Introduction to Screen-Printing.

Screen printing arrived in Europe in the 18th century, but it was slow to catch on as a fabric printing method owing to the high cost of silk mesh at the time. Once the Silk Road made imported silk more affordable, screen printing gradually became a popular way to print fabric. By the early 20th century, printers had developed photo-sensitised emulsions, allowing artisans to create intricate stencil designs much more quickly. In the 1930s, artists began experimenting with screen printing as an artistic medium, naming their new-found form ‘serigraphy’ to distinguish it from industrial printing. By the 1960s, artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi and Andy Warhol were using screen printing to create beautiful art. Dubbed ‘pop-art’, the artist used screen-printing to create multiple copies of a single image, fundamentally questioning what constituted fine art. Warhol’s famous Marilyn Diptych is perhaps the best-known example of screen printing as an artistic form. (Fortune, 2006)

Tecniniton Dave Fortune quite literally wrote the book on waterbased screen printing. In 1989-90 Dave was at the ‘University of Berlin’ researching solvent-free water-based screenprinting, which he brought back to the UK. Based at UWE, we are very lucky to have Dave around to teach and guide us. Screen printing consists of ink being spread over a screen with the chosen design, again using the photo-emulsion screen printing process, The acetate sheet featuring the design is then laid onto the emulsion-coated screen, and the whole thing then exposed to bright UV light. The light hardens the emulsion, which later creates the barrier between the ink and the paper. So the parts of the screen which are covered by design remain in liquid form which is washed away before drying and then printing.

Being familiar with the process meant I needed to challenge my self with the mark-making stage on the acetate sheet and explore otherwise avoided techniques.

Above is the acetate stencil I created for this workshop.

It is having been to a talk on Moiré patterns which is the interference between two periodic objects, that produces a new over-arching pattern that inspired me to use the netting to create one of these patterns.

Moiré patterns can emerge from all manner of scenarios and are particularly prevalent in the digital age. At the talk, we discussed the general types of moiré pattern and how they form, alongside the print maker’s fight against them in half-toning processes, and also how they form the basis of the artwork of Anoka Faruqee.

The dip pen image in Roto Ink (an acrylic ink made with pigments suspended in an acrylic resin binder, so it is light resistant and waterproof) is of Alice Liddell, The 10-year-old girl who as a friend of the author Lewis Carroll inspired the story Alice in Wonderland. As before I wanted to introduce reality into my fantasy; however this time I chose to reverse my thought and use a real person into the no-reference sketched landscape.

Roto Ink washes thinned with methylated spirits built up my landscape. I used a pin to scrap into the acetate for the tree bark. On the mushroom, I worked the ink wash with some sandpaper and used drops of meth alcohol to great the spots on the mushroom hood.

I used photocopied leaves on acetate, which I then cut into smaller leaf shapes and using clear glue I stuck them to the acetate to make the tree canopy. At first look, the leaves I copied are too big, so I reduced them to a small image of leaves. The idea has failed to create the canopy effect I was hoping for. the ‘too big’ leaves would have been better at creating the effect.

A great help came from my classmates Tom and Stephanie. Steph has experience in using screens to print in different artistic ways, i.e. watercolour transfer. Tom works in textile screen printing, primarily custom tee-shirt printing. Tom had a quick way of working and was a great support during the practical element. Admittedly, I did not get a fully printed image on my first two ‘pulls’ of the screen. Tom quickly identified I had the screen too far away from me resulting in my pressure on the screen wasn’t getting the ‘nooks and crannies’ in the stencil. Even pressure is important because the squeegee when pulled across the screen, delivers the layer of ink.

Below is the photo of Steph’s printing area set up.

Despite only having one screen Steph produced a varicoloured image by using tape and card stock to ‘mask out’ areas. Inspired by this, I wanted to have a try at loading my screen with more than one ink.

Below you can see my final prints.

The idea for the Moiré patterns has worked, but I would next time take more care in trying to use them to shape the object or character by creating a tone with the pattens. I’m glad that the sandpaper on in washed acetate has given the ground and the stem of the mushroom a real 3-D feel. Different graphite pencils have helped to build depth and tone to the forest floor but not successfully; harsher marks are needed and darker tones. The two-toned effect of the two colours being pulled through the screen was my favourite success. It really helps the feeling

I would like to try methods such as using masking tape or vinyl to cover the desired areas of the screen like Steph and also Painting the stencil onto the mesh using ‘screen blockers’ such as glue or lacquer.

