Gratitude: A Walking Meditation

Some of you might remember that back in the Summer I went to West Dean College on a Land Art course with tutor, Dan Lobb.

I was telling you about my piece of installation land art, centering on a bench, which became a focus for GRATITUDE.

And then my computer started to malfunction and my posts about the installation stopped.

So this post is a bit of a throwback to the summer, just to round things off.

A short meditation walk of gratitude.

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In a Vase on Monday: Party Time

My wonderful daughter, A, my ‘bright morning star’, created the most perfect party for me a couple of weekends ago.

I picked flowers from my garden to help her decorate the hall.

I fear it is a sad reminder of climate change that I have so many flowers blooming, but they make for a cheery sight.

The calendula, having not flowered all summer are putting on a glorious show right now.

The jug is a favourite of mine, given to me by my Mum (becuase I like bright colours), and found on a market stall. Made in the former Yugoslavia.

Joining Cathy for In a Vase on Monday.

I put little jam jars of flowers in the loos and on the tables, but in the rush to get things ready, I forgot to take photos of them.

But there are some here on the magnificent banquet table that my talented daughter created – doesn’t it look sumptuous! Two varieties of homemade humous and my favourite cheese, Cornish Yarg, are included.

It is a family tradition that we have to have a pineapple present at any big celebration
We were not permitted to put anything on the walls and the ceiling was too hight to hang mandalas from, but I had to include them somewhere. A couple went in the entrance hall on frames I got from Hobbycraft.

I had intended to do something with the netting-waste ribbons, but time ran out.

I left them there for colour and a bit of surrealness

The surreal theme continued on the top of the wine cooler

and for the children, it wouldn’t be a Granny Party if we didn’t have sausages!

A huge thank you to my family and friends for making it such a special time: to my daughter for organising it (with all the many ups and downs along the way) and creating a such fabulous feast; for son 2 for a really funny and lovely speech; and son 1 for being the Mojive king of the night.

   I am still on Cloud 9  

Strictly Silly Saturday

I have just had a landmark birthday.

And knowing how much I love to dance, my daughter threw a ‘Strictly Come  70’ birthday party for me.

Strictly Come Dancing is a very popular TV dancing show here in the UK.

This is me in my Rosa Bloom outfit flanked by my sisters. The one on the left came as Claudia Wrinkleman (Claudia Winkleman is one of the presenters of the show)

This is me and my wonderful kids – always up for a party!All the grandchildren came as well as lots of friends -it really was the most wonderful party. I feel truly blessed.

 

 

Silly Surreal Saturday

I thought it would be fun, on this grey, wet Winter’s day, to think back to my wonderful time at West Dean College.

At the end of Summer School there is a magnificent party which is themed with Dali in mind. We were all invited to dress accordingly

I donned one of my knitted wigs and my Frida Kahlo headband.

I don’t usually wear make-up and am so out of practice that my attempt at ‘surreal’ meant that I looked as if I had two lurid black eyes!

The dinner was fabulous with many Dali references

The art students created Mae West lip masks, after the sofa. One of the original sofas is at West Dean College.

I also wore some crazy trousers that I bought in the early 1980s and some flashing trainers that I bought to wear to my daughter’s recent 40th birthday party.

In the photo with me is C, a student on the sculpture course. She gave me permission to post the photos – thank you C!

The Summer School Party was very silly and a LOT of FUN!

Silly Saturday: Kelp!

This happened on a day on Climping Beach, West Sussex, during the Land Art Course I was on at West Dean College

All that seaweed – couldn’t resist!

A Blanket for Miss E.F.

I have made a blanket for each of my children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, plus a few for friends. I am now borrowing the grandchildren of friends to make blankets for. I just don’t feel right unless I have one on the go.

I made one for Miss P.  She used to sit next to me on the Park bench after school and always took an interest in the crochet and the blankets I was making. She particularly loved the colours in the blanket I made for Miss M.

She still likes bright colours and I gave her the Harbour Blanket I made last year. Miss P. has a sister Miss E.F. and a brother Master T.F. so it is only right that I should make a blanket for them as well.

I have a box of all the little left-over bits of Stylecraft Special DK and I took it round to them after school one day.

