Artist and Master of the Crafts ! Doug Cocker’s Swamp and Meadow

I do not have a Fine Arts trained  eye but I know a good craftsman when I see one…

Doug Cocker’s exhibition “Swamp and Meadow” is at The Art Park @ The House for an Art Lover Glasgow and its full of beautifully hand-crafted objects.


I am not familiar with the work of Doug and I did not get the whole meaning of “flowering pasture” and so … on but I was left marvelled with the beautiful master craftsmanship with which Doug handled the wood, metal, leather and twine. His work is reminiscent of that of the great craftsmen of yesterday. I can imagine the wood been caressed and shaped by old tools on a workbench that smell of fresh herb and the sound of an old radio in the distant background. On the floor some fine grain sandpaper discarded mixed with wood shaving.


For me Doug’s exhibition is a whole come back to the basic, hand made it is … slowly and beautifully.
Ok when you look at the objects they are sculptures and I could not identify a single one of them on the “Swamp” but if you look quickly you feel you are facing a wall of old tools, objects, made in the country, something local no? Tangible, rare in today’s world…Is that not what Doug meant to do ? Because that is what I see… I can just about close my eyes and hear the wind in the willows in the background.


I loved the slowly achieved paint finishes and combinations of shapes of the 16 squares of the “Slow Years”. I spend my  a good deal of my working life looking at faded paint finishes in refurbished centenary buildings. Time is a great achiever of faded looks. Slowly rubbing down crimson in pale pinks and colored layers of different era merge in an harmony of colours complimenting each other in complete chaos. Doug’s squares marvelled me and I would have been standing there taking every detail in for hours … But the gallery was closing ! I had to go.


But I will be back and I hope you visit too. The exhibition is on in The Studio Pavilion @ The Art Park – The House for an Art Lover. Glasgow.

I hope you enjoy it.

Love

 

Betty xx

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Let South East Asia learn to swim !!!

Recently I have read so many articles about refugees from Syria crossing the dangerous seas wearing not much but a lifejacket (sometimes a dodgy one…) that my mind is completely set on feeling on edge any time I see the photograph of someone seating half way in the water wearing a life jacket. My pulse starts going faster and my stomach feels heavy. I feel sorry for the poor people having had to leave home to travel to far away place just to be safe and more importantly to have to risk their life in the process by just crossing the sea…

So a few days ago I was sitting in a “Air Asia” flight between Singapore and Kota Kinabalu (Borneo) and I was in stitches when reading that I could get prosecuted if I had the bad idea to “steal” the life jacket from under my seat… why on Earth would I even want to do this… my bag is overloaded as it is with all the bits and bobs I collect on my way places without wanting to uplift a very bulky aged life jacket… Why would anyone want to do this?

  
But over the past few days I have been spending a bit of time near an hotel pool with quite a few people from China, Korea, Malaysia, even Cambodgia… and to my surprise I have seen many of them off all ages floating in the pool wearing the bulky mentioned earlier life jackets (including very young children). I suddenly understood poor “Air Asia” trouble with their lost life jackets… South Asian can not swim… they dont learn when being children, they don’t have access as we do in the UK with our numerous “public” pools, they don’t get dragged as children to group sessions… and many many adults I have seen recently do not have this essential life skill or just child fun skill of swimming.

My lady just above is not a poor refugee having just had crossed the sea looking for better tomorrows… she is a “nouveau riche” from Korea with her little girl enjoying a very expensive pool in Borneo but she simply cant swim and as such can not teach her child this simple skill.

You never before looking around know your luck and its so easy to take things for granted… when I float around relaxing in the warm water I feel blessed knowing that if I had to cross the sea in a crisis time I could swim about if I did not have a life jacket… but who else could in the crowd enjoying themselves with me today.

 

Please get South East Asia to learn to swim… its such a life saving skill… and it will allow Air Asia to relax a bit.

Best Wishes

 

Betty xx

Make Love not War ! Explosion of pattern and colours on Peter Bevan’s flower bombs !

I was brought up in the 60’s at the sound of “make Love, not war” with long hair Hippies and the colourful “flower power” but its a long time ago ! There have been many wars since Vietnam and many pacifists movements of all sorts. I had forgotten about the whole thing until I saw Peter Bevan Flower bombs in The House for an Art Lover last week end.


  
 I never make it to private views always busy working or travelling so when I was casually invited a bit last minute to the preview of Bevan’s exhibition I went along unprepared, not even knowing the name of the artist exhibiting. Little prepared was I for an explosion of asian patterns and bright colours… The flower bombs are an amazing site… And immediately I felt in love with them.


