Heading west to the Midlands

I took a few days off last week to camp with my family down at Caerfai Bay near St. Davids. It is an idyllic spot (apart from when gales rip through the campsite!) and it was lovely to be with my in-laws and nephews and niece and go to sleep under the stars and wake to red dawns.

Rachel and I have been working on some new ideas for a commission we are hoping to get. It is wonderful how we seem to synchronise our ideas and often arrive at similar solutions for things. Again, it is a treat to work with her.

On Thursday I took Rachel on a mystery tour to the studio of Sara Lloyd Morris in Martletwy. Sara and I have been working together for a while to design some pieces of jewellery made from fragments from the Conwy windows. I wanted us both to have something special to wear for the official opening, which is now taking place on 13th September. Rachel was delighted! Sara has made a fab job of realising our ideas and I look forward to wearing my pieces on the day. Infact I shall be showing them off at the Glasshionista event which is the finale to the Glass Biennale.

I am writing this on the train to Wolverhampton where I am going to attend a pâte de verre course with French artist, Antoine Leperlier, followed by a long weekend at the British Glass Biennale in Stourbridge. I can’t wait! Leperlier learned casting from his grandfather, François Décorchemont, a legendary pâte de verre artist, so even though there isn’t much time, I will at least soak up the experience and wait to see how it will manifest itself in my work.

As the course is only three and a half days I have spent the past week making waxes and moulds so that I will have something to get started with. I am also booked in to half a days glass blowing with Martin Andrews again I have spent some time preparing so as to make the most of the time. I have made some refractory moulds to blow into and some glass pieces to use as inclusions in the blowing process. This is only my second experience of glass blowing, so, I am, as ever, ambitious!!

As well as seeing some fabulous glass, I am looking forward to seeing some old and new friends this week, including Bill Swann, from North Wales. Bill and I initiated a glass/paint collaboration many years before I ever dared to touch glass myself, Christine Lababidi who was a fellow student at Liquid Glass on my first glass course, and the inimitable Carrie Fertig who will be performing her Torcher Tailor extravaganza (which involves flamworking a glass wedding dress directly onto a living bride!) live on Saturday night.

Thanks to the Arts Council of Wales for making this trip possible for me as part of a training bursary.

Japan Workshop Success!

Thanks to everyone who took part in the glass pendant making workshop on Saturday to raise money for Save The Children Fund in Japan. The workshop was great fun, and drew people from a wide area. It was lovely to hear Japanese being spoken alongside Welsh and English in the studio, with everybody making something to support the Japanese people at this difficult time. Thirty five pendant were made in the day and we raised 500 pounds!

The pendants before firing….

after firing…

finished and beaded and ready to wear!

Special thanks to Sara, without her help I would have struggled to manage, and thanks to those who sent donations even though they couldn`t come along on the day.

I will definitely be running more glass workshops in the future.

Glass workshop for Japan

Kaori in the hot shop at Liquid Glass Centre

Come and make a fused glass pendant on 26th March, all proceeds to Japanese Disaster Relief. Details are on http://www.linda-norris.com, you need to email me to book a time slot.

One of my fused glass pendants, you could make something similar.

Glass donated by Liquid Glass of Trowbridge and Warm Glass of Bristol.

House Swap

Just back from 4 days in London having swapped our house with a Swedish family from Camden to give Ruby and her friend a taste of city life. It was a great first experience of house swapping and we will definitely do it again. It felt good to be engaging in an arrangement with total strangers based entirely on mutual trust, respect and an openness to share and it gave us the run of a gorgeous Victorian house just round the corner from Camden Town Tube Station completely free of charge, with the added bonus that it inspired us to clean and tidy our house so that it is much nicer to return to! It is a recession-busting way to take a break and I thoroughly recommend it.

Returning home gives me the interesting feeling that strangers have been in our house, softer loo paper, an object turned…small things make me aware that we are all temporary inhabitants…English voices after Welsh, and now Swedish…all passing through, all making changes, leaving faint marks and impressions…

The girls were blown away by Camden Market and the limitless shopping opportunities (somewhat less impressed by the experience of getting lost on Oxford Street!), and despite the visits to London Dungeon, Tate Modern, a trip on the river etc.. I suspect they were happiest putting on false nails in their bedroom!

