Category Archives: Arts and Culture

Blooming Loopy/ Dream Catchers/ Lemon Bath

The weekend before last I was at Larmer Tree Festival in Salisbury, managing the Adults Workshop Tent.  Hard to believe with all this sunshine that the main crisis of the weekend was people slipping on thick mud as they entered the tent!  Artists from all over the country came together to provide a creative adults only zone where parents and adults got involved making a clay flock of sheep, giant dream catchers, and inspired portaloo pomanders!

1.  Floral festival hair garlands handmade by my friend Romany at Blooming Loopy were on sale at Larmer Tree Festival – she takes commissions for brides and bridesmaids too.

2. Giant dream catchers made in the Adults Workshop Tent.

3. Treating tired festival stuck-in-the-mud feet to warm lemon bath and cooling toner spritz after a long weekend in wellies.

Martin McParland: Artist

In the seaside town Newcastle, at the foot of the Mountains of Mourne, artist Martin McParland finds his inspiration and source materials (quite literally – he collects lots of materials for his work scattered along the beach in the form of driftwood!).  He’s just returned from a trip to the northwest Inner Hebridean Isles where he was on the hunt for mountains, Rum ponies and whiskey and water to inspire the sketch pad. I caught up with him in Newcastle and managed to persuade him to allow me to take some pics and ask him a few questions.  I wanted to know what it’s like being an artist in an area of outstanding natural beauty and how he ever manages to get any work done!

Who or what inspires your work?
Mostly nature and travel. I think also, since time spent living by the coast the sea and the unpredictability of the weather are an indispensable combination of  inspirations.

What’s a typical day in your life as an artist?
As a resident artist at Shimna Integ, I see my two groups of A level students and work with them . I also teach painting at two weekly classes. In between I normally go for a cycle with camera in tow. I find that is the best way to find that workable image which could start a new series of work. Finishing up with a walk up the beach foraging for that elusive washed up piece of magic driftwood..!

What is the piece of work that you most proud of ?
I collected about 200 pairs of dockers and ship builders gloves that had been preserved in the oil soaked waste ground where the Titanic centre now stands. I had started collecting them around 1993 when I was at University doing my Art Degree. I had them in boxes for a few years really struggling with what to do with them. About 1997 when I was now at Queen St artist studios, I had the opportunity to exhibit in Mostar, Bosnia. The exhibition was entitled No-bodies Children, reflecting upon the Serbian/croatian conflict which tore the country apart 5 years earlier. I had remembered watching the horror unfold on tv back then. I decided as the gloves now had a working title “lost hands”, I thought that an installation on the walls of the newly refurbished Gallery in Mostar with the gloves covering all the pillars throughout the building in and outside (incidentally), the gallery was the only building really left standing. I left the piece titled “Untitled 1887/97″, reflecting on the date I traced the earliest glove id number, which was a riveters glove, to the present day opening of the show.

Where can we see more of your work?
Nowhere at present other than private collections or hanging on sheds & trees with blue tits nesting in them!!

What’s the best thing about being an artist?
Probably being able to express myself beyond words through the art I create and altering others perceptions by challenging and provoking responses. Also not taking any crap from over paid mediocratic athocratic nitwits who have nothing better to do with themselves other than be self servient.

Type on Tuesday

I’m loving hand drawn type on chalk boards at the moment, it gives a really friendly and approachable feel to signage and is much cheaper than printing too.

The High Line

After reading an article this week on The High Line Park in New York, I thought I’d dig out the photos and share a few on here for this week’s Three Things post. I spent my last day in New York at the end of my six month round-the-world trip wandering along The High Line spotting arty creations along the way – arguably the best park in the world!  Read the article by Brandon Presser on the Lonely Planet website here.

1. Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat), 2011 -  an installation by Sarah Sze along The High Line.

2.  From high above, there’s a great view of street art normally hidden down at street level.

3.  Street art on the roofs.

Royal Armchair/ Jubilee Cake/ Exhibition Invitation

The Diamond Jubilee is nearly upon us!  Here are three of my favourite Jubilee features I’ve seen around Berkshire in the build up to the event.

1. These fabulous armchairs were sat outside Trade Interiors Shop in Cookham. For a real experience visit their shop, which is jampacked with quirky bits and bobs, but you can also shop online on their website.  Buy the Union Jack Chair here.

2. One of the most creative Diamond Jubilee window displays in my area at Flour Power – check out some of their Jubilee themed cakes here, an essential addition to any Jubilee party!

