Friday, 25 May 2018

Holiday time! first in ages

It has been an extended time since the last time I put fingers to keyboard and wrote some words down.
Lots happened, as it does but I’m going to ignore all that and just concentrate on this holiday.

Lots of prep before hand, and thanks to my sister who has been a star! The rest of the family too but especially her.

Hired a wee van because car journeys are not the same, I needed to feel the freedom of being able to stop when I wanted and sleep. So….
Picked it up, got shown all the non scratches, all good, pointed out a couple of things and then got hit with the, about £1100 if there is an accident, but of course you can just pay twice the original hire price and that covers you against problems… Ach! am really fed-up with this world and its insurances against everything which is just another way of the company making loads of money.

Anyway, paid £50 extra and the windscreen and tyres are covered… the words ‘Rip Off’ jump to the front of my brain.

Nice wee van tho’.

All packed, bed out – thanks Mum for the perfect foam – wee rug and all in place.

Finished off work, tidied, ready for the workshop on Sunday, paperwork done and Westfest items complete apart from holes for cable ties. All in all, feeling good, knackered but good.

Set off!!!

Beautiful run down the road, past Glasgow, Carlisle and to Penrith. Sun out, gorgeous colours, radio on, with some great Bluegrass – some awful Radio 1 at one point too – and feeling mightily content then drove past a deer grazing by the side of the road, didn’t seem to have a care in the world.

Heading over the A66 and it got misty which made seeing really difficult due to the crap or non-existent screen wash in the van which left insect smear over my whole view. Luckily I had some with me so after a comfort break at Scotch Corner the screen was clean!

Amazing, the difference being able to see. The amount of traffic had dropped considerably down to mostly trucks and a few cars, much better.
Eventually got to Woolley Edge, to West Bretton and Sycamore Lane (previously researched as near to Yorkshire Sculpture Park – but no car parking fee).

Quite woolly headed by this time but no sleep yet.
A young Kurdish man tried to ask me for something… really don’t know what… the words, house, police, phone were all I really got but he didn’t seem anxious or dangerous for that matter. He was directing down the lane, saying house, phone problem so I went for a bit then realised that I couldn’t actually do anything and maybe it wasn’t the best to be out at 12.30 at night somewhere I didn’t know following a strange Kurdish man. A difficult scenario because I did want to help.

Van, bed, then my body buzzing with caffeine and energy from the drive. Listening out for ‘just-in-cases’ and feeling the vibrations from the vehicles passing nearby.

Woke at 5.30 then straight back to sleep…

25 May 2018 - further road trip adventures

Wow!!! No waking to footsteps overhead, no hearing swearing and ‘Shut yer Pus!’
No slamming doors. I might be sleeping in a wee van but much preferable at this moment in time for my peace of mind.

Desperate for the toilet and so it was a quick pack up, drive to Wakefield, bringing back a few memory feelings from so long ago (1984) found a café, toilet, then beans on toast with a large cup of tea.

Feeling like I’m on holiday now!

Back to my park-up and readied for the day ahead.

Mistake no. 1 – forgetting to change from trainers to walking boots.
Weather was dullish but ok as I strolled down to the YSP entrance gate, over the cattle grid with an ‘oops’ slide on the wet metal… no pedestrian walk through as I could see.

Over the brow of the hill, looking down onto a pleasant view opening up before me of a lake, well-kept fields and plenty trees, old and new, were enormous bronzed Henry Moore’s. Their place in the landscape affirmed. I can’t think of anywhere else they would fit so well.

So I trotted off down the hillside to have a closer look. The rain was pooling at the bases forming some lovely reflections. I didn’t like them all as Moore is not my favourite sculptor but impressive nonetheless.

A cup of hot coffee was beckoning so after taking a few photos I began my return to the top of the hill. Before heading to YSP I hadn’t done much research on which sculptors were represented and so was very happily surprised to come across a James Turrell piece set into the hill.

 This quiet, contemplative place, ‘Skyspace’ has been built within an 18th Century Grade II listed building – the deer shelter. The descending rain bounced off the floor tunefully, with the seating arranged in such a manner that leaning back allowed great comfort and directed your gaze towards the open roof. Delicate lighting is apparent around the top of the seating and I could have sat there for hours.


Along came a hoard of schoolchildren and completely erased any hope of my peace.
I hope their tutors made them sit in silence to appreciate a little of the atmosphere that could be found there.

A browse in the shop, found a beautiful wooden bee and then coffee upstairs looking out onto the grounds.

As the café began to fill up and the noise level rose, I left.

