The World Turns To Ice

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Artistree Christmas Exhibition

Big thanks to all who came along to the Artistree Christmas Exhibition at The Weavers Gallery in Ledbury. Special Christmas wishes to whoever bought my 'Birdsong' bag pictured above and to those who bought cards. Everyone in Artistree sold some work so we were all very happy. Thanks to Amanda for the gallery space and thanks to the guys at the pub next door who provided the music that filtered through the walls on Sunday at the 'take down', you were rockin!

Monday, 29 November 2010

The cold wind do blow

The temperature is dropping and frost is glittering in the starlight.  I am waiting for snow. There is a light dusting on the trees in the Greenwood but there is more coming in the night.  I am waiting to see white goosefeather flakes in the light of the old lampost in the lane. Outside it is still.  The cold air bites and I am waiting for snow.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Notes on visiting the 'Crucible' exhibition at Gloucester Cathedral

Yesterday I went to Gloucester to see the 'Crucible' , an exhibition of sculpture at the cathedral. I jotted down these notes whilst drinking tea and eating a very good panini:

I feel that there is a certain incongruity about seeing this wonderful exhibition in this setting:

spiritual worship v material worship

the secularisation of sacred space?

art of the past v art of the present

sacred space - God's v mammon

artist worship

is the artist more important than the work? Do we want to see 'a' Damien Hirst/ Anthony Gormley or 'the' work of art itself

this is a cathedral, a house of God, the spectators are viewing architecture and sculpture.  Does this change/diminish the buildings function?

where does spirituality fit in? What definition/s of spirituality are relevant here - religious spirituality? transcendental spirituality? spirituality inspired by beauty, awe...?

does the sculpture change the meaning of the cathedral?

does the cathedral change the meaning of the art? In both cases I think yes, definately.

does the cathedral affect how we view the sculptures physically?  The Anthony Gormley comes to mind as it reminds me, particularly in its setting, of the death of Edward the second.  This is even more relevant as he is buried in the cathedral.

 My overall conclusion is that the display of the sculptures in this setting made it really interesting as an exhibition.  I would like to see it in again in a gallery space in order to compare my own reactions to the pieces of work, especially in terms of their display.  Would the sculptures have a greater potency if they were displayed in isolation?  Wherever they were presented questions of meaning would arise not only in terms of place but also in terms of their relationship with the other works around them.

My particular favourite was a relatively small sculpture of 'Noah and the Raven' probably because it appeals to the storyteller in me.
I also liked this one as there was something quite theatrical about its display in a small chapel but that could also be due to the masklike quality of the heads.
This is the work that I found most fascinating which, as far as I could see, was a collection of fragments of skin (on the left) - I didn't get to see what they were made of.  On the right were words depicting sensory experiences that related to the fragments.  I would have liked to have had more time to have explored this piece.

I would also liked to have been able to buy a copy of the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition but the organisers vastly underestimated the number of people that would visit and quickly sold the 3,000 copies printed.  It would have been nice to read more about the exhibits and to have had arecord of the titles of the works and their artists.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Creative blocks

It happens to us all from time to time, inspiration is hard to find, the imagination is barren, finding a way out is the problem.  I have found that the only way is to persevere and push yourself to get going again.  Allow yourself to create work that isn't very good, that is not up to your usual standards and is not progressing in any positive way.  I find that you have to work through this in order to get back on track.

One way to ease your way through this is to carry a notebook and a camera with you wherever you go.

Example: Walking the dog

 I decided to take Jasper, our beloved pooch, somewhere different for a walk.  I didn't go far, just to a nearby village where there is an impressive ruined castle owned by English Heritage. The grounds outside the castle are just right for a short dog walk with wonderful views so I took my camera with me. As soon as you park the car you can feel the imagination get going.  It is so easy to imagine riders on horseback approaching the casle along the long drive.  How many carts and carriages had made their way along the track where we were walking? Two small boys were locked into the world of knights in armour as they ran past wielding wooden swords and shields.  In later times the castle was reduced to a ruin after civil war skirmishes.  There was much to draw on already.

