Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Sisters in and out of Art - my article on Hazel King Farlow published on Art UK

Link should work now, a fairly prosaic piece, I was told only 500 words, but looking in detail at some other art stories on the site I find some which are up to 800. I will be more creative next time!


Haiku in February

In my wooden shed               
a tortoiseshell butterfly sleeps.    
Outside, snow falls.            

Monday, 13 February 2017

A Mature Garden, with Redpolls...

A Mature Garden

a Cacophony of kids
a Decapitation of frogs
a Nurturing of tadpoles
a Brazening of sausages
a Suckling of willows
an Ascension of Leylandii
a Cheerfulness of sparrows
a Murmuration of starlings

a Remembrance of rosemary
an Absence of skateboards
Tidings of magpies
an Arable of grass
a Sisterhood of cats
a Clambering of blackberries
an Eden of fruit trees
and blackbirds, bluetits, redpolls…

My photograph of a male Redpoll in my old garden, Grimescar Valley, Huddersfield. He was one of a group of six Redpolls which seemed to keep company with four siskins. He looked a bit like a linnet but his small size and yellow beak confirmed him as a Redpoll. He only came in winter. 
The spellcheck doesn't like 'Redpoll', it will have to learn...

lesser redpoll eating nijer seed
The Redpolls I saw in my Pennine garden were very small birds, although my bird books describe Redpolls as the same size as a goldfinch. My books are of course out of date, the newest is 20 years old. The native Redpoll has been re-classified as the Lesser Redpoll, with visiting Common/Mealy Redpolls from Europe. These Redpolls visiting my garden are certrainly smaller than the goldfinches, which often arrive at the same time. They all like the nyjer seeds in this feeder.

Redpolls are classed as finches but have a finer beak than classic finches such as the goldfinch.

This photograph shows a Goldfinch on the washing line above the seed feeder, with female Siskin on the left and female Redpoll on the right. Male and female Goldfinch have the same colouring, whilst the Siskin and Redpoll females haveless bright colouration. The RSPB website implies that the Lesser Redpoll is an uncommon bird. I did once identified a common Redpoll on the same feeder, it was noticeably larger than the Lesser Redpolls. I feel quite privileged to have had these delightful little visitors to my garden.

I haven't altered or enhanced the colours in these photographs. Comments would be welcome, I am fairly new to photographing and identifying small birds. It's quite difficult, they live in different time to us, their lives and movements are very fast. I've also see Wrens and Goldcrest, haven't managed to photograph them, they even tinier and lurk in the bushes and the conifers. 

The Twite is a Pennine bird I've certainly never seen, they are rare. My friend Char March, poet, playwright and all-round talented person, was artist in residence at the Pennine Watershed Project, which led her to involvement with the Twite Recovery Project, to encourage this once widespread bird. The twite is slightly larger than the Redpoll with a pinkish area on the lower back, no red on the head or chest. 

Char March's lovely book, The Cloud Appreciation Society's Day Out, was written after she found inspiration from both projects. It includes a poem called "The A - Z of Twite." Her poems in turn inspired me to put my Redpolls into a poem, of sorts. 

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Haiku in January

Pale gulls vanish skyward            
past failing daylight. 
Darkly, iced fog settles.                        

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Writing for Art UK

I've agreed to write some articles for Art UK (the Public Catalogue Foundation), which is a brilliant project funded by the Arts Council and dedicated to making available online all of the oil paintings which are in public collections in the UK. After the oil paintings, they may move on to works in other media:-  http://artuk.org/

The point of the project is to allow us, the British public, to get a look at what we all own! Some of the art is great, some is indifferent, but we should be able to see it all and decide for ourselves. Most of the artworks in public collections aren't on display, there simply isn't enough public wall-space in galleries and museums. Some institutions rotate their collections so different pictures are displayed at some point, but many others don't and very many works of art never see the light of day at all.

The Art UK website publishes artist's biographies which are all currently taken from The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists or the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, so I can't submit biographies of artists.

However they also publish artist stories, relating to artists who have works shown on the site. I've  so far submitted the story of Hazel King-Farlow, who has several paintings in Wakefield, Leeds and Manchester Art Galleries.

The story includes her sister, because Hazel King-Farlow is also Hazel McKinley and Hazel Guggenheim, the sister of Peggy Guggenheim, which makes the story more interesting for visitors to the website. As some of you, my gentle readers may know, Hazel was one of the 31 Women and I've researched her in some detail. My story should be available on the site in a few weeks, I'm told.

Some of Hazel's paintings are here: -  http://artuk.org/discover/artists/king-farlow-hazel-19031995/view_as/grid/search/artists:hazel-king-farlow-19031995/page/1

Personally I prefer some of Hazel's later work in gouache/watercolour which have a more surrealist streak and some are even humorous. But that's just me and I don't know if any of those are in any UK collection. So here's one anyway, which I probably shouldn't publish... It's titled:

 'Gainsborough Painting Mrs Siddons in Tom Driberg's Sitting Room'.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Haiku in December

This vast cold sky, bright 
with crisp vapour trails, 
we are not truly alone. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Haiku in November

High in the damson tree      

A robin sings, alone.      

Yellow leaves slip down.