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 30 August 2011

Suffolk . . . the sea side

We didn't want to waste a Bank Holiday Monday doing home stuff, so where should be go? We live in Suffolk, famous for it's lovely coastal towns and villages; from our village it's a good two hours drive to cross the width of the county and reach the sea side – but sometimes a visit to the sea is a must.

The sea-side! "How about Southwold, or maybe Walberswick and we could go to Dunwich Heath" . . . I had a plan :-)

We decided to skip Southwold and go straight to Walberswick, we had not been there before – and it's not exactly on the way to anywhere else, in fact it's at the end of a long narrow lane that leads to Walberswick and nowhere else! The village is quite small and sits on the right bank of the Blyth estuary and it was once a busy port, there's a couple of pubs, a tea-room and some small shops, and lots of little black-tar painted wooden shacks along the shore.

We were surprised by the number of people there, "What's going on? There must be an event!" But there wasn't, it was just lots of families happily engrossed in the simple pass-time of 'crabbing'!

After a lovely lunch in the tea-room garden (it was just warm enough to sit outside, in a bracing English sea-side fashion – and wearing outdoor jackets with the collars up) we decided to move on. We drove down the coast, past Dunwich – the town that was lost to the sea – and along a road through the mounds of purple heather to Dunwich Heath.

And look! the clouds parted and we could walk along the beach in the sunshine!

We watched the waves roll in and leave lace patterns along the sand.

I found a tiny silver fish.

We even lay down on the shingle bank and basked like a couple of seals!

Those clouds moving in from the west looked a bit serious!
So we headed back to the white buildings you can just see in the distance.

Those buildings are the Coastguard Cottages, now owned by the National Trust – they are holiday cottages and a lovely tearoom with a huge selection of delicious cakes! There's also a barn a little way behind, on the heather covered heath – we popped in to see an exhibition (you see – that was my cunning plan). I was interested to see Mandy Walden's hand-coloured colograph prints – her work is inspired by the birds, animals and landscape around Dunwich Heath and seeing her work in situ on the heathland by the sea really brought it to life.

We loved the beach – in fact I think it will now be one of our favourite Suffolk sea-sides. I liked the wildness and the curious plant-life on the shingle bank – like this Sea Kale . . .

and this Sea Poppy plant (also known as the Yellow Horned Poppy, glaucium flavum) – just look at those sculptural leaves . . .

next year that plant will be covered with bright yellow flowers and then long slim seed pods . . .

The paths over the heath were edged with gorse bushes, still covered with their coconut-scented yellow flowers and ripening blackberries tumbled over them in a rich clash of colours.

On the way home we passed through the village of Peasenhall – we'd spied an inviting emporium selling all sorts of vintage treasures . . . so we stopped and went in for a browse – which was a perfect end to a day over on the sea side of Suffolk.

Top: bargain buys from Walberswick – a butterfly printed tunic and a woven straw food cover.
Bottom: from The Shed in Peasenhall – a vintage jelly mould and a box of Suffolk blend tea from Peasenhall Village Shop.


Friday 26 August 2011

PPPHatch Plan B . . . now what?

Do you remember those little fluffy chicks? Well they didn't stay that way for very long, a week later and they had sticky-out feathers; at three weeks they looked like this . . .

. . . quite a handful for big Black Cochin mother-hen, but she took it in her stride and looked after her brood of nine very lively chicks admirably – in fact I think she's the very best mother-hen we've ever seen!

It's now eight weeks since the chicks hatched, the Black Cochin hen is looking wistfully at her friends in the hen-run where she used to live, so my neighbour and I are making plans for the chicks' futures . . .

. . . and that's proving quite tricky! It's going to mean making some very difficult choices.

Nine chicks hatched:

2 Red Silkies – 1 x male / 1 x female ?

2 Marans – 1 x male / 1 x female ?

2 x Silver Partridge Pekin Bantams – 1 x male / 1 x female ?

3 x Lavender Araucanas – 2 x male / 1 x female

Have you spotted the problem yet? Yeah right! A lot of boys!!!!!

After a lot of pacing up and down, phone calls, text messages and sitting on a seat in my neighbours garden looking at the chicks and willing them to change sex, we have the start of a plan . . . and the first stage was to move all three Araucanas into my garden, so they can settle down and get used to being away from their mum.

We noticed that the Araucanas were growing and maturing much quicker than the other breeds; they are inquisitive and sociable; they love to perch on things and explore . . .

One of the boys is bigger and a slightly darker shade of dove-grey, someone in the village in interested in eventually giving him a home with their flock of hens. But he needs to grow a bit more before that happens, so he's staying with his brother and sister for a few more weeks.

The smaller boy and the girl are a cute pair, I'd like to keep them as a breeding pair . . . but there's a slight problem – our mature cockerel, Tarragon. Another difficult decision I'll have to face.

In the mean-time all three of them are settling down in their new home, and getting along just fine :-) After Tarragon, the senior under-gardeners and Spice Girls are in bed, the little Araucanas are allowed out of their small run to explore the lawn. They love catching insects!

They are also very enthusiastic apprentice under-gardeners! Did I want holes dug there? Mmmm :-/


Thursday 25 August 2011

Oh! look who moved in last night!

I'll tell you more about them later . . .


Tuesday 23 August 2011

This is not a maze . . .

No! this is not a maze . . .

. . . it's a knot

another knot

and a rose garden

In the previous post I said that a visit to the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden to see Edward Bawden 1903-1989 – Watercolours, Drawings, Prints and Illustrations, would be a perfect plan for a rainy day, so that's exactly what I did this afternoon. But before I went into the gallery I took a short detour around the beautiful Bridge End Gardens, and although it was a little muddy under foot and I got a bit damp, I think the rain gave it a certain glossy greeness that suited it rather well!

