Saturday, 18 June 2016

Fine art borders

Art-work, part of the Foundation Year exhibits, at the Staffordshire University Fine Art Show 2016

For all the talk about migration, not one of us would want to be out there on the migrant road, existing in squalid, horrible conditions.and fleeing from them too.  Behind all the rights & wrongs, and all the arguments, it's no place that any of us want to be.
This installation art-work, part of the Foundation Year exhibits at the Staffordshire University Fine Art Show really brought this home, I thought.  
What a horror to have to be in a world where no-one wants you.  Pity The Poor Immigrant, as Bob Dylan said.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Fine art rabbits

Staffordshire University Fine Art Show 2016

The Staffordshire University Fine Art Show for its final-year students should be a glorious romp of creativity; and fizzing with original ideas.  You're only young once!
But for the past few years, it has been rather dull and uninspired in my opinion. Some stuff looks very professional, yes - but flat - while the rest is just take-it-or-leave-it.
The university has also hidden the exhibtion away, off the main site, as though somehow this work doesn't fit with the smart design courses in the rest of the institution.

The work of Lisa Nash (above) did seem striking though. She is trying to grasp just how and why animals have become so central in our imaginations.
The figure is holding a new-born/foetus rabbit.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Queen's birthday in wool

Queen's birthday in Cheadle

As is well known to confused foreigners, the Queen has two birthdays, one her actual birth-date and the other an official day of celebration. 
The official birthday fell on a rainy June 11th this year - and is her 90th.

The town of Cheadle decided to eschew the usual (and rather tired) idea of having photos of the Queen and Union Jacks everywhere.  Instead they chose to fill the town with newly-knitted red-white-and-blue items - mostly long scarf-like strands, but also eccentric bollard coverings and others...   Apparently this concept is called yarn-bombing.

In the picture you can see the knitted bits and bobs festooning the town's famous & ancient market cross.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Grey Ilam

Ilam Hall

Definition of English summer: the greenest countryside under the greyest skies. 
The gloomy grey stone of these Staffordshire countryside buildings is typical; and, to be fair to the architects of same, one can hardly have buildings decked out in rainbow colours when we are usually under such louring skies.

These are the grounds of Ilam Hall in the Staffordshire Peak District.

Is this Sam Johnson I see?

Doctor Samuel Johnson mosaic

Lichfield Festival is upon us soon (starts July 1st), and no doubt there will be lots of references to the city's most famous son, Doctor Samuel Johnson.

The city is so proud of the famous eighteenth-century "scribbler" that this rather startling mosaic (erected 1976) can be seen on one street-corner as a sort of tribute to him.
However, it would be interesting to know how many passers-by could correctly identify it as a depiction of Sam. He's not as famous as he was.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Lobby in Bulgaria

Lobby Bar, in Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria

I know this is a little daft obsession of mine but -- I like to look for 'signs' of Staffordshire even when I have to leave the county.
This bar in Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria is known as the 'Lobby Bar'... and lobby is the great dish of workign-class Staffordshire.

OK... a bit tenuous, I know - but it pleases me.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Threatening land-owner

Threatening notice on public footpath

This is the sort of thing that really gets my goat.  A selfish land-owner (near Ashley) has put up a threatening notice on a public footpath warning walkers not to use the path.

Of course I understand that land-owners don't always want strangers on their land, but the fact is that these are established common routes - by law - and the owner must have bought the land (or inherited it) knowing that a right of way existed across it.  So they need to learn to live with the fact and adapt.
Secondly, ramblers and farmers have one common aim - to protect the countryside. What farmers don't grasp is that, by being aggressive to walkers, they are making enemies where they should be making friends.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Hidden factory

JCB Earthmovers factory at Uttoxeter

I can't help admiring the way that the JCB Earthmovers factory at Uttoxeter is so beautifully concealed. It is deliberate of course: a great desire to disturb the visual environmental as little as possible is the motivation.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Deceptive country scene

River Tean at Spath

Glorious weather as summer gets under way.  Enough sun to ensure warmth, and (of course, this is England!) cool enough to be outdoors a lot.

This stretch of the River Tean (which is no more than ever this wide, and which, curiously, never leaves Staffordshire) at Spath suggests the forgotten English countryside of yore.  However, behind the treeline, and about half-a-mile away, a huge industrial estate is taking shape.
Most deceptive.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Artist's playground

Playground at Hanley Park

The playground at Hanley Park is as attractive as you can get... but I always think the lay-out is a about more than just banging in a lot of brightly coloured circles.
There seems to be an artist's mind behind the design, especially from this angle.  I know it's a bit off the mark, but it reminds me of the paintings of Sonia Delauney.

Interestingly, the park is now open 24 hours a day.   In the old days, the 'parkie' would close the gates at dusk.  I suppose there is no money to pay park-keepers now.