I continue to be left awe struck with the variety of wonderful artefacts waiting for me in my inbox each week. We’re deep into this stay (AT, at, @ – why has everyone forgotten the poor little AT) home malarky and with it we voyage deeper and deeper into Make Something Friday. You know it’s all getting very serious when it gets initialled by someone…
“You have a lot of entries for MSF?”
What on earth is he on about – Medicine Sans Frontier? OH!
And when the chap who said the only thing he’d have to submit is a photo of his bedroom walls covered in poopoo emails with a drawing to submit you know it’s seriously serious. Or that times are so desperate even poo walls have lost their fun. And scent. And we must at last turn to paper and pen…
What, I wonder, does this say about our desire to create, of making as necessary to the human experience? I’ll save you half baked ideas but it’s certainly making me think. But I’ll leave you with the wonderful thoughts of those who have filled this week with colour and contraption. ENJOY
A random bit of kitchenware we have needed for some time. Was very much inspired by Sophie and George’s whittling skills from week 1 of MSF so had a go myself. Made the base from scraps of wood in the shed and whittled the centre post from piece of pine. Then finished using raw linseed oil
Swedish apple cake and George as El Chapo (the moustache days)
What I did today.
Work in progress.
Currently studying Seascapes through painting, referencing a lot of coast from West Wales (which is where I’m from). Today, I waned to experiment different ways to represent the sea and the sky. By using different brush strokes and getting all messy and confused, I chose this Japanese style sky with these small thin brush strokes and. I also painted the sea in two different ways; a crashing, wild sea and a still, post storm sea.
These are two pieces that has been collaged together, purely for me to see what actually looks good and what doesn’t. By collaging different parts of my paintings together, I can see what looks good faster than starting a new painting with the changes I want to make. Also collaging is so much fun, I mean who wouldn’t want to collage’
To capture the essence of a person in a portrait takes huge skill, focus and inspiration. None of which I had in me this present Friday. So here is the depiction of my 3 near-est and here-est in a much freer format. Father, Brother and Mother, squiggled out, scrawled down in auto-pilot, one take pieces.
Artist captured working on mixed media artwork (ceramic, steel, water, coffee, sugar, milk). A rare sighting of Bill Farrington producing in-depth piece for his mother. Viewer Response: ‘I’m in shock. This really is a one off experience’ -Mother
Photographer: Alice Farrington, sister, also in ‘state of disbelief’.
Last time out, I wrote about the possibility of making something perfect. It’s a thought that has re-appeared in my mind time and time and time again, for as long as I’ve been making anything: surely, somewhere in the ether, there is a combination of ingredients that is completely perfect.
It’s such a tantalising thought. The album that, it’s universally agreed, is without question or qualification, the greatest ever made. The book that is adored by everybody. The film that wins every Oscar every year from here on out because nothing else could ever possibly come close. The footballer so good they don’t just retire a shirt number, they retire the whole sport. Fans of football all agree: there is no further that the medium can be taken; the pinnacle has been reached; it is all downhill from here. There is simply no desire in anyone to make anything else ever again, and nobody is sad about it. Everybody is sated. The meal was so exquisite that we need never eat again.
When I was a child, every trip to a museum would inevitably end up in a gift shop, and the one thing I always wanted was more notebooks. I’d find a nice one and I’d imagine that I would fill it with a masterpiece – a whole book written in an exhilarating rush from the first word to the last, with no mistakes and no revisions, and it would be perfect.
That imagined book stayed exactly that – imaginary. How could I possibly start? The first word had to be the right one. Every word had to be the right one. One wrong move and the whole book was ruined. Far safer simply not to make a move at all. The sketchbook with the Pharaoh on the cover, bought with saved up pocket money from the British Museum shop, stayed sat on my bookshelf as blank as the day it was born.
All these thoughts came rushing back when I wrote my blurb for Make Something Friday #002. The thing I’d made… well it wasn’t perfection. The thing I’d made for Make Something Friday #001 had a mistake in it, too. A big glaring stupid mistake, in fact, which complemented all the little mistakes scattered throughout it.
Then the levee broke.
The sketchbook with the Pharaoh on the cover was open on the kitchen table before I knew it. The nib of my pen was moist and potent and vital, effortlessly emptying its inky innards on to page after page, in a frenzied, careful, deliberate, instinctive torrent.
Like an out of body experience, I didn’t realise what was happening until it had happened. I blinked, and there it was…
The book was filled. To the brim.
Hundreds of pages, thousands of words. Concepts, comments, characters; narratives; ideas. A genuine bona fide masterpiece, no letter misjudged, no pen stroke misplaced.
The greatest piece of art ever created, by anyone, past, present or future. That perfect book – the imagined one that stopped me from starting so many times for so many years, so daunting and tantalising – was suddenly there.
