Planet Textile Threads

November 18, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Wreckage at the RAF museum

The RAF Museum isn't all perfectly-preserved planes and heroism. "The other side" of the "glories" of war is shown by putting some wreckage into the museum.

From an aircraft collision, 1940, over London -

 Reconstruction, complete with dripping water, of a bombed factory -

Click on the images to read the story -

This plane, a Halifax bomber, lost in an attempt to put the Tirpitz out of action, was found in a lake in 1971 -

The museum decided not to restore it - it's an amazing sight.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 18, 2017 08:45 AM

November 17, 2017

Dijanne Cevaal

Week 4 and 5 at Boneca de Atauro

 I started making walks at dawn, as I was finding the rest of the day too hot to walk around much, and I really enjoyed the walks. There is so much to discover on the shoreline including incredible amounts of  plastic bottles and dead shoes, especially flip flops. There is no rubbish collection on the island so the rubbish has to go somewhere. Also unless the water is filtered it is probably best not to drink it. I loved finding all the shells or bits of shell and urchins who hang around in colonies with starfish. I often see fishermen head out to sea at dawn to catch fish for their meal during the day, and everything is so peaceful and calm.

I had to look twice when I found this on the beach close to the urchin colony- it looked like a mask of sorts until I realised what it was- part of the rubbish that collects on the shoreline.

We have been working hard at making linocuts and new glasses cases and ipad bags printed with the linocuts. We have also been doing a bit of hand stitching. I have tried to encourage my students to be inspired by what is around them and also how they see the world around them. The first image is of a little hand stitched piece by Jacinta from a linocut she made. These little pieces will form part of our exhibition at the Boneca de Atauro shop in Dili on 15 December.

The two images below are of the work the ladies do every day- as you can see everything is very heavily free motion stitched in hoops and on treadles. Each design is hand drawn onto the fabric before being stitched by one of the ladies.

I had to return to Dili to pick up my emergency passport which was issued as a result of losing my passport wallet on the day I arrived. Things went a bit downhill from there. It turned out that the immigration authority were not able to give me a visa to be able to stay until 18 December because there had been a change in immigration law. In fact I had to leave East Timor by 11 November so that I would not be an illegal visitor. I was insured, by my insurance did not cover my return to East Timor to finish the project- it was an insurance that I transacted when I purchased my original ticket as I thought it would be easier to do it all in one transaction ( I don't normally do this) so the insurance was contracted before  reading the policy. I did skim through the policy to ensure repatriation was covered if needed and what losses were covered ( during the cooling off period)but did not see the bit that the only way resumption of journey would be paid for was if the interruption had been caused by medical reasons- sigh....So I will never use that insurance again! I am still waiting to hear whether they will meet the rest of the claim even though I was advised by telephone that my change of booking would be covered.

The long and the short of it is some generous people have enabled me to raise the money for a return airfare and also insurance so that I can return to Boneca de Atauro next  Tuesday ( I leave Monday and the flights do not connect unless I pay an exorbitant ticket fee). I am extremely grateful that people have helped. This week was spent getting a new passport and because I was born outside Australia and despite having the relevant documentation of citizenship it is always a sit and wait until it is issued thing. So I did not  dare to book a ticket until I was holding the new passport in my hand.

 I am so looking forward to going back and finishing what we started! We will have to work doubly hard to get everything ready for our exhibition. The trip back to Australia has enable me to pick up one or two supplies which I think will be useful for the women.There is of course no  haberdashery store  on Atauro island, there is one in Dili but some of the things which I think would be extremely useful have never been heard of- so the only way is to show what I mean! I will write more about the remarkable co-operative at the end of my residency. Meanwhile here is a link to their new catalogue which tells some of the story and also showcases the products they make.

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at November 17, 2017 04:08 PM

Olga Norris

"What was the artist trying to say?"

