Friday 30 July 2021

Plas Newyd Flowers

Just a mini-post today whilst we're off on holiday- some more shots from the stately gardens of North Wales back in June, this time Plas Newyd on Anglesey.

Barring any changes to lockdown rules, we should be back in Wales soon, hopefully the weather will permit more shots like this.

An interesting atmospheric lighting effect whilst we were there too.


Thursday 22 July 2021

Bodnant Garden, June 2021

As the heatwave continues to torch the UK to a crisp, here's something from a few weeks in nice, but cooler, weather, a trip to Bodnant Gardens in Wales.  One of our regular haunts in these pandemic times, as it's a large enough space to spread-out (and with the pre-booking it isn't heavingly busy), and it's just generally very pretty and relaxing.

We tried a path this time that we don't usually go along, and it opened up some nice views of the house.

Back down to the bottom of the valley.

We (accidentally, but happily) managed to time our visit for the flowering of the famous laburnum arch.

Using the phone cameras to try for some more unusual angles... well as the SLR.

So another nice visit, the fourth or fifth since the Pandemic started.  There's just something calming about this place, and we'll undoubtedly be making another visit this summer, local-lockdowns permitting.


Monday 12 July 2021

A summer of exhibitions for 2021

Considering the general doom and gloom at the moment, and the struggles of the art world as the UK still grapples with the pandemic, we find ourselves in the slightly surprising position of having our work in three art shows this summer.

Amy- The Postcard Project

Down in That London, there's a group show occurring, which features one of Amy's shots.  It's also in a specially published book!  There was some doubt about if an actual physical exhibition was going to be possible, but the current easing of restrictions (fingers crossed) should make it possible.

To be honest, we don't know a lot about this gallery/collective, and various reasons mean we're not going to get a chance to go see it either which is a shame, but it's great Amy's been featured as part of the open call.

The shot is from her ongoing 'Flower Abstract' series, digitally-manipulated/kaleidoscopic shots taken in the garden during lockdowns last year, and related to a project she's been doing at work.

Ben- Cupola Gallery 30th Anniversary

The weekend just gone, we paid a visit to our old friends at Cupola Contemporary Art in Sheffield.  We can't overstate how much we love this place, and they were one of the first, and certainly the most welcoming, proper gallery we ever showed with after Uni.  We've had work in with them off and on for getting on for 12 years now (group shows and a solo show).  We had some prints and ceramics in their legendary 'Under The Bed Sale' back in the last two winters, but thanks to the lockdowns and tier systems, this was the first chance we'd had to actually physically visit them (hell, to visit ANY art gallery) since 2019.

The shot chosen is from Ben's 'Engine Shed' series, a selection of photographs done with miniatures and smoke effects, inspired by the paintings of the late David Shepherd.  This is actually the first time one of these shots has been in a gallery (they were originally produced for an open call in Manchester, but not chosen for their final selection), though they were featured extensively in an issue of Model Rail magazine in 2019 with an 8-page spread of them.

Cupola are having a show to mark their 30 years in the city, so it's nice to be able to have a piece in with their open call for this exhibition.  They're a relatively small gallery, but their impact on the Northern art scene can be measured by the fact that over the last decade whenever we've participated in group shows around northern England, we've regularly chatted to people who've worked with Cupola at some point in their practise, from painters in Northumberland, to wood-turners in North Yorkshire, to jewellery-makers in the Lake District.

Ben- Inflate-Deflate

Finally, though properly on the summer theme, a selection of four shots from Ben's 'Inflate-Deflate' series, another long-runner of a project of abstract shots using summer toys.  Images from the various iterations of this project have been shown in the past in galleries or in art mags, this time they're showing in an art exhibition at a play centre in Chapelcross, Leeds.  Not a traditional gallery, but it seems the colourful, fun aspect should fit in nicely there.

In fact this seems to be the best context the images work in; one of the best-received shows we ever had a hand in organising was the one in the above pic, which featured a variety of seaside-themed artworks, pictures, and so on, in the lounge space of a cafĂ© I (Ben) used to work at.  As a venue we showed artwork regularly, but this summer show was unashamedly about fun and enjoyment, which is why we filled the space with ball-pools, summer toys, and magnetic fishing games and so on.  The 'Inflate-Deflate' series seems to work well in that context of fun and play, and sounds like it should do much the same at this play centre in Leeds.

There's potentially something else in the pipeline too, hopefully more on that in a future post...


