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.

Sunday 28 February 2010

Can I tempt you?

Look, I know the weather isn't very spring-like and you're probably wrapped up in your winter woollies, but when that chunky catalogue falls through the letterbox I bet you dream of being a chirpy Boden-girlie sitting in the sunshine at some pavement café . . . admit it, I do (even if I'd never look like a Boden-girlie in a zillion years!)

Well, how about this to brighten up a cold grey day on the Fen edge?

And there's more – the Artisan Stallholders will be: the clever Mrs P with her lovely silvery beady jewels; the colourful Dottycookie with her retro stitching; sublime ceramics made by local potter Sally; Nadine – weaver of fenland willows, with her practical baskets; fabric given a second life as stylish bags made by Lily button; and cards and stationery to make you smile from Roxana de Rond .

I'm assured that there will also be cakes and tea :-)

Oh, I almost forgot, I'll be there too with prints and cards and my new printed hens – so that's why Im going to be very very busy this week – I might not have time for blogging.

If you're in the area, see you on Saturday (I'm assured that there will be lots of signs pointing the way to Swaffham Prior). By the way it's very close to Anglesey Abbey where you can meander along the inspiring Winter Walk and see the drifts of snowdrops beneath the trees – I thought that might tempt you ;-)


Thursday 25 February 2010

Ink + Paper = Print

From the memory . . .

. . . through the imagination . . .

. . . the image . . .

. . . is transferred to the block . . .

. . . and carved . . .

. . . ink . . .

. . . on the block . . .

. . . plus paper – burnished . . .

. . . makes a print . . .

Deer sprang from the wood

Walk the ancient tracks crossing the fields
and you may step into a wilder world
where herds of Fallow Deer leap the
hedges and ditches and send the
startled Rooks wheeling into the sky.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Bullying in the workplace

This blog-post contains scenes which some readers may find shocking.

Senior Under-gardener, Ruby, has been the victim of a vicious assault. A young male member of staff, in a newly created executive position, has used bullying tactics to depose and demote her; now he has even resorted to violence and GBH.

This morning I noticed that Ruby looked different – I wasn't absolutely sure, so I found a photo that I took a few weeks ago . . .

Today she looks like this . . .

Then I found the crime scene . . .

I've washed away the blood (seeing red will inflame the situation) and I will have to keep a close watch on the rivals. Ruby seems fine, if a tad subdued and thoughtful, I wonder if she's called the National Bullying Helpline for advice?

Sunday 21 February 2010

We walk in all weathers . . .

Early this morning I seriously questioned my judgement – I'd told Cliff that I'd go with him on the 14 mile walk he was leading for a local walking group, the promised sunny day happened yesterday and this morning started with ice and snow!

Well I did go, and eleven other insane ramblers turned up too. We set off in driving snow and headed to the summit – the highest point in Suffolk, Great Wood Hill 128 metres. (Yes I know that's not Everest, but it's as high as we do around here – and the views, when there's not a blizzard are splendid.)

Undetered by the weather we plodded on through the mud, to be rewarded after lunch by glorious sunshine – who says life isn't fair!

And . . . I finished my first 'A Group' walk, all of it, every muddy step of the way
. . . woooo-hoo!

After a big mug of tea and a bath I was bouncy enough to bake cherry and vanilla muffins
. . . and I'm going to eat one right now :-)

Wednesday 17 February 2010

In touch with The Wild Wood

As I familiarise myself with the landscape around the place I live, I've realised that there is wildness in the most benign landscape. No English landscape is virgin forest or a desert untouched by human feet – it is molded by generations of lives lived on the land, but that doesn't mean that the untamed doesn't exist.

I've set myself a project to get to know one small area of land, our tiny plot that we acquired last Easter. Whenever I can, I plan to eat my lunch sitting on the seat in The Wild Wood, and while I eat I'll read and think . . .