I overheard this again on Sunday at the Jasper Johns exhibition, and mused once more over why it is that some observers are so desperate to know what an artist is trying to communicate.  I know that when I am in the throws of making a piece, I am far from sure what I'm trying to say.  Indeed even after I've finished, if I have to write a few words for an exhibition, it often taxes me.
Julie Speed: Concertina (image from here)
Then when responding to a comment on my last post I was reading an interview on Julie Speed's website (scroll down the page past the videos to arrive at the interviews on the link) I came across an elegant way of putting it:

An Interview with Julie Speed: Part II
December 12, 2012 Ross Smeltzer  
The Search For Meaning in Julie Speed’s Works
Q.           What are you trying to communicate in your paintings? What do you want people looking at your work to think about and feel?
Julie Speed.        I’m not trying to communicate. I’m trying to solve a puzzle that is visual first and narrative second.  The elements are color, form, line, texture, bits from the news, light from the windows, what I just saw in the street or in a tree when I walked to town to get the mail, a book, a phrase, a shadow and a thousand other small observations, so many that I could never count them or quantify them but they all occur and combine in the present.  It’s a puzzle for me now while I’m working on it and it takes every bit of concentration to get the work right.  As a practical matter it wouldn’t be useful to me to try to factor in my guess about how someone else would think or feel about it at some future time.  It’s hard enough to tune out my own inner bullshit.
Q.           In the past, you have said there are no objective meanings in your works: you expect different viewers to produce different – equally legitimate – meanings. But, given your use of repeated symbols and images, do you think you are attempting to communicate certain meanings, thoughts and perspectives to those viewing your works? In other words, are all interpretations of your work equally legitimate and, if not, why not?
Julie Speed.        I do use certain images over and over but I’m not deliberately embedding symbols in some kind of code.   I repeat certain images because they’re useful compositionally or simply because I like to paint them.
However, while I don’t know exactly how or why, I do know that if I get the composition and content balanced just right then the work will sometimes strike a chord in another person – not in most people of course, just a few….but when that happens I like to hear what it is that they thought or felt.
It’s certainly just as valid and often way  more interesting to me than my own thoughts because I’ve already thought my own thoughts – they’re no longer new to me.

Julie Speed: Jawbone (image from here)
Critics and the art market do not help observers of art to enjoy the act of observation for themselves.  I am still fuming about the obscenity of the same painting being deemed worth over $400 million if it is by one artist, but only worth less than $100 if thought to be by another.

by Olga Norris ( at November 17, 2017 01:19 PM

Margaret Cooter

Planting, and musing

With the necessary bricks replaced, finally the tulip bulbs could be planted. The window boxes became a bit dusty during the repointing and need some attention and possibly replanting -
 Out back, the rubble mountain continues to grow, though with the plasterers almost finished in the front room, it may have reached its summit - for now. Later, this area will be rebuilt as an extension to the flat ... but that's "later" -
Out front, though, quite a few hours went by as I happily planted the tulips, and winter pansies, here and there, keeping a photographic record of which went where (though, does it really matter...). Also the pansies indicate places where tulips are expected to appear -
 Garden done - for now. Let's see what survives the winter, and the cat-toilet situation: for 20 years and more, during The Weedfield Years, they've looked upon it as their own -
It would be unfair to say that it's not what I planned. There was no plan, just a vision, a photo in a book with tiny plants spreading through the cracks in the paving, and greenery round the edges.

We went "with the flow" - a couple of trips to the garden centre, filling the car with plants - extravagant, yes, but when you're living through the renovation phase, some instant results, somewhere, are a necessity. The groundwork was a bit laborious, so adding Big Plants was a treat.

And the plants themselves turned out to be quite surprising. There are two "lollipop lilacs" (will they survive...), a tamarisk (not enough sun?), a small eucalyptus still in its pot, for out back eventually, a tall, thin yew in its pot (probably a mistake).

In the sunnier corner is Gertrude Jekyll, the beautiful rose; around it are cyclamens for now and primulas and forget-me-nots for spring, as well as pansies and violas for a bit of colour right now.

The grasses - pennisetum, miscanthus - were an impulse buy and a good idea.

A hydrangea, japanese anenomes, delphiniums (the slugs seem to love them), an astilbe (to be moved nearer the house; they don't mind shade) - and one of those lovely-leaved "forget-me-nots" - Brunnera - rescued from Tony's garden, via a sojourn in mine.

Agapanthus in the corner, still in its pot (perhaps to go out back, "later") from Sue. 

Lavender, despite Tom's protestations - in the sunniest spot, and also in the sunnier window boxes, along with fuchsia and this'n'that, and those flourishing ferns.

Not to forget the remnants of bushy chrysanthemums, which I know from a tiny pot that's been in my garden for a couple of years, can grow enormous; perhaps they'll be moved to a window box...

Before leaving to find some lunch on the way back home, I stood for a long time just looking at it all, without a thought in my head. Isn't that the joy of gardening: in the changing of seasons, to be paying close attention to the jobs at hand, and to have done it all, for now, and put the tools away, and then to stand back and Just Look.

The earliest photo of the garden was taken in August (gosh only three months ago) - the weeds had been whacked, and the ferns put in place (so we thought) - but beneath that scattering of pea gravel and the regrowth of bramble and alkanet* lurked enormous roots, which hopefully have all been dug out - it looked like the craters of the moon for a while, and pitchforks were broken along the way. As for that pea gravel, it's been sifted into rubble bags: undoubtedly it was meant to keep the weeds down, but didn't do the job. The paving slabs, and a little TLC, will do better.

*"what is green alkanet good for? For some it's a weed - I let it grow around my pear tree but try not to let it spread about. It will grow where little else will, and the flowers are pretty and come in a long succession from spring to autumn: if you hack it back to the ground it will return, unperturbed. Finally, and most importantly, the flowers are popular with pollinators, just like its tamer relative lungwort (Pulmonaria)." (via)

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 17, 2017 10:27 AM

Neki Rivera

the magic of smallness

back to the friday vid. just one qualm, hate when they call it tie dye.
have a great weekend

as for me opera tonight!

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at November 17, 2017 09:00 AM

November 16, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - an exequy by Henry King

This poem has several titles - "Exequy on This Wife"; "An Exequy to his Matchless, Never to be Forgotten Friend"; or just "The exequy poem".

You many be wondering what an exequy is - it's a funeral ode. This section is an excerpt from the longer poem.

Sleep on, my love, in thy cold bed,
Never to be disquieted!
My last goodnight! Thou wilt not wake
Till I thy fate shall overtake;
Till age, or grief, or sickness must
Marry my body to that dust
It so much loves, and fill the room
My heart keeps empty in thy tomb.
Stay for me there, I will not fail
To meet thee in that hollow vale.
And think not much of my delay;
I am already on the way,
And follow thee with all the speed
Desire can make, or sorrows breed.
Each minute is a short degree,
And every hour a step towards thee.
At night when I betake to rest,
Next morn I rise nearer my west
Of life, almost by eight hours’ sail,
Than when sleep breathed his drowsy gale.
Thus from the sun my bottom steers,
And my day’s compass downward bears;
Nor labour I to stem the tide
Through which to thee I swiftly glide.
‘Tis true, with shame and grief I yield,
Thou like the van first took’st the field,
And gotten hath the victory
In thus adventuring to die
Before me, whose more years might crave
A just precedence in the grave.
But hark! my pulse like a soft drum
Beats my approach, tells thee I come;
And slow howe’er my marches be,
I shall at last sit down by thee.

- Henry King (1592-1669)

Image result for henry king bishop chichester
Henry King held the position of Bishop of Chichester in a turbulent period of British history. "His poetry is a chronicle of eventful times. The public, political turmoil of the state was matched by private, personal turmoil for King. Most movingly, he suffered, and wrote about, the death of his young wife, Anne. [The poem was written in 1657.]

His loyalty to the king during the Civil War led to Parliament taking away his estates in 1643, but he lived to be reinstated at Chichester at the time of the Restoration.(via) He was a friend of John Donne. 

I came across the poem in a short story, on a podcast. The story (The Surrogate) is by Tessa Hadley, and it's read on "The New Yorker: Fiction" podcast. Every month, a current writer (in this case, Curtis Sittenfield) chooses a story from the New Yorker's archive, reads it, and then chats with the magazine's literary editor about it, which can be very enlightening. Someone had a good idea when they set this up!

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 16, 2017 09:24 PM

Neki Rivera


as simon bolivar said if you can't fight them join them and make them obey you.
a k machine project with the eye on an exhibit.the loom is not my friend and it's resting for a while until i can force it into obedience, aka as the new linen warp is drying.
we're experiencing some glorious fall days and the walks are pure joy.

the japanese say ( meaning that it's another sign of their uniqueness) that in japan there are four seasons. so here we are !
speaking of japan japanese classes are going fine, reviewing what i did the first time and now it's gelling in my brain. the first time i stayed in the recognition only  stage this time i'm moving to the production stage. can't be happier.
verbs however are still to be crammed.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at November 16, 2017 11:29 AM

November 15, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Photo du jour

A bit of tidying up in the garden produced these. How lovely flowers are from underneath - and how rarely seen that way.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 15, 2017 10:15 PM

Olga Norris

Enchanted encounters?

Three powerful visual story tellers whose work inspires me are Paula Rego, Ana Maria Pacheco, and Julie Speed.
Paula Rego: from the Jane Eyre series (image from here)
Ana Maria Pacheco: from Follies of a Guardian Angel (image from here)
Julie Speed: Beach (image from here)

by Olga Norris ( at November 15, 2017 09:39 PM

November 14, 2017

Terry Grant

Inner piece...

What with all this eye business, including two surgeries and a million appointments and tests and drops and fiddle-dee-dee, this has not been a very productive year artwise. I basically took the summer off. When I tried to to do a little sewing I found it harder than expected. I just was not seeing very well. I couldn't clearly focus on my sewing machine's needle. I was seeing two needles, unless I took my glasses off and got as close as possible to where the action was, just short of risking that I would accidentally sew through the end of my nose. Doing something like this made me cross-eyed, cranky and exhausted.

You can probably imagine how (not) conducive this was to the creative process. Most saddening of all, was when I felt like it was really time to get back to work I was empty. No ideas, no excitement. I puttered away at a new take on an old idea, but the result left me feeling even more uninspired. Perhaps I was finished with art quilting. I could retire to knit, read, write, travel! I cleaned up the studio, opened my doors for my sixth (maybe last?) Open Studio Tour and wondered what was next.

Then one day I went out to the studio and began pulling fabrics out of my collection of solids until there was a stack that made me a little giddy with the color and I started cutting triangles—I've always had a thing about triangles—then making stacks of triangles that I began sewing randomly together. And it made me happy. Matching up two triangles and sewing a quarter inch seam didn't even require my eyes to work that well—I can do this in the dark—well, almost, although it's been years since I actually "pieced" a quilt in this traditional way.

The more triangles I sewed, the better I felt and I began to see actual possibilities for this to be something more than therapy! That night as I was drifting off to sleep I saw that it needed handwork, embroidery, another something I haven't done for years, something soft as counterpoint to the geometry of the triangles. And so I've come full circle, back to the basic skills I learned long ago. You will be seeing it soon. I think this small piece is leading me both backward and forward at the same time.

Maybe it's my new thing. Maybe not. But now I'm working up a stack of log cabin blocks and they are looking pretty great. My happy is back, for now anyway.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

by Terry Grant ( at November 14, 2017 06:46 PM

Olga Norris

A separate category

Jasper Johns: The Seasons (Fall) (image from here)
There are some artists who comprise a separate category for me - a more directly inspirational one.  There have always of course been artists whose work I have preferred more than others; but this new category began to form when I embarked on my own attempts at artistic self-expression.The members of the special category are not necessarily inspirational in the same way, for the same reasons, and do not all remain there for the same length of time.  But they all have a profound effect, and take over a lot of my thinking - especially just after having seen a significant display of their work.
Today I had meant to visit an exhibition nearby, but I do not want to diminish my thinking about Jasper Johns' work.  The exact opposite: I want to develop the thoughts that are forming from my looking and seeing on Sunday.  There is the possibility of so much high quality art input these days that I find it difficult to maintain a perspective about what I am doing - or trying to do - and whether I am succeeding in my own terms.  And so I'm finding it increasingly necessary to give space around significant input - and as a kind of contradiction to the whole of my previous life - to limit the range and quantity of input.  I'm paying more attention to quality over quantity.
Jasper Johns working on one of the Regrets (image from here)
There are several reviews of the Royal Academy exhibition, here, here, and here, and here, here, and here, but they do not come near to the positive reaction I have had.  There is an interesting article here
I am drawn not so much to the flags, the targets, the early Pop Art works; but to the re-examinations, the re-workings, the use of line and space, the careful execution, the attraction to typographic elements, the use of greys, blacks, and colour, the elegance of his thinking, ...
Jasper Johns: Ocean (working proof) (image from here)
... his fascination with optical illusions, the tricks of perception,  his borrowings from for example Buckminster Fuller (map as used in the print immediately above), Holbein, Picasso,  the John Deakin photograph of Lucian Freud which spurred the Regrets series, ... and how he very much made something so distinctly his own out of it all.

by Olga Norris ( at November 14, 2017 03:00 PM

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - British Museum

We were in the Ancient Cyprus gallery and had enough "Friends of the BM" cards among us to go to the Members' Room for lunch. When we settled round the table to share what we'd done, I tried to take a photo of the group, with the camera held high. The result is plainly ludicrous -
 My morning's efforts started with using a magazine as the source for collage - cutting out shapes through many layers -
 Horrendous arrangements! -
 Fun and games -
 All this "drawing with a scalpel" was based on the weathered head of Dionysius -
 And this is what happened when the pen got involved -
... which led to a discussion of collage and some suggested homework, based on Michelle's example -
... take a painting (eg in the National Gallery, or from a book) and analyse its colours - find them in magazines and make a collage of the colours in the proportions that appear in the painting.

But first, "round the table" -
Sue's Cypriot kind, c.425BC

Janet B's horse and rider

Jo's boats

Janet K gives the details on just half the head - if it's symmetrical, that's all you need

Mags' statuary group - from the back

Judith used two shades of grey markers

Michelle's small statues, made large on the page
 Snap! two versions of a fertility goddess -

 Extracurricular activities
Autumnal glories, by Sue

Hippo at the Royal Veterinary College, by Janet B

Jo's discovery in a charity  shop - is it meant to be a pencil case?

Collages by Mags ...

... leading to printmaking on fabric

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 14, 2017 08:57 AM

November 13, 2017

Olga Norris

Engaging, enlightening, enriching, ... and somehow encouraging

Jasper Johns: 0 through 9 1961 (image from here)
Yesterday was a crisp, chill, sunny day with oak and beech leaves glowing gold.  We took ourselves to the Royal Academy in London to see the Jasper Johns exhibition.  Johns is one of those artists whose work I have long admired, and yet I have actually seen very few pieces for real.  A few here and there I saw in the USA, Tate has several, and I was fortunate to see an exhibition of his number pieces in Oxford many years ago.
Jasper Johns: Dancers on a Plane (image from here)
I found this exhibition at the RA to be an excellent display, thematically organised, making the most of the workings and re-workings - the explorations and the re-visitings.  I was keen to see the work he had done for Fiorades/Fizzles, the book with Samuel Beckett, and was delighted to see so much on display. 
(image from here)
Usually one has to put up with one double page spread open - more images here - but the limited edition had included a set of flat prints for exhibition.  Brilliant.
One of the Regrets (image from here)
There was so much that was worth the visit, and even so we found the exhibition to be greater than its parts.  It certainly made such an impact on me that I am still digesting, and find myself incapable of writing any more.

by Olga Norris ( at November 13, 2017 03:23 PM

Margaret Cooter

The art vs design question

A book borrowed from the library which I've been looking at over breakfast has got me thinking about the difference between the world of Design and Art. It's the work of Mark Hearld, which is a bit of both - he started as a printmaker and using collage, and has built on his success by painting on ceramics, designing tote bags for the Tate, wallpaper, etc etc. You've probably come across his work somewhere, somehow.
Mind map of sources and influences

The section called "The artist as designer" (text by Simon Martin) starts by talking about the strong graphic quality and feeling for composition and abstract pattern making in Hearld's work. Hearld says: "As well as just making pictures to go on a wall, I enjoy making and designing objects. The artists I most admire, such as John Piper and Edward Bawden, were also designers. It's about enjoying the visual quality of the objects that surround you. That's really the impetus behind everything I make. Also, there is something lovely about designing an object that people can afford to buy. They might not want to purchase a big painting but they can buy just a cushion. To design something that's functional and domestic really appeals to me because I like creating a home. I like creating a wonderful space."
Later, in regard to his first (complicated!) wallpaper design, he writes: "I had long been interested in surface pattern and textile design, but, as an artist, felt it was somebody else's world."

... which leads me to wonder how separate the Art and Design worlds are seen to be - especially by those making a living from either, or both. 

