Sunday, September 30, 2018

The small fading beauties

Our time in Scotland is racing by it seems. We have done much walking, wandering and working and soon we head off for a week long course.

As we all each day I am captured by the small beauties - the seed pods and the flower heads going to seed. I think I love their muted tones as well as their elegant forms and sense of resilience.

This among all is my favourite. For a southern hemisphere person it is not known, and seems fabulous to me.  Called bog cotton here, it appears in the peat bogs around and not every year, and not always in great numbers, but this year was a good year up our way apparently.  There is patch at the cove at the end of our road and each morning I go to check on it and watch it change.  It was badly pelted with rain for a few days and then the wind so has become somewhat bedraggled; but nonetheless resilient!

If I had time and time again, I would investigate how to make paper from it, but that is not something that will be happening anytime soon. Still each day I visit and enjoy it. It is tiny - the stalks are about 12cm high and the cotton itself about 3cm long.

From here on in I know no names. Again, if I had time and time again I would discover what they are called, but for now I simply admire their beauty and record it. Most of them are small and the photos don't honour them on the bigger screen as best they might.

Silhouetted agains the sky,

And then nestled against the stone wall

A thistle with some fluff remaining!

And a bunch of thistles farewelling their fluff

This one feels like a basket to enclose or enfold something

And this tiny one is like a mini pine cone - it is about 2cm tall.

It is a real joy and delight to wander and see such tiny magnificence.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire” 

Ferdinand Foch

Some of the most amazing quotes some front the oddest of places.  I found this one on the wall of a Melbourne laneway - spray painted on as reminder to all of us.

I think it evokes brilliantly how good passion is. How when one cares about something, believes in something, is passionate about something, that we become vocal and powerful and unstoppable (almost).

The imagery of a soul on fire, blazing, bright and hot suggests that we're not talking about a soul simmering away; or coming to the boil, or simply embers. When we are so fully engaged and passionate, we are on fire and we are powerful.

Maybe time to once again get on-fire...

Sunset in Maleny a while ago...

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Words as we walk...

I do love the Scots' attachment to words and language.  In Edinburgh I love coming across poetry carved into the walls of Parliament House as well into the flagstones in different courts and closes of the capital.  To me, coming across words as I walk is always a joy and a delight.

In Wick we visited the Heritage Centre and it was a great few hours exploring so much. We asked for directions to the wee art gallery and set off along the way.  We had not gone far when I looked down and saw these words carved into the flagstone footpath. Of course, we stopped to read them and photograph them.

Here they are in no particular order, but leaving my favourite to last!

This is a lovely description of it...

During our visit, we couldn't say we have had a spell, but we have certainly had hours where for the first time ever in Scotland we've said we're hot!

When you put it like that, who wouldn't?

I can't even begin to imagine how to pronounce this...

No frost yet.

Definitely some of this!

 And to finish, my favourite new Scots phrase - "off we go then, toddle bonnie"!

And from inside the small but elegant St Fergus Art Gallery, the first real signs of quintessential Autumn we have seen. We have seen the fading of flowers, and the bracken turning from green to yellow to russet brown; but these leaves really said Autumn in a cheerful manner.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Peace and an exhibition

Barry and I spent International Day of Peace here in the Highlands this year. We had hung our weather grams and peace doves at home before we came away; but brought a few pieces with us to hang near the cottage on the day as well.

It was quite breezy!

They hang on the gate to the cottage...

We had been to Thurso on Wednesday to deliver the peace bookmarks to the Library for folk to share.

And the timing was right to view the exhibition at the Art Gallery there.  Called Flow Works, it featured two artists Shaun Fraser and Hannah Imlach.  They were both wonderful but I fell in love with Hannah's detailed analysis of the peat bogs and the exquisite and perfect resolution of her works.

As a lover of process, it thrilled me to see some pages of her notebooks, and then understand where some of the inspiration for the work had emerged from.

The work is based on the Forsinard Flow area - which is nearby us - a special peat bog environment and an area where the peat is studied in minute detail - the things that grow there, the environment and the water quality.

These works are inspired by the grains of pollen preserved in the bog. The sculptures link to the meteorological devices used to measure wind. Their form is that of the birch and hazel trees that grew here long ago. The golden orbs move in the wind...

 Meticulous is the only word for it.

The pollen radiometers are shaped like the crowberry and common heather pollen found preserved in the peat. They measure the amount of sunshine...

I don't know the scientific inspiration for these rain water collectors, but the microscopic visual imagery that inspired them is clear...

