Saturday 2 March 2013

March 2013 - life in Cornwall

Friday 1st March                                              
I have finally moved in properly. No need to go back to Devon to tie up loose ends, although I will be going back fairly often as it is only a couple of hours drive away and I will be meeting Richard and Lizzie at Richard's cottage from now onwards. He now has the family home. 
Also I will be running workshops at Staverton Bridge Nursery in one of the beautiful old glasshouses - 

and continuing to go to Classics in Kingswear with my lovely mixed bunch of friends of the Ancient World. 

And I shall also be running some workshops in Penryn on the lovely big kitchen table of Rosie ScottPenryn is just along the creek from Falmouth and in fact is where the old Dartington College of Arts moved to recently after a lot of disagreements and unpleasantness. 

I shall be spending dull, cold or rainy days in the library at the Art College at Woodlane in Falmouth where I can research and write. I can also read books there that I used to read when the library was at Dartington. Small world!
I have always loved Les Fauves and very much want to explore the landscape around here with their colour awareness in mind. It is very close to some aspects of my own work although I am also inclined to explore the more faded and misty ends of colour spectrum too. Well there are no boundaries. 
Saturday 2nd March 
I am off to Penjerrick this afternoon even though it's cold and dull to mark out the territory and sketch out some ideas.
My novel starts down in Cornwall which is essentially why I am here. The old crumbling family home of one of my main characters is here and although it is all coming from my imagination, I am intrigued to see if this place matches it. I love these times, when one imagines or dreams of somewhere and then actually finds it later!
You park on the drive and walk over to the gate.

The approach to the garden is very informal. The little red dot on the gatepost is a Robin singing his heart out.  

I ventured in to sense the atmosphere -

I came a day too early, a little peculiarity of mine - arriving too early. I often think I have arrived on planet earth far, far too early! However, I don't think that this place is a match for the main house and estate in my Cornish setting so my search continues but I will come back on a day when it's open. Enys gardens will be opening in April so I will be popping over there to be sure.
Sunday 3rd March

Just look at the colour of this crab shell found on Guilly beach! Absolutely no tweaking in photoshop either.

Today I went to Glendurgan. I was virtually the only person there. It was cold and windy but sheltered once in the valley and so peaceful.

Pebbles and stones from the beach at the bottom of the valley have been used everywhere to create gullies and drains, pathways and walls.
The dashes of the pebbles remind me of this drawing I saw in Woodlane by a first year illustration student - 

Stepping stones 
Durgan beach and the Helford passage with daffodils.

Falmouth is very steep and hilly and as I wander I am finding enchanting quirks such as the thoughtful placing of bar stools or tractor seats here and there in the most challenging spots where anyone who is inclined can rest awhile.

I met a very interesting artist the other day and by chance bumped into her at the Art Gallery. Also had a long chat about a trail that goes to various artists graves in Falmouth, one of whom, a woman, lived in Capri. Will definitely be doing that. Stella, the woman I met in the gallery and I decided to go for lunch and she suggested a place called Provdedore, so off we went. Walking with an iphone is so much easier than in days gone by when I carried a 'proper' camera as I mainly want to take little aide-mémoire snaps such as this old house. The place looks as if it is lived in by some interesting people.

This is such a narrow garden gate somewhere near to the library and this little cafe complete with courtyard and a black Lab called Teddy. So when in this neck of the woods do find your way to Trelawney Road and enjoy the atmosphere, company, wonderful inexpensive food and great coffee at Provedore. We really enjoyed it and as we chatted discovered all sorts of links from our past as one often does when there are shared interests.

We called by at the dock to take a look at the progress on the wooden boat I mentioned earlier. Smelling delightfully of lanolin, beeswax and turpentine, with all its crevices packed with moss, it sat patiently waiting for its launch the next day. Met some of the people that have been busy working on it with fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Here you can see a speeded up version of the build and a slowed down one of the final launch.

A quick visit to St. Mawes to take some work to The Square Gallery and to the fantastic home of a legendary woman called Brenda Pye - friend of friends of mine but who I had not until now had any opportunity to actually meet. The Rosemary bush trailing along and over its fence - to remind me that my memories and my love for St. Mawes go back a long way. 

