Guess what was in this parcel?

What-is-in-this-boxHere in the UK there has been a grass roots movement to deal with the epidemic of wasteful plastic excess. The introduction of a law to charge for single use plastic bags has been with us from October 2015 and since January this year the charge has applied to every new plastic bag provided by any retailer with more than 250 employees. I know it’s not ideal, but it is a start in the right direction.

There is also now a move to stop the use of plastic straws and plastic takeaway coffee cups. And, since January 2018 we also have a ban on the use of microbeads (very small plastic beads) in toothpastes and facial scrubs.

But, and it is a big but, what about all the plastic used in packaging especially in these online shopping days where goods are despatched from one end of the country to the other. The other day I had a surprise. The above box arrived for me and I thought this is rather odd I haven’t ordered anything remotely this size. This must be a mistake. So I began unpacking it  .  .  .  .  .

Several-deep-china-bowls

And, yes, you’ve guessed it, from peering through all that plastic bubblewrap – a tile.

Just-one-tile

Yup, it was just a single 6 x 6 inches ceramic tile! I was flabbergasted, a single tile. Madness. (I must just point out that another tile sample I received also came singly, but in a custom fit, simple, recyclable cardboard box. Sorry no photo of that nifty packaging as I never dreamt I’d be writing about it!)

And, if you were wondering about the packaging I use to despatch my scarves, they are sent off in recyclable and degradable cardboard boxes with the outer white box made from 75% recycled material.

My-cardboard-packaging

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Back from Narnia?

Agnes-Ashe-Banner-Apr2018 copyIt has been awkward finding appealing interior spaces and decent natural lighting for a scarf photoshoot this past winter and the following grey, grey spring, but, eventually, I have some new photographs for my online shop.

Agnes-Ashe-Fenella-Model-insta1

It always takes longer than I think to start achieving interesting shots and then there is that moment when you capture somebody’s ‘selfie business’,

and, of course, there’s always capturing the odd rather strange scary expression – at least one if not more of those!

Model-stare

But if you were wondering what the ‘Back from Narnia’ title was about, well, it was wardrobes. In particular, it is about a partially dismantled Edwardian wardrobe (still, as I write, in pieces) that provided an obvious gateway between 21st century Ipswich and Narnia.

Back-from-Narnia.jpg

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Gucci – channelling Henry VIII

Gucci-2018-Tony-Gentile-Reuters

Gucci 2018, Milan. Photo Tony Gentile – Reuters

Just in case you missed the press coverage a couple of months ago (Feb 2018) of Gucci’s outing at Milan’s fashion week, here’s a couple of pictures. Apparently, the Creative Director at Gucci, Alessandro Michele, was musing on the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s ideas concerning identity politics. Actually, for once, on this occasion words have failed me.

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Gucci 2018, Milan. Photo Venturelli – WireImage

Agnes-Ashe-silk-scarf-strangling

Photo Agnes Ashe – Creepy silk scarf strangulation 🙄

 

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Ancient and Modern

All-Saints-Maldon-Triangular-tower-int

It’s a little hard to see from the photographs, but this is the rare, possibly unique, triangular tower of All Saints Church, Maldon, Essex. The top photograph shows two sides of the triangle as you stand looking up to the belfry from the third side.

 

It really is a proper three-sided, stone and flintwork tower supporting a hexagonal roof structure. In fact the three walls of the tower actually form an equilateral triangle and were constructed in the mid-thirteenth century from stone reclaimed from an earlier twelfth-century Norman built church.

It was interesting to find such a quirky tower enhancing a local parish church in what is an unremarkable, market town on the watery fringes of Essex, but .  .  .   there was more – striking mid-twentieth-century stained glass.

full-F-W-Cole-window

This stained glass was made by Frederick W Cole (1908-1998) working for Morris & Sons. Yes, that’s Morris & Sons which is not the famous Morris & Co founded by the William Morris. This stained glass company, Morris and Sons, was originally William Morris & Co of Westminster (also known as William Morris Studios). I can’t help but think that in our litigious times the chances of trading with such a similar name to a famous ‘brand’ would be nigh on impossible.

Generally, I am not a fan of twentieth-century figurative glass and I was surprised to find that this beautiful glass was installed in All Saints in 1950. Interestingly the style of the angels would not look out of place amongst late 1960s or early 1970s fashion illustrations yet perhaps Cole had been influenced by the earlier work of the Arts and Crafts stained glass master, Christopher Whall. For comparison some of Whall’s wonderful windows can be seen at Upton on Severn, Worcestershire.

