Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Creative Wednesday - The Dolls Have Eyes (and other names)

Full steam ahead this week for the exhibition I'm putting on with Mr Kitsch. I have just designed some publicity material and set up a blog for The Smith & Jones Museum of Folk Art. I think it gives a good flavour of what we're up to. Mr Kitsch has been busy sending out information to all his many contacts.

My part of the exhibition is called 'The Dolls Have Eyes', a name which some of you will recognise. And, as you may also know, I have a lot of trouble with names.
When I was just dreaming about spending more time on making art, one of the things I wanted to do was to make dolls. Not dolls as you would know them, but small figures, in a folk art or primitive style. I was very influenced by masks, costumes and sculptures from around the world, like the wonderful collections in  the Pitt Rivers Museum. Along the way, I also started to discover (or re-discover) mass-produced vintage dolls, and I wanted to combine all these interests and influences. Looking for a suitable name to cover both the cute and the creepy, I came up with 'The Dolls Have Eyes'.
However, whilst 'The Dolls Have Eyes' is suitable for some of my 'art' pieces, it does not cover everything I do. So I became 'Kitsch and Curious' for selling vintage stuff. But I needed to put a name to the things I make, something suitable for stuff that wasn't about dolls OR kitsch (yes, there are a few things!). As some of you will know, I tried 'Nearly Teatime' as a shop name, but it wasn't quite right when I wanted to put my name to a piece of work.
I've been reluctant to use my real name, because there is a very good artist with the same name, and although it might benefit me to trade on her success, it could get confusing! After toying with various names and anagrams, I've decided to use the name Elsie (which was my grandmother's name). So my new professional persona is Elsie Jones, and as you can see I'm using it for this exhibition.

[The photos I've included are some of my older doll-related pieces. There will be lots of new things in the exhibition, but I've yet to take photos of them.]

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Buying, selling, and getting stuff for free

I really enjoyed my weekend. On Saturday, I was invited to a sale by Camilla of Made by Milla. She had organised the sale in the basement of the Here shop in Bristol, to raise money for her MA fees (in Curatorial Practice). She was a bit worried she might be sitting there on her own all day, so asked me if I'd like to set up a stall alongside her. She needn't have worried.  An endless stream of her friends and supporters came in all day, and her things were flying off the shelves.
Despite my being there to sell, I bought rather a lot, as she had so much wonderful stuff. Like the ornaments in the pic above, and the fab craft magazines and plaques below.
And these packets of 'nylons' are wonderful! Why don't they have pictures like that any more?
She has also organised a brilliant art raffle, with some fantastic prizes donated by her many talented friends. Go to the Madebymilla blog for info and tickets and you could have a chance of winning some beautiful artworks (Even better art than the nylons packets!).
And if that wasn't incentive enough, I can tell you that Milla has organised (without pay) many wonderful art events in Bristol over the years. She will doubtless be a superb curator, and this is a great opportunity for her, so please help. I think it says a lot about her that artists of such high calibre have donated their work to support her.
Our other weekend activity was scrumping for apples and pears. There are some abandoned gardens near us, with lots of fruit trees, and when we went for a walk on Sunday, we collected a couple of bags. Free organic fruit!

Monday, 23 August 2010

The Computer is dead. Long live the Computer!

Well, computers do rule our lives, don't they? And like monarchs, when one dies, you have find a successor straight away.

I am now the possessor (or should it be loyal subject?) of a shiny new laptop. My computer gave up the ghost last week. It's always a traumatic experience, and I still don't know if I can get all the data retrieved.

I've also switched from an iMac to a Windows laptop. (If you're technophobic, you may want to stop reading now.)  I decided I couldn't justify the extra money for another Mac, but as I started to use Mr Kitsch's laptop last week, I began to realise that I'm a Windows user at heart, anyway. I just don't get why people rave about Macs. There's very little that works better on a Mac, and a lot that works better on Windows.

Now that I have my new laptop with Windows 7, it feels like coming home. Even the fact that they fail to put 'proper' email software on Windows 7 (yes really!), hasn't put me off. The main problem is that I only had half my data backed up, so if Dr McApple can't get it for me I'm a bit stuck. Main problem at the moment is not having anybody's email addresses. Oh well.

So that was why there was no blogging from me last week (did anyone notice?). I've actually got lots to tell you about, but that'll have to wait until next time.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Creative Wednesday - Pebbles on the Beach

Some 'land art' I created on the rocks at Ilfracombe. Or just arranging pebbles, if you prefer. It's always great looking at all the different shapes, colours, and patterns of pebbles. This beach had lots of disc-shaped stones, and I started looking for the most circular ones.

OK - it's not exactly Andy Goldsworthy, but I enjoyed myself!

Monday, 9 August 2010

We've gone on holiday by mistake

I have just returned from a few days away in the dark heart of Somerset.  Knowing we had no holiday planned, Mr Kitsch's parents kindly suggested we could stay in their house in Wiveliscombe, while they were away on holiday. London Friend was due to visit us at the same time, so after checking with all parties, we arranged to take her there for a couple of nights, and take a day trip to the North Devon coast. I had visions of Famous Five-style picnics and idyllic country charm...