And I looked down on my creation, and it was perfect. Completely perfect. All things to all men. Completely and utterly perfect. And the word perfect rolled around my mind and my mouth a few more times, like a spider circling the drain. Perfect. Perfect. Perfection. I savoured the flavour and the mouthfeel. I tasted how it felt on my tongue and on my teeth. Peeeeeerfect. Perrrrrrrrfect.
Then it dribbled out of the corner of my lips, dripping suddenly not with adoration, but with disdain.
How uninspiring; how uninspired.
How utterly lacking in the excitement, the personality, the reality of something flawed.
How completely uninteresting.
The finest piece of art ever created was the last thing anyone would want.
Perfection is nothing compared to imperfection.
The levee broke again.
I opened up my masterpiece, and found a page somewhere just after the middle point of my sprawling, concise, timeless, era-defining narrative. Somewhere towards the end of Act 2, as it were. Not an especially important page, although of course every word was equal in its vibrant, visceral necessity. Just a page, anyway; a page as vitally important as every other.
And I drew a cock on it.
There, I thought. That’s better.
Just a few words about a beautiful dead stag I saw today, having looked at it for ages to work out what animal it was. It doesn’t really mater what animal it was, it’s dead now. But once I knew it was a stag I made associations about this animal and held the thought a few minutes longer than I would, perhaps if I couldn’t identify it.. maybe to do with how we instinctively seek to recognise and organise our observations. Simple thoughts just about it being gone, and spring and life growing up all around, and the plants having their turn on the ground beneath its decay.
Keira Is 1
1st Birthday Card for my God Daughter who I am unable to spend the day with due to social distancing, so I decided to paint her a card and sketch a portrait of her playing in the bath. These are now in the post and I hope will arrive in time for her birthday on Tuesday. Making these made me think about gift giving and it’s meaning I think materialism often over shadows the sentiment. I remember studying Humes theory of gift giving where he argues that gift vouchers take away the recipients autonomy as they are restricted on where and what they can purchase and not real gift is exchanged. He speaks of the act of giving a gift must around a sense of gratitude. I now plan to rethink and make more personalised gifts in the future and I hope for Keira to have this feeling when she looks back on it when she’s older.
I’ve had a bare bulb beside my bed for a while. The lampshade disgusted me so off with her head. But the bare bulb was a bit bright. So I set about making a no-less disgusting substitute. From my old film negatives. Which I already knew from googling other monstrosities that I’d very much dislike. Yes, I like film Tabitha, but no I don’t want a coffee cup in the shape of a lens, bedsheets with little cameras thank you very much. Strange to embark on making something I knew I wouldn’t like but I was interested by the passage of light – and using forgotten old negs. Though I am aggrieved by the look of it, I really like the shadows and the soft sepia tint of the light. It’s funny, I was trying so hard to close up the gaps between the negs for the object to look nice with the light off but it was precisely those leaks with the light on that that made it all worth it. So even from monsters may beauty flow. Or something. I still don’t want this film neg kitschskitch thing in my house – but I do want the effect of the light. So I’ll get to thinking about a Mk.2 I’d be happy to own…complete with leaky gaps.
I would like to introduce you to Mrs Figley. Be sure to stick around, as she loves to indulge herself in telling you the story of how she acquired her name.
“I bet you didn’t know that there’s a decomposed wasp inside every fig. Figs and fig wasps have a special relationship that is essential to their mutual survival. The fig provides a home for the wasp and the wasp provides the pollen that the fruit needs to ripen…”
Despite her stoic confidence and transparent pride, Ronia Figley is deeply self-conscious about three things:
- The wasp that burrowed into her eye socket when she was a very young girl. Her family were too poor to take her to the hospital to have it surgically removed. The whole process was excruciating – so excruciating, that her parents had no other choice but to fork out all of their savings to repair their daughter’s eye. This money was spent in vain as the doctors discovered that it was far too dangerous to operate on. The wasp had, at this point burrowed into her brain cavity. Rheum (eye mucus) acted as an embalming agent, causing the wasp to solidify, becoming a permanent feature of Ronia Figley’s face.
- Ronia has had to accept that a full-time carer’s pension will never be able to fund the surgery she has spent her whole life longing for. The early childhood wasp trauma triggered a drastic change in Mrs Figley’s perception and sense of self. Ronia Figley was once called Ronan Fernley.
- Since the Corona Virus Pandemic began, Mrs Figley has had to reduce herself to wearing a mask. Not only does this draw attention to the embalmed wasp embedded into her eye socket, it prevents her from seeing past her already sizable nose. On the 15th of April, when she was out shopping for her anniversary dinner, Ronia Figley’s dress was hooked up passed her waist, for the entirety of her two-hour long social distancing Aldi shop, revealing her not-so-womanly manhood.
