovely little tins too!

Gosh! I'm going to have so much fun . . .


Friday, 8 April 2011

An artie tweet-up at the castle

What's the point of Twitter then? If you haven't tweeted it's a bit hard to explain – but from little tweets big things sometimes happen . . .

I can't quite remember exactly what sparked off a little twitter exchange between fellow Suffolk & Norfolk artists a few weeks back; but the out come was that we fixed a date to meet up to see an exhibition at Norwich Castle . . . today was the day!

It was a glorious sunny morning and the roads were problem free, I sailed along in my new motor listening to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 – did you hear it? Martin Sheen – surprisingly interesting and moving, one of the pieces of music selected was 'Spring' from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, which was absolutely the perfect sound-track for driving through Breckland in the sunshine.

I arrived with plenty of time for a little wander around before our rendez-vous; oh look! I'm definitely in the right place - there's a big banner advertising the exhibition . . .

But back to the shopping . . . here's the lovely Royal Arcade

look at the display in Digby's window! Yes I did go in . . . maybe at Easter I'll show you what I bought!

I also couldn't walk past a little clothes shop called 'Purple', I came out with this pretty cotton skirt . . .

So! that usefully filled up the time until just before the rendez-vous hour of 11am :-) I made my way up to the Castle's Norman keep – which was looking pretty damn splendid in the sunshine.

Standing at the end of the bridge across the to the base of the towering castle were fellow creative tweeters @ @ and @. We'd come to see Restless Times - Art in Britain 1914-1945 (an exhibition curated by The Tate and previously shown in Sheffield); but first we needed coffee/tea and a good natter! Then we got down to some serious art viewing - the exhibition was full of inspiring work. Mandy's favourites were the domestic interiors, full of well-observed details of life in inter-war Britain. Rachel loved the archive films of industrial northern towns and Sarah and I enjoyed looking really closely at the Eric Ravilious watercolours. I think we all liked pretty much everything - in fact we were nattering away so much about all the exhibits that the exhibition attendant came to join in! He also gave us information about The Great British Art Debate because he thought we'd have a lot to say!

Well, we eventually decided we'd 'done' the exhibition, but before we left the castle Rachel recommended a visit to the Ladies . . . it's a bit special!

Outside in the sunshine I revealed one of my puchases - a box of goodies from @ . . . Macarons made by none other than our fellow East Anglian tweeter and magical-masterchef-macaron-man himself @ - we agreed the man's a genius!

So that was our first real life tweet-up! and it was a great success; but before I headed home I walked up the hill to Upper St Giles with my 'Easter hen' and 'Love in the air' prints and cards for 'Verandah', the little gallery/shop that sells my work in Norwich. Then it really was time to head back south to Suffolk . . . a long a tedious traffic jam of a journey.

It was a relief to finally get to the quiet lanes of the final stretch to home . . . and there were two macarons left in the box* :-)


* there aren't now!