As a non-driver, I am always navigator, and am generally told I do a pretty bang-up job. However, on this trip, I failed to take into account some of the local hazards. To start with, it seemed as if the drivers of every kind of large vehicle had collectively decided to test their skills in very narrow roads. We encountered dustbin lorries, caravans, buses, coaches, tractors, wide loads of hay, a cement mixer and even a vintage steam roller on tow.

By the time we got there, Mr Kitsch was already a bit frazzled. But after a short rest, he said he was up for a jaunt, and as it was the middle of the afternoon by this time, we decided not to go far - just to the local sights of Clatworthy Reservoir and Wimbleball Lake. At first, driving through all the country lanes was a joy - rosebay willow herb in flower on the high hedges, and the occasional glimpse of a valley through a gate.

The reservoir had a dam, and the lake was... lake-y. Perfectly adequate as large bodies of water go, but nothing to put on a postcard home. So, thrill-seekers as we are, we decided to carry on in a circle round the lake on a 'scenic' route down the country lanes. Unfortunately, I had underestimated the twistiness and up-and-down-iness of the roads, and what appeared to be a short round trip actually turned into a never-ending roller-coaster of narrow lanes with nothing to see except hedges so tall they blocked out the ever-diminishing daylight. And endless, endless rosebay-bloody-willow-herb.

Every millimetre on the map turned into miles. As I was map-reader, the others kept asking hopefully if we were near home, and I had to reply, "No... just a little bit further," and watch their tired and wan faces collapse back into hopelessness. The sun started sinking and we thought wistfully of the Chinese takeaway we planned to have, as we toiled round each blind bend and 1-in-5 hill. When we finally got back to Wiveliscombe, you would think we had completed a round-the-world trip, the relief was so immense.

It says a lot for the resilience of the human spirit, that the next day, Mr Kitsch was still willing to drive the  hour and a half to Woolacombe and then to Ilfracombe. "The roads are much better" I told him, and he believed me. To be fair, a lot of the roads were better, but there are still a lot of A-roads that shrink to a bus width in places. It was still a roller-coaster, and this time we were coming back in total darkness.
Our day at the coast was grey and dull and unbroken by any sunshine whatsoever. Both London Friend and I have injuries to our feet at the moment, so walking is not ideal. Trudging round in light drizzle does not make for happy campers. And I will gloss over the incident where I fell off a pavement giving myself a light smattering of grazes and bruises and damaging a brand new pair of trousers.
But there were good moments. There must have been, ooh... very nearly several times we enjoyed ourselves. They mostly involved food - cream tea, fudge, chips, the aforementioned Chinese takeaway...
And if you are a country-dweller snorting in derision at the lack of stamina of us townies, I challenge you to make your way through the centre of Bristol in a Friday rush hour. Child's play in comparison!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Creative Wednesday - Colourful Crochet Doodle

I thought I'd have a go at some colourful crochet in the style of my 'doodles', which usually consist of radiating patterns and shapes that sort of overlap. I was quite pleased with how it turned out, and I think I'll try some more like this. In real life the colours are even zingier than this, but it was a bit cloudy today.

It was just a random large square, with no particular purpose, but I put it on a cushion to photograph it, and then decided it looked rather good on my blue chair. So I might leave it there.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Birthday, Party, Trifle, Older

The Garden Party wasn't quite like this...

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments on my last blog post. It made me feel a lot better to know I'm not alone. And guess what? I turned 49 yesterday and I still don't need a zimmer frame or stair lift! (The jury's still out on the Tena Lady though!)

I had a lovely, if quiet, day. We postponed a planned meal out as I had a dodgy tummy (hmmm, that does sound old...). But we did go to the annual Garden Party, organised by the Residents' Committee on our estate. (oh dear that sounds even MORE middle-aged!). Mr Kitsch made a gorgeous trifle for the garden party, with jelly and hundreds and thousands on top. (Now that sounds like a kids party...)
I had some lovely presents and cards. You can see how my loved ones understand my love of 'Chalet Chic'...
And Mr Kitsch got me some kitschy cute stationery that doesn't look at all suitable for a middle-aged woman...
I was feeling a lot happier by the weekend anyway, as I had managed to improve my mood by a carefully balanced combination of positive thinking, affirmations, crochet and shopping. I realised that I hadn't had enough fun lately, so I decided that I would spend my birthday money (yes, a middle-aged woman can still have birthday money from relatives!) on some clothes. I had planned to get a new printer, but to hell with that. Some new clothes are going to make me a lot happier.

For help with the positive thinking, I turned to my old favourite, 'Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway'. It's such a great book, and full of advice that really works for me. I know self-help books can seem a bit trite, but this was published nearly 30 years ago, and has stood the test of time. I go back to it often, as keeping positive is like keeping fit - you have to keep exercising. I'm not terribly good at keeping up either of them, but I'm determined to do better!

I'm experimenting with adding links to Amazon. I should disclose that if you click on this link to Amazon and then buy anything from them, I will get some small revenue. I'm only going to recommend books that I really like, but you can click on the link and buy anything at all.