Tag Archives: Julie Arkell

Gosh It’s Been A While. Happy New Year!

 

Come & Sit At The Table,Rocking Dog

Come & Sit At The Table

It’s been a long old time since Rocking Dog signed in. Christmas has hurtled in and whistled out. New Year was celebrated very merrily on foreign shores and now 2018 has begun in earnest. So where do I begin as the famous song goes?!

Perhaps it’s just best to firstly wish all who are reading this a very, very happy 2018. I hope this shiny bright year brings lots of joys, challenges, good health and wonderful times spent with friends and family. Having just spent eleven days or so with friends in Umbria there isn’t anything quite so lovely as having nurturing friends who enjoy caring for each other, noticing when a glass needs topping up (!) and sharing wonderful plates of food and lively conversation. Andy and I feel very blessed.

It has been amazing how many folk have said to me how quickly 2017 came and went. So how do we make a year feel as if it actually lasts twelve months? Perhaps not allowing Christmas to filtrate shops in September might be a positive start! Setting goals and learning new things, visiting new places, and rather than saying “we must get together sometime”, just let’s do it, perhaps they’ll all help extend our perception of a year well spent.

I have one or two things penned on the calendar which I am looking forward to and perhaps one that fills me with apprehension! There are 24 massive Haggi to tussle with a week on Saturday. I am using my long drive brain tactics… if I don’t think about the drive- or in this case the 160 mouths to feed I am ok! Breathe, breathe, breathe Rocking Dog! After hopefully coming through the Rockpipes Burn’s Night in one piece I can then look forward to a workshop with a hero (sadly it’s a bit un-PC to say heroine) of mine. The artist Julie Arkell is running a sewing workshop and i’m debating whether to wear ALL my papier mache brooches and the watch made by her! I think i’ll leave off the one that alas has been the victim of a vicious wash cycle on two occasions. Sooooo sad.

Rather conveniently I have put to the back of my mind a social media day next week. I’m going to be queen of the tweets, retweets and insta’s by all accounts! I have felt a sense of inertia about blogging recently, apparently instagram is the way to go. I post a photo of scaffolding and get “followed” by a construction worker from Tehran, it’s a whole new world. Umbria saw me post one photo a day on instagram. It was rather liberating not thinking about what to write for a blog and just to seize the moment with a snap of a nativity, stunning view, plate of spaghetti etc… However, here I am writing.. and then I remember that I write so much of the time for myself. A few years ago I had a fairly crippling bout of depression which left me pretty much incapable of holding a pen, let alone writing. Many of you will know that if I can write I am doing just fine.

It seems a bit late to look back on the year that was. It was certainly a bit of a roller coaster! Lovely bits were the arrival of Doug’ and what a privilege it was to be in the delivery room to see my new grandson emerge. It has been gorgeous to witness Doug’s doting parents nurture him. I just wish I could take away some of their tiredness! There is another little baby due in May and i’m sure Alex and Kylie will be fabulous parents too. Exciting times.

We have had great times in Umbria in 2017 and have enjoyed sharing our tiny piece of paradise with friends, family and rental folk. Olives have been picked, hill top towns scaled, wood burner installed, stars gazed at, the cool of the pool gloried and the peace truly adored. I really do pinch myself, so very lucky.

Also on a positive note Andyman’s corporate legal case finally came to a conclusion. Basta, basta adesso! (Enough, enough now!) It’s all been pretty tedious, long winded and rubbish. Where’s Judge Rinder when you need him?!

Lastly I have immense admiration for so many friends and family who are travelling very unpredictable roads regarding health, relationships and difficult work situations. You are all SO amazing and thanks must go to the wonderful NHS staff, carers, and charity organisations together with the support of unstinting friends and family members. ¬†Wishing all who have mountains to climb and rivers to cross a very fruitful and happy 2018. You know where we are, and I hope you’ll come and eat at our table very soon.

