Saturday, 22 January 2011

Leeds Waterfront and Markets

New buildings on Brewery Wharf

Leeds Indoor  Market - Victoriana at its height

Dock Street - the old back-to-backs are now trendy new flats

Leeds Centenary Bridge at Brewery Wharf

Old footbridge over the lagoon

Warehouse conversions, new buildings and Leeds Parish Church in the background

View from outdoor market on Sunday

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Finally - Journal Quilts October-December

The final Contemporary Quilt Journal Quilts for 2010 use fabrics I created in Rayna Gillman's amazing masterclass at Festival of Quilts in August.  .  The printed fabrics are combined with hand-dyed poplins, mainly an extraordinarily vivid red I dyed some time ago.  For me red symbolises life and energy and I have tried to use this symbolism in different ways in each one.  Technically, I have also tried two things.  The first is to focus on the use of contrast in composition; the second is to use a more minimalist way of free-machine quilting instead of the all over complex patterning I have done in the past. 

The September one contains a fern in a layered screenprint containing various elements.  I wanted to get the efffect of light through trees and shrubs; those of you who read this blog know that for me ferns are a potent symbol of life and continuity.  I've added two hand-dyed fabrics here, using fused applique, and the whole is lesss simplified than the later ones.

The October JQ uses a ready-made thermofax screen over hand-dyed fabric screened in a low-contrast colour in two directions over corrugated cardboard to make a grid.  I printed several layers of the pattern to create something a little more complex. I also wanted to get the sense of looking through something to see the seedheads (another image of continuity and new life, now I think of it).

The November JQ uses  multiple printings with another ready-made thermofax screen using squares of different sizes over a "failed" screenprinted piece.  This seemed to be like a city to me, with the line where the fabric had folded and not been printed suggesting a river.  Rivers were once the life-blood of many cities, including Leeds, where I live, bringing in goods and raw materials and taking out manufactured items for trade.  Leeds also has many underground streams (one runs down the middle of our back alley and has been known to reappear in exceptionally heavy rain) and the unprinted 'river' under the superimposed thermofax has become one of these, the main river is in the red fabric, and the only quilting other than the rivers is a branching river that has become a plant.  This is the least quilting I have ever done on a piece this size, and the jury is still out on whether it needs more.

The December JQ uses fabric which was not my favourite at the time but which has become the one I like best.  It is a ghost print, i.e. a second one made without reinking, just using the ink left on the screen after the previous print, which had been made using pieces of sequin waste some of which had been removed before the second printing.  The image it made suggested dust, smoke and urban decay and I wanted to contrast this with curves in the red applique; the quilting adds the suggestion of more curves.

I must admit to being fairly pleased with these pieces.  My favourite is the last one; my sister-in-law's is the first.  I'd love to know which you like best.

And - oh yes - these were the first photographs taken on my new Lumix G10 camera which the cats (in a fit of reckless extravagance) gave me for Christmas, so they should enlarge well!  (Though having checked that I've discovered there is such a thing as too clear - apologies for the cat-hairs!)

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Bixy R.I.P - a sad end to the year

Shortly after my return after spending Christmas with my family, I noticed that Bixy - who had appeared to be full of beans when he got home - was breathing oddly.  Initial diagnosis from the vet was possible bronchitis or asthma.  There was no improvement from the medication he was given and the next morning his breathing suddenly became a lot worse.  I took him back to the vet and he spent the day in an oxygen cage, which helped slightly.  Later I took him to Leeds Vet Hospital for overnight care and more meds; however, the radiologist who looked at his x-rays was able to identify severe heart problems: even if he had recovered this time (which was looking increasingly unlikely) the same thing would happen again in a few weeks time, and the best thing seemed to be not to allow him to go on suffering.

He died less than 24 hours after becoming ill, so at least his last illness did not last long.

He was a wonderful cat - not only beautiful but gentle too: he acted as mother to the two younger cats when they came into the family.  It was amazing to see such a big cat (even when he was slim he was a huge cat) playing gently with Django when he was a tiny kitten, and grooming and curling up with Pepper within two days of his arrival.  One of the last things he did - and he did it even when he was feeling at his worst - was to try to reassure the other two cats by licking them on the head.  Oddly, they seemed to know he wasn't coming back even before I did.  Since yesterday they have both been very quiet and have wanted to curl up with me whenever possible.

He arrived in November 1998, a young cat who had been taken into the vet having been found with a broken leg.  Unable to find his owner they decided to treat him and try to find a new owner.  We adopted him.  He was described as an "interesting" cat by the vet and we soon discovered that meant trouble!

Ignoring the fact of his broken leg he insisted on plaguing our other cat mercilessly: in order to get enough sleep Hoagy had to hide and the quieter interludes were punctuated by the sound of Bixy yowling for him to come and play (he was called Bix after the musician Bix Biederbecke on account of having a yowl of three and a half octaves with blue notes in addition).

He wandered but not very far: we discovered this when he went missing, was returned by a neighbour whose cellar he'd got into, and was let out by my husband the following day - a series of phone-calls told us exactly what he was doing and where for the rest of the morning.

He loved company, human and feline, and possibly because of his size he did not seem to be aggressive - as far as he was concerned discretion was definitely the better part of valour: hostile behaviour in other cats was something he ran from.  A beautiful gentle giant who will be deeply missed.