Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

An abundance of pears!

 Freshly picked pears in a bowl we bought from David McDowell who made us promise to use it in our kitchen.

A few years ago . . . I think 4, maybe 5? . . . I decided our garden wall needed a pear tree. I did some research and decided to buy a bear-rooted one from Ken Muir, we drove down to the nursery in Essex and selected a 'Beurre Hardy' pear suitable for training as an espalier against a wall.

I'm ashamed to say I neglected to train in correctly in its early years, but I've tried to get it under control and it sort of looks 'trained' in a relaxed sort of way.

Up until this year the most pears its had is 6. This year there are far too many to count! We have an abundance of pears!

Pear - 'Beurre Hardy'

Pears have been cultivated for centuries, but it was in France that juicy, butter-soft, dessert pears were bred in the 17th and 18th centuries. 'Beurre Hardy' originates from around 1820 in Boulogne and is named after M. Hardy who was the Director of Aboriculture at the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris. In the US you may know it as the 'French Butter Pear'.

The fruit need to be picked in mid-September, just before they ripen. If allowed to mature on the tree the flesh spoils and becomes brown and grainy; but harvested while they are still firm and carefully stored for a few weeks in a cool place, they will become juicy and sweet, with the texture of butter!

I can't wait!

Mmmm! Pear and frangipane tart, with blue cheese and walnuts, ice cream . . .

or eaten in the garden with juice dribbling down your chin!

what's your favourite pear recipe?


Monday, 8 September 2014

Exhibitions in Saffron Walden and Olney

It was as I was about to go on holiday early in June, that Helen at the Church Street Gallery in Saffron Walden asked me if I'd like to have a solo exhibition . . . in September. So, taking out my trip to Alaska and recovering from the virus I'd caught while out there and preparing and going to Folk East, that gave me 8 weeks to get over 30 prints framed - if possible some completely new work - and lots of unframed prints packed and more greetings cards printed. 

The past couple of months have been very busy!

I delivered all the work to the gallery on Friday afternoon. I had nothing to do until Sunday afternoon when the doors opened for the "Preview", thank you to everyone who turned up, especially as it was a beautiful warm sunny late summer Sunday that would be perfect for sitting outside in a garden instead of coming into town. It was great to see some Twitter friends 'in real life' and also someone I worked with a very long time ago!

My exhibition continues until October 4th and is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 

My work is in the the front area of the gallery and Helen has arranged complementary ceramics, crafts and gifts to style the area. The back room has the gallery's usual wonderful selection of artists work, so there's lots to see.

For those of you who live in the East Midlands, the Market Place Gallery in Olney has a selection of my work in their 'Selected British Printmakers' exhibition.

Olney, like Saffron Walden, is a quintessential small market town, surrounded by lovely countryside, with lots of interesting indie shops and some lovely foodie places for lunch. Both are worth a day out.

So what next? . . . 

I need to get my head around stocking my online shop and meeting the requests from galleries for Christmas (there! I said the C word but very quietly!) But mainly I need a few days to recharge my batteries so this week I'm tidying up my studio, getting out in the garden and enjoying the fabulous weather . . . maybe I'll actually have time to use my brand new box of watercolours? You never know!


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

FolkEast 2014 . . . much more than music

Driving to FolkEast early last Friday morning I listened to BBC Radio Suffolk and heard an interview with John Marshall-Potter, the brains and energy behind the three day festival. He emphasised that FolkEast isn't only a festival of folk music but also a celebration of the people who live in the East and their arts, food, culture and traditions.

The festival site is on the estate of Glemham Hall and apart from a couple of hefty downpours on the first day we had glorious weather. The vast Suffolk skies with ever-changing parades of clouds would had made John Constable's heart skip!

Of course there was music . . . on the three stages and in the various workshops and accompanying the dancers, so there was always a background soundtrack drifting into the Art Arcade marquee.

I should have taken more photos of the dozen or more artists in the Art Arcade . . . but of course I was caught up in arranging my stall and talking to customers.

I was lovely to meet new people, next to me were Jane and Ed, here's Jane busy painting alphabet pebbles with intricate patterns and in the background Ed is working on another wooden spoon.

Here's me holding onto my hat! In a photo taken by Claire Knight who was selling her beautiful paper cut pictures at the other end of the tent. The cheery bunting was a last minute purchase from one of my card stockists, Blue Dog, a great investment . . . thank you Sarah!

I took along my latest prints, the four linocuts of a cockerel with his hens and the large print 'Winter Evening in Bull's Wood' . . . Suffolk Wildlife Trust will be selling cards of this for Christmas.

This year there were loads of art activities for festival goers of all ages to get involved in . . . everyone seemed o be having lots of fun and getting totally engrossed.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust were promoting their new campaign to find out more about and to help Hedgehogs. Isn't that wicker hedgehog fantastic?! 

