Tuesday, 23 May 2017

5 in 5 - Melanie - May 2017


Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia and she loves photography.  Every month since the start of this challenge Melanie has taken part in this monthly meme and as she doesn't have her own blog I post here. I love that we have found a way for her to take part, so over to you Melanie:
"May 5 in 5 and another month when my intended subject didn’t happen.  Instead I am giving you pictures of a grille on the Patawalonga Lake which traps much debris and proved of great interest to my three year old grandson.  The Patawalonga Lake is a man-made system designed to stop flooding of urban areas by diverting storm water, and is kept clean and healthy by tides flushing the lake with seawater from St. Vincent Gulf. It is part of the Patawalonga River system which has its mouth at Glenelg a town close to where I live.  Unfortunately the flushing with seawater does not prevent smells and the ‘Pat’ as it is called by locals is often very smelly.  The smell, caused by seaweed growth in the river estuary and often storm water pollution, I unfortunately cannot show you in a photo"






Thank you to Melanie for sharing these photos and for taking part this month. The description of the grilles made me think of a recent walk along a beach on the Isle of Man. I was suddenly stopped short by a terrible smell, which I thought was seaweed, since I was approaching a large area. However I later learnt that there are outlets along the shore front that release methane. Take it from me, they are not nice to be around when the wind blows in the wrong direction! It seems what ever side of the world you are, smell is sometimes best avoided! 

Hopefully Melanie will be back next month and I look forward to you joining us. Thank you for popping by, it is great to have your company.
_____________________

If this has inspired you to pick up your camera and join in please go to the original post where you will also find out how to link in.
And to find out more about this monthly photo challenge, and how this started, please go to this post.

Friday, 5 May 2017

5 in 5 - May 2017 - The Lighthouse Ship

Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of
each month I post 5 photos that I have
taken in 5 minutes.



Trinity Afloat is a lighthouse ship and stands permanently anchored on the Essex marshes.  Since her retirement she has been used as an outdoor pursuits centre where residential and day courses are organised. You can learn photography, to sail, paint, and go bird watching, and her magnificent red hull is a prominent landmark.

As well as going on organised courses you can also hire Trinity and arrange your own group activity. I have done this several times as I used to run a women’s writing group and organised residential weekends. This is a magical place to find inspiration and visit, and
I have always wanted to take my granddaughters on board. Last weekend I got my chance, as they had an open day. I'm not sure who was more excited!  
It is a long walk along a sea wall, to reach Trinity, and as we got near the huge bow reached up before us. We agreed it looked like a face, and that the cables running services on board look like she is eating spaghetti !


Once on board we were welcomed with cake and drinks, then given a tour of the ship.  The most exciting part was climbing to the top of the lighthouse.  This is where I took my 5 photos in 5 minutes:


The huge counterbalance keeps the light at the top of the ship stable. In her working days, Trinity Afloat would have been at sea acting as a floating lighthouse and warning ships of danger. I bet she has some stories to tell, of raging waters and violent storms! 
Now a days she quietly sits in the back waters, and continues to provide a haven.


Once at the top the 360 degree view is spectacular and well worth the climb.  My granddaughters are foot-sure and adventurous, and took it all in their stride.

These mudflats are a familiar sight, here in Essex. I love their contours and meanderings, and the shapes left behind in the mud by wading birds and anchor chains.
Man has tried to tame this coast but the sea always wins. On the horizon the sea wall was deliberately breached in 2002 in an attempt to both farm commercially and protect wildlife. It has been a great success and it's heart warming to know that this can work in harmony.  


The lighthouse is no longer operational but the workings are maintained. I like this photo for it's distorted reflection and topsy turvy  image.


The girls are interested in having a days sailing, so we might be back. I hope so.

But for now, if you fancy picking up your camera to join in with 5in5 it would be lovely to have your company!   

Here's what you do and there are more details here

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a timer for 5 minutes (I use my mobile phone).

4.  Take as many photos you can (or wish to) until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool below.

                              You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos.


Please add your link below if you would like to take part. I am often excited and inspired by the ideas and photos of others so thank you to Melanie, Paula, Mary-Lou, Melissa, Karen, Maggie, and Borqna for joining in last month. I'll be back next month with another 5 in 5. Enjoy the weeks in between and happy photo taking! 


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Knit and Natter - Twiddle Muffs and collaborative projects

I never set out for this to be a regular post and since my last one was over a year ago, that proves the point! However, once I started a blog theme of 'Knit and Natter' I got into a flow. I have a number of half written posts and as many ideas that never quite got here, yetAnd they can wait their turn because today I am buzzing with excitement and I thought I would finally catch up....