Miss E.F. is one of those hugely positive and energetic smiley children and her favourite colour is blue – she wanted them ALL! and set about sorting them into the order she wanted them to appear in the blanket.

She decided on the pattern of the Attic24 Neat Ripple  and I have made a start

Foundation Row: 154 + 3

4.5mm hook

Stylecraft Special DK

Colours so far: Midnight, French Navy, Royal

I am trying to use some of my little balls of yarn and weigh them to see if they will complete a row, which takes about 6gm.

This is a very relaxing pattern that I can do in front of the TV and pick up in odd moments, whilst I wait for Part 4 of the Virtue Blanket Crochet Along.

I will tell you which colours Master T.F. chose in another blog post.

A Crochet Along called ‘Virtue’

I do love to join in with a crochet along, and Helen Shrimpton patterns are always so trustworthy and easy to follow with brilliant video tutorials.

You get a new part to follow each week.

This is Part 3 completed

I am making it for my niece. I absolutely love choosing colours with the person whom the blanket is for. It means I use colour combinations I would never have chosen otherwise.

S sent me a photo of her sitting room and I noticed this cushion on the sofa. We decided to base our colour palette loosely on the flamingoes and foliage.

Using Stylecraft Special DK and a 4.5mm hook the circle currently measures 27.5 inches or 70 cm diameter.

In Round 36 made each of the last popcorns independently in Spice (orange) so that the zigzag pattern in Spice and Tomato was more defined.

You can see a list of the colours in this post and I have now added Petrol and Cypress.

In a Vase on Monday: Snapdragons, Eucalyptus & Crochet

Hello!!

It’s been a while hasn’t it.

I have been wihout my computer since 22.August which has been pretty stressful! I have had a shocking time with Apple, which I won’t go into now, as it will raise my blood pressure.

So to celebrate being back, here is a two-for-the-price-of-one post.

I am joining Cathy and her merry band of gardeners with In a Vase on Monday today. Her post is gloriously autumnal. Mine looks more like summer, but my late sown antirrhinums have been such good value from late summer til now – and the colours go so beautifully with my latest crochet project.

I am following Helen Shrimpton’s 2022 Crochet Along (CAL). The pattern is called Virtue. I love her patterns as they are so well tested and totally reliable. They come with video tutorials and there is a supportive Facebook group as well.

The colours have been inspired by flamingoes, a favourite of my niece whom the blanket is for.

The snapdragons in the vase have been teamed with fronds of eucalyptus.I love this combination of shapes and colours.

In both projects.

I am using a 4.5mm hook and Stylecraft Special DK

Starting from the centre:

Spice, Tomato, Vintage Peach, Blush, Parchment, Lincoln, Storm, Duck Egg, Cream, White, Clematis, Soft Peach, Buttermilk, Stone.

Gosh – 14 colours!  I didn’t realise I had used so many.

I will be adding more in future rounds.

The photo shows Part 1 and Part2 of the CAL.

❤ It’s good to be back! 

 

Silly Saturday: Compostable

When I saw the enormous Compost Heap at West Dean, I was reminded of what my son once said:

“You won’t want to be buried, will you Mum, you will want to be composted!”

 

Bench Marks

Continuing the story of the ‘Bench of Gratitude’ Installation at West Dean College.

As I sat on the bench and looked out across the park, the focus of my gaze became the clump of trees in the middle distance.Dan, our tutor, would come round and chat with each of us about what we were creating. He asked if I was thinking of creating something under those trees to link to two places. Hmm … I wandered up there to have a look.

Near to the trees and just behind them is an installation by Andy Goldsworthy ( whom I have found inspiring for a very long time). It is a chalk boulder, surrounded by small chalk stones. You can just see a white dot under the branches of the clump.

This is a photo of the Chalk Boulder I took in December 2021 when I went on a Helen Turner, Wabi Sabi art course.

I picked up a small chalk stone and went back under the clump of trees to look back towards the bench and ponder the next step.

As I stood there it became clear to me that a) I did not want to create something under these trees and b) I could invite others to add to what I was doing at the bench if they would like to.

I do love creative collaboration.

