Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Hippy Hippy Shake

Remember that song... The Hippy Hippy Shake?
As a teenager I remember the song being a huge hit by The Swinging Blue Jeans in England in 1963, but apparently was performed by many other artists.... the Beatles, Little Tony, Chan Romero, Mud, Billy Childish, Davy Jones, Jesse and the Rippers, The Georgia Satellites, most of whom I've never heard of.

I've got my own version of the Hippy Hippy Shake.... here. Six months in and everything's looking good.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Fun with Clay

Every Monday morning I join a group of arty-farty people in the back room of the local  Art Gallery and we talk about ART (and gossip a bit too!), we do ART, we create ART, we make ART.... and most of all, we have fun. I love being part of this group.
One of our number is a potter, and has been bringing clay and his expertise to the group. Last week we had a lesson on how to make a pinch pot. Our creations are drying right now, and will be fired next week. Sadly, I didn't take any "before" pictures, but I'll make sure I take some "after" shots.
This week we covered a slab of black clay with slip, and inscribed a picture on the slip. When these are fired, the slip will show as white with the black clay showing through.
I actually remembered my camera this time.
For some reason I can't turn this photo to "landscape".... but here's my robin, inspired by a Christmas card, and my codfish.
The carvings will stay on these drying racks for a week until the clay is leather hard, and then they can be cleaned up and eventually fired in the kiln.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Some More Chihuly

A few more pictures from the Royal Ontario Museum's Chihuly Exhibit.

Persian Ceiling  This is one of the most popular works. Brightly coloured "persian" shapes are arranged in layers on a ceiling of glass, and lit from above. When Chihuly was asked why he called these shapes "persian" he said he just liked the name. But the Museum removed the quote from it's signage, and to see why, click here.

The whole room glows with colour forming dramatic textured reflections on the walls. Apparently the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto has a ceiling like this in the front entrance, but on a smaller scale. I'll have to check it out when I'm in the neighbourhood. 

The best way to see the colours of the Persian Ceiling is to lie on the strategically provided upholstered cushions. This family was enjoying bathing in a pool of light, pointing out all the tiny details..
Fire Orange Baskets  A depiction of Northwest Coast Indian baskets showing the shapes in the circular woven baskets created by effects of gravity and time.

These glass baskets are the largest ever produced.

Persian Trellis  More of those "persian" shapes. The glass is blown to form herringbone patterns, and each individual piece has a slightly different colour combination, with a teeny weeny stripe of contrasting glass on the rim. I want one!!!!

Perhaps you would like to take home a souvenir of your visit to the Chihuly exhibit? These modest little trinkets were displayed for sale, carefully watched over by a Museum employee,  and in fact one had been purchased just a few minutes before I took this photo. 

Too bad I didn't have any spare change with me, as I quite fancied this lovely bowl of sunshine sitting on my mantlepiece. But I would have had to take it home on the bus..... and it might have been broken....

Sunday, 8 January 2017


Well, one of my 2017 thoughts was to blog more, and, of course, I haven't so far! Total failure. Boo.
However, last week I spent an afternoon at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) in Toronto, to catch the final week of the Chihuly Exhibition.
Dale Chihuly is an American glass sculptor, and his huge colourful creations are considered unique in the field of blown glass.
Is it art? He no longer blows the glass himself. His pieces are created by a team of master glassblowers and assistants under his direction in a huge studio workshop, and he has had exhibitions and large scale installations in many cities around the world, often showing similar forms and shapes. It's definitely an industry of excess.
Not everyone thinks that Chihuly glass belongs in the museum. The Toronto Star definitely agrees.
However, the pieces on display were memorable, full of light and colour and form. I couldn't help myself clicking the camera over and over.
Float Boat

Ikebana Boat

Icicle Chandeliers and Towers. Hundreds of pieces of blown glass are assembled around sturdy steel frameworks, and lit from external sources.  All displayed on a black perspex floor to enhance the reflections.

Laguna Torcello. Stroll around this intricate garden of glass and enjoy the flowers and organic shapes. This installation includes floats, reeds, crystals, and white belugas.
It looks like an underwater scene.

On looking closely, there are sea urchins, octopus, fish, crabs, seashells, seaweed.... on a lagoon island in Venice, one of  the sculptors favourite places.

Sapphire Neon Tumbleweeds 2016.  Featuring large bundles of linear factory made tubes that were heated and bent to curvilinear shapes, these Tumbleweeds resemble plant forms or even diagrams of atoms. 

Jerusalem Cylinders.  Pre-formed glass elements in the shape of sharp edged crystals are fused to cylindrical vessels, evoking the massive stones making up the walls of the Citadel in Jerusalem.

Red Reeds on Logs.  Glass reeds are presented on Ontario birch logs. Some of the reeds are 3 metres long, the glassblowers achieving this by pulling the hot molten glass downwards from a mechanical lift.
Spiked crystal tower of stalactites and stalagmites.
How do you move an installation like this from one city to another? Carefully, that's how.
This exhibition contains thousands of pieces of glass, each one fitted in it's individual cushioned heavy gauge cardboard container, and then loaded onto six 52' transport trucks filled from floor to roof.
More pictures to come.....

Monday, 2 January 2017

Bedtime Reading 2016

There's no better way to relax for an hour or two than sinking into a comfy chair with a cuppa tea and a good book. Or spending 20 minutes reading myself to sleep on a cold winter night.

Our Public Library has started a building expansion adding an extra 16,000 sq.ft. Ground was broken in November, and completion planned in late 2017, so the books are being relocated to a building the other side of town for a while.... quite a task! I'll have to drive a little further each time I need new books.

As usual Canadian authors in BLUE, British authors in RED, American authors in GREEN, Australian and New Zealand authors in PURPLE..

The Rehearsal - Eleanor Catton (very odd book)
Buzz Aldrin - What Happened to You in all the Confusion? - Johan Harstad

Mad River Road - Joy Fielding
Eleanor - Jason Gurley (weird book)
The Grownup - Gillian Flynn

The Illegal - Lawrence Hill
Did You Ever Have a Family - Bill Clegg
Slade House - David Mitchell (great book!)
The Last Runaway - Tracy Chevalier
The Spymistress - Jennifer Chiaverini (did not finish)
The Guest Room - Chris Bohjalian

Circling the Sun - Paula McClain
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands - Chris Bohjalian
Minister without Portfolio - Michael Winter
A Mind of her Own - Diana Lesire Brandmeyer (what an awful book, don't waste your time)

The Light in the Ruins - Chris Bohjalian
The Night Strangers - Chris Bohjalian
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob deZoet - David Mitchell (2nd time reading this book)
The Sandcastle Girls - Chris Bohjalian

The Gathering - Anne Enright (did not finish, too depressing)
The Paris Wife - Paula McClain
At the Edge of the Orchard - Tracy Chevalier
Before You Know Kindness - Chris Bohjalian

The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
Half Blood Blues - Esi Edugyan

The Muse - Jessie Burton
The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

All the Light we Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
The Green Road - Anne Enright
The View from Penthouse B - Elinor Lipman
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things - Bryn Greenwood
Runaway - Alice Munro
The Ladies Man - Elinor Lipman

House Rules - Jodi Picault
Bone and Bread - Saleema Narwaz
Birdie - Tracey Lindberg (did not finish)

The Law of Similars - Chris Bohjalian
Banksy - Will Ellsworth-Jones
Mary Pratt - various contributors
The Blind Astronomer's Daughter - John Pipkin

The Distant Hours - Kate Morton
Left Neglected - Lisa Genova
.....and on the bedside table, ready to start..... A Soldier's Revenge - Matthew Dunn