Globally, blogs generally may be read less, with likes, comments, re-posts dropping off the radar but I do hope i’ll hang on in there during 2018. I’m sure there’ll be interesting things to say, lovely pic’s and creative inspiration, together with lots of moans and groans from someone who would like to be thirty again!

Wishing you all a truly wonderful 2018 and thank you for being with me on the Rocking Dog adventure!

Have a great weekend.

Liz x

 

Field Full Of Flowers,Rocking Dog

Field Full Of Flowers

Paradiso,Rocking Dog

Paradiso

Siblings,Rocking Dog

Siblings

Sporrans At The Ready!,Rocking Dog

Sporrans At The Ready!

Off To New Places, Rocking Dog

Off To New Places

Arkell Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Arkell Inspiration

Mosaic…I’m Trying To Make A Start!

Drying In The Sun, Rocking Dog

Drying In The Sun

Somehow life is like a mosaic… it’s lots of little pieces of this and that, and lots of unexpected patterns and cracks! My plans to get going with decorating an ugly concrete wall in the garden is going slowly.

I have however managed to retrieve a shed load of broken china from the… shed! There are more beautiful shards to archeologically uncover but i’m a bit of a scaredy cat. There are some rather large moths and who knows what else to spook me in the said shed.

Three trays worth of china has been washed and dried in readiness for prettifying the wall. Isn’t it a good job human beings are so clumsy. The loveliest breakages have come from a lovely lady who gave me a cache of broken pots to Charleston-fy my garden. I love the porcelain with vibrant green dragons. It must have looked truly amazing in it’s unbroken format.

Today will not be a mosaic day, I am leading a healthy eating day with a group of Young Carers. We will be making Chicken Faijita’s, Shortcut Meatballs, Sweet potato wedges and a Peach Filo Pie. They will be also guessing how many sugar lumps in various foods. Can you believe that there are 28 lumps of sugar in Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ?! Gulp!!

The remainder of the week the weather looks a little less favourable. Until I mix my swimming pool grout i’ll keep on being inspired by the likes of Julie Arkell, Cleo Mussi and by the memories of Cuba, the New York subway and Rome.

Last night I rustled together a tray bake supper and I couldn’t help thinking that the ingredients were a colourful Mediterranean mosaic. Smoked Cod, tiny plum tomatoes, heritage potatoes, herbs from the garden, olives and slices of lemon. A delicious quickly constructed mosaic!

Clumsy Cracks, Rocking Dog

Clumsy Cracks

The Wall, Rocking Dog

The Wall

Mosaic Stool, Rocking Dog

Mosaic Stool

Cuban Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Cuban Inspiration

Arkell Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Arkell Inspiration

NY Subway Mosaic, Rocking Dog

NY Subway Mosaic

Roman Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Roman Mosaic

Religious Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Religious Mosaic

Woolly Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Woolly Mosaic

Mussi, Rocking Dog

Mussi

More Mussi!, Rocking Dog

More Mussi!

Mosaic Meal, Rocking Dog

Mosaic Meal

Rocking Dog Loves A Bit Of Mosaic!

Fusterlandia Is  Fabulously Fantastical!, Rocking Dog

Fusterlandia Is Fabulously Fantastical!

Just before heading out to Cuba I chanced upon a blog “Everybody Hates A Tourist“. It featured Fusterlandia, and I knew that as a lover of mosaic I just simply had to visit.

A day after our arrival in Havana, Andyman and I found ourselves in a taxi travelling along the coast to the seaside town of Jaimanitas. Here the artist Jose Fuster has spent the last 30 years creating an enclave Casa de Fuster. Not content with the embellishment of his own abode, his art has continued onto the walls and facades of another eighty properties in this sunny little town. Fuster has somewhat appropriately been nicknamed Picasso of the Caribbean.

I loved being in this bonkers place and not since Barcelona had I seen such a run of mosaic. It was certainly a real highlight of our Cuban trip. Returning to our taxi we asked two taxi drivers whether it was correct that Fidel Castro lived in the town. We were met with dismissiveness, when I said that the information appeared in our guidebook they grudgingly whispered that it was indeed true but not to point a camera in a certain direction! All very secretive.

