The last days of summer – hooray!

My favourite season is almost here and I am looking forward to it.

It’s a bank holiday weekend and the August one is always packed full of events in the neighbourhood – Leeds Festival and Carnival being two major players.

I am staying local and heading to the hills, taking daily walks, studying, reading, writing.

Netflix has a couple of great things on including a favourite film, Like Water for Chocolate and Tokyo Stories.

Then there’s the delightful music from https://meszecsinka.bandcamp.com/album/

Reading and studying Robert MacFarlane’s publications and the latest Joanne Harris – The Strawberry Thief.

Completing a throw with leftover yarns.

There have been many curved balls throughout August to contend with, as some things come to an abrupt end and changes take on a shapeshifting form. Forces are trying to slide things together.

I am asking Mother Earth for synchronicity. I offer personal change and improvement in exchange so I can be a better person. Let there be magic.

 

Learning To Love Cooking and Eating

How’s your relationship with food?

Mine’s been a life time of ups and downs. I’ve gone from battling allergies as a child along with fussy eating, to trying out every kind of omission in my ‘diet’.

And ugh, that word – ‘diet’.

I was raised on basic peasant goodness, some of which didn’t agree with me or I didn’t like – homemade yoghurt and sauerkraut. Oh yowzer I hear everyone shout, fermented food is good for you!

It is for me, now. But around fifty to forty years ago it wasn’t.

As a teenager I learnt to manipulate the art of eating. I was a flakey, moody kinda teen who soon discovered they were polycystic and felt ruled by their hormones.

This hormonal hold was stronger than my resolve, and I went in to my 20’s spending a lot of time in endocrinology, treated, investigated. I maintained good weight though throughout.

Then I slid. Now in my 50’s, and three years post-MI, having lost weight, I’m back to battling with eating food – loving it that is, the weight has absolutely stayed off. I knew I had to tackle this mind/body thing though.

It’s as simple as this, I think. I’m not sure I understand how to love food, or my body.

I accept there have been all kinds of trials in my life from early years, but I don’t like being beaten by food. I acknowledge that the relationship my mother had with my step father and his treatment of her, angered me throughout my childhood and into my adult life. I became a woman whose mission was to rescue women and children from that experience.

My mother’s way of dealing with his beastly words and behaviour was to care relentlessly and this was through cooking sometimes. I on the other hand, was all for poisoning the mad bastard! (Therein lies a good tale of crime to write!).

But I found Italy (again) and started to believe there was an answer in there, somewhere, so I read and read all things Italian.

After seeing a tweet by chef Jack Munro about how Nigella’s book How To Eat transformed her eating and relationship with food I decided to get it out of the library.

It’s one big book filled predominantly with words, which surprised me. I always saw Nigella Lawson as a tv cook who lured people in to watching her programmes with her dulcet voice, as she happily scoffed leftovers of her recipes at midnight.

By eck, the chef can write!

I’ve poured over the book during the last few weeks and soaked in her words, her love for cooking and eating.

Just one quote here from the Low Fat chapter (which is brilliant), there are many I could pull out from the pages:

‘I don’t disparage the shallow concerns of the ordinarily vain, which, after all, I share. What I hate is all this new-age voodoo about eating, the notion that foods are either harmful or healing, that a good diet makes a good person and that the person is necessarily lean, limber, toned and fit. Quite apart from anything else, I don’t see the muscular morality argument. Why should a concern for your physical health be seen as a sign as virtue? Such a view seems to me in danger of fusing Nazism (with its ideological cult of physical perfection) and Puritanism (with its horror of the flesh and belief in salvation through denial.)’

There’s more of course, much more, in this book that is meaningful, healing and full of love about food – a healthy kind of love. Nigella took what was good from her childhood and put it out there. She has also shared her bad times too. We can do both, I believe and come out on top.

 

OCA Learning Log Assignment Two

With this assignment I began researching collage artists, mostly female. Having never studied collage before, I was introduced to a whole new way of thinking and making that I hadn’t tried since childhood. I had never noticed collage or if it was present in exhibitions, had never looked closely.

 

 

 

Artists I came across were Hannah Hoch, Eileen Agar, Kara Walker, Wanchegi Moto, Nancy Spero and Sonia Delaunay. The latter I knew through her work in colours, shapes and fashion design.

I initially conducted research online, through my own general art books and then located books at Leeds Central Library, attached to the gallery. They have an art library. Accessing books is quite difficult at Foundations level as we don’t have an online resource to turn to. Art books are also notoriously costly. Leeds Art Library came to my rescue.

I took a morning to spend in the Leeds building and the opportunity to seek out collage in current exhibitions. In Abstracts in 1930’s Britain I found Frances Butterfield, Jacob Kramer, Cecil Stephenson, all of whom used collage as a means of expression.

I searched out Nancy Spero. She seemed to work in the moment and moved further away from Western art. She was known for her feminism. 

 

Hannah Hoch  – Hannah took photos from other sources and made images from them, creating photo montages. Her lines are sharp and hard and she connected them through colour. She enjoyed playing with dimensions. This collage made me laugh when I first saw it! It’s a great example of humour through collage.

 

 

I then looked at Eileen Agar’s work. Her approach was to use mixed media, layering paint with collage. Her work reminds me of Matisse’s work – fluid shapes.

All three artists manipulate collage very differently, it was inspirational to discover them and research their work.

I chose  Time for Tea but with coffee. I mixed words with found papers. It felt a little cheeky cutting up other people’s work, art postcards, brochures from creative writing courses and I have to say that initially I struggled with this, but these were the materials I had. I kept remembering Hoch and that working in collage in this way was fine, it did also lend itself to a rebellious approach to art. So much can be said with simple imagery.

The items were a coffee pot, small cup with saucer and shot glass. I also started a sketch book to formulate ideas around this theme, none of which I used, but I enjoyed researching and putting together. I kept what I made very simple, thinking more about shapes and sizes rather than colour initially.  I had mostly white paper to work on but found a sheet of blue printing paper and a wax drawing in an A4 sketch pad, which I did some years ago. As they were together I decided to cut up my drawing to create a djezma on the blue sheet.

I wondered about the shapes I was cutting out or drawing and whether it mattered that they weren’t exact  or that things fitted together properly. But there was also something enjoyable about the naivety in my work. I also wasn’t sure if I was interpreting the exercises properly, or if that really mattered either, if I was enjoying a process. Once I let go of the idea of perfection I started to have more fun in choosing from the selection of papers available in my home.

When it came down to working on A5, I suddenly felt that I could use the smaller papers and card to create an object in a more patterned, co-ordinated way, which I quite enjoyed the impact of.

For the last exercise on A5, stripes and spots, I worked on the theme of Italy from magazines. Cutting up photos of buildings, bottles of olive oil and Sofia Loren. It was enjoyable to take apart images and play with them. Interesting to note that it was very easy to tell what they were about originally.

My computer wouldn’t read the camera’s card after having taken photos of the work created. I also tried through another machine. I have been unable to upload them here as yet, but will keep trying.

Bibliography:

Agar,E. A Look at My Life, Methven, 1988

Hoch, H. Picture Book, Green Box Publishers, 1945

Spero, N. The Work by Christopher Lyon, Prestel, 2010

Taylor, B. Collage – The Making of Modern Art, Thames and Hudson, 2004