I remember this particular bush from the 1960's when I first discovered St. Mawes. I had just finished school at age 18 and wanted to have an adventure. Gap years had not been invented. I bought a copy of The Lady and opened it somewhere in the region of 'Situations Vacant' - there were jobs in the Royal Household and in villas on Lake Constance. I designed and made all my own clothes so I picked up a dressmaking pin, determined to go wherever it pricked a hole in the page. I closed my eyes and it landed on a waitressing job in St. Mawes at The Manor House Hotel - just visible below the first tree on the left on the horizon. Well, well, well. Off I went to discover Cornwall, slightly regretting I wasn't going to join the Royal family or go to Switzerland but happy to be going all the same.
I bought a battered old car when I got there for £30, a black, sun bleached Austin A7 with a fantastically easy column gear change, rather swish running boards, a much needed sliding canvas sun roof and old, well worn, soft brown leather seats that smelled deliciously homely in the sun. In fact I shared it with a Swedish, somewhat wild and free spirited girl called Lena who worked as the receptionist. We paid £15 each and when she moved on I bought her half. Oh how I loved that car. I drove to far flung beaches in just my bikini and with bare feet and eventually had three driving lessons and took my test. Years later, some gypsies purloined it from my parents cottage in Cheshire one moonlit night when all was quiet.

Back to Devon for Classics and a walk to Spitchwick where the air is clean and lichen hangs on the bough.

Then up to London on the afternoon train to see my daughter.

I went to the Selvedge magazine fair at Chelsea Town Hall the next day and discovered some new people - new to me that is. Click here - Sophie Digard to go to my Pinterest board, where I am beginning to collect images of 'her' work. 
Link  - 'Sophie Digard is a Parisian knit wear designer, and above all, a colourist. She began her enterprise in 1999. Fibers made and dyed to her specifications in France are shipped to her workshop in Madagascar where they are hand crocheted, knitted and embroidered into unique works of art. Sophie has hundreds of designs and a hundred different colour palettes.  Inventory changes frequently ! So is there a real 'Sophie Digard' or is it in fact a front of house name, for I have also found Sans Arcidet a shop in Marais in Paris also run by three sisters.
Link - 'For starters, the designer behind the much-loved label, Corinne Sans-Arcidet, doesn’t actually live in France. She has been living in Madagascar with her family for more than 8 years and it is from there she designs and manufactures her products, having set a unique production scheme involving hundreds of local women. It is her two sisters, Myriam and Sylvie, who oversee operations from their office and showroom in Paris, and manage their beautiful boutique in the fashionable Marais district. 

These are taken on my iphone so I apologise for lack of focus.
I discovered Pat Hopewell who works with felt and weave. Really remarkable work. I have started a Pinterest board on her work.
The details of African birds above are needle felted dyed fleece on silk and silk chiffon as is the magical blue hare bounding across the hanging.
These birds by   are made with small pieces of fabric stitched over a papier mache form. Reminds me so much of Kiki the cockatoo that belonged to Jack in The Island of Adventure.
The Old Town Hall in Chelsea is still the venue for weddings. Even on a cold March day the rose petals are scattered for someone.

Plane tree seeds as they have fallen, been blown, kicked and been  trodden on across Duke of York Square
A painterly shot of the wonderful Borough Market - My first visit - I am speechless with delight - it is amazing. 
I thought that it would be nice to go to The Country Living Fair whilst I am in London. I used to be a regular exhibitor, demonstrator, lecturer and was used on lots of publicity - ends of buildings, tube stations, backs of buses - you know the kind of thing. It was really good publicity for me at the time as you can imagine. I had recently thought that I would like to exhibit there again and applied but was told that my work didn't fit in. Mmm, I though, how strange! But now I understand. China had not got underway with it's own take on country living them and it is a pity but I probably wouldn't fit in anymore. It is very much a market now and many items are repeated which must be very irritating for the exhibitors. It felt like visiting someone I had once know to be vital and really interesting, only to find that they were in a coma. My daughter put it well - 'It's lost its soul." I did find a few original people though. 
Monday 26th March
To the V&A today to see the Jewelry Room - unfortunately no photography allowed but I did take notes to follow up on.
The granulation techniques of the Etruscan jewellers
Robert Smit
Annamaria Zanella
Phillipe Woolfers Source: viaHilary on Pinterest

