Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Hepworth Wakefield

Number 31 on our 44 Things To Do This Summer list was to visit a museum. So a few weeks ago we took a trip to the Hepworth Wakefield.

Barbara Hepworth, Wakefield, David Chipperfield Architects, RIBA Stirling Prize 2012

The building itself is seriously beautiful, as well as being beautiful in a serious way, if that makes sense. It's formed from a series of sculptural, angular blocks that sit next to the river, although from some windows inside it feels like you're physically standing on top of the river. It's one of those places that's totally unexpected: a quiet, strong, tranquil sculpture of a building in the middle of Wakefield.

Barbara Hepworth, Wakefield, David Chipperfield Architects, RIBA Stirling Prize 2012

It's by David Chipperfield Architects, and it's shortlisted for this year's RIBA Stirling Prize. I haven't been to the other buildings on the list (although I feel like I've spent my entire summer in Populous' Olympic Stadium) but I'd love the Hepworth to win.

Barbara Hepworth, Wakefield, David Chipperfield Architects, RIBA Stirling Prize 2012

It's a very different space from the Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gallery in St Ives, which used to be her home and studio. This is much more of a gallery-with-white-walls place, which lets you see the work for itself, rather than giving you a feeling about Barbara Hepworth the woman, which you get from her St Ives museum. I definitely think there's a place for both, and I'm thrilled that a female artist has a large, 'serious' gallery (there's that word again) in England dedicated to her work.

It's not all hers though, as Hepworth shares her gallery with other artists from Wakefield's permanent collection and those showing in temporary exhibitions – Richard Long's work was in the Artist Rooms when we were there.

Barbara Hepworth, Wakefield, David Chipperfield Architects, RIBA Stirling Prize 2012

hepworth gallery

Trying to look round galleries properly with three children in tow is never easy, but the Hepworth had lots of activities to help them 'engage' with the work (although sometimes even noticing the work would be nice...) We spent about half an hour making sculptures from bendy straws. There's even a picture of me (a rare thing indeed) helping Pia with hers.

And apart from the inspirational sculptures, breath-taking architecture, kiddie workshops and cafe selling delicious cakes, there's also a playground with a wooden pirate ship outside. Gallery heaven.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

44 Things To Do This Summer

With just two weeks of official summer left, I'm in a mild panic. When the school holidays first started we all sat down and made a list of things we wanted to do over the seemingly endless summer days in front of us (inspired once again by the totally wonderful Lou of Little Green Shed and her list – I almost definitely maybe will stop talking about Lou now after writing a whole post in her honour last time).

This was our list of '44 things to do and see'...

All 44 'things' were decided by the children, except for two (clue: if they involve vintage shopping and crochet they might be mine). The rule was that, apart from travel, the things shouldn't cost very much money and we should be able to do them together.

We've done about 27 of them so far, but that leaves 17 without a red tick. And because we don't own a car, some of them are pretty tricky.

One thing we have done though is make a circus big top tent for a puppet show.

big top tent, playhouse, DIY circus

... we used a giant cardboard box that I had clogging up the hallway ...

... stapled in a stripy black-and-white curtain door ...

... covered the entire box with pink stripy paper bags ...

... used a red fabric pen to draw circus stripes on the big top canvas ...

... made a flag from washi tape ...

... poured bunting all over it ...

... installed a ticket office manned by the not-really-very-scary-at-all-Lion ...

... and added a performance area at the back to stage puppet shows.

The first show starred Julien as a Pirate Dog wearing a fabulous handmade paper hat and scarf pirate costume ...

... and was extremely well reviewed by Nearly Teen and other theatre critics in the audience ...

After all that, though, I realised making a circus big top wasn't even a 'thing' on our list. Grrrrrr... Maybe I can go back and pencil it in when no-one's looking? And surely the ticket master means we can cross off 'See A Lion'? Even if he's a not very scary at all one.

But even counting Mr Lion, that still means there are still 16 'things' left and only 13 days to go. Oh dear.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Little Green Shed

One of my absolute favourite blogs is Little Green Shed by the quite utterly brilliant Lou Archell.

Everything I read on her blog makes me sigh out loud with joy. And she blogs practically daily. Yep, almost every single day there is in the week a new ray of sunshine will appear on her blog, telling me about her latest beautiful find, or picturing flowers in the home, or a new magazine I immediately feel drawn to reading, or a designer/maker I haven't come across before, or the new blue colour on her wall (which incidentally, I think is perfection). Even when she goes on holiday and warns her readers she'll be taking a break from her blog, posts still appear as if by magic. How does she do that? Over here in my house, there are some days when I don't even manage to feed the cats (until they crawl up my legs in desperation around lunchtime), let alone get my head around blogging.

And how does she do that while also making her own wonderful prints that she sells in the Little Green Shed Etsy Shop ...

Little Green Shed

... and design postcards you just have to send ...

