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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.

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This was one of my favorite places that we visited in Budapest – the Hungarian National Gallery

It’s up in the Castle district and you can  pay to ride up in this cute Funicular.

It was very quiet and cool (in a not hot way!) and has a broad range of beautiful art from way back when.

I think because it was all new to my eyes – not ‘famous’ works of art that had been widely published –  I was able to really see the details and workmanship.

I took lots of detail photos, particularly of how artists represented pattern.

Canzi_ Grape Harvest

I took a zillion photos but these are some of my stand-outs – I didn’t take the name down of this one above but when I got home and looked at the close-up shots on my computer, I was blown away by the expressions on these characters faces.

The expressions captured are incredible.

I just loved the colours in this one below – but I probably said that about most of them.

Szonyi Funeral ion Zebegeny

Also – little known fact but after you have feasted on all the beautiful art over three floors, you can go up another and out onto the balcony for free! Budapest is all about climbing up to look back and get a good view and this was by far the least painful way to do it. Enjoy!

We are just back from the beautiful Budapest.

 I always do a lot of internet research before I go any where and so I thought I’d return the favour and leave some recommendations here in amongst all the photos. Firstly it’s Buda’pesh (not pest)! and if you want the view you have to walk up to get it 😉

Matthias Church

The guide books and travel blogs will tell you the Top 10 of places to see but there is literally a beautiful old building on every street you walk down as Art Nouveau had a strong influence in the style of architecture.


Royal Postal Savings Bank

But don’t be deceived – going inside will often yield hidden treasures of beautiful plaster work, gold leaf and painted walls – case in point The Museum of Applied Arts up by the park.

It’s a walkable city on both sides of The Danube and there is loads to do and go and see.

Basilica

That said, taxis are slightly cheaper than here if your feet are failing you but you’re advised not to pick them up from the street even if they are all yellow.

We used Fo Taxis and were happy especially when we first arrived late at night – ignore being offered a cab at Arrivals and step outside to the Fo Taxi booth where they assign you a car and number and give you a receipt.

Szimpla Kert

 They also have a vibrant nightlife and food and drink culture – we happened upon lots of food festivals popped up in green spaces all over the city and they have the weather to enjoy these to the max.  We also loved the ‘ruin bar’ we went in – Szimpla Kert the grand-daddy of them all.

Cirkusz

 We ate and drank a lot! Some of our favourites were: Cirkusz for breakfast (well worth the 20 min queue) Vicky Cristina tapas and superb live music,

Tama for a fine dining experience – lovely staff and Doblo Wine Bar was very cool and did a super Hungarian wine tasting with finger food and a really good explanation of all the wines and regions in impeccable English.

We went to the Hungarian State Opera largely so we could see inside and it was worth it. you can walk all around during the interval so don’t worry if your seats don’t give you ‘the view’ but bear in mind once it’s over, they want you to leave quickly and don’t welcome photo shoots then.

The Parliament building is beautiful inside and out. Build on the Pest side to show the Buda side that the people’s voice was more important than the Royal Palace on the Buda side, it was also 2 m longer than our Houses of Parliament so it could be the biggest in the world.

Pre book a guided tour before you go – well worth it to snoop inside – it’s beautiful.

A river ride is good if you’re hot and tired – we went at night in order to get this view of Parliament.

fisherman’s Bastion

I didn’t expect it to be so hot so it’s good that they have a culture for  thermal bathing but research where and when you go.

Szechenyi Baths

We think we turned up at the wrong time and maybe at the wrong door and the outcome was a very expensive ‘swim’ in an outdoor public pool albeit one with nice architecture to look at and endless sunshine. Wish we’d gone to Gellert Baths.

As the Museum of Fine Art is shut for renovation we went to the zoo but left with very mixed feelings despite reviews saying it was a great day out and the zoo buildings alone were worth the trip – some animals were having fun, one building was beautifully tiled…

Last thing to mention as it might save you a wasted trip, is that the flea market in the park had been cancelled for sometime when we went so don’t get up early on your first day for it like we did!