  
  
 From a bomb they only have the shape, they are made of clay and are entirely covered with surface decoration, repeated patterns imprinted in the clay before it is fired. A low surface decoration, paisley patterns, small geometrical flowers, palmettos and others repeated in a neatly fashion like if Peter had crocheted a cover for his bombs. I guess when happy with the surface he coloured them in bright colours and created a toping for each of them… big bright flowers !


  
 The overall effect is unique and made me feel happy. I felt myself slowing down when walking past so I could take it all in.

Each flower bomb looked like an old sculpture like the ones I have seen in temples all over the Far East, those objects you can’t quite identify as they are part of another culture but which you can’t stop admiring with their slightly faded decoration sign of time going by.

Each flower bomb is like beautiful sign of peace and love !

Peter Bevan started making “Flowerbombs” and “Seeds Landmines” as a result of the vicarious experience of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria through the television and Newspaper reportage to disperse his horror over the violence of these conflicts. Like many during the Vietnam war Peter decided to take beauty over violence. I think the Hippies would have liked “Flowerbombs”


The bombs are only a part of the exhibition, it is called “Bodies, mountains and bombs” and is a retrospective of Peter Bevan’s work. During the month of February 2016 Peter will be running a class in “low relief surface decoration tiles” in Glasgow, you can get the details and booking details here


Peter Bevan is an artist working in clay, he trained as a painter at the Royal College of Arts in London Between 1968-71 and taught at the Glasgow School of Arts, but he started to make sculpture after visiting India in 1989. His medium is modelled clay and kill fired into ceramic with surface finished in various media.


The exhibition is in the Studio Pavilion Artpark, House for an Art Lover Glasgow between the 24th of January and the 21st of February, Tuesdays to Sundays between 11am and 4pm.

Its a must to visit !

Love ! Betty xx

 

 

 

In the Garden 

Sun is shy in Glasgow ! It so ironical that while I am seating in a place where the days are so much longer than say in the South of France we get so little sun light … A little annoying if I may say so ! But the up side is that comes the end of July when all flowers are burned up in all French gardens we have beautiful blooms here and they are here to stay for another long while … A pleasure for the eyes. 

No hose pipe bans in scotland that is for sure ! 

crazy for you rose

 
But the downside is off course the speed at which weeds grow. Spend an afternoon on your knees weeding and by the time you have sat down for that well deserved coffee … Those weeds have grown back … A lost battle before you start it ! 

   
 
And off course there are the slugs … Should you be innocently planting delicate plants and soft herbs they will have an overnight feast and by the time you make it back to the garden the next morning … GONE all your lettuces, sweet peas shoots etc .. In their fat bellys ! And for proofs you only have left the shiny trails they have left ! Shining in the sunlight of the early morning.
  
Never mind you can concentrate on bushes and hardy plants and I love Hydrengeas to bits … It’s a bit like the Britanny Coast had moved in my garden and my front steps … It is a bit of an obsession with me but every season I have to buy one … And most of the time they are blue ! I give them to my neighbours ! Plant them in the back! Move the pots around but at the end I always have too many !

  
I love winter roses as well.. I won’t bore you with the Latin name for it. They are glorious and so resilient coming out in the cold winter season with their delicate flowers which die from instant heat if you try and put them in a case inside ! 

   
 But my fav is definitely the little snake flower which Charles rennie Mackintosh loved to the point of painting them. I only discovered them when I moved to Glasgow and I have panted the delicate little bulbs everywhere in my garden so it’s always a surprise when one new one comes out …

  
I could make my garden prettier like my friend Katrina who leaves in the borders and added some delicate little touches in the shape of a painted garden shed but that is too civilised for me. My garden is a retreat to clear your head not good for a cup of tea and a chat.

   
 
Bill and Celia have a grand garden ! It’s really more like a park and it has a duck pond as well as some beautiful borders … I like walking through it but the size of it would overwhelm me.

  

   
 
My garden is just the right size for me and I like it to be disorganised … There is always a task at hand there for me.

I will spend a few hours in the garden today mainly getting rid of sone unwanted weeds because that is mainly what one does before you get the chance to plant something new ! 

What will your day bring you ?

Love 

Betty xx

Ps: if you like my garden photos why don’t you treat yourself to a set of them as greeting cards ? They are available on http://www.etsy.com filter on thelansdownehouse ! They are the perfect treat for garden lovers.

  

  

Death can be cool … Honest ! 

  
Yesterday I was crossing the road in front of the National Museum for Scotland in Edinburgh and I noticed the entry to a church yard it looked inviting the sun was shining and I decided to have a look, it was Greyfriard church. Within minutes I found myself walking on green grass where a few students were lying down. On it were doted a few graves quite ancient ones,  most of them at least a century ago. And we’re they were cool looking !!! Ornate … Theatrical … 

  
I had forgotten how in past times Victorian and earlier there was a deep respect for the dead people, mourned for ever and folks made their way regularly to flower the grave ! Very elaborate stones or statues were carved and respectfully adorned with the name of the deceased. It does seem that nowadays we have a quick cremation followed by a bash where we eat bad food and drink ever worse wine while telling family jokes ! Not sure what’s the best really! 