A meditation in The Wild Wood, 17 February 2010

A brook and a small tributary stream run along two sides and meet at one corner. There are Yew trees and an Ash. The soil and Ivy hide broken lumps of what was probably a furnace, maybe from the Old Forge which once stood on the opposite side of the brook. We have made beetle banks and a log pile half submerged in the ground. Cliff constructed a seat from Yew branches, which is bathed in warm sunshine at midday. Spring is starting to wake up The Wild Wood.

Today I read the introduction and first chapter of Wildwood – a journey through trees by the late Roger Deakin, who loved and was inspired by the Suffolk countryside.

"To enter a wood is to pass into a different world
in which we ourselves are transformed."

Tuesday 16 February 2010

How do you like yours?

Have you had pancakes today? How do you like yours?

Lemon & sugar? Maple syrup? In the kitchen cupboard I found a tube of Creme Marrons de l'Ardeche from a favourite deli' and a pot of Mermelade de Maracuya bought at a farmers' market on La Palma . . . mmmmmmm nice!

Chestnut spread and passion fruit marmalade – perfect with our freshly tossed pancakes.

Monday 15 February 2010

Happy pottering!

Like many people my work depends on having a reliable computer. This wasn't the case when I left college, but it is now – things have changed beyond our imagination over the past 25 years. Learning new ways of working is hard enough, but the worry that suddenly and inexplicably high-tech kit can stop working at crucial moments is very scary. I feel very lucky that when I took the plunge and went freelance 19 years ago, I knew some people who would be there to help me sort out the stuff I didn't understand, leaving me time to concentrate on my work.

I'm not alone, there are many people out there who are grateful that when we were tearing our hair out in exasperation with a deadline looming and a computer that just isn't doing what it's meant to do, there was a calm and unruffled voice at the end of the phone "Bill . . ."

Yesterday I joined lots of those people at a local hotel for a surprise party for Bill, he has decided to click on the Retire button and spend his time just pottering – something he has wanted to do since he was 14!

Guest of honour was an ice aardvark, there doesn't have to be a reason – it just was! And Bill was delighted!

There's no need for anyone to panic as Bill's colleagues are still there running the company, which, this year, is celebrating its first 21 years. The voice at the end of the phone won't be Bill's but it will be calm and unfazed by whatever problem we have.

Thank you Bill . . . happy pottering!

Sunday 14 February 2010

Happiness is . . .

Beautiful flowers from the one you love . . .

Going to the DIY store together to get stuff
to build things with . . .

Stripping wallpaper while the pot roast pheasant
and jacket potatoes cook . . .

Cliff and I are busy with separate things today, so we did 'together things' yesterday . . .

We went to the warehouse on the disused airfield not far from our house, and bought a very nice new bookcase to replace the one that's now in my studio's office.

We ate a full-English brunch while reading the papers.

We designed a cupboard to cover in all the strange plumbing in the corner of the downstairs bathroom (a very nice room which has been in need of a makeover since we moved here over ten years ago). Then we went to the DIY store to buy all the wood and screws and hinges and stuff.

We started stripping the layers of wallpaper off the bathroom walls . . . while one of the pheasants Cliff bought me cooked in the Le Creuset surrounded with onions, carrots, parsnips, puy lentils and herbs.

We had a delicious supper of pot-roast pheasant accompanied by jacket potatoes, broccoli, gravy and home-made crab-apple jelly.

All in all a very nice Saturday :-)

So today, while Cliff walks 15 miles, I'll get down to some creative things in my very tidy studio, where I now have surfaces which aren't covered with the clutter of months of not putting stuff away because the cupboards are full of things which should have been thrown away.

The Riverslade Gallery needs new stock for Mother's Day and Easter gifts and I have plans.

Later I'm off to a surprise party for a very clever person who's helped a lot of creative people cope with 'new technology'. I can't tell you more because it's a surprise and we've all been sworn to secrecy ;-)

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Vintage florals

A couple of weeks ago my Mum gave me a plastic thing she had found lurking in her knitting needle cupboard, "this must be yours". My mind did a 'search' and there was a faint connection with a faraway memory, but I couldn't for the life of me think what it was for. Mum remembered wool pom-poms or flowers . . .

