Land, sea and sky

What an arty adventure I have just had! It began with a weekend workshop with Gizella Warburton at Hawkwood College near Stroud, looking at ‘Colour, Mark and Composition’. The venue was delightful and I have never had tastier food – all local, organic, or home grown where possible. 

 We had a great studio space and Gizella was a wonderful tutor – she taught with a confident pace and just enough challenge and encouragement to make me think more about what I was doing. We sketched and painted and cut and collaged our little fingers off as the walls of the studio began to fill with deliciousness.

 I came away having learned much more about expressive mark making as a starting point and I would definitely recommend her to you. I don’t usually post workshop work on here, but as this was less about someone’s particular technique and more about looking, I’m happy that these marks have arrived from somewhere within me. I hope that makes sense.
I just got a little obsessed with a fir cone. It wasn’t until I took a few in from the gardens that I noticed the tiny bits of lichen growing on this one, and having drawn its shapes and soaked up its colours over a couple of days I can see it just as if it is in front of me. No need to look again if I take this further, which I might. I’m thinking about loopy stitches…

Next was a shorter drive to Mary’s house. Mary is a treasure and we caught up for a day, looking at her amazing quilts and textile creations before flying to Ireland. I haven’t flown for sixteen years – I can’t tell you how nervous I was! I rather wished I had some buffalo stunners to calm my nerves.  I got on the not-so-large propeller aircraft and decided I was OK. Everyone seemed extremely sensible, obviously flew on a regular basis, so I would just pretend to be the young, suit-dressed seasoned international traveller that I was in my parallel universe. All was well until we started moving, then I lost all decorum on take-off when I couldn’t stop smiling or take my head out of the window. I had forgotten how wonderful it is and I unexpectedly loved it! The clouds were astonishing – all billowy and gappy so you could see the land and sea, and Ireland crept up quickly and was full of green and watery spaces.  

Kim’s house is on the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s windy where I live as the wind comes straight off the Pennines in Yorkshire, but there the wind comes from the sea and from different directions, and although it can be wild, it was gentle on my visit and brought clouds and light that changed every minute of the day. Kim’s house is on the Loophead Peninsula in Kilbaha and is really away from it all, nestled near the bottom of a small hill and looks out to the most amazing view. Sitting out to eat breakfast in our pyjamas or eat supper in the evening was a huge treat.

She has swallows and martins chattering about, and a lovely robin. That isn’t what she calls him, but I know she loves him really. She has even made him a disco ball at robin height. She says it’s to stop him coming in the house and making a mess, but we both know it’s because she’s such a generous soul and wants him to party on down.

Kim plans to run some workshops from her lovely home and use some local businesses to share her passion for the area and of course, to make wonderful things. Her Facebook page ‘Land, Sea and Sky’ is loading up with photos from the area – do look in.  

We pottered about the area for a few days, taking it all in and nurturing a sense of place. The cliffs were spectacular around the lighthouse. It was incredibly exhilarating.

The beaches provided a lot of inspiration. These little shells are no bigger than 3 mm. Tiny treasures scattered amongst the huge pavement rocks.

The hedgerows were an astonishing riot of colour and a feast for the eyes. Who knew orange and purple could be so heavenly – normally I would veer right away from such a combination.

Some of the local girls…

I met some lovely friends, including Krys, a local artist living in a little cottage filled with the most incredible work – assemblages, sculpture, textiles and paintings. She spoke to me about a piece she had made in response to stories and art from the Irish uprising where women were rarely featured but of course, always present. Her work was very moving and beautiful and presented a connection to our exhibition that Hillstone Fibre Arts are doing at the Yorkshire Mining Museum in the New Year. I am preparing a piece about the women rising up through the miner’s strikes in the 1980s and how they were changed and empowered – so much so that families split as people grew apart.  

Krys’s cottage and garage wall

We got talking over a pot of coffee and I told her of something I still needed to make- something that’s been there for a while in the back of my head. Krys said ‘some things just keep whispering at you – they keep talking quietly and won’t go away until the time is right’. What perfect words. This thing has been whispering for two years or so, but in these few days away my conversations have touched on it with everyone I have spoken to and I think the time is right to try and make something. Hopefully more of that to come…  

Waiting is hard, but the three of us talked about how you have to wait for art to happen sometimes. I never understood how artists could feel this, and live with a whispering idea for so long, but I do now. I wonder if you have one whispering at you? Let it – you will know when the time is right to do something.  

Left behind cottages with their stories in the stones.

I said I’d be taking something blue away with me. It was green in the end. I have some pieces of a new bower house that just needed stitching without thinking and I have button-holed my way through a few days of delicious peace and quiet.

Finally, I was now prepared for my flight home.  I strutted through the airport with a confident swagger, no buffalo stunners for this girl!  I was determined to be grown up and read a magazine like the lady sat next to me this time. I would not look out of the window for the entire journey.

I did. A smirk just crept up as we took off – I was helpless. The sun was setting over the tops of the clouds this time, and it was too magical for words. I love clouds. I have a big sky at home with awesome clouds. In fact, I will leave you with something I wrote years ago:

‘Clouds come in all shapes and sizes. Some herald fine weather, they are there on a sunny day and make us feel happy and cheerful, they contribute to our ‘feel-good’ factor in life. Other clouds bring the storms – loud and dramatic, swirling about causing discomfort or even damage. Some hang about for ages and we wish they’d move on, they cover everything and depress us. Some clouds are plain boring, some are interesting. Some constantly rain down onto forests, others come once a year, both bringing life. Others are just a tiny part of the scene, hardly noticeable. Some protect us from harm, others get in the way. Some race by, gracing us for just a moment, or vanish in the day’s heat. Some are beautiful, peaceful, clouds that radiate the sun’s rays onto the earth, others illuminate the air with colour at the end of a day. Some are spectacular evidence of energy and others are but a wisp. But clouds are a blessing to the earth, they nourish and sustain a world that could not live without them – we need them.’

If you like, re-read the paragraph but where you read ‘clouds’ replace it with ‘people’.

I have been blessed by a few beautiful ‘clouds’ this week x


10 thoughts on “Land, sea and sky

  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed this inspiration filled post. Who knew the pine cone had that gorgeous textured stem and the lichen is just magical. You had an amazing experience in Ireland and you must have come home buzzing with ideas. Kim’s new home is in a wonderful location and I have been following her personal Facebook page and the wonderful photos she has been posting of her new homescape. I love the west coast of Ireland and envy her her new life there. I saw Gizella Warburton’s work at The Hub in Sleaford Lincolnshire many years ago and she is inspirational. Well done for becoming an avid flyer. I am in the still anxious camp although I enjoyed a flight to France that I went on in my teens for all the reasons you have shared. Maybe a short flight to Ireland would be a good idea to find some of the confidence it gave you. I shall look forward to seeing the work that comes from your visit to Ireland and the beautiful cloud views.

  2. I’m so excited to see the stunning images . . . I will be n the area in 10 days time! My flying will be a little longer and in a rather bigger plane though as I’m coming from New Zealand!

  3. Your post is full of inspiration. I, too, fear the flying, especially in smaller planes. Love that you “decided to just act like an adult.” 🙂 Kim’s new life on the Atlantic coast of Ireland is just dreamlike to to me. I have enjoyed both yours and her photos showing the area. The crocosmia plantings are stunning borders on the lanes. Thank you for posting to your blog.

    1. …and your writing on clouds is spot-on! “But people [clouds] are a blessing to the earth, they nourish and sustain a world that could not live without them – we need them.” Blessings and peace to you.

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