Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

Upfront Open 2017

Upfront 2017 Open Exhibition, Unthank Farm, Unthank, Penrith, CA11 9TG

Tuesday 24th January – Sunday 19th March 2017

The gallery has a vegetarian coffee shop and gift shop.

The Upfront Open Exhibition for 2017 welcomes entries from all artists. The purpose of the show is to exhibit a wealth and wide cross section of artistic talent. The panel of judges choose an eclectic mix of work in various media and styles, both 2D and 3D. The exhibition displays around 100 selected works at Upfront’s various gallery spaces.

Phil has had 2 paintings accepted. The judges will select a winner and award a prize.

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‘Nether Denton Roman Fort (Northern Topographic Series)’, Carved relief into board/metal leaf and oil paint, 607mm X 787mm.

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‘Hope & Glory’ Carved relief into board/metal leaf and oil paint, 595mm X 362mm

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Neo-Dada Constructivist Assemblage ‘Nativity’ …expialidocious !

This year’s Christmas card is of a Nativity scene constructed from carefully selected redundant tools. It was entered in the Christmas decoration section in the Armathwaite Village show but was unplaced.

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Perhaps the judges just  couldn’t see Mary cradling the baby  Jesus with an attentive Joseph looking on adoringly?

Arrow of Christmas trees

Last year we made our own Christmas cards. It took a bit of effort but we were pleased with the result. Phil had bought a collection of stone axes and included in the lot was a small bag of about 20  flint arrowheads, beautifully crafted by ancient ancestors. They are most probably North African in origin and date from 6,000-5,500 BC.

On Dancing Ledge

Back when we lived in Dorset, one of our favourite spots for dog walking was Dancing Ledge. It was quite a hike across fields and then down a very steep path and further down a very steep scramble onto the ledge itself. For this reason, you can often have the place to yourself and on this occasion, Phil took a trip there on his bike, just because.

Dancing Ledge is one of the many quarries in the region worked for the Purbeck limestone, which was used for building work here as well as much further afield. Some of the stone removed by the quarrying was transported by ship direct from Dancing Ledge, round the south coast to Kent in order to construct Ramsgate harbour in the 18th and 19th.


A swimming pool refreshed naturally by the tide was blasted into the rock for the use of local preparatory schools, sometime near the beginning of the twentieth century. The last surviving school (The Old Malthouse in Langton Matravers, which closed in 2007) and one of the schools for which the pool was originally created recently arranged for debris, including several large rocks, to be removed, making swimming possible once again. The sea itself is not suitable for swimming, as there is no shoreline, simply a rock shelf under which people have been pulled by the current to their deaths.


The stone in this part of the Dorset coast was laid down in layers, or beds, over the course of many millions of years. Kimmeridge Clay was the first layer to form, during the late Jurassic geological period and the Portland Sands were laid down on top of this, with the Portland Beds on top again.

Fossilised Ammonite on the ledge

After this, in the early Cretaceous period – approximately 155 million years ago – the Lower Purbeck Beds were deposited in shallow seas, brackish lagoons and freshwater. From fossils found in these rocks, geologists and palaeontologists have been able to work out that shellfish, shrimps and insects lived around the swampy marshlands at that time. Later, there were fish, amphibians and reptiles; and after them came the Purbeck Mammals. Over 100 different species of small vertebrates have been found in fossils in the Purbeck Beds, most of them the size of a shrew or a rat.


‘On Dancing Ledge’ Dorset. 2011   Raw silk, metal leaf, plaster and oil on oak panel. The oak had been taken to the ledge by someone to be used as kindling. They failed to light the fire. The swimming pool is on the left of the lower shelf being refreshed by an incoming tide.

This special place provided inspiration for others too….

HEARTS TOGETHER-  by John Betjeman

How emerald the chalky depths
Below the Dancing Ledge!

We pulled the jelly-fishes up

And threw them in the hedge

That with its stones and sea-pink tufts

Ran to the high cliff edge.
And lucky was the jelly-fish

That melted in the sun

And poured its vitals on the turf

In self-effacing fun,

Like us who in each other’s arms

Were seed and soul in one.
O rational the happy bathe

An hour before our tea,

When you were swimming breast-stroke, all

Along the rocking sea

And, in between the waves, explain’d

The Universe to me.
The Dorset sun stream’d on our limbs

And scorch’d our hinder parts:

We gazed into the pebble beach

And so discussed the arts,

O logical and happy we

Emancipated hearts.
(Poor little jelly-fish!)