My first brush with mosaic, or rather, broken china was as a child. The village shop in Frenchay had a wall containing shards of china and Edwardian tiles, and my siblings and I loved it. I remember we all selected the pieces of china we each liked best. Though the shop is no more, having been turned into a private residence some years ago, the china wall reassuringly remains.

Mosaic of an altogether different quality can be found at the Duomo in Orvieto. Its gilded mosaic embellishments, positively glinted in the November sunshine and looked spectacular against the cloudless blue sky. Meanwhile still in Italy we spent a glorious morning discovering the ancient harbour city of ancient Rome- Ostia Antica. As a result of silting, the site now lies 3km inland and is incredibly well preserved. I loved some of the mosaic floors which would have graced public baths and private villas.

In past posts I have mentioned my admiration of Cleo Mussi and Julie Arkell. Both are skilled in their use of broken pot. I love my Julie Arkell heart shaped brooch which features the quote “Looking at the sea drinking tea”, somewhat ironic because I hate tea!

My shed harbours a large box of china ready for a new phase of garden mosaic. Last year I got as far as buying the swimming pool grout… so this year maybe, just maybe, will be the year I create Fusterlandia!

Fantastical Fusterlandia!, Rocking Dog

Fantastical Fusterlandia!

More...., Rocking Dog

More….

...& There's More!, Rocking Dog

…& There’s More!

Orvieto Duomo, Rocking Dog

Orvieto Duomo

Roman Port  Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Roman Port Mosaic

Village Shop, Rocking Dog

Village Shop

Mussi Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Mussi Mosaic

Arkell Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Arkell Mosaic

Rocking Dog Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Mosaic

Raindrops And Roses And Whiskers….

My favourite things, Rocking Dog

My favourite things

…..on kittens, you get the drift these are a few of my favourite things! Whilst on my trawl down Gloucester Road I found a stash of Selvedge magazines in CLIC. A truly yummy magazine for anyone who loves textiles, fashion and fabric history. Love it that I do, unfortunately it is expensive, so a very occasional treat. Selvedge also has a lovely online shop and there are details of delicious Selvedge events.

Back to Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens… browsing through one of my bargainous magazine stash I chanced upon an article about the talented Julie Arkell. How I love her work and I am lucky enough to have some of her jewellery pieces. Over the years they have been very gratefully received and very cherished presents. Alas I fear that her prices have risen, so my collection may have come to a rather sad conclusion.

The first piece came from a gallery in Bristol and is a heart shaped brooch which is a real favourite. However the little message “Looking at the sea drinking tea” is rather ironic because I hate tea! Like most of Julie’s work it is made of papier mache. This particular piece is studded with shards of broken china and embellished with a tartan ribbon.

Another heart brooch was a Valentines day gift. Andyman and I had travelled to New Zealand to meet long lost relatives and we were staying on North Island. I remember waking up after our 24 hour travels, opening the shutters and thinking “we’ve flown all this way and this looks like Dartmouth!” incidentally I love Dartmouth, honest. So this mosaic heart was given to me during our jet-lagged fug!

Other pieces have been sporadically added, all totally unique and uniquely loved. How I love a watch whose time stays completely still and which has such a pretty Liberty print strap. Meanwhile the little brooch with the ring of pearly beads has unfortunately been through the wars. It withstood a 50 degree wash and spin and i’ve tried my best to rejuvenate her.

I know folk art jewellery isn’t everybody’s cup of tea or coffee in my case, but give me mashed up paper and broken china over a diamond any day! ……Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things!

Have a lovely weekend. I still have the sledge on standby, and have my fingers crossed!

Yummy mag', Rocking Dog

Yummy mag’

First love, Rocking Dog

First love

Valentine, Rocking Dog

Valentine

Timeless, Rocking Dog

Timeless

50 degree wash, Rocking Dog

50 degree wash