Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Wild Horses of Newbury

This is for Sybil and Roy, who seem to think that I might have been swallowed up by the vast metropolis of Chelmsford and not written anything on my blog of note. ;) Well I'm busy monitoring landscapes elsewhere at the moment, Ireland having undergone dramatic changes via the 'Celtic tiger' era, is still hell bent on destroying its landscapes by the building of motorways.
The motorwaythat goes under Tara through the Skryne valley is almost finished, there is now a threatened Slane bypass cutting close to the edge of one of the most famous megalithic sites - Newgrange. And to add to all that a proposed port at Bremore, again a fragile environmental habitat with important archaeological remains.
But this video I noted on a forum, is about the famous protest at the Newbury bypass road several years ago. Trees had to be cut and protestors, as they did at Solsbury Hill, Bath bypass road took to the trees. As can be seen from the video, the force of the state was employed in great numbers, police and security men stand in a straggly line protecting the men wielding the chain saws. Then on to the scene trot two black horses, seemingly unafraid they trot down the line of the security men, go up to the tree being cut, then trot up to the two police horses standing there and lash out. Very rarely do you see horses being as brave as these pair, it is a surprise and rather poignant...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Church list

Avebury Church
Ulting Church
Alphamstone church
St.Arild's Church
St.Cedd Church
Great Canfield Church
Winterbourne Bassett church
Nevern Church and St.Brynach
St.Beuno and Clynnog church
Little Baddow Church, Essex
Boreham Church, Essex
Urnes church, Norway
Greensted Church, Essex
St.Mary's Church, Great Leigh
Terling Church
Fyfield Church Essex
More churches! but mostly East Kennet
Broomfield church
Aldbourne Church
Alton Barnes church
Winterbourne Monkton

Silbury... gosh I must be obsessive

Monday, January 18, 2010

Snow melt

A brief interlude of warmer weather, snow disappears down in this part of Essex but the bottom fields by the rivers are flooding, creating moody brown/green landscapes.
The water tumbles and ripples gently in the river channel, leaching out with slow grace over the fields as it drowns the grass, was this how the first water meadows came into being?

This photo is taken through the blue tinged windscreen of the car, I love how the old trees are left and respected in the landscape, and here we see new hedges planted, and a middle line of trees that will eventually, given time, replace the graceful old 'tree ent' shaped by the prevailing wind.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Accra - Ghana

Tired of snow I started to sort the hundreds of photos on my external hard drive for putting on Flickr, they are the ones taken by my son Mark and his friend Ephraim. They are mostly taken in Accra, Ghana, and show a different way of life but what suddenly struck me was the colours - garish maybe - though I expect in the hot African sun, they become muted. The angular buildings, the general rubbish in the street tells the tale, a sad reminder of how far the country as a whole needs to move on.... Politically there are many tales to tell!

Two yellows, the car's other half is white

Elegant colours amid the rubble of a fallen wall


Mark consuming something, the African heat was'nt very good for his diabetes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snow Scenes

Well we have all woken up to it by now acres of snow, beautiful at the moment, but causing chaos and confusion everywhere. The Guardian is full of gloomy news that we will probably have this weather for a fortnight, maybe even longer; do we have enough gas? Mandelson is not saying. Children are playing on the green with their sledges - no school today.
This morning when we went to get some supplies from the supermarket the first thing I saw was a dog happily pulling a sledge with a child on it to school, but coming back the children were also returning to spend the day at home. Upon the little artifical mound that is the only thing representing a hill round here, the children are sledging, and a large tabby cat joined in the fun, scampering up and down, till he decided that the snow was too much for him and disappeared into the hedge. It's funny how children and animals love the snow, whilst all around in the news is despair and gloom, poor people stranded in cars overnight in Hampshire

January 10th 2009; Which looks like a very similar picture for the time of the year!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Japanese dyes

A few months ago these boxes of dyes were fetched down in the studio and I photographed them meaning to identify what was what, a difficult job considering it is all in Japanese. It seems puzzling to me that such a lot are brown but that could be due to age. The english equivalent of plant material would retain some colour, and dried material is not much good for dyeing with anyway, so in that respect these samples show the wide range of material used, their viability has probably been lost. Jill Goodwin's book of dyeing is perhaps still the best you can find in the way of dye books in this country, and it would be interesting to do the same for these Japanese dyes.