I expect some of you are jumping up and down, shouting "Miss, Miss, I know!"

Well, when I got home I Googled and found this. PING! My brain cells connected and there I was in 1970 something with my present – birthday? Christmas? I probably tried out all the plastic bits and bobs, before deciding to go back to knitting on grown-up needles!

So now I knew that the plastic wheel is a Flower Loom. Let's ask Google again – isn't the internet useful? – here we are . . . How to Make Flowers Using a Vintage Flower Loom.

And I can use that coloured raffia I found yesterday, when I tidied the studio . . .


A funky vintage raffia daisy :-)

I'm sure this is going to come in useful this year . . .

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Time for tea (and a slice of cake)

Today the studio assistants helped me to empty the cupboards in the studio. You would not believe the stuff I'd accumulated over the years, much of it I don't use any more – suppliers' catalogues for instance, I now look at what's available online.

The blue wheeliebin is already full to the brim, so we've made a big pile of stuff to go in the bin once it's emptied tomorrow morning. All my inks and printing bits and pieces now have a home inside cupboards rather than on surfaces. There's still a bit of tidying still to do, but already my studio feels twice as spacious, a good days work!

The ginger one has done quite a lot of dusting,
so deserves a nap . . .

And his tabby sister is taking a break
to wash her whiskers . . .

I need a cup of tea and . . . I know!
A slice of that lovely cake I baked last night.

Just the ticket – delicious!

The recipe is from Jacqui's blog, so if you'd like to make her Lemon Yogurt Cake pop over to Henrietta - life in the dome where you can also meet her gorgeous chooks.

Sunday 7 February 2010

Shhhh! deer . . .

Cliff is leading another walk for a local walking group later this month and needed to re-walk some of the route, I was keen to try out my smart new outdoor jacket (a find in TK Maxx at less than half price, earlier today) so late this afternoon we headed off over the fields . . .

As dusk approaches it's one of the best times to spot the local wildlife.

Shhhh! deer . . .

Can you see them? Our binoculars seem to have broken – would you believe it! Just when we needed them. And the camera only managed a couple of shots before the battery died – so I couldn't take a video of the herd as they leapt the ditch and ran over the field.

I'll have to ask you to use your imagination . . .

Cliff counted fifty Fallow Deer as they ran past us to the ridge of the field and then stood and watched us from the skyline.

Friday 5 February 2010

Lunchtime in The Wild Wood

It's mild and a tiny bit sunny today – no excuses – I could spend my lunchtime in the garden. Of course the under-gardeners came along to help.

For those new to my blog I'll explain . . . the under-gardeners were originally four Marans hybrid hens, sadly Dawn is no longer alive and they were eventually joined by three Araucana x Legbar hens – The Spice Girls. Just after Christmas we gave a home to Tarragon, a young Lavender Araucana cockerel. So these are my seven 'under-gardeners' – they help (specialising in compost turning and pest control) and get under my feet when I'm gardening – I say 'seven' but in fact Tarragon's role is usually supervisory.

My gardening project today was to relocate some Snowdrops I'd put into pots last autumn when I dug out a very congested border. Some of the little clumps of snowdrops are in bud, so I thought I'd plant them in The Wild Wood where there are already some Snowdrops and Winter Aconites appearing among the rubble of what was probably an old furnace.

Of course Tarragon and his team of lady-gardeners found lots to do . . .

. . . and because he's a boy he had to shout about it!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

The new look . . .

Woooo-ooooo! Yes, I'm back – in fact I've been here all the time, but I took some time out from blogging while I fixed some glitches. After ten years working in this studio it was time for a serious clear-out. The old shelves are now in the store-room, the bookshelves from the room next door are now in the office, the piles of stuff cluttering every surface of the studio (I'm too embarrassed to show you this) is going to be put away or thrown away. Clearing up feels so right – new year, new decade, new look. I got quite carried away – even my hair got a new look.

And this morning I just couldn't resist (the green background looked so last decade) – my blog is getting a new look too.

See you soon