I came across  the tree with a name plate ….. So who was Paul Green ? Did he die a young man ? Or did he have a good life ? Is someone crying still today on his passing or was he the last one of a family line?

  
In some culture death is part of the life cycle you prepare for it and wait for it! And survivors in your family make sure you leave for the long journey beyond with all the necessary items you need.

In Western Europe we seem to be traumatised by it it’s a terrible drama when a close one passes away ! But for myself l see it as a stage in your life and for sure I would not mind spending my ever after in a peaceful place like this graveyard around the Greyfriard church – Edinburgh 

What about you ? What do you think about death ?
Love Betty xx

   
    
    
    
 

For a beautiful skin ? Go wash urself ! Or the magic spell of Nettle soap at Caurnie … 


A while ago I met an old friend of mine (I don’t mean he is old … I mean I have known him for a long time…

My friend was always a bit of a magician ! Well I mean he comes from a family of magicians his Dad and him have been soap makers for ever. Not the bubble kind of soap makers … Or the fashionable kind of soap makers … No I am talking about the traditional, cold press, organic, with our own herbs kind of soap makers.

Lavender petal soap

Nettle soap is the best for skin conditions

My friends family set up Caurnie soaps over 90 years ago (yes almost a century) and the more mature of customers still talk about Jim s dad who rode his van around with soap boxes … Now that is service for you … You make a great soap and you make sure that all your customers get it in time month after month …

Nowadays you can find Caurnie at the farmers markets around Scotland or via the modern “online” but if you fancy it you can also drive to Canal street in Kirkintilloch on a Tuesday and ring the bell at the door of the little blue shed. You might even be lucky to find that the magician himself opens the door !


The most beautiful scents await you there and from Jim s original soap you can now get your wedge of “ginger and orange”, “rosemary and thyme” “vanilla and peppermint” “geranium etc etc etc but the best of all is the humble Nettle soap do very good for your skin despite its beginning as a prickly weed…


 For more than a decade Nettle soap, Nettle shampoo, Nettle conditioner, Nettle moisturiser have been working their wonder on Eczema sufferers, psoriasis  parias, and other poor souls with terrible dry flaky skin… The wee humble weed has been giving them a beautiful soft skin smooth and so very beautiful again. Sometimes the most simple solution to the worse problem … You want a beautiful skin … Wash it with the best soap !


 I have been at the blue shed the day before they set off for a show.. It’s an amazing hive of activity with much cutting and pressing going on all with the original equipment from Jim s dad s time.

The smell and the scents are so strong then it’s almost like a perfume factory…

You know how perfume is so very part of your life and in a flash a recognised odour will bring you back some cherished memories … Well my grown up daughter opening the door of our room where I had a bit of soap seating there said … “This is the smell of my childhood” she used to for a very long time keep a small bit of soap in a paper bag in her socks drawer…

But back to beautiful skin … Jim s customers will all tell you … There is no better soap around if you want a beautiful skin so grab urself a wedge of it and go wash !!!

Betty xxx
Ps you will find Jim at the Farmers markets around Scotland or check his website http://www.caurnie.com

WELCOME TO MY “RIVE GAUCHE”(French pronunciation: ​[la ʁiv ɡoʃ]

  

  
“Rive Gauche” usually refers to the Paris of an earlier era: The Paris of artists, writers and philosophers, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Henri Matisse, Jean-Paul Sartre…. and dozens of members of the great artistic community in Paris. There is a sense of bohemianism, creativity, modernism, it is left of the river Seine, around the Boulevard Saint-Germain, St Michel, rue de Rennes… the architecture is 19th century, a bit of “Belle Epoque”, it nice to wander around this area slowly as if time had stopped, to seat at a terrace and enjoy an expresso and why not a “gauloise” (cigarette in blue packet from a time when smoking was fashionable and not terribly bad for your health). I have spent many good moments walking around that area… stopping at a bookshop and buying for 10 francs an old paper book to read during my travels….

  
When I have travelled enough i leave the Paris “Rive Gauche” and I go Home. My home is ….in another “Rive Gauche”

   
 Well I live in the “Rive Gauche” in Glasgow… its a lovely neighbourhood around Kelvinbridge, on the West side of the Clyde river, at the bottom of a crescent from last century (wait actually from the century before…) the town houses are tall and fair and the large windows overlook the pleasure gardens where children run, students pretend to study and the grown up seat, in the fair weather of a summer day drinking a glass of continental wine, having a blather. 