Influence on this piece

Folk Realism is the belief that they are natural real-worlds outside of our thinking and independent from us. In literature theories, it often can be treated as Eco-Critical but is not always. Folk Realism occupies a liminal place between the normal and the unknown, stories of people we recognise, people we feel we could know, but their lives become damp with myth and legend. There’s a sense that ecosystem, the landscape, the sea, the earth under our feet is claiming back people. Relationship with other metaphysical systems in public opinion is rarely thoroughly examined, but it is not a brand new way of working. Daphne du Maurier had unearthed the Cornish landscape, its dark history and its myths for her novels and stories for some time. Proving Folk Realism works very well at the human psyche and curiosity. Lewis Carroll, who was particularly gifted in geometry and logic; his Alice books contain many reimagined examples. The “Mad Tea-Party”, for instance, has the Hare, Hatter, Dormouse and Alice circling static place settings like numbers on a circle, as in a modular system, rather than in a line. Carroll developed a natural real-world that’s ecosystem was firmly mathematical regardless of the character’s problem-solving ability. (V&A, 2019)

I was intrigued by the article ‘Folk realism: The literature exploring England’s legends and landscapes’ by David Barnett @davidmbarnett published in the Independent newspaper Friday 2 March 2018

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/folk-realism-english-literature-countryside-legends-landscape-nature-gothic-writers-fantasy-a8234691.html

David Barnett is interested in how little it takes to turn our world into a fairytale. It is here in the brisk air of misty mornings, and dark, low sun evenings, I can begin to understand what Barnett is referring to. It is between the two states, modern living and seeking out heritage that a literary genre has been reborn.

We are both in the normal world – cocooned in central heating, connected by phones and laptops, washed in the light from the television – and outside it; isolated, separated, remote. And that is the duality of a current trend in British writing which overlays contemporary lives on the older, darker backdrop of our heritage and folklore.” (Barnett, 2019)

Andrew Michael Hurley’s first novel, The Loney, initially only 300 copies published is a brilliant example of the threshold dividing folk horror and magical realism. The story, The Loney, became the winner of the Costa First Novel Award in 2016 selling thousands more. Based on the vast Lancashire coast, a family are making a kind of pilgrimage to a holy shrine. They want to fix Hanny the brother of the narrator of his muteness. The spiritualism of the family is unorthodox compared to the once-a-week churchgoers. However, it is still believable and has Catholic tones. Things take a darker, almost insidious turn. The locals seem vaguely sinister but not slasher ‘backwards country’ villains, they seem slightly to be following older, less well know ethos.

Hurley builds up the tension towards a climax that is ambiguous yet no less heart-stopping than Edward Woodward’s poor old virgin policeman being burned to death on remote Summerisle while the islanders dance and sing, in Robin Hardy’s iconic 1973 movie The Wicker Man.

HOW DOES THIS PIECE OF WORK FIT INTO THE DEVELOPMENT OF MY PROJECT?

Once upon a time, the West was indigenous. I want to ask the question of what happened to that path and those teachings? Was it that the old Western ways were so wrong and full of witches that it had to be destroyed and replaced by religious that were so much purer? Thousands of years on, is it irrelevant? In my bachelor’s degree, I did a study into the morals refected by authors in children’s literature and one chapter questioned is this influence (if religious or social) Was it an infringement upon or supportive of our culture.

The book by Sharon Blackie called ‘If Women Rose Rooted’ focuses on women finding their voices and their stories again. A quest to find their place in the world, drawing inspiration from the wise and powerful women in native western mythology. She states at the start of her book“We have our own guiding stories, and they are deeply rooted in the heart of our own native landscapes. We draw them out of the wells and the waters; beachcombing, we lift them out of the sand. We dive for them to the bottom of deep lakes, we disinter them from the bogs, we follow their tracks through the shadowy glades of the enchanted forest. Those stories not only ground us: they show us what we might once have been, we women, and what we might become again if we choose. … If women remember that once upon a time we sang with the tongues of seals and flew with the wings of swans, that we forged our own paths through the dark forest while creating a community of its many inhabitants, then we will rise up rooted, like trees.” (Blackie, 2019, p6) Anthropological Folklore and Feminist Criticism Blackie aims to influence our respect and revere feminine outer-selves, and so bring about a culture in which women are respected and admired, recognised once again as holding the life-giving power of the earth itself.

There are plenty of good stories about men in our native European traditions, too. Think of the Grail legends, where only a knight who understands the meaning of compassion – who understands the necessity to gently ask the question ‘What ails thee?’ of the wounded Fisher King – can hope to attain the Grail and help restore the Wasteland.