One of the reasons for lack of posts is that I have been busy doing other things, such as setting up a Knit and Natter group in the village with a friend. We started by meeting monthly and was soon asked to increase to two meetings a month. Some people knit or crochet while others do tapestry and stitching. It's a small friendly group that is growing in enthusiasm and ideas, and last year a few of us came together to knit 'Twiddle Muffs'.  Also known as Fiddle Mitts, these are helpful in reducing agitation in people who have dementia, by stimulating activity and providing occupation for fidgety hands.




So far I have taken 30 Twiddle Muffs to 'Age Concern' where they were enthusiastically and gratefully received. We continue to knit more for this is a worthy cause as they are also needed by hospitals and care homes. It is a fun way to use up oddments of wool and other bits that we collect and we can let creativity flow! 



At todays meeting I suggested another collaborative project: something bigger and more involved this time. It was inspired by a wall hanging that I saw at the recent Stitching, Sewing and HobbyCraft Show at Excel.

Designer, Lisa Hellier, created this amazing hanging with a team of willing helpers. Each piece is individually made and sewn on.  
This eclectic style will suit our own Knit and Natter group as we 
have a wide range of skills between us including: weaving, spinning, felting, patchwork, quilting, knitting, crochet, embroidery, sewing and more.

First though comes the research and gathering of ideas. I suggested a hanging for the village hall and already a list started to form: buildings that no longer stand, such as the windmill, the village shop and brickworks, and the original school whose bell still provides a clue next to the chimney of what is now a house. There will be lots more knit and nattering over the coming months, so I'll let you know how this project develops. If you get a chance to see Lisa Hellier's hanging while it is on tour, do take time to look at all the detail. It is amazing!

Meanwhile, as if by telepathy, a blog friend, Sian, left a comment on my previous post and told me about a lady who combines her love of knitting and sound. Intrigued, I checked this out and was excited to discover that the artist in question, Felicity Ford has written a pattern book. She was inspired by buildings and objects found in her locality and this added even more to my ideas for a collaborative wall art. Isn't it wonderful when everything comes together!!  

Thanks for popping by!   

Monday, 1 May 2017

More Adventures with Alice

A few weeks ago I started to tell you about my adventures with Alice. This was a weekend of mark making on an island in Essex, organised by Alice Fox. We had such fun, but what made it stand out  (a part from being with such an inspirational and lovely artist!) was that it stretched me. My go-to  tool for recording is often my camera, or a pen to write down words. This time Alice encouraged use of marks.

On our first morning Alice gave us a list of ideas. These included making marks with natural materials and found objects, as well as our favourite tools. I opted for a thick graphite stick most of the time. We were invited to record a list of different sights and sounds, vague enough for personal interpretation, and challenging enough to stretch (I'm still working out how to record colour, other than words!) One of my favourite pieces was the map of my early morning walk, which I spoke about in the previous post. Here I had held the graphite stick on a wedge of folded card, and the movement of my body directed the marks. This time I thought about how I could record sounds, and decided to do it in a similar way.

Standing in the water I closed my eyes and just listened....


Wellington boots kept my feet dry, and at brief interludes it was important to check my footing because it was an incoming tide. As well as checking the depth of water, which was fast riding, I needed to make sure I didn't sink too deep in the soft mud. Otherwise, I just shut my mind to everything other than the sounds. Of course, I could have sat on the bank where I didn't have to think about my environment, but standing in water made me feel more connected to my surroundings, and part of it. My experience was better for it.

I came up with the idea of recording the sounds by letting my pen react to the sounds that I heard. There was no thinking or planning; my hand moved intuitively and I really enjoyed this. It's something I will do more of in future. Before this weekend I lacked understanding about making marks, and now I know that when I look at these marks again, I am transformed back into that time and space,  and that they have emotion attached. 

The two pages will be joined together to create a simple accordion book, with a cover. Ideas also include making a separate book with a few photos taken at the time, and some words of explanation; with a small wallet to keep the two together.

During our weekend we also did a collaborative project. 
While sitting round the large table we were invited to make a mark
on an A3 sheet of card - something that had meaning to us this weekend. I chose my early morning walk, with it's irregular line that marked my route and journey.  We then passed the sheet to the next person, and we repeated our same mark on the sheet in front of us. We continued doing this until we received our original sheet, with a mark from every person present. 

Alice showed how to fold the card and cut along the lines, so that when folded it created a small book.   We ended up with lots of interesting marks on pages, and each of us spoke about our experience. Hearing why some people chose the words or marks that they did added meaning to our piece of work, and even though everyone repeated their mark, each book was entirely different.



