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.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Prague – 10 things not to miss

Well, did you guess correctly?

Our room with a view was in Prague . . .

In fact you can see the windows in the photo – here's a close up.

I'd been to Prague before - a couple of brief stays many years ago, 1988 and 2000, either side of the 'Velvet Revolution'; but Cliff had never been. A friend who lives there wanted us to visit and it was about time we did.

I wanted to see more than the obvious . . . Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the Old Town square and the Astronomical Clock and Wenceslas Square. Of course we did all of those, but by far the best things were the places and things we discovered when we ventured off the main tourist trail . . .

10 things not to miss while in Prague 
 (in no particular order)

The Palace Gardens

the perfect place to look out over the rooftops and admire the domes and spires of the city

Letná Park

once the site of the huge Stalin Memorial -
today it's a place to get away from the crowds
and get the best view of the bridges over the River Vltava


the site of a huge fortress on a hill high above the River Vltava, south of the city centre

now famous for its cemetery, where famous Czech artists, writers and musicians are buried - including Dvorak and Smetana

the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul now stands on the site of the castle – the interior is an overwhelming feast of Art Nouveau murals!

 A day trip to Kutna Hora

the medieval town that was built on a silver mine and where Czech silver coinage was made; it's now a lovely place to escape from the crowds of the city and find some traditional Czech food - such as ginger and fruit dumplings with goulash (very good).

The massive structure of St Barbara's Church is an architectural gem


  Art Nouveau

 where do you begin! I suggest an evening stroll along
the riverbank, Masarykovo Nabrezi

and you'll find many more examples around Wenceslas Square and in Josefov (the old Jewish quarter); put on comfortable shoes and mind the trams while you're looking up at the buildings!

 Kampa Museum's bar-code babies

sculptures by Prague artist David Černý – they are also crawling all over the TV tower!

Oh . . . and there are neon yellow penguins too!

  The John Lennon Wall

originally the place where political graffiti was successively scrawled then painted over, this is an ever-changing work in-progress and a symbol of Czech freedom of expression

 Tančící dům

 on the riverside south of the city centre the 'Dancing House' is the work of Vlado Milunc and Frank O Gehry

we discovered that underneath those concrete 'legs' is a great place to shelter from the rain and people watch at evening rush-hour!

  The Pinkas Synagogue

 Pinkas Synagogue -names of Holocaust victims on the walls
 Photography wasn't allowed in the synagogue
I borrowed this image from the Jewish Mueums of Prague web site

probably the one of the most overwhelmingly moving memorials I've ever seen – neatly handwritten on the walls inside this synagogue are the names of 80,000 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were victims of the holocaust

upstairs you'll find a display of children's drawings . . . just a few of the 4,500 pictures made in the Terezin concentration camp by some of the 8,000 children under the age of 15 who were deported there between 1942 and 1944

only 242 of the children were still alive in 1945

Beer and Dumplings

this was the dish my Czech friend's Mum recommended that I chose when we met for Sunday lunch in a pub – "Moravian Sparrow"

obviously it's not sparrow! it's roast pork and comes served with sauerkraut and dumplings

and of course – you have to drink beer!



Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Saffron Walden Arts Festival 2012

So many outdoor events have fallen victims to the weather over the past few weeks . . . the Cambridgeshire County Show was called off and the Suffolk Show closed after just one day. But the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant went ahead and the French Market stallholders on Saffron Walden Common were determined to stay, come what may; so full of British grit and determination the Saffron Walden Arts Festival carried on regardless of rain and gale force winds . . .

The four "Living Crafts" tents became two after one tent blew away and another had to be dismantled for safety reasons; here's the view of the Common as I arrived on Saturday morning – the good thing was that it was not raining.

Within an hour I'd transformed my corner of the larger tent with a display stand of prints and cards and working area . . .

I was busy serving customers and demonstrating carving a lino block for most of the day; we could hear a great selection of live music from the main marquee next door – the audience is well wrapped up!

Sunday. Time to do it all over again . . . but look – blue sky and sunshine :-) the third tent had been erected and the tent-sides were opened so we didn't get too hot!

We put up a board advertising the workshops . . . thinking on my feet, I decided to allow people to drop-in at any time for £5 in line with the other activities in the same tent.

Outside I could see lots of things going on: tai-chi, the local art society exhibition and an amazing display by Maggie Auld and Dennis the dog (wish I'd been able to photograph that but it sounded such fun!)

On the other side of the tent Katherine Childs was popular with hands-on pottery sessions, and a huge communal coil-pot was gradually growing in size (I can't believe I didn't photograph that either!)

Returning to my workshop table . . . by afternoon it was getting really popular and I had a full table of people cutting lino and making prints.

Here's some of their work . . . all absolutely brilliant!

Then a band arrived! The Drum and Bass workshop band arrived from the Castle to show off what they'd learnt . . . fabulous stuff!

Then it was all over! Goodness knows how I managed to get all my stuff packed into my car as the scouts demolished the tent around us . . . and here's the view from my car/tardis as I prepared to drive off the Common and home.

To say I was tired was a huge understatement . . . thank you to Cliff who helped me set up on Saturday and was there when I got home on Sunday with the Plymouth Gin and Fever Tree tonic lined up ready!

Unpacking the jumbled mess from my car on Monday wasn't fun but looking back it was a good experience . . . and I really enjoyed teaching the workshops (something I might do more of – I'm making plans). I hope everyone who came along enjoyed all the activities – lots of people had put in a massive amount of work to make it all happen.

And it didn't rain!


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Back to normal? Almost!

Hello! Did you do the jubilations and celebrations? Did you get wet?

Cliff and I decided to have a little holiday, last Thursday we hopped on a train . . .  then another and another . . . and five trains later we found ourselves in a lovely room with a view!

I'll tell you more about that next week . . .

But right now I have to get everything ready for this weekend's Saffron Walden Arts Festival – I will be in a tent on the Common with lots of other artist/makers at the 'Living Crafts' event. You can read more about it here and there's a festival facebook page here. I do hope some of you can come along :-)

As well as having a stand displaying my prints and cards (which will be for sale) on Saturday I will be working on a new print and on Sunday you can take part in short 'taster' workshops.

Must dash! I've lots to get ready . . .