Lewis Carroll believed that beyond their entertainment value, mental recreations such as games and logic puzzles conferred a sense of power on the solver. This trait, he felt, enabled them to analyse any subject clearly and, most importantly, to detect and unravel fallacies. (V&A, 2019) Do children today still respond to the quest of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis in a self-reflective way? Would they be influenced to act out character traits shared with lead characters from stories? Would our heroes and heroines in our heritage be influential enough? And would literacy devices or trends like ‘Folk Realism’ allow me to engage with young readers sufficient for publishers to care?

Introduction to Screen-Printing on Fabrics

History and Process

Screen printing is one of the most popular printing methods we use to create custom designs, patterns, and logos on clothing. The process of Screen printing involves a fine mesh “screen” that is stretched around a frame. The areas that masked out on the screen are not printed. We used the photo-emulsion screen printing process, which is great for printing text or images with fine detail. To create the print, we took a black picture that we drew on the translucent Mark resit paper, place it against the screen, and then expose the screen to UV light. The light causes the emulsion to harden and bind to the mesh. It was explained that where the light strikes the screen, the emulsion will bind, making a solid layer. Where the light is blocked (black image) the emulsion remains water-soluble.

My drawn image on the mark resist paper. I used Posca pen which is an acrylic paint ball pen. As you can see from the photo, I had difficulty with anticipating the drying time and cause smudges which had to be sanded away.

After exposing the screen, we spray down the screen with water, washing off the emulsion. Where black of the image was is a clear area is where the ink will be pressed through the screen. The framed screen is positioned over the item to be printed, along with a spoonful of thick ink. A squeegee is then used to press the ink through the screen. The masked areas prevent ink from passing through, but the unmasked areas allow the ink onto the material. I didn’t have any issues up to this point having done Screen print at University of Worcester however id never done fabrics, technical issues around “pinning out” the t-shirt and dealing with coarser, denser fabric than cotton was new learning for me. Pins needed to be flat to the print bed surface so not to damage the fine mesh of the screens nor catch the track of the squeegee passing the pint through. The main technique was to pin the fabric at a sharply acute angle and Masking tape over the pins seeming to be the best way to ensure no damage to the mesh in the screen. Also finding an even pressure using the squeegee one-handed was an issue for me. I discovered I was better left-handed in this process.

Above is my design printed on to paper in mustard colour and on cotton blend in blue. Both pieces have come through the screen with most of the detail still intact. In parts of my border and halo, my line was not dense enough, and the UV light was so intense as to burn through the resisting area. The composition has worked well, and I felt comfortable mimicking the romantic 19th-century ladies and Morris’ flora style. When thinking on possible additional elements during the design stage, I opted to leave the flower head the lady is admiring missing. I plan to use digital embroidery to make the flower head, thus incorporating a modern process with a more traditional. My reasoning was to reflect on the struggles Morris felt about the industrial influence of his ere upon the textile production at that time.

Artist influence

Having been at Birmingham Art Gallery and Musume the day before I was keen to bring some of the William Morris designs, I’d looked at into the print.

[Photographs of Morris’s ‘Honeysuckle’ 1881 I took on my visit to Birmingham art gallery] Morris’s original design for ‘Honeysuckle’ hangs in Birmingham’s art galley. This design became a set of linens sold in the shop on Oxford Street in 1800’s after Edward Burne-Jones insisted on have the print for his own home.

William Morris was a famous 19th-century designer notably recognised for his nature-inspired wallpapers. My interest in his work leans more to his collection of book designs. Morris also produced tapestries, tiles and textiles with an expressed love of hand-produced items and a craft-based artistic community.

“A key figure in the Arts & Crafts Movement, Morris championed a principle of handmade production that didn’t chime with the Victorian era’s focus on industrial ‘progress’.” (V&A, 2019)

Despite never needing to earn a wage due to the inheritance of the large Woodford hall family estate in Essex, Morris was a hardworking and prolific.

In 1875 Morris became sole director of the renamed and restructured Morris & Company. Over the next decade, he continued to design at an impressive rate, adding at least 32 printed fabrics, 23 woven fabrics and 21 wallpapers – as well as more designs for carpets and rugs, embroidery and tapestry – to the company’s range of goods.”  (V&A 2019)

Much of Morris’s childhood was spent exploring local parkland and forest his love of nature always apparent in almost all his work. Also, at an early age, he showed a passion for the church, including its architecture, something he would later explore as a career. Morris went to Oxford University to study for the Church. It was there that he met Edward Burne-Jones, who was to become one of the era’s most famous painters, and Morris’s life-long friend.

A lesser know influence that was consistent, but didn’t become his passion until later in life was his love of fantasy. As a young man, Morris was enamoured by the writings of the Scottish fantasy author Walter Scott. Rumoured to be his favourite of Scott’s work was the Lady of the Lake, a poem published in 1810.

