Monday, 27 April 2009

Mini Masters meet Guiseppe Arcimboldo

Due to reasons beyond my control I have been slightly out of my routine and just realised that I haven't posted a blog for over a week. Can't recall what happened at all with my time, it seems to have evaporated along with my memory. 

Something that I vividly remember though is our Mini Masters art session. I introduced the little ones to the work of Guiseppe Arcimboldo, a late 16th Century Italian artist, most famous for his paintings of portraits made up from objects (mostly edible). I showed the Mini Masters portraits made up of books, fish, fruit and vegetables and we then got busy copying various fruits on the table, incorporating them into a portrait. Most of the girls did their mums I believe, using bananas and strawberries.

At snack time we cut up the fruits and made fruity faces on paper plates before gobbling them up. 

Not sure what we are going to do next time, I'm thinking of making an elephant sculpture of recycled packaging and papier mache based on a work in the Walker Art Gallery. I would like to take this activity outside though, so let's pray for sunshine next week!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Sunny Port Sunlight

It was the last day of the holidays for the monkeys, we've had a lot of fun this Easter .....

As it was yet another beautiful day we decided to go to the Wirral. We really wanted to visit the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight and then go for  a nice coastal walk but we got stuck in the gallery. We all absolutely loved it here. Fabulous Victorian pictures but we also loved the wonderful collection of Chinese porcelain and Wedgwood Jasper ware. There were plenty of trails for the monkeys to keep them occupied and the gallery is not too big for them to get lost (if anyone is worried that I let them roam around unattended, don't worry, they are very well supervised!). 

I could write down all the wonderful things that we saw but I'd rather just encourage everyone to go and visit and see for yourself. Here are some detail shots of the building itself. 

Afterwards we had a surprisingly lovely lunch in The Bridge Inn. It was truly the freshest and best prepared pub food I'd had in a long time. 

Nearby we stood still at the Hillsborough Disaster Memorial : 

Another 6 weeks and we'll have the summer holidays. I'm counting!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Never Forget

Wow, I took the monkeys to see this show today and I will certainly never forget this fabulous afternoon for many reasons. Only two more days to go in Manchester and if you're lucky enough to get front row seats like we did, you'll sure get under the spell of this smashing cast. I think Mark Willshire, Tom Bradley and Scott Garnham have reached hero status in this household! Girl monkey was thrilled to go to the dressing rooms to see her drama teacher and see some of the singers and dancers along the way. I am sure she can't wait to go onto that stage herself.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Mellow Yellow

Some time ago I wrote that yellow is not my favorite colour to work with but having put a few pieces together for my 'Rainbow Square' I am quite keen to start on this little project. I should have been in a mellow yellow mood for this tonight but a screaming little neighbour kept me up all night again last night, so sadly I have no energy at the moment. Hope to be back soon with some creations. 

As the monkeys are still off school I can't see to make a lot at the moment apart from food. Boy monkey chose a recipe from his Shrek cookbook today: Fuzzy Navel Cocktail! It sounds quite unpleasant but it was a really nice drink made with pineapple, orange and lime juice topped with a little fruit kebab of pineapple and strawberries. My little man was so pleased with himself. 
For tomorrow he has chosen Magical Morning Potions for breakfast. According to boy monkey they will make all ladies transform into Kylie Minogue and boys into dragons (did you know he is not even five?). If I do change I will put a before and after picture on the blog tomorrow.....

Monday, 13 April 2009

Exercise for green fingers...

Another sunny and happy Easter day so we decided to hit the garden. I should have taken before and after photographs but it was too embarrassing! A complete transformation has taken place from a backyard strewn with children's toys, broken bikes and an overgrown terrace to a rather grown up looking space. 

I also exercised my not so green fingers by planting Albion strawberry plants. As an incentive I ordered these through a newspaper offer but it took me two days to actually unpack them as nerves had set in. They are now in their pots and scattered around the front and back garden just to see where they will grow best (don't just want to blame my not-so-green fingers you see...).

If they do well I will be back for more...

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter

Just wanted to wish you all a Happy Easter! I was hoping to get this out last night but my internet connection let me down. Anyway, here we are, we've had a beautiful Easter Sunday. Hope it was sunny wherever you were. 

A snap shot of yesterday's Easter cake I made to take to Mr Betsy's boss. It's a Dutch ginger cake (smells delicious, always). 

