Textiles & Prints

How to avoid the Uffizi queues

Posted by on Jan 2, 2019 in Discussion, News | 0 comments

In spite of reading all about The Uffizi queues and considering booking online before I left the UK – I decided that it would be better to wait until we arrived before doing so. After all we were here for a longer break – and I thought I would have space to book ahead.  This was a big mistake – once we were here there were no spaces for pre-booking until several days after we had left, even though we had 4-5 days notice. Still, we thought, we can get up early and go. We arrived at the Uffizi at 8am for an 815 opening and there was already a long queue snaking across the courtyard and into the corridor under the gallery on the opposite side of the square.  Then we thought it might move fast – it did not. At first we were fooled as the queue moved quite quickly – then it stopped tantalisingly close to the entrance for about one hour.  It seems there is an absolute limit to the numbers allowed in at any one time and of course, those with timed bookings or in groups (some of which may be 50 people or more) take priority. We actually got in at 1045 by which time we were very cold, and exhausted. We rushed straight for the canteen (on the top floor) and enjoyed the view with coffees and light snacks. Not cheap but fantastically reviving and we could sit there as long as we liked.  After that we had the marvels of the museum to enjoy. It was worth the wait – the Botticellis alone are worth the entrance fee and the long wait. They are simply stunning particularly, of course, ‘The Birth of Venus,’ and ‘Primavera.’  More tomorrow.  As this was primarily to warn people about the queues (so you do not make the same mistake as we did) – here is what we have learned.  BOOK AHEAD, BOOK AHEAD, BOOK AHEAD 1- book before you leave home at the Uffizi gallery site – it is not the first site that comes up, others are tour companies.  2 – if you can’t or don’t book ahead,  go the queue on the day where you can book ahead (we did not find this but were told it later, probably door 3) e.g. go there at 08.30 and book for 11.30 (there will be a 4 euro booking fee but that is nothing). 3 – you could consider a tour – these are expensive but you do get in earlier than the queue-on-the-day crowd.  4 – take some refreshments if you are going to queue on the day – it will be a long wait – you won’t be able to take anything left  into the museum but you will have plenty of time to finish whatever you have.  5 – in the summer have some sun protection Have a wonderful time once you are inside – remember to look out the windows of the gallery – there are lovely views up and down the river and of the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio. ...

read more

Textiles and prints inspired by Florence

Posted by on Jan 1, 2019 in Discussion | 0 comments

Happy New Year from beautiful,  renewing Florence We have visited Florence for the New Year. It took one or two days to get adjusted and to really begin to feel at home. Walking in the narrow space between the high buildings feels enclosed and even though it is cold and clear and between Christmas and New Year it is still crowded. So crowded that we could not book for The Uffizi on-line at all until after we had left. We will have to get up early to go and risk the queue. The crowds are good-natured and there is room to breathe; most are Italians and I’m sure relieved to have a bit more of their city back over the New Year.    Father Bernardo, of the Benedictines, was talking to a sizeable crowd outside San Miniato al Monte today. This is the gem-like church visible from the heart of Florence on the hill opposite Santa Croce. His presentation was advertised as a chance to hear about the  church and was clearly aimed at locals. He spoke for at least an hour (we did not say throughout) – very animated, telling jokes, using extravagant hand gestures. It clearly hit the mark as the crowd stayed engaged – clapping and laughing and responding to the music of his voice.  We have seen some wonderful places – the Brancacci Chapel dominated by the wonderful frescoes of Masaccio, Masolino and Fr Filippo Lippi.  I had no idea that Masaccio had died aged only 27 years during a trip to Rome. Sadly some of his work was destroyed during renovations in earlier centuries and a tomb obscures some of the frescoes. It is hard to understand how such vibrant, powerful images could ever be ‘out of fashion’ and so disposable.  There was a Sunday market in the Piazza Santo Spirito a few streets away where you could buy beautifully bound books, bronze animals, door knockers, door stops all forged by the stall holder. Then time for a lovely meal at Osteria Santo Spirito.  They serve ‘reduced portions’ of many of their dishes and that is plenty. ...

read more

Textiles at the Oceania Exhibition – Royal academy

Posted by on Oct 14, 2018 in Clients, Discussion | 0 comments

  The Oceania exhibition brings together the greatest collection of art from the island cultures dotted across the Pacific Ocean, Micronesia, Polynesia and  Melanesia. The Pacific occupies a huge area,  over a third of the earth’s surface. It includes Hawaii, New Zealand and New Guinea. The exhibition is hugely affecting with strong, graphic statues and carvings – their influence on Western 20th century artists like Picasso and Henry Moore are clear to see.  Most of the artworks were traded rather than stolen stemming from a culture of gift giving amongst the Pacific peoples who would give to visitors they wished to continue to trade with. The fantastic artistry and craft skills of some of the gifts – like barkcloth – were not fully appreciated by some recipients like Captain Cook.  Barkcloth (or tapa cloth) is made by hammering wet bark on an anvil repeatedly until it forms very thin sheets – it is often mistaken for paper and (apparently) has a soft, pliant feel. In the Pacific the bark used comes from the breadfruit or mulberry tree. The cloth is then decorated by being dyed in intricate geometric patterns. In the Oceania exhibition the pieces displayed reminded me of patchwork quilts. Originally they were used as wall hangings and were part of the important  ceremonies around births, deaths and marriages.   The barkcloth is simply stunning – although (of course) you cannot touch it you sense that it is soft and pliable, delicate yet strong. I’m going back to the exhibition and will take a better picture next time....

