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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

S'tat you?



Years ago I did a wonderful workshop with a fabulous artist called Peter Rush. He was showing us an easy peasy paper mache technique. You make up some wallpaper paste and put a dab in the centre of your hand. Then you run a sheet of kitchen towel through your hand and it becomes a modeling medium. Magic! I made a 'bronze' of dearly beloved at that time. Today I resurrected the technique to see if my little monkey children could cope with it. In his superb book 'Rush on Paper' Peter talks about the hundreds of schools workshops he has done. He uses chicken wire innards but that's definitely too dodgy for my lot. I made my head today around a plastic bottle which worked a treat and means you have the potential to turn it into a puppet. Think this is the next delight I am going to introduce my little darlings too.
Today I was packing for my differently abled workshop. Took me hours! I learned a valuable lesson when planning this one. I sent them a breakdown of what to expect. When packing today I keep looking at it and thinking oh on, not another technique! The lesson learned is keep your overview of the day simple to allow yourself room to maneuver.

Off to a party tonight. Frankly Scarlet, it's the last thing I need!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Make mine a double

Here we have Bender relaxing in a glass of something which is what I'll be doing shortly after a day of making safety pin robots with primary seven. The teacher was off ill and it was hell on wheels. Everyone managed to assemble their robots from the kits I gave them but the stringing was a bit too technical. I tried to encourage those who managed it to help those who hadn't but altruism doesn't seem to be high on their list of priorities. Imaging a cage full of monkeys at feeding time and you get the general idea.

I was bending over one golden haired little princess explaining the finer intricacies when she retorted ' your breath stinks!' Had enough by this time the golden haired princess was removed in tears. To be locked in a tower and the key thrown away one can only hope.

Using the glass half empty/half full analogy I am trying to be positive. The project is half done. Four weeks to go. They need a creative activity requiring maximum input from them and minimum input from me. Thinking paper mache......or should I launch straight into the bottle dogs while the concept of string puppets is still fresh in their minds? Or is it? I showed them how to attach the legs and by the time they reached the arms they had forgotton. The MTV generation.

The stand- in teacher had a different perspectve on things. She thought the afternoon had flown by and the children had really enjoyed it. I was amazed. Honest Injun ? Oh yes, she assured me. They would have been quick enough to tell you if they handn't.

Enough of being monkey food for one day. Pour me a large one.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Stick to your man



Phew! Almost all the collage jumping jacks finished and strung. Spent the day on my knees in the gym hall with 33 cries for assistance ringing in my ears. I had gone in early to try and initiate the student teacher into the mysteries of limb attachment but it didn't seem to make much difference. However, you'll see from the photo above that this siren has found herself a willing footballer by swiftly elbowing his significant other out the way. They really do seem to have a life of their own, these guys.

There were of course two bad boys in the group.

No group would be complete without them. They managed to 'loose' their legs. Loosing patience, I told them to make new legs but they chose to assemble their puppet as an amputee instead. No comment...............

Collapse of the stout party


I am off to school today with a bit of bad tummy. Woud rathr be doing some of this!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rubbish it's not


Here's a large scale ink and garden cane number I produced a few years back. I posted it in response to an image on my friend Evie's blog . My rendition was painted under the eagle eye of Lys Hansen, one of my favourite artists. Took a summer school with her at Dollar Academy one year. http://breadandcircuses.typepad.com/ .

http://www.clacksweb.org.uk/culture/dailybread/

I felt a bit like this dame after making up my 33 puppet kits today. I put them in a black plastic sack to take to school and then had a horribly image of the cleaner throwing them away. I labelled it clearly PUPPETS - DON'T THROW OUT! Well if it can happen to Damien Hurst, you just never know...

My other job

Thought you might like to see what my grumpy shop looks like. It's closed on a Wednesday which is traditionally known as the half shut day. How can a shop be half shut? I make it completely shut instead.

I've been doing more workshop prep today and turning my mind to the disabled workshop which is only a week away - a week today in fact. Have decided that I'm going to add to their list How to Turn Yourself into an Old Bag - or a version of it - which I did for International Women's Day a while back. This involves decorating ready made calico bags in various ways and I thought it would be good because you instantly have a product. When they were showing me round I saw piles of felt squares that were to be made into a hanging but never had been. Understandable, but a bit sad. It did impress upon me that make it and take it would probably be a better route.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pooh!