Each work is also intended to be activated by the conditions of the bog - filling with rainwater, spinning gin high winds and measuring solar radiation.  Simply astonishing.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“L’art fait ressortir les grandes lignes de la nature” (art brings out the great lines of nature). 

Antoine Bourdelle

I am so often in awe of folk who can do a quick sketch. Who with the minimum of line can convey so much.  And I am often intrigued by how a person can create such a sense of the whole; that they somehow know how to put down the lines that give the best sense of the thing.

I would love to be able to express the essence of a thing in a few lines.

It seems to me that good art truly does this - that it can see the most beautiful lines in nature and then magnify them or bring them into focus for our viewing and understanding.

Talk about the great lines of nature... Grantville 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Of flowers and fading...

Not  a lot of art is happening whilst we are away - there is however a lot of walking, weeding, digging, whippersnipping, moving of heavy flagstones and general yard work to keep us busy.

We try to walk each morning and afternoon and traipse around the moors and this way and that - down to the beach; along to the cove; up to the common land behind us; along the road, and around the village.

We stop often to photograph the small things, the wee things.

For me it is often flowers, and their seed heads as they fade into autumn.

There are so many different thistles - I love them in their powerful purple.

And I love them almost even more as they fade away...

The heather is taking over the hillsides...

And I have no idea which plant this is but I love its shock pink flowers along tall thin stalks by the side of the road...

And just the tiny wee things fading...

And then blackberries from our own bushes - made into a luscious blackberry and raspberry pie.

And finally peace.  I have finished 10 embossed peace bookmarks and am taking them to Thurso Library tomorrow for them to share around International Day of Peace on Friday 21 September. It's nice to share small thoughts of and for peace around the world. We will hang our own installation on our gate on Friday as well we hope.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dilapidated beauty

We have been in the Scottish cottage for a week or so now; re-acquainting ourselves with the place (Armadale, Highlands) and renewing our spirits and souls.

We have hassled with technology for a bit, but think we might have won that episode for now.  Hence blogging again!

Across the bay from our cottage is another locality called Ladnegulin; and we visited to have look at a croft house for sale.  Just because...

It was described as derelict in the sales blurb, and that it was, but it was beautiful in its dilapidation.  Certainly I don't want to live there, or attempt to renovate it, but I just ached with the beauty of its windows and their stories.

So many stories told and untold from this place I am sure.

Our cottage is across the other side of Armadale Bay (but not in this photo, it is more to the left).

The curtains...

Attempts to protect...

And a door...

It was interesting how my interest in it as a dwelling dissipated as we spent time there; I was instead caught by the ageing of it, the loss of things, the loss of the people who had lived their lives there; a multiplicity of losses, and yet its dignity was steadfast.

So much beauty in this place; always found in the unexpected corners and hollows, and coves...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“Never lie. Never say that something has moved you if you are still in the same place. You can pick up a book but a book can throw you across the room. A book can move you from a comfortable armchair to a rocky place where the sea is. A book can separate you from your husband, your wife, your children, all that you are. It can heal you out of a lifetime of pain. Books are kinetic, and like all huge forces, need to be handled with care.”

 Jeanette Winterson.

What can you say?  Jeanette Winterson cares deeply abut the power of words, of writing, of books and of reading and here she lets you know that books can change you.

I almost think she has been moved in these ways by books; that she has experienced the power of  a good book.  Those unexpected moments where you start in one place and end up way way out of your comfort zone.

Where you walk away going - wow.

For something that is usually quite still - sitting quietly and reading - you become aware that it can be kinetic; it can move; it can physically affect you.

The power of it.

The Bay at Armadale, Scotland.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Peace peace peace

Its funny how when you are busy getting ready to go away, there is not much time for anything except all the necessaries. As such I didn't spend much time in this studio in the weeks before we went away, but I did manage to do a little bit of hand embossing.

Its never as crisp or tight as when I use the press, but it does offer a bit more flexibility.

I came across these old milk carton templates and this one was the beginning of the quote "peace is every step"by Thich Nhat Hahn.

I only wanted to use the peace bit because I had a heap of paper cut to bookmark size which I had prepared for my teaching in Gympie, but as soon as I laid ink on it it ran like wild, so I couldn't use it!

Note to self - embossing doesn't run.

Tools of the trade.

 Preparing to emboss.

 A couple down.

Patterns emerging.

I have decided to keep on making these bookmarks through September - a month not just a day of peace - and shall leave them here and there, maybe in the Library at Thurso!