Art and about

We have been visiting local artist’s open studios as part of the C-Art event and have seen some fantastic work by Brian Shields, John Anderson, Rosie Galloway-Smith and Ceri Allen.

Brian Shields’ work inspired by the poet John Clare struck a chord with us as one of his poems was read at our wedding in 2013 …

Love Lives Beyond the Tomb
BY JOHN CLARE
Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, which fades like dew—
I love the fond,
The faithful, and the true

Love lives in sleep,
‘Tis happiness of healthy dreams
Eve’s dews may weep,
But love delightful seems.

‘Tis seen in flowers,
And in the even’s pearly dew
On earth’s green hours,
And in the heaven’s eternal blue.

‘Tis heard in spring
When light and sunbeams, warm and kind,
On angels’ wing
Bring love and music to the wind.

And where is voice,
So young, so beautiful and sweet
As nature’s choice,
Where Spring and lovers meet?

Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, the flowers, and dew.
I love the fond,
The faithful, young and true.
Known as “the peasant poet” John Clare spent much of his life in and around the small Northamptonshire village of Helpston.

Born in 1793 he worked as a farm labourer and in the local tavern the Blue Bell Inn next door to his home.

His work focused on his natural surroundings, capturing the changing seasons and the nature around him but he struggled to make any impact as a poet in his early life.

Success came in 1820 after completing Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery. Visits to literary society London enhanced his reputation and increased his fame, but the tag “peasant poet” remained throughout his life, possibly because he lacked an academic background.

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‘The Patronage of John Clare’ Brian Shields

Clare suffered from bouts of depression and after suffering delusions, in 1837, he was committed to an asylum where he spent the last 26 years of his life. He left the asylum in High Beach Asylum in Epping Forest in July of 1841 and walked 80 miles back home later described in his book Journey Out of Essex. This didn’t stop his writing, however, and he continued to write poetry, becoming increasingly influenced by the work of Byron, until his death in 1864.

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‘The Betrothal’ Brian Shields

We met Rosie at Carlisle Guild Hall while she was working on her textile map of the Carlisle floods of 2015.

We own one of Ceri’s landscapes and it was great to meet her in person

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‘Heather Burn’ Ceri Allen

 

Surreal Afternoon…..’Eden Brows Armathwaite’with John Anderson and Brian Shields

The individual pendulums of John’s pendulum wave machine are timed over fifty swings and must be accurate to within three tenths of a second to work.

 

‘John’s Swinging Cementoids’can be viewed at…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxK5cRHgYgY&feature=em-upload_owner

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From the outside looking in. One of Brian’s mirrors with reflection of bird table in the garden.

 

Closer ‘Let me whisper in your ear’

If stones could talk, what a tale this pair could tell. Geology could reveal some of their ancient secrets but of their more recent past only they can tell.

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Listen ‘Do you want to know a secret?’

The sandstone flag would have been quarried locally and then spent the last couple of hundred years as part of a sandstone roof on what is now our village shop, Eden Stores. When Bob re-roofed a couple of years ago in slate, we did a deal for the surplus stone in exchange for a portable air conditioning unit. Most of it was used replacing broken stones on the Buzzshelter roof. This one didn’t find a home until yesterday.

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Dove Descending?

I collected the cobble many years ago from the river Irthing. It had spent many years on the riverbed in two different positions as indicated by the stone and water sculpted depressions seen here.

 

 

 

Spaghetti

I work away quite a lot and this means overnight stays in hotels. Phil sends me photos of home and the boys to lift my spirits. I know that the dogs miss me as much as I miss them and sometimes this manifests as refusal to eat, while for me it’s a case of eating things I shouldn’t. Speaking of which, Shackleton found my embroidery silks which I’d left on a chair and while Phil was out, he chewed the colour-key card to which they were attached. The result resembled spaghetti with a side of confetti. A perfect marriage.

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The sampler is one I’m working on for the next village show so untangling the spaghetti will be interesting. My lesson for the day was to always put things away.

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