In 1891 Morris was offered the Poet Laureateship after the death of Tennyson, remarkably he turned it down. Instead, Morris chose to set up the Kelmscott Press. The books the Press produced only totalled 66 before Morris’s death in 1896. The appeal was these books were beautiful and prized. Printed and bound in a medieval style, with Morris having designed their typefaces, initial letters and borders it is not hard to see why. Ever since I was lucky enough to see The Book of Kells, a precious 9th-century manuscript, at Trinity College Dublin in 2018, I have been influenced to make better use of framing devices for the text in my work. The Book of Kells is an exquisite combination of ornate Latin text and intricate illuminations. One of the world’s most famous medieval manuscript and the images are rich symbolism worked into the layouts and subject matter. Morris too made translations of ancient and medieval texts, but his love was poetry. ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ a fantasy story by Morris is considered to have heavily influenced C. S. Lewis’ ‘Narnia’ series, while J. R. R. Tolkien is said to be inspired by Morris’s reconstructions of early Germanic life in ‘The House of the Wolfings’ and ‘The Roots of the Mountains’. (Scull and Hammond, 2006.) All three authours are writers who heavily influence my writing of Young Adult fantasy, but Morris in particular also affects my ideas of illustrating for the Young Adult genre.

Above is the more famous of Morris’ Kelmscott Press published books.  An illustrated edition of the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, which was published in 1896, a few months before Morris’s death. (item C.43.h.19. at British Library)

How do the works and artist fit into the development of my project?

“I began printing books with the hope of producing some, which would have a definite claim to beauty.” Morris, W. A Note by William Morris on His Aims in Founding the Kelmscott Press. (Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1898)

This direct quote from Morris directed my A’level work back in 2000. I knew soon after I completed my studies that art was my way to contribute to society in a meaningful way. I had/have to work extremely hard at academic studies; it is not a natural learn way of thinking for me. Having great artist, their works and dedications in life to follow and guide gives me a way to talk passionately and communicate why my artwork is so important to my place in the world. As dramatic as it sounds, I do risk a lot in pursuing my goal at a writer and illustrator. Morris didn’t have to fight or peruse the quality of production and beauty he achieved; he could have had a more comfortable life. He chose to give everything he could of himself to not only his work but also the defence of handcrafted and traditional skills. 19-century had its fight with the industrial period, and some skills have been lost forever; currently, we can view the digital and computer-controlled elements as a threat or as Morris did eventually, learn to incorporate them into techniques as a support, not as a replacement to the traditional.

Moving forward I want to keep that beautiful and traditional protected both in the aspect of print techniques and process, also concerning stories and folk tales. Print can be lengthy in the process to get an image; images for children’s books and technical manuals are more commonly digital now. In advertising digital and photography is king. The traditional print is still valued for its quality and tactile nature. Individual prints methods have had a comeback as I found in letterpress. I will try to explore if it is a possibility that other print methods are back into fashion in children’s illustration; a sort of revised Golden Age of Illustration that the book publishing 19th century benefited from the industrial revolution. Might we get to see more engraving techniques? More Morris’ illuminations, Lear’s lithography and Rackham’s watercolour and ink?

Romancing the Gibbet (4) The Morrismen Murder

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‘Romancing the Gibbet’ is a collaboration between poet, Ralph Hoyte and historian, Steve Poole, exploring ‘dark tourism’ at sites of extraordinary public execution in Georgian Britain. Poole explains the historical background of a single public hanging. A case from 1772, when William Keeley was found guilty of murdering Joseph Dyer after spotting him flashing his money at the old Fish Inn on Broadway Hill. Evidence old and new was shown, and the site discussed. Amazingly despite the cost, Keeley was hung at the site of the murder and put on display. Having a hanging gibbet was both fascinating and appalling to folks at the time, and oddly the act of displaying the dead as a deterrent to crime has not proven to lower nor raise the area’s crime rate. The Oxford Journal at the time commented: “It seems that Keeley is a famous Morrice dancer, and on Sunday morning before the fact was committed, he was teaching a set of fellows to dance. Warner used to play on the tabor and pipe to the dancers. It is to be hoped the Justices will suppress such nurseries of idleness and drunkenness as morrice-dancings have generally proved!”, in other words, they considered Morris Dancing especially on a Sunday to be a waste of a good mans time. Hoyte then performs extracts from his poetic responses. Together Poole and Hoyte play some spoken-word imaginative responses too, Influenced by the works of the romantics Coldridge and Wordsworth; their study of nature and human nature combined and compared in verse. We listen to the Ballard and mixed voice performance with a sense of the subline. The project has four free audio trails. At this event, a sample audio-trail was relocated in and around Broadway Tower for us to try out. Adding the performance elements and music to the location even if you are listening through your phone was something extraordinary and very atmospheric. With the day we attended filled with cold mists and temperature in the low 2 degrees, it was easy to imagine being on a ghost trail of long ago folklore.