Little Green Shed, leaves, postcard

... and have an achingly beautiful home ...

Little Green Shed

... and bring up two boys ...

... and have an allotment ...

... with a little green shed?

Maybe it IS magic?

However she does it, I think she deserves an enormously big thank you for finding joy in the everyday, every day.

Saturday, 11 August 2012


Last weekend we did a whistle-stop tour of the North Yorkshire Coast. On Saturday we went to Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay, and on Sunday we played in rock pools in the beautiful fishing village of Staithes.

In Whitby I discovered I don't like seagul poo, slot machine arcades or crowds. Maybe I'm just getting old.

Whitby, fishing village, Whitby harbour, Whitby harbor, boats, fishing boats, north sea
Whitby Harbour

seafood shack, whitby, prawns, seaside, beach
 The Seafood Shack

 whitby, prawns, seaside, beach, yellow forks, prawn and lemon
Prawns on the promenade

 whitby, prawns, seaside, beach, yellow forks, prawn and lemon
More prawns

Magpie, Whitby, fish and chips, Magpie Cafe, fish and chips take-away, Whitby fish and chips
 Fish and chips from the Magpie for dinner

stripy rock, rainbow rock, multicolour, rainbow stripes, whitby rock
Whitby Rock

whitby abbey, abbey ruin, whitby
Whitby Abbey

Whitby wasn't the peaceful fishing harbour lined with quirky shops I remember from my childhood, although I did find a lovely little vintage shop called Dotty About Vintage which had a particularly lovely mustard yellow melamine teacup I wish I'd bought. Darn it.

And I did love my prawns on the pier.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A Bumblewick Stamp

A couple of weeks ago I had an order from a lovely customer in the US, who was buying some of Betty Butterscotch's sweet bags for her family in England. She asked if I could gift wrap the parcels and include a little card. Which was exactly the excuse I needed to make another stamp.

I've been messing around a bit with lino recently, inspired by my very good (and ridiculously talented) friend James Green. I always feel a bit awed by his skill, so I only ever dare dabble with his medium and I'm not brave enough to take on a whole linoprint yet, but a stamp I can manage.

I carved this really simple image of Bumblewick Beesting into rubber using lino tools ...

... inked him ...

... printed him on card and tissue paper ...

... wrapped Betty's sweetie bags in the printed tissue, stuck down with as much of my favourite washi tape as I could fit on ...

... tied the parcels with blue-and-white-stripy string all the way from Japan ...

... and sent them by Betty Mail.

I hope they liked their parcels.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Goldilocks and the Three Headdresses

As you may have guessed, my family and I will take any excuse we're given to dress up. Actually not my husband, and not really the nearly-teen anymore. So if I'm being totally honest, it's just me and the girls. But we really do like it a lot.

Yesterday Middle spent the entire day in her Goldilocks dress. This was the dress she asked me to sew when she was still in reception class at school, so she could be Goldilocks for World Book Day. 

goldilocks dress, red polka dots, corsage,

She'd just read Lauren Child's Goldilocks & The Three Bears story, which is utterly wonderful and leaves me longing to move into their beautiful little bear cottage in the woods and stand my umbrella next to theirs by their mint-green seater in their sky-blue painted hallway. The attention to detail is spell-binding: the furniture was built by hand, the wallpaper and curtains in the bears' cottage was specially printed and features original patterns, and the walls are graced with miniature paintings – it says on the sleeve notes that even the porridge is real.

Lauren Child, Polly Borland, Emily Jenkins, ladybirds, three bears, Goldilocks
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Lauren Child, Polly Borland and Emily Jenkins
Published by Puffin

Although I totally supported Middle's Goldilocks dress-up-decision, it was made the very day before World Book Day. I gave her my best "why-don't-you-be-a-pirate-from-Treasure-Island-in-ripped-jeans-and-scarves-instead" suggestion (with its "because-that's-sooooo-much-easier" subtext), but that was poo-pooed. So like a good mother (or mother of a child who is astonishingly stubborn and mother who knows when she is defeated), I nipped to John Lewis, swapped all my pennies for a metre-and-a-half of Cath Kidston polka dots and spent most of the night cursing my slow sewing skills. It's not an exact replica of Goldilocks' but it was near enough to please a four-year-old. Middle is now on the cusp of turning seven and she can still squeeze into it, which is lucky because after making me stay up all night to sew it she will be wearing it until the day she leaves home.

Anyway, I've totally lost my point. Which was supposed to be that I've made three new headdresses in case anyone out there likes dressing up too. They're equally nice for those who just fancy adorning their head with a few feathers now and then. 

headdress, hair accessory, feathers, triangles, vintage ric-rac

headdress, hair accessory, feathers, triangles, vintage ric-rac

headdress, hair accessory, feathers, triangles, vintage ric-rac

They're for sale in my Etsy Shop if you want to be an adventurer or pirate for the day. 
Or if you happen to know three bears in need of headwear...