Almost over…

 

But still got ten tickets left for Brighton Festival events this weekend – 8 for a family outing to BOAT for lunchtime picnic/outdoor Shakespeare – the Tempest this year – and a couple for Medea, Written in Rage. Not at all sure what to expect for this one, but it is apparently ‘different’ and much hyped!

I may already have mentioned how much I appreciate living in Brighton…?!  I came to the University of Sussex from small town Berkshire a zillion years ago and, despite the definite problems in the City (housing, drug-related, traffic and parking…) it is such an open minded, creative, quirky, vibrant and simply beautiful place that we have never left. I am lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time in rural France now, but cutting ties with my City by the Sea is just not going to happen.

What will survive of us is…..colour.

Maybe I’ve just spent too long contemplating my yarns. But as anyone with a serious Stash Beyond Life Expectancy will understand, I can be overcome by the idea that THIS is what I will leave behind – my ‘final blazon’.

So I’ll move on quickly – and the yarns had better be good!

I have finally finished three new batts and have just begun spinning them up. They were inspired by a recent visit to the Picasso 1932 exhibition currently at Tate Modern – but not by the actual Picassos, which I found only mildly interesting. For me, the smaller colour collections did the trick – Matisse, Gerhard Richter and Bridget Riley. The red and black batt (top left) is loosely based on the Mark Rothko Seagram murals – huge, and splendidly displayed in dim light. I eventually produced three versions of this one and with any luck they will all mix and match.  When I’ve finished the spinning I will have to decide whether to make the yarn up myself, or put the skeins (‘slow suspended’ or not ) into my Etsy shop. Or I could just add them to my memorial….

With apologies to Philip Larkin.

Anticipation

Friday night : Brighton gearing up for a sunny weekend!

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The picture below is a shot from one of my windows, about 7.30am. The view has been changed rather dramatically over the last couple of years – first by the famous i360 tower (known locally as Brighton’s giant loo roll holder – at a cost of £46 million!), then by the curious wind farm (£1.3 billion) – you can see this section on the horizon if you zoom in. I am sure it will be a useful resource – but I fear sunrise and sunset on a clear day will never be quite the same…

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And the anticipation? Well, the FESTIVAL of course! Starting at the end of next week. I’ve booked quite a bit. More to come.

Cyanotypes

 

The original blueprints. One of the fun things I get up to in France. It’s more of a photographic process than actual dyeing. You need some scary-sounding chemicals (Potassium Ferricyanide and Ammonium Ferric Citrate) which turn out to be harmless if you are sensible (i.e. you don’t start inhaling or eating the stuff). I treat the fabric then add whatever plant material I have collected – oak and bracken seem to work well. I make a sandwich with an old window pane we had lying around (I’m sure some people would get glass specially cut to size) The fun part is, all this has to be done in the dark. My dining room in France has no proper windows, so it is perfect if you have the place to yourself. If there are children around, though, it’s not so great – the dining room is also a sort of corridor with doors each end and a certain amount of yelling might be necessary to prevent disaster. The last stage is simply to get the glass sandwich outside and leave it to develop in the light – this can be very quick – the French sun has real power! The plant material must be firmly kept in place – it acts as a resist. Then everything is washed and dried.

I used to be concerned that the cushions would fade – they don’t! The examples in the picture were my first attempts (hence the photographs) over five years ago. I wondered about adding cyanoprints to my Etsy shop because they are a bit different, but I’ve decided I’d rather be free to keep experimenting and not have to worry about a professional finish!

Meandering back

With a chance to avoid the motorways this time. The route bleue (N7) and the wine territories have a much greater appeal. It does take a lot longer – but we wandered through dozens of timeless hamlets and past some extraordinary buildings tucked away in la France Profonde. (And yes, the sat. nav. can’t always cope and I did get us just a little bit lost…)
An overnight stay in Chateaudun (a town with medieval buildings that we are always keen to revisit, although we sometimes feel we should explore more adventurously) and an early morning visit to the chateau – perfect, we were the only people in the whole place, apart from a young woman energetically hoovering the ancient stone floor of the Sainte Chapelle – what a job!

I think this is the most northerly of the Loire castles (so the first you get to driving down from Paris) and it seems to be less well known to tourists. Definitely worth a trip though. There is an interesting connection to Joan of Arc. The buildings are from the 12th to the 16th century – and too close up for me to get in a single shot!

There are tapestries and furniture:

Architectural details, linenfold and  – always my favourite – FIREPLACES!

But, as usual, what really caught my eye was the play of light, angles and exciting intersections:

This one gave me a shock – no idea I had taken it, but it is my ghostly shadow sneaking its way in!

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Simple pleasures from the Auvergne

Got to start with the blossom: blackthorn, plum, peach, rosemary – and the tiniest glimpse of the stunning pink quince we won’t actually get to see:

 

Wild orchids, violets and cowslips:

 

Plenty of these little fellows scuttling around:

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The best wood burner ever (came from the Far East!):

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Bitter black coffee in my favourite china…

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And finally can’t resist this picture:IMG_3045Because it is so crazy – it’s the reflection of a tree in a muddy puddle. (Yes, there was a LOT of water around). I am working out how to get those colours together…I feel another dyeing session coming on as soon as I get home – maybe silk and alpaca for that one?