Wednesday, 29 April 2009

learning to love you more

I need to start this post by explaining that several months ago I did something I had never expected to do - I joined the WI. A friend mentioned that a new group was starting in my area and did I fancy going along to see what it was like. I mentioned it to daughter R and she had heard about it too and decided to come along as well. It turned out to be a very well attended and lively meeting, with a committee of enthusiastic 30-somethings. Having been very much a rural/market town sort of organisation it seems that the day of the urban WI is dawning.
Anyhow, that preamble is to introduce the fact that Malago WI are taking part in the SouthBank Arts Trail and to make it easy for a disparate, not necessarily arty, group of women to take part they have adopted the Learning to Love you More website. This is the brainchild of artists Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher, who have put together a series of assignments that anyone can carry out. I have chosen the task "Make an encouraging banner"and have had a lot of fun putting it together using hand-made felt. After the exhibition's over I may actually hang it on the garden fence to encourage all the veg growing I'm planning to do!
The heading picture is a close-up of the lovely soft, woolly, felt

Sunday, 19 April 2009

earth friendly bags

Over the past few weeks I have made a pile of "earth friendly" shopping bags as an alternative to the plastic that is offered to us in most shops. These are my (so called) "artistic" offering for the SouthBank Arts Trail this year. The work stems from my desire to do my tiny little bit for our tired abused planet and is part of the aspirations set out in my 50 before 60 birthday manifesto. It also means that I have to become better informed about the environmental impact of plastic on the planet and, indeed, the environmental impact of making bags from commercially produced fabrics.

To this end I have been looking at the website of Modbury in South Devon, where all the town's traders have committed to being plastic bag free. The campaign is inspired by Rebecca Hosking a wildlife film-maker who has seen for herself the damage that discarded plastics are doing to marine animals. There's a lot of interesting stuff in there, but particularly relevant to me is her warning that the alternatives to plastic bags are not necessarily environmentally friendly either.

I can’t guarantee the environmental credentials of all the fabrics I have used, but all the bags are made from remnants, offcuts or recycled clothes/bedlinen which has to be a tiny step in the right direction.

Friday, 17 April 2009

simnel cake

As planned, I made a simnel cake for our Easter celebrations. I haven't made one for years and was pleased with the result from this Good Housekeeping recipe. I cheated with ready-made marzipan which had been in the freezer since Christmas and was probably the inspiration for the whole thing. It was rather a lurid yellow, but after toasting under the grill that didn't really matter. The layer of marzipan in the middle of the cake stayed in the right place during baking and provided a delicious layer of unctuous, almondy stickiness. As I had been off cake, biscuits and puds for lent this was quite special for me! (It has all been eaten.)

Friday, 10 April 2009


Yesterday we went to an exhibition in Oxford organised by Stillpoint. 14 contemporary artists had been asked to make their own interpretation of the stations of the cross. The result is a strong, inspiring exhibition. It's at the Jam Factory until 16 April and I recommend it.

I was particularly taken by a piece by Alan Ramsey, which consisted of two panels completely covered in London Underground tickets and incorporating the artist's words about Jesus's silence under trial. I copied down the words and later realised that they work as a poem in their own right. I hope the artist will not object to me reproducing them here.

(Jesus on trial)

If you hadn’t stayed silent
I’d never have grown up
I’d never have asked a single decent question
I’d never have seen that woman quietly sobbing
I’d never have laughed about my new coat with those Spanish girls
I’d never have obeyed the tannoy on 7/7
I’d never have heard my darkness on Old Street
I’d never have talked Bonhoeffer with that friendly American
I’d never have tasted the claustrophobia on my tongue
I’d never have hummed that lame little chorus to myself
I’d never have gone to meet her at Sloane Square
All the journeys
would have been
the same
We’re always telling you to speak up
We’re always slapping you around
Explain yourself
Bet you can’t guess who hit you?
I like it that you’re a quiet sort of person
Word and no word
I can’t imagine you babbling on and on
If you hadn’t stayed silent
I’d never love your kiss
more than prophesies or answers
I’d never want to keep playing
this brilliant hide and seek faith-game
I’d never ache
to see the light again