Remembering to download the app to your phone or GPS-enabled tablet beforehand would have helped me keep up. However, this event has inspired me much on my search for local history stories and folk tales to find and preserve for the next generation of creatives to use.

Introduction to Letterpress

Wednesday 2nd October: Introduction to Letterpress

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Letterpress is a direct relief print method, meaning that a design is printed by transferring ink from plate to paper.
The group were each given a verse from the Lewis Carroll poem; Jabberwocky. Keen Children’s Literature readers, both Stephine and I were aware of the poem and its author, so chose to work together on the task.
“Jabberwocky” is a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll about the killing of a creature named “the Jabberwock”. Included in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The book tells of Alice’s adventures within the back-to-front world of Looking-Glass Land.

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In The Life of Lewis Carroll (1932), an early Carroll biographer, Langford Reed, stated: “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was an individual who, through his rare and diversified literary gifts and power of communication, left an indelible mark upon the imaginations of children and adults both during his generation and in generations to come.”

With the original of the poem being Victorian and Reed’s use of the words “indelible mark” in mind the tactile quality of letterpress seemed very appropriate. We didn’t stop there, having access to more than 50 fonts at UWE’s proofing press room Stephanie and I came up with the idea of mixing the fonts to emphasise the disjointed imagery in the poem. Below you can see our result in the first stanza compared to the uniform font in the stanza below it.

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Executing this effect took a lot more thinking than originally expected, but also lead to more ideas forming. Firstly, we discovered “typesetter”, setting letter by letter and line by line had to be done upside-down to make sure the type was backwards in a composing stick, a mechanism which holds several lines, so the print is correctly orientated on the paper when transferred. As a result, we had to ensure we chose font types of the same size to sit firmly in the composing stick. We choose 24pt, which was slightly less than the 30pt originally recommended by our technician to give us more space to manipulate on the final image. We generated our font choice at random, again to emphasis the impression of chaos and unconformities of Wonderland. Selecting by blindly picking from three fonts meant we had to record a number to each letter and character, mapping our result to return the fonts correctly at the end. Apart from the start of each line, capitalisation we also selected at random by adding a dot to a number in our blind selection. We considered the use of irregular spacing, but this caused too much white space and overly disrupted the readability of the stanza creating a river of white in the text, a serious consideration that has to be thought over in any letterpress task. Instead, the decision to add additional spacing before the word “shun” as if shunned away, worked well.

However, we also reflected that the character of Alice at this point in the novel is in the “back-to-front world” sparking the idea to purposely reverse and capitalise the “C” in “catch” to look like the letter is trying to catch the “cat” part of its full form, and the misspelling of “claws” with a “K” as this letter is a sharper form than a “c” indicating sharp, dangerous claws of the Jabberwock.

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The type of depth is dependent on the paper. Typically Letterpress papers are thick and soft to allow the type to create a deep impression, which gives tangible evidence of the printing process.
Maximal control over the quality of the print is apeling, many of our group seemed to like letterpress for that. I found the method of compositor gradually to build out the text of an individual page letter by letter difficult and brian taxing. The risk of “furniture” popping out violently from the press scared me in honesty. What I did love was the colours are true and vibrant, and the lines are sharp. Digital printing is done by accumulating groups of small dots to produce the image. While the resolution of the dots is usually small enough that the resulting print looks “close enough,” we can see the difference, especially when viewed side by side.
Dark ink on a light paper gives the best image. Inks are translucent, and the paper colour will show through. For light colours on dark paper, foil stamping or engraving should be used instead of Letterpress. Building up the colour density of a specific colour can be achieved with Letterpress pieces run through the press two times using the same colour, but again this is a risk on registration moving. However, the risk is the lowest in all our manual print techniques thanks to the methods and mechanisms involved.

The chances of using Letterpress outside of UWE is debatable. Presses are being discarded by commercial print shops and becoming affordable and available to artisans throughout the country. There is currently a viable sales market for this form of print.
“Letterpress publishing has recently undergone a revival in the USA, Canada, and the UK, under the general banner of the ‘Small Press Movement’. Renewed interest in letterpress was fueled by Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, which began using pictures of letterpress invitations in the 1990s.” (Pertwee, 2019)
I do think I will be using this form as publishing and illustration are hand-in-hand. Learning this process has helped me think more about page layout and text as a part of the illustration itself. More investigation on my part is needed.
I do understand this process a lot more now having used it form myself, and I better appreciate the use/effectiveness of the text.