Grumpy shopkeeper stuff is keeping me away from creativity and making me feel at least as gloomy as this machine stitched image. Slipping in another visit to the scrap store today in preparation for my in service day with the teachers of the differently abled.

Had an enquiry yesterday from another primary schools who want to do something commemorative for their 10th year of moulding young minds. Budgets ususally run out in March so it looks like the creativity might be revving up a notch or two soon.

I'm back in puppet school on Friday so tomorrow my grumpy shop will be full of plastic bottles being slashed and drilled in the appropriate places. More exciting images soon.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Art vs. Craft

I hate The art vs. craft argument which seems to rage eternally on the web and have no desire to resurrect it here. However, a thought did occur to me as I was constructing these puppet making kits for the children. If they are all given the same materials and produce the same finished product - it's craft. If they are allowed to select their own materials and each result is unique - it's art. Yes? Where's the problem?

The little babies above remind me of just that - incubators. Each one is incubating a safety pin robot. We've christened him Bender - copyright laws forgive me - as all the kids are into Futurama. At least when watching the telly they may remember making him with their own hands.

This is the aeroplane control that will turn Bender from an inanimate object to a drinking, swearing, womanising metal bending guy he is. Unfortunately it looks heavy with significance of a different kind.

This time last year I was in a Catholic primary school involved with a similar project. The final presentation was held in the assembly hall of the secondary school which all the participating primaries eventually fed. A life sized cruicifix loomed large on the wall. My squad tromped onto the stage and announced that they would like to thank their maker - me! I thought they meant their Maker in Heaven. It did give me rather a start.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Makes a change from plastic ducks

I've been asking everyone and their granny for plastic bottles which they have been generously donating but when I went into my workroom today I was overwhelmed by the icky, sticky smell of residue from dozens of assorted pop bottles. So into the bath they went. I have bathed 70 odd of the little beggars today, removing their lids to swill out their unsavory contents. Just as I was about to fling the lids away I realised what fabulous eye potential they had. Oh no, yet another thing to collect! Somebody stop me.........................

And talking about yet another thing...........

Went to a lovely talk about art dolls today by a very talented friend of mine Pam Waller. Pam subscribes to http://www.artdollquarterly.com/
which she orders from http://www.rainbowsilks.co.uk/. Think I might be adding this to my subscriptions list for some of the weirder dolls. They look as if they have great puppet potential. Also discovered a fab introduction to puppet making summer schools today at http://www.eca.ac.uk/eca.html
Not the easiest site in the world to navigate your way around but the summer school brochure is downloadable. Have been many times for other courses and it's a blast.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Putting on a brave face




Day two of the jumping jack puppets at school today and some are now actually nearing completing. Gave the kids the eyes, nose, mouth chat and it seemed to pay off. Pretty impressed with their grasp of placement even it some judicious cheating did take place when sourcing said eyes, nose and mouth, as you will see. We are getting to the stage now where they really need one to one attention to cut up and reassemble their puppets. Found a quiet cornet to do this with one pair but of course, someone else is earwigging, hearing only half the instructions and gaily chopping off the wrong bits. Made a date with a student teacher to go early next week so I can show her how which will free me up to start the safety pin puppet with the children who have finished their jumping jacks (God help me!)

If you are a regular reader you are perhaps wondering what of my meeting with the staff of the disabled work centre? All went well but with a bit of a strange twist in the tail.


It's a nice little centre with a small number of service users and a good staff ratio. The clients are mildly to moderately disabled and have pretty limited manual skills but some very interesting artists abilities, judging fro the work I saw.
Some of the staff have worked there for many years and are a bit jaded perhaps - and who can blame them, hard job. Others are younger, very upbeat and enthusiastic. The client base covers school leavers to senior citizens.

I showed the staff bottledog who happened to be in the van on his way to the school and once again he scored a major hit. Recycling is right up their street. I thought perhaps the staff could share the preparation between them (he is quite a high maintenance dog in the preparation department). Also thought if they made him on a kind of production line basis with their clients it might be a good idea. Each working according to his/her abilities. As long as everyone gets a dog to take home at the end of the day that's really all that matters.

I was trying to be brutally honest with myself when planning this training day. Not just showing them my favourite things but trying to show them things that might truly be of some use to them. The list came down to printing fabrics with home made blocks, ironing off paper bag patterns onto synthetic fabrics, working with bondaweb and perhaps some mega simple hole punched books....and all manner of simple recycled puppets of course.