   
   We all meet up at the resident garden bbq and marvel at the fact it is not raining this time and the children are now so tall. We all know each other and call each other by name when meeting on the way to work or play. We all have been there for ever and every so often, a family who have overgrown their flat wait patiently for someone to vacate a larger property instead of moving on because they love it so much…. so and so are moving to Nr “down the crescent”. We moved “up” to the top of the crescent at some point.

   
     
In my crescent, people play real piano, they write stories, they make films, they paint pictures, they are lovely and friendly and they all speak with one another.

Its a great place to be, a little heaven right in the centre of the great town that Glasgow has become when it got fed up of being “a dear green place”.

   
 When I open the shutters (yes we have internal shutters in our flat, a Victorian luxury) the first thing I see it the great Spire of Lansdowne Parish Church. When I close them at night, it is still there almost like if it is looking over me, with sometimes the moon as a great circle just above. Every time I remember this wee song I used to sing as a child about the “sur un clocher la lune comme un point sur un i” (on a spire the moon like a dot on the i”.  Wikipedia says that “A spire is a tapering conical or tall pyramidal structure on the top of a building, particularly a church tower” and ours is very very tall. You can see it miles away. Its quite handy really, no need for a Sat Nav to get home just find the Spire. The story says that it collapsed once and had to be rebuilt. The story also says that the church was built by Honeyman and Keepie the architect office where the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh started his career. It can promise you, the Lansdowne Parish Church is not “Glasgow Style” by any stretch of the imagination. Very gothic indeed, with beautiful stained glasses and stone carvings. I say church but not a church any more, in the process of becoming a theatre, how handy, my very own theatre just around the corner, 200 meters from my front door.

   
 Quick Pantomime at Christmas time and off home for hot coco and toasts…

   
      
   But the one not to miss is the sleeping beauty tower of the University. Just walk down the road towards the bridge and there it stands in the background, you can catch very beautiful sunset there if you only time it right. Another gothic marvel, just it was not built in gothic time, only a bit of revival from the 1880’s when all the rich folks of Glasgow used to be my neighbours and they needed a University grand enough for their off springs.

   
 It is a beautiful building though and most of the local students are rushing there first thing in the morning for a quick class before they pour in the local cafes for a late and a pastry or seat on the grass in Kelvingrove for some revision time… I once studied there, my graduation was grand, actually more than that. The Harry Potter type, black robes procession following the professors in their “all sort of colours” gowns, a lot of Latin chanting and then a quick cup of champaign in the Quadrant before rushing out to lunch in one of the fashionable West-end restaurants, that is worth staying for 4 years for this kind of graduation.

   
       But back to my crescent. If you have to put your name down on a waiting list… this would be the one to be on. This is a place for a lifetime of good times, lovely houses in blond stone, quiet sundays away from the traffic of the main road, yearly calendar of summer bbq, bonfire nights and Christmas carols evening with jolly neighbours. I love the laughter of the children playing on the pavements as I used to do when I was little. It is much fun to see them setting shop by their front door tol collect pennies. I bough two chewing gums pellets on sunday for £0.20 I think it was a good deal. I like seeing them draw in chalk on the road, bunches of flowers and hearts and funny men…  I like hearing the sound of the piano playing next door and greeting my neighbour when he seats on his front step with his glass of wine.

Really I do love Paris ! but who wants to travel to Paris when you have your very own “Rive Gauche” at home.

Do you love your neighbourhood?

Love

Betty xx

   
   If you love my neighbourhood and would like to enjoy my greeting cards see above, please visit my shop on Etsy The Lansdowne House  (www.etsy.com) or email me bettysbeautifullife@gmail.com . They are blanks for you to use for any occasion and are available in packs of 4 (4 different designs)

RECORD EVERY HAPPY MOMENT FOR THEY ARE YOUR HAPPY MEMORIES IN THE MAKING

“So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”
Marilyn Monroe

If only you keep an eye open… you could find beauty in every little bit of your life ! Here are mine to share…

Recording beautiful things is crucial

Recording beautiful things is crucial

In the Spring I can’t help smiling when the daffodils come out, making a real show of the front steps of my house at Lansdowne. Scotland is beautiful when the spring explodes, fed up of this long winter with its dark nights. We long the warm sun, the green grass, the blue skies.

Spring is the best time of all

Spring is the best time of all

It is in my house in Glasgow that I design my stencils, where I bake my cakes, where I hand decoupage pots, design new courses and plan my new travels.

A Glasgow Style bunch of roses on a stencilled ceiling

A Glasgow Style bunch of roses on a stencilled ceiling

Photos are the best way to share all those beautiful experiences, here are mine for you to enjoy. If you want to go further, contact me for my course list, my stencil brochure, my product list. I will gladly explore any project on your behalf as long as it is beautiful.

Betty x