When I got back to the bench, I still had the piece of chalk in my hand and wrote MEMORY        GRATITUDE       CONNECTION

Californian Nutmeg Tree

Unrelated to the true Nutmeg, this Yew had dropped its needles on the path.

Apparently (from searching the internet) the seeds are purple and the kernel is edible after cooking, tasting somewhat like peanuts. They were highly prized by Native Americans.

Material just asking for a second meandering path

I thought of getting a brush to sweep the line of the path clear, but decided to leave the subtlety of the path left by the rake.

Black Feathers, White Flowers

Continuing my account of the Land Art Course with Dan Lobb at West Dean College:

The walk from the bench, to gather the cut grass, took just over 5 minutes each way. The walking and the raking became a beautifully satisfying daily practice, allowing my body to be well exercised and fully part of the installation.

Dan remarked that seeing me raking and trundling backwards and forwards with my wheelbarrow, reminded him of people raking in Japanese gardens. I realised that the same thought had been at the back of my mind and I was so pleased that he had brought it to the forefront.

As you may know, I love most things Japanese and was lucky enough to spend 15 glorious days on a textile tour in 2015. This photograph from that trip came to mind. (If you type ‘Japan’ into the SEARCH box you can see lots of posts about my trip, but here is a link to the first post about it. )

I found I would take one route to the hay and a different route back. Each day and each time of day, offering new things to notice in the garden

There seemed to be an unusual amount of feathers on the ground.

Were the birds moulting in the heat, or were the feathers more noticeable because the grass was so parched, yellow and short? A couple of us began collecting them.

Walking back past this clump of Annabelle Hydrangeas, I couldn’t resist popping a black feather into a few of the white frothy balls.

A little breeze was blowing and the birds who had gifted the feathers were calling in the trees above:

At the time, this was my favourite ‘installation’, if installation it was.

It felt very Japanese – Dan had pressed the Japan button, and I was off!

The video feels to me like a visual haiku. I went to Google translate.

Seeing the words written and hearing how they are spoken,  the title

‘Black Feathers, White Flowers’

seems like poetry to me

In a Vase on Monday: Surreal?

I grew these Apple Blossom Antirrhinums from seed (a bit late) and some are struggling in the heat, so I have snipped off the flowers to help them out.

So pretty.

Still influenced by the surrealism at West Dean college I made mini topiary with poppy seed heads

Is the heat getting to me too?

Probably!

The little stained glass trees are made by TaylaMadeGlass

Joining Cathy for her wonderful In a Vase on Monday meme.

 

Walking the River

Land Art at West Dean College with Dan Lobb

As I gathered the mown grass, I made a meandering path.

When the wheelbarrow was full, I left a mound of ‘hay’ that needed to be stepped over. These mounds gave the walker an opportunity to pause, rather like the turns in a labyrinth.

These are two of my fellow students who kindly let me video them as they walked.

You can see A’s art on Instagram here: @aprilyasamee

and

T’s art on Instagram here : @aweworks

I had only collected 2 barrow loads at the time this video was taken. By the end of the process, I had gathered 9 barrow loads of ‘hay’.

When the project was finished, I walked the ‘River of Hay’ and at each mound spoke of something I was grateful for, before stepping over it.

Gentle tears were falling as I neared the end.

Spending time in a place where all facets of creativity are deeply and profoundly supported is an experience I wish for everyone. Soul food!

Silly Saturday: Playing with Shadows

New hat – Ta Dah!!

Taken in the early morning at West Dean College.

Joining in with Cee’s Challenge: Shadows and Reflections

A Bench of Gratitude

Working with this bench at West Dean College on a Land Art Course, became a very meaningful process for me. It also led me to make other pieces of Land Art in different locations around the garden.

This is the third post about it, you can see the first here and the second here.

The bench is, under a Lime Tree, in the front of the college and therefore seen by all the garden visitors and college students. Not the sort of place I thought I would have chosen at all – but it chose me.

After weaving in the first bunch of grasses, I walked back to the tulip tree to gather more. I counted my steps as I went. It took 150 steps to get from bench to tree.

As I counted out loud, I was reminded of my Welsh maternal Grandfather.