The clients are taken on a lot of outings and photos of these outing decorate the walls. The staff told me the client enjoy displaying the photos and they hoped I might be able to make some new suggestions on that front. The advent calendar idea could be adapted I thought with a big frieze relevant to the outing, open the doors and there are the photos. The client are very into TV (me too) so there has to be lot of scope for making Daleks, etc. All and any suggestions most gratefully received. We're probably looking for stuff suitable for young primary kids.

So a successful visit and we are all looking forward to the training day. And the twist in the tail?

I had a profoundly handicapped baby daughter for whom I was unable to care. I haven't seen her since she was fifteen months old. She has grown up in the care of social services but I knew she was still in the area. She is now 23 and from time to time I have contemplated trying to see her again. I asked the lady who was showing me round today if she had come across my daughter and she replied 'oh yes, she's just across the road.' Chose not to take it any further today but I think I must. Guess this is fate telling me the time is right.



Sunday, January 15, 2006

Camera shy




Camera has gone on the fritz tonight - how annoying! Bought a pack of batteries in the Scrap Store and they don't work. Now there's a surprise! In the meantime, here's a self portrait from the files to jolly things up. Cheers!

All ready for school in the morning. Homework done, shirt ironed, shoes shined. Oh no, that's when I was on the receiving end. Still have nightmares about that.

On my way to school tomorrow I have an interesting meeting. A local outreach arts centre have been enquiring whether I would provide a day's training for the staff of a local disabled adult's work centre. 20 staff looking for craft projects for their service users (been swating up - this is the correct term). None of the staff is currently trained I'm told. That send shivers up my spine. I presume they mean in the craft line but who knows? Anyway, through the best way to get a handle on what would be useful to them would be to go visit, meet the people and see what they are currently making. Don't know if they are making with aim of selling or just to improve their self esteem. Either way, I'm sure there will be something I can help them with and I'm looking forward to the challenge......Watch this space. More tomorrow.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

More faces than the town clock


Spent a jolly afternoon in grumpy shopkeeper land making collage overlays to show the kids the correct (?) placement for facial features. I reckon they should reach this stage with their jumping jack puppets next week. It made as horrendous mess - or should that be I made an horrendous mess? I had to serve several people (yes, I actually had customers today) with glue all over my hands. No-one asked what I was doing. They just looked at me oddly.

I love collage and it's something that I never do. I really must make an effort to do more of it. Wanted this to look pretty much as if a child did it (wow, what a success) but was very tempted to keep fiddling and fiddling. As it was I had to force myself to stop, tidy up, hoover and go home when the time came. I'm back in the school on Monday so had to leave grumpy shop keeper land in a fit state for my lovely assistant to take over. Looking forward to getting back to work with the kids.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Reached the dogleg



A sweet boy chopped up all my cardboard tubes into 400 odd bits. Finally I've reached the dogleg! Meantime I drilled my way through 66 bits of balsa wood and constructed 33 aeroplane controls for the safety pin robots. I screwed them together with dinkie little nuts and bolts but they tend to come undone if you shake 'em about. Going to add a dab of hot glue to stop that from happening.

I'm a serial collector of old rubbish and have a zillion plastic boxes that once contained Ariel Liquitabs. I actually bought them for the boxes. How sad is that? Thought these would be ideal for the kids to keep their robots in. Marionettes are not the kind of beings that do well in close proximity to each other. Tends to result in fatal entaglements.

Upstaged


' Are you a REAL artist?' the kids always ask. It would be interesting to know what their definition of a real artist is. I breath, therefore I make art? If you prick me, do I not bleed paint? I put on a small impromptu display to prove that somewhere in my soberly dressed, standard issue body there is a small artistic bone. And talking of bones, guess who stole the show?
















Woof woof!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ten....nine....eight.....


Robot safety pin man prepares to launch into orbit on his thermos flask. It's my yoga teacher's fault. 'I want you to move' she said to us last week 'like these dolls we used to have whose arms were joined together with an elastic band running through their body.'
What? She wants our arms to fall off revealing a large plastic hook? It reminded me of that low tech construction method and elastic bands are at the heart of robot man catching his safety pin limbs and holding them in place. Had a problem with his safety pin limbs being double jointed but slipping on silver paper rolls makes them bend in the required direction only.

