Monday, 3 October 2016

Camping for A Really Good Break-In the Fibula

I have done something so darned stupid. I’ve broken my leg!
When we say ‘Let’s go away for a break’-we don't mean it to end up this literal, do we?
‘How did it happen? Well, it was like this…’

I creep out through the tent flap to get water from a standpipe in the hedgerow. Early morning dew glistens on the grass around the tent. I turn on the tap and water splutters into my little bright orange silicone foldable bucket (indispensable camping essential!).

A woman stands watching me from the middle of the field. She has a Navajo style blanket held close around her shoulders and is cleaning her teeth. Her gaze is disturbing and impenetrable. For an unknown reason it bothers me. Maybe she is herself trying to wake up from a deep sleep (or she couldn't sleep?) and doesn’t realise that her emergence from slumber (or not) is making her gape at me in such a disquieting manner?

‘I wish she'd stop staring at me,’

The bucket overflows and I go back towards our tent. My foot slips and turns over, twisting in a rabbit hole close by a tent peg. The pail hurls out of my grasp. I fall and hear a crack and my scream through a searing blur of pain.

The staring woman doesn't falter in cleaning her teeth. The bucket is bouncing yards away in a spray of dew and tap water.

Andrew dashes to my rescue and lifts me into my flimsy camping chair that has threatened to collapse throughout the holiday. The chair protests and strains at the joints. ‘Oh, please don't give way now’ is one of my thoughts - another, is ‘WTF have I done?’. To my horror, my ankle appears as though it has swallowed a tennis ball. Andrew gently places a compress (flannel soaked in cold water) upon it. “This needs looking at,” he says with concern. “Time to phone a friend,” and he strides away across the field with his arm raised high elevating his phone to the Heavens. His somewhat urgent figure portraying an attitude not dissimilar to an over dramatising Shakespearean thespian posturing on the stage making grandiose gestures.

To get reception in this valley means a mile scramble up the hillside or a trek into the village.
Alfriston Village
I am left alone.
Our plans to spend the last day of our holiday visiting the National Trust 14th century thatched Clergy House (first house acquired by the NT for £10 in 1896 by co-founder Octavia Hill) and visiting the local Rathfinny Wine Estate and buying a few bottles are now a low priority (mind you, I’m not convinced fine local English wine should rank as low priority in my present condition-it might even be vital!).
The Clergy House and Rathfinny Wine Estate

 I look around the field. The staring woman and her tent are gone. Two kids are playing with a toy go-kart, riding up and down a slope.  I try to relax but am forced to listen to a loud PA. system playing music. This quiet campsite, nestling in the deep silence of the valley of the Sussex Downs where we have spent the last week listening to nothing but the tooting of owls and the cawing of the rooks and crows, has turned into a poor man’s Glastonbury music festival. An adjacent field is swarming with junketing frolickers. Their electrified music is amplified by the geology of the valley which has now become a giant speaker. The noise funnelling around from the field behind the stables and echoing off a banking of trees (a sound system in the quiet of a countryside campsite? ‘Come on!’). The location is a natural amphitheatre.

 ‘I want to go home,’ I whimper.
 Andrew returns, with the assurance that one of my dearest friends, Nicky, who lives nearby, has offered us hospitality to stay if I cannot drive home (Brave, when you consider it could well end up with me being like the heroine Catherine who injured herself (same as I) in Wuthering Heights - and ended up staying as a prolonged houseguest of Linton at Thrushcross Grange for five weeks!).

Nicky warns us that the waiting time in Eastbourne Hospital is at least four hours.

Despite the temptation to accept the kind invitation to stay (any other time I would jump at the chance-but, in my predicament, any form of ‘jumping’ is out of the question); all I want to do, is leave. It must be a primitive homing instinct for when you are injured, an inherent urge to get home-to crawl away and hide within your own inner sanctums… to die.

Unable to help Andrew in the packing up of the tent, I sit forlorn in my rickety ‘ready to fold up in a heap’ camping chair, thinking; that it's a pity he has never taken his driving test.