3. Prize for the best window installation in Wokingham goes to More Arts, and Sue Martin’s creation of a 1950′s Coronation Day tea time.  Call by to see the window at More Arts, 43b Peach Street, Wokingham, RG40 1XJ.  The Diamond Jubilee Exhibition, a collection of 1950′s magazine spreads from the Coronation, is on show inside the empty shop pop-up arts space too.  Exhibition open over the Jubilee Weekend and bank holidays, plus Wed-Sat 12-4pm until 16th June.

Type on Tuesday

Tiles on a shop front in the high street of Cookham, Berkshire

The Front Room

I was in Newcastle, County Down in Northern Island recently and made a long-overdue visit to the pop-up vintage shop my auntie was originally involved in setting up.  Every now and then the shop, named The Front Room, springs up along the shore in this touristy seaside town and is packed with lovely vintage tea sets, clothing and more.  I picked up a preloved black leather jacket and a vintage tan leather bag for a pinch, and a few weeks ago my other auntie had first pick on a gorgeous 60′s coffee table.  There are artworks for sale by local artists too – if you’re in town pop in and see what’s on offer as the stock changes regularly!

The Front Room, 65 South Promenade, Newcastle, County Down, N. Ireland
Check The Front Room facebook page for the latest.

Gearing Up For The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

I’m busy at work creating an exhibition to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with the More Arts team, using clippings and cuttings from 1950′s magazines.  It’s made me pretty excited about all the different arts and cultural things that are going on to mark the event, so Three Things this week features Diamond Jubilee related arts and cultural offerings.

1. Hand Embroidered handkerchief – I was visiting my Nanny over Easter and talking to her about celebrating the Diamond Jubilee.  It reminded her that she  had this beautiful handkerchief, which she hand-embroidered in 1953 to mark the Coronation – apparently it took ages as I can quite imagine.  Still in pristine condition after nearly 50 years – it’s far too special to have been used for wiping snotty noses!

2. Face Britain – The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts has been inspiring children across the nation to create self portraits and upload them onto the Children & the Arts website.  Tens of thousands of children have taken part, and their images will be projected onto Buckingham Palace to create a giant montage image of HM The Queen.  Projection artist Ross Ashton has been commissioned to create the montage, made up of thousands of children’s self portraits.  Be the first to see the projection tonight, Thursday 19th April 8:30pm at Buckingham Palace.  The montage image will also be displayed on over 400 JCDecaux digital advertising screens across the UK.

3. Planning a Diamond Jubilee party?  This British Tea Party handmade mini bunting is an essential piece of Jubilee party kit.  Created by North East based digital artist and graphic designer Laura Cartwright, you can buy the bunting online here.

Image © Laura Cartwright

Three Brooches

Recently I was having a discussion with an artist about brooches.  We were talking about how they are an underrated piece of jewellery these days, which people often don’t think about wearing. I have a small collection that I like to use to add to plain jackets and scarfs, bringing a bit of decoration into lots of otherwise plain outfits.  All my brooches have been given to me by my mum who has a talent for finding fun pieces, many have come direct from artists and others sought out in second hand vintage shops.  Here are three of my favourite brooches from my collection.

1. Handmade many years ago by a parent at Alder Bridge School in Aldermaston

2. Handmade in Northern Ireland from Painted Earth, Newcastle County Down


3. I love this one’s graphic style, people are always intrigued whenever I wear it!

People/ City/ Blog

This week’s Three Things post features three blogs which explore and document local people and their relationship with the towns and cities they live in.  I’ve been feeling the post-travel blues the past few days so have chosen three blogs investigating local community and people from places that I visited on my round the world trip.  All the blogs were featured in last Wednesday’s G2 magazine, add them to your bookmarks and check in when you’re in need of a pick-me-up.

1. Delhi – The Delhi Walla blog is jam-packed with cultural information, a vibrant celebration of food, culture and books from India’s capital city.

Image from my visit to Udaipur, India, Sep 2012

2. New York – Every Person In New York is definitely a blog to keep popping back to.  In an attempt to draw every person in New York, it features a sketch completed and uploaded every day of (sometimes) unsuspecting people going about their everyday business on the streets of New York.

Image taken in New York along Highline Park, Feb 2012

3. Ottawa – Hello Ottawa is a fun hyper-local blog introducing some of Ottawa’s residents through beautiful photographs and friendly interviews.  Makes me want to go back again right now.

Image of snow sculpture taken during Winterlude in Ottawa, Feb 2012