Sunday, July 27, 2008


This year's family holiday was taken in Adelboden, Switzerland, in early June. The resort had only just reopened after its spring shut down - the perfect time for walking in the higher pastures amongst the Alpine flowers.
This was the view from the hotel dining room, it was about a four mile walk to the base of the waterfall and the a cable car ride to the corrie above where the snow had only just melted and the grass was still brown.
Gornergrat at approximately 11,000 ft was a wonderful viewing platform for the surrounding mountains and glaciers, although still snow covered it was obviously melting fast around the observatory. Alpine Choughs congregate around the viewing areas in the hope of an easy meal, beautiful birds and quite magestic in flight.
Taking the train back down to Zermatt we decided to disembark at one of the stations and walk part of the way back. Only a couple of thousand feet lower than Gornergrat most of the snow had dissappeared and the alpine flowers had begun to blossom. Gentians (above) were the highest flowers that we saw although there were also pulsatillas, anemones, saxifrages and auriculars (below).
The melting snow had filled this lake at Elsiganalp. Deep, cold and clear the lake was surrounded by barbeque pits, obviously a very popular spot in high summer. We could not find an outlet for this lake but on our way back to the cable car found a stream welling up in the middle of a meadow which must have been where the waters from the lake resurfaced from underground streams in the limestone.

Zentrum Paul Klee

Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland houses a large collection of works by their most famous son. It is housed in a fabulous modern building which incorporates exhibition, library and education facilities as well as large outside spaces for modern sculpture.


The Abegg-Stiftung Museum in Riggisberg, Switzerland is a stunning collection of textiles and ancient artefacts.
Each year they hold a temporary exhibition and this years display is of 15th and 16th century costumes that they have conserved.

Farnham Graduate Showcase

It's always a joy to visit the BA Graduate Showcase at Farnham and this year was no exception.

Julie Coakley glass

Jewellery designer Emma Simone Madden

Rhizotron & Xstrata

Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway are new features at Kew Gardens aimed at giving the visitor a new perspective on the landscape in the arboretum.

Rhizotron is the 'secret place' showing the underground world of trees with its rich diversity of insects, invertebrates, fungus and root systems. Xstrata treetop walkway allows the visitor to literally walk amongst the treetops of the sweet chestnuts and oaks and see the gardens from a completely different view point.

Although it was only on its third day of opening on my visit I was highly amused to see that a pigeon had already begun nesting in the fork of one of the huge metal support posts and was completely unfazed by the large numbers of people looking down on it.

Loop at Kew

Design duo Loop have undertaken a residency at Kew Gardens as part of the ArtisanCam series.
Camalonian Columns are based on the structure of the vessels in trees that deliver water and nutrients to where they are needed.
Fabricated from lengths of fibreglass rods of differing thicknesses to form interlocking rings of variable complexity these self-supporting, extremely lightweight structures have been installed on the lawn, beside the pond between the Palm House and the Woodland Garden.

Beguiling Time

Beguiling Time is a selected exhibition of Contemporary Lace by the 98 Lace Group at the De Morgan Centre.
Symphony in White, neck piece by Australian member Vishna Collins.

I'm not a fan of lace behind glass and unfortunately the placing of my Bowl of Night in a glass cabinet meant that it was not lit to produce the shadows that are such an important part of the piece. It would have been far better on a plinth where the audience could have walked around it and seen the subtle nuances of the purples and midnight blues, amongst the blacks, that come to light from different angles.

Carol Quarini produced a three layer panel, Cloths of Heaven, (detail right) which could also have been hung more sympathetically. Given space between the panels the subtle play of light could have enhanced this work. It's unusual to see Carol work in such strong colours but she has shown that she up to the challenge with the colours from one layer blending into another through the translucency of her delicate silk papers. Her bobbin lace inclusions are, as always, the stars of the show drawing the viewer in for closer investigation.

Art of the Stitch

The Embroiderers Guild exhibition Art of the Stitch is a selected exhibition that is open to anyone working in the field of stitch.
In the recent past there has been little traditional stitching, with fabric and thread, in evidence however this year it is the primary vehicle of expression. Whether this is to do with a more international panel of selectors is unknown (the exhibition will tour to Germany, Hungary and Spain and all had selectors on the panel)
I loved this piece called Rusted Lace by Sandra Callanan. Based on a disintegrating piece of Maltese silk bobbin lace, it is constructed from recycled, surplus and donated materials which are quite at odds with the original luxury item. At 2 meters long the scale reminds me of the way lacemakers always insist on getting in close, preferably with a magnifying glass, to see how a piece was made.
White and Blue Lines (above) by Lithuanian artist Inga Liksaite was for me the best piece in the show. The grace and fluidity of the white lines was wonderfully sensuous with the blue adding a greater sense of the dynamic to the piece.
Work was also exhibited by some of the selectors, including Chris Berry who showed Canale Grande. This is an exploration of European Renaissance architecture in paper and stitch. I loved the apparent simplicity of this piece which was well lit and could be shown in any number of different configurations.