I strap my injured foot up tight inside my walking boot. Then drive 70 miles with a grimace and clenching of teeth at every gear change to London (Never approach the City of London via Blackfriars Bridge with a broken leg - they've got a new cycle path and bus lane network that causes horrendous delays and confusion-it used to be the best way, but not anymore-it precipitated at least thirty clenches and grimaces!).

 The following day, a visit to A&E at our local hospital (UCH) an X-Ray shows I am suffering a broken bone (the Fibula to be technical-it's the thinner one parallel with the Tibia).
Well, that's all for now folks. I have to pick up my crutches and hop off till next time.
psst! Scribbles is a nickname I work under for some cartoons!
I suspect I may now have more time now to write and post articles that I have lined up in my BACK LOG BLOG!





Monday, 25 July 2016

How to Oil Out a Painting in The BP Awards

The 271 To ARSENAL (Xavier and Max) exhibited in this years BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery is painted by my sister Teri Anne Scoble.

Oiling Out
The day before the exhibition opened I went along with Teri to the gallery’s conservation room to watch her oiling out the painting. I wanted to know what ‘oiling out’ was all about.
Varnishing Day
I've heard of Varnishing Day which historically was the day when artists would go and do last minute touches to their pictures before the opening day of an exhibition such as The Royal Academy. The RA still has a ‘varnishing day’ but even though artists don't use it for ‘varnishing’ or ‘oiling out’ anymore it is retained now as a celebration with a procession, prizes and refreshment (so maybe it's the artists who are getting well oiled now instead of the pictures!). Mind you, I don't think it was beyond many a painter in the old days to get ‘well oiled’ either. But I digress.

As I was saying, my sister likes to carry on with the oiling out practice.


Oiling Out versus Retouching Varnish

I asked Teri "Why are you 'oiling out' with oil medium and not using a *retouching varnish?"
“I like to oil out as I feel the medium allows the painting to breathe. Whereas,  using retouching varnish is covering it with a coat of film and seems less organic, and doesn't allow the newly painted picture to breathe so well.”

"What medium is it that you are using?"

“Today, I am using Windsor and Newton Oil Medium"
*Similarly to oil medium, retouching varnish can be applied when the painting is touch dry'
photo montage (clockwise) The  271 to Arsenal -  oiling out - Teri oiling out at Wolverhampton Art Gallery (photo also shows 'Pieter' by Susanne du Toit winner 2013 and the feet of  Daniella Astone's self portrait)
   How to Oil Out

Apply an oil medium sparingly with a clean 'lint free' cloth (to avoid unwanted tiny hairs and fluff sticking to the picture) and gently cover the work using a small circular motion.

An oil painting may have some dull areas caused by the oil colour sinking into the canvas or ground, and some shiny patches where a glaze has been used. Perhaps the ground is unevenly absorbent, or the painting technique has been varied with the use of fine over glazes in some areas and layers and not in others. Some colours have more oil content than others too. Whatever the reasons are for the surface sheen patchiness - to ‘oil it out’ will even out the differences and variations between the parts of the painting that are dull and the parts that are shiny leaving it with an overall equalised surface appearance. Not too shiny and not too dull but just right! As Goldilocks would say.

The 271 to Arsenal is the second painting that Teri has had accepted for the prestigious BP Portrait Awards Exhibition 2016

Teri’s first painting to be accepted for the BP Awards was Mrs Damon and Mrs. Healey (The picture below shows her oiling it out at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery when it went on tour following the London Exhibition.)
Teri oiling out Mrs Damon and Mrs Healey
This painting was also on sale as poster prints and postcards in the gallery shop...

On sale as postcards and posters
And in a promotional film on the big screen in Trafalgar Square.
Mrs Damon and Mrs Healey on the big screen in Trafalgar Square

During the 2013 BP Portrait Awards Teri came to know another exhibitor Leslie Watts (who lives and works in Stratford, Ontario, Canada). Together they have formed a new society of painters called The IMPS (The International Midnight Painters’ Society).
You may have heard of the Impressionists... you may have heard of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood...and you also may have heard of numerous other artist groups and schools of painting such as the Venetian, Dutch, French, British and so on. Well, now you are hearing about a brand new gathering of artists who keep in touch around the world via Skype and Twitter supporting each other online.

