At the weekend I crossed off a Bucket List wish when we visited Crosby Beach in Liverpool.

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This is the home of Antony Gormley’s Another Place permanent exhibition. Almost all Gormley’s work focusses on the human figure and its relationship to spaces.

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Here there are 100 cast iron figures set along 3K of beach all looking out to sea, or as the tide comes in, in it too, all in contemplation – Gormley says of it himself ” It is…just the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe, facing a horizon busy with ships moving materials and manufactured things around the planet.”

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It was beautiful day and the sky was enormous with spectacular clouds but there was also something spellbinding about inhabiting the beach with these¬†silent, still observers. You couldn’t help looking where they were looking and standing still next to them. Such a simple idea but so connecting.

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The only one who didn’t do any of that was our dog Lottie, who pranced about joyously in the water – I love this picture of her mid-prance!

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Todays calendar page is not wrong!

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After a lovely busy Summer bursting with family affairs, teaching, holidays and other welcome distractions, today is the first day I find myself home alone and able to concentrate.

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So I picked this interesting Hydrangea flower from the garden and got re-acquainted with my paintbrush. It feels goodūüôā

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We split our recent holiday in France, into two destinations so that we could cover more of the south coast in the time we were there.

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I had heard of Grasse being the perfume capital of France (and read that book years ago!)

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And I also knew that it would be cheaper than any where on the coastline to stay and that it was the home of Fragonard perfumes.

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And I am a big fan of Fragonard packaging so all in all it was the perfect destination.

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I love the styles of illustration and painterly florals that they use.

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And spent a happy time snapping away at all the beautiful displays.

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I’ve got to tell you I saw an assistant throw a beautiful box in the bin, and if I hadn’t had to navigate the convo in French I would have asked for it!

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Being the home of Fragonard, the town of Grasse had several Fragonard shops in it all with beautiful displays.


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So I have come home with oodles of inspiration‚Ķoh a bit of perfume tooūüėČ

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Hello poor neglected blog! I came back from me hols and got swamped in work and life related doings but I’m determined to get something up now.

Bormes Les Mimosas 2We went to the south of France, Provence, for two lovely sunny weeks.

Cassis 2I have loved France since the first day I began my French lessons at secondary school.

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We didn’t travel abroad as a family back in the olden days when I was a child! so I found it fascinating and exotic.

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I also adored the French teacher and found I loved learning a language and a new culture.

Hyeres - old town

We’ve not visited France for sometime (having to compromise with two kids) but this year we were young,¬†free and single and prepared to drive 18 hours to get to La Ciotat on the south coast and then later Grasse – along a bit and inland.

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It was as beautiful and interesting as I’d hoped.

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Lots of markets (every night in La Ciotat where we stayed)

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I love to buy fresh food, a new basket, mooch about.

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There are endless lovely villages to explore along the coast and in land  Рvillages-perchés Рthe perched villages in hillside settings.

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Soooo many window boxes, door ways, nice views, flowers and plants to photograph – my HB is endlessly patientūüėČ

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And of course there is a wealth of art in the region.

Renoir’s house

¬†Interestingly the big dollar museums like Mus√©e Mattise and Picasso seemed like they’d been cobbled together to draw the tourists in but the Museums of Chagall and Renoir (his last home) were quietly brilliant and charming.

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Chagall has to be seen in the flesh – his work is amazing!

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This is where I’d still like to be – sitting in the shady tranquility with nothing to do! But that’s how all good holidays should leave you.




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Just off the pins…Bunty Mitts by Ella Austin. you can find them here.

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I wanted to do some Fairisle but not be months on it and these are the perfect sized project and a manageable amount of colours.

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I love them!

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Ok, the last you’ll hear about Amsterdam etc.

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But I love this little piece – a quick little patchwork with alittle patchwork with some transfoil hi-lights.

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Perfectly captures what I’ll remember best- ¬†that big, big sky and those clouds.

It’s been ages since I filled a sketchbook like this!

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60 odd pages full of textiley work inspired by our Dutch holiday earlier in the year.

Want to have a little lookie?

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I’ve been experimenting and making examples of all sorts of things –

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lots of different types of print methods, stitch and applique.

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Pinterest was a good source to fire my imagination with.

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I haven’t done a project like this probably since art collage and it’s been fun to blow the cobwebs away and do some new things.

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I have been having a lot of fun over the last few months teaching Mixed Media Textiles at MAC Birmingham. This is a fabric collage piece based on the lovely village of Marken in the Netherlands.

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The students are full of talent and creativity and sometimes it’s easier to show someone how they could approach their work, rather than explain it.