One of my pieces of work was inspired by looking at the landscape.
It took several attempts before the abstract shapes of the tree line and mudflats revealed themselves, and I discovered that this free expression takes practice and playfulness for it to shine. I have way to go, but enjoyed the experience! In the same spot, I watched birds swooping and others wading in the mud. More random marks recorded this, and back at the house I added feather prints.  
A lot of our work was on pieces of folded card, small enough to carry on our field trips. Later this gave us opportunity to use these in a variety of ways and I recognised different projects coming together. In this next one I sewed the landscape and the bird flight pages together. As with other work this is still in progress. I may add a cover and have a question mark about including a hint of colour.

I mentioned at the beginning about making marks using natural materials and found objects.  In this next book there are pages that have texture - rubbings from wood, the crazed paintwork of upturned boats, metal, and rust.


I recorded what I saw and heard in words and in marks, and discovered that flowers add beautiful colour when rubbed onto paper.
I had not tried this before.







Inspired by another in our group I also took prints of mud. I discovered this is not as easy as it sounds, although to be honest, I did not spend time and patience experimenting like the lady in question. She had sat the same spot for an hour, watching the change in mud as the tide went out. She took numerous prints, and some were really subtle and delicate, with signs of movement and flow. The mud I chose was quite dry, and to make an impression I had to apply pressure. It lacks the delicacy of her prints, but it left the mark I was looking for and later I used wax to seal some of these pages. This encaustic art has a lovely texture and I have since used some of these pages to make covers for small notebooks.












I mentioned that there is a lot of mud and that it can be dangerous to go off the footpaths.  One lady found this to her cost. One foot wrong and she slipped onto her back. With no foot
or hand holds she was stranded,  with arms a loft holding her expensive camera!  I was in hearing distance had she shouted, but out of sight and with panic held under control, she somehow managed to turn and lever herself out of this thick  quagmire.  I had previous taken a photo of this broken warning sign and drawn it on one of my sheets of paper. I even added smudges of mud, though not intentionally! This page took on new meaning after this ladies experience and I discovered new found respect for the sign and warnings. It's easy to get blaze' when an area becomes familiar so I was grateful for this reminder. 


I'll be back with part 3 because I still have more books that I  made that weekend.  And I'll leave you with my favourite view of the mud, with the sun reflecting at the end of another glorious day.....

Sunday, 9 April 2017

5 in 5 - Melanie - April 2017



Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia and she loves photography.  Every month since the start of this challenge Melanie has taken part in this monthly meme and as she doesn't have her own blog I post here. I love that we have found a way for her to take part, so over to you Melanie:

"April 5th and my five in five photos are a theme I know I have used before.  I did not go out intending to take these photos but was walking round to see a friend and there was such a beautiful sun set that as I walked I took photos and these five are in the space of five minutes from different spots along our Esplanade at Brighton.  The Jetty in the photo is Brighton Jetty, South Australia.  I didnt even have my camera on me but fortunately had my phone so these photo are phone photos.  Hope you enjoy seeing the sunset and sea".



Thank you to Melanie for sharing these photos and for taking part. Anything to do with the sea makes me happy, and seeing the sunset cheers me all the more. It is nice to live somewhere with such  beautiful views and walks.

It just shows you don't have to go out with the intention of taking photos for 5 in 5 - sometimes the spontaneous moment is just right. What photos don't always show is the emotional connection with that moment, and I am imagining a warm breeze and the sound of waves as I look at those photos. It is blissful!

Hopefully Melanie will be back next month and I look forward to you joining us. Thank you for popping by, it is great to have your company.
_____________________

If this has inspired you to pick up your camera and join in please go to the original post where you will also find out how to link in.

And to find out more about this monthly photo challenge, and how this started, please go to this post.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

5 in 5 - April 2017 - Why we are still smiling

Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of
each month I post 5 photos that I have
taken in 5 minutes.




I am training to become Master NLP practitioner and over the past six months this has meant a number of stays in London. As I live  near the coast I like the occasional contrast of city life but to find escape and calmness I seek water. So I am glad that my hotel is near the River Thames and most days I take the opportunity to go for walks with my camera.

On a recent visit I walked along the embankment towards Westminster Bridge. I admired the reflections of Big Ben in the water and usually on my early morning walks I jostle with commuters and joggers as I go against the throng. But on this Sunday morning life took on a slower pace, and like me, there were others enjoying the quiet and taking photos of this spectacular building. 






Then a week later the terrorist attack took place.

I can't define in words what I felt or thought when I heard the news. I bought back the memory of this quiet early morning walk and counted my blessings, while my heart went out to all those who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A week later I was back in London. I wanted to revisit to pay my respects, and what I saw was heart warming. In a defiance and
unbroken spirit, people filled the streets. Tributes decorated every lamp post along Westminster Bridge, and opposite the Houses of Parliament people had left a swathe of flowers and messages. So this month, I am adding a few extra photos, taken after my 5 in 5.