My very best Easter decoration, made by boy monkey: 

My dear monkeys had chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner I think, oh dear!

Friday, 10 April 2009

More Gormley, MAG and Urbis

We've just had the first two days of the school holidays and they have been thoroughly enjoyable, as usual I can just see the Easter break flying by. 

Our culture trips started yesterday with a visit to the Manchester Art Gallery. The monkeys absolutely love this place. They were really impressed with Filter by Antony Gormley. This hanging figure is made of flat steel rings welded together and is just magical. There are some wonderful photographs on Flickr of the installation of the work. The monkeys were quite surprised when I told them that the same man had designed the works on Crosby beach. Mr Gormley, my little ones are in awe of you!

We took part in the family activity "Attack of the monster plants". On arrival we got paper, pencils and a viewer to take to Paul Morrison's fabulous 25m black and white mural of giant sunflowers and daisies with a cottage and some ruins on the second floor. We drew 4 sections of this work, boy monkey really got into this. Then we went to the Atrium where we drew a still life of real plants. Armed with these designs we then went to the printing stations where we made mono prints based on our drawings in either black or white. 

We stayed in the museum for the rest of the day, carrying around a tea pot bag and a fish one; trying to find the objects that inspired the bags, exploring the contents of the bags and making more drawings. Eventually they wanted to visit the Clore Gallery, I think if they could have stayed overnight they would have. 

Today we planned to go to Urbis to attend the family friendly LoVid performance. I am not often disappointed but I think I completely missed the point today. My friend had come over from Chester and we had high expectations of the audio video performance that merged craft, electronic art and conversation; and contributing to a collaborative weaving sculpture. Sadly as it was, it took place in a very small corner of the exhibition space that did not really invite, I didn't think the noise was family friendly, hardly any explanation was given and the reception was far from 'friendly'. 

Now, you will all know that I would be first in line to say that children, however young, should be introduced to a wide variety of art but somehow I didn't think that a lot of the works were suitable for young viewing. I really loved the back of this work but wouldn't have liked to explain the front of it. Luckily the monkeys didn't get to study it as they were too distracted by their mum getting them out of a video room that showed unsuitable images and languages for their age group! 

When we got home my friend really cheered me up by treating us to these lovely and delicious Easter cakes. I am getting into a very festive mood....

Hope you all had a lovely Good Friday!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Tyvek fun

Today I had a lot of fun with Tyvek at the Embroiderers' Guild Manchester. I'd been to a lecture about the use of Tyvek in design before but had never played with it myself. Although Tyvek can be bought in sheets it is more economical to buy it from industrial sources (either massive sheets or suits). Today we used envelopes. Ironically they came from my previous employer (well not directly but they had mysteriously been picked up online) and I was charged for them! Years ago I threw them all in the bin, always complaining that we didn't have a way of recycling them and annoyed that they couldn't be torn up if it had a name and address on them.

Anyway, today I found a fabulous use for these envelopes. 

After cutting them up, I painted the pieces with printer inks but learned that many types of paint, dyes and crayons can be used. Some pieces I slashed and others I stitched. 

When the paint had dried up, I ironed some pieces, some longer than others and got fabulous examples as a result. I love the colours of this one :

One piece I slashed and put some stitches in before ironing (but Tyvek can be stitched afterwards as well)

Again I was really pleased with the result of this one. Not a project for a control freak as you can have very little control when working with Tyvek. I've got a few large sheets left. All I need to do now is think of a project. 

As you can see I have used a lot of purple! And this may have been the first time that I haven't been 'accused' of only using blues in a workshop. 

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Arts about Manchester

Oh, I love it when the sun is out! It really feels like summer. I couldn't bring myself to blog about our first dinner outside yesterday as I thought everyone would think it's an April fool's joke but we did and again tonight, a rare treat for this time of year in Manchester.

I had such a fabulous day today. I had a few things on the agenda starting with a T-shirts and Suits Coffee Club session in the wonderful Cup Cafe in Thomas Street. It felt so good being amongst all these lovely creative people who all wanted to support each other. David Parrish is brilliant for setting this up. 

I then went to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre to hand in my Think Pink yarn wrap for the banister and explore the studio spaces.

My last stop was the Manchester Art Gallery before heading home to get the monkeys. 
Now everywhere I went today I bumped into friends/fellow crafters/fellow craft teachers; it was totally bizarre but very nice. It felt like one of those lucky days.