Tag Archives: Holburne Museum

Rocking Dog Loves Simple Garden Blooms

Milk Bottle Flowers,Rocking Dog

Milk Bottle Flowers

With the kennel a little more ship-shape I loved bringing some garden flowers through the door yesterday. Just eight stems were required to fill eight simple glass milk bottles (large from Ikea and the small from Ampulla). Phlox, teasel, tansy, sprig of rosemary, borage, evening primrose, crocosmia and one unknown! My simple arrangements were given a spot on a sunny windowsill. Voila! I love flowers plucked from a garden or field. I am a gal of simple tastes!

After flower arranging (hardly!) I then turned my attention to the table close to the sunny window, regrouping ceramic treasures. One or two are contemporary potters seconds others gorgeous gifts. The brown glazed pot is sentimental and loved. It was made by my late mum whilst at teacher training collage in the early 1950’s. A simple coil pot, when I smooth its interior I feel my mums fingers working the clay. There is also a glazed bowl which was so thoughtfully gifted to me by the Holburne Museum, Bath. I used to cater for events there, cooking in their minuscule kitchen. I remember remarking to a member of staff that their slop bowl for used tea bags was just too lovely for that purpose. A year or two went by, no doubt with the bowl seeing its daily fill of tea bag detritus and it was time to do a Heaven’s Cake farewell picnic. The Holburne was closing for a considerable length of time for the building of its dramatic new extension. After a delicious picnic on a lovely sunblessed day the empty hampers came back to me. Within one of the baskets wrapped in white tissue and tied with a bow was the beloved tea bag slop bowl. I was so moved that someone had remembered my jokey comment. I know it’s not every ones cup of tea (!) but I truly love it.

The latest ceramic purchase are two large silvered ceramic lamp bases. I bought them at Redland Fair for a bargainous £20 the pair. They have some age, and had the tiniest round pin plugs. I kept “watching” the prohibitively expensive shades in the hope they’d go into the sale and fortuitously they did. Lamps complete. Thank you to electrician/fisherman Phil for checking their wiring.

Pots jiggled I questioned myself why I hang onto SO much stuff. I keep promising the kids that I am going to become a minimalist, but my minimalist brainwashing therapy hasn’t yet begun!

Originally the table was Andyman’s desk, that was until he’d knocked his shins on the antler base just one too many times. Result! Moved downstairs it now sees various collections of objet d’art throughout the year. Christmas sees it covered in snow, putz houses, vintage baubles etc.. which leads me neatly onto the fact I am sewing some Christmas stockings today! Bah Humbug!

Simple Blooms,Rocking Dog

Simple Blooms

Wedding Blooms,Rocking Dog

Wedding Blooms

Sarah R's Blooms,Rocking Dog

Sarah R’s Blooms

Spring Clean Ceramics,Rocking Dog

Spring Clean Ceramics

Same Table, Another Time,Rocking Dog

Same Table, Another Time

On The Workbench,Rocking Dog

On The Workbench

Gift Wrapping and Seafaring Artists Tale

Who Will Be The Lucky Recipients?, Rocking Dog

Who Will Be The Lucky Recipients?

On Tuesday I took my lovely octogenarian friend to the Holburne Museum in Bath. Currently on display is a temporary exhibition of paintings from the Swindon Collection, entitled Gwen John to Lucian Freud, Home and the World. One painting I particularly loved was one by Alfred Wallis, Ship amid Tall Waves. The painting inspired me to do a naive interpretation in the form of a pen drawing on black tissue for a gift I needed to wrap.

The catalogue gave me a gist of Wallis’s life and I wanted to make it into a little tale for children, so here goes!

160 years ago (that’s a VERY long time) a little boy called Alfred Wallis was born in a seaside town in Devon. Alfred simply loved the sea, and when he was nine he said goodbye to his parents and went off to be a cabin boy on a big ship. I rather suspect that you would prefer to be on a boat rather than going to school, especially if there’s Maths! Life must have been quite tough for young Alfred, with sea sickness, home-sickness, lots of shoes to polish and clothes to wash. When he was a little bit older he became a fisherman and caught fish in the icy waters near Canada.

Eventually he decided that he wanted to come home and have a little cottage and garden, no more adventures at sea. He met a lady called Susan and after asking her to marry him, they settled in the beautiful little Cornish town called St Ives. He had a job as a Rag and Bone Man. People would bring out pieces of furniture and junk they no longer wanted. Alfred would then repair and sell on some of the junk. He and Susan were poor, but very happy, they loved walking on the beach and drinking tea together in their little cottage.

After a few years Susan died, and Alfred was very, very sad. To help himself feel better he decided to start painting pictures. He loved to paint ships and the sea, and can you believe that Alfred even used ship paint to paint his pictures! As he was very poor and couldn’t afford proper paper, the kind shopkeeper would save him cardboard from boxes that had contained apples, cabbages and all sorts of other things. The cardboard suited Alfred just so!

One day two famous artists called Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood happened to be visiting St Ives.They passed Alfred’s little cottage and being very nosey looked through the open door. They saw lots of Alfred’s ship paintings nailed to the wall and were enchanted by them. They knocked on the door and spoke to Alfred, telling him how how much they loved his work. They supplied him with paint, and introduced him to rich people who they were sure would want to buy Alfred’s paintings.

Despite the help from many artists who appreciated his talents, Alfred was still very poor and very old. He went to live in the workhouse. I don’t know if you know anything about workhouses, but they were very tough places, with strict rules and no luxuries. The Government did not want to encourage people to live there, it really was for people who had no other option. Many workhouse residents were orphans, or very poor, ill or like Alfred very old. Residents would be given food, clothing and a bed. Those that were fit enough would have to work to earn their keep.

Poor Alfred eventually died in the workhouse at the age of eighty seven. Lots of artists came to his funeral and they were very sad. Alfred’s grave is a magnificent one, with tiles by Bernard Leach, featuring a little seafarer stepping up into a huge lighthouse. The grave itself looks out onto the sea, with its bobbing fishing boats, foamy surf and glinting orange sun which rises and falls on the horizon.

I wonder what Alfred would think about the fact that his little cardboard boat pictures are now seen by millions of people every year in galleries all around the world.

Gift wrap detail-
Black Gift- tissue paper, anchor button, thick bakers twine,”Signo” white pen, sticky tape
Pink Gift- tissue paper, ribbon, rosette (made up of varying sized material circles cut with Pinking Shears, leaf shapes, old velvet hat decorations, button), “Love” ticket (Hobbycraft), Glue gun, sticky tape.

Unadorned, Rocking Dog


Frouing Kit, Rocking Dog

Frouing Kit

Rosette Detail, Rocking Dog

Rosette Detail