Carole Waller

Meeting Place, by Carole Waller, at the Crafts Study Centre is an exhibition of hangings, projected video and textiles set in glass. The theme of the works is the movement of people at a station.

China Now

With the Olympic Games being held in China and its current economic boom there is a huge amount of interest in China at the moment. Whilst there is a wealth of information on the country's history most people know little of its current artistic environment, this exhibition begins to redress the balance.
Much has been made of the architectural wonders of the Olympic Stadiums such as the 'Birds Nest' National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron but there is little clue as to how much use the ordinary Chinese people will get from this building when the Olympics are over.
This poster Mei 'Beauty' by Han Jiaying beautifully marries the ancient art of calligraphy with modern digital graphics. The hand of man working in harmony with 21st century technology is perhaps a worthy goal for this fast developing nation who must overcome vast problems with pollution as they grapple with the realities of a consumer based economy.

Seasons Through the Looking Glass

Cj Lim and Studio 8 Architects installation 'Seasons Through the Looking Glass'.
CJ Lim had presented a paper, at the Memory and Touch Conference in May, about the work his architecture practice does with cut paper so I was expecting something unusual when he exhibited work in the underground entrance to the V&A.

The subject of the installation is mythical underground spaces, exploring the spatial possibilities of a subterranean garden. In London underground plants usually have ducts and boilers not trees and flowers. Lim's trees are made from paper and his roses from recycled garments, during the installations time at the V&A the roses will be changed to reflect the changing seasons.

Blood on Paper

Blood on Paper at the V&A sees contemporary artists looking at book forms in a truly diverse range of mediums.
Anselm Kiefer's huge work The Secret Life of Plants stands proudly in the entrance to the exhibition. Its solidity and solemnity mark it out as a serious piece of sculpture yet being in the form of a traditional book with turnable pages it has a familiarity that refuses to be ignored.
Projected onto the walls is a new commission by Charles Sandison, Carmina Figurata which places the viewer at the centre of a dynamic universe of swirling words, signs and characters.
Anish Kapoor has a series of pieces entitled Wound which evoke uncomfortable images of incisions in flesh, the layers of paper being like the layers of the skin. The precision of the laser cutting also reflects the precision and skill of the surgeons knife.
In the shop are books by Chisato Tamabayashi which are as precise as the work by Kapoor but come from a diametrically opposed production method. 18th and 19th century European lace patterns are explored in the delicate and time consuming process of hand cutting. The action of cutting turns the page into a story for Tamabayashi and is a meditative process.

21st Century Textiles Symposium

Stroud College hosted the 21st Century Textiles Symposium on May 10th. chaired by Dr Polly Binns, the speakers included Jennifer Shellard, Sally Freshwater and Sarah E Braddock-Clarke.

Stroudwater International Textile Festival

Stroudwater International Textile Festival is an annual event that takes place in and around Stroud, a traditional cloth manufacturing area.

Amongst the exhibitors at the Museum in the Park was Anna S King who makes baskets that are both exquisite in their execution and questioning in their meaning. The Wrong Side is a beautifully coiled 'pot' but the inclusion of rusted flat nails turns it from a piece that invites handling into one that distinctly says 'do not touch' and questions both our desire to hold and what the contents are that require protecting in this way.
Weavings by Ptolemy Mann, in the George Room Gallery are saturated with glorious rich colours that glow. Based on the ancient ikat techniques of dyeing and weaving these are truly modern textiles influenced by the modern expressionists such as Rothko and Elsworth Kelly. These are pieces that bear close scrutiny and yet remain striking from a distance.

HAPTIC - Awakening the Senses

This exhibition at RIBA held its Private View on May 7th. The exhibition was first shown in 2004 in Japan.

Memory & Touch: An Exploration of Textural Communication

This one day conference was held at RIBA on May the 7th to co-incide with the opening of HAPTIC - Awakening the Senses.