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So I have been using our¬†Amsterdam trip as inspiration¬†to re-aquaint myself with techniques and ways of working that I haven’t used recently while painting¬†so as to¬†make a sketchbook of samples.

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And boy have I had fun! And learnt some things long forgotten such as I love print, love using embroidery stitch to draw with, like trans foiling, like dying but still hate weaving – too slow!

One of the best things we did on our recent Amsterdam trip was to get the ferry off the main bit of Amsterdam town and hire cycles for the day.

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Everyone cycles in Amsterdam so this was all very easy.

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We headed off with great plans of all the villages we visit on a round-trip and with a little warning from the cycle hire guy about not being over ambitious because of the wind.

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Ah the wind! I figured cycling on the flat would be a breeze (excuse the pun!)

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We stopped on the way at Broek-in-Waterland which is a beautiful historic little village full of gorgeous houses and fascinating architecture.

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Then we continued on¬†to Marken – ¬†OMG I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was the loveliest place ever…

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the houses, the architecture, the scenery, the ducks everywhere,

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the shutters, the fences, the harbour…all set out like a cute¬†little toy-town.

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And having laughed all the way up till this point we soon realised that the return route was going to be real hard against the wind and did have to curtail our grand plans to cycle-see everything and we began the slog home against the wind.

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But so worth it. We often find on a city break, that a day out in the surrounding country not only gives us a break but contextualizes what we see of life in that place. And this was never more true here where we could see how people live and commute and what the land looks like РI would never in a million years have guessed how lovely the Dutch country villages could be.

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And it has inspired a wealth of creativity since.

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Where does the time go? The Summer seems to be hurtling past and these past few weeks have been really busy and are only set to get busier with children’s classes to run at MAC and a lovely holiday to look forward to.

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So I’m prompted to finish some work I’ve started inspired by my travels earlier in the year and edit and store all my many Amsterdam photos.

A Windmill on a Polder Waterway - Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel

A Windmill on a Polder Waterway – Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel

These shots come from the¬†Rijksmuseum¬†which is one of the most beautifully set out buildings for art that I’ve been in.

Portraits of Sir Thomas Gresham and Anne Fernely - Anthonis Mor

Portraits of Sir Thomas Gresham and Anne Fernely – Anthonis Mor

The layout, the wall colour, the space…it all set the pictures off to their very best.

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It had a few ‘rock-star’ pieces like these Vermeer’s (below) which are truly lovely¬†and made all the more so by being quite small in reality; intricately painted and full of emotion.

Woman Reading a Letter - Johannes Vermeer

Woman Reading a Letter – Johannes Vermeer

The Milkmaid - Johannes Vermeer

The Milkmaid – Johannes Vermeer

There were also some other sweet, candid, real-life scenes from painters I’d not heard of.

A Mother's Duty - Pieter de Hooch

They appeal to me for their subject matter – a little like walking past an open door and catching sight of a life being lived in a snapshot moment.

Woman with a Child in a Pantry - Pieter de Hooch

Woman with a Child in a Pantry – Pieter de Hooch

Other paintings appealed for their colour palate – sorry it’s blurry but the colours are gorgeous.

The Calling of St Anthony - Aertgen Claesz

The Calling of St Anthony – Aertgen Claesz

Others caught my attention because of their sense of history Рthis one is a beautiful composition and the notes on the plaque  explained that a family being painted playing music was symbolic of their harmonious life together.

David Leeuw with his family - Abraham van den Tempel

David Leeuw with his family – Abraham van den Tempel

Finally, when in The¬†Netherlands¬†you’ve got to love a Dutch countryside scene.

Boat with a Pollard Willow - Matthijs Maris

Boat with a Pollard Willow – Matthijs Maris

 

***

There are 3 main galleries the guide books suggest you visit.

The Van Gogh museum¬†is¬†a must-see – however¬†long queues outside, big crowds inside, one or two ‘famous’ pieces of his but then¬†bulked out by works by his contemporaries, made the expense of it feel a little bit like it was a¬†money spinner exhibition.

The Stedeliijk museum of Modern Art was alright! Not a massive fan.

The Rijksmuseum was my stand out favourite.

(PS To those people who asked me about this, sorry it took me so long to write about it – you’ve probably had your trips by now and discovered for yourselves!)¬†

 

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Not bad given the haphazard gardening that happens here! ūüĆĪ#homegrown #flowers #garden Crosby beach ūüĆě #anthonygormley #anotherplace #crosbybeach #fundayout #thedogenjoyedittoo Reunited with my paintbrush ūüĖĆAfter a lovely busy Summer, today is the first day I'm alone in the house and can concentrate. #painting #watercolor #gouache #homealone #pattern #butimissthem She's in and she's got the Bond room! #firstdayofuniversity

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