Category Archives: North East Coast

Mondays are for Walking

Autumn is creeping in, with September gone after soaring temperatures followed by torrential rainfalls. The season change has caused us to pause and reflect on  changes in our lives here in Newcastle. Dealing with loss of loved ones leads to recallibration of priorities and needs, and so my partner has cut down his hours and I have altered mine leaving us both free to spend Mondays walking in the beautiful North East landscape. If you get the opportunity, I can recommend walking for wellbeing.

Each week we have picked a route of around 10km, in different locations; coastal, moorland, riversides and woodland. Incredibly, all the routes so far have also included remarkably good cafes! (More on that later!) I haven’t stopped to get out my sketchbook yet but have been busy with my camera and collecting bag.

The walks have provided thinking time to mull over project ideas and the landscape is certainly proving inspirational.

Week 1: From Craster to Low Newton and back, via Dunstanburgh Castle

We started this walk with tea and toast at the Shoreline Cafe in Craster, truly excellent toast!

We found this spider hanging outside one of the little cottages on the dunes near Low Newton- beautiful markings

On our return the temperature seemed to have warmed up enough to get these little frogs hopping- we had to be very careful where we put our feet!

Dunstanburgh Castle looking dramatic against the sky line,

Lunch at the Ship Inn, Low Newton. It had to be crab sandwiches and kipper fish cakes!

A mad dash back to Newcastle saw us reach Grey Street in time to catch the end of stage 3 of the Gour of Britain bike race – think we overtook them when the riders got stuck at the level crossing in Widdrington!

Week 2: Allendale  around Stobbs Cross

This walk started with a visit to an art gallery…and cafe- can you see a routine forming ūü§£

We went to The Allendale Forge to see a beautiful textile art exhibition by the very talented Kate Slaughter and then got our energy levels up with a tasty vegetarian breakfast.

I found this walk quite hard, the landscape seemed bleak to me and the wind was fierce

Lower down the route, hedgerows were covered with rose hips, hawthorn berries and the last few blackberries.

We saw several beautiful brown butterflies whilst we were on the moor – I need to check if this caterpillar was related to them!

Week 3: Derwent Valley from Swalwell to Thornley Woods

We couldn’t go too far from home today- kid taxi duty later – but this gorgeous walk is only 9 miles away- so lucky to live where we do.

We walked a whole mile from the car park before ‘accidentally’ finding Land of Oak and Iron a heritage centre that just happens to have a lovely cafe attached ūü§£ more toast and tea tested- ūüĎćūüĎćūüĎć

We walked across the viaduct and then went down to follow the river.

Wasn’t quite so impressed to find this-almost as big as my foot!

Thornley Woods has an accessible sculpture trail- and another cafe! These walks are all easy to reach by bus from Newcastle too!

Week 4 Alnmouth to Lesbury,Bilton and Hipsburn and back

Heading up the A1 this week, calling at Swarland for…yes, tea and toast – you really need to try Nelsons in the Park 4 slices!!

I love Alnmouth, a village full of art and cafes right on the coast- this time though it was all about the river. So after a short walk along the beach we turned inland to find the Aln.

This little hut features in one of my miniature scenes

We walked through the golf course and across a field warning of bulls – luckily they seemed to be elsewhere.

This little robin was quite fierce- he flew right up to my face twice as we tried to pass him- surely it’s the wrong time of year for nesting?

Another viaduct- this trainspotter just missed the 1 o’clock to Edinburgh going overhead!

And after all those steps? A vegan spicy cauliflower pie fromScott’s of Alnmouth

I hope we can continue these walks as the weather turns, we’ve been lucky so far but if it does get grim, we might switch to urban walks with (more) cafes and cinemas!

Connecting with Landscape

2017 has rolled in with strange weather. One day freezing, the next double digit temperatures. Winter weather alternating with, what feel like, cool English Summer days. Goodness knows how nature will cope with these crazy days. 


It has given me chance to get out walking in the hills and at the coast, feeling a connection with the landscape. The more society disappoints me the greater the appeal of land and sea. 


A sense of space, peace. A feeling that nature will still be there; serene, powerful, beautiful, long, long after this political posturing that makes me so distraught . I walk in the landscape; amongst the hills, by the sea, seeking affinity, looking for signs of continuity, harmony. Walking thinking, looking and recording. What makes it beautiful, what will endure? 

New work emerges in sketchbook and sample form, getting more deeply engrossed in the detail of landscape, connecting colour, texture and form to understand, better, the nature of a place. 


Working with blue; weathered and worn, like flaky paint on coastal huts, layered like sky loaded with clouds bearing weather in many guises, textured like waves, building and crashing, thrusting spray and foam across rocks and shoreline.


Trying to capture the essence in colour and stitch. A new focus and challenge for new challenging times. 

Something Fishy & All things Holy (T)!