I shall tell you more about this exciting group of artists in another post, but in the meantime -

Keep your paintings well oiled!

Friday, 3 June 2016

I Actually Won an Awesome Prize! How Great is That?

Inspired by… V&A Exhibition: Private View and Awards

The Venue

The Emma Cons Hall at the Morley College is rather grand and has a well-lit stage above which a cinema screen projects the Inspired by… exhibition logo.

Champagne is being served from a long reception table draped in crisp white linen..
The atmosphere of the great hall is abuzz with artists and their guests. Waiters are weaving through the crowd serving trays of tasty treats. From a wandering waiter I choose a caviar canapé and I gulp it down in one mouthful of deliciousness. I love caviar and grab another one.

The atmosphere of the great hall is abuzz with artists and their guests. Waiters are weaving through the crowd serving trays of tasty treats. From a wandering waiter I choose a caviar canapé and I gulp it down in one mouthful of deliciousness. I love caviar and grab another one.

caviar canapé
The Awards
There are nine categories. I applaud politely as the winner of each category goes up on stage, one by one, to collect their award.
Then, I hear… “The winner of the Ceramic category is…
It registers that this is my category. I hold my breath.
Then I hear the unlikely pronouncing of my name. I look around (rather stupid to do that, isn't it?). But, I need confirmation – Have I heard what I have just heard?
Everyone is smiling and making wavy arm movements ushering me towards the stage. ‘Go on!’ they urge.
‘Oh my goodness!' I gasp. 'I don't believe it! I am the winner of the Ceramics category!'
I stumble forward and up towards the dais in a daze.
‘I’ve won! How absolutely marvellously extraordinarily brilliant is that!’

I am presented with my prize and listen while some really nice stuff is said about my work and then I skip back to my table with my award in my hand and a huge grin upon my face.


Time for another quaff of champagne methinks! 

A pat on the back
After a photo call with the other category winners I am approached by someone connected with the awards who says “Your work has so moved me! (obviously knows her stuff) Please may I give you some advice?” I nod, and she leans closer to say confidentially “Keep away from the potters wheel! Do not go near the wheel! (Is she warning me of some portent?) The honourable lady goes on to explain, “Your talent is in your hands! I hope you will carry on with creating ceramic sculpture.”

I feel overwhelmed and thank her for the compliment. We shake hands.

(Wow! If that doesn't encourage me to go home and do more ceramic sculpture as soon as possible – nothing will!)
As I make my way back to my table she calls after me.

“Keep away from the wheel!” And I nod, and smile. 'Righto!' I say.
Garden Party
The heady evening progresses, and we are all invited to go into the garden where a live band is playing and yet more champagne is being served.
The music is good, and I sip more champagne
In the garden beneath the fresh Spring green shady canopy we consume more canapés. The scent of blossom fragrances the warm evening air.
beneath the fresh spring green shady canopy
Another pat on the back
I get a pat on the back (causing violent choking and spluttering out my champagne) I turn with dribbles down my chin and see someone I knew years ago standing behind me (small world!). ‘Well, well, well, Annie Smutts! Haven't seen you in years!’ I remark. She asks me if I'm still writing poetry.

The Exhibition
I am impressed by the work on display here. There is a lot of talent and I am privileged to have been included in such good company.
There is an exceptional wall hanging created by the designer and artist Clare Maxwell-Hudson. I am even more impressed when she tells me that the stylish garment she is wearing - a remarkable fusion of hand dyed turquoise silks and felts – is also her own personal creation.

artist Clare Maxwell-Hudson

My eye is also caught by a sculptural installation of re-formed glass. We need a new lamp at home and I would love this!

More to see

There is so much to see - but I shall have to return another day to concentrate properly on it as the affluent influence of champagne is beginning to affect my vision -  and I don't want to make any involuntary ‘champagne induced’ lurches towards valuable ceramic exhibits, now do I?
Walking in the Rain

The exhibition runs until the 17th June at the Morley Gallery so there’s still time to see it.

'till next time!



