Muscari © Claire Leggett

The last few weeks have been very busy with HB’s 50th birthday celebrations and I had lots of kiddie classes to teach over the Easter break. However Spring flowers wait for no-one so as soon as these bloomed I made sure to grab some time to paint them. I’m glad I did – it turned out alright and was good for sanity and soul!

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Just back from a few days away in Portugal – Lisbon and Sintra.

Here’s Lisbon looking moody (read that as bad weather) My umbrella, gloves and hat were the best things I packed.


When in Portugal you must partake of the Pastel de nata – a Portuguese egg tart pastry that it’s famous for.

And of course there are old and new tiled buildings everywhere.

Heaven for the pattern lover here!

This was my favourite tile and that’s no men feat because I probably photographed 50 plus!

And of course one must ride on and also photograph the ubiquitous old yellow tram.

We also went out to Sintra (an hour away from Lisbon) a lovely rich, old town bursting with old palaces and old mansions with beautiful gardens to explore. The stand-out place being this: The Pena Palace.

There are more (and different) photos over on my Instagram account  here if you enjoyed.

 

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Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of running an Expressive Watercolours workshop for Birmingham Carers in partnership with Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. 

A lovely group of ladies (it turned out, although that’s not a requirement!) enjoyed sometime playing with watercolour, salt, wax and gum resists.

I always love working with people and seeing the breath and individuality of the art each person has in them.

This group was a particular privilege to be with because of the respite it offered them from the caring work they do.

BMAG offer not only monthly session but tea and cake too – if you’re a carer living in Birmingham and want to access the service then I think here is a good starting point : forwardcarers.org.uk

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Did you notice I’d spruced up the website? New, fresh work samples in the portfolios, updated text and more representational photos of me…i.e. older looking!

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As any sole trader will tell you, there’s a gazzillion things one could do with every hour of working time and for me the thing that slips is the website maintenance. But it’s been worth all the slog as I think it looks great and just like any good clear up (once it’s done) its been cathartic and satisfying.

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Hope you enjoy it too.

I have a ta-dah for you today – a tablecloth I hand-printed recently.

One reason I like to keep blogging is to record such things – when I looked back to see when I started my Fish project, I was surprised to see the date on the upload was May 2017. It takes a long time for some ideas to percolate and evolve and then actually get made.

You can find the beginning of my Fish sketchbook workings here and here although the actual inspiration came back in Summer 2016 whilst on holiday in France when I saw a lovely tablecloth in Fragonard.

I’m very lucky to have the best p/t job freelancing at MAC Birmingham the most brilliant arts center.

And sometimes I can use the space which I needed to for this big print job.

As you can see, the following day I wasn’t so fortunate and was squeezed onto the floor of my studio at home!

It took about 20 hours to print using around 10 colours so I won’t be going into production anytime soon but it’s important to art-play as it releases surprising creative avenues.

And it did – 6 fishy themed surface pattern designs got designed last week to go to market. Now wo’betide anyone who spills red wine on it!

 

 

 

 

 Protea_© Claire_Leggett

A little painting inspired by the beautiful South African Protea via my local Marks and Spencers!

I wanted to share a little of this awesome exhibition we saw at the South African National Gallery.

It successfully aimed to raise questions about what is ‘fine art’ and what is ‘craft’ and is there a difference and also what roles gender play in how we think about these.

Quebeka Fine Art Bead Studio

The C18th brought about the prestige surrounding the Fine Arts by the creation of Academies for study and these typically excluded women.

Quebeka Fine Art Bead Studio

Craft practices continued to be connected to everyday living due to their necessity but with no status or artistic value attached to them.

Usha Seejarim Sequence City

Usha Seejarim Sequence City

Over time both art movements and the feminist movement questioned fine arts usefulness and the position of craft as a woman’s practice and so craft and fine art began its journey of meeting in the middle.

Hendrik Stroebel

Hendrik Stroebel

Hendrik Stroebel

The artists in this exhibition continue that journey of thought by showing their typically perceived ‘fine art’ thinking as social commentators but through the mediums of crafts which we usually write off as ‘domestic’.