Getting ready for tomorrow’s workshops- blanks cut and painted ready for participants to add their creativity! 

Some of the demonstration pieces will be for sale at the Holy T Art Fair – to raise funds for the project. See you there 23/24 September!!


And this view of Holy Isle should be framed and ready to go too! 

Great North Art Show

Tomorrow is delivery day for the Great North Art Show!! So my bank holiday is being spent adding mirror plates and searching for bubble wrap!

I’m taking five pieces to the show – but I think one of them is still in Edinburgh so there may have to be a last minute substitution….

I’m hoping ¬†to take Glimpses of¬†Summer

Glimpses of Summer

Sometimes the sun breaks through the clouds.

Arran Breeze

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Stonechat Lands

Stonechat cropped square

(I’ve just had this one re-framed and added in some sneaky extra details! Can you spot the difference?

There’ll be some more images soon of the show itself, I’m so looking forward to it!

 

 

All at Sea

Surging towards a market next Saturday 28th May ¬†– Newcastle ArtsFest organised by the Lovely Lesley! My ‘transport co-ordinator’ loves it because he gets to drive up to Gray’s Monument in Newcastle city centre! So, I’m busy finishing some new pieces and planning the set up. It’s always lovely to be in the centre of Toon, lots of people to chat too and lots of lovely artwork to admire – get yourselves there if you’re in the area!

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These two are awaiting their frames, the weather has turned a little stormy! I’ve been developing ideas with my hand dyed fabrics, trying to emphasise mood and texture.

Meanwhile, it’s all a bit shipshape at the Arts in Health project I work on too – this time its all about boats. Those owls we made are lovely but maybe a bit Autumnal? So I thought we could all sail away on a seaside theme over Summer, redoing our window display with a new installation.

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A sample driftwood boat

One relative on the Chemo’ ward kindly donated some old map books, so the pages are going to be repurposed as sails. I have sterilised lots of bits of driftwood and disassembled a roll of willow edging (Poundland !) ¬†So this week we’ll be making driftwood boats to sail over the seven seas. Then we’ll add needle-felted lettering across the top of the scene and a silk painted ocean at the bottom. That should keep us all busy for a few weeks!

I’ll post more images as the project develops. (And if you want to know how to sterilise driftwood – you need to boil it in a very big pan for several hours, changing the water a few times too! Steamy!!)

 

 

 

My Journey – Unveiled

Today saw the first unveiling of the triptych. It was such a lovely event. As the work was unveiled a very strong ‘Ooh’ echoed around the room. Everyone seemed to be delighted with how the work had developed and it was great to be able to talk with people about their responses to the work – and to share in person the ideas and processes behind its development.

So now I have to think about what to do next! I have plans (of course!) and I’m itching to start some new work. After the glories of the morning, the afternoon has been spent doing admin’. I’ve applied to the Great North Art Show¬†that takes place in Ripon Cathedral in September. Four and a half months away – but seeing how fast the first few months of 2016 have slipped by…I’d better get motoring on that machine again!

I’m going to be doing a short talk about the importance of colour in my work later this week too –¬†Jesmond Library¬†is the venue, this Thursday from 6pm. I’ll be joined by two lovely talented artists¬†Ailsa Miller¬†and¬†Cath Hodson. The evening will be hosted by the fabulous Lesley McNish¬†the mastermind behind the Loveartnortheast Art Markets. So pop along if you would like to find out more about colour in art!

Time to dig out those sketchbooks now!

My Journey – Journey’s End

That’s it. I have stitched my last stitch, ends tied in, loose threads trimmed. Photos taken.

All of a sudden it’s done…and I feel quite bereft.

(Then I remember the aching arms and the workroom that really needs tidying.)

My last job is to take it to the framer’s tomorrow. Anxious thoughts..will it stretch well over the frames. Will the three pieces ‘marry up’ as I intend them to? Will there be any last minute ‘touch up’ jobs to do?

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There’s been some choppy waters – broken needles, manipulating large pieces of fabric through the small space of a sewing machine, time speeding by…aching limbs after stitching for hours on end, sometimes I felt it would overcome me but I kept on going

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Until finally, this week has seen me speeding towards the conclusion of more than three months of workshops, planning, drawing and stitching.

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And then all of a sudden, the harbour is in sight, Journey’s End indeed.

I’ve learnt so much through this project, stretching myself as an artist , working around issues of size and scale, incorporating other people’s stories into one theme, planning and delivering everything to a deadline. It has been a joyous task to work on, thank you everyone for the opportunity.

But now its time to move on, the April showers are holding back and I’m off to enjoy the sunshine. The triptych will be unveiled later this month and then I’ll write about the meaning behind the imagery, with photos of it in situ at Heaton Baptist Church.

Now, I think I left my family somewhere under a pile of fabric! Better go and find them!