Thursday, 19 May 2016

How to Make a Ceramic and Win a Prize at the First Attempt

'Walking in the Rain' detail
It was pouring with rain. My head is bowed down against the torrent, and I am holding my umbrella forward against it like a spinnaker sail conversely going against the wind. The sound of the rain is pattering down hard on the nylon fabric making a comforting prosodic rhythm. It is the sort of weather that makes a lot of people stay indoors - but is a dream to *pluviophiles like me.

I look down, and the heaviness of the downpour is causing splashes from each droplet to dance up, bouncing high off the grey pavement – the water spraying and glistening as it catches the pale light.

I turn into Helmet Row, a cobbled little street that runs alongside St Luke's Church. The rain is forming tantalising puddles in the gutter that shouldn't be tempting me, at my age, to paddle through them. I consider doing it... ‘Shall I?’ but, I just leap over them; gambling with landing short and getting wet instead.

I am on my way to my very first pottery class at Hackney Community College.

I have never done pottery before. I have always thought of it as something that other people do.

But hey! I love trying something new, and so here I am squelching my way through Hoxton Square toward the college.

Hoxton Square puddle
The rain doesn't let up and I arrive in class sopping wet.
The tutor is Maria A Echenique. Yes, she is from Spain! I shake my umbrella and place it against the wall. I ask her if she misses the glorious sunshine of her native land. The wry smile she gives me tells me she does.

“Rain, rain, go to Spain!” She says with a laugh to the rain lashing down outside the window.

It is a small class. There are six of us. Some of them have done pottery before. It seems, I might, perhaps, be the only complete newbie.

After introductions, our tutor presents us with four different types of clay for us to get the feel of. There is stoneware clay, which has a coarseness to it - there is a red terracotta clay - and there is a dark (I forget what it’s called) clay -  and a white clay. I choose the white clay. We are instructed just to take the clay into our hands and pummel and mould it to get ‘the feel’ of it. I have always been good at doing what I’m told, ahem. So, I squeeze it, press on it and knead it, and I like what I feel. ‘Why have I never done this before?’ I ask myself.

Maria, our tutor, then tells us to make whatever we like. This is when I start to feel shy. ‘Make what? What shall I make? What shall I make! Why doesn't she tell me what to make?’ I am starting to panic a little bit.

Maria tells us to allow the clay to tell us what to do.

‘Help! I haven't got a clue!’

So, I just keep smoothing and rubbing, pushing and pulling my blob of clay. I look around and see various shapes taking place in the hands of my classmates, who are, by now, working their pieces of clay into some sort of recognisable object. I see the beginnings of a little bowl, and in another’s hands I recognise what may turn out into some sort of a plate. But…
‘WHAT am I going to do?
WHAT am I going to MAKE?’

While watching the others forming their imaginative pieces, I carry on kneading and working my piece of clay without thinking of very much in particular.; then fearing I may get caught staring, I tear my attention away from what the others are doing and from wondering what they might be creating, and cast my eyes back down to take a closer look at what I am doing.

I go crimson.  

For I see and realise, with a shock, that my piece has been developing into ‘an object of desire’, or to put it bluntly (and here I struggle with words to try and tell you what I have been creating in as delicate a way as possible without embarrassing myself) my clay has taken on the shape of an enormous… of a… a… ‘Er… um… well, you know…
...It looks sort of… 'phallic'.

I panic and with an intake of breath, I quickly change it before anyone notices what I have been nurturing between my hands.

I hear Maria telling us that we must use our memory and inspiration from what we have seen and how we feel.
Only yesterday, I had met a friend for coffee in the V&A and I recall a work that had impressed me in the Japanese Room called ‘Blowing in the Wind’ created in 1988  by Kumai Kyōko a leading figure in the world of fibre art. I also remember today's walk in the rain to class, and how I felt (wet).

I push and pull at my piece of clay (which thankfully, now is just a respectable harmless blob shape). I am calm, and hear the rain which is still clattering against the windowpane influencing me, and under the encouragement of the tutor I allow the feel of the clay in my hands to guide me.

I find myself wanting to capture the mood that the weather can evoke - just like the piece that I saw on display at the V&A that had inspired me so much.

