Tuesday, 31 August 2010

world beach

When on a beach the first thing you must always consider is 'is this suitable for an entry to the World Beach Project?'

This wonderful world-wide, all inclusive art project was started by Artist Sue Lawty and the V&A and has recently had its 1000th entry. There are a small number of criteria you must fit in order for your beach art to be accepted onto the website, most importantly it is to be done in stone and not other beachy bits and pieces. This means that not all beaches are suitable, but as long as there is stone there in some form you can create something that can be part of the project.

Last Tuesday we found ourselves on a windy stony beach, Porth Ysgo on the Llyn peninsular: A varied beach with massive black boulders as well as lovely rounded pebbles of all sorts of different colours. Bright yellow lichen sits strikingly on the black rocks, made even blacker by being wet, adding further to the drama of this beach that is tucked away at the bottom of steep cliffs.

We collected pebbles that ranged from deep maroon, through dusky reds, oranges to mustardy yellows. Joe arranged them into two groups, the redder ones and the yellower ones and then he made circles on a big flat black rock.

The colours of our pebbles picked up the yellow of the lichen on the neighbouring rocks.

We've just uploaded his entry onto the V&A website and we are waiting for confirmation that it will be accepted.

You can see my first entry to the project which was made about this time last year at Melon Udrigle in the north of Scotland.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

flotsam and jetsam

I've had a few days in lovely north Wales. Sand, sunsets, sheep... you know the kind of thing. It's hard to be on a beach and not undertake a spot of beach-combing. Of course they vary hugely in the kinds of treasures they offer. Some beautiful beaches can be almost devoid of washed up items and others give rich pickings.

Those evocative terms flotsam and jetsam are what we generally use for things washed up on the beach but they technically mean things that have come from ships (flotsam as a result of a wreck and jetsam being purposefully thrown from a ship). The brightly coloured ropes have probably come from some sort of boat related activity but I suspect that a lot of the plastic stuff is just general rubbish from wherever and once its in the sea it bobs about for rather a long time before sitting on a beach for another long time, pretty depressing in many ways. Despite the fact that it was other people's rubbish I was looking at I still managed to get excited about some of the colour combinations.

There were amazing brightly coloured seaweeds in places and then odd items, usually plastic and gaudy, standing out like a sore thumb amongst the subtle hues of the rest of the beach.

I couldn't help myself collecting things. I've always done it. I have a collection of sea bird skulls that started on the beaches of my childhood holidays on the west coast of Scotland. This time I wanted to collect things that I could use, weave with if possible. Once you start looking the possibilities are plentiful.

So this

became this

Just the start, but with plenty of possibilities...

Open air weaving with a view of the sea - I'm convinced it's the way forward!

Holiday listening: mostly the wind and the sea

Saturday, 21 August 2010

saltaire arts trail

The brochures are now out for the lovely Saltaire Arts Trail which takes place from 11th to 19th September. I'll be taking part in the makers fair in Victoria Hall, as I have done for a number of years. It's a really good event with a great atmosphere and high quality hand made items in all sorts of media. I'll just be there on the Sunday this year - see you there!

Friday, 13 August 2010

autumn already

It feels distinctly autumnal today, Octoberish in fact. Not good for the middle of the school holidays. Its impossible to think about work with the kids off school so the dissertation is firmly on the back burner and anything practical and creative is on the burner that is even further back!

There are still some lovely things coming from the garden though...

I went to investigate the courgettes just now (amidst firm drizzle) and found this monster hiding at the back of the plant! Stuffed marrow for tea me thinks.

I bottled the morello cherries. Bottling is not something I've ever done before. It reminds me of my grandparents who bottled huge numbers of tomatoes and then had them as part of a cooked breakfast every day. The plan with these is to have them with vanilla ice cream.

My runner beans are mixed up with the sweet peas that have been flowering steadily for weeks now and I still can't get enough of their intoxicating fragrance. This is the first picking of the beans.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

to the lighthouse(s)...

... making the seamless link from Virginia Woolf in my last post to the two lighthouses of the strangely beautiful Dungeness headland. I visited this weird place principally to see Derek Jarman's garden at Prospect Cottage.

There is no information on the web about how to actually find the garden, although from what I'd read about the place I was sure that it would become obvious once you were there... which it did. There are no boundaries. This garden comes from the surrounding landscape and disappears into it again with no obvious point at which one stops and the other begins.

I spotted the bright yellow window frames, stark against black wood, from quite a distance away. This 'cottage' (old fisherman's hut) stands out from the other scruffy ones along the road to the light house, partly because of the yellow paint work but also because of the beautiful informal garden that surrounds it. I say informal but this garden is a curious mixture of order and disorder. As he was dying from AIDS, Derek collected flints and bits of flotsom and jetsom from the beach and arranged them in amongst a very restricted group of plants that would grow in this harsh landscape (shingle, dry, windy, salty... nuclear?!) in a way that resulted in a garden that is highly respected by the gardening world and as a work of art.

The colours are harsh yet sit within the natural colour palette of the surroundings: greys, yellows, glaucous greens. Spikey and knobbly objects and plants come together in a surprisingly serene collection.

On past Prospect Cottage you reach the odd jumble of buildings at the end of the peninsular: two lighthouses; a nuclear power station; old railway carriages turned into tiny houses; fishermen's huts and boats strewn about the shingle. All of this sits surrounded by expanses of shingle punctuated by the strange mounds of sea kale.

No wonder this place has been used in numerous music videos and films.

What started as a fairly dull day was transformed by the breaking of the clouds and the sun sparkled off the sea, taking the edge off the constant wind.