Tuesday, 31 January 2012

How much is that Doggie in the Gallery?

I've just sold my first sculpture!

I've been making things out of papier-mâché for many years but this is the first one that I've sold.

Due to my disability it takes me a long time to make each one.  Pebbles the dog has been on the go since 2005, and has been sitting around in my garage waiting for the days when I have the strength to work.  By mid-January this year he was finished. The final layer was made using a papier-mache clay recipe from Jonnie Good.

This worked really effectively as I was able to mix acrylic paint into the papier-mâché which saved me painting the finished product.  I stuck pebbles and stones all over the dog, using smaller pebbles near the head and feet.  His eyes came from a haberdashery shop that sold eyes for stuffed toys. They really came to life when I applied a coat of acrylic varnish to them making them shine. I added a dob of varnish onto his nose as well.

Last week a friend of mine helped me take him along to the gallery to enter the open arts exhibition as he was way too heavy for me to lift.  In fact I needed help during the final stages because I was unable to move him around to finish off the project.  Sometimes I find it painful to lift a milk bottle so working on this scale and with this weight may be something I have to reconsider.  It is wonderful to earn a few pennies from my art under the permitted work scheme, but I don't want hurt myself in the process.

Last saturday the gallery http://www.thebeetroottree.com/    held an open evening and I invited my friends to come along and look at the exhibition and enjoy a glass of wine.  I hoped my sculpture would attract attention and the odd smile, but it was beyond my wildest dreams that I would actually sell it.  We'd all been there about an hour and my friends were considering getting back home when Alysn Midgelow Marsden, http://alysnsburntofferings.blogspot.com/ the gallery owner, caught my eye and placed a red dot by Pebbles' paws.  She winked and moved away.  I looked at my friends, my jaw dropped open and then I began to grin.  It was a wonderful feeling.  Although it took me a very long time to create him, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am so pleased that he is now going to a good home.

It has crossed my mind to make up a small piece of papier-mâché poop to put underneath him when the exhibition closes.  Won't that be a surprise?

My thanks go to all those who helped me and supported me, to the gallery and to the wonderful person who bought Pebbles.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

jacuzzi hogs

Imagine David Attenborough's hushed voice:

We are here in the depths of Planet Spa, near a hot spring where adults come to bathe.  Already in the water is a large bull male, maintaining his territory by posture  If you notice his arms are spread out across all the available space, effectively holding six feet of warm therapeutic water for himself.

Now, this is interesting, a young male is entering the pool.  Will we see aggressive displays?  No, see how the younger one slips into the water placing himself to one side, avoiding eye contact with the larger male.  Yet in an act of gentle defiance he mirrors the posture of the other.  These two could lie here for hours without trouble; the bull confident of his supremacy, the younger male secure in his place.

A female arrives.  She weighs up the situation then tiptoes into the water and places herself in the uncomfortable shallow area, shifting her postion in the hope of more room.  The two males remain with heads back, eyes closed and legs spread forward taking up the floor space.

Yes, she's given up. The female is walking out of the pool and away to another area. From her shape we can see she is a mature alpha. Why, I wonder, didn't she challenge the males? Maybe she felt they were unsuitable breeding stock.

Close up of David Attenborough smiling:
Well. That's all we have time for today. I'll see you soon for another episode of Life on planet Spa.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Happy New Year of the water dragon. Xin nian Hao 新 年 好

As far as my limited understanding of Chinese culture goes it's lucky to wear red underwear today if you are born under the sign of the dragon. I was born under the sign of the dog so don't need to worry just yet.
 One of the traditions celebrated on the second day of the festival is the birthday of all dogs. So if you are lucky enough to have a dog give them a special treat.

I am still grieving the loss of my dear dog Betty who passed away last year. I will look to the sky and blow her a kiss.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

My Grandad's bookshop

My grandfather owned a bookshop in Leicester (Clarke and Satchell) between 1923 and 1963.  http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/news/pdf/issue4.pdf

Because of this, I was brought up in a large rambling house, renovated from slum status (but that's another story) in which every room had a bookcase packed to the ceiling with books. 

I learned to pull myself up onto my feet, (at just over two and a half years old, but that's also another story) by hanging onto these bookcases, staring at strange words like Dostoevsky and Shakespeare. 

At the age of twelve and thirteen the muted colours of these old, hard back books drew me into wild adventures and the strange world of adult emotion. I would browse the shelves and pull out another cloth bound relic to learn about the inner worlds of Aldous Huxley or Edgar Allen Poe.

To my mind writers had the status of gods, all long dead or nearly so, certainly way beyond the reach of mere mortals.  New writers, if they existed at all, were gifted, supreme beings. They were probably born with great novelistic ideas already in place, scribbling superbly constructed sentences while sucking on their dummies. 

Although I wanted to be a writer when I was young, or a painter, my parents encouraged me to get a proper job.  It's not that they didn't want me to write, but they didn't want me to starve or suffer through a lack of income. 

To some extent, being surrounded by seriously good quality literature as a youngster ignited my passion for words and stories, but it also held me back, as I believed that to be a writer you had to be a genius to have any chance of being published and read.

The world seems more kindly disposed towards new writers these days, especially as e-publishing takes off. Maybe there’s hope for my stories to appear on bookshelves one day, or at least on tablets of plastic.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Finally I have a blog!
I've had a diary since I was 11 which is a Very Long Time Ago. When people started blogging I thought what a good idea it would be, but never got round to doing it. Due to my disability I am limited in how long I can spend at the computer, but recently I decided that as a budding author it was time.

Procrastination be gone.
Self doubt be quiet.

Finally I have a blog!