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Back with some more Hungarian painty/textiley things soon.

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Hope some of this helps if you visit.

We are just back from a week away in the Peak District and I had forgotten just how beautiful it was up there.

We did lots of walking as the weather was extremely kind to us and I even got to sit and sketch on a couple of days.

And we took in a lot of art when we visited Chatsworth house.

The wallpaper was AmAzInG!

There was a whole wall of Lucian Freud work.

And this Gainsborough – I didn’t notice until I looked back at the photograph that her expression is both quizzical and a bit sassy – both unusual for a woman in a portrait of that time.

And there were gorgeous Spring flowers to inspire everywhere.



And lots to eat and drink (!) and all that fresh air and lack of the usual responsibilities has re-charged my batteries.


A few weekends ago, HB and I had a little sojourn in Bristol and whilst there came across the Lubaina Himid exhibition showing at Spike Island.

Naming The Money is an installation of 100 life-sized wooden cutout figures representing Africans brought to Europe as servants.

My name is Ahmed
They call me Henry
I used to play the music of my people
Now I play to forget them
But I love the notes

Historically these slaves were given new names and roles and Himid attached their printed stories on the back of each figure.

My name is Zody
They call me Jenny
I used to grind herbs into powder
Now I blend fine tea for the ladies
But I am the best

I found this to be one of the most touching things – both sadness at their loss and humiliation but humbled by the positivity too.

My name is Essian
They call me Dan
I used to lead the army
Now I play for children
But I love their laughter

The fact that these were freestanding and you could walk among them was very effecting and their life-size-ness really made me connect with them as the real people they represented.

Himid was originally a set designer and wanted this exhibition to bring slaves out of the shadows and corners of traditional portrait painting and give them center stage.

My name is Emmi
They call me Jenny
I used to make potions and keep them in a jar
Now I help to make jam
They say it tastes good

And on a superficial note, I also enjoyed all the colours and patterning. Simply done but very moving.

My name is Akron
They call me Henry
I used to play at weddings
Now I play at funerals
But I have the memory

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We made a family visit this weekend and while ‘Up North’ made a trip out to Salts Mill.

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The mill is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire and as such exhibits lots of Hockney.

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These beautiful paintings were part of the history of the Mill in the People and Process exhibition.

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These are some of Hockney’s iPad drawings which make up The arrival of Spring exhibition.

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They are studies done in the same location, Woldgate, as the seasons passed.

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The colouring, the textures and mark-making were so inspiring.

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And the book(s) shop were worth the trip too – highly recommended day out 😉

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 I’m so very ready for Spring now and there’s nothing like painting from holiday photos to banish the grey, wet days away. This one is from the south of France last year and is inspired by the Fauvists use of hot and cold, bright, bright colours.

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Since coming back from France in the Summer I have had about 200 photos of inspirational places and scenes pinned to my studio board. And over these past few weeks I have been wooed to paint again having spent a lot of time more recently concentrating on printing and textile work (just because I wanted to !)

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I have learnt in the last few years of my art practice that even when  I think nothing creative is happening, that in actual fact a lot is percolating away and marinating in the creative juices – almost as if I am thinking things through unconsciously out of the corner of my eye every time I glance at the pin-board and then suddenly it falls into place.

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These photos are a case in point as I suddenly came in one morning and knew I wanted/was drawn/felt ready to get painting. And I was having a YOLO moment and just dug into my acrylic paints and canvas boards that have been waiting for a special moment – which of course never comes ‘cos who knows if it’s special till it’s done?!

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This scene was a lovely textural, patterned valley in the South of France overlooking La Castellet Valley and I have switched it up by approaching the colours like The Fauves would (I’ve written about it before here) and loads of layers of yummy colours.

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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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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…oh a bit of perfume too 😉

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