Thursday, 27 September 2012

Solihull Art Trail 2012

Kathryn's artwork - Note her fabulous 'girl-cave' in the background

Spent last Saturday at designer/maker Kathryn Pettitt's house and 'girl-cave' on the Solihull Artists' Forum Art Trail. Sharing the venue were fellow artists Paula Hamilton, and watercolourist  Graham Blaine. Although a bit nippy, the weather stayed fine, with Kathryn, Paula and Graham receiving a steady stream of visitors and lots of interest. . 

I was there to help Kathryn out with a demo on tie-dyeing fabrics using potassium permanganate.  After mixing the strange brew on the camping stove we dropped the pieces of fabric into the pot.  Although the boiling water turned an Alderbrook shade of deep purple once the potassium hits the water, oddly the fabric dries to lovely shades of brown.

Paula's Ceramics and Landscape - love those hens

As a newcomer to SAF I loved helping out and this has spurred me on to take part in the Art Trail myself next year.  Endless cups of coffee, delicious home-made cakes and the company of Kathryn's two lovely dogs Charlie and Buster made it a really enjoyable day. Disappointed though not to return the next day to see the results of the dyeing session as car was out of action. It had developed a mind of its own on the way home by indicating right all the time; good but only when I actually wanted to turn right. The trick was then to indicate left to try to cancel the right indicator and then back to off but then the right one would come on again so this proved fraught with danger.  Got a few bewildered looks from drivers behind me, mostly men I have to say, who probably thought I didn't know left from right but  it was a good exercise in keeping them alert and on their toes in order to bring them back from the brink, after more than likely, a dreary Saturday afternoon's shopping around Touchwood with the missus.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The London Design Festival 2012

After the delights of the V&A, on then to the London Design Festival with my friend Nadine Reid who had  the good fortune to be taking part this year.  Nadine is a designer maker, who graduated from Birmingham City University in June this year with a BA in Textile Design and who I blogged about in my post about the Festival of Quilts as she took part in the Graduate Showcase there.  The London Design Festival showcases new designers over a ten day period at various events and locations throughout London.  This was a great opportunity for Nadine coming about as a result of taking part in New Designers 2012 in London back in July which is the UK's most important graduate exhibition for designers.

Nadine's hand-crafted richly coloured and textured cushions and throws were being exhibited at Mint, an exclusive interior design shop showcasing emerging and established contemporary designers in furniture,  ceramics, glassware, jewellery and textiles. 

The interior design shops in South Kensington were buzzing with events and parties. It was a shame we couldn't have stayed for the V&A bash but alas we had not been included on the guest list and were literally chucked out on the street at closing time.  Mint's party was in full swing when we got there with as many people outside on the pavement as inside.  We waded through the throngs to 1) catch a glimpse of Nadine's work and 2) get to the food and wine which incidentally was the best private view buffet I have ever seen or tasted.  Finally spotted her cushions conveniently situated next to a long trestle table containing huge whole cheeses with crusty bread, cold meats, crudities and fresh fruit - bread and cheese basically but served on wonderful stylish platters and bowls and with the most amazing utensils. This place not only had cutting edge design but cutting edge food.  It was a shame we had already eaten in the nearby Bunch of Grapes pub on the Old Brompton Road but we still managed to  find room for a few wafer thin morsels of bread, cheese and saucisson washed down with a fruity glass of well chilled rose. Well it would have been rude not to.

Eventually we had to drag ourselves away from the festivities to catch the train home so we left them all to it. A long but exciting day, reflecting that although Birmingham has a lot to offer in terms of art, design and culture there really is nothing like the buzz of London. 

 And just around the corner I spotted my dream kitchen in a shop window. It was the herbs in the middle that did it for me. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

A Touch of Glamour at the V&A

Alexander McQueen's Feather Dress

On our way to the London Design Festival on Thursday, me and my good friend Nadine couldn't resist stopping off at the V&A to see the decadent and glamourous exhibition Ballgowns - British Glamour Since 1950, a magnificent display of evening wear ranging from the debutante balls of the 1950s right up to the celebrity strewn red carpet gowns papped by the paparazzi today.  It was a chance to wallow in style and see up close and personal some of the splendid creations of designers such as Norman Hartnell, Hardy Amies, Bellville Sassoon, Bill Gibb, Bruce Oldfield, Vivienne Westwood and the famous 'Elvis' dress worn by Princess Diana and designed by Catherine Walker.   We were surprised to see though that even on these  designer made garments we saw the odd twisted and puckered seam. 