As I'm a keen supporter of the Wildlife Trust, I handed out Hedgehog Survey leaflet to my customers and worked on a new small lino block featuring a hedgehog making its winter nest. I hope to complete this print in time for my exhibition next month.

I didn't take my oil based inks and rollers, so printing the new lino block wasn't possible. However I had some rubber stamp inks with me, so I cut a stamp and made some Festival Hedgehog cards.

Here's another photo of my stall, this one was taken by Mandy Walden who had organised the Art Arcade for the festival and had a stall opposite mine with her prints and cards of Suffolk coastal scenes. Mandy took lots of photos but seemed to avoid having her own photo taken!

Here's another rubber stamp I carved while at my stall to demonstrate how lettering has to be done backwards so it prints forwards . . .

At the end of each day after packing up the stall so it was safe for the night, Cliff (my assistant stall keeper) and I had a lovely time listening to the bands and savouring the food. There were so much to enjoy, so many great musicians, but after a long day on the stall I think we liked the quirky 'Soapbox Stage' best hidden among the trees and laughing along to the ever-so-slightly-bonkers local duo, The Pancakes.

A huge thank you to the organisers Becky and John and their vast team of helpers. They did Suffolk proud!

If you came along and said hello to me on my stall, thank you, it made the weekend worthwhile and was it lovely to meet the people who buy my cards and prints at various galleries and shops.

It's all going to happen again next August, so if you want to spent a weekend with the East Folk in glorious Suffolk then follow FolkEast on Facebook and keep an eye out for ticket offers early next year ;-)


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

FOLK is a four lettered word

"folk" what's in a word? . . .

folk = people 

For instance Norfolk and Suffolk, the North People and the South People of East Anglia . . . simple enough, but folk seems a little archaic and twee.

Folk Art

Yesterday Su and I went to Tate Britain to see the British Folk Art exhibition. 

Even the curators have opted out of defining 'Folk Art':
"This exhibition does not set out a single narrative or definition for folk art. As curators we decided from the beginning not to attempt this, but instead offer a series of encounters with different sorts of objects that already have a history as folk art" 

What was exhibited was a collection of objects crafted by people - decorative, useful, graphic, all created with skill, design and care. Art that exists under the radar of the art establishment.

The exhibits are displayed against brightly painted walls and carefully labelled in 'museum style'. All the exhibits were interesting, many were for me very inspiring; but I also thought there was a coldness about the exhibition, divorced from their context in a home or shop the quilts, samplers, carvings and shop signage seemed a bit sad and lonely . . . they needed the warmth of homes, bustling streets and folk. 

For instance here is one of my favourite exhibits, this is an appliqué quilt which was made by a husband and wife just after their marriage, they lived in Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast. I couldn't take photos in the exhibition, this is a page in the exhibition leaflet. 

The background is embroidered with orange silk thread, the stitches follow the shapes of the appliqué patch animals and objects . . . just imagine how this would brighten up a their cottage in candlelight on a dark cold winter's night!
There is a short video about the exhibition here.

After a nice lunch in the gallery cafe, we took the tube to the Bethnal Green, we walked along streets bustling with market stalls and shops glittering with saris and bangles before heading off down some side streets past blocks of flats and along rows of terraced houses until we reached a corner shop . . .

just a normal corner shop . . .

it was warm . . .
maybe we should buy an ice cream?

it's a shop . . . but not a real shop . . . everything in the shop is made from felt - stitched and stuffed!

even the newspapers!

This is the creation of Lucy Sparrow. Is it art? Is it social commentary? Is it politics? Is this Folk Art?

Making all the items in the shop must have been a huge task, but one I can imagine how I might tackle. But having the tenacity to find an empty shop and make the concept reality was, I think, the far bigger challenge. And what an amazingly cheery experience it is . . . do go along if you can, it's open until the end of August.

Folk Festival

Now there's something loaded with preconceived prejudice! 

I'm off to FolkEast at the weekend, last year was so much fun that this year I'm going to be in the ArtArcade for all 3 days. Forget all ideas about people in homespun sandals with a finger in their ear, this is a festival about music, song, dance, art, crafts, food  and fun - all in a beautiful country parkland near the Suffolk coast - what's not to like?!

Day tickets for Saturday and Sunday are still available so if you fancy a day of superb and diverse music, local food and friendly fun, do come along . . . it's like the best village fete with amazingly talented musicians providing the sound track.

And if you can't be there in person you will be able to watch a film about FolkEast - The Road to Glemham Hall which is being filmed over the weekend featuring lots of folk with a passion for what they do.

What a complexity of meaning in such a small word.

That's all folks!

I'll be back after I've recovered from FolkEast!