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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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

 

 

 

“From the Land to the Cloth” or how to discover The Colours of Scotland

How do you create something beauty with a couple of second hand battered pots, a few twigs, odd bits of wool, a little ammonia and a couple of days?

This is something the Scottish Felt makers have just taught me and its worth passing around like an old fashion secret which needs kept alive !


  
  
 Do you ever wonder where beautiful things of this world come from? I have always been fascinated by colours, the blue of a summer sky, the white of the snow, the purple of an hydrangea in Britany, the vibrant green of new grass in the spring, the delicate pink of the Christmas rose… but those can be explained. What about the “made”things around you? What makes the wool of your jumper speckled black? Why is Denim blue? Where does the colour comes from? Fair enough there are chemical dyes but I can’t believe the world was in many shades of grey before the chemical dyes were invented….


  
  
 Last week I joined a two days class with The Scottish Feltmakers association, part of their yearly summer school. It was in Dunblane north of Stirling, in a very traditional community centre, great big building with large windows just above the Cathedral. A lovely group of ladies much involved in Feltmaking are running it every year. The course was very exciting and the icing on the cake… they serve afternoon every afternoon. I mean the proper one with home made cakes. complete bliss !!!


  
It was very exciting to attend the class for once and not running it, turning up “hands in the pockets” taking in the information, asking the questions, meeting new people, discovering a new subject. All this was very exciting but really the fascinating thing was the title of the class…. “Colours of Scotland”  this is all about what makes Scotland so colourful, what you can find in nature to recreate this beauty. What gives the Tweed the colours it is, how to dye this very natural wool, how use nature to recreate the colours of the landscape.

I am completely hooked on, this was definitely the most fascinating thing ever. The tutor Ann Ross, a felt maker has been dabbing at this for over 30 years, she just stick things in the pot and gives it a twist…. and they come back out pink, purple, green, yellow and blue. All this feels quite magical. All the colours of the rainbow as long as you use natural material. Who said Tweed had to be brown or drab green?


  
A leaflet published by The Scottish Natural Heritage explains that “There is a long tradition in Scotland of using native plants for dying wool. Recipe were often guarded as secrets from generation to generation.” Unfortunately most of those have vanished out of being kept so secrets.


 Did you know that there are over 40 different kinds of lichens that were used by our elders to dye wool? That Urine was used to treat wool before it was dyed but also to extract the dye from the lichen? That Rhubarb root give the nicest possible pink ? that the sunlight would turn that pink fabric purple and eventually blue? That you need to treat the wool with a “Mordant” to make it keep the colour once applied? That a piece of wool dyed yellow with some twigs of mint will turn green if you add a bit of iron as a Modifier to the dye bath? That you could use an old nail left in water in an old jar as a Modifier?


  
Did you know that red onion peels turn anything in the most lovely dark yellow? Almost orange…


 One must be very careful to only pick plants and lichens where they grow in abundance… If you like natural beauty you want to preserve it.

I once visited the Outer Hebrides and found it fascinating that people were still working the wool with their small looms, in their own house/shed, only using manual labour and not a motor. That was the condition of making genuine “Harris Tweed”. I can just imagine  the yarn being dyed using natural dyes before being woven.

“From the Land to the cloth”was a great exhibition I saw in Harris when I last visited, it was organised by the Tweed authorities and it showed via beautiful photographs where the yarn came from, what inspired the makers, from the colour of the heather to the sea and how they used the beautiful world around them to produce a cloth which was warm, protecting and yet stunningly beautiful.

The beautiful little samples I made over the two days once dried were bagged individually with an indication of how I managed to produce them and I have a book lined up to receive the colour sheets so that I can at some point go back to them when I decide to have a proper go. I have this chair I want to recover and this old blanket which could do with a hot bath….


  
  
  
  
 Look around you, this world is full of secrets such as this one which could give so much pleasure to whoever unravel them.

There are many books on natural dyes but really it is the hands on which turns the dying process about complete magic. I would recommend you have a go. If you can be patient enough then wait and book yourself on a course of the “scottish Feltmakers” association course but if you are in a hurry to have a go… there is always online sources…

Keep your world colourful and have a lovely week end.

Betty xx

Be inspired ! Change the world ! 

  
I had a meeting at the Hunterian Art Gallery this morning and as it finished early I could not help myself,  I crossed the road and walked in the University of Glasgow Campus. The old one … Well not the original one but the one built in th 1880 ‘s when Glasgow was the second city of the Empire. It’s grand … Powerful … Harry Potter like ! You feel when you study there that something special should happen to you upon graduation … And that is why all my family holds degrees from that University … Nothing to do with the fact it’s just around the corner ! Well not really ! 

I could never pinpoint thought what that special thing should be … Did I end up having a very special life ? Will my daughter sail through hers ? What is it exactly that I can’t quite grasp ? And then … As I was leaving the building walking down towards the very famous Byres road I came across the sign ! 

  
And this one too ! 

  
Was I inspired I would like to think yes … Have I changed the world ? Well but of course in my small way … My smile makes your day nicer and my silly chat makes you smile ? No ? 

Have we lost the concept of why we want educated ? To know ? To understand ? To fit in ? To be a better person ? Or do we just want to lead before we can even stand up on our two feet and make a living ? 

I like to know that I am part of the big University of Glasgow family specially that now it has become an international family but really … A world changer 🙂 🙂 🙂 you must be having a laugh …

What about you ? Are you a University graduate ? Why did you study ?

Betty xx

Katrina’s beautiful garden 

   
   
Many words would not be enough to describe Katrina’ s garden in the Scottish Borders. 

   
    
   
I was visiting her this week end and I was taken by her inspiration. Enjoy the few snaps I took of it…

   
    
 Q

Do you have a garden ?

Betty xx

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