Saturday, 3 December 2016

Lino-cutting the Victorians

Cards and postcards are relatively easy to produce as long as the photographic image is appealing but sometimes you don't want to produce an image that looks directly like a symbol of mourning. But cemeteries can be a wonderful source of original inspiration.
One of my favourite angels is in Tunbridge Wells Cemetery and here she is:

This monument is to Gertrude Mary Engledue, (1868-1952) she was reputed to have been the second wife of Sir Arthur Henderson Fairbairn (1852-1915), the first Deaf and Dumb baronet who resided in Broadwater Down, Tunbridge Wells.

But enough of history, today I took the photograph and turned this celestial being into a lino-cut during another craft work shop with Elizabeth Harbour.

After lots of this , the following emerged

And a while later after intensive concentration

And actually. considering it is my first attempt I am quite happy with the result.

Thank you again Elizabeth and Tunbridge Wells Museum for another inspirational day. 

Elizabeth Harbour :

Tunbridge Wells Museum: Tunbridge Wells Museum

Friends of Tunbridge Wells Cemetery

Saturday, 5 November 2016

One I Made Earlier

               What to do after finishing an MA? The books are not tidied away nor the papers filed. I am awaiting the final confirmed result and feel a little in limbo land. So when in doubt go back to a museum. I am so lucky to have Tunbridge Wells Museum as my local resource. Others may go shopping on a Saturday, I go back to the past. This time not to research but to play, to be inspired and to relax a little.  I was worried I had forgotten how to just be, to have no expectations, no requirement for precision.

         The academic course followed me in my head as I wandered around the museum looking for inspiration. Should the object I chose be Victorian?  If I copy it will it be plagiarism?  Can I even remember how to hold a pencil to draw rather than take notes in the British Library?

I should not have worried, in the expert hands of Elizabeth Harbour the inner child emerged and I chose this horse brass for inspiration. Liking its contained, repetitive pattern, its smallness and solid metallic surface I started to draw.

But as the process continued, I realised just how difficult it is to repeat patterns perfectly and physically I could feel myself relax. The shoulders which had been weighed down with academia began to feel lighter and my drawing began to move outside of the contained space. Perfect hearts wanted to be different from the hearts next to them, they wanted to leave the circle, fly off into their own space, to elongate and kick left and right rather than just tick a box of perfection.

            After tracing , I was let loose with a scalpel and my heart truly began to beat.

Using the plastic film, similar to the type normally used for covering my children's school books, the template emerged.

 Roller-brushed with acrylic paint and then randomly outlined a few hearts with black fabric pen and my tote bags were hung to dry.

                    I saved the hearts cut free from the page and popped them into a saucer.

The others in the class were creating amazing items all inspired by different objects from around the museum, butterflies and birds from the Natural History Section being a particular source of reference. So I carried on playing and scattered my hearts as if they were being blown by the wind, the bold blue a visual representation of strong gusts.

                                          Then love in a dark place:

                                          A great way to spend a Saturday.

                                               Thank you to :

Elizabeth Harbour :

Tunbridge Wells Museum:

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Notes from the Archive: Post 4 and a half

Yes, a massive image. Because that is how large this whole experience has been for me. I did write another blog post, but it in the end that stays on the back burner or rather it has been inserted into the MA conclusion because it came from the heart. Although it might be edited or even edited out, it needs to sit awhile amongst academic reasoning although it is a personal response.

This has been the hardest two years of my life. However, I would not have swapped it for a comfortable existence. I count my blessings and my library tickets. My access to the British Library, Senate House and Birkbeck, JStor and on-line Victorian periodicals. I love my new friends who are as mad as I am, who adore Victorian cemeteries, smelly books and highlighting the printed page. I've enjoyed the meeting of minds, the feeling out of my depth and the new literature written before I was born. It has been a self-education from which I am yet to graduate.

That self-sabotage voice says 'give-up', but I don't want to. I have a duty to finish what I have started, if only for myself and to tell a little story from the past.  

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Notes from the Archive : Part Three

                                This image has nothing to do with the archive, directly.
                                      It is from a place I visit when I need to think.

When I have had enough of this.

And am feeling rather like this.

                                           Today, the archive moved to London.
                                I entered through this enormous black heavy door.

                            Armed with with my appointment details and identification.

                                      Plus, the obligatory pencil and sharpener.
                                        I can't abide writing with a blunt instrument.

                    Whilst I turned pages and stared at microfiche film, my eyes feeling sore;

I realised this portal to times past is where I am happiest.
The archive, with its silent words, speaks to me with such a clarity that I feel at home. 

                     The world carries on, outside, building auditoriums to modernism.

Watched by the Triton by William McMillan.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Notes from the Archive : Part Two

 'If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.' 

 Lewis Carroll 

                                               Not what you expected to see?
                                                            I didn't either.

 But, I realized when I walked into my garden, that I had missed the apple blossom.
I wondered what else I had missed.

                    The days out exploring, the nights in watching rubbish on the TV.
                     It isn't just the changing seasons that seem to have passed me by .

                    So, from now on, in between the studying and the procrastination,
                                   I am endeavouring to walk outside.

It might be considered a form of deviation from the end goal.
I call it, thinking time around the archives.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Notes from the Archive

So here I am again. After a long time away from my blog I felt the need to return to these pages.
I am now writing my dissertation for my MA in Victorian Studies.
Frankly I feel a little rusty.

I have missed my morning pages, my scribbles and my writing classes with the wonderful Sarah  Salway. 

I can't even really say exactly what I am writing about for fear of plagiarising myself.
But the visuals are a clue, of time and place.
But not of gender or artefact.

I have discovered that I love archives, old papers, illegible handwriting and the smell of lives lived.This is the view from my archive chair. Although I do choose a different aspect each time I visit.

Today, was particularly beautiful.
After the couple of hours spent with my head in books, I decided to shake it all off.

I walked amongst rhododendrons fragrant with azaleas heady scent.  

 Finding this hidden pond reminded me of Monet's Water Lilies. It may be slightly out of focus but that resembles my research at the moment, it's all just an impression and I am looking for clarity. The writing must be academic so for now the blog page will continue with that other writing tool of mine - my eyes. In the future, if the commas and semi-colons are all in the right place then I might be able to share what has occupied me for months but until then I will occasionally post from the research field with visual reminders of a place once home to a family who were very innovative.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas at the Cemetery

3 breaks, the wine glass after the hot wash, the champagne glass hit by the cracker contents and then the glass plate destroyed in the microwave.

A visit to the cemetery and my dress caught on the angel wings on my mother's grave and now I have a hole in my black dress. It was as I was walking away, she wanted me to stay and tell her more. So I gardened in the rain. I raked weeds and pulled roots, the candle burned on.

And what am I reminded of as I light candles and leave roses?
I didn't tell her all the news:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.