Friday, April 30, 2010

The Big Catch-Up

I've done loads of stuff recently that hasn't reached the blog for one reason or another - been busy, been weaving (see later), been lazy, yada yada.

Just after we came back from Brussels we had a day out in London, primarily for me to go to the Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition at the V&A, but we did some other stuff too.

The quilt exhibition was wonderful, filled with great work and fantastic inspiration. There are of course no photographs of this because photography is not allowed, but there's a lovely book to accompany the exhibition which is well worth a look if your local bookstore or library have it. The workmanship and detail of some of the quilts was breathtaking. I was less than impressed with the V&A itself which seems blithely to assume that you know where you're going and does not feel the need to signpost anything, though it does provide an incomprehensible map. One of the attendants was very rude to Pete, who was carrying my backpack (no bags in the temporary exhibitions - but also no obvious cloakroom where it could be left, unlike in the Brussels Museum of Modern Art.) I was misdirected twice by members of staff. It just took the edge off what should have been a wonderful morning. A lot of the textile exhibits were not on show for various reasons which seemed a shame when there were so many textile lovers in the building. Still the quilts were fantastic and they were the main point of the visit.

After that we got on the tube up to North London and went to the Handweaver's Studio so I could get some weaving yarns. Mission accomplished. What a lovely shop. I'll love to do a workshop there, having seen all the looms and equipment they have as well as all the pretty yarns of every colour imaginable.

Holborn was our next stop where we had a spot of lunch and visited the Cartoon Museum. This is well worth a visit if you happen to be in London. On the ground floor it currently has an exhibition on Ronald Searle and some examples of cartoon art going back to the 18th century. Upstairs they have some comic art from the likes of Leo Baxendale, Ken Reid etc with original artwork from The Beano, Dan Dare, 2000AD etc. It's all great stuff, I just wish there was more of it on display. It was the Easter holidays and there were lots of young people doing workshops in comic art which was great to see. As I said the museum is well worth visiting if you are in London already, but probably not worth a journey in itself. It's a start but we need more of this!

At the end of that week I went to the National Exhibition of the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers which is on at the Mueum in Mansfield. It's full of fantastic work, very inspirational. I did take lots of photos for my own reference but don't feel I can post them on here for copyright reasons. If you're in the area I'd recommend the exhibition if you're at all interested in textiles.

It's been so long since I did a book update that I'm not sure I can remember what I've been reading. With me on the trip to Brussels were Blind Eye by Stuart MacBride and Fever of the Bone by Val McDermid. I started with the Stuart MacBride and really enjoyed it. It's a bit gruesome in places but as usual the characters are interesting and the plot worked well. I didn't get such a strong sense of place from this one as some of the others; while still set in Aberdeen it could easily have been in a number of other cities in the UK. Perhaps it was because it was set during a heatwave - very un-Aberdonian! Still you always get a good read with these and as his next one is out this week I shall probably read that fairly soon. The Val McDermid was my back-up book on this trip - I wasn't impressed with her previous Tony Hill book, Beneath the Bleeding , but this one was much better. Well written and tightly plotted, this book is about a string of abducted teenagers. These later books while still good don't have the impact of Mermaids Singing or Wire in the Blood and are much less gruesome. I wonder if this is so as not to alienate people coming to the books from the TV series, or if it's a deliberate move away from that excruciating detail that made you want to read the early books with your eyes shut. I've read some books where the nastiness seems gratuitous and voyeuristic and it's not a direction I feel crime writing needs necessarily to go in, but McDermid's books, although sometimes grim and uncomfortable reading, never felt voyeuristic to me. I'd still rank The Mermaids Singing as one of my top 10 crime novels.

Back soon with part two of the big catch up!

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