first day back at the artlog

Yesterday Peter, Jack and I returned from a week of seeing in the New Year in Oxfordshire, where we enjoyed wonderful company with friends old and new, cooked, read, walked in the countryside and had two happy visits to one of my favourite places, the Pitt Rivers Museum. Overnight Ty Isaf has been merrily whirring and clicking away, the boiler-room pumping and the Aga powering-up to cooking-temperature. When we first moved here there was no central heating and the house was almost unendurable in the winters, so I love it now when I hear the radiators surging with the hot water that makes us cosy.

On the sitting-room mantelpiece horses canter over leaf-strewn plates,  joining the ranks of painted blackbirds and staffordshire beasts. Evidence, if any were needed as our kitchen is groaning with the stuff,  of my 2012 love affair with decorated enamelware.

This is a brief post to say hello and wish everyone a Happy New Year. Let’s all strive to make it a good one. Here at the Artlog you will find new painting and exhibition projects, plus book collaborations and work on The Mare’s Tale at the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra about to begin. Exciting, busy times.

23 thoughts on “first day back at the artlog

  1. Glad to see you back Clive and rarin’ to go. May it be a wonderful New Year, filled with creative joy and playful seriousness and everything else you may wish for.

    • Thank you my friend, and the same good wishes fly back to you. May we all be fit and creative and happy with our lives this year.

  2. Happy new year Clive, you sound raring to go after a good break. All the very best to you and Peter for 2013 – and I so love those birds on the wall. What a room, gorgeous.

    • Hi Phil. Happy New Year to you too. Glad you like the birds. Hand-painting the walls with them was a labour of love… the measuring up took a lot of careful calculation as our walls are old and not level at tops and bottoms… and so I was relieved they turned out well.

  3. Welcome Home, Clive….glad you’ve had such a good break – nothing like time away from the studio to make one rampant to get back in it!! Ah…puppets….one of my favourite things too…endearing and scary at the same time. Like life!

    • Hello dear Shellie. Happy New Year to you and Kit.

      I am indeed keen to get back to work. Ideas knock around in my head, and I must get them out and translated into paint!

      Puppets, yes. Scary in a good way.

  4. Welcome back Clive and a very Happy New Year to you, Pater and Jacket. Your mantel piece at Ty Isaf is a sheer delight – if only galleries were all curated with such charm, élan and panache!

    • Hello Paul. Happy New Year to you and Nick.

      There’s a little glimpse of your own faux-Delft ‘Tradescant’ pineapple tile to the left of the shelf, peeping out from behind the Staffordshire spaniel. We take much delight in what’s ranged across our chimney-breast. Lots of memories of friendships stored in those objects.

  5. Welcome home and welcome back. What a treat to spend time in the subdued lighting of the Pitt Rivers with all those intriguing things to look at. My favourite thing was the Keith Newstead automata but it’s a few years since I’ve been there. Hope you found something special to capture the imagination.

    • The Pitt Rivers is packed with treasures, but the Walter Wilkinson glove-puppets were especially a treat to see. Wilkinson was central to the early twentieth century revival of the ‘peep-show’ in the UK, and the books he produced in which he described touring Britain on foot with his hand-cart loaded with portable theatre and puppets, are a delight to read. The Pitt Rivers holds a small collection of Wilkinson puppets, and it’s always a pleasure to reacquaint myself with them.

      Some years ago Peter organised a wonderful birthday surprise for me, which was a trip behind the scenes at the Gloucester Folk Museum to examine in detail the wonderful marionettes by another brilliant puppet-maker, William Simmonds, that are held in the collection. I was allowed to handle and operate them. (I even untangled the strings of some of them.) No such luck at the Pitt Rivers, where the William Wilkinson puppets must be viewed behind glass. But my imagination is always sparked by the diversity of the collection and its presentation in the manner of how museum collections used to be displayed, though the low lights are a bit of a strain on tired eyes!

      The Newstead automata is still there, and still giving delight to the many children who crowd around it!

        • Marly, Wilkinson was a prolific writer and produced a clutch of books chronicling his experiences as a peripatetic puppet showman in the 1930s. They are such good reading, charting a rural life that was fast changing even then and has now vanished completely. (Wilkinson couldn’t roll his cart between villages these days the way he did when there few motor vehicles to endanger his life!) Original copies are available quite cheaply at Abebooks. Here are some titles you might look for.

          1933. A Sussex Peepshow.

          1935. Puppets into Scotland.

          1932. Puppets in Yorkshire.

          1936. Puppets through Lancashire.

          1948. Puppets in Wales. (My favourite, of course!)

          1938. Puppets through America. (I see some copies of this available in the States.)

      • Oh Clive, it’s only the initial post of the year and you’ve already thrown me another name that I have to go and find out more about. A quick Google search for Walter has instantly intrigued me. Now I’m tempted by books like ‘Puppets in Wales’ and ‘Vagabonds and Puppets’ because I want to ‘hear’ his voice…. what hope do I have for the year ahead if I get waylaid at the outset?

        • Lesley, I’m unrepentant! Some of those volumes can be found quite cheaply at Abebooks, and they really do enchant. I have some photographs of Wilkinson’s beautiful marionettes at the Gloucester Museum, and I shall dig them out and make a post. (Can’t see anything online about them, and there’s no mention of them at the museum’s website.)

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