I set to work - and in no time at all I have made a figure that is trudging through a rainstorm.
Walking in the Rain

‘Walking in the Rain' is my very first exploratory work and I am only just discovering the many choices and exciting possibilities of creating forms with the malleable medium of clay. 
 I used white clay and an under-glaze of black iron oxide...

glaze detail

 ...with just a dash of shiny transparent glaze for the rain.
When I first see my figure from the final firing, I am so pleased with it that, I, rather ambitiously, decide to enter my first attempt at ceramics into the Inspired by… competition! I am even more pleased when I receive the news that it has been accepted and selected to be included in the exhibition at the Morley Gallery.

Entry requirements for the Inspired by… national art competition state that you must select something from the collection of the V&A museum that ‘inspires you’, and to reflect and express this inspiration in your own unique work.

I had expected to choose some mediaeval work of art in the displays at the V&A as choice for my inspiration as this is one of my favourite periods in history – but, for my first ever attempt into working with ceramics I was to be unexpectedly inspired by a piece of glass work in the V&A Collection titled 'Blowing in the Wind' 1988 by Kumai Kyōko a leading figure in the world of fibre art.  This intimate study of grasses bowing before the wind represented to me perfectly the power, drama and beauty of the elements; and the impact it has upon us all, and everything around us.

'Blowing in the Wind' by Kumai Kyoko




INSPIRED BY… is a national art competition for students in adult education inspired by the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and will run from the 17th May to the 17th June 2016 at the Morley Gallery, 61 Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7HT

Link  Inspired by...exhibition


 My next post will be about how my entry does in the competition!

Back view

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*Pluviophile: urban word: a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days)


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

IseOluwa - Traditional Yoroba spiritual

Ise Oluwa

'The work of the creator cannot be destroyed'

My video clip features Singing in the City community choir singing ISE OLUWA -  a Yoruba Spiritual, captured during their Christmas Concert 2015 in aid of War Child at the St Ethelburga’s church in Broadgate, London.

Ise Oluwa 

(The words with English translation)
Ise Oluwa
God's work

Ko le baje o
Cannot be destroyed

Ise Oluwa
God's work

Ko le baje o
Cannot be destroyed

Aye fe ok baje o, K'awon ba yo
Satan wants it spoilt so they may be happy

Ko le baje o
Cannot be destroyed

Ise Jehofa
Jehovah's work, Holy Spirit's work
Ise ti Baba Wa ti se
The work that our father has done
Aye fe ok baje o, K'awon ba vo
The worlds wants it spoilt so they may be happy
Ok le baje o
Cannot be destroyed
ase. Amin o
amen. So be it.

This is something I can do!‘”
Una May Olomolaiye
Una May from Yorkshire is a talented arranger, composer, vocal director and tour de force among community choirs.  She spreads the joy of singing and inspiration through her singing workshops and performances - sharing her knowledge and understanding of the African songs she has collected on her travels to Africa to local community groups such as Singing in the City choir in the City of London.
Una May Olomolaiye’s arrangement of Ise Oluwa was sung at the concert SING FOR WATER helping to raise funds for Water Aid.

The video clip features Singing in the City community choir singing her arrangement. To watch it on You Tube Click hereThis is something I can do!

Original drawing by Lesley Scoble
The Yoruba
West Nigeria is the home of the Yoruba with scattered groups in Benin and Togo.  They are a diverse people with a strong bond of a common language, and long cultural heritage. They are perhaps one of the widest spread of the ethnic groups that belong to the Diaspora.  
The wide dispersal of the Yoruba to the Americas is due to four hundred years of slavery. Their homeland coastal territory along the Gulf of Guinea West Africa was known as The Slave Coast.


Traditional way of life is still observed, even though they are today the most urbanised of the African nations. Family rituals continue with both male and female babies being circumcised within the first month of birth.


Ise Oluwa is a Yoruba hymn composed in the early 20th century by a pioneering church missionary. Today, about 20% of the Yoruba peoples are Christians.

Nigerian composers

There are several music arrangements of Ise Oluwa that  have been written for instrument and voice by the established  Nigerian composers – Samuel Akpabot, Laz Ekwueme, Joshua Uzoigwe and Godwin Sadoh.
For the love of singing! Visit the Singing in the City website

Signing off for now!
it. They think, ‘This is something I can do!‘”

Till next time chums!







