Yesterday I went to The National Glass Centre. It was really good with plenty to see and I came home with some gift shop booty too!

We saw a demonstration of making things of glass using a sand box as a mould, which was interesting as well as very hot! Usually they do glass blowing but we happened to see something different, which was good as I have seen glass blowing before.

The building was really interesting and very wheelchair accessible, you could even get up onto the roof and look back down into the centre as well as at the view over the river.

It was nice to see some actual sunshine too.

As well as lots of various products and creations made from glass, which were really inspiring to see in terms of colours, textures and patterns there were also other mediums, like an artist who does paper-folding, for example!

I have come away feeling really inspired and enlivened. A little trip out can be worth so much!

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It has been an inspiring time for me lately, though i have been very busy and have not actually done much creative work. I have been getting out and about quite a bit more than usual as i have been feeling stronger and have had visitors, so have been making little trips out to shops and an art gallery.

The first thing that happened was a few weeks ago, when my good friend RachelCreative sent me a book: Nature’s Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick by Jenny Uglow. Here is an article describing the book. I think she saw the connection to my bird project and my love of nature as well as the fact that he was from Newcastle, where i currently live. I am only half way through the book so far, it is a very well written and absorbing read. I have learnt a lot about Newcastle’s history and the second half of the Eighteenth Century seems to have been a time of great change with some of Newcastle’s most important buildings and streets having been built. I feel more connected to the city now, as i have been feeling as if i am not really a resident of Newcastle: I rarely get to go to town and even when i do i cannot wander the streets, only get out of the taxi then back in again on the same street a bit later… each time i go in so much has changed and feels unfamiliar. I feel that in learning more about it’s history, I saw it differently when i went into town recently, which was so nice to experience. I was also feeling well and managed to go to four different places/buildings in town, which added to my feeling of being in the town properly!

So a couple of weeks ago i went to an art and craft shop as i have a few birthdays etc coming up and i wanted to get some special things. I do most of my shopping online, but it is so nice to be able to go into a shop, especially when looking for something handmade and unique, and to actually see it and touch it before choosing.

I did not get something for all the occasions i needed to buy for, but i did find a beautiful card of a wood engraving by Caroline Coode. Unfortunately she does not have a website for me to link to, and i think it does breach copyright to post a picture of the card here, but take it from me it is exquisite – i noticed it as it has a feel of Bewick’s woodcuts – small and detailed. It is called “Lindisfarne Castle – early morning” and shows the castle and it’s reflection in the sea, with vegetation in the foreground and a tiny person walking their dog, as well as a sprinkling of birds above. As we went to Lindisfarne in February it reminded me of the special holiday we had and i fell in love with it! I found a few references to her online and she turned 70 last year (see here for flyer (half way down page) for her retrospective) and is a Quaker. There are a few of her images here on Flickr. It is so interesting to discover a local artist carrying on making woodcuts in Newcastle after learning about Bewick…

It made me think and look at my photos from that holiday and wonder how i would go about reducing those images down to simple lines and silhouettes…

During that recent trip into town I went to the Laing Art Gallery to see the Bewick exhibition they are currently showing and it was absolutely fascinating. Photo809

Amazing  to see the actual boxwood blocks that he had engraved and how tiny and detailed they were. Also showing was part of the Northern Print Biennale which was showing contemporary work and also very interesting to see how simple some of the most effective images were. I went to the gift shop and found some more inspiration there – printmaking and simple sillhoutte designs are everywhere when you start to look! From wrapping paper to cards, to the teapot i now own as my partner bought it as my anniversary present (ECP design):

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(note the bird-theme!)

And also this leather brooch, which i love, and bought for myself. Photo819

See next post for a card i have made, inspired by Caroline Coode and all this lovely stuff – hoping i have the energy to do lots more soon!

My partner went to New York last weekend, and came back with two presents for me. Firstly, one I had requested as my commiseration present for not being able to go with her (due to my poor health) which was a limited edition Diana F+ camera:

It is the MoMA edition, as it is from the Museum of Modern Art…

Also, a surprise extra present! (Yes, i am very lucky!) was a book of photographs, accompanied by poems, produced in the 1930s called “New York, N why?” by Rudy Burckhardt & Edwin Denby:

So a new toy to play with AND inspiration to draw from! Who needs to go to NY when the best bits are delivered 😉

I have taken a few pictures with different settings near my house just as a test roll to get a feel for it. It is very like my holga, although it has a few more settings, such as a sunny/cloudy setting that actually works, as well as pinhole capabililties…

The book is beautiful, the pictures are mostly very simple and understated, but the poems (and the essay about the work of both men, included at the back) really make you look at them in a deeper way and it is really interesting. I love it!