Thursday, 22 April 2010

Ceramics Class

Class started back on Thursday. There haven't been many finished products this academic year - I'm going to work on that this term. Did start a series of dishes at the end of last term - using mixed clays - the only one that has come through completed so far is a mix of crank (quite gritty and sort of tan coloured) and porcelain. I've put life drawings on them also. Also finally got Hour finished and brought home for a picture. Its a concept. It started from the 10 things in 10 minutes exercises that we did. I set a task for myself of doing 60 things in 60 minutes. It turned into Hour. Each pinch pot too a minute to make. They were of similar size, smooth on the inside and with finger imprints on the outside.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Kew Gardens without Planes

Pops and I went over to Kew. I wanted to look at the bluebells. And we went to check on the sequoa tree planted for my mother. Due to the late spring, the bluebells were not out yet. The usual line of planes coming into land were missing (volcanic ash cloud having grounded them all).

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Mythical Beasts and the Building Site

In the Unicorn cafe, which is sort of like the Southwark Council Staff Canteen (due to its proxmity to the building and cheaper than other eating nearby), looking out onto a building site. They're extending the only remaining old building (leaving the front as was and putting on a new build back end). The big steel structure is in place already. On the first floor they have constructed what looks a bit like a false ceiling held up on many uprights that appear to be made of some kind of yellow plastic. Sunlight is dappling through like in a beech tree forest. Yesterday the architects and project managers (6 of them) were walking round in a group pointing at things collectively - men with big bellies, clipboards and hi-viz jackets over suits - clearly not scaffold monkeys used to clambering around. Today a gaggle of workmen - hi-viz jackets, hard hats, utility belts and rolled up sleeves - work in the corner putting up the rest of the yellow structure, one half way up the ladder, one at the bottom, one perched on the 2nd floor steels. In another corner - at the edge of the building two others drape green mesh round the steels and scaffold. The foreman is resting his arms on a steel and 'supervising'. Its like a giant jumgle gym. I'm worried its going to ruin the original building, but its too late to stop now.

Monday, 12 April 2010


I'm reading Falling Man by Don DeLillo. I suddenly came across a passage concerning passport photographs. Strange coincidence. My recently taken passport pictures are tucked into the back of the book, quite by chance.
"I look at the face in the passport photo. Who is that woman?"
"I lift my head from the washbasin," Martin said.
"Who is that man? You think you see yourself in the mirror. But that's not you. That's not what you look like. That's not the literal face, if there is such as thing, ever. That's the composite face. That's the face in transition."
"Don't tell me this."
"What you see is not what we see. What you see is distracted by memory, by being who you are, all this time, for all these years."
"I don't want to hear this," he said.
"What we see is the living truth. The mirror softens the effect by submerging the actual face. Your face is your life. But your face is also submerged in your life. That's why you don't see it. Only other people see it. And the camera of course."
This is how I am feeling about myself. Don't feel the photographs are a true representation of me. But perhaps that is my own perception of what I look like and not what I actually look like. We see ourselves in mirror image always, and potentially don't see ourselves as we are at all but overlaid with a memory of what we think we look like.

Opposite me a boy sits imagining taking photograghs out of the bus window with a little rectangle of card. T-schtick, he says, pressing the imaginary shutter release at a group of people standing at the 41 bus stop at Turnpike lane. T-schtick again. He looks in a different direction. T-schtick.

I have two pens in my bag. A biro with a wooden casing that is larger than a normal pen and a pilot hi-tec. I am searching for a pen, any pen, in my bag and can't find either of them. Rummaging, becoming furious. Felt through all the pockets, patting each pocket, and potential nooks. Finally find the pilot down the lining. Bring it out, use it and when putting it back find the other pen easily like it had been in easy reach all the time.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Beautiful Minds

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was talking about science not being about truth because you can't be sure that one person's truth is the same as another person's truth. Truth  has perspective and so opinionated. Science is an investigation which improves or increases understanding. I liked this. It made sense.

She was remarkably unembittered by the controversial awarding of the 1974 nobel prize to Dr Hewish, her Phd supervisor, (along with Dr Ryle), for his discovery of pulsars, which should have at least been equally hers. His bullshit explanation that the research set up was there already and so the discovery to them rather than to the research student who saw it, raised their conscious to it and then proved the theory by finding more. He could have told the prize givers of the part she played. Dr Bell Burnell didn't seem to mind. She was truely remarkable.

Astrophysicists have a fascinating story to tell - of the creation of the universe, big picture understanding. She made the science understandable. Like Prof Brian Cox on Wonders of the Solar System, she made the big wow stuff make sense. Perhaps its because it relates to us and our world and how it came to be. Perhaps its because they are excited by their subject (always a very attractive quality in a person).

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Passport Photograph

What is it with all the rules regarding photos for passports these days? The ears must be visible. How often do you not recognise a person because you can't see their ears? Of all the features on the face that are essential for recognition ears come fairly low down for me. Or maybe immigration needs to make sure they are not letting any aliens into the country - we know from the TV and films that they may look perfectly human apart from having pointy ears or indeed be missing a pinna altogether. (methinks they may be watching too much TV).

From a vanity point of view I am a little upset they won't allow me to wear my glasses in the picture - my whole image is developed around the colour of my glasses and without them I look somewhat devoid of colour, and much too dark-eye-baggy. I'm blaming the unflattering lighting (you'd never be photographed with a full on flash to the front at a photographic studio, at least not without some infill and back lighting and a soft focus lens). It could of course also be blamed on me actually having said eye-bags, but I just don't think they are quite that bad. And, haivng taken a set at the beginning of the week, I have spent the rest of the week sleeping lots, putting cucumbers on my eyes and slathering a variety of creams and oinments on them which have made no decernable differerence to the photos taken at the end of the week. So, I now have 10 years to try to sort that problem out for the next passport renewal.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Figure of Eight

Its the stillest day. Not even a breath of wind. The air is body temperature. There is no feeling it on my bare skin, no tingle of cold or baking heat. My body and the atmosphere coexist in complete equilibrium.

Waiting for the oven cleaner to do its thing, I hestitate to say magic, because contrary to expectation that everything will come off easily with one wipe like it does in the adverts, its never quite like that in real life.

Butterfly watching - two peacocks and one of those black and red ones that I didn't get close enough to identify properly.

Postman rang loudly (new bell, very audible, no matter where you are in or outside the house) with a parcel. Which is good. I've been thinking they don't bother to carry the packages and drop a collection notice automatically rather than try to deliver at least once. Tesco's has gotten me hooked on a hair product (a serum that tames unruly hair prone to frizz - mine all the way) and then has discontinued it. Can't stand that. So now I'm having to order it over the internet. This is ever so slightly too dependent for my liking.

I haven't seen the mice that were living in my neighbours compost bin for a while. Been looking. A hawk of some kind swept down last week and took something small, I was hoping it wasn't a sparrow (I'm feeling like those are my pets - particularly since they are living in my roof), but if its a mouse I'm not too bothered. I tried to feel ok about them as long as they were outside the house, but they are awfully small and could fit through quite tight gaps.

Racing pigeons swoop round in a large figure of eight. This is my mind. Trying to figure out a way to get more time like this - outside, low pressure work, enjoying the daytime rather than staring longing at it from inside the office.

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Is there anything more annoying than your favourite cafe (favourite incidentally because it is actually the only decent one in the area) being overrun by families and their toddlers, and mothers and their babies in groups, meeting to talk about sleep patterns, eating (what, how often, what consistency), curdled milk, birth, joint bank accounts, mortgages, while parking their monster-buggies in the spaces you need to walk round the tables?