Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Portraits, finished objects and more fun than a sane person should have with an advent calendar!

A couple of weekends ago, I hopped on a train to Exeter to see my friend, S, and to visit the BP Portrait Awards 2017. The exhibition was quite small - just a couple of rooms of paintings - but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of the paintings were so good that they could well have been photographs, however, that didn't necessarily mean that we would have wanted them on our wall! That was our personal method of judging - would we be happy to give the painting house room. Surprisingly, we were in complete agreement and out of the whole exhibition, we narrowed it down to 2 and a half! The half will become obvious in a moment.
Anyway, here are the 2 we liked - I'm afraid that I can only recall that both were named after the sitter and one, I believe, was the artist's niece and the other the artist's granddaughter. I should really have taken notes!

Here is the half! This one was a portrait of the film director Ken Loach. Apart from the background colour, neither of us cared for the portrayal of Ken, but both of us loved the kestrel in the corner - representative of his film 'Kes'. There was also a 3 legged dog in the opposite corner, which apparently appears in a few of his films, but it was the kestrel that stole our hearts.
The painting below was the winner and neither S nor I could work out why. According to the judges' comments, the mother's face showed love and tenderness etc. We thought that it showed anything but. To us, she appeared to be looking at her child with complete indifference and boredom; a kind of 'Get on with it' expression. Anatomically, it didn't seem to be the best either. Having said that, what do we know?!
After pottering round the exhibition, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a Lebanese restaurant. We shared a mezze platter, with S eating the grilled halloumi and me eating the felafel - still going, and, yes CT, I'm finding it difficult still, especially in the face of grilled cheese!

Then there was just time for a stroll around Exeter's Christmas Market before catching the train home.
Where there may have been a bit of festive sock knitting!
Other happies recently include:
My Opal Advent Calendar! I amuse R no end as I open this each morning with such excitement.

 I'm currently using them to knit squares on my Cosy Memory Blanket. I say blanket but it's actually going to be a cushion for one of the dining room chairs. It only takes about a third of the ball to knit a square though, so I may start a blanket once the cushion is finished.
 The Supermoon: 
 My finished Exploration Station Shawl - the pattern book and the blue yarn were bought in Amsterdam earlier in the year. Lots of the techniques were new to me, so I put in a lifeline after each section and was very glad that I had - the Brioche section was ripped back twice and the chevron border once! It is super warm and cosy though, if a little on the bright side. As Mr. West himself says: 'More is more, and less is a bore'!
 Sunday, saw us braving the elements to drive to Bristol where E was playing in a Christmas concert. The motorway was very slippery and partially blocked, so people were taking it slowly. All, apart from the lorry drivers who were tearing along as usual, far too close to the cars in front. Is it only me who thinks that it would be a good plan if lorries were redesigned so that the cabs were low down at car level? They race along, safe in the knowledge that if there is an accident, they are sitting high up out of harm's way. It's others who usually pay the price for their carelessness. At one point, we were stationary for ages and thought that we would have to abandon our plans, crawl to the next junction and go home. Eventually, we started to move and the cause of the delay? A lorry had skidded on the ice and blocked the motorway. Grr! Sorry, rant over!
My car knitting:
 The view from our stationary car:
 The concert was good, but could have been better. It took place in Clifton Cathedral and, on the snowiest day of the year so far, the heating was broken! Luckily, E had warned me, so I borrowed her hot water bottle and tucked it into my coat. The cathedral provided a few blankets and the audience hunkered down for the duration. At the interval, there was a stampede to the car park and people returned wearing more layers and carrying rugs. The choir donned coats and some of the orchestra were sporting rather fetching fingerless gloves. How they played and sang for 2 hours in that temperature was beyond me. Afterwards, we drove E back to her flat to defrost - her fingers were blue!

Finally, my finished train knitting. Festive socks in West Yorkshire Spinners' 'Candy Cane' colourway. These are for L, and there is just enough yarn left for a pair for E if I add contrasting toes as well.
Anyway, that's all for this week. We are still treeless round these parts, but E is coming home at the weekend, so we plan to get one then. With only a week and a bit before the big day, I think it's probably time the sprouts were put on a low simmer, don't you?!

Toodle pip for now. xx


  1. I shivered thinking of you sat in that concert. I’m not surprised your daughters fingers were blue. Love the Amsterdam shawl and your sock knits. Definitely the time of year to be sock knitting:) Enjoy decorating your tree once your daughter is home. B x

  2. Goodness that concert sounded a chilly experience! Well done on the continuing veganism- I am impressed. I loved the kestrel in the painting. I saw one sitting on a wire by the train station this week. Such beautiful birds. All your knitting, as always, is wonderful and so impressive x

  3. Your candy cane socks are fab, I like the solid green heel. I am enjoying my Advent calendar too, but am not sure what I will make from all the little balls yet. x

  4. Goodness, well done everyone who played, sang and attended that concert! I'm with you on the kestrel, the winning painting looks weird to me. Love that shawl!xxx

  5. I love the look of your cushion. What beautiful yarn! Hopefully the blanket will be finished by next year and you can take it with you to the Cathedral. Happy Holidays.

  6. A lovely day out in Exeter. A local artist that I know won that award one year, it always showcases some brilliant talent. The concert sounds freezing, well done you for sticking it out, as well as the motorway. They have been horrible around here lately. And well done on declining the cheese. I was vegan for 25 years, but lately I'm more than making up for it, shame on me. CJ xx

  7. I love your advent calendar and little blanket/cushion cover. This year I haven't had an advent calendar and I do miss it. Your socks are amazing too. I must learn sock-knitting one day. You did well to stay for the whole concert, and the motorway sounds awful. I'm not a great fan of motorway travel at the best of times and agree that some drivers are much too fast. The snowy scene is nice though.
    Cathy x

  8. Another lovely day out! I enjoyed your honesty about the exhibition ;-) Lunch looks good!

  9. I love your posts, and your honesty, whether it's about art or lorry drivers. Two hours in a freezing cathedral is a bit much though, for anyone! Well done for enduring it. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and I'll wish you a very late Happy New Year. xx