If you saw December's three short posts relating to Robert Frost's poem Stopping by Woods - they featured works by Angie Lewin, Angela Harding, and Janet Johnson - you may like to know that Janet has a new website which you can find here. Her paintings of snow are particularly 'topical' as Britain has been having very wintry weather for the time of year, and as I write more snow is forecast for the end of the week!
In Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum on Saturday I saw a display of ceramics (owned by Friends and staff of the museum, and of sentimental value to them) repaired using the kintsugi technique during a residency by visiting artist-craftsmen Muneaki Shimode and Takahiko Sato from Kyoto.
Unlike western methods of ceramic mending which aim to be as invisible as possible, kintsugi uses lacquer and gold powder to highlight joins and chips and to make things whole again while 'celebrating', in a way, their inherent fragility and imperfections.
Each piece was accompanied by a very personal caption - as you see above.
I follow the Instagram account England's Dreaming and greatly enjoy their themed postings of (mostly) English art. One of their recent pictures was Winifred Nicholson's The Hunter's Moon (top) which I've put with her Recollect as they evoke Autumn and Spring respectively.
Both are in the Tate Gallery's collection, and their catalogue tells us that the artist said of The Hunter's Moon, "The turn of the season from Autumn to Winter is always a time of adventure to me - a call out into the mountains and forests of unknown things: contrasted with the secure shelter of lamplight, home and one's books", while the paintings' previous owner remarked, "The pictures of Winifred Nicholson represent for me the world of childhood and early adolescence. It is a world of order, security and cultivated civilisation".
"... He ground indigo leaves, pulped and dried them to a powder, mixed them with palygorskite and heated them in copal resin to a rich dark zaffre that could colour a night sky at that moment of dusk to dark. He fired ochre to the almost-black of midnight. Cooked white lead to the yellow of noon. Cooked it again to the red of dusk. He soaked saffron with egg white, transformed the scarlet stamens to citron golds. Discovered the magic of salt. Mixed it with mauve-tinged azures, violet reds. Boiled roots, and thickened the dye with turpentine and alum. He found vermilion sunsets in mercury sulphide, fired them to an orange cinnabar. He ground berries to a pulp, discovered purple when he mixed the juices with acid, ultramarine when he mixed them with alkaline. He ground up malachite, found cyan and celeste, celadon and olive. Ground up madder, found crimson, ruby and alizarin. Crushed azurite, inhaled lungfuls of deep blue, as if the air were now visible.
Then he bound these colours, set them, with gesso, plaster, linseed oil, sap from cherry trees and resin from sweet pines. He melted wax. Dabbed at his creations with paintbrushes made from fine horsehair, and swept colours across reams of white parchment paper, over and over, until he'd sought out some arcane perfection. His pigments were luminous and brilliant. They did not fade in the sun, in the wind or the rain. They lifted skies and made rich the blue red earth."
"The floor was well-worn red brick, and on the wide hearth burnt a fire of logs, between two attractive chimney-corners tucked away in the wall, well out of any suspicion of draught. A couple of high-backed settles, facing each other on either side of the fire, gave further sitting accommodation for the sociably disposed. In the middle of the room stood a long table of plain boards placed on trestles, with benches down each side. At one end of it, where an arm-chair stood pushed back, were spread the remains of Badger's plain but ample supper. Rows of spotless plates winked from the shelves of the dresser at the far end of the room, and from the rafters overhead hung hams, bundles of dried herbs, nets of onions and baskets of eggs. It seemed a place where heroes could fitly feast after victory, where weary harvesters could line up in scores along the table and keep their Harvest Home with mirth and song, or where two or three friends of simple tastes could sit about as they pleased and eat and smoke and talk in comfort and contentment. The ruddy brick floor smiled up at the smoky ceiling; the oaken settles, shiny with long wear, exchanged cheerful glances with each other; plates on the dresser grinned at pots on the shelf, and the merry firelight flickered and played over everything without distinction."
"The Kitchen, described in these terms, is as universal a symbol as the River. Whereas the River is the expression of the adult Arcadia, with its challenges and its rules and its excitements, the Kitchen suggests another kind of Golden Age.
Its appeal is multiple. It hints at the mead-halls of such poems as Beowulf ... To Grahame's generation it must also have had William Morris-like hints of an earlier, pre-industrial, and therefore ideal society where distinctions of class seemed unimportant when food was being dealt out, and men of all ranks sat together in the lord's hall or by the yeoman farmer's hearthside. And, more sharply for Edwardian readers than for those of the present day, there is a suggestion too of a return to childhood. Many of Grahame's generation spent much of their early life being cared for by domestic servants, and so as small children lingered often in the kitchen, watching the pots and the joints of meat cooking on the great ranges or spits."
There are other excerpts from the book here and here, an interview with Robert Ingpen here, and if the above appeals, this post might, too.
Having recently discovered Illyria Pottery via Instagram, I made a point of visiting the physical shop when I was in Oxford at the weekend and I'm so glad I did.
Katie has lots of lovely things for sale, but having to allow for the constraints of flying home, I contented myself with buying just three small ones:
an Oxford Blue-speckled mug that feels just right in the hand, a tiny jug for pouring cream on porridge, say, and a soap dish for our favourite pine tar soap (we'd already stocked up in Objects of Use). The Christmas star was free - a generous gesture to customers on Small Business Saturday.
If you can't get to Illyria in person, you can always shop online, but if you are in the area do stop by - the welcome is warm, and the wares very tempting.
I referred to Emma Tennant in passing the other day, but as I was in London for two hours on Friday I used some of the time to see her exhibition, Plants with Provenance, at The Fine Art Society. It's on until the 10th., so you haven't long to catch it, but you can download the catalogue from the website and enjoy her botanical watercolours via the screen, if not in the flesh.
One thing I particularly liked - though it's not as apparent from the virtual images - was the papers she uses: "an off-white Nepalese paper and naturally uneven Japanese papers (some flecked with gold) that are made from the bark of Broussonetia papyrifera, the bark fibres of which give the paper an interesting texture. Both papers are absorbent, unlike conventional watercolour paper, which means that great depth of colour can be achieved when paint is applied with a wet brush. This technique can cause the paper to wrinkle."
As a supplement to this post and this one, here's another source of wool for you, and 'source' is the right word because this 100% Poll Dorset DK comes from the Isle Yarns family flocks on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset.
The picture here captures the colour pretty well for it is the most lovely moss green (though I have my eye on the lavender and grey too); the wool is destined to be a hat for Mr. C.
Following on from yesterday's post, I drew 'painting' from the Advent hat today so I spent 20 minutes with my watercolours* - something I would not have done otherwise - and thoroughly enjoyed myself.