Christmas was a bit of a washout for us this year. Not only was my beloved youngest daughter not nearby, but our Christmas gifts going in both directions failed to arrive in time. While some have not yet arrived; one failed to leave our shores for some unknown reason. I have for a while felt a little aggrieved.
However, this week several weeks late, a Christmas card, dated 8th December 2014, from Brazil, with lots of good wishes did drop through our letter box.
It did not fail to delight, especially as it did mean I could start my yearly ritual. I have cork boards dotted through the house. They are emptied on old years day and filled thereafter with ephemera and trinkets by way of memory, aide memoire and celebration.
So with this new addition the old year and its regrets have gone … let the new year begin.
In the absence of a workshop or art class today I celebrate the opportunity to clean my house. Why do I not feel the joy of this?
Nonetheless, the dusters await.
By way of consolation, I bring the result of last weeks workshop. I attend a class where we attempted to make a bird in the style of Mark Hearld … here is my Lesser spotted, tufted, pied bird thingy!
Since the Collections Project in the library is all but finished, the delights in finding a little or big gems hiding in the shelves has gone. However, there are little pockets of opportunities, so me and another colleague remain hopeful and have an eye out at all times. There has been an element of competition between us and this week my friend found a Yellow Back, to the untrained eye, it is a shabby and insignificant little thing, but a gem just the same. Yellow Backs as they are called now, were never meant to be kept among the fine tomes usually found in Special Collections or Libraries. They were in the late 19th century, novels, poorly bound bought in railway stations at the beginning of a journey and discarded at the end when read. So at the end of their publication and their destruction they became rare and collectable. Not priceless perhaps, but a delight for me when the opportunities to find others are rare!
James Joyce ( 1882 – 1941) poet and novelist,we understand was known to have developed the style called the stream of consciousness. In his novel Ulysses, the jumble of thoughts and recollections of his characters unfolded best while he was walking. He saw the long distance walk as an easy way to find a narrative continuity. Joyce managed to write one of the greatest novels of the 20th century about a pudgy advertising salesman trudging the streets of Dublin.
Yesterday, I was very busy in Special Collections; I was unable to do my usual research (or not) into Wednesday’s woman wood engraver. Having come to the end of a project I was moving books in the the library; but I was not too busy to browse awhile when one item took my eye. I am a printmaker and trying to ‘improve’ my methods, so , for the next couple of months I have some workshops planned. One with Nick Morley at Hello Printing Press and another here in Reading Museum with Cath Baldwin; where I hoping to develop my lino cutting skills. So I am always on the look out for inspiration last week it was Mark Hearld. This time it was Edward Bawden who took my eye! It seems he always found time for lino-cuts . He used this most humble way of printmaking for more than 50 years. He has used it for making repeating patterns, for wallpapers, posters, book decorations and for collages. He used to cut and print little bits of lino as a student, printing them in repeating patterns as neckties or decorative papers; he used his feet to press out the pattern. the story went on and I returned the book to its shelf!
A look of serenity cannot be captured ; truly. It is a feeling and often so fleeting that it is not reflected in the body at all.
However; I not wanting to not participate have a story instead. My daughter and I are separated by the Atlantic Ocean; a furious monster that brings us grief and despair. However, by the same token from generous waves we get joy and comfort.
Often though, we both forget the place somewhere in between those crazy climes, a place of serenity and calm not noticed in the upsy downsy of life. This snapshot taken on the beach near my daughter’s home in Rio, sort of represents that place … looking out to Europe and home and me looking back and for a moment only a heartbeat away