The landscape here is very beautiful.  There are woods to our left of the track and views across the Wye Valley to our right. The land drops down to the river at one side and sheep graze under the trees.

As can be imagined, there is much of interest here from an historical perspective but also in terms of legend and myth, for example:

'The ghostly couple that return'

Haunted Goodrich Castle stands beautifully over the wye valley and is overlooking the breath taking river wye which is one of the key points of entry into Wales, the castle itself is incredibly still in very good condition and with its deep, dry moat cut through the red sandstone, its high gatehouse and towers and its Norman keep it really is as though you are stepping into history when you visit this treasured castle, Goodrich is a tourist hot spot and as many visitors all year round, the castle is also well known for its ghostly love story. The castle itself was originally known as 'Godric' Castle, it was apparently owned by a man named Godric Mapplestone which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, it is believed that Godric founded the castle in 1101 and since that date the castle has been passed through many hands and families .
The castle goes back centuries and has certainly had it's fair share of battles, wars and conflict ,the castle was originally made of earth and timber and in the mid to late 12th century the Normans replaced this to a stone keep to strengthened the castle and by the late 12th century Goodrich was no longer in the front line of defence with the Welsh. By 1200 Goodrich had reverted to the crown, King John granted it to William Marshall who made changes to the castle over the years. William died in 1219 and then the castle was passed over to one of his sons. After years of battling and defending the castle it was then handed over to, by marriage to William de Valence who later became the Earl of Pembroke. William and his son began rebuilding the castle.
William died in 1296 before finishing his work on Goodrich.Aymer who was the younger son of William and Joan succeeded to the title and estates in 1307, he became a fine soldier and stayed loyal to his king, he died in France in 1324. The castle then went to Aymer's niece Elizabeth Comyn who married a Shropshire knight named Richard Talbot who then received ownership of Goodrich. From the late 15th century the castle was no longer the Talbot's home it was passed by marriage to Henry Grey of Kent then it was handed to royalists and in 1645 the castle was held by a royalist named Sir Henry Lingen, due to a later dispute and attack Sir Henry Lingen surrendered and gave up the castle. Goodrich was bought by Admiral Griffin on the death of the Duke of Kent in 1740.
Goodrich Court was finished in 1831 and it housed paintings and medieval armour, the court was demolished in this century. The keep of the castle was built in the 1160's and incredibly is the smallest keep of it's type in England and it's walls are 2.2m thick and the keep is 16.5 m high. By the early 20th century Goodrich castle was very badly overgrown and was not looking in a glorious condition, in 1920 the ruin was then put into guardianship of the Commissioners of Works and soon after the castle was restored and it is now in the care of the English Heritage. The love story linked with the castle is of Alice Birch who was the niece of parliamentarian Colonel and Alice fell madly in love with Charles Clifford who was a royalist. In the year of 1645 her and her lover were hiding out at the castle but the parliamentarians who were led by her uncle, besieged Goodrich Castle so franticly Alice and Charles escaped on horseback on a stormy night they sadly missed the ford and drowned in the river Wye. Their hallowing screams and shrieks of terror can be heard coming from the river at night and people have claimed to have seen their ghostly bodies drowning in the river. Local legend says that every anniversary of their death they return and haunt the castle, they have also been spotted around the castle's walls and the foot of the ruins. Goodrich Castle has a magnificent structure and with its ghostly reputation it is definitely a place to visit, (this was downloaded from a google search).

The above picture shows a stained glass window which is in the chapel of the castle and it can be seen that the stained glass maker has been inspired by the setting of this castle near the river and has included his interpretation of the landscape to add to the castle's sense of place.

This is just one example of how you can turn every day events into occasions for reactivating the imagination. Your surroundings can always be a source of inspiration whether you are in the countryside or on a busy city street.  Have an awareness of your senses and jot down what you can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Your notes might not seem very interesting at first but you may be able to draw on what you have recorded at a later date and build upon your observations.

Pooped pooch.