28 June 2013

25 June 2013

open studios 2013

a little belated but a huge thank you to everyone who came and visited me for open studios.

in between the catalogue going to print and the event itself i was invited to my sister's wedding which was something i just couldn't miss. this meant i was unable to be there on the first day. a friend kindly sat in for me but unfortunately sold a painting in the window which wasn't for sale! at first i didn't think that this would be a problem as he had taken the couple's email address. so i wrote to explain, thinking they would understand. however, that didn't turn out to be the case. they have refused to return the painting and after writing a second time, they haven't responded. they are willing to lend me the picture to exhibit but are insisting on retaining rights of ownership. i'm very sad about this as it wasn't a painting i was ready to sell. it was also sold at the wrong price - well below what it was worth. i'm very attached to this piece but really don't know what else to do. i have been trying to find out where i stand legally. if anyone reading this has any experience or advice i'd love to hear from you. and if you see this painting in your friend's house, please urge them to return it. thank you.

so apart from the shaky start the rest of the week was lovely. i met so many interesting people, among them a local crab fisherman, a guy who had the task of transporting a life size wired-together replica of the skeleton of the red rum race horse, a man who gave breon o'casey his first exhibition in london and told me about his lavender guinea foul, a man training for john o'groats to lands end cycle ride, a lady who talked to me all about armenian dancing and an enthusiastic rock-collecting drunken local who found my pole a useful support! probably the funniest moment was when a man walked in clutching a gps. it said 'you have reached your destination'. he switched it off and took in his surroundings looking very bewildered. staring at me he said 'where am i?' i replied 'well, you've reached my studio - did you mean to come here?' he still looked very confused. so i showed him a catalogue and where he was. he looked familiar and i was racking my brain trying to place him. he looked like my hebden bridge friend sue's dad but i wasn't quite sure as i'd only met him a couple of times. so i quietly said, 'you look like sue's dad' and he said, 'yes - i am'. but i wasn't quite sure if he knew who i was. so i explained and then said 'did you know you were coming to see me?' he replied 'well, i don't know your surname do i?'. so i chatted to him for a while but i must say i never really discovered if he had realised who i was and had planned to come and see me or if it had just been a coincidence.

the week grew steadily sunnier so it became quite difficult to stay indoors. i found a stripey deckchair someone had thrown out (strange behaviour in a heatwave) and snatched brief moments sitting in it in my doorway. i still don't have any electricity in the space but the wind-up grammar phone cranked out a few rumbas and night lights illuminated my lovely fireplace.

........at a wedding i think you'll find!

window display (with a little nod to former uses!)

window display of pigments

rock pigments and misleading crabs

lone flower - view from window

new wall and beach findings

boxes of coloured collections

more things from the sea

copper verdigris, turquoise, malachite, azurite, lead and rust
wall of birds

display of things found during renovations

interesting objects from nooks and crannies

my lovely fireplace

people often stop and chat in the doorway. beware - i can hear every word!

time for a crackly tune.....

family enjoying chips on the bench.

22 June 2013

aristotle's lantern

a little while back i found the shell of a green sea urchin washed up on secret beach. it was only a couple of centimetres wide. when i got it home i found it was very smelly and had the dried remains of the urchin inside. i gave it a scrub and then dug out the inside debris with the tip of a needle. most of it had rotted away. to my amazement the last little bit came out with a tiny white seed head-like structure attached. excitedly i ran for my very old observer's book of the sea and seashore and looked up urchins. and there on the page was a picture of this amazing little thing - 'aristotle's lantern' (mouth of sea urchin).

it's absolutely fascinating. it's the chewing organ of the urchin and is composed of 50 skeletal elements worked by 60 muscles. and my one is just tiny - only a centimetre tall. you can read more about it on the natural history museum website here.

21 June 2013

jay feathers

i'm always on the look out for blue things in nature as they are quite rare and always feel a little bit exotic. since i've been back in cornwall i seem to have found a lot of dead birds - sadly most of them  have been hit by cars - and most of them have been blue. last year i found a baby blue tit and a kingfisher. a few weeks ago i came across a dead jay whilst cycling home from the studio and a couple of days ago i found another blue tit but this one was ringed. above the number it was inscribed 'british museum london' and i had a stunned moment where i thought it may really have flown all the way down from the big smoke! unfortunately, nothing quite as exciting and neither does it have anything to do with the british museum. but the british trust for ornithology will write and tell me where and when it was ringed.

as a child i used to collect interesting and unusual feathers. i particularly liked the spotted ones from woodpeckers i seem to remember! all my life i've been keen to find a jay's dazzling blue wing feather but i've never come across one. often when i see a jay, without realising it, i still say in my head 'please drop me one of your blue wing feathers'..... but alas, they never do. so in some ways i was quite excited to find a whole one. it meant i could be a bit generous and give a wing to a friend! she has also buried the head in her garden so she can keep the skull.

the feathers are unbelievably vibrant and beautiful. an irish friend of mine said they used to be worn in people's hats for good luck in ireland in the olden days. they were also used on fishing flies to catch salmon, trout and bass.