Seems to me that Fine Art is the world of big paintings at big prices with big cuts taken by dealers (who distance the artist from the owner of the work?) - a million miles away from Just a Cushion and its processes of commissioning, making, outlets, status. 
Just a few of the miniprints at Morley College
Seeing art shows - eg the miniprint exhibition at Morley - or the RA Summer Show - you encounter the work of literally hundreds of People Who Make Art, and I do wonder, why do it... is there room for more in this already overstuffed world. (Why am I bothering? is another question...)

After mulling on things like this I looked at the book some more and read "It's satisfying to get the most out of each creative idea" and maybe that's another way Art and Design differ ... how far the idea can be stretched, and the recognition that at some point it's become a different idea - or that it's run out, and you have to switch to something different. I have only a vague feeling about this ... which so far boils down to: Design = finish a set project, whereas Art= see where a visual idea leads - ? 

And then there are the Two Big Questions about making Art: 1. who is your audience. 2. what is your intent. 

What are the Two Big Questions in design? Maybe ... 1. who will pay for it. 2. how can it be used.

Oof, it makes the brain hurt. Let's relax and look at a little more of Mark Hearld's work (or have a look at this short film - -

mm, those corrugated buildings!
 This page spread put me in mind of a "folk art object" seen recently in a local charity shop.
I regret not buying it, but did take a photo; might have to make my own, maybe even out of painted metal, some day -

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 13, 2017 01:53 PM

Neki Rivera

vintage linen

got this one in 1975 in finland therefore it qualifies as vintage. it was wetspun so it doesn't snap to the touch. i gave up on the warp. the linseed sizing prevented the fraying, but  the yarns snapped when advanced .i really tried to salvage it,but life's too short. at least this mishap helps with the stash busting scheme.

the status now is that i am boiling two skeins in soda ash to bring them back to an ivory white.
if i get bold i might even try some peroxide to make them whiter. then size them and on with warping.end of the story lest these are the proverbial famous last words.

on another note, have never seen happier people with the week of rain.nobody minds the umbrellas, rain boots and whatnots. those fields are so very green now it hurts the eye!

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at November 13, 2017 09:00 AM

November 12, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Woodcut progress

Getting a feel for what the blocks made in the summer will look like combined with the new "spooky shapes" blocks -
Held up to the light

Another possibility

Of course the colours make all the difference. First  mix your paint, then print your backgrounds -
The yellow had already been printed
 There's no photo of the disappointing, pale, grainy "spooky shapes" - and the yellow made it look ghastly in the true sense of the word - but inking up again and printing again made for a satisfying darkness, and I quite like this combination. The darkness animates the shapes and keeps the yellow in its place -
 Some of the backgrounds were printed in a pale brown, and this is less exciting -
 I'm working on further layers. In this version of the spooky shapes, they are printed the other way round, to be mirror images -
 The background hasn't been properly cleared yet, and I'm wondering what it might look like left as is -
 The way to find out, short of a test print, is to do a pencil rubbing -
That's also a quick way to test combinations of blocks.

By the end of the course (three or is is just two weeks from now) I hope to have improved the printing skills, and maybe even cutting, if there's time to do more blocks. And to have discovered how to put them together to make something that pleases me and inspires me to continue. After the course is over, I hope to continue to develop some of the ideas that are starting to emerge. (Note to self: write them down!)

Meanwhile I've been looking at the books on my shelves, including the Kuniyoshi exhibition catalogue, from which this theatrically spooky subject comes -
Classic Japanese woodcuts abound with ghosts and monsters, such as this one by Hokusai -
Katsushika Hokusai.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 12, 2017 11:41 AM

November 11, 2017

Margaret Cooter


Some of the jewellery that caught my eye at the Dazzled exhibition, which is at the Oxo Gallery till 7 January. 
Sue Gregor's "fossilised plastic"

Paula Treimane

Caroline Finlay

Lindsey Mann

Kaz Robertson
There was plenty of silver and gold, but it was the colourful stuff that caught my eye.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 11, 2017 06:51 PM

November 10, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Food for friends

This week is turning out to be Traybake Week at Kitchen136. What a great way to feed people - you cut up a few veg, add some chunks of chicken if desired, mix some spices or herbs, and into the oven it all goes. There's not even very much to wash up at this stage, and the kitchen will be in a tidy state before the doorbell rings and the wine gets poured.