This photo is self explanatory, the poor old moths that cocoon their young in silk, only for the silkworm breeder to come along suffocate the larvae inside the cocoon and take the silk. The central silk is called a 'hankerchief' from which you can unwind the silk for spinning.

The wide variety of plants, insects and bark for dyeing

Some familars here, cochineal, the red beetle which you grind to make a lovely corally red, though of course all dyeing is dependent on the material dyed. The three top Al/A2/A3 are indigo plants (indoferas range)


Mineral dyes used for paints; though that tamamushi looks like an exotic beetle, and apparently pearls are also ground down for painting with.


Notes on minerals;

Haku means foil or gilt, so Kin (gold) Gin (silver);
Gofun = oyster shells. Ikkyu means best quality. Moriage gofun means gofun used for 'raised' white paint - eg petals. The use of gofun is unique to Japan and is found in both paintings and prints, In China and Korea lead white was used.
Karuishi = pumice stone
Matsu yani = pine resin
Konjo = prussian blue - ultramarine?
Hakkin = platinimum
Arabia goum = must be arabic gum (used in potpourri)
Chan = resin?
Mitsuda/mitsuba = bonewort?
Myoban = alum
A1 = indigo
odoko = copper pyrites, chalcopyrites
rokusho = verdigris?
saikuchi = metal or resin again?
Shika Nikawa = nikawa is glue
Shingyu kawa
Shinju = pearl
Tetsu fun = metal?

Links; with thanks to Printmaterial - A history of Sashiko in Japan

The York exhibition of Sashiko, ended 03/1/2010

Promise of the New Year

Yesterday we went out to look for logs, past Boreham and stopped off at the small garden centre at the corner with the blacksmith's workshop and the pony standing rather cold in the field. A wooden shed in the car park was filled with vegetables and fruit,honey, flour, apple juice, etc. Local produce included great sticks of sprouts, parsnips, knobbly carrots, celeriac, leeks of uneven size, local apples, purple sprouting broccoli, half a dozen different sacks of potatoes and even chestnuts. It was a cornucopia of fresh vegetables, as I had been bemoaning the fact that very morning about no greengrocers in Chelmsford it was a pleasant surprise. The man who was serving in this very cold place was for me a local hero... Doubt if he will get rich, but hopefully people will buy his stuff.
The new year has began, cold and snowy with low temperatures, further along the lane heavy farm machinery had turned the surface to a muddy river as they brought in the sugar beet harvest, the field compacted into drifts of water. Thoughts turn to gardening and raising new seed, yellow tomatoes come to mind, mixed saladini lettuces, runner and french beans, their shoots 's pushing up through the soil as the first leaf springs forth from the dark shiny bean. Courgettes their large tough leaf scratches the hand as you pick the fruit, yellow flowers almost always heralding a fruit.
Rosemary's bitter scent as you crush it, feathery purple fennel a perfect foil for the dark red rose and to nibble at for the aniseed taste, and lavender's greyness offset by sky blue flowers.
Mints, apple mint with its soft grey-green leaf, spearmint less spectacular and the dark mints that smell of perfume. There are scented geraniums as well, the flower is not so elegant but their leaves smell sweet.
Yesterday's Guardian magazine featured a garden full of tall spiky exotics, and for a while the thought appealed but it has always seemed a waste of good growing space to fill it with coloured grasses and spiky plants from New Zealand.
The morning has dawned bright and very cold with a clear moon still visible, the birds come to the garden for food, the three collared doves and starlings in the back, and on the green, sparrows and a solitary black and white wagtail, the berries in the hedge have all but disappeared having been stripped by fieldfares. Summer is a long way off at the moment, -17 degrees in a part of Scotland, and the seagulls wheeling round in the sky are ravenously hungry in this bright cold weather.