read more

Textiles – the dangers to us all of textile misuse

Posted by on Oct 8, 2018 in Discussion | 0 comments

Textiles – the dangers to us all of textile misuse

Fewer clothes and re-use and repair Good to see Stacey Dooley’s  reminder of how much damage to the planet we are doing in our failure to use textiles responsibly. She also demonstrates the problems that making lovely, fresh cotton does to the planet. I don’t know about you but I always thought of cotton as an organic, natural product. Of course it is a plant but it takes so much water and so many toxic chemicals to process cotton that we cannot go on as we are.  We need to go back to making quilts from the original components – scraps and remnants of clothes or reusing good areas of partly worn clothes, instead of generating new cotton that we then cut up to make new pieces of material.  There are manufacturers – like Patagonia – which make a huge effort to manufacture responsibly. Of course their clothes are more expensive but they do last longer so requiring less use of raw materials and environmentally sustainable.  This was the original aim of OLSA to use textiles more sustainably and we’re about to revamp our website to show more of our use of material that would otherwise go to landfill. Perfectly good material that would otherwise go to landfill. ...

read more

Textiles and Prints Sicily @ the Exchange Gallery

Posted by on Jul 22, 2018 in Discussion, Exhibitions | 0 comments

The most persistent memory of our journey through Sicily is of the wild flowers – particularly the swathe of purple, blue and deep red of wild sweet peas that astonished us in the countryside near Gangi.    Another memory is the consistent hum of bees when we walked through fields or areas of vegetation on the hills. This is a  noise I have not heard in the UK for a long time, it brought back memories of childhood and feelings of regret for what we have lost, at least for the time being.   We essentially walked downhill from the centre to the sea but there were ups and downs on the way as we made our way over one of Sicily’s  ski-slopes (Piano Battaglia) and then over some expanses of rock.  The descent into Cefalu was beautiful – intermittently seeing the deep blue of sea in the distance, then some small boats, then a jet ski-er. As we got nearer there were more and more flowers again. We had a long walk along the front to get to our hotel – all the time we could see the cathedral towering above the town.  The highlight of Cefalu for us was the Duomo – a magnificent Norman building – built by King Norman II in 1131. It is set in a wonderful sloping square, which is filled with cafes and restaurants. The evenings were balmy and perfect for an evening glass of wine in front of the amazing building. It has the most wonderful Byzantine mosaic (we could only see the reproduction as it was being restored) of Christ which dominates an otherwise sparsely decorated building. There are many ancient lanes and a wide promenade stretches alongside the length of the sandy beach. The sea is safe for swimming, although rocky in parts and clearly draws Sicilians from a wide area on hot days.  It was a restorative place in which to rest after the walk.    ...

read more

Textiles and Prints: Exchange Gallery

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Exhibitions | 0 comments

Very pleased to be at The Exchange Gallery Saffron Walden again – exciting to have so many comments in the book from different people relating  to different aspects of the work on show.  The work below is mostly made of wood with textile and metal flowers, giant and disproportionate – conjured up by the mysterious forests of the Parco  Delle Madonie.  The exhibition was inspired by a ‘Journey though Sicily – from the Centre to the Sea,’ which I did with my husband in 2017, guided by the superb Alternative Travel Group (ATG). We started in the Parco Delle Madonie, full of wild flowers, amazing rock formations and wildlife and walked downhill, in leisurely fashion,  to the delightful seaside town of Cefalu on the coast.  We fell in love with this country of wonderfully friendly people who  have a rich culture influenced by Europe, Asia and Africa.  I used a number of techniques new to me to produce the prints. One I particularly liked was viscosity printing.   In this a printing plate is constructed in a similar way to a collagraph i.e. a number of  materials of different textures are glued to mountboard and then varnished,  to produce a three dimensional effect when inked up and put through a press.   Lots of materials can be applied to the plate and it’s fun being able to use packaging and odd bits of detritus from everyday life. The old fashioned textured wallpaper, plain white, can provide very interesting printing surfaces.  Fine sandpaper is good too, and the strong, plastic net that is sometimes put round bottles. The board can also be cut and scraped, leaves, tape or fabric applied. It is good to get at least three different layers in viscosity printing to get a variety of tonal effects with both intaglio and relief methods of printing.  The inks are of different viscosities and so do not layer over each other but rather repel so that different colours are possible in different areas.    This print of some of the historic buildings in Cefalu – particularly the fine Norman Duomo, is made from different sorts of wallpaper, cardboard packaging, sandpaper and cutting into the board.  More about Cefalu tomorrow – it is a beautiful place to visit. ...

read more