London Calling

Just back from a few days in the Big Smoke.

It is wonderful to get away from the studio some times, meet up with old friends and see other people`s work.

My first stop was the exhibition of Quilts 1700 – 2010 at the V&A. It was a phenomenal show, an exhibition of artistry and human endeavour across the ages. I was especially moved by a film interview of inmates of Wandsworth Prison making quilts in their cells, and by a piece called “The Presence of Absence” by Jennifer Vickers which is sewn from 38,000 one centimetre squares of newsprint, each one commemorating the death of a civilian victim of the Iraq War between the start of the war and the death of the 100th military casualty – a beautiful and contemplative piece.

Next day I inveigled my way in to the Members Room at the Royal Academy to see Barbara Rae`s incredible prints, which was an abundance of riches –  fabulous to see her painterly hand at work in the largely flat business of printing. Then off to Croydon (by way of a memorable slice of chocolate mousse with an old friend at Patisserie Valerie) to meet up with Christine, a friend I met on a glass course a couple of years ago. Christine is an amazing woman who manages to make glass despite having virtually no personal space – she keeps her glass stock in her wardrobe! That is a sobering thought and an inspiration to us all. Thanks to her lovely daughter, Amy, for lending me her gorgeous black and white bedroom.

Then back to London the next morning to the British Museum where I had an appointment in the Study Room of the Coin Department to take some impressions of electrotypes of Mediaeval coins for a cast glass project I am working on for an exhibition at Tenby Museum to celebrate the life of Robert Recorde, a mathematician who was born in Tenby in 1510 and invented the equals sign! This project has really caught my imagination and has involved months of research and experimenting in the kiln.

This is my most successful attempt so far at casting a Mediaeval coin in glass – a work in progress.

After a morning spent in the hallowed environs of the Numismatic Study Room, it was wonderful to complete my journey into mediaeval times with a visit to the amazing exhibition of Italian Renaissance Drawings at the British Museum. I spent hours studying the ins and outs of these brilliant drawings from Fra Angelico to Titian and Raphael, some of which were made at the time of Recorde`s birth. It really reminded me of the importance of maintaining a daily practice of drawing, and I left the exhibition with a new resolution to keep up my sketch books.

Then back to Brixton to spend some time with my old friend, Jackie, who I know from Aberystwyth days (32 years ago!). It was lovely to catch up with her and read some of her new poems (which are fabulous, and which she will hopefully soon show to other people!).

Home to Pembrokeshire on Saturday to find the broad beans (and Ruby!) at least a foot taller than when I left 4 days earlier! It always takes a while to settle down after so much new stimulation and I`ve had a migraine for days as I try to slow to a more realistic pace. Maybe it`s the excitement about my 50th birthday party this weekend – celebration is in the air!