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.

Thursday 24 May 2012

When birds do sing

Have you heard the chorus of birdsong in the morning and evening? Maybe it's because we've all been huddled indoors waiting for the rain to stop, but now the sun is shining the birds seem to be singing their socks off!!!

This is my new linocut 'When birds do sing', it's inspired by our beautiful English songbirds and – as Shakespeare is just everywhere this summer (on the telly, and the radio, at the BM, in Cambridge and most likely also in a garden near you) – by a pastoral ditty from Shakespeare's comedy 'As You Like It'. If you don't know the tune – here's link to a rather jolly 1978 production; the madrigal setting was composed for Shakespeare by Thomas Morley, who was the son of a Norwich brewer (which is nice!) who went on to be choir-master of Norwich Cathedral before he went to London. He lived in the same parish as the popular playwright of the day, Will Shakespeare; I like to think of them chatting in a local tavern 'Hey Tom, will you do a tune for my new song?' ''Twill be a pleasure, Will!'

 I've based the style of the hey ding a ding dings in the typeface in this book . . .

It's one of two very battered and crumbling, leather bound books I bought about 25 years ago for a few pounds in a second-hand book shop in Cambridge. Apart from being old volumes of Shakespeare plays, I knew nothing about them but as soon as I picked them up I knew I had to have them!

I think they must be from the second edition (1714) of Nicholas Rowe's multi-volume edition of Shakespeare's works; the first edition (1709) was the first printed version of the plays to include stage directions and a 'Dramatis Personae' at the beginning of each play. The books were published by Jacob Tonson, a very interesting character and pioneer book publisher.

but back to my print . . .

'When birds do sing' is a limited edition of 50, but I'm doing an 'Edition Varie' which is a printmaking-speak is basically using the same blocks and printing in different colours and on different papers. The image size is 21 x 21cm. The first batch (and we are heading for that big patriotic weekend!) are 10 red and 10 blue prints on lovely crisp Kitakata paper, which coincidentally has a similar feel to the pages of my 300 year old book.

And . . . yes, there are cards too!

There's a little detail of a chirrupy Wren inside . . .

And the detail on the back is different  . . . a Blackbird and Warbler on the blue card

and a Chaffinch on the red one . . .


Monday 14 May 2012

Now in Liverpool

Over the past couple of years I've got to know Liverpool a little better; the reason for our frequent visits was not a happy one  . . . Cliff's aunt suffered a serious stroke and we were helping her to move to a nursing home; eventually we had to clear her house and sell it. Although the visits were never easy, I got to know the area where Cliff had spent his early years and where his family had lived for generations. Gradually we built in time to explore places in and around the city.

One of my favourite places, just five minutes walk from Lime Street Station where the high speed Pendolino from London arrives, is the Bluecoat; it's just off the main pedestrian shopping street, go down Church Alley opposite M&S and down the side of Primark and at the end you'll see the gateway into the front courtyard.

Look up as you pass through the gates and you'll see a Liver bird (you see, Liver bird spotting is what I do when I'm in the city; what's more the sky is blue, the sun in shining and there are newly opened leaves on the trees :-)

Look, there's another Liver bird on the broken pediment above a doorway . . .

We've discovered that Upstairs at the Bluecoat is a haven of calm and the perfect place to have lunch before we catch the local train up to Waterloo to see Cliff's aunt. We can relax and eat scouse or fish and chips . . . it's friendly and spacious.

So, imagine my surprise when a week of so back I received an email from a shop in Liverpool who were interested in stocking my cards and when I checked to see if it might be feasible to call in on our next visit I found it was Nook & Cranny, the exciting new shop I'd spotted in the Bluecoat courtyard right next to the stairs up to the bistro!

I'd sent a parcel of cards (including the new vintage-colour hare cards) and I knew that they were already on display, but imagine my excitement on Saturday morning to see my cards laid out on the table just inside the door (apologies for the quality, I must have been shaking!). We met Leigh and had a chat about all the things she has planned for the shop.

Nook & Cranny have a lovely blog where they showcase artists and designers whose work they stock, as well as art events in Liverpool and quirky craft ideas. So even if you can't visit in person you can visit their virtual world.

I'd spotted a chalkboard in the courtyard advertising Liverpool's Big Vintage Fair, maybe there would be time for a very quick visit on our way back to Lime Street to catch the train home, and fingers crossed that there would be nice things left at almost closing time?

There was :-) and I found a bargain that hadn't been snapped up . . . vintage Laura Ashley cotton lawn orange roses :-) and it fits perfectly!

So here we are again, walking up the steps into Lime Street Station, the new pleached limes are just coming into leaf . . .

Here's the view from the train as we cross Mersey once again heading South; in the crystal clear far distance we can see the mountains of North Wales.

We sat back and watched the West Midlands basking in beautiful evening sunshine, a respite from the dreadful weather we've had since Easter; we could see people walking their dogs, sitting by shiny silver rivers and children swinging on gates waving as our red train swooshed and swerved and leaned along the track back to London.

I'll be back there in July . . . can't wait!


Wednesday 9 May 2012

Freshly cut

I'm writing this little blog post to test out the Blogger iPhone app . . . fingers crossed!

This evening I cut asparagus for our supper, I used the asparagus knife that's been in our family for three generations. It's cut a lot of asparagus!

I think a number of crowns are missing from our asparagus bed . . . in the winter I'd seen small burrows along the side of the raised bed - I suspect hungry mice have eaten them. But the remaining crowns are healthy and the spears are plump and sweet :-)

There is nothing as delicious as freshly cut spears of home grown asparagus!


Friday 4 May 2012

Now is the month of Maying . . .

Fa-la la-la-la . . .

If you're about to go a-skipping round a May-pole this Bank Holiday weekend in England, you'd better wear your wellies! I won't go on about it, but if you live here in the UK you will already know that it's been the wettest April on record, May has so far been a deluge and night frosts are forecast for the holiday weekend! Never mind, eh?

So, I thought I'd do something to cheer you all up . . . in fact it was a case of "necessity being the mother of invention"! I'd received a trade order for a selection of my cards, including the 'Magical Hares' cards but supplied as single, individually packaged cards. But then, my laser printer which I use to print my cards, decided that it didn't like printing black onto the parchment card stock (what!!!!). I was rapidly wasting precious card blanks and getting very stressed! the stupid machine was printing the red 'Birds' wedding' and brown 'March hares beautifully, but the black was rubbish.

Then I had a brain wave, I'd discontinue the black version of the Hare designs (and apologise to my new customer) and introduce new colour versions . . . and here they are . . .

The colour choice was inspired by my collection of vintage embroidered linens and book jackets.





You can buy single cards or a pack of each of the four designs . . . and there's another reason to smile . . . yes!!! FREE SHIPPING to UK mainland addresses on ALL purchases from Magic Cochin's Emporium.

I'll keep the price of cards the same until 12th June 2012, then I'll review things. I might increase the prices a little, but shipping to the UK mainland will still be included in the price of each item  . . . no add-ons (except for an overseas shipping sur-charge).

I hope you all have a lovely May Holiday . . . forget about the weather forecast, in my experience the weather reports always err on the gloomy side and it actually turns out to be not bad at all.


PS I'm planning to send out my next studio newsletter after the holiday weekend, so if you haven't subscribed and would like to, please click here.