I did not get to sleep easily as a child and he used to pat me whilst counting out loud, very quietly, to help me get to sleep. I could choose how many pats 100, 150 or 200. We had a very close relationship – I had not remembered the patting for years and years. I felt very close to him as I was walking and a feeling of gratitude that I had him in my life, washed over me.

I picked just what I could hold in one hand, walked back and wove the dry grass through the back of the bench. Back for another handful and this time I placed it as a bunch to the left. This referenced sheafs of corn and also flowers left on benches and other places, in memorium.

My intention was to gather more grass to bulk up the sheaf, but after a walk around the garden, I saw some cut grass and decided to gather this to create some sort of spiral or other path, leading to the bench.

As I raked up the cut grass, I made a meandering path, which became my second piece of Land Art.

I came to like the spin off pieces more than what happened around the bench, but if I had not started with the bench the others would not have been created.

Silent Sunday at West Dean

Silly Saturday Shadows

I had such a wonderful week at West Dean and will share more of the process with the bench in another post, but today is Saturday and time for a bit of silliness!

Does my bum look big in this?

I had fun on the last morning (yesterday) walking around the grounds of West Dean College playing with the shadows in the early morning sun.

If you would like to see more of what I got up to you can visit my @rustnfound Instagram page.

Have you had an opportunity to be silly this week?

Choosing a place to Create

Land Art Course with Dan Lobb at West Dean.

As I was thinking about coming on the course I decided that my word for the week would be GRATITUDE. In the past, my life having its turbulent phases, when making and spiral, labyrinth or other ephemeral art in nature, I have often used it as a way of focussing the mind on a question, wish or invocation. Now as  I am in a calm and more peaceful time, it is time to acknowledge that and feel truly grateful.

On the first night here at West Dean, I was walking back to my car and was drawn to this bench. I tried to argue against using this as my focus as I had imagined working out in the gardens or woods in a much more aesthetically pleasing spot.

So I wandered around to find other places. Perhaps the dry stream bed in the ornametal  garden?

I could imagine filling the mud cracks with bright yellow leaves to look like gold in kintsugi art

Or could I be inspired by this fence, which had been altered by a fallen tree. Surely those roots would offer a suitable resting place for some ephemeral art.

(Edit: this is the tree that features in my next Post. the photos were taken on the very last morning, just before I drove home)

Or perhaps I could work in this area where there is a recently planted Tulip Tree

But the bench would not let me go. I realised my head was getting in the way of my intuition – so back to the bench …….

It has a memorial plaque to Jill Causer 1948 –  2017 and Joanna Elizabeth Causer 1980 – 2007. I asked at the college if they had any records Jill Causer but they didn’t. I realised she was 69 when she died – I am 69 and if I make it to November, I will not die aged 69 – something to be grateful for.

Joanna could have been Jill’s daughter, dying at the age of 27. I have not lost a child – another traumatic life experience I have been spared. It was becoming clear to me why this bench had called to me to celebrate Gratitude.

The grasses surrounding the tulip tree were also calling to me so I picked a bunch and took them back to the bench. Finding some feathers on the ground as I went.

As I was cutting the grass, it reminded me of my farming ancestors, making hay or harvesting the corn. I thought too of my Great Great Grandmother, Caroline Canterbury, who was a sailcloth weaver in Dorset in the mid 1800s.

So when I got to the bench, I wove the grasses through the back struts

The process had begun…..

 

 

 

 

Land Art at West Dean College

I am at West Dean College this week doing a Land Art course with Dan Lobb

There are four students including me

Top left is Dan, then C who has been to West Dean many times, bottom right is T an Architect from the US. He has flown over especially for this course and bottom left A, an installation artist.

On Friday evening we gathered for a presentation by Dan, of his work and examples from other ephemeral artists working with natural elememts, like Andy Goldsworthy and Chris Drury.

This is the view from the window where the group meets

As you can see, we are currently experiencing a drought in the UK

West Dean was established by Edward James, a friend of Salvador Dali, and is a fascinating, enriching place to be.

Note the carpet: Edward James’s wife was a ballet dancer and as she ran from the bathroom with wet feet, Edward noticed her footprints and wanted them immortalised in carpet design

The gardens are glorious

and there are so many fascinating details to notice

It promises to be a spectacularly creative week on so many levels – I am in heaven!