Friday, 6 May 2016

London Calling

Seagull Sculpture (with yarn bomb)
Limehouse, London
At the end of March Mr. Stitches and I headed down to the great metropolis to see his siblings. I hadn't been to London for ages, over six years, so I was looking forward to going and seeing some of the galleries and exploring the city. We had a great trip; good company, nice walks, intriguing sculptures and excellent exhibitions. I got to have a wander around the V&A which I always enjoy (so much to take in, I only ever try and tackle one or two galleries per visit) and we visited a rooftop garden at the new Crossrail station.

Little head sculpture
Limehouse, London

The view from where we were staying

Tower Bridge

Whilst we were in London I really wanted to go and see the Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture exhibition at Tate Modern and I wasn't disappointed. The show was even better than I hoped, I came away full of ideas and really inspired by both his work and his approach. I could have spent many more hours in there but did get chance to sketch some of the pieces and I bought the catalogue which I'm enjoying reading.

From the Circus Series, wire drawing by Alexander Calder
Image from:

My sketches from the exhibition

My sketches from the exhibition

My sketches from the exhibition

I was particularly inspired by his early wire portraits, literally drawings with wire. Because they have a 3D element the way they are lit can radically alter them, with the shadows becoming as important as the drawings, something which I have a keen interest in with my own work. I also like the sparseness, as I often work with continuous line and in a quick and sparse way myself I saw in these wire portraits another way to develop my own drawing.

Thread wrapped twig and feather mobile

Thread wrapped twig and feather mobile (detail)

I also especially like some of Calder's later 'mobile' sculptures. Although not all necessarily based on natural forms I read a lot of them as natural forms and it sparked off all sorts of ideas in my mind. This week I finally got round to putting some of the ideas about mobiles and making into action, experimenting with feathers and twigs. This has really got my creative juices flowing and I'm hoping to explore these ideas further.

Two Sides to Every Story...
Twig, thread and feathers. May 2016

Two Sides to Every Story...(detail)
Twig, thread and feathers. May 2016

March was a busy month and April even more so so whilst we were away I thought I'd be amazingly efficient and use our trip as a chance to prep for one of my workshops. I was due to run a folded sketchbook workshop (which sadly got cancelled) so for one of my samples I thought I'd make an envelope sketchbook about our trip. I used leaflets and tickets and bits and pieces collected on the trip which I collaged together to make custom envelopes which I then joined together to make a little book. I love making these books, they are a good way of using up all the stuff I have collected as well as acting as little mementoes of visits.

Plants from the rooftop garden

Plants from the rooftop garden

Plants from the rooftop garden

Although I really enjoyed our visit it confirmed my belief that I really don't want to live in a big city any more. Too many people and not enough greenery for me, which not so many years ago is not something I thought I would ever say. Whilst I do miss the amazing and easy access to art and culture that big cities offer I now find I prefer the access to the natural world and the peace and space that living in a more rural county offers. Luckily, because I live in the modern world with planes, trains and automobiles I'm able to take advantage of both!


  1. Looks like you had a good time. I feel so lucky living where I do. No need to 'escape' to the country, I'm already here.

    1. I couldn't agree more! I love living up here in Cumbria and feel very lucky to have such easy access to the wonders of the natural world and a much less frenetic pace of life.