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.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

New galleries, exhibitions, a magazine feature and something completely different

The last few weeks have been busy – and even more that I expected!

Just before we went on holiday in September, the arts journalist Hazel Foxon spent a morning with me in my studio to research an article she was writing for the 'arts in the east' magazine Venue. If you live in Beds, Cambs, Essex, Herts, London, Norfolk or Suffolk look out for it in libraries, galleries and theatres – it's a glossy colour mag with David Bowie on the cover and it's FREE
. . . or you can see the article here.

I've framed prints and packed unframed work in time for the pre-Christmas rush and delivered it to Edwards & Todd in London; the Jessica Muir Gallery in Long Melford and Smiths Row in Bury St Edmunds.

My work will be included in a special exhibition of "Smaller Pictures" at the Church Street Gallery in Saffron Walden, starting on 1st December and continuing throughout December.

I am very excited to have been invited to exhibit in two lovely galleries . . .
Cambridge Contemporary Art is a beautiful bright exhibition space within sight of King's College Chapel right in the historic centre of Cambridge. I will also be delivering some framed work for inclusion in their Christmas exhibition which runs through December.
The other venue is in Suffolk but right over on the coast – it's The Gallery at Snape Maltings, I've delivered my prints just in time to be included in the Winter exhibtion. This is probably Suffolk's most famous arts venue in a beautiful setting beside the River Alde at the end of a long estuary. The concert halls, shops, galleries and restaurants attract lots of visitors throughout the year; if the sun is shining (as it was yesterday!) the views of the river and the boats are stunning.

As you can imagine, I've been spending lots of time framing prints and writing lists; but among all the requests from galleries I received an invite from Southwold Life Boat Crew:
"We're having a tweetup on 24/11 would love it if you came.
If you can't make up your mind then how does tea,
cake & lifeboat display sound?"
Well, although I live in Suffolk and enjoy reading the morning weather tweets from the life boat station right over in the diagonally opposite corner of the county, a 150mile road trip for cake was a bit keen! I politely declined. Then I received a message from a photographer who lives only a few miles from me "I'm going, I'll give you a lift" and before I knew it I had a place reserved on a boat to go out on a training exercise with the life boat crew! You can read what happened and see Celia Bartlett's fantastic photo-essay of the day with Southwold RNLI.

Celia Bartlett ready for action at sea!

Well they say 'a change is as good as a rest', and being bounced over the grey waves of the north sea with salt water waves crashing into my face certainly blew the cobwebs away! If that's what a 'calm day' is like the volunteer life boat crews have my full respect for going out in all weathers to rescue those in danger off the Suffolk coast. Please consider giving your support to the RNLI.


Monday, 19 November 2012

There once was a tree . . .

Well we ummed and aaaahed and eventually decided that the large Corsican Pine had to go. Why hadn't we just chopped it down 13 years ago when we moved here! Why had we let it grow so huge that it blocked the light and the view from our bedroom, living room and kitchen? Why had we waited until it need planning permission and a team of expert tree fellers to do the job?

Today the deed was done . . .

. . . and now I can make plans for two new large flower beds :-) and Cheep and the flock will have to relocate their winter HQ to another sheltered place in the garden.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A review of the John Moores Painting Prize 2012

On Friday I had 45 minutes to spare before catching my train home from Liverpool, so I went to the Walker Art Gallery which is conveniently just across the road from Lime Street Station, to see the John Moores Painting Prize 2012.

You can see all the paintings online here, although I think the most interesting things about the real paintings are their size, texture and physical presence - this doesn't come across in the digital reproductions.

My notes:

Overall impression -  lots of war, violence - all feels very troubled.

The winner: Sarah Pickstone 'Stevie Smith and the willow' like an enlarged doodle. OK... ish.

Biggs & Collings 'The Greater Light' - clever in a Bridget Riley way, I like the way it's painted but is it surface pattern design rather than 'a painting' ?

