Monday, 28 September 2015

Trails around Salford

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that Chickpea and I had continued our journey along the Irwell Sculpture Trail. Today (well, end of August really) our adventures take us to urban Salford.

The first couple of sculptures are in Peel Park behind the Museum and Art Gallery. At 11am on a sunny Saturday, it was deserted apart from a few dog walkers.

This is the rather grandly titled Monument to the Third Millennium which was inspired by the park being regularly flooded by the river Irwell in the past.

If you look really closely, you can see that the brown steel is shaped into fishes surrounded by the blue-grey swirling water.

Next to it is Fabric of Nature by Julia Hilton, looking sadly neglected and vandalised. It's only when you see what it looked like when it was first installed, how much of the brickwork and metal sections are missing.

In the centre there used to be an etching of a dandelion. The text which swirls around the middle says “We are but whirlpools in a river of everflowing water.  We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves”.

Around the edges are metal panels etched with leaves of trees found in the park.

We had planned to go to the Art Gallery at this point but it was still closed so we decided to head over the river to explore.

Once there, we found an unexpected bonus.

In a loop formed by the Irwell is The Meadow, a new park which has been planted with wild flowers and houses a pond, benches, footpaths and sculptures.

It's still a work in progress but we were thrilled to stumble across it.

Thankfully, by now the Museum and Art Gallery were open or, more to the point, the cafe! A coffee and sandwich later, we were raring to go and explore the collections.

Our favourite part was Lark Hill Place which is a recreation of a Victorian street. It's set at teatime on a winter's evening which is why it's so dark. Most of the shop fronts were rescued from demolition as were many of the fixtures and fittings.

Chickpea loved the sign in the pub saying that children under 13 would not be served!

I think my favourite was the cosy worker's cottage. I much preferred it to the grander Victorian parlour. Maybe a reflection of my own humble roots?

After a look around the picture galleries upstairs, and a couple of purchases in the craft shop which I will reveal at the end, it was back to the trail.

Next stop is Rise by Liam Curtin. The artwork which wraps around the bottom of the building commemorates the trade union movement - the building was formerly the HQ of the Transport and General Workers Union.

The writing is a verse from Percy Shelley's 'Mask of Anarchy':

“Rise Like Lions after slumber
in unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you.
Ye are many, They are Few”

I didn't realise until I looked at the web site later that the panels light up at night and change colour.

Next to the 1825 church of St Philip's with St Stephen is the next sculpture.

Seed by Andrew McKeown is an iron sycamore seed. Originally it was bright yellow! I much prefer the natural rusty colour it has now.

And onto the final piece which is in Islington Park.

The mosaic was originally created in 1992 but became damaged.

In 2010, the Friends community started a project to restore it.

The middle section had to be replaced. The new design was inspired by The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett who lived in the area as a young girl.

I didn't realise until I was writing this up that the park was once the site of a chapel and 17,000 residents were buried there between 1829 and 1858. Shocking numbers and even more so if you'd seen how small the park was.

A sobering thought to end on so let's lighten the mood. I promised to show you what I bought at the Art Gallery.

I couldn't resist this lampshade decorated with 6 machine-embroidered hares. It was made by Jill McCarthy and now sits in my living room. I love it!!

I also couldn't resist this beautiful drawing of a kingfisher is by Caroline Daly. I only bought a card but there were also framed and unframed prints for sale (also available on her Etsy site). The detail on them is stunning.

So that's 5 out of 13 clusters which we've now visited on the Trail. Plenty more to discover and to lead us to new places.

This weekend we stayed very much with the comfort of the familiar and went blackberry picking in our favourite local spot. I hadn't intended picking any this year but it was such a gorgeous day that we decided to head out to the fields. We didn't really expect to find any either as it's quite late in the season. The bramble bushes though were laden with fat, juicy berries and 3lbs of them came home with us.

I also spent time working on a journal quilt and should have something to show you soon. I know I've been pretty absent lately - a combination of back-to-work tiredness and lack of inspiration I think. In fact, this month will be the first in about 2 years that I won't be posting an entry in the Scavenger Hunt. Until this weekend I'd barely taken a photo all month. I wish I'd had my camera with me this evening though as the sunset was stunning. I didn't get any photos of the lunar eclipse either. I did set the alarm for the early hours and managed to drag myself out of bed but only to peer out of the window for a couple of minutes before climbing back under the duvet!

Enjoy your week. I'll be back on Friday. x

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Harrogate quilt show

A couple of weeks ago, me and 3 of my quilting friends went to the Great Northern Quilt Show at Harrogate. We go every year and have seen lots of changes. This year it was in a temporary hall as the usual one is being refurbished. I can only hope the new one is as good as it was a much better venue, far more light and airy.

I've seen a few write-ups on other blogs and it's really interesting how we've all picked out very different quilts. Looking back over my photos, my eye was clearly taken by the contemporary quilts this year, particularly ones with machine quilting and lots of texture. There were some beautiful traditional quilts too. Here's a selection of my favourites from the show.

This is Maquerade by Birgit Schuller from Germany, with a detail above. Unsurprisingly it won first prize for use of colour. The photo really doesn't do it justice as it completely glowed. All of the kaleidoscope patterns were embellished with Swarovski crystals - embellishment was a big trend at the Show.

Another one which caught my eye for its use of colour was 'Devoted to You' by Hazel Ryder inspired by old Welsh and North Country quilts.

It was all the embroidery detail and fabric manipulation which I loved too.

Hazel also made one of my favourite quilts of the Show, 'She who must be obeyed', which is based on an illustration by Rene Gruau. I love cats!

A very different creature was on 'Draco' by Elizabeth Tate. This was Chickpea's favourite. It won 2nd prize in the Bed Quilt category.

Another prize winner (3rd) which couldn't be more different is this delicate miniature by Sandra Goldsbrough. 'Whenever a cold north wind blows 2' was only a few inches square. You can see more of Sandra's work here.

It's probably the similar colour palette which attracted me to 'Gold rings' by Andrea Ashwell which came 3rd in Small Wall Hangings.

More lovely colours were included in 'Out of the block' by Sheena Norquay who is one of my favourite quilters - wonderful machine quilting.

And some of my favourite purples in 'Blatt' by Anni Struman. I really liked the embellishment with squares of felt and wooden buttons too. It was part of a display of quilts from a challenge between members of an English and German quilting group. Interestingly, I much preferred the German quilts - they were far more innovative.

My favourite part of the show was definitely English though. There was a special exhibition of quilts by Jenny Rolfe and I would have taken any of her quilts home with me.

I felt so inspired by Jenny's quilts - so many ideas to try.

But, of course, I've saved the best 'til last. The Best in Show was won by...

...Susan Lax for her quilt, 'Perseverance'. It was hard to get a photo because there were always so many people stood around it in amazement and admiration.

Simply stunning.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little selection. Going to the show has really reawakened my quilting bug and spurred me on to get back to my journal quilts. I'm so far behind that I haven't even done the one for June yet! Yesterday, though, I sat in the garden and planned out what I'm going to do for the June, July and August quilts and today I've been rummaging through my fabrics.

Hope you've had a great weekend. My tummy is rumbling so I'm off to make tea - that's evening meal for non-Northeners :) Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. x