Friday 9 July 2021

More resin-casting, this time with extra sparkles

Having had some fun with the earlier experiments with resin casting, I (Amy) bought some more moulds, and set to having a bit more of a play, this time accompanied by The Childs.

The Childs wanted to make some keyrings as pressies for people at school before the summer holidays, so that was the main thing we were aiming for.  The plain, clear stuff we made last time looked quite nice, as did the ones where we inserted dried/pressed flowers into the resin.

This time, we thought we'd add some glitter too.

Turns out the re-usable syringes that come with Calpol make excellent tools for doing this sort of work.

Elder Child thought she'd try doing some mini Origami, so did a prototype.  If anything the origami birds needs to be a bit smaller so it doesn't risk projecting out of the mould whilst it is setting.

We also mixed in some beads.

More ferns.

A two-part keyring.

Playing with some odd-shaped moulds, not sure what we'll be doing with these yet, but they might look good being stuck down on greeting cards and so on.

Middle Child wanted to make some trinket-boxes for her friends.

Overall really happy with how all these came out- need to try mixing some other bits and pieces in the third batch.

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Blue Pullman in the landscape at Ribblehead Viaduct, Spring 2021

We've a busy few days getting ready for a couple of exhibition entries this week, so here's a short blog post from some railway photography done earlier in the year, up at Ribblehead.  This was a bit of a last-minute trip out to get pics, as the combination of a day off, decent weather, and having transport all co-incided at the last minute.

I (Ben) haven't been able to get out to the Settle-Carlisle recently, as the weekday timetable now makes it impossible for me to get up there on the train and back in time for the school run, but Father-in-Law had a day off too and we fancied a drive out.

The target for the day was this, the rather magnificent Blue Pullman on a crew training run.  Locomotive Services Limited have re-liveried a High Speed Train into the livery of the 60's pioneer luxury train, and I'd been dying to see this; it was supposed to work some excursions through my patch of Yorkshire in Dec and Jan but the lockdown put paid to that.  

The only problem was that we struggled to get here through the traffic on the local roads in time, and so couldn't get closer to the tracks before it arrived.  On the down side, I didn't have a zoom lens with me, but on the plus side, it stood out nicely for a 'train in the landscape' type shot, and this is the first time in a while I've been up here and had the sun on this side of the viaduct.

I ended up sending off some high-res versions of the last two shots here, but I don't know if they were chosen for publication or not yet.  In the meantime, better crack on with framing the work for the first exhibition drop off...


Friday 2 July 2021

Summer Sunshine on the Ffestiniog

I (Ben) have been gradually getting back into railway photography, with the lockdowns easing, and was able to get some shots on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways we went away to Wales for Half Term.

For those who say that the weather in Wales is always cold, wet, and miserable... Welsh Highland Railway at Pont Croeser in the blazing sunshine on the Bank Holiday.

We took a ride on the WHR on the Monday, from Porthmadog to Beddgelert (this leg wasn't even open the last time we rode the WHR), and the train was unusually being operated by double Double Fairlie locomotives.  The train, with "David Lloyd George" and "Merrddin Emrys" is seen waiting to return to Porthmadog at Beddgelert.

We had an hour or so up there and, being prepared, me and Elder Child legged it down to the village as soon as the train stopped so we could beat the masses to the ice cream parlour.

Riding back down the most scenic bit of railway on the WHR, the Glaslyn Pass.  Nice to do this on a train, I walked this stretch as a teenager.

Another goal for the week was to get some pics of "Welsh Pony" for an article, as it's been lined-out since the last time we made it to Wales.

The loco is seen at Penrhyndeudraeth, where me and Elder Child had to deal with a random grumpy shouty farmer (shouting at a horse, not us, which was somehow even more unsettling), and some mad cyclists.

I've tried this in greyscale, largely because by coincidence when I was editing the shots I spotted that someone in the new mag Trackside had a photo published that was almost identical, apart from the leading coach behind the loco.  He must have been there a mere week or so before me, and standing in pretty much the same place.

Similarly, the logging up around Tanybwlch has opened up some new angles, and I spotted a shot published somewhere from this hillside too.

Tanybwlch cafe made for a nice place to wait for the train, as the tea and cake is really rather nice.

I don't often do well with pics from the Welsh narrow gauge, so thanks to Mel at Railways Illustrated for putting my shot of the Fairlies on Pont Croeser into the mag.for the August issue.  Hopefully we'll be back in the summer holidays.