We also had a chance to use the Albion press, which is an early iron hand printing press, designed and manufactured in London by Richard Whittaker Cope around 1820. It works by a simple toggle action. Originally used for commercial book-printing until the middle of the nineteenth century, now it is mostly artisans who use them for proofing, jobbing work and by private presses for art projects.
I thought it might be fun to use the woodblock letters to help me start a poster image for the 1976 science fiction film Logan’s Run. The showdown scene between Logan 5 and Francis 7 always reminded me of 19th Century American Western genre, so, I chose the Slab Serifs font mixed with the smaller LHF Becker font to reflect that drama visually. I plan to use the large “0” to represent the tunnels used to flee the city in the film. Logan’s Run explores utopian and dystopian themes. The 1970s were dubbed the “Me Decade” by writer Tom Wolfe. An important concept expressed in the film is “the dangers of hedonism” (Wolfe,1976), meaning youth worship. Sexual freedom and seeking pleasure or luxury at whatever cost of the 1970s has also reflected in the current social demographic term “Millennials”. I’m interested in exploring this link and what effect hedonism has on a cohort of people.

Hartlebury Castle (The Bishop’s Palace)

The land that Hartlebury Castle sits on was granted to the Bishop of Worcester by King Burghred in the late 9th century, although the foundations of the building that now stands here are believed to date back to the 13th century. 

Since the 12th century, it has been a centre of ecclesiastical and administrative power in Worcestershire with its resident bishops involved in some of the significant events of British history from political and military guardians of a frontier with Wales to active participants in political decision making in modern times.

The building is grade 1 listed and it contains the famous Hurd Library was built by Bishop Hurd in 1782. It still contains his extensive and unique collection of books including works from the libraries of Alexander Pope and William Warburton. The copy of the Iliad from which Pope’s translation was made is among them.

The grounds include a period cider mill, A Transport Gallery which has amazing Romney Gypsy wagons and The Worcestershire County Museum which houses the servants’ quarters of Hartlebury Castle. The house also has the period rooms which displays including a schoolroom, nursery and scullery, and Victorian, Georgian and Civil War rooms. The exhibits focus on local history and include toys, archaeology, costumes, crafts by the Bromsgrove Guild, local industry, and area geology and natural history. You are now able to walk along the old moat and enjoy local produce at the shop. 

We had a fantastic time, and hope you will take a trip to Hartlebury Castle too.

 

What About Raymond Carver?

Though Raymond Carver published only a handful of books in his lifetime, he is often considered one of the great American short story writers. Debate still exists as to whether to consider Carver a minimalist for his frequent use of sparse language, a voice of the working class for his commitment to ‘ordinary’ characters, or a champion of “dirty realism” for his frank depictions of modern American life. But no matter how you might regard his work, Carver’s legacy and reputation have only grown since his death in 1988, at the age of 50.

“Well, of course I had to keep him on a leash,” his mother, Ella Carver, said much later — and seemingly without irony. Mrs. Carver might have had the right idea. Like the perplexed lower-middle-class juicers who populate his stories, Carver never seemed to know where he was or why he was there.

Born in Oregon in 1938, Carver soon moved with his family to Yakima, Wash. In 1956, the Car­vers relocated to Chester, Calif. A year later, Carver and a couple of friends were carousing in Mexico. After that the moves accelerated: Paradise, Calif.; Chico, Calif.; Iowa City, Sacramento, Palo Alto, Tel Aviv, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Cupertino, Humboldt County . . . and that takes us up only to 1977, the year Carver took his last drink.

His two passions were stories (which he failed to get published despite a strong work ethic for submissions) and Maryann Burk, a local girl four years his junior. When his parents moved to California for work, Carver already had the plans in motion for their marriage.

The relationship between Raymond and Maryann would define much of Carver’s life. Within two years of marriage, they’d had two children, Christine and Vance. Most of their early life was fraught with financial difficulty. Carver’s passion for writing was intense, but was at odds with his disdain for any other kind of work. As such, Maryann tended to act as breadwinner, usually through waitress jobs, as she supported Carver’s attempts to get recognized and also his attempts to earn a college degree, a goal thwarted by both financial trouble and Carver’s insecurities.

Carver’s most important break came through a long-time friend, Gordon Lisch, who had become an editor at Esquire. Through the connection, Carver published his first major-press collection, the Lisch-edited Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? In the years following, he and Maryann finally separated and Carver gained control of his drinking. The book was widely praised, and it is clear in light of his biography how well he made use of the sadness and desperation he had experienced in his own life and those of his lower middle-class communities.