Tamlin Blake Taking Time

Tamlin Blake’s work is a great example of this: she dyes old newspapers and then weaves them into tapestry’s which she says are the oldest form of storytelling, to get us thinking about the stories we read and their impact on us.

Tamlin Blake Taking Time

Pierre Fouche has drawn on the traditional crafts of  sailors knots, macrame and lace making to create this art piece.

Pierre Fouche

All in all it was a visual feast, and both inspiring and thought-provoking. Hope you enjoyed a little peak too.

When we stayed in Cape Town, South Africa we visited the The South African National Gallery where we discovered the exciting work of Lionel Davis.

Lionel is a self-taught artist having discovered his artistic creativity at the age of 41 through contact with a local community arts programme.

I think this exhibition was a retrospective of his life and work thus far.

It’s his experimentation with all kinds of media and the joy of his discoveries and makes his work appealing to me.

I don’t know about you but I often get stuck in my own groove of using certain techniques and mediums but it is refreshing to see a portfolio of work that plays with different approaches and methods.

It reminds me to keep trying new things.

But his work is not just attractive to the eye,  it plays a real part in channelling and expressing his social activism, his cultural views and in depicting life as he sees it in South Africa.

Two months since I last blogged…can’t believe how time flies. I’m determined to keep a record of my days here so lets fill that gap.

We went to South Africa  – a country with the most magnificent coastline, the biggest skies, abundant nature (even in their wintertime) whales to watch courting and beautiful national parks to discover.

I’ve tried to edit my 1000’s of photos down to just the four that sum up my experience – I loved the Bo Kaap district in Cape Town (I think you can guess why)

We drove a circular route from Cape Town to Knysna and back up through Franschhoek during which I began to see the contrasts in how people live and who and where those people are. Not comfortable and I’m still mulling over how the seeing of this might turn into a response and what that response may be.

The Egg Hillary Goodwin

I visited The Festival of Quilts – not sooo amazing as usual in my book but this one was awesome – that’s stitch work making those patterns people!

The show did inspire me to begin an English Paper Pieced hexagon thing – might be a quilt top, a curtain or a pin cushion! It’s early days.

Went to London with my lovely girl.

We braved the Natural History museum which made me glad to be in the company of a young adult and not a young (tired, crying, hot) child. It was sooooo noisy.

 

I also taught a tonne at the MAC which doesn’t look much in four small squares but has been a really wide and fun range of classes for all ages from Toddlers through to adult learners. It really is the best job I’ve ever had.

And the rest of the time in between all this has been spent contending with the biggest bit home renovation we’ve done since moving here 7 years ago. I’ll spare you the photos (v. boring to look at and it’s not finished yet) This however was a design I’d worked on for several hours….I was a little stuck mulling over colour choices and thought I’d go and walk the dog and come back fresh to it. Alas, I didn’t save a PS file (only this jpg) and while I was out the electrician cut the power forcing my computer to shut down. Game over.

That’s indicative of the last two months really – it has been hard to do any meaningful work this summer with people buzzing around, endless cups of tea to make and interruptions.

When I’ve not been out I’ve tried to hide in my studio doing quick bits of art to keep my sanity intact.

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And that about sums things up. Hope you’ve had a lovely summer where ever you are.

Yesterday we had such luck with the weather shining down on the Mixed Media Collage Canvas workshop at Winterbourne House and Gardens.

The Old Tool Shed where the workshop was held, is always a vintage cutie in whatever weather but the gardens looked magnificent in the blazing sunshine.

We were able to go around the grounds and draw and then use these drawings as reference in the students painting.

This is Dawn hard at work and the Beehive piece she finished.

Lots of fun was had painting and layering the collage base.

It always amazes me the breadth of artistic vision people have to create something unique given that they all had the same input.

Many chose not to reference birds but had other good ideas for their pieces.

And everyone took home a ready to hang piece of art.

 (*Shauna, you’d gone before the photo was taken – sorry)

 

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