 Out the other side of the building was an exhibition by Guissepe Penone.
I’ve seen his work dotted around the internet but never expected to see it first hand. Absolutely gorgeous artwork!
This was in the Underground Gallery as well as outside.

My favourite was of course, the stone piece.
The fine carving makes thhe tree look like it's been cast from a real tree.  Absolutely beautiful!

In another building was displayed an exhibition by 'Common Ground' – the Dorset bases arts and environmental charity, including an interview with Andy Goldsworthy, taken quite a few years ago.

After leaving the buildings I debated on whether to carry on as by this time, my trousers were soaked, the water wicking up from the wet grass and (see mistake 1) my shoes were very wet.
Conclusion: can’t get much wetter.

Numerous figures by Elizabeth Frink were situated following the pathway towards the lower level, with the mosaic-ed Buddha standing out colourfully next to all the bronze sculptures.

 On the right, in the distance, I spied walking video characters on a screen looking like a doorway behind which was a regiment of bronze humanoid forms. 

Towards the left was Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals – Zodiac Heads.

I headed on down towards the lake in front of which geese were congregating on the grass eating and leaving numerous droppings to dodge.

The Goldsworthy pieces were on the other side of the lake but these will have to wait for another day as I am now too wet and slightly dispirited with the weather.

I returned to the van with thought of dry warm clothing and shoes on my thoughts.

Even though the rain made some of the day not the best, I wouldn’t have missed this place and in some ways I can still look forward to visiting again – in the sun.

The M1 was busy, wet and misty but thanks to a great DAB radio in the van I had musical company which made the miles go by a little easier.
A few stops for the usual comfort breaks and to get away from the tortuous amount of vehicles traveling so close to each other that the on off reds of their brake lights began to hurt my head.

Radio 2 traffic news warned of severe delays on the M5 south so I detoured by Stroud, Bath (oops, got a little lost around Bristol) and the A39 towards to A303 and roads that are still so familiar.
A stop off at Gloucester services warranted a quick snapshot of one of their wares – a smallish log (approx. 25-30 cm high and maybe 15cm diameter) with a cross cut deep into it with a chainsaw selling for £6.49 a pop!!!   Rip-off and gullible spring to mind.

The last portion of the journey was spent trying to cover as much ground as possible in the shortest, safest time.

Eventually!! Pulled in to Bradleigh and stop.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Fife Coastal Trail

Anstruther to Crail.
My second walk, another short walk as I always seem to have somewhere else to be, something I want to change.

The day wasn't so sunny but it was a much needed break away from the rest of my life. The forms, colour and movement inherent in the coastline and the rocks was utterly beautiful. Yes, I am realising that I'm becoming a bit of a nerd to do with rocks and stone.

Images say it all, so...

out to sea

And now a few of my favourite images... rocks!

Difficult to believe that this is naturally made, but I love it.

These colours are completely free from manipulation.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Last Week - No. 10

It has arrived... the last day of the stone carving and I feel a little sad, but so very proud of all the students. Their commitment and hard work has really paid off.
The finishing stages and I get to go around picking out all those wee bits that make all the difference to the piece.

The finishing touches of a project can take almost longer than the main bulk of stone removal but we didn't have the time.
I did a little smoothing off the flat plains for a few people, just to move it along so they could get to the best bits.

Here they are:

Jim's piece
Mike's piece
Monica's piece

Mary's piece

Alice's piece
Alice's piece

This piece is a two sided sculpture, the owl and the tree are on the same stone.

Angela's piece
Angela's piece

Another two sided sculpture, Laurel and Hardy.

Mike's boar

Mike's tree of life

Rhia's wave form

Rhia's clam shell

The reason all this was possible is because of RIG Arts, and their Broomhill Project, community arts and heritage in Greenock.
Here is a link to their website with the final stone carving workshop post.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Penultimate week - No. 9

Another new student today. Running out of stone of a usable size as I haven't had time to split anymore or, in fact, move any. The sizes left are very large. Luckily there was a smallish piece that had been knocked off Rhia's block.

Meet Daniel, he just came for the 1st session but quick to learn.

Daniel beginning
Daniel concentrating

A full class today so I didn't get much time for my own piece of sculpture, although I got to do a little helping out here and there.

the boar

Mike finished his boar and I must say it's looking fabulous.
(I was pulled up for not being effusive with my compliments. Old habits die hard. I tend to use tone of voice rather than describing words to show my admiration - for the rest of the lesson I tried lots of different words)

Jim's new face
The new face

I'm really impressed with everyone and how they've learnt - I hardly ever have to correct tool usage.
So here are the hands at work....




Daniel was happy with his final piece, a take on ancient cave paintings. He had great control of the tools.

All in all a very lovely days teaching. Well done everyone.