The Relics of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere

As I mentioned in the last post I will be posting fairly regularly in the next few weeks to show you my work for the Glastonbury Abbey exhibition “Traces Revealed”

The inspiration for the pieces I made came from the abbey’s precious relics that were once in abundance in medieval times but then lost or destroyed by the Abbey fire and the reformation. Whilst other abbeys successfully moved their relics to safe houses during the reformation, I found very little evidence or traces about the whereabouts of the Glastonbury Abbey relics, so I wondered if the monks had hidden them to keep them safe. Perhaps in hidden hollows under the Tor.
6 magical birds (double headed eagles) keep guard as ‘guardians of the relics.’ They guard King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s relics, 3 of the abbey’s saint’s relics and a living legend ‘rock star’s’ relics!

The relics are mostly playful analogies, comparing the Catholic tradition of the veneration of relics with modern day trends and the culture of souvenir gifts.

King Arthur’s Relics

In 1191 the monks discovered King Arthur’s and Queen Guinevere’s skeletons buried in the ancient cemetery within Glastonbury Abbey . They knew it was King Arthur because they found a lead cross with writing on it in Latin. Translated it means ‘ Here lies buried the renowned King Arthur in the isle of Avalon’.

In other words …

(fimo clay, metal leaf)

The monks were quite surprised at the size of King Arthur’s bones, he was a real giant of a man. They noticed his thigh bone (femur is it?) was broken, presumably from his last battle before being laid to rest several hundred years ago in the cemetery. Of course it unmistakeably belonged to Arthur as they noticed his name was written on the bone just like the end of a gift shop stick of rock!

King Arthur’s bone (cement structure, gold leaf glass, hand-gilded glass, marble, stained glass, vintage glass tile, millefiori, gold lipped oyster shell)

underside of bone

 

Queen Guinevere’s relics

Then the monks picked up a tress of golden hair still attached to Queen Guinevere’s skull and it turned to dust.

Or did it??

Queen Guinevere’s hair (cement structure, hand gilded glass, gilded grout)

The monks made a black marble tomb for King Arthur’s and Queen Guinevere’s relics (there were various treasures amongst the bones which included the leaden cross, and four lions heads) and invited pilgrims to visit. It was a useful find at a time of impending impoverishment of the abbey.

….come back soon to see the Magical Guardian Bird of these relics ….

or visit the exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey which begins on Saturday 30th September and continues until January 28th 2018

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Coral Reef bird pool

I had a day off the other week so I went to Lyme Regis on the Jurassic coast on the Devon/Dorset border. I had a hunt for some fossils on the beach but the best finds were on a stall on the front.

I bought this wonderful piece of polished fossilised coral which is 345 million years old (carboniferous period).

I thought it would make a great centrepiece for a birdbath, although I felt a bit guilty that I would be hiding the unpolished underside by cementing it to the bowl. So to appease my guilt here’s a photo.

When I got home, I couldn’t wait to start. I made the concrete bowl using the same method and mould as the Garden Treasure bird pool.

Again I just let the fossil inspire my design, I didn’t plan it, just let the fossil talk.

The grey cement mortar you see here isn’t there to make me work fast! It was a coat to bring up the surface so that the coral wouldn’t be raised too high above the rest of the mosaic. Surrounding the coral I used copper gold leaf glass and milliefiori.

I wasn’t sure what to do next and mulled things over for five minutes, then it all seemed to make sense.

I emulated the design of the coral and like nature that does it so well I attempted to find perfection in imperfection.

Picking out the cement that is squeezed up above the surface of the tile.

Grouting and cleaning with my trusty toothbrush (don’t worry, I use a different one on my teeth!)

 

Coral Reef bird pool made with hand made concrete bowl and usingย  polished fossilised coral, gold leaf glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, milliefiori, glass rods, pearl shell rounds, smalti, glass tiles.

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Garden Treasure Bird Pool

Welcome to new followers and thank you for all your lovely comments about my Pool of Dreams bird bath. I must admit I was a bit overwhelmed but feel privileged to have been featured on Discover .

I have made another bird pool. This one is a lot smaller and constructed by using my other method by casting the cement mortar into a mould which in this case was a plastic melamine salad bowl from Tescos! “You can’t use that” my daughter insisted, “it’s too nice, you’ll get it covered in concrete and we could use it to eat salad out of!” So I had to sneak it into my shed while she was at college and I covered the inside quickly with wire, mesh and cement mortar.

Again I began from the centre with a beautiful ammonite.

I didn’t like the horizontal direction of the first few strips of gold metal leaf glass, so I redid it …

Old toothbrushes are great for cleaning out that stubborn grout!

Garden Treasure Bird Pool

I love using glass marbles in these pieces combined with glass nuggets and milliefiori tiles. The marbles were bought years ago on a trip with my kids to the House of Marbles in Devon. Many years ago we watched the marbles being made in the factory, which was fascinating. I think even my hyperactive boys were mesmerized and settled down for five minutes to watch. We all bought a tub of marbles each and when we got them home they were played with for a short while before being left to collect dust on shelves in the bedroom. When my kids left home and cleared their rooms they gave me their marbles and I stored several jars of them in my work-shed with the idea that I would use them one day. It wasn’t until I discovered I could cut them into two halves (not an easy cut, and not 100% accurate or successful) that I began to use them in my work. That way I had a flat base to stick them into the cement adhesive.