The Maze Festival is still in full swing, but as you saw from the notice there are things that look a bit like mazes that aren't mazes!

There's also a very lovely newly restored walled garden . . .

with a little theatre to show off your potted plants (I want one of these!)

As you can see, it was still raining, and I was becoming rather bedraggled! Time to walk back to the Fry to see those Bawdens – it's just along this path, through the archway in the red wall . . .

Well! get down there quick . . . there are still some Bawdens without red dots on them ;-) No I didn't buy one, although the watercolours filled me with an urge to paint!

But what I did was call into here to order some of this fabric to recover our dining chair seats.

Well worth getting wet!


Monday 22 August 2011

Season's end? . . . not just yet!

There's a late summer, end of season feel. . . when the rain falls you know autumn isn't far away; but then then the sun comes out the intense dry heat of harvest returns.

On Friday evening I went along to the Church Street Gallery in Saffron Walden for the opening of the A-Mazing Art exhibition, which also kicked off the 10 day Maze Festival. Thank you to everyone who came along, Helen has organised a lovely exhibition – which along with everything else in the gallery, is well worth popping in to see. I was very pleased to arrive just as someone was buying one of my Saxon Labyrinth prints; and the framed print is in the gallery window . . .

There was much excitement about another exhibition opening at the Fry Art Gallery on Saturday: Edward Bawden 1903-1989 – Watercolours, Drawings, Prints and Illustrations. I had to be somewhere else on Saturday, so I couldn't attend the private view – probably for the best, as all the work is for sale and competition to be first through the door and place a claim on the pictures was going to be high! I'm not sure I would have come out with my bank account or body unbruised! I'm sure everything will have a red dot on it by now, but the exhibition continues until 18 September so there's still time to see it – perfect for a rainy day!

Late on Sunday afternoon we went for a walk form a nearby village to a stretch of our local Roman Road, the line of the hedge running left to right in front of the wood in the middle distance, marks the line of the road . . .

This is a favourite spot of ours looking out over the wide dish of land just east of Cambridge. The farmer has put a useful seat in the shade and along the field margin is wide stretch of mixed flowers has been sown, this year the colours are a lovely mix of lavender Phacelia, Fat Hen and Bistort.

Many of the fields have yet to be harvested, the ears hang heavy and rustle as you pass through. In one place there is a trial area of different wheat varieties – I love this one with the twisted spiky beards.

On the return route we spotted a Bloody-Nosed Beetle crossing the track – his body was shining in the evening sunshine.

In fact the fields and hedges were glowing with the warm evening light . . . the Dogwood in the hedge dotted with inky black berries is starting change to Autumnal shades.

But summer isn't quite over yet . . . it's been a scorching hot day here today but there's heavy rain approaching . . . I'm going to do some work in the garden.

Oh, almost forgot! If you hop over to Linocult you'll find a little chat I had with Dailey of Live From Brooklyn, about linocuts and other stuff.


Tuesday 9 August 2011

Saxon Labyrinth – a linocut

My new linocut, Saxon Labyrinth, is hanging up to dry in my studio, it will soon be framed and ready to deliver to the Church Street Gallery in Saffron Walden to be included in the A-Mazing Art exhibition, which is part of the Saffron Walden Maze Festival, 20th – 27th August 2011.

(click to enlarge image)

If you follow my facebook page, you will have seen little tasters of progress over the past few weeks; this linocut is as much about the making as the final result, so I've put together a video to explore the path through the labyrinth . . .

This work pulled together lots of themes I've been thinking about as I work:

– the layers of man-made history in the landscape around my studio

– the proximity of wildlife to habitation

– the symbolic woodland in fairy tales and woodland as a place of exile

– the stylised images of animals on Anglo-Saxon coins

– the shared culture of all the people living around the shores of the North Sea

If you live near Saffron Walden, I hope you can join the celebrations of Mazes around the town and pop into the Church Street Gallery to see the A-Mazing Art exhibition.
All the work will be for sale, including Saxon Labyrinth linocuts and cards.


Monday 1 August 2011

Making Monday - knitted lace

Over at the Yarn Yard, Natalie has suggested a Making Monday blogpost about something you've made – and as I've recently finished a knitting project using some of Natalie's beautiful lace-weight yarn, I thought I'd join in the first round.

I'd bought a selection of yarn from the Yarn Yard shop, two lovely sock yarns and a lovely soft lace yarn colour: "Spruce" – not that I was into knitting lace but I felt an urge to have a go. When I looked for a pattern I discovered that lace knitting is having a renaissance and coloured lace shawls seemed to be everywhere! A search on Ravelry found this new lace design called Rock Island by American designer Jared Flood.

I also decided that I wanted to add a little twist of my own and use the rough-cut peridot beads I'd bought on a holiday in Lanzarote to weight the edging. It's about 25 years since I had a stab at knitting fine lace and I'd never knitted in beads – but hey! I like a challenge.

I admit to cursing a bit and pulling the work undone a few times, but with the help of some lovely new circular needles and some little light-weight plastic stitch-markers, I got there in the end. And ta-dah! my shawl looked like this . . .

. . . OK yes it does look like a green dish-cloth with beads on it.

The secret of a lace shawl is in the blocking – luckily I went to the Cottage Smallholder party and got chatting to someone who had blocked more knitted lace than I've had hot dinners! So armed with the knowledge I pinned my knitting to the spare bed – and this evening I unpinned it – and it stayed all stretched out and silky and beautiful, just like it should :-)

Just perfect for a summer evening in a garden watching a play – I'll have to buy a ticket :-)

I think I want to have another go. In fact just one hank of Natalie's lovely yarn makes this shawl and there's lots left over . . . enough for a . . . er any suggestions?