The words below speak for many, because from this atrocity comes a sense of unity. Out of nowhere people came together to save lives or help those in need. There were many gestures of goodwill, such as a restaurant owner who gave free meals to hundreds of rescuers. And so while this event (and others like it) shock us to the core, it does not deter. No. People are going about life as usual and we are still smiling. 


If you fancy picking up your camera to join in with 5in5 it could be lovely to have your company!   

Here's what you do and there are more details here

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a timer for 5 minutes (I use my mobile phone).

4.  Take as many photos you can (or wish to) until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool below.

                              You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos.


Please add your link below if you would like to take part. I am often excited and inspired by the ideas and photos of others so thank you to Melanie, Paula, Mary-Lou, Melissa, Karen, Maggie, and Borqna for joining in last month. Have a good Easter and I'll be back next month with another 5 in 5, enjoy the weeks in between and happy photo taking!





Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Adventures with Alice

"Let's get together again" we said.

We had loved the four day Summer School with Alice Fox and didn't want this time to come to an end. And so I suggested a house that we could hire and lured Alice with the thought of being on an island. Luckily it worked, but because of Alice's heavy work schedule we had to be patient... so it was eighteen long months later that we headed out across the causeway. 

 There was beautiful daffodils to welcome us...


And cosy chairs around the log fire.









And it's here our adventure began.
Alice called it: 'Personal and collaborative responses to landscape'.

We called it magical.

We were surrounded by a wide expanse of marsh and mudflats, and a horizon that stretches forever. Alice had warned us that much of our time will be spent outdoors, what ever the weather. And so we had come prepared with waterproofs and thermal layers; most of which remained unpacked because the weather took a turn and blessed us with clear blue skies. We were glad of our jackets and hats though, as there was a chill to the breeze and this would be felt when we sat quietly observing, sketching, or writing. Alice encouraged us to spend time alone, to use this time to explore our creativity and sense of connection. And we all welcomed this permission. Because while it is good to have company and to spend time with friends, it is a different kind of experience, alone.

After exploring and unpacking (done in that order for some of us!) we met back at the house for dinner. That was when we discovered
another talent of Alice's. Her home cooked meals became a highlight of the day, and quick trips back to the house for tea were just an excuse for a slice of homemade cake that would make a master baker proud! I was excited to have this time and opportunity to work with Alice again and I had not given much thought to meals. These turned out to be understated and Alice got it absolutely right in her choice and menu. We felt very well looked after, and this added to the weekend's memory and experience. Our first day ended with Alice showing us examples of her work. I was inspired and buzzing with ideas and went to bed fully sated, excited for a new day to begin.  

Some of us got up early to wander the island before breakfast. Ideas were already bubbling, and inspired by Alice's mark making I tried not to use my camera as my automatic way of recording. Instead I folded a piece of A3 card, with the idea of making a book of my walk. I set off with the card folded in one hand and a graphite stick in the other. They made contact as I walked along the sea wall.




Frequently I ventured off to explore the marsh.

  
This landscape might look bleak and dull, but look close and you find hidden surprises.



As a photographer it is hard not to frame and shoot.  But I wanted to push myself outside my comfort zone and to try something different; so I used Alice's encouragement to make marks. I sketched, did rubbings, and sometimes sat to write down my thoughts and observations....




Back at the house I added colour to some of these.
This book is still work in progress, but shows some of the recordings I made on this early morning walk.


The next photo shows my meandering; the marks made with graphite stick held against the card. Their random, uneven lines are a
response to my unsteady footsteps as I explored the sea wall and marsh. I love this irregular shape that captured time and place. But what I discovered, when I unfolded the card at the end of my walk both surprised and intrigued me, and it still does. 
  
You see, to make it easy to draw, I walked with the card folded into a thick wedge. I started at the house and marked this with a X. I did not plan or even think about where I was going with this idea, it was just an unconscious piece of work that was experimental and fun. While I drew I looked where I walked - this was important if I was to keep myself safe. The mud is deep and potentially dangerous, especially as I was on my own. Each time I came to the end of a fold I turned the card and continued it onto the next page. 


Why was I surprised and intrigued?

Because without any intention or plan, my marks ended exactly where they began. I had no way of seeing what came on the page before or after, as the card was folded for the whole walk. If the mark had ended at a different edge I would have flipped the card over to continue. I could have ended with a blank space, or with my mark somewhere else completely different on the A3 sheet. I was surprised to find my mark back where it started. Just like my walk.

 A  cut across the centre fold meant I could make a simple book structure. Inside you get a glimpse of my rubbings and sketches.

This had started out as an experiment, just to satisfy my excitement and eagerness to get started. I was already bursting with ideas but after breakfast Alice planned to talk about what our time together would look like.
I'd better tell you about that next time!

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