Tuesday 26th March
I went to Somerset House today to the The Courtauld Gallery to see 'Becoming Picasso' no photographs allowed but I was delighted to discover that I could photograph everything else. I am at the moment particularly interested in details - well it is me looking out for fragments again which is the revolving idea that I am working through.
Here is the link to the details on my Facebook Page where you will see lots of - 97+ 
Wednesday 27th March
Returning to Devon by train from Paddington 
I had two extraordinary travelling companions by sheer chance or designed by the inspired hand of the pure magic of synchronicity. The first lady was already seated and had to readjust herself, a movement accomplished with great elegance bearing in mind that she was 90 and using a walking stick. She was also tall and very beautiful. But that is by the by as she was a terrific conversationalist and charming to boot. She had been married to a diplomat and had lived all over the world. Our combined journey lasted for one brief hour but she had time to share some of her adventures such as teaching herself Chinese and cycling to visit and photograph Buddhist temples to send back photographs and notes on what they were being used for to a friend in Hong Kong who was compiling a list for his book. It wasn't a mere photographic journal but a documentation of just what they were being used for as this took place just ten years after  Communism took hold of China's culture and Buddhism was systematically being removed.
She was very excited about my plans for my own adventures and what I am setting about doing and said that she was so grateful for her lifetime of wonderful memories. She suggested that I should interview diplomats on my travels and write a book called '13 Diplomats' for my next venture. She said that they had the most incredible tales to tell. I later noticed that her seat reservation card said 'Lady .......'. She certainly was.
The next occupier of my adjacent seat was a friend of a friend as it turned out. She had also been on great adventures, living in Chile for 35 years. She had seen much turbulence over her time there and emphasised how very conservative the society was even now compared to here in the U.K. She is again an older woman, probably in her late seventies but with all her vim intact I can tell you. She is just about to move to Wales so that she can walk out of her front door and actually walk without dodging traffic and hoards of tourists. She mainly wants to be near to a railway station and as close as possible to an airport so that she can continue to fly regularly to Chile and to Europe.
Thursday 28th March 
We now have a family home with my son who is living not all that far from our previous home at Dartington Hall. It means that we can all congregate there for the foreseeable future. I went to Ancient History in Dartmouth and got an update on Classics but I am not at all sure if Michael, our professor, will be continuing to host this group as he is being sent for an assessment to a home. We will see. We are busy learning about Imhotep 

but unfortunately there were only five of us there. We have hit a slight problem in that someone has recently joined our group who is convinced that they are in contact with a spirit guide who is constantly joining in our discussions! So, you may be laughing here but it does present a problem as no one wishes to offend with the result that people have stopped coming to the meetings. We are an open group and by definition we are inclusive. It is very difficult to get into any kind of flow with all the " My spirit guide has told me that ..." It might be easier if the guide was better informed. I did suggest that perhaps the spirit guide would prefer to give a lecture but was told that it didn't work like that. He or perhaps she, only voices an opinion if and when the person who is host to this 'guide' is actually reading or watching a film or when someone else is talking. Helpful suggestions as to the best possible course of action for all involved in this petit drame welcome.
Friday 29th March
Lizzie, my daughter has come down to Devon for the Easter weekend so we all all together again. Even though the cottage is basic and the weather is perishing it feels like home again. I went over to Teignmouth t deliver some papier mache jewellery to The Turn of the Tide gallery. This is one of those galleries that have been experiencing the downside of the recession combined with two cold and wet summers. I am offering the papier mache work at a lower price by using silver plated findings rather than Sterling Silver. It seems to do the trick as people with more limited means are still able to buy and everyone is happy.
Saturday 30th February 

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