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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. ...

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Textiles and prints: Michael Brennand-Wood.

Posted by on Jan 23, 2018 in News | 0 comments

Textiles and prints: Michael Brennand-Wood.

Michael Brennand-Wood, extraordinary teacher. I’ve been on two courses taught by Michael Brennand-Wood at West Dean College now.  I quickly understood why so many of the group were people who had come on his courses before. Michael is simply a superb teacher as well as a distinguished artist who has lead the development of textile art for many years.  I have worked on a wooden frame (skilfully prepared by the workshop at West Dean) on both courses I have done with Michael. This time we had quite a chunky frame which I remembered to paint before hand. (It’s more difficult once you have attached your textiles). I decorated it with some upholstery trim that probably dates from the 1960s.  I found it at a charity shop some years ago in Honiton, a town once famous for its hand-made lace.  It is an extra joy when something you bought in the hope of using it in the future, eventually finds a useful place. This particular trim (brown with a golden decorative braid) made the wood look like an old-fashioned heavy gold picture frame. Very pleasing.  Ideas I originally wanted to construct an enchanted forest – using some images I had developed on previous drawing days.  These original ideas were  boxes with flowers hanging downwards and painted sides. Michael helped me build a theatre – shaped construction this time. The wooden frame looked like a proscenium arch – and cried out for a back drop. I prepared a forest floor from a piece of wood cut to size in the workshop. The back was constructed of plywood, distressed and coloured by layers of ink and paint. Some visitors looked rather surprised to see all the hammering, drill work, sanding and screw driving being done in a textile workshop! Textiles.  I made flowers out of hammered aluminium sheets petals from material shaped by a stiffening medium. I found the best way of shaping them into flower shapes was to use a mould made of flexible thin sheets of wire.  More...

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Textiles and prints; Happy New Year 2018

Posted by on Jan 20, 2018 in Exhibitions, News | 0 comments

Textiles and prints; Happy New Year 2018

I’m really pleased to start the New Year with two exhibitions in prospect. One with Will Dyke Printmaking (based in Chichester) and one a solo exhibition at the Exchange Gallery, Saffron Walden in June/July.  I have been inspired by the wonderful holiday I had in May 2017 in Sicily.  Nick and I walked from ‘the Centre to the Sea’ (Cefalu) using an independent walking route (helped by an excellent route book)  worked out by The Alternative Travel Group in Oxford. It was the most wonderful experience, walking on ancient, remote byways across country, always knowing you had the back up of an knowledgeable local guide when needed.  The most powerful memory was the profusion of colourful wild flowers, startling in their vibrant colours. I was immediately reminded of Botticelli’s ‘Spring’ suddenly seeing its accuracy as well as its beauty.  The sweet peas were the most memorable flowers. Quite unlike the rather spindly specimens that are cultivated in the UK. These deeply coloured flowers were tall, strong, magnificent. The perfume was amazing: we walked round a corner and there were hundreds upon hundreds of deeply coloured flowers and the air full of a sweet heaviness.  When I came home I made a photo stencil of one image and then printed it out in different colours. I worked into the print with pastels and watercolours to get as near as possible to the impact that the flowers had made on us. The joy went on,  working on the print (posterised using photoshop) brought back the very happy memories of suddenly seeing the wonderful vision of the flowers covering the...

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Textiles and Prints; both at Matisse in the Studio

Posted by on Sep 20, 2017 in Discussion, Exhibitions, News | 0 comments

One thing you must do this autumn – sunlight and inspiration Make sure you go to https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/matisse-in-the-studio – it’s a wonderful exhibition of an eclectic mix of artworks and the objects that inspired them.      Jonathan Jones, writing for The Guardian  said the exhibition was less about art and more about the creative process (as if this was a fault). For me, and anyone else studying art, it makes it even more important to see it not once but many times. Mr Jones felt that the exhibition amounted to ‘genius crowded out by bric a brac.’   As a lover of bric-a-brac myself this would also be an attraction – a genius’ s bric-a brac collection, what could be more appealing? It is so much more – Matisse’s beloved object that he carried around throughout his life and with which he populated his studio – old friends themselves- are transformed into some of his most famous works.  Laura Cumming describes it much better for me – ‘a few of his favourite things’ ….’reused, reworked, transformed into new phrases and poems’ To  see how much-loved possessions, everyday things,  that Matisse had lived with and had studied  over many  years were transformed into great inspiring art that has come to be part of our lives. The creative process is in some ways a mystery to be entered into rather than understood. Some feel it can never be understood. I have now worked with two artists at West Dean – Sarah MacCrae (jeweller and silversmith) and Kate Boucher – who both use processes to work through an idea and develop it into the beginning of a finished artwork.  Both suggest taking an image, then concentrate on one area and then working into it. Perhaps drawing it twice as large, or half as big, drawing it upside down. The image then becomes yours and you make choices about...

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Drawing with Kate Boucher

Posted by on Jun 11, 2017 in News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Back to the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at West Dean College – fantastic teaching in a beautiful setting.  Today we were discovering how to use charcoal to draw landscapes – and also thinking about how we discover new ideas.  Kate Boucher is a QEST scholar and has thought deeply about how we have creative ideas (i.e. what sparks them in the first place) and how we develop them, as well as being a fine artist in textiles, forged steel and charcoal. She is also a wonderful teacher and full of ideas as well as practical ways to approach creating a piece of art.  Today was incredibly useful –  we used one photograph over and over again as an inspiration for charcoal drawings, sometimes combined with watercolour and /or graphite We learned: not to use the charcoal like a pencil but to use it on its side, or held loosely at the end of piece exploiting its natural properties rather than trying to make it work like something it is not. It is a an organic material, essentially a twig.  the difference between conte and willow charcoal, the former being compressed with a binder and less likely to splinter or crumble to use our fingers to apply watercolours (not to apply charcoal or to smear charcoal as the sweat and proteins shed by our fingers makes the charcoal less amenable to being rubbed away) to use cotton cloths to both remove or attenuate or  spread charcoal out on the page in a thin almost luminous layer to use rubber erasers to remove charcoal – both putty rubbers and hard rubbers.  There are even subdivisions of rubber erasers within these subdivisions – they make very different ‘marks’  to time ourselves to take actions and experiment within limited parameters and with limited equipment so that we explore the idea to its limits  to spend 1- 5 minutes only on each sketch  to deckle our paper with a wooden knife (very effective) to organise ourselves so there is minimum time between having an idea and finding the equipment to execute it! (note to self, get organised) All in all a wonderfully useful day – and the idea of exploring how we come to a creative idea and then do we begin to understand how we want to use it that idea.  I will certainly use what I learned today in my textile work …a few images below. ...

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Louis Vuitton Centre Paris: wonderful exhibition

Posted by on Nov 6, 2016 in News | 0 comments

Louis Vuitton Centre Paris: wonderful exhibition

There is a wonderful exhibition of French Impressionists and Pablo Picasso at the building that Frank Gehry designed to ‘recognise Paris’s  cultural vocation.’ This is now called the Foundation Louis Vuitton . The centre is in the Bois De Boulogne – from a distance it looks rather like a large plastic insect with unfolded wings. I decided I would not like it : I was wrong. As you approach it there is a beautiful waterfall – continuously flowing water down some grey steps but very engaging, holding your attention and producing a sense of restfulness and calm.  There was a long, long queue enveloping the building: tip buy an internet ticket or enter through the Jardin d’Acclimatation (worth a visit themselves) where there is no queue. Then prepare to queue for each salon but it is a magical exhibition in a (yes I came round to this) a stunning building with wonderful views of Paris from its...

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