His plastic bottle bottle is stuffed with silver paper. Thought I would ask the kids to keep their empty crisp packets to fill him up. Beats flinging them on the ground which is their usual modus operandi.

The little wooden sticks so ideal for his aeroplane controls had some holes ready drilled but more were required. Will have to do this in batches as found holding the heavy drill pretty hard work for my stiff old finger joints.

Making robot man certainly kept me sane in Grumpy shopkeeper land today. Being January, customers are pretty thin on the ground so it was just me and my shadow. Beats talking to yourself I guess.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Treasure from trash


Just back from a glorious afternoon raking about the wonderful, wonderful Scapstore. Found all kinds of fabulous 'pruch'. This the Scottish word for treasure that comes your way in a serendipitous fashion. Pronounced with a soft 'ch' as in loch.

Anyway, what did I find? All kinds of thing with marvelous puppet making potential including lots of little wooden sticks with holes in just begging to be made into aeroplane controls for string puppets. Plastic bottles by the million, perfect for little hard bodies. Add some string and button arms and legs and you're away. Enough cardboard tube to sink a ship - or build a new one. This means the bottledogs are off the leash and can definitely go ahead.

This was my strangest find. Lots and lots of offcuts of pleated plastic from - blinds? -lampshades? It has such potential for fabulosity I can't tell you. Sculpture, garments, wiggly, snakey puppet bodies. There were huge bits too which, being plastic, will be great table coverings for mess making.

In amongst the paint, batteries, folders, corrugated paper, tracing paper and other extraneous useful things I picked up I also managed to find a little treat for myself. In a plastic bag labeled Inverallan Hand Knitters,
I found these. They are machine knit rather than hand in beautiful wool obviously offcuts from knitwear of some kind. In the bag was a little piece of paper which said 'shrink and felt in machine. Cut and hook strips' I think I'll definitely do the washing machine felting and then play it by ear after that. What yummy potential! Intersperse with my own knitting? Machine stitch into them? Combine them into a unique fabric of some kind and see it I have enough to make a garment? Definitely have enough for several hats. Oooooo, let me at it. Get that unwashed laundry that I forgot to turn on this morning onto the floor and let feltmaking commence!

Monday, January 09, 2006

What's the time Mr Wolf?


Week one at the primary school and today we started to make out life sized jumping jacks. Very hard to get the kids to shut up long enough to listen to instructions. Tried my best. Stood with arms and legs outstretched like a demented starfish saying 'children, when I need you to be quiet I'm going to stand like this'. I could have stood like that till hell froze over but quiet wasn't going to happen. So resorted to screetching at the top of my voice.

Instructions for drawing round your partner's body were largely ignored so some weird and wonderful shapes resulted. By the time we reached the collage stage they were into it and glue brushes had to be wrenched from their frenzied fingers come home time.

I was rather astonished at their lack of general craft skills. Didn't expect to have to explain that to make the paper stick down you have to paint glue underneath it first. Was also pretty amazed by the child who completely obliterated her drawing with newspaper strips. Pointed out that the name of the game was to stay within the lines. Have these children never coloured in?!? Well, no, probably not.

Despite my cynicism, I was pretty impressed with their imaginations once they got going and I loved the oversized watch. Not my idea, all their own work. Another pair decided to make their figure a kiltie. Hadn't quite grasped this and spent some time explaining that sticking small pink strips horizontally across the centre of the legs was not the best way to fill them in quickly. 'But we're only doing the knees' came the reply. Kilt about and kilt socks below. Ah, kids....don't ya just love 'em?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

An emulsional experience






Ahhh Nita, if only I'd listened. Never, gentle reader, try to emulsion a plastic bottle. Every movement results in an unattractive flutter of flakes. So, bottledog is dead - long live bottledog! He was duly remade, writing down the instructions in idiot speak as I went this time and using dearly beloved as token child. He seemed able to understand and obey which gives me hope. He did also point out all the stabbing possibilities of children with yarn darners but then he does like to look on the dark side if at all possible.

Bottledog number two investigates the carcass of his predecessor. In the interest of simplicity the string is only attached to his collar and his tail. You can make him sit or play dead and that's about it. I am tempted to attach a string to his back leg for piddling purposes but perhaps that's a little un-PC for the kiddies. Or should that be unpisssy?

I've just noticed he has white pupils in back eyes. Isn't that the wrong way round? Perhaps I have visual dyslexia.