The spice mixture on the Chicken, red pepper, etc traybake was really good - fennel seeds, smoked paprika, cumin, lemon zest, garlic - who knew!

The Spinach, ricotta, and chicken recipe, with veg roasted in a separate pan, is untried, that happens tonight ... and it needs the chicken breasts stuffing with a spinach and ricotta mixture, which is a teeny bit fiddly imho, but it all cooks at the same time, without different saucepans needing timing, which is my criterion for an easy life.

The spicy roast veg and lentils recipe is untried too -- but lots of veg are on hand for tomorrow's debut. The recipe calls for tinned puy lentils, which will take further searching for - or else I'll boil up some dried ones, just like we used to do in the bad old days before everything came in tins.

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 10, 2017 01:20 PM

November 09, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - two busy poems (Watts and Rosen)

How Doth the Little Busy Bee

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

How skilfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.

In works of labor or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.

In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.

--Isaac Watts (1674-1748; preacher, poet, hymn writer)

Image result for Michael Rosen busy day
From: Anthology Year 1 (Treasure House), Collins UK

--Michael Rosen (b.1946; children's novelist, Children's Laureate 2007-2009)

It's a busy week - more in the popping-here-and-there way than involvement "in works of labour or of skill".  Visitors and visiting, cooking (and eating), talking, walking, class, proofreading, exhibitions, having coffee, even a bit of Meaningful Housework (sorting out the broom cupboard). Emails and blogging have rather fallen by the wayside. Everything is jumbled up in my memory, routine is upset, which adds to that busybusy feeling...
It happens sometimes. Unfortunately, busy does not equal effective!

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 09, 2017 09:27 PM

Drawing Tuesday - Camden Arts Centre

On arrival I saw Janet B heading into the cafe - she was looking for someone to tell that she needed to go swimming, not drawing ... but there was time for a coffee (and chat about Art etc) first. This is not a rigid group, by any means!

I hadn't seen what was on show and just in case it overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) me, I took a photo of our cups as a possible starting point for "independent work" -
 and then spent a few minutes waiting to get a person-free shot of the lovely old doors ... double doors ... a double set of double doors ... which might be another possibility for a starting point. Or maybe it was all just procrastination - er, let me reword that: it might have been subconscious preparation for a very focussed drawing!
Not to worry, though - to me the objects in the rooms were very draw-able ... first a film-within-an-installation by Rwandan artist Christian Nyampeta -
 and also two rooms (and rooms within rooms) by Milan-based Nathalie Du Pasquier, a founding member of the Italian design collective Memphis -

With less than an hour on hand, I spent an intense time filling a page spread with motifs collected in Nyampeta's room, which contained furniture, wall painting and cut-out wall plaques of great appeal; their interest developed as I looked closely with pencil in hand.
 The pencil pulled at random from my selection (usually it's better to think before choosing) was the indigo inktense, and back in the cafe I added some water here and there to enliven the objects as they floated across the page.

That the plaques are wood and the lines were cut into it influences the interrelation of the shapes, as Janet K found -
She also enjoyed the graphics and colours in the other rooms -
 Carol found a seat with a view in the cafe and suddenly noticed the marks on the glass around the room-
 Drawn onto transparent film, they can be moved into place over the background foliage -

 Extracurricular activities - 
Janet K had been to the Rachel Whiteread exhibition -
her sketch there (left) got reworked at home, with colour

Some shapely-tree-noticing on the walk towards Hampstead afterwards

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 09, 2017 08:53 PM

November 08, 2017

Neki Rivera


exasperatingly slow,everything is. the new windows update, the linen mess on the loom-velma you're getting more than what i offered if i can swing by the post office soon-the computer, the setting up for taking photos and i could go on.
in the meantime projects keep piling on desks and tables.
the lights set up took forever and photos had to be postponed until maybe tomorrow if i'm lucky.
this blog is suffering from serious neglect and i feel frazzled, just hoping and wishing next week will be calmer.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at November 08, 2017 01:07 PM

November 06, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Reading matter

For bedtime, bathtime, relaxonsofa-havealittlenaptime ... and of course for traveltime, but only if the book is small enough and/or light enough.

The first of Donna Leon's Brunetti series was an impulse-choice at the library - set in Venice's opera house, it slipped in as an adjunct to the online opera course I'm trying to keep up with. But the "hidden nugget" that interested me most was about the psychology of using hearing aids:

So much of what we hear, we don't hear with our ears. ... We do a good deal of lipreading, we fill in missing words from the context of the others we do hear. When people wear ... hearing aids, they've finally accepted the idea that something is wrong with their hearing. So all of their other senses begin to work overtime, trying to fill in the missing signals and messages, and because the only thing that's been added is the hearing aid, they believe it's the hearing aid that's helping them, when the only thing that's happened really, is that their other senses are working to their maximum to make up for the ears that can no longer hear as well.

What If?, it says on the cover, contains "serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions" - and is a lot of serious fun. The answers to the questions aren't the point ... it's the swerves through the byways of science that make this an unpredictable journey.

The Museum of Modern Love is a novel centred around Marina Abramovic's performance of sitting very still at a table while members of the public came and sat opposite her. I've been reading it off and on for months, reluctant to come to the end - it's rare to get so much  "art" in a novel.

All Change is the last of the five novels in the Cazalet saga, and here too I'm reluctant to finish, but fortunately Elizabeth Jane Howard has written other books, and an autobiography, Slipstream (2002).

by Margaret Cooter ( at November 06, 2017 11:52 AM

Olga Norris

Snaps from a stroll after frost

Last night brought a hard enough frost to leave the ground white this morning, until the sun rose and shone brightly enough to entice me into the garden.  This year's weather has been peculiar - except that perhaps peculiar is becoming normal; the predictability of un-predictability.  October was warmer than usual, with many plants flowering still - or again.
Behind the beetroot the carnations are flowering in their pot.
The pink geranium blooms look rather too delicate for the cold amongst the stipa gigantia grass.
The rock rose has been full of flowers, but they look rather knocked by the overnight chill. 
The winter jasmine is flowering as expected, but has the companionship of the red blooms of the Dortmund rose, not yet gone to sleep.  But some plants are doing their thing for Autumn as usual,
such as the sedum,
the Scots thistle providing seeds for the little birds,
the mahonia developing the buds of yellow flowers which will fill the area with delicious scent over Winter, while changing its leaf colour to stunning red here and there.
The berberis berries are such an intense bright lipstick red amongst the few remaining red leaves.  The mass of arching branches makes a delightful screen in the strong bright sunshine.  (I can see it from the other side now when I'm in my sewing room behind those now opened blinds.)
And one indicator that it is not yet Christmas is the holly still covered in berries. 
The blackbirds and thrushes generally strip it just before Christmas Eve when I cut the greenery to decorate the house!  However, this year quite a few berries have fallen to the ground.  I hope that the birds are not going to miss out.

by Olga Norris ( at November 06, 2017 11:20 AM

November 05, 2017

Olga Norris

More than just a good read

Albert Bartholome: The Artist's Wife Reading (image from here)
In 1967 I was at university, and one of my courses covered French literature.  As relaxation from the heavier literature and philosophy I used to enjoy reading Simenon's Maigret stories.  I loved the plots, the settings, the descriptions, and most of all the characters - their ordinary and extraordinary lives.
That same year a baby was born whose books in the same vein I now enjoy:  I read The Accident on the A35 by Graeme Macrae Burnet yesterday and finished it this morning.  I immediately felt torn from the characters and the atmosphere he so brilliantly creates.  The crimes are the incidents around which ripples touch lives and knock them off course - a little, or a lot.  It is the characters we are interested in.  The crimes are interesting, but perhaps most because they are the glass through which we view the players. It is not the extraordinary which is the focus; Burnet makes the quotidian compelling.
I also very much enjoy the setting - in Alsace, in France but almost on the border with Germany and Switzerland - it feels like a small town that lives independent of worldly fashion, where everyone knows everything and nothing about everyone.  I so enjoyed this book that I have been unable simply to move on to another, and chose instead to distract myself from my sinus headaches by watching the tennis in Paris and pottering through blogs - all the time turning over thoughts about aspects of the novel.
I shall have to exert patience until the hinted-at next volume is published.

by Olga Norris ( at November 05, 2017 07:11 PM