Sue and I were welcomed into the conservatory which serves as Lydia Haines‘ studio. It was a hot day so the temperature inside was bikini appropriate. Around us hung her giant silk paintings and her prints on fabric and paper. She gave us both screens to paint on, encouraging us to experiment, not worrying about trying to make them look perfect, advice Sue ignored as she thoughtfully dabbed away for twenty minutes. When the screens had dried we flipped them over onto paper. Lydia brought out some special seaweed gunk she herself had knocked up that morning, it looked like wallpaper paste. We plopped some into the frames and immediately the paint colours were drawn up into it. We spread the gunk all over the screen, squeegeeing it back and forth, lastly sweeping it off. Then the reveal. We lifted up the screen, peeling back the paper and ta dah! Mine is the brown stripy one, Sue’s is the green and blue one that looks like a tree.
I love the separation between artist and composition that printing provides. The final result is hidden even from the creator until the last moment. It feels magical, surprising.
One summer years back we stayed with friends in a beach hut on a spit of land, the northest of Norfolk. Sand and seals one side of us, an ebbing and flowing marshy maze the other. We, including six children, were without electricity and running water. And an inside loo. I am sofabound by inclination so I was surprised how much I didn’t mind going outside after dinner to wash the plates beside the huge rain water butt, nothing in my head but the murmuring grass. There was no light in the outside loo, so when I popped out for a wee just before bed I would sit with the door open, looking at the village a mile or two distant, the twinkling lights distant company.
I hope no one was looking back.
A friend told G that before the advent of radiators family members would automatically gather round the fire, the only warm spot in the house. After central heating you could afford to be off alone in any room of the house. People spread out, in a bad way.
I love modern comforts, especially in winter, but we are unknowingly making exchanges. Unconscious patterns that sometimes enhanced our lives are lost.
G really was THIS close to our local barn owl.
Twelve went camping last weekend and lucked out one hundred percent weatherwise. Picked laneside blackberries to go with meringues Emma had bought. Took menu advice from juicy orange starfish laying bloated amongst countless shells and tried the mussels from our secret beach. James steamed them and served them up with butter and a little lemon juice. Tiny, rich tasting little things. P, Ray Mears in the form of a fine boned eight year old girl with blond curls, all but emptied the pan singlehandedly. G surprised me with Dime Vodka from Ms Marmitelover. (We think we’ll add another bar next time. Sugar tooths.)
Driving back, felt blessed to be in Norfolk. A variety of people sparse landscapes spread out from where I live. Parkland, woodland, shores of sand, marsh and flint. Sighing dips and curves, supermodel flat plains. Moonlight harvested fields now bristle, scattered with giant toilet rolls of hay.