Narbi Price 'Untitled Kerbstone Painting' - one of many gritty urban subjects but this one is painted with a light touch.

Dan Perfect 'Future Sun' - this is a huge painting like a grafitti wall. I liked the colours and different paints overlapping. Could look at this for a long time.

Cullinan Richards 'Collapse into Abstract' - my 2nd favourite; I like the thick cream paint on the intense black background.

James Bloomfield 'Collatoral Damage' - this was my favourite; from across the gallery it is like a black and white photo in a newspaper, probably of a middle eastern war torn town - close up it is almost random brush marks with white and grey paint on a damaged piece of plaster board. I sensed there was a seriousness about this work, it was telling a story.

Most pretentious piece: John Liversidge 'Proposal for the Jury of the John Moores Painting Prize 2012' ... in my opinion it is not clever, it's just stupid.

The Chinese work - big on technique over all else. But I did like 'Waiting' by Zheng Jiang.

Maybe I should read the artists' notes about their work and call in again next time I'm in Liverpool? Or should art be enjoyed without the need of complex explanations?

Have you been to the exhibition? and if so, what did you think of it?


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Timberline – a hand-made inspiration

There is one place we visited on our road trip that I really must tell you a little about . . .

It's a ski lodge on Mount Hood and if the weather is clear you can see this magical view across the Cascade Mountains; it was the location for an iconic US chiller 'The Shining', but that has nothing to do with it's real history . . . which is much more interesting.

Timberline was built when America was struggling to pull itself out of an economic depression; thousands were unemployed, businesses had failed, families were finding it hard to make ends meet and people were sleeping on the streets. Sounds familiar, dosesn't it?

However, I not talking about present day USA, this was the early 1930s and a federal agency, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) was set up in 1933 to create projects to provide jobs for thousands of desperate Americans. In the state of Oregon a small team of experienced foremen were employed to teach the skills needed to hundreds of labourers who lived in a tent encampment on the lower slopes of Mount Hood. They were paid and decent wage and given three nutritious hot meals a day. They learnt new skills that would enable them to get work in the future.

But above all else, in less than 18 months the workforce of men and women created not just a building but a work of art; using craft skills in timber and stone they made a building which is timeless, it sits on the mountain side, becoming part of the landscape - afterall it is made of the same rock and timber as its surroundings.

All the furniture, fittings and interior decor was also hand crafted and are unique to Timberline; the drive and imagination behind the designs was an interior designer from Portland, Margery Hoffman Smith. She had just over a year to complete the task, there was no time to draw up ideas and dither around, under her guidance teams of older women made applique curatins and rag rugs from scrap fabrics; joiners made sturdy functional furniture; artists created murals from broken tiles and carved wood. Old telegraph poles were given a new lease of life as newel posts for the staircases, each one carved with a forest animal. Old railway tracks were skillfully forged into fire-dogs for the huge fireplace at the heart of the lodge.

This is part of a mural by Douglas Lynch, it is carved linoleum which has been coloured with transparent glazes of oil paint. Like everything else at Timberline, this artwork has been lovingly restored to near it's original condition by The Friends of Timberline.

Every single room in the lodge is furnished in much the same way as it was in 1937 when President Roosevelt opened the building (of course there has been a few modernisatins to the bathrooms and other modern facilities added but they are styled in keeping with the original decor.)

We were lucky there was a room available, so we stayed for just one night - it was my birthday. We had a little room with a view towards the summit of Mount Hood. This was the telephone in our bedroom, the watercolour above it is one of many botanical studies of local plants which were painted by a German artist who had been living in a cardboard box on the streets of Portland, existing on dried beans he soaked in cold water.

The furnishings may not be the original fabrics, hand woven by the eager to learn team of workers from Oregon wool and linen thread, but they are in the spirit of Timberline and all the curtains and cushions are still hand stitched by local makers.

Every square inch of Timberline is a legacy of a huge team effort and an example of what can be done in difficult times to raise morale by making something beautiful by hand.

You can read more about Timberline Lodge here.