shewhomust: (dandelion)
  • I saw the moon last night as I was putting the milk bottles out on the doorstep: a big bright full moon, certainly, but no more super than many others. To be fair, that's all that was promised: the far point of the swing of the pendulum. [ profile] durham_rambler, getting up in the night, opened the curtains and saw the moon low over the trees on the hillside. This was more impressive, he tells me, and that too is as promised: the moon always looks bigger when there's a point of reference. (I didn't get up to look).

  • To the Eye Infirmary this morning for the Come back in six months to make sure it's not getting worse. It's not getting worse, so they've discharged me. It's not getting better, either, though my right eye is better than expected. I'll settle for that. And a pleasant drive there and back, in autumn sunshine and plenty of golden foliage.

  • Pretty pictures in The Guardian of the extraordinary versions of traditional rugs by Azerbaijani artiat Faig Ahmed: I had to read the article twice to convince myself that these are real physical rugs, not digital manipulations. (More on the artist's website).

  • These book sculptures are all over the web, though the artists's own website seems to have gone missing. At times they veer further into cuteness and whimsy than works for me, but at their best they are delightful: and I like that each sculpure represents the book from which it is made.

  • Shopping triumph! I have bought a pair of slippers. Limited triumph, because given absolute choice, I would not necessarily have chosen lilac, with a snowflake design incorporating a sparkly center in each snowflake. I chose them because they fit me, and that in itself is triumph enough. I celebrated by throwing away their heelless and very grubby predecessors.
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
This week is slipping away without trace: maybe if I focus hard I'll find out where it's gone...

Monday didn't feel like Monday because we had an overnight guest, D. stopping by on his way south from Orkney. But we went swimming (my, the pool was busy) and did a little housework to make ready, and I cooked - and then we all had a pleasant evening together. So not a day on which nothing happened, not at all.

The presence of a guest may explain why Tuesday morning felt so leisured: though it wasn't, really - by ten o'clock D. had set off for home and [ profile] durham_rambler had gone out to his meeting.

It's a meeting that runs all morning and a bit more, so lunch was late; and we were going out late afternoon, so there was barely time between to watch Countdown and do some ironing.

The evening started early, because we wanted to stop on our way to the Sage to see an exhibition at Gateshead Library celebrating 21 Years of Northern Print: Northern Print I know, because it's one of the places we often visit during Ouseburn Open Studios, but I didn't know what to expect of the exhibition, other than that I liked the picture used in the advertising. This was Julian Meredith's 'Blue Whale', a set of life-sized prints of a blue whale. I sppreciate that they couldn't exhibit the thing itself, and that including photographs in an exhibition of prints would have felt anomalous, but everything we saw - and we saw some entirely desirable prints - was dwarfed by it, even in its absence. (I can't find the actual photo anywhere to link).

We were going to the Sage to hear the Furrow Collective. It wouldn't be fair to call this the Emily Portman traditional songbook, because (onstage, at least) it's a very egalitarian grouping, but that's the way I came to it. The Emily Portman Trio (Emily Portman, Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton are joined by Alasdair Roberts for mostly English and Scottish ballads, mostly as gloomy as that repertoire suggests (Emily Portman has a lovely version of Barbara Allen, for example, Rachel Newton a ferocious Lord Heathen). It didn't have the impact for me of Emily Portman's songwriting, but an entirely enjoyable evening. The song they are treating as the 'single' from the new album is pretty atypical, but here it is anyway:

And if anything happened today, the time to write about it has slipped away from me: time to go out to the pub quiz!

Art is long

Oct. 7th, 2016 08:51 pm
shewhomust: (ayesha)
This post has been gradually accumulating over nearly two weeks, now. It began in reaction to a television programme, Who's Afraid of Conceptual Art?, which we stumbled into while looking more or less at random for an hour of diverting television. But it seems to have turned into a hybrid, partly the sort of response - I won't flatter it by calling it a review - that says well, if I'd been in charge, it would go like this... and partly just a place to stash some of the links I gathered together while thinking about that.

Cut for length and ramblings. But it might be worth it for the links. )
shewhomust: (dandelion)
It's August and it's a Bank Holiday (not in the UK, admittedly, but we're all Francophiles here): we went to the beach.


Admittedly, that wasn't the original plan: we had meant to go out yesterday, but [ profile] durham_rambler spent much of the day rescuing one of our sites which had fallen over under attack from some bot in Ukraine. Going out today instead was no great hardship, but the museum we had planned to visit is closed on Mondays - so instead we went to Alnmouth.

We must have arrived when the tide was at its lowest. The beach was busy with families, and dogs, and one or two kites, but there was plenty of room for all of us. I pointed out to [ profile] durham_rambler that two of the children were wearing actual wetsuits, and their mother, a large woman in an orange swimming costume, told me: "Liodl. £12.99. We're holidaying in England this year." Good for them! We paddled in the shallows round into the mouth of the Aln, then back, and headed into the village for lunch (generously filled crab sandwiches at the Tea Cosy Tea Shop) and shopping: a nose around the At Old School Gallery, actual purchases at a shop whose name I didn't notice (I coveted David Hall*'s cormorant, and actually bought a book of his puffin pictures, because puffins!)

By the time we returned to the car, the tide had risen substantially, and the beach was a fraction of its former self. We returned via Alnwick, where Barter Books accepted the entirety of the two boxes of books we had brought: this has never happened to us before. What's more, there's a garage behind the bookshop which dealt with the amber light warning us the the oil was low, by the simple expedient of putting some oil in the engine. On the way home, we were a bit slow turning off the radio after the news, and found Geoff Ryman talking to us about Herland. That was unexpected.

All in all, a good day out. We should get out more.

*Checking his website now, I think I've admired his work before - surely I recognise that frog?
shewhomust: (galleon)
...and thought of [ profile] sovay:

vos noms d'ombre couverts...
shewhomust: (dandelion)
William Morris, born March 24th 1834. The William Morris Society of Canada baked him a Strawberry Thief cake:


ETA (again): It gets better. They make a habit of this. Apologies for the dud link - it should work now!
shewhomust: (dandelion)
No surprise that at this time of year the Guardian Travel supplement hasn't had much of interest to say. But it's been making up for it with some very pretty pictures.

Last week they published three Instagram pictures from Max Avdeev taken in Yakutia. If there's a way to link to Instagram to show only photographs tagged 'Yakutia' by a single photographer, I have yet to find it, but the tag 'cold assignment' seems to be all his own. More photos on his website, especially these of Kotelny Island.

Thuis week, the Big Picture featured this amazing image from Chase Guttman (website), who has won Young Travel Photographer of the Year (same link leads to some fine photographs of Iceland in a younger age group). What amazingly well-travelled young people these are...

Poking around the internet I found this BBC article about another set of prizewinning photographs. My travel envy was alleviated by the realisation that my favourite set had been taken on Spittal beach in Northumberland (you have to scroll right down the page to see them).

These are all stunning photos, and I wish mine were half as good. But every now and then I'm quite pleased with one. This is my favourite from our pre-Christmas visit to London:

A red door in Somers Town">
shewhomust: (dandelion)
The plan for tomorrow was that we would drive into Newcastle for S.'s traditional Christmas morning party: Buck's fizz and smoked salmon and as many of her friends who could leave the turkey in the oven and take a break while it cooked. And then she would load the dishwasher and come here with us for Christmas dinner, and we'd drive her home the next day. We've done this before, and it works well.


At about three o'clock this afternoon I was washing up from lunch, and knocking back the bread dough and thinking that my next move was to go up to the spare room, replace the bookcase that we'd moved to give the builders access to the radiator and make up the spare bed - and then I should probably start to make the stuffing for the bird... when there was an almighty thump from the road outside, where, it turned out, a young man on a bicycle had failed to negociate the bend and cycled right up and over our car.

[ profile] durham_rambler brought him in and sat him down, and encouraged him to phone his mother. He was walking, but very shaken, had a nasty scrape on his arm and, though he was reluctant to admit this, an even nastier one on his leg. There is a very impressive dent right up the bonnet of the car (seriously, much more impressive than the one White Van Man made in the back) and another in the windscreen. The glass is crazed rather than shattered, but we aren't going to be driving that car anywhere until it's been fixed - and while our insurers were happy to provide a courtesy car, by the time we'd reached that stage, the person in charge of courtesy cars had gone home.

So, change of plan. S. will be abstemious at her party and drive here when it is over ("and I can start drinking then, can't I?"). I miss out on the party, but I have extra time for preparations tomorrow, which is why I have time to write this now. Our young cyclist is going to be very sore tomorrow, if no worse: his mother may well decide to take him to hospital to get that leg wound looked at. She, I think, is the person who comes off worst out of this (at least in the short term: ask me again when we've been without transport for a long weekend) having just yesterday taken her mother to hospital with a chest infection and confusion, and already having that to worry about.

And it looks as if we shall be having what we said we wanted, a quiet Christmas at home.

Here's not one but 12 Christmas cards for you: the Twelve cartoons of Christmas from the Guardian. Among a number of star illustrators, my favourite is still Shaun Tan's contribution.
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
I don't know; I turn my back for a moment (well, for the best part of three weeks, actually) and when I look again, there are old newspapers everywhere, and tabs open all over my browser. Can't something be done about this?

Words: Awumbuk:
From a Guardian article about words I didn't know we needed for emotions I didn't know we had (not all equally useful or desirable). Awumbuk is explained: "There is an emptiness after visitors depart. The walls echo. The space which felt so cramped while they were here suddenly seems weirdly large. Sometimes everything feels a bit pointless. The indigenous Baining people who live in the mountains of Papua New Guinea are so familiar with this experience that they name it awumbuk. They believe departing visitors shed a kind of heaviness when they leave, so as to travel lightly. This oppressive mist hovers for three days, leaving everyone feeling distracted and apathetic. To counter it, the Baining fill a bowl with water and leave it overnight to absorb the festering air. The next day, the family rise very early and ceremonially fling the water into the trees, whereupon ordinary life resumes."

Also from the Guardian, the joy of Soviet bus stops (accompanying words, if required)

shewhomust: (dandelion)
D. is with us for a few days: there was a long-standing plan that he would attend a family party in Leeds, then come on to us, and take the opportunity to try to visit Richard. As it turned out, we went instead to Richard's funeral, but D. came north after his party anyway, and he and I spent this afternoon mooching around Durham. We dropped in on the new(ish) archaeology gallery on Palace Green, and by the time we came out it was dusk, and the sky beyond the Cathedral was blazing scarlet. Naturally I didn't have my camera with me.


So D. took this with his camera. You'll just have to imagine that it's much brighter and much redder.
shewhomust: (bibendum)

The UBC Library Digitization Centre has a Flickr account: not just silly vintage postcards, but Spanish chant manuscripts ("Creator: Catholic Church") and maps of Japan...
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
  • Premysl Fojtu Photography posts photos from Orkney on FaceBook.

  • 'Enterprise Magazine': the car hire company encourages you to drive to places worth seeing with View Finders: here's somewhere to visit in San Francisco.

  • The Guardian had a supplement about Georgia: one of those paid-for sections which try to look like editorial, but are really advertising. I regard them with deep suspicion, and throw them away unread. This one had an ad on the back page for the Georgian national tourist office. We spent a few days in Georgia thirty years ago, and I have good memories of it, but so much has happened since then, it hadn't occurred to me it was somewhere you could still visit. Perhaps it isn't, I wouldn't take the word of an advertorial supplement for it. Still, pretty pictures. And more on Pinterest.

  • What we dug up on our summer holiday: a gold hair ornament from the copper age (I hadn't met the term 'copper age' before)

  • Megapenguin fossils!
shewhomust: (dandelion)
[ profile] lamentables went to a WWI commemoration and it seems to have been all right, to have expressed something worth expressing:


Minimum Monument is the work of Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo, and this iteration was commissioned by the Birmingham Hippodrome. So alongside my ambivalence about commemorating the outbreak of the war - and with the news each day as sanguine as it is, to claim that we are remembering the War that was going to end all wars - you can set an entirely different class of ambivalence about art which is apparently related to a particular place and time, but which is actually the thing that a particular artist does. Nonetheless, it feels appropriate, all those fragile little beings melting away...

Another fine photo, by someone else and one that catches the dissolution of the figures.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
A foodie tour of the Alentejo - where to stay, where to eat, which wineries to visit...

Rent a 'saltbox' house in Newfoundland - or just enjoy the pretty slideshow

Anarchy & Beauty: William Morris And His Legacy, 1860-1960, at the National Portrait Gallery (16 October to 11 January): though the NPG, for reasons of its own, seems to have given the story to the Guardian before adding it to its own website. Who knew that Edward Carpenter's sandals were kept in the Sheffield archives? Or that Eric Gill had carved an erotic Adam and Eve garden roller?

This last is of course the anomaly: the exhibition will still be running when I next visit London (at Christmas, if not before), and I'm reasonably likely to go and see it - unless I forget!
shewhomust: (dandelion)
A clutch of unfinished (and unstarted) posts seem to be accreting around a common theme - or perhaps it's just that wherever I start out, I return to the same interests.

On Monday we persuaded Gail to accompany us to the Glass Centre in Sunderland, because I wanted to see their exhibition of Chris Blade's photographs from the Arctic. It was a tiny exhibition, one wall of the gallery overlooking the shop, perhaps ten or a dozen photographs in all - there is far more to see on his website. I liked this panoramic landscape, and was intrigued by this shot of a disused mineshaft, and spent a long time looking at it, wondering how it had been taken (not just the distortion introduced by the wide-angle lens, but the balance of dark interior and exterior light). At the Ouseburn Open Studios last autumn I had seen Stevie Ronnie's photos of the same abandoned Russian mining town, Pyramiden - evidently it is overrun by visiting artists. In fact, TripAdvisor rates it seventh out of nine attactions on Svalbard. There go any illusions I may have had about the remoteness of the northern wastes.

I have been reading Colin Thubron's In Siberia - the first of his books I've read, though I knew him by name, as a respected travel writer. He's a curious traveling companion, presenting himself and his personal reactions without concealment but without context. There's plenty of remoteness here, the vast expanse of Siberia being one of the few things I knew about it: but I had pictured it as frozen, empty, a blank canvas on which the horrors of the gulag could be written unhindered. I had not known of the many indigenous peoples who have lived there over the millennia, though perhaps I shuld have: if Peter the Great had a collection of prehistoric Siberian treasures, their existence is not exactly news. More recently, The "Ice Princess" has attracted her share of press coverage. The golden buckles are gorgeous, but what really astonished me was the survival of textiles from two and a half thousand years ago: a finely knotted carpet, a felt swan...

Via the Guardian, which ran a feature on historic photographs, I discovered the work of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, pioneer of colour photography (he photographed Tolstoy in colour) who set out with the blessing of the Tsar to document the Russian Empire. Wikipedia has a gallery of his work; and there are some lovely photographs here from the Silk Road.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Mostly, when I photograph reflections - and I do, it's a recurring motif - I aim for a nice clear double image, as above so below. This Flickr blog post illustrates the potential of the opposite approach.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
My browser is all open tabs and locked posts - drafts posted as private until ready to face the world. (More than one because something I had thought lost, eaten by internet failure, reopened itself from previous draft when I wasn't expecting it to. Some you win...) Time for some serious tidying up. First, the short version of the last two Sundays:

Needlework for Mothers' Day )

Carlin Sunday at Causey Arch )

ETA photo, now that Flickr is with us again...
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Flickr's AuroraWatch UK group has an amazing collection of photos of Thursday night's display: the colours in the sky are dazzling, and the photographers have worked in some beautiful (and not always easily accessible) settings. I love this shot of Sycamore Gap, less dramatic than this one of Brimham Rocks; here's Dunstanburgh and nearer to home it was also visible in Whitley Bay.

We saw nothing, although we were out at night, driving home from the Sage. Perhaps we were looking the wrong way, heading south, not north or out to sea. Or perhaps the light-burn from the motorway hid anything there might have been to see. Or, well, who knows?

We had been listening to Scottish fiddler Duncan Chisholm playing music from his Strathglass trilogy, the three-CD suite of music inspired by the three glens that make up the Clan Chisholm lands. The music was lovely, rich and mellow fiddle, supported by Matheu Watson' guitar and Jarlath Henderson's uilleann pipes and whistle (my, those uilleann pipes are a strange beast, he cradled them in his lap throughout the performance, gleaming like a steampunk octopus, even when he was playing the whistle with the other hand). I enjoyed it immensely, but I didn't feel pulled into it emotionally - I seem to be immune to the lure of the highlands.
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
The process of Moving Stuff About continues. The resultant changes are probably invisible to any eye but my own, but I do have a sense of stuff moving, heaps being dispersed, things finding their place. It won't last, so let me enjoy it - and record it - while I can.

I have a new monitor. I have for some time been saying to [ profile] durham_rambler that we need to be able to check what our websites look like on a variety of screen widths and devices, and that given modern standards one of us, at least, ought to have a monitor that is wider than the 1024px we were both using (I remember how big that seemed when I finally relinquished my 800px screen). He finally found time to set up [ profile] desperance's widescreen for me, and I am trying to get used to it. The good news is that I haven't (yet) had any really unpleasant surprises from any of my sites - though I am tweaking margins as I go! The bad news is that some of the software I use results, at this definition, in very small print (I'm using some very old software). As I suspected, my old screen rendered things very dark, even when adjusted to maximum brightness, and the brightness of the new screen is even more disconcerting than its width; I could turn it down, but the risk is then that I underestimate the brightness of my designs and images, so I'd prefer to learn to live with it.

The old monitor sat on a pedestal (alright, then, a box file) on the desk: the new one sits on the desk itself. And did I mention how very wide it is? So there has been some shuffling of things around the desk. Some of them - little jars of paperclips, seashells, a box of postcards, some notebooks - will need new homes, but I have filed and discarded a quantity of paper. Why had I written the name 'Amanda Popham' on a paper bag? The internet tells me that she is a ceramicist: there's a selection of her work here and another piece here. I'm not sure whether I like it or not; I think I'd like to see the real thing, not photographs, and I think this means that I haven't actually seen it. But in that case, where did I get her name from?

No mystery about why I printed off a copy of John Stump's Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz (from 'A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich'), an 'unplayable score' with instructions like "Slovenly", "Tune the Uke" and "remove cattle from stage". Even though the paper copy is coffee stained, and I have tracked it down online, I am reluctant to discard it.

Naturally, the paper is fighting back. Last Saturday's travel supplement has made its way onto my desk, open at the page about wine tourism in the Corbières. Not for this year, but next year I want to go to France, and to the wine-producing south-west in particular. I'd been thinking Minervois, Madiran, even Irouléguy, but a few addresses in Corbières might come in handy...

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