For you

Here's a wonderful puppet for you to play with.

http://www.devilducky.com/media/860/

Friday, January 06, 2006

Barking Bottledogs Batman!


Here we have the barking bottle dog. The barking bit is achieved by slicing the smaller 'head' bottle half way across the underside but leaving the top hinged. When you jiggle the doggie up and down he goes 'clack, clack, clack' which, with a bit of poet license becomes woof, woof, woof. Made him this morning, except for the ears. Couldn't for the life of me work out where a dog's ears went! Had to go look at dogs before I could be sure that they did in fact go on top of the head. Isn't weird when you get these visual blanks? Anyway, over the weekend I'll give him his emulsion coat and his spots but am pretty pleased with bottle dog so far.

My friend Sue was kind enough to leave a comment last time mentioning plastic bottles and soldering irons. This is a definate no-no. Melting plastic gives off cyanide gas so please don't burn plastic of any kind. You are far too valuable to me - I need you here to be my readers!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Lotsa bottle



This is my first fly past the plastic bottle buddie target. As I have to reproduce it thirty three times with the kids I'm trying to find something that doesn't involve huge amounts of preparation. As it is, this would need one hundred and thirty two hip and shoulder joints and a lot of sawing of cardboard tube! I think he has more potential in the prone position as a fantasy animal. Different head, coat of emulsion, a few black spots and Cruella de Ville would be pleased to call him Pongo.
In fact, memories of Watch with Mother, the Woodentops and the biggest spotty dog you ever did see. Who remembers?

Spelling B-------

I am the worst speller in the world, no three ways about that. Thanks for keep an eye on me Dorothy. Post duly edited.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cultural Careers


The art project I'll be starting with the school kids on Monday is a bit of a strange one. It comes under the heading of Cultural Careers and part of the reason I'm there is to explain to the kids that being an artist is a bona fide proper job (couldn't they get you under the trades descriptions for that?) So I tell them the story of my life, or the relevant edited highlights anyway. Did this last year and these are some of the resulting images. Their teacher wanted them to make Native American /First Nation Canadian art. We make a kind of Scottish eco art interpretation with a large pinch of salt.

I'm also going to post the talk I give to the kids. Please excuse the patronising tone. Not aimed at you, my erudite readers. Would appreciate your comments though, if you feel like commenting, as to the suitability for the delicate ears of budding artists.. So here we go, the story of my life.


Hello Children

My name is Grumpy and I am an artist and maker. That means I make things. You are all makers too. You make things, don’t you? I brought with me today some of the things I’ve made to show you and I wanted to tell you a bit about how I became an artist. I don’t know if you realise that all of you could be artists too if you wanted to. That could be your job when you leave school.

If someone asked you what does an artist do, you would probably say they paints pictures and yes, that is one kind of artist but there are many, many different kinds of artists or designers as they are sometimes called. Practically everything manmade that we use in out daily life was designed by an artist.

The school building that we are sitting in – that was designed by a special kind of artist with a special name. Does anyone know the name for someone who designs buildings? They are called an architect. Have you heard that word before? That means a building designer.

The clothes we are wearing today were designed by an artist employed in the textile industry. A fashion designer.

If you came to school by car, your car was designed by an automotive designer.

If you stood at a bus stop, the bus stop itself was designed by an industrial designer.

If you had a bowl of cornflakes, the packet was designed by a product designer.

You get the idea? I think you’d have a hard job finding something man made that wasn’t designed by an artist which means there are lots and lot of different jobs out there for creative people and you could be one of those creative people, if you chose to be.

So how do you become an artist? There are lots of different ways. I’ll tell you my story first of all.

I was at school almost 50 years ago which is a long, long time ago. Perhaps you’ve visited the old school in Scotland Street in Glasgow and seen the leather belt that the teachers used to hit the children with. That’s what they did when I was at school.

Although I worked hard and paid attention I didn’t really understand what was going on at school so the result was I didn’t learn much and I didn’t pass any exams. Now if that was happening to you today you would get help because teachers and schools are great nowadays but when I was wee, they just hit you with a leather belt. So the sooner I could get out of school the better. But I didn’t have any qualification or training and it’s not a good idea to be looking for a job without qualifications or training.

You’ll know that today good jobs today are hard to find but luckily for me, 50 years ago it was a lot easier. I’ve always had a big mouth and liked talking to people and that’s a good qualification for being a sales person. So that’s what I started doing, selling things. In shops and garages and all kinds of places. I as got better at it I started getting better jobs and I worked in advertising agencies and eventually I ran my own newspaper. But it was just going to work and coming home, going to work and coming home and something was missing in my life so when I was almost the same age as some of your grannies I decided that finally I would go to college and I would learn to do something properly.

This was quite frightening for me because I didn’t know if I could learn something properly but I decided that I would try and trying is the important thing.

So off I went to college in Glasgow to decide what I was going to learn. I chose embroidery because I’ve always liked doing things with my hands and I thought how hard can that be? When you think of embroidery you think of an old lady sewing in a rocking chair, don’t you so I thought this would be a good old lady thing for me to do.

But when I arrived at college –WOW-this whole world of learning opened up in front of me and it was marvellous. And of course I could do it. Here, I’m not as daft as I thought I was!

So for four years I studied design and history and technique and now I have a City and Guilds qualification in creative embroidery. But more importantly, the whole world of art opened up to me and I set off to do some independent learning. That’s where nobody actually teaches you, you just get books and read about things for yourself. I studied art history, drawing and painting, modern art and went to lots of galleries and had a wonderful time. Also I discovered that I was good at this, I could do this. But once a salesperson always a salesperson and I stared to think, okay, how can I use my new skills and abilities to get myself a job as an artist.

You don’t see many jobs as artists advertised in the local paper and I didn’t want to travel up to Glasgow, I wanted to work locally. You don’t see many jobs for artists in the job centre either so I decided I would become self employed. That means you don’t have a boss, you work for yourself. I’m sure you know lots of people who are self employed. Painters and decorators, plumbers, joiners, electricians. You see them advertising in the paper don’t you? That’s how they get work. You’ve maybe heard the adults in your house saying I must phone the plumber, time we had the painter in, I’ll get the joiner to do that for me but I bet you’ve never heard them say – time we had an artist in here! So advertising in the paper wasn’t going to work for me.

But it’s no good being the best artist in the world sitting in the house if nobody knows about you. You’ve got to let people know what you can do for them. So if advertising wasn’t going to work, how else could I let them know?

I’m sure you’ve been to exhibitions haven’t you? A big white room usually with lots of things in it that people have made. That’s an exhibition. That’s one way of letting people know what you do as an artist and I wanted to have an exhibition that was all my own work. So I started to phone round local galleries to see who would let me have a solo exhibition, that’s a one woman show.

I found a gallery who agreed to let me have my one woman show and I took all my work along and hung it up on the walls in the Harbour Arts Centre.

When you have an exhibition it’s a bit like having a party. You send out invitations and then other people come along just because they want to see what’s going on and you just never know who is going to turn up. I met lots of interesting people like other artists and teachers people who run galleries and I asked some of these people if I could come and run workshops for them. A workshop is what I’m doing with you today, making things. This is part of the way I earn my living as an artist, by running workshops in schools and galleries and by making art and selling it at exhibitions.

But I don’t want you to wait until you are as old as your granny to discover you have a love for art. A much better idea would be to work hard at school, get the qualifications you need and then go to art school where you can chose to learn how to make sculpture or jewellery, paintings, art in the environment, that means art outside, and all kinds of things

Sometimes, if they’re lucky, artists become very rich and famous. In London there is a gallery owned by a very rich man called Charles Satcchie. Charles Saatchi buys the kind of art for his gallery that is like nothing you have ever seen before in your life.

I want you to imaging you’ve been ill in bed for a few days and making a bit of a mess. The floor is all covered in magazines and old hankies and the remains of your dinner and empty juice bottles. It’s a tip, in other words. You fling back the covers and you get out of bed and you stand and a look at your very messy unmade bed and art is maybe not the first thing that comes into you head. But it was the first thing that came into the head of Tracey Emmen, a very famous artist. She said my horrible, messy unmade bed is a piece of art and this very rich man Charles Saatchi agreed with her and bought her messy bed for lots and lots of money and put in his art gallery in London. Can you image that!

There is another artist like that called Damien Hurst and his work is in Charles Saatchi's gallery too. This time I want you to imaging a big glass tank. Inside the glass tank is what looks like an office. A table and chair and a computer. It looks as if someone has just taken of their watch and left the office. The watch is lying on the computer keyboard. Not so strange you might thing. But keep this picture in your head of the office in a glass tank. Now fill the tankup to the very top with water and add a whole lot of great big fish. So the table and chair and computer and watch are all under water and have fish swimming through them and this is art made by Damien Hurst’s and bought by Charles Saatchi. So if you are very lucky, you can become a rich and famous artist like them, by making the most unusual art you’ve ever seen......
.....or, you could go get a proper job!

Thanks for the suggestions

Thanks chums for all your non itching comments in response to the last post. I'm going to try crocheting along the inner edge with something that's not wool but if that doesn't work I shall try wearing a pair of (clean) knickers on my head under my hat. Remembering to remove them when going indoors would be the thing. I did get some pretty weird looks today for hat without knickers. Not me without knckers you understand - just hat.

Road testing the full regalia


Here I am in full crocheted regalia giving it the icy wind test. Not bad. Wool however is horrendously itchy, particularly on your head. The scarf is mostly cotton and works a lot better. Must remember that.

I was very impressed by a photograph of a spiny anteater encountered on a beach walk , posted to her blog recently by a virtual friend. http://origidij.blogspot.com/ The best I could managed on my beachwalk today was a herron. It required full zoom and the results, I'm sure you'll agree, are truly rubbish. Guess I'll have to play with my camera some more.

After returning from walk I went through my neighbour's bins (paper only) looking for colour supps to recycle in my forthcoming schools project. Not a bad haul including a 2005 Kandinsky calendar and a Mensa magazine. Didn't realised I had such cultured and intelligent neighbours!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Medusa - eat your heart out!

Okay, so it's not a head of writhing snakes. It's a head of wooly worms. I've crocheted myself a wighat. You know, as in....put on your red dress babyee, put your wighat on your head.... Don't have a red dress but at least now I have a wighat.

Could have done with it today. Went to early morning yoga class. Back at lunchtime and chum who was driving dropped me at the marina where dearly beloved was all fired up and ready to cut a furrow to neighbouring island. Furrow was duly cut but clad only in yoga gear it was well chilly I can tell you. Why can you never put your hands on a wighat when you need one?

Monday, January 02, 2006


Hello Blogland My name is Dave Webster. I am Grumpy's brother. I know her as my dear sister and not grumpy at all. However I shall respect her monicker, and say that Grumpy invited me to join her on her blog. I have signed in as GSMB, which is short for Grumpy Shopkeeper's Mad Brother. Grumpy kindly posted a picture I gave her for Christmas. Here is another picture I made as a present for my nephew's little daughter. It's based on the work of a celebrated Victorian Fairy Artist. I don't mean that he was an actual Fairy, but that he was a non- fairy who painted fairys. I suppose if he had been a real fairy his paintings would have been too small to see, or the canvasses would have been woven out of spiders web or some such thing. Hmmmm.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

ahhhh, that's better!


Why should concrete drainage pipes make me feel better you make ask? Nope, guess again. 64 rolls of wallpaper lining ready and waiting to make 32 puppets. The plan is to have the little darlings working in pairs with darling A lying on a crucifix of wallpaper lining while darling B draws round about them. I anticipate the hard part will be making these the tightly rolled 5.5ft bits of paper (aren't children TALL nowadays?) lie flat. Also the cross of paper will have to be glued together before they slump on top of it in a grumpy, pre-teen kind of way.

All this will be happening in a very modern primary school, totally open plan and ram jammed full of kids, teachers, stuff and only one sink. A distinct lack of space. The only floor area, which is what we need, doubles as a dining hall so tables will have to be removed before puppet making can commence. However, feel better now I've done a little prep and refuse to make myself anxious with the 'what ifs'.

One of my eco art fall back plans is to make plastic bag dream catchers as I did with a school last year. I have a friend who grows willow and allowed me to raid her garden. I've never worked with willow before so was guided by her when she told me to let it dry out and then resoak it. Where do you soak 60 6ft lengths of willow in a small flat? In the bath of course! How long does it take? 3 days...pheewwwww! So this year, no soaking. Cut, coiled, dreamcatcher frame done and dusted. My willow growing pal is currently in India but thanks to the wonders of modern technology I was able to ask her permission to go through the nightmare that is willow harvesting again this year. She assured me it was no sweat but reminded me to cut the willow close to the mail stump. .....I know what a male stump is........but a mail stump? Lamenting my ignorance in the ways of willow, I asked for clarification. Ooops, finger slippage, that would be main stump. Ahhhhhh, that's better.