From there, Carver’s fortunes improved. Sober and committed, Carver published another collection – What We Talk about When We Talk About Love – and though it’s often criticized as having been too heavily edited by Lisch, it won even more acclaim than the previous collection. Along with another poetry book (Fires), Carver then prepared his final collection of all-new stories, considered by many to be his masterpiece: Cathedral. In this time, Carver met and moved in with Tess Gallagher, a poet who would eventually become his wife and partner until his death.

Financially stable through both fellowships and book sales, Carver spent his final few years cementing his reputation as a great American literary figure. His relationships with his mother, Maryann, and his children grew stronger. And then he was diagnosed with cancer.

On August 2, 1988, Carver died from lung cancer at the age of 50. He is buried at Ocean View Cemetery in Port Angeles, Washington. The inscription on his tombstone reads:

LATE FRAGMENT

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

 

His poem “Gravy” is also inscribed.

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Woman’s weekly research

 

 

Grandparent stalking:

image image image image image image image image image image image image image image imageWoman’s weekly research

Task = follow someone in the age range that we are aiming to research (60+). Look at their behaviour, demeanour and what they look like and make a short life bio on your observations.

Struggled to do this task I felt like a criminal; And I’m guessing must have looked like one because the security guard in M&S became very interested in me. I think he was worried that I was going to mug the old couple I was stalking.

So… I changed it to interviewing some of the older looking people who were willing to talk to me.

  • Janet and Elizabeth:

Met them in the cathedral café. Jan is 52 and her mom Elizabeth is 81.

Q) how did you make it to 81?

A) well, my farther always told me you first priority should be your health so you can be a good parent by being here on earth to do the job. So he always made us eat our vegetables especial the green ones and we were not to over eat we have to have lots of walks before we sat down to dinner on an evening and then we were not allowed to eat after that until the morning. – Elizabeth

Mom has always been very active. She still likes to get her own shopping and likes to buy from the farm shop. – Jan

Q) did you know that the average life expectancy in the UK is 82

A) oh you morbid child! Is that what you’re learning about at school? – Elizabeth

(laughing) I think my mom would out live us all she has no intention of slowing down – Jan

Q) what to do think about being considered old?

A) I am. I know it in my bones. But I’m not stupid I didn’t get this far and not learn anything about life and how to be good at living it. I don’t mess about like you lot I get on with it I got to work soon as I could and started paying my mom keep. My children were expected to do the same and they did mostly. If they were not out earning they would help in the house, that how it was. – Elizabeth

We could work though mom; they didn’t ask for so many bits of paper as these kids have to have to get a job.

(she talks about her own son for a bit and asks me what I am studying.)

It’s very sad that kids nowadays don’t know how to work for a living they get no sense of value for themselves. All they can do better than us is fill in all the blasted benefit forms.

– Jan

  • Judy and Paul:

Meet them shopping together in the Worcester high street. I offered to help them carry a practically large item back to their car in return for help with my assignment. They were a little confused by the offer until I explained I just wanted to ask a couple of questions and they didn’t have to answer if they didn’t like the question. Judy is 60 and Paul is 64 they have been married to each other for 40 years.

Q) How did you meet?

A) Fell in love in our 20s. Paul was working for his father, and I worked in the shop front. We’d seen each other at school and we’d grown up in the same town so we knew of each other. He was a handsome man and was very tall, he had thick black hair a one time. – Judy

She was always very pretty. I was very glad when my dad hired her I said she would do well and she did he didn’t know that I fancied her. – Paul

Q) how do you feel about being considered old?

A) I guess I know that I’m because I have grandchildren and are like being a grandma and liked being a mother. It was okay to not be working and just be a mother back then. I know I’m old because I can never find glasses without my glasses actually being on my head. I don’t worry about being old it’s just something that happens to you it comes with experience which you can give that to other people. – Judy

I don’t feel old except for in the morning I feel very old then. The bodies old but the mind is not old. – Paul

Q) what do you think about today’s youth?

A) do you really want me to answer that? Well they are certainly not all as polite as you… (he thinks for a few moments) With phones being wireless and car keys being keyless and food being fatless this is all their youth being jobless and their relationships being meaningless making babies fatherless and me being speechless about it all. – Paul

Q) So are things hopeless then?

A) very cleaver. No my hopes for the future youth are endless, special in those nice girls and boys like you around. – Paul

What I think about today’s youth is that they do have an awful lot to say without really knowing what they want firstly. Majorly about what rights they have. before thinking about what right they have to any of those rights. If you get what I mean. To think that they haven’t even considered the people who fought for those rights in the first place. Aren’t you disappointed in your leaders too? – Judy

Artist Date: 4 hours with David Quantick

How to Write Everything is the name of David Quantick’s book. He has years of journalism, screenwriting, speeches and sketches under his belt. From sitcoms to novels. With thirty years’ experience as an award-winning scriptwriter. He is also a self-confessed Hack.