Saturday, 16 April 2016

A Social Delight of Art at the Burgh House

It's always nice to get an invite to a Private View and take up the opportunity to go and see new paintings while enjoying a glass of wine and a nibble on a bread-stick.

My sister Teri Anne Scoble asked me if I could join her and pop in to see Faces and Spaces, an exhibition of six London- based artists curated by Art Agent Sue Ecclestone at the Burgh House, Hampstead.
Burgh House, Hampstead Heath

The Burgh House is rather grand with great wood panelled rooms in the manner of the Queen Anne epoch. It has stood in style for nigh on three hundred years mostly as a private residence - but nowadays, an independent charitable trust for arts, heritage and the community open its doors for four days in the week enabling the public to visit it's museum, exhibitions and café (in good weather it can be very pleasant taking tea on the garden terrace). 

From the welcoming bar I equip myself with a cool glass of Sipsmith (never drunk this before!) gin and Fever-Tree tonic.

Refreshments bar
As you can see from this pic - my sister knows what going to an art private view is all about.

Teri gobbling a bread stick

With my G & T accessory in my hand I work my way through to the gallery.

Doorway to the gallery

There directly in front as you enter the gallery is the portrait of one of my favourite actors Timothy Spall by the artist Tim Wright.

TW was painting consultant on the film Turner, working with the actor, teaching him how to actually paint like the painter Turner for his much acclaimed performance.

Timothy Spall by Tim Wright
  Hanging close by is a sort of 'Turneresque' landscape by artist Rw Easterby
Painting by Rw Easterby
On my way out of the small select gallery my eye catches a painting by Robert Dearman (who seems fond of painting big red busses).
Painting by Robert Dearman
This picture shows the artist in a café setting.

 And there is a pretty seascape by Chris Filtness.
Painting by Chris Filtness
 I leave the paintings and make my way back towards the bar where I can hear music.

A most talented musician and beautiful singer Anoushka Lucas is holding the room entranced!
Captivating singing by Anoushka Lucas
 She is singing 🎶 a lilting kinda blues that makes me wonder if she perhaps wrote it herself.

And I sit down beside a mad hatter.
His name is Max-A-Hatter and he designs and makes hats - should you want a statement piece of headgear - I'd give him a call! He says that you will always be noticed when you wear one of his designs.

So what do you think? Should I get one?
Wanna get ahead? Get a hat!

So, wearing a hat does attract attention it seems! (If you want people to talk to you – wear a hat!) I am still wearing the hat I have borrowed from the 'mad hatter', when a guest of one of the other artists comes over and talks to me! (If you want to sit quietly and listen to music don't wear a hat!) The gentleman is an architect, and his name is Mathew Deering, and he tells me all about his debut acting on the stage and how he now wants to be an actor. And he demonstrates his sword fighting, acting skills.

On guard!
The Minack Theatre is an open-air theatre, near Land’s End that is built upon a cliff rock face overhanging the sea. It was created by a remarkable woman called Rowena Cade who, with the help of her gardener, shifted great boulders of granite to construct this unique theatre.
Anoushka Lucas plays piano and sings

The mood is jazzy and bluesy and I go to the bar for a top- up of refreshment.

Lots of people are chatting and talking about art (I presume).

When Anoushka sings her last song I drain my glass and take a last look at the paintings.

Anoushka Lucas
Walking out into a light drizzle and Flask Walk ...
...and wend our way uphill towards the high street.
For years, when I'm out this way, I have always loved to walk to the Heath along Flask Walk -  and have always looked out for an old gate that is in a high wall. It is great heavy iron and wooden gate that had come from the old Newgate prison. Big and black and armour studded with rivets. Only, this time all I see is a black hoarding where the infamous Newgate prison gate used to be. It is not there anymore! It has been replaced by a black hoarding!
Wall now devoid of historical Newgate Prison gate
Where has it gone?

Faces and Spaces
Curated by Sue Ecclestone

Faces and Spaces draws together six London-based artists who challenge traditional forms of portraiture or landscape with stunning results and runs until the 17th April 2016

The six artists

Robert Dearman
Jess de Zilva
Rw Easterby
Chris Filtness
Claire Tilroe Steve Wazowski
Tim Wright