Garden Treasure Bird Pool and the Pool of Dreams.

Hand cast wire and concrete bowl, glass tile, vintage glass tiles from Marble Mosaic Company, glass nuggets and marbles, hand gilded metal leaf glass, milliefiori, ceramic tiles, fossils from madagascar and the Jurassic coast, gold lipped oyster shell from Boris Anrep’s studio)

Happy May Day

Garden

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A Starling Called Ella

Listening to the radio today it came to my attention that it is Ella Fitzgerald’sย centenary ! ย In a couple of weeks on 25 April she would have been 100 years old if she was still alive! Known as the Queen of Jazz, her version of Gershwin’s song “Summertime” has to be one of my favourite all time songs.

Ella collaborated with many great jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, and one rainy Sunday a few weeks ago I had a naming ceremony for my starlings whilst listening to some of these old greats.

Here’s Ella, she is helping me to advertise my sale in my Artfinder shop.ย  Some of the other jazz starlings are there too!

Duke and Dizzy are on my website here

Also if you use this code at checkout you will get a further ยฃ20 off your first order!ย http://artf.in/2Jp2Rg

The sale ends this Monday 17th April.

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Let There Be Light (and Water)!

Pool of Dreams

I wanted to make a bird bath loosely based on The Whirlwind That Takes Me There only using a different colour palette.

Like my Pretty Maids and cockle shell bird baths, I made this one by hand forming the base using wire, glass fibre mesh (I recycle the mesh sheets that mosaic tiles come on) and cement mixtures. I have another bird bath I make using a bowl as a mould but I really prefer the hand shaped ones as they can be any shape and they are so imperfect which exaggerates the idea of hand-made. In this world of highly finished craft objects, this is possibly seen as taking a step back again, but maybe it’s important to do that from time to time otherwise we lose sight of what really is hand-made and the work begins to lose integrity. I see so many craft objects that do nothing for me. Ok, they are technically brilliant which is what the maker has strived for, but what has it become? It’s started as a blob of glass, clay or metal, it’s been melted, beaten, punched and hammered, it’s been transformed into something else, something beautiful maybe, but along the way it seems to somehow have lost it’s soul. Of course if you recognise this mosaic bird bath as an art piece, then perhaps I wouldn’t need to justify it, (since we know art is subjective and can be anything)ย  but as I always think of mosaic art as craft as well as an art form then I feel the need to justify it a little bit. So yes it has an imperfect shape and yes it is hand-made! And yes it holds water and looks lovely in the garden!

Rant over, I’ll show you some photos of the process…

I started by buying some beautiful ammonites. Madagascan and Jurassic coast.

I was very excited to finally be using some of my stoneware ceramic tiles I made in a pottery class over 15 years ago.

After making my bowl I rendered the bottom brushing the cement mixture to smooth the surface. This can be done at the end but I was waiting for my fossils to arrive!

I began with the large fossil in the centre and began to work around it. I didn’t really have a plan, it was quite spontaneous, I just placed several pieces next to the prior pieces and considered how it looked aesthetically.

And finally picking out the tile adhesive between the tiles before grouting.

When I had grouted it (charcoal colour) and it was finished it wasn’t until I added the water that I felt satisfied. The water brought up all the colours beautifully.

I have used gold leaf glass as well as my hand-gilded metal leaf glass and tried to get a photo to show it shining.

Some details.

Pool of Dreams is 60cm in diameter and holds over 4 litres of water.

I used fossils, glass tiles, vintage glass tiles from Marble Mosaic company, ceramic tiles, hand-made ceramic and gilded metal leaf glass, gold leaf glass, stained glass (iridescent), smalti, slate, glass marbles, glass nuggets, milliefiori, glass rods, gold-lipped oyster shell from Boris Anrep’s studio.

Happy Easter!

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Return of the doves

doves

 

My doves have returned from their Greek Odyssey to Athens and Mykonos and are home to roost. However they are looking for a good home as I don’t have much room here for them.
You can see lots of photos of them and purchase them in my new shop on the wonderful colourful website Folt Bolt.

To celebrate opening my shop I am offering you a coupon which entitles you to 25% off all my artwork in the shop until 20 November. Just add the coupon code Flock-Sale! at checkout.
(Please note: The prices maybe in Australian dollars as it is an Australian website, there is a currency converter on the website at the bottom of the page to set to your chosen currency.)

Happy Shopping!

My Folt Bolt Shop

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Starlings – are here again!

I’m on starlings again!

During the two weeks of Somerset Art Weeks I set up a temporary studio at the Somerset Crafts gallery. Whilst I was there I made 8 starlings. I wondered how long it would be before the starlings returned from Scandinavia, Germany or the Netherlands (according to the BBC nature website the ones from Scandinavia go to the North and the ones from Germany and the Netherlands come to the South) As I drove home each day my wondering was answered as I saw them stacking up on the telegraph wires.

I made these in the same way as my doves, who incidentally are on their flight home from Greece.

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starling-3-small

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Here they are at Somerset Crafts flying ahead of the murmuration “Beautiful Black Clouds”

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My work at Somerset Crafts

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