Mid-20th-century-glass

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Springtime in Holywells Park

Blackthorn-in-flower

Although I have finally moved into my permanent house and I do have a small backyard it will be some time before I can start to think about making a garden. Priorities have been sorting out my work and studio space, the main reason for moving, and trying to create a little order from the overwhelming chaos.

Springtime-in-Holywells

I think Holywells Park is my favourite.

Without a garden visiting the local parks has been very important to my sanity

and they are also a great resource.

Blackthorn-flowerDrooping catkins, bursting buds and the early blackthorn flowers are all potential motifs to be worked into a silk scarf design.

Winerack

The Winerack, the skeleton building on the horizon beyond the wintery, skeletal trees of Holywells Park.

It’s not just in the parks there’s plenty of new activity, but down on the Ipswich Waterfront building work on the skeletal ‘Winerack’ has begun after standing unfinished for over a decade.

Work-in-progress

Securing the site and painting all the boarding ‘Ipswich Town Blue’??? The Winerack, Ipswich Waterfront.

It will be interesting to watch the framework finally become a fully, functioning building. Perhaps it will be a stunning, remarkable piece of architecture, but however it turns out I suspect the good folk of Ipswich will probably always refer to it as The Winerack.

 

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It’s Officially Spring

Thistil-gold-ShowcaseIt was the Vernal Equinox on Tuesday and despite all the wintery and bitterly cold wind (a short visit from Mini-beast last week, the cousin of the Beast from the East) it is officially spring and just a little bit warmer today. And, furthermore, with impeccable timing the UK Handmade Spring Showcase went live on Tuesday too.

UKHandmade-Spring-Showcase

I have been lucky enough to be selected for this showcase and two of my scarves have been featured.

Tudor-Bows-Blue-bannerI think the two photos chosen are bright and colourful –  hopefully capturing that optimism associated with spring. Who doesn’t need some bright cheeriness after the winter?

Tudor-bows-blue-tied-11-InstaTudor Bows Blue – hand painted, long silk twill scarf.

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Purple, violet, mauve

Purple-curtainsYou may or may not have noticed, depending on how much you use Google, that earlier this week Google marked an interesting textiles red-letter day, or should that be purple-letter day.

google-celebrates-perkinThe folks at Google uploaded the above rather charming Google Doodle to celebrate the birthday of William Henry Perkin who was born on 12 March 1838. Perkin was the man who discovered the first synthetic dye, aniline purple.

Purple-clothThere is an interesting short article describing his pioneering work deriving a purple dye from coal tar on the Selvedge Magazine Blog.

The discovery of aniline dyes and, in particular, a purple dye, provided the opportunity for the mass production of purple coloured cloth. Up until the 19th century there was a long-held convention of royalty exclusively wearing purple garments. A tradition that originated with the royal and aristocratic families of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Imperial family of the Roman Empire. In Renaissance England Elizabeth 1, a shrewd monarch with a fine instinct for understanding the value of visual propaganda, added to the many Sumptuary Laws governing how folk were permitted to dress, and proclaimed that only close members of the Royal family were allowed to wear purple.

Purple-silk-cushion-scarfPurple textiles had been incredibly expensive as they were coloured with Tyrian dye collected from sea snails with approximately 10,000 molluscs needed to produce about one gram of the dye.

Purple-face-silk-scarfLooking through my recent work I have hardly used any true purple (as seen in the third photograph above) and it is a dye that works well on silk producing an extremely rich  colour.

Three-lilacFurthermore, I only have three scarves in my shop at the moment that have lilac(ish) backgrounds. Of course, I might be very tempted now to use a lot more purple as I have just read that the Colour of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet (perhaps why Google chose to celebrate Perkin?).

Purple-shapes-silk-scarfMaybe, I am at the turning point of a personal ‘colour cycle’ as some of my older pieces feature purple accents and one of my favourite chiffons from about 20 years ago shows a saint dressed in deep purple and burgundy. Perhaps it’s farewell to pastels and pinks for a while, mind you I am not holding my breath on that one!