Silk satin and beaded 'Rumina' gown by Erdem

Princess Diana's Elvis Dress by Catherine Walker 1989

No photography allowed of course but got some shots in the accompanying exhibition, a look at men and women's fashions and accessories of the 20th Century.

Can't resist a good shoe - Shoes by Roger Vivier

Beaded Bag from the 1920s

Ensemble from Vivienne Westwood's Buffalo Collection A/W 1982/3

Knitted Woollen Dress by John Galliano 1984

Coat and dress by Alexander McQueen containing digital prints from a German Altarpiece


Crimplene Mini dresses by Mary Quant - loved the zips down the front - I do remember my mum making me some mini dresses with big ringed zips down the front.  That was the closest I ever got to Mary Quant fashion although I do remember buying her make-up in black cases with her infamous black daisy logo.

A fabulous nostalgic journey through the fashions of the last century - highly recommended! On till 6th January 2013. 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Carnage - A Cautionary Tale for those who keep their Art Books on the Coffee Table

Apart from films starring Woody Allen, it's not very often I watch a DVD that I enjoy enough for me to want to watch it through again the following day.  I watched it last night and again this morning about 7am curled up on the sofa under a cosy throw with a huge mug of tea, and savoured every brilliantly written word.  The film is called Carnage, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Kate Winslett and Jodie Foster. With only 4 actors, and at only 75 minutes, its not a very long film as it's based on the stage play Le Dieu du Carnage (God of Carnage) by Yasmina Reza with all the action taking place in one New York apartment.  Two sets of parents meet up to discuss in a supposedly civilized manner, a violent incident between their two 11 year old sons, but as the evening progresses their behaviour degenerates into chaos with deep-seated marital discontentment bubbling to the surface . 

Now I'm not going to do a Barry Norman and give a wordy review on this film but suffice it to say I found it  funny and farcical with props such as an Apple & Pear Cobbler, a vase of Yellow tulips, a hair-drier and a mobile phone taking centre stage. But the scene that steals the show and the main reason why I am posting this on my blog, is when (SPOILER ALERT!  SPOILER ALERT! - for those who don't want to know, please look away now) Kate Winslet  projectile vomits over the neatly stacked books on the coffee table of art lover Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) making a direct hit on a valuable, now out of print exhibition catalogue from 1957 on the work of Oskar Kokoschka.  Penelope cries out 'My Kokoschka..... I can't believe she barfed all over my books!'

So this really is meant as a warning to all those people who like to parade their coffee table books perhaps for their guests to peruse over a more relaxed dessert course in the lounge with coffee, liqueurs and chocolates  because you never know, after a tad too much Apple & Rhubarb Crumble or one too many 'Wafer Thin Mints' they could well end up barfing all over your History of the World in 100 Objects or Grayson Perry's Tomb of the Unknown Craftsmen (my copy is safely hoarded away upstairs thank you very much).

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

50 Shades of Grey - Hand Made Paper

I always think September is a watershed in the span of a calendar year - summer has almost ended, holidays are over, children are back at school, the nights start drawing in and of course it's the fast downward spiral towards Christmas.  A time when the fun is over and a time to tackle those jobs that have been put off during summer because of the endless sunshine (ha!!).  Defrosting my freezer being one of them as it's a running battle these days to get things in and out of the freezer without my feet being showered in frost.

And so my September watershed has arrived when I must knuckle down and start to produce some work and maybe actually make a living as a practicing artist.  Of course regulars to this blog will know I have commandeered/been allowed 25% (actually more like 15% the more I come to look - I've been duped) of Darling Husband's 'Man Cave' in preparation for this deluge of creativity although I am not looking forward to working in there during the chillier months with no heating and DH has already told me in no uncertain terms that plugging in the oil filled radiator will be quite out of the question.   Feel that issue will need to be revisited with DH once winter is upon us as I am not prepared to venture into my Girl Cave layered up looking like the Michelin Man.

First on the list for September then was making my own paper using confidential waste destined for our paper shredder.  Using Linda Kemshall's method from Design Matters TV  the shreddings were then  pulped in a liquidiser.  

It's a great way too of getting rid of the hoards of junk mail that comes through the letter box.  Best place for it too. If only I could do the same with the junk phone calls.

Considering this was my first attempt I am really pleased with the results. Overall the paper has finished up in interesting shades of grey shot through with flecks of colour and I love the tiny fragments of text from old bank statements and pay slips that randomly appear. For future batches I will have more of an idea of how to adjust the thickness and the ratio of coloured paper to white.  The paper is thick enough to stitch into, use for collage  or to make into a hand-made book. The possibilities are endless so as I said before it's time to get cracking and knuckle down to some work.