Ai Weiwei`s installation of sunflower seeds at Tate Modern was an interesting experience, The piece is made up of 100 million small ceramic sunflower seeds hand made in China.

The work refers to the notion of the familiar “made in China” logo and to the symbolic significance of small packets of sunflower seeds which were shared by people on the streets of china during the repressive times of the Cultural Revolution. I think the work said more than the artist intended about social control, as the gallery have erected barriers to prevent people interacting with the work because of a health and safety risk from dust produced by the ceramic seeds.

This produced a tension in the crowd and a general feeling of frustration about “health and safety gone mad”, and the fact that we are being prevented from interacting in the way the artist intended and from taking responsibility for our own decisions on our personal safety. This stimulates people to talk to each other in the normally hallowed atmosphere of the gallery, and discuss taking direct action of a type not normally contemplated by middle class gallery goers on a Saturday afternoon! If it wasn`t for the fact that the audience are invited to communicate directly with Ai Weiwei by means of a video booth, I reckon things could well spill over into a “pitch invasion”!

Sadly social control won out on this occasion, but I was heartened to see a square of chewing gum adorning Richard Long`s spiral installation of marble pebbles in the upper gallery…a small act of defiance perhaps!

Another inspirational interactive and much photographed work we saw was Anish Kapoor`s wonderful sculptures in Kensington Gardens, collectively entitled “Turning The World Upside Down”.

These sculptures were so beautiful, reflecting and subverting images of the landscape and onlooker, they are timeless as geometry and ever-changing as the ocean, and make me recall a Portuguese poem by Fernando Pessoa:

    To be great, be whole…

To be great be whole: don`t exaggerate
Or leave out any part of you.
Be complete in each thing. Put all you are
Into the least of your acts.
So too in each lake, with its lofty life,
The whole moon shines.

Another brilliant experience of the holiday was being part of the audience and background laughs for a comedy show pilot for Radio 4`s The Horne Section. Horne and the band are a hilarious and talented bunch of guys, the musicians respond to Horne and the audience and perform rehearsed and impromptu ballads and musical refrains. The impromptu ballad composed to Richard, a computer programmer from Balham, was especially memorable! The show goes out at 11pm on March 14th, so listen in for a great show and spot my laughs!

It is good to be back in Wales, in the living, changing colours of our landscape and the relative peace and quiet of Pembrokeshire. The journey west from Swansea is always an inspiration.

Glass Jewellery Day

My students had a wonderful time yesterday making glass jewellery at a workshop in my studio.

The next jewellery day is “make a pendant-for-mother`s day” on 26th March, click here for more details, or get in touch if you would like to know more.

Sundog Millionaire (sorry, Simon!).

I took this picture this afternoon on South Beach, Tenby. Evidently, the 2nd “sun”, parhelion , or “sundog” is caused when the sunlight bends through ice crystals in the atmosphere at a particular angle. Whatever the cause it was incredible to see!

This landscape will never cease to amaze me!

Back to the studio!

Thanks to everyone who came to my New Year Show. We are now back to visits by appointment until April, so I am venturing back to my studio for some concentrated painting time.

No New Years Resolutions as such, but I know I need to be selective about which ideas to pursue if I am to do anything well this year. It is probably good to have lots of ideas and projects, but it is definitely NOT good to try to do them all!

I am constantly torn between painting and glass, and expressive and conceptual ways of working. I need to make some decisions and stick to them.

Last year, facing the recession I said “yes” to a lot of things I would normally not do, showing in other galleries, being part of a group exhibition in Swansea, teaching etc…and teaching is the one thing I will take forward this year. My autumn courses went really well, my students were lovely, I enjoyed teaching them and they brought me some income at a quiet time of year.

This year I have decided to see the recession as an opportunity to do exactly what I want with my work!