Purple-clothed-saint

 

 

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Mother’s Day and remembering mothers

Agnes-Ashe-hand-painted-silk-scarf-Ophelia-goldMy mother is no longer with us, but, she still lives on in my memory. Of course, she was not always a mother and she had some fun times despite growing up during the war years. She was an entertaining storyteller and liked to reminisce. I remember her vivid retelling of how when she was a teenager she and a friend secretly went to a call for extras for a film and she was picked. Unfortunately, my grandfather was absolutely furious when he found out and would not allow her to take up the offer. When she was older she enjoyed amateur dramatics and particularly loved dancing. Naturally, as a teenager she liked to dress like the Hollywood stars of the day and people often remarked she reminded them of Rita Hayworth.

MotherThis will be the eighth Mother’s Day when I’ve not been planning a special lunch for her and it only seems like yesterday I was painting a silk scarf for her in her favourite colours. If she was still here today I think she’d like one of these scarves with plenty of old gold, mustard and a hint of chartreuse.

She used to joke she was a blonde in a brunette’s body. She was a spirited, golden girl with amber coloured eyes and one shade or another of blonde hair. Much missed.

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Technically it’s spring, but there’s been just a little winter snow!

Gates-to-Cemetery

When I moved to Ipswich last year my father and I went for a walk up to the Old Cemetery. It was summer and it was one of the year’s three hot days.

Sea-of-gravestonesMy goodness what a difference yesterday was to last August. ‘The Beast from the East’ has been blasting Siberian freezing air across the North Sea and mini blizzards have been whipping across the East of England.

Ipswich-Old-CemeteryDuring our summer visit, my father reminisced on attending the funeral of his grandfather in the Old Cemetery and as we strolled around he tried to work out in which of the pair of chapels the service had been held.

Chapel-in-blizzardIt looked very dramatic today in the fading light and bitter cold. The snow didn’t ease off and after 45 minutes my hands were so cold I could hardly hold my camera. (I know, I know, I should have some of those fancy Tech gloves, but at about £30 per pair it’s hardly worth it when we’ll probably get only three days of properly cold weather in a single year.) So back home it was, but fortunately that’s only now a few houses down from the cemetery gates.

Back-to-home

 

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A favourite bird motif morphs into a ???

I have been having a serious clear out of cloth. I am trying to be disciplined about this. I am attempting to organise all my work materials so there is studio space that is conducive to work and not one that is so chaotic it drains me of all my creativity.

Bird-hiddenDuring this protracted endeavour I came across some of my old silk work. In the photo above there is a bird hidden within all the colours. The original idea came from a medieval bas-relief bird I photographed on a visit to a cathedral (possibly in Germany, but it could’ve been in France) a couple of decades ago. In my memory it was always Speyer Cathedral on the Rhine. However, I have just Googled Speyer and though the magnificent 11th century Romanesque church is the building I have in mind’s eye, I can’t imagine where I thought this bird was ‘perched’. Strange how our memory plays tricks with us, isn’t it?

Anyway, I can now see that my ‘stork’ and ‘heron’ phases had a long forgotten forerunner lurking somewhere in Europe.

Of course, a freehand one-off motif once designed doesn’t remain fixed for very long.

Over time my bird motifs have lost most of their definition and morphed into little more than blobs with spikes!

 

Might be time to track down my old photos and revisit the original ideas and try working up a new motif or two from the primary source material. I haven’t unpacked either box marked ‘photos’ yet, but I am hoping that I didn’t bin them all the last time I had one of my ‘once every 10 years’ clear outs.

 

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What is the painting?

Reminds-me-ofDuring a recent visit home my daughter was trying out my new, preloved camera and the new, also secondhand, prime lens. You can see she was having a go at capturing the ‘infinite’ reflections disappearing down the tunnel created by a pair of mirrors opposite each other.

However, when I saw this photograph downloaded from the memory card it immediately reminded me of a very famous painting. My daughter’s photo had not remotely been an attempt to copy the original Manet painting. That would have been a technical feat, with the intriguing image the artist achieved on canvas, but I do think there is a familiar quality about this photo’s composition. I think that my daughter’s fringe, the mirrors and the cluttered sideboard are also significant details. A little slice of life imitating art, don’t you think?

Transition1

Transition3

The Bar at the Folies-Bergeres, by Edouard Manet

‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’ (Un bar aux Folies Bergère) – Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas. 96 cm (38 in) × 130 cm (51 in) Courtauld Gallery, London

 

 

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