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.

Monday 24 September 2012

A new woodcut: The watchful hare


The watchful hare
Woodcut on handmade Japanese Kitakata paper
edition of 10  •  hand burnished  •  6 colours  •  30cm x 40cm

A late summer evening on the edge of a Suffolk barleyfield,
among the Rest-Harrow and Shepherd’s Needle
a hare quietly watches.


There's nothing like a deadline to speed up productivity! I was very excited when Helen at the Church Street Gallery in Saffron Walden told me about exhibition titled 'Neo Bardfield' that she was planning as the first major event for the gallery's partnership with the Curwen Studio; and I knew at once that the print that had been simmering on the back-burner in my brain for over a year (I know! I'm into slow-cooking of ideas) had to be finished in time.

If you follow me on Twitter you probably noticed the sneek previews as this reduction woodcut evolved; and although it was a challenge to hold my nerve through the 'when it's carved it's gone' process, I enjoyed every step and want to do many more.

I took photographs to record the process, because each step destroys part of the previous carving and the block is gradually reduced to just the few lines that print the darkest colour.


As well as 'The watchful hare', the exhibition will include my latest linocut, 'Up with the lark'; some of my other linocuts and cards will also be for sale in the gallery.  I hope that some of you will be able to visit the exhibition, you can read more about it on my web site, here.



Sunday 9 September 2012

R.I.P. Sylvie

November 2006 – 9th September 2012

Today one of our 'old lady' hens peacefully passed away. She was nearly 6 years old, she came to live in our garden just after I started this blog and she soon settled in. She was an enthusiastic gardener and always set about the task of turning over a pile of leaf mould with characteristic vigour!

 But, above all else,
we remember Sylvie for
her love of grapes!

We'll miss you Sylvie – a very fine hen.


Saturday 1 September 2012

The Three Sisters 2012 – an unexpected bonus veg

If you're a long time follower of PPPs you will know that each year I grow 'the three sisters' – squash, sweetcorn and climbing beans planted together on a circular mound of compost.

I tweak the arrangement each year, I've learnt that it's better to have a central tall bean support with the corn in blocks around it and just 4 squash plants in between, as the squash grow I spiral the vines around the mound.

I would normally make the mound before Easter and plant it up in May, but this year was so wet and so so cold and horrible that beans were rotting in the ground and the courgettes were looking sulky and sad so I delayed planting until late June. You can see pictures of the mound making and planting here on Pinterest.

Well, here we are in September and already a few days ago in the last week of August some parts of the Midlands and West Country had the first frosts of the Autumn! So, although the three sisters look fine and lusty, I'm worried that the frosts will come before I get any beans or squash to harvest; my fingers and toes are crossed for a lovely late season Indian Summer.

The beautiful scarlet flowers of Salford Black Runner Beans
and the white flowered Lazy Housewife climbing French beans

The variety is Sweet Nugget and it's looking good –
we'll soon be harvesting the cobs

I planted two varieties: Waltham Butternut and this
is the largest of the Galeux d'Eysines – still very small
so I doubt that we'll have giant orange pumpkins for Hallowe'en!

To encourage growth to the fruit rather than the vines of the squash, I decided to cut back the growing tips. The squash plants are now putting out side shoots and they are threatening to take over the garden!

I remembered reading that the tender shoots of squash plants are edible, so I checked in my well-thumbed copy of 'Oriental Vegetables' by Joy Larkcom – sure enough, the shoot tips and young leaves can be used as 'greens'.

I cut a generous bunch of squash shoots to cook for supper – you can substitute them for any recipe that uses pak choi or similar tender green leafy vegetables. We ate ours in a pork and vegetable stir-fry with rice, I added the squash shoots last and after a stir around, covered and steamed until they were wilted and tender but the stalks still crunchy. If you plan to use chop-sticks, cut them up before cooking!

A delicious vegetable! Don't waste them!