It is not known if her fashion faux-pas was accidental, or a deep-routed psychological need for attention.
Side note: If you would like to look just like Mrs Figley, a collie’s crotch hair makes for an excellent barnet. Just look what you can do with an oversized Baby Born dress and some ribbon.
Edge note: Mrs Figley’s bare body was formed some other weekday in 2019.
Sophie Jo Edwards
Food is at the core of our family. We love to cook and bake and this time has provided the perfect excuse to spend lots of time in the kitchen, making and creating and sharing great food together.
We had all been talking about ‘Viccy Sponge’ for days so I thought it would be really nice to gather together for a proper tea party – a sunshine celebration. The garden has been generous with flourishing Spring flowers, the weather has been extraordinary, so what better way to spend another day in isolation than to honour this truly British tradition.
My version of Viccy sponge is a fluffy dairy free, almond infused cake, made with fresh eggs from our happy ladies, filled with a homemade sour cherry jam and freshly whipped buttercream frosting, severed on my homemade ceramic cake stand.
After all that was left were the crumbs and remnants of a tasty cake, the family walked up to the veggie garden for a ‘Gate opening ceremony’ ; As a gift to my Mum, Dad has lovingly crafted an oak gate for our old/new vegetable plot, it’s the most original, beautiful, ornate handcrafted gate, standing with a welcoming pride, a metal tractor seat brilliantly fixed into the top, forming almost a heart shape. He’s carefully, decoratively engraved into it, hilighting this symbolic time. We’ve all contributed to secure and fence the plot, involving a team effort of digging, pile driving and hard work. The gate signifies so much of this importance, sadly, in no other situation would we all be together like this. I look forward to seeing the veggie garden flourishing and experiencing the purest of pleasures, eating the fruits of your labour. The string was cut and chief gardener – Mum was carried over the threshold in a wheelbarrow as we clapped and cheered.
As the special gate was officially finished on Friday last week and the ceremony happened this Friday, I felt he deserved a special mention.
We watched the big ball of sun setting over the horizon and I thought once again that day how it was one of those I’d remember forever, all the little details highliting the importance of this time for us as a family.
That morning we had started the day with great intention and achievement, going for a cross country run, through a forest of wildflowers and carpets of bluebells, the smell was unforgettable. We also celebrated as we eptied our first kiln load of clay pots made and fired here on the farm. While we drank our coffee outside we encountered a buzzard swooping so low that we could see it’s speckled feathers!
Today was – the clean white table cloth, newly unfolded, gleaming so fresh in the sunshine, decorated with a wild bouquet of flowers from the farm and Mum’s selection of favourite teacups, the singing birds and the lawn dotted with dandelions. The smile and admiration that the cake gave my grandma, that warmed my cockles.
My old school text book was found and inside it I flicked through and discovered an essay I had written about 9 years ago all about my sister and the special relationship we had, the childhood memories and games we would play. The closing sentence read : ‘I am very grateful to Annie for making my early childhood what it was, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life being her little sister.’ and here we are, brought together again on the farm where we grew up, making more beautiful memories together despite the strange unsettling time that we find ourselves living in.
We finished the day with a pretend ‘evening out’ dressed up in our best clothes, perfumed, made up, spruced and sparkling inside and out. We toasted a ‘yechyd da’, drank lots of wine, and went to bed full of homemade fresh pasta, chocolate frangipane tart and gratitude, for the day and for each other (and for cake! ) .
Cocktail muddler turnt from local Welsh Ash
From pottery to cooking to woodwork, I’m always amazed by the transformational nature of making. The metamorphic process, bringing form and utility to a raw material. The resulting object a measure of time, skill and care.
Lockdown has been a great opportunity for me to indulge my need to make and most recently I have been experimenting with wood turning. Using an offcut of locally felled ash I turnt a cocktail muddler for my brother.
To me the highest measure of an object’s worth is it’s functionality. I aspire to create functional objects for daily use that bring daily joy. Hopefully this muddler has a long life of cocktail making ahead of it.
A fungal dream
10 x 10cm, mixed media.
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2 from before Friday
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Jamie McEnery Cartwright
Here is a drawing of mine for your weekly blog. It’s not the latest drawing but it is so far my favourite creation. It was actually finished on a Thursday so I hope you can forgive me.
P.s. I hope this is a better submission than my proposed fecal exhibition from last week…
The story behind this is as follows:
I have a friend at work that was due to get married in August. They’ve had to postpone their wedding as a result of of the lockdown etc.
This was originally going to be made as part of their wedding present snit is now going to serve as a ‘pep’ to keep them going until the new date of their wedding.
As a couple, they both adore penguins so it seemed the obvious choice. The piece itself is made of a recycled popular wood with an oiled finish.