Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

I'm almost too late with my message as by now most of you will be enjoying your seasonal festivities but I would like to wish everyone the best that Christmas can bring, happy times with family, peaceful times in contemplation, time to relax and recharge your batteries and the day that you would wish for yourselves tomorrow.

Our own Christmas has started well.  My Mum has been with us today and my stepdaughter and her fiance came to visit this afternoon.  Tomorrow will be spent fairly quietly with Mum and then DH's sons will be here in the evening so all in all a gentle family time.

Thank you all for your Christmas wishes here and on Facebook.

Merry Christmas and I hope Santa is good to you :-) See you in 2012!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Good News and More Canaries

I'm pleased and delighted to be able to tell you that we have at last completed the sale of my mother's house in Essex.  We are having to sell it to pay for her care in a care home and have had a roller coaster ride over the past 6 months when the first proposed purchaser had to pull out.  Happily we have been lucky enough to find another buyer and the sale has completed.  What a great Christmas present for us all, although it is tinged with sadness as this was my mother's home for 49 years and my own home from the age of 9 until I went to college at the age of 18. At least now we can feel confident that the money is available for Mum's continuing care.

As is usual at this time of year time is rapidly disappearing and it's taken me over a week to follow up on my blog about our holiday in the Canaries.   As you might expect from an artist I was always on the lookout for interesting textures and patterns in our wanderings ashore.  These houses in back streets in Madeira and La Palma caught our eye.

I particularly like the house in the third image which not only looks as if part of it is upside down but has some lovely textures that invite stitched interpretation.

These wonderful tree trunk and seedpod shapes also caught our eye.  The seedpods were about 10" long!

These amazing painted faces adorned doors in Madeira.

So much inspiration for future work!
It's amazing what unexpected sights you do see wandering about on a sunny autumn afternoon in the Canaries.  We wondered what we had come across when these characters walked down the street:

It was a very surreal experience to sit in the sunshine and watch as all these people in turn came out and told their stories.  Apparently we had come across a Festival of story telling and dance performed by La Mascara Theatre Group with the Vigord Jazz Dance Group.  My DH has a good selection of more detailed photos here.

I leave you with a photo of two collages by Cesar Manrique (excuse the reflections as they are under glass).  These two charmers are providing me with inspiration for my next two journal quilts which I really should have finished by now, especially with Christmas coming up.  I have a busy week coming up but hopefully I will be able to show you progress on my versions by the end of the week.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Lanzarote 2

This spacey looking view was taken at Manrique's former home.  It's actually a coloured glass ball marking the edge of a path.

Instead of a traditional garden Lanzarote is covered in all kinds of cacti and succulents.  You can probably tell by now that the sculpture above is one of Manrique's.  

The walls that you can see above provide shelter for plants, most particularly grapevines which are an important crop in Lanzarote.  At night the humidity is attracted to the hollows and is channelled to provide moisture to the plants.

Just like at Jameos del Agua the rooms at the Manrique Foundation are built in collapsed lava chambers.

Large picture windows give a view out to the lava field that the house is built in.  If you click on the photo you should be able to see the folds of lava where they have cooled mid-flow.  I have only seen volcanoes on the tv and as awesome as they are it amazing to see the evidence of their arrested flow looking as though it could be coming towards you.  

Manrique collected many artworks in his life and many are housed here at the Foundation.  This glass piece above is by Adolph Luther and concerns concave and convex surfaces. 

More inspiration in the garden.

Thursday, 8 December 2011


You probably don't notice anymore when I don't blog as the gaps are getting bigger but this last gap has been for a pleasurable purpose.  DH and I have just had a holiday to the Canary Islands onboard P&O's ship Arcadia.  I have never been to the Canaries before and I didn't know what to expect but I have been pleasantly surprised.  We visited Madeira and 4 of the Canary Islands and it was wonderful to be in some lovely bright and warm sunshine. 

The highlight of the whole trip for me was a tour we took on Lanzarote.  I had always thought of Lanzarote as being a resort destination for a rowdy holiday, I had not appreciated what a fascinating place it is.  The tour we took was focussed on the influence of Cesar Manrique, an artist and sculptor who was born on the island and who had a great influence over the island's development and growth.  The first stop was Jameos del Agua a restaurant and concert venue built in a volcanic bubble.  To begin with Jameos del Agua sits in a surreal landscape of volcanic rock covered in succulents giving the appearance of anthills.

The lobster is one of Manrique's sculptures which pepper the island.  On arrival you go down a curving staircase into a fabulous grotto.  Grotto only goes part way to describing the scene before you and the atmosphere it conjours up.  I have never walked down inside a volcano before so all the different colours and lava formations were fascinating.  

The entire place imbued a feeling of peace and calm, maybe because of the gentle music playing and the sound of birds singing, or because of the greenery all around. 

Once you are down on the floor of the volcanic bubble you are surprised by the view through to a neighbouring bubble via a volcanic tube and a beautiful pool of water.  The water is a beautiful turquoise and is the home of thousands of tiny white blind crabs no bigger than my finger nail.

All the tiny white specks above are crabs.  They are unique to this location.  Although there is hardly any rain on Lanzarote water dripped through the rock into the pool at one side. 

When you can bear to tear yourself away from the first cavern and walk along the narrow walkway you come up another sequence of stairs through a beautiful garden and out into another roofless volcanic bubble and into this stunning garden and pool.  The pool is deceptively deep and the blue and white colours sparkled in the clear light.  

All too soon we were taken onto  the next location connected with Manrique, the Manrique Foundation which had previously been Manrique's home.  

More of this location another time.  I took a lot of video so I'll try and load a bit on here if I can.

Monday, 5 December 2011


I have heard today of the premature death of Sarah Lawrence of Craftynotions (in the UK) who we all know well from Quilting and Stitching shows around the country and from her publications.  This sudden and unexpected loss of such a vibrant lady is a shock and a very sad day.  My thoughts are with her family and friends to whom I offer my condolences.