I’ve had a fabulous few days with family in Leicestershire. On Tuesday my cousin-in-law (is that a term? Actually my first-cousin-once-removed-in-law) and I visited the King Richard III Visitor Centre which seeks to explore the life of the king and his discovery back in 2012. It was basically text on a wall with a half dozen objects including a high vis jacket and a microphone. Is that really how museums are heading? I have to say I left none the wiser and not terribly inspired. For the price of the entrance fee one might as well have just bought a book – there would have been far more information, and you could have read it at your convenience and repeatedly.
A totally different experience awaited us the next day when we visited Calke Abbey, a National Trust property left pretty much how it was when it was handed over in order to demonstrate the decline of the country house in the twentieth century. It was owned by several generations of kooks and recluses including a collector of taxidermy and natural history, much of which has been left as they were displayed, jumbled in glass cases with handwritten labels (pics above and below). I can’t help but feel this was far more inspiring than a bit of text and it certainly makes me want to find out more and visit again.
We became rather fond of Nanette Hawkins, a lady’s maid who married one of the baronets (you go, girl!) and amongst the junk that had accumulated over the years in what was once her bedroom it was not hard to spot a boudoir spinning wheel. But the most stunning thing at Calke was an 18th century state bed, never unpacked and still crated up until it was recently discovered and put together in very tightly controlled environmental conditions (hence the dark photo). The colours were of course entirely stunning and a stark reminder of how faded the textiles are that have been left to us.
On my last day yesterday I stupidly took a tumble down the stairs and twisted my knee but nothing was going to stop me visiting Art in the Pen, a cattle auction mart in Skipton turned over to artists this weekend. I was so thrilled to have been accepted as an exhibitor but when it looked like attempts were afoot to buy Maides Coign I realised I could be left with little to show and had to pull out. Armed with a vintage crutch dug up from the cellar, I had a great time; it was amazing to see so many fabulous artists ranging from printmakers, painters, potters, sculptors and jewellers all under one corrugated roof. Many exhibitors are members of Craft Soup, a Facebook community for designer makers in Yorkshire and you can see a selection of the work on show at Skipton over here. It is on all weekend and certainly worth the visit. Below is a snap by Paula Perrins of a piece from the display of talented jeweller Liz Samways aka Inkylinky jewellery.
Alas in the night my knee was causing a lot of pain and I ended up in A&E and I’ve not long got back. I felt so guilty going, even though the last time was 21 years ago. It seems I have done some damage to the soft tissue and my knee is now splinted up and I’m on crutches and I have to keep it straight so I suspect I won’t be weaving for a couple of weeks. My holiday was a great incentive to get all the prep done for the next tapestry so I would be able to dive right into it when I got back. Arh well – I’ve said it before, man plans, god laughs. I suspect I may be having some quality time with my sketchbook and perhaps catch up on some reading. Time for a bit of a snooze I think, it has been a long day – ta ta for now – AND BE CAREFUL ON YOUR STAIRS xxxx