I am reading and taking notes on what DQ has to say to us about writing and how he got to the success he now has.

Chapter 1

The opening is summed up in “the secret to writing is oddly to write.” If you don’t write anything then there won’t be any words. Steven King said something very similar in his book on writing: “I constantly meet people who say they want to write and mentally to myself I say. No you don’t, because if you did, you would”

So I better stop fiddling with the stuff on my desk and get on with it. DQ’s advice is to start write anything. It will be terrible but the words will come and you will get better. Just like lifting heavy weights make you strong; constant word use and reading will make you write your best. So nothing you write is ever pointless. You never know who or what is trapped in your page. If you have an obstacle to your writing use the problem into your writing. It will help you get over it.

DQ tells us; don’t hate deadlines. I recall Douglas Adams in an online video say he likes the sound deadlines make when they fly past. But he is only joking. DQ warns that deadlines are to encourage you; it means that someone cares about you writing. Respect deadlines they are incentive and productivity.

Being a hack is okay if you produce work for someone else. Writers don’t get to be the lead singer very often. Writers are who work to make the actor or singer sound better than the monkey that they often are.

The ability to mimic another person’s voice is essential. You can’t just write from ones’ experience. If that was so than the Aliens movies would have been written by aliens. (Scary thought.) We are all standing on the shoulders of giants, so get over yourself and into your writing.

Chance can make you creative and everyone has different ways to writing.

Chapter 2 is about ideas. Where do you get your ideas? It’s all about making connections DQ tells us.

An idea can come from anything at all. It is not that it may be good or bad, but if you can write it, do it. Like planning a journey; you know the start and where you want to get to you just need to do the middle bit. If you need to borrow a map for your idea to follow, that’s okay. However, generating your own ideas even if you get lost on the way is just more rewarding.

Unless you have never been outside you still have your experience or your imagination. However, you have to be brave enough to cut and chop ideas that are just not working. You just don’t know if it will work until you write it a bit and a bit more. Then take a break. When you come back and read it you can be honest with yourself.

All stories are ‘xxx’ with a twist. So you don’t need to be overly original they just need you or just need it from you.

Borrow what you know works until your ideas strengthen. Take convention and mess with it until you are happy with it. Passing off is not allowed, being inspired is.

david Q

David Quantick

Travel journal

An Oxford education

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A captured and stolen history can be found in Oxford. Its museums, galleries and universities; pool, collate, and collect culture. Its own British Empire heritage and that of its once discovered or conquered limits. All boxed and viewed in glass. It holds it up showing it off and in its own way Oxford holds itself up in high regard.

Is it always beauty and class?

I hold education in high regard. I am in awe of well cultured and educated people. I want to be educated too. Even if I am only from a council estate in middle England.

We took the opportunity to be on a coach trip to Oxford and see the free wealth of culture. I enjoyed being part of the art class again, only this time not as their art technician but as a student instead.

Architecture in historical abundance is the result of a stone built medieval town in England; small enough to explore on foot. History and education side-by-side in my favourite place, Radcliffe Square. After coffee and delicious homemade cakes in the Vaults & Garden, in the crypt of the University Church we had recovered from the long coach trip. We were now sketching people busy in the open market along the street.

The distance travelled in traffic jams I dislike a great deal. Oxford was built long before the combustion engine was invented. So motor vehicle access is restricted and parking expensive. Walk or cycle instead is the preferred mode of transportation for most.

My academic and creative brain went wild in an atmosphere cram packed with stories and mysteries from the ages gone by. I was so tired when I got back to the coach.

The light of the Ashmolean museum full to the brim with world Art. It made my eyes water they could not physically stare any longer over the patterns and shaped culture and beauty. The natural history museum’s open hall and stone-flagged floors contradicted to the dark and depths of Pitt Rivers snug atmosphere comparable to a Cotswold farmhouse. This one building brought me to the floor in stunned admiration. I had wondered around learning about evolution, and why animals have developed the way they have according to their environments (I felt like a boffin in the making) when I walked haphazardly through a carved archway. This was like having been drinking crisp bitter tea, then shoving a tray of dark chocolate sweets into one’s mouth. Pitt Rivers museum is a part of the natural history building yet is very different. A deep dark jungle of discovery that had belonged to one very enthusiastic collector. Many items are displayed together at once. There is no sorting except for the helpful staff “pots and pans there, boats over here, jewellery, swords, shields, are on the next floor and the Gods are to the left of the big totem pole Madame”- my case in point.

So I don’t know which kind class you may be. However, