Thursday, 11 March 2010

Susan Lenz

Well, where do I start?  As planned today I went to Nottingham to meet up with Susan Lenz who is over here for a few days from her home in Columbia South Carolina.  We met up at Nottingham Station and we had a great day.  Susan is just as I expected her to be, full of vigour and passion for her art and we chatted non-stop all day.  

Susan had not visited Nottingham before and, close as it is, I don't visit very often but with the help of memories of a previous day out with Guzzisue and a map courtesy of Multimap, we set off to explore starting with The Trip to Jerusalem, claimed to be the oldest inn in England. (I've cheated with the photograph, it wasn't sunny this morning, this is from a previous visit).

The Inn nestles below the rock on which Nottingham Castle was built.  
Robin Hood was not to be missed and his Merry Men were in close attendance too.

I was quite taken with Friar Tuck's shiny head where many hundreds of hands must have rubbed the statue.  You can see the very marked difference with the patina of the remainder of the statue and all the figures were in a similar condition.  I only noticed it when I went to touch the statue myself!

Next stop on the tour was an uphill walk to the Nottingham Playhouse for a look at the Sky Mirror designed by Anish Kapoor.

Susan was suitably awed by this amazing mirror and I find it fascinating to move around it and watch the reflections change.  You know how you're supposed to take a photograph when bloggers get together?  Well, this is the only one I thought to take! Oops!

For the rest of the morning I took Susan to two of Nottingham's cemeteries as she has been producing a body of work (no pun intended) based on grave rubbings.  We went to Central Cemetery and Church Cemetery, known as Rock Cemetery.  These are Historic Burial Grounds and are a fascinating look back into the past.  Some of the sculptures that adorn the graves are beautiful and deftly carved.

(You can click on these images as usual to enlarge them but they may be a bit large so if you should be on dial-up you may not want to click.)

This little cherub has the most beautiful face and is surprisingly well preserved considering its age.

Isn't this a serene face?  Many of these carvings date back to the 1800's so they have done well to withstand the ravages of a city's pollution.

This image above is definitely large if you click it.  The memorials are in the Rock Cemetery which I would have liked to have had longer to explore but you can only do so much.  We had already taken advantage of a fallen railing, knocked down by some earlier road traffic incident, to gain access to the cemetery as we were running short on time.  Surprisingly these angel figures above and their associated graves mostly related to the 1920's and obviously all of these statues were erected in memory of monied families or at least people of some standing as the ordinary working man could not have afforded such expense.  

One last cemetery photograph, if you will permit me:

This is the part of Rock Cemetery that we didn't get to, tantalizingly close but inaccessible form where we stood.  You can see that there are sandstone catacombs in the background and there are many elaborate memorials here.  Susan is planning a return trip tomorrow so I'm sure she will find her way down to this area.

We didn't spend all day in the cemeteries, although it would have been completely possible, and eventually we headed back into town to meet up with the other Sue and have some well-earned lunch.  We didn't stop talking all day and it was interesting to hear Susan talk about the path that had brought her to where she is today.  I'm amazed we didn't get asked to leave Costa Coffee as we were so engrossed in our chat that we were still there after more than 2 hours!  Guzzisue could only stay for a short while as she was on her lunchbreak but it was good to see her and we're going to meet up again later in the Spring.

I was privileged to spend some time with Susan today.  She is a prolific artist with an amazing passion and enthusiasm and our conversation gave me food for thought.  If you would like to see what Susan has done up to now with her images and graveyard rubbings click here to read her blog entry about her recent exhibition.  I have always had a fascination for graveyards for the stories behind the engravings and epitaphs and today's visits enriched that fascination.  

My energy eventually gave out on me and I made tracks for home but I left Susan setting off to explore more of Nottingham on her own before returning to Birmingham, or maybe she decided to stay over and continue her explorations?

PS There is a possibility that Susan may bring her work to the Festival of Quilts one of these years so watch this space! 



Thanks for sharing your grand day out. I was very intrigued with the mirror. So, I should let your DH take a photo of us then? :o)

purplecat said...

Yeh Nottingham, My home town where I was born and bred :)
Great to meet up with cyber friends in real life :)

Heather said...

Fascinating post Julie - thanks for sharing your day out with us. Those stone carvings are really beautiful. I'm off to take a look at more of Susan's work - thanks for the link.

maggi said...

Glad that you had a good day out. Lovely photos of Nottingham. It is so close I really should go there more often.

KindredSpirit said...

Great post - I have heard of that pub - there was a time team on it once! Love to go. Also really enjoyed the cemetery pics - I love hanging around in them - peaceful great places.

Susan said...

First and foremost, thank you so much for EVERYTHING....from suggesting Nottingham, showing me around, arranging our lunch with Sue, and especially for your kind words here on your blog about my work and me! I did return to Nottingham today....with six half meters of silk and both black and brown crayons. I went back to the Rock Cemetery....and, yes, explored all the catacomb like niches, the other angel sculptures, and the rows upon rows of beautifully carved slate and limestone graves. Every inch of the fabric is now covered in grave rubbings and my notebook is simply filled with Victorian epitaphs. It was a great day...and the rain held off until I was ready to walk back to the station. I was so happy that I didn't mind getting wet. The happiness continued into this evening's Birmingham Royal Ballet performance of The Sleeping Beauty. I was so proud of my son Mathias who danced the principal role of "Bluebird" and also for Laura-Jane who was the Fairy of Song. I'm seeing them in other parts during tomorrow's matinee. Anyway, it was wonderful spending time with you and talking about the passion we both have for fiber and stitch. Best of luck with the quilt on which you are currently working. I'll check back to see your progress!

Wanda said...

I'm so happy that you had a nice time visiting with Susan from SC and Guzzisue as well. My hat is off to you for being able to keep up with Susan (Lenz)!! That's not the easiest thing in the world to do!

sharon young said...

What a great chance to meet Susan, sounds as if you had a wonderful day. My DH can't believe I can spend over 2 hours in a coffee shop chatting to a friend, but we know how good it is and how time flies with good conversation.

freebird said...

How fun to get to spend time with a fellow blogger. Looks like you had a wonderful day too.