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My Journey -green hills and chimney pots

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This is what I’ve been working on today – the top section of the third panel and look…! The first buildings are appearing! ¬†I should also mention that yes, I really did need three different pairs of scissors – little silver ones for threads, purple handled ones for cutting papers, black shears for FABRIC ONLY..sorry I didn’t mean to shout but woe betide anyone who uses the fabric shears for anything other than cloth!!

The sky now links across all three panels and so do the green hills. So that meant I could move on to the first buildings (anyone recognise that ruined windmill? I thought we needed a local landmark – and it was fascinating to read about this and the lost ‘Millionaires Row of Heaton !)

A lot of the detail in the triptych will come from the way I lay down the fabric pieces Рin the sky, the blues are fairly horizontal, whereas the clouds tend to curve around. The grassy hills have the pieces running in a sort of diagonal curve to show the shape of the hill. The trees are treated a bit more like the clouds, with smaller pieces placed in curved or upright lines to show the form of the trees. I also stitch differently over the different surfaces.

In the first of these three pictures, you can see that I’ve used some zigzag stitches on the grassy area and long straight lines in brown tones on the path.

The middle picture shows the windmill with bushes behind it, the foliage was stitched down first, with looping stitches to represent the leaves and direction of growth, Then I added the windmill structure, using straight stitch to hold down the pieces and a very small zigzag to thicken up the window frame and door arch. ¬†In this ‘first fix’ to use builders’ terms (well, I am adding buildings!) I don’t put in too much detail, just enough to show what each section is. As each panel gets ‘filled in’ with the colour pieces, I will go back and work into them more, using machine and hand stitching to add detail and give a sense of depth – more detail in the foreground.

I need to work more on the path and road in this panel and the left hand one, at the moment I’m thinking that they stick out a little too much, so it looks like road works tomorrow – and the small matter of a lighthouse to construct!

Until the next time…:) ( and I’ll update the list of names as to who’s fabric has been used too!)

Gallery 45 Coast Exhibition

What a lovely way to spend the day! We started with a trip to the lovely Gallery 45¬†in Felton, Northumberland, so I could drop off some of my work for the ‘Coast’ exhibition that starts tomorrow. There are several artists taking part – ¬†¬†Fiona Carvell¬†,¬†Sarah O’Dowd,¬†Peter Davidson¬†,¬†Linda Mumba¬†,¬†Deirdre Foster¬† so¬†there’s¬†¬†a wide range of media (and prices!), go along and take a look!

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After that, we just had to go and try out the menu at the¬†Running Fox Bakery¬†just down the road on the edge of the Coquet River. It was a breakfast brunchy delight and kept us fuelled all day! (I’d recommend the Foxless Scone – eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes on a cheese scone – yum!)

So, then we thought we’d go and seek inspiration – and burn off some calories – with a walk on the beach. There was a glimmer of light and a sliver of blue in the sky and we hit lucky – I’m beginning to believe that the sun¬†always¬† shines on Alnmouth!

I love the way the long grasses frame the views on Northumbrian beaches. It was a bit too breezy to hang about, or paddle (!) but a brisk walk on a Northern beach in a Northerly wind does clear the head!

We only saw a few other folks, along with a lot of oyster catchers, a beautiful sight on a fabulous Friday.

Seaton Sluice Surprise

Sometimes you find something surprising almost on the doorstep! Often walking across the beach at Seaton Sluice, I’d look up to the headland and think ‘That looks almost like Brittany – whitewashed buildings on the headland, seas all round’ and wonder whether it was worth exploring. One evening early last Summer, we finally went along for a look – it was fabulous – the sun was setting over the hills as we followed footpaths over the grassy headland, stumbling across crazy driftwood and flotsam sculptures and discovering the tiny Watch Tower museum. We walked around the headland and back along the riverside before a well earned (!) pint at the pub (the biggest white building).

Inside the pub we found information about the history of the area Р13th century salt manufacture and 18th century bottle works, and learnt that what we thought was a river passage was man made! The Cut had been blasted out in the 18th century to make a better entry to the harbour for bigger boats to take coal and salt, south to London.

It was so lovely that we went back the next morning with a breakfast picnic of hot (veggie) sausage sarnies, a flask of tea and the children! Then we discovered the next bay along  Collywell Bay, with fantastic rock structures standing proud on the beach.

This weekend adventure inspired me to get sketching, and the first result can be seen above. It is created with hand dyed fabric, appliqued and stitched to capture the texture and detail of the scenery. I’ve called it Spring Tide – Seaton and it’ll be on view at¬†Gallery 45¬†in Felton from this Saturday, 5th March. I’ll be at the gallery the following Saturday for their¬†Meet the Maker¬†event when I’m promised there’ll be tea and cake!

In the meantime, I’ll be getting on with that commission…..