Wednesday, January 30, 2008

lift and separate

I spent some happy hours on Saturday lifting and separating.

This has nothing to do with cross-your-heart bra's, or any other kind of foundation garment. I don't have the sort of dimensions which require any such cantileverage.

But on a day of clear blue skies and surprisingly warm sun I wandered out into the garden and found myself managing to forget about the worky workwork waiting inside.

I weeded and cut back and discovered a few spring-like shoots and moved around slabs of slate and peered from a distance at the domestic tunnels in the compost bin and found a couple of furtive little frogs under a brick and moved a rose and lifted and separated perennials.

and was happy happy for a few hours.

My approach to gardening tends towards the permissive and disorderly.
Randomness and a little bit of careful tending. But not too much of the latter.

Which made me think of this photo I took about a week ago in the park around the corner.

I couldn't really quite make out what they were trying to do, it looked like hoovering but I think they were just trying to blow the leaves into neater piles.

Which raises a number of questions, not least of which is the question "Why?"

and piles of leaves and landscapes and care and randomness lead rather nicely into Part IV of the V&A Exhibition I recently went to, a work called 'Topographies' by Anne Wilson.

topographies which consisted of various kinds of textile assembled dropped arranged constructed scattered onto a blank white surface...

This was an artwork which combined the (seemingly) random and hasty with the meticulously constructed - into a fabulous and fascinating environment of intricate detail and careful complexity, white negative space and inbetweenness.

There was also a great video of animated threads and pins dancing and weaving themselves into patterns mimicking those which were pinned to the board like frozen space spiders and miniature forests.

"In my art work the concept and content direct the use of material and process. I move from weaving to sound, to glass, to video and collaborative practices very liberally, rather than being defined by a specific way of making. More constant is my interest in material histories and issues that come out of the everyday as they relate to our human condition." Anne Wilson

There was something very Victorian and lavish about some of these lacy heaps but it was also very contemporary and minimal.

Just as I used to lie in bed as a child and imagine walking around upside down on the ceiling, I could imagine my miniature self picking a journey through, into and around this fantasy landscape.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

V & A Part III

Naomi Filmer's piece, 'Ball Lenses" - i regret not getting a photo which shows all of this piece, which encloses casts of parts of the body in glass spheres. There were a couple more globes at the bottom containing bits of heel and toes.

In this piece, and in photos and video, she presents the ordinary for attention in a new way.

"The work I have made focuses on ordinary parts of the body that we never really celebrate, but actually there is nothing ordinary about them at all, they are unique to every individual. By isolating them, and making a spectacle out of them, they are made extraordinary." Naomi Filmer.

This piece really reminded me of the post I wrote about words, and about Suzette Elgin's book Native Tongue. In this book the power of language is explained like this:

"consider this, please: to make something 'appear' is called magic, is it not? Well ... when you look at another person, what do you see? Two arms, two legs, a face, an assortment of parts. Am I right? Now, there is a continuous surface of the body, a space that begins with the inside flesh of the fingers and continues over the palm of the hand and up the inner side of the arm to the bend of the elbow. Everyone has that surface; in fact, everyone has two of them.

I will name that the 'athad' of the person. Imagine the athad, please. See it clearly in your mind - perceive, here are my own two athads, the left one and the right one. And there are both of your athads, very nice ones.

Where there was no athad before, there will always be one now, because you will perceive the athad of every person you look at, as you perceive their nose and their hair. From now on. And I have made the athad appear ... now it exists.

Magic, you perceive, is not something mysterious, not something for witches and sorcerors ... magic is quite ordinary and simple. It is simply language.

And I look at you now, and I can say, as I could not say three minutes ago - 'What lovely athads you have, grandmother!' "

S. Elgin, Native Tongue, The Women's Press 1985, p.242.

I can't honestly claim that I have gone around noticing athads since I read this book, but I do think she is making a valid point about the naming and making visible of realities which have been unnoticed and invisible - and it casts another beguiling light for me on Filmer's work.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

V & A Part II

Its hard to imagine more of a contrast with Annie Cattrell's work in the V&A exhibition - all that pale whiteness and light- and then a room of red. And red is such an outrageous and dangerous colour in Western culture, but the colour of luck in the artist's.

Lu Shengzhong's stunning installation uses hand-cut paper figures, carefully arranged in vistas and landscapes, swathes, crowds - like screens or walls, with the blocks of negative cut-outs also part of the installation.

"I use paper to cut this little red figure to demonstrate he delicate fragility of human beings. Ephemeral. A human's life is shorter than a paper's thickness. The material is not important. What is more important is the process you use to create that material. This is more valuable to me." Lu Shengzhong.

Now for ex-shammickite (and anyone else) who wants to know how to do this hidden comments trick - i've not been able to put the codes here or in comments because blogger treats it as code to be implemented (doh!)
but if you go to view page source on your browser, you can see the code for my page.

You'll see a style type code in my template, near the top before the code for my header - you need to cut and paste that into your own template. The code begins with style type (in < > brackets) and ends with the /style.

Then when you write a post, put:

* acronym title="your hidden comment" right before the word being commented on
* the word being commented on, inside > <
* then /acronym

but all of the above inside < >

Looking at my page source code again you should be able to see how i've done this here

sorry, rather a laborious explanation i hope it makes sense and works

and this (unrelatedly) is for Ched whose recently posted perfume monkey must, i think, be related to this elderly monkey which was my father's. And, being a glove-puppet, he might very well hide a perfume bottle....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

V & A Part I

My next few posts feature pictures from an exhibition (oooh reminds me of some music) at the good old V & A.

Firstly, 'Conditions' by Annie Cattrell

glass blocks etched (?) on the inside (how on earth did she do it? there were no marks on the external surfaces).

like space, breath, mist, wind, clouds, rain, tears, dreams -

"I choose the familiar, for example a cloud, so whatever language you speak there is a kind of universal understanding. It is the transformation and freezing into three-dimensions of this iconographic subject matter that interests me: what happens when you contemplate something you think you know but shouldn't really be seeing this way. This three-dimensional vantage point allows the viewer to examine the subtle shifts and rhythms which ceaselessly occur in the natural world and within the body." Annie Cattrell

full of light
these were exquisite
i could have sat and looked at them all day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

'M' for MarigoldMouse

We bought as a Christmas gift (for my sister), and played on New years eve, a highly entertaining game called Rummage.

Its notionally a board game with dice, and progress around the board depending on various cards, random factors, and ability to think of items in a category beginning with a certain letter. E.g. Animals beginning with 'M' : mouse.

What makes it all worthwhile is the 'Rummage'. At certain points in the game you/your team are sent - at speed - to a particular room in the house to rummage for an item - any item - beginning with a certain letter. E.g. anything beginning with the letter 'M'.

Speed is necessary because taking too long might mean you miss a turn. At times, you might also be racing to beat another team.

I can't begin to describe what riotously good entertainment this was.
I wish I had thought to take some photos of the selection of objects we accumulated in the lounge during game-play. I was just having too much fun.

Its a bit of a blur, but i know one of the items I was particularly pleased with was a very appealing cast-aluminium (or similar) duck. Found - as you'd expect of course - in the dining room.

Marigold's hutch was not one of the designated rooms. It wouldn't have been fair to her, she is easily shocked, and it doesn't really contain much of interest. Straw, hay, carrots, corn..... poo... glowinthedark stars ... just the usual pet stuff.

However we have recently discovered that she has tenants. Little furry animals beginning with 'M'.

We know they have made nightly forays through our kitchen - evidence of nibbling in the vegetable rack, one or two sightings and squeakings though, as yet, no poo. Imagine our delight to find some of them in her hutch. I'm very happy at the thought of poor lonely Marigold having some little warm furry company and I like to think of them snuggling up at night.

If this seems unlikely, please don't tell me so.

I have suspected for some time that we also have small furry tenants living in the compost bin. The bin's content are being mixed and redistributed in a way which is beneficial for the composting process, but without human agency. (I'm assuming its not the neighbours popping over the fence to turn our compost....)
Last time I trekked down the soggy wintry garden to empty the mini kitchen compost bin into the larger garden container, I found further evidence of this mixing and turning and, in addition to that, a little round hole in the compost - which looked distinctly like a front door. Not only that, but when I tapped the kitchen bin against the garden bin to empty it, there was a most definate whiskery scurrying sound.

I'm assuming its rodents of the little actuallyrathersweet variety, rather than anything larger and more worrying.

If this seems unlikely, please don't tell me so.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Thank the fates that they are both out of the house for a while.
Alone me me me time.

Sitting in bed trying to wake up and come to terms with the dawn of another day against (sic) a background flurry of early morning sniping.

Its bad enough (only sometimes, not mostly) living with one adolescent, sometimes it feels as if i am living with two.

She - cross and worried at inability to locate dance kit, but knowing she is responsible for the squalid stew which is her bedroom and where the task of finding anything may become an epic quest.
He - unable to absorb or ignore her tetchiness and resorting to the guaranteedtowindupfurther "why do you always..."

I know too well the risks of reticence and lack of self-expression but - lack of care with words..... sigh.....

Why does he always do that? she said, in an ironical sort of way...
(but only in the privacy of her own head)

And Relax.
Not asking for or needing sympathy, rant over.

Today I fully expect to be a lovely day off, ignoring the piles of work to be done, going to an exhibition with a good friend, i will report back later i expect.

In the meantime, I thought it was about time I posted a picture of our very own household pig - to follow all the guest-starring creatures in my previous post. She's not appeared here for far too long.

Is it the keyboard she is after, or the Jack Daniels?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

communing with animals

Various birds and animals live in the park around the corner

where I've been experimenting with my new rathermorecomplicated camera.

Some of these feathery furry features are very evocative of aspects and elements of my Christmas.





i'm sure theres just a bit of something down here....

red eyes

catering for large numbers


dizzy heads

just checking ....

family gatherings

communal crashing out

communal silliness

keeping extremities warm

at times a bit like this

and also, at times, a bit like this.

see, who needs words?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

blah blah blah... old ... blah blah blah... new....

Old ... rubbish.... out with the ....

and for 2008:

These new year resolutions are tied on the fences of a primary school nearby. A few words are visible, including "stop wor(r)ying", friends, and a few references to stopping bullying.

All of which sound like pretty good aims.

Foodwise, we began the New Year as, no doubt, we will continue, with an inspired menu choice by M., excellently well prepared, beautifully presented and speedily disposed of.

I kept listening out for the arrival of Desperate Dan but sadly he was a no-show.

We did eat a few sprouts too as a gesture towards healthy eating.
...before the treacle tart....

No matter how good or bad the old year was for you, I wish you better by far for the new year.

And to those of you who have tied and held ribbons of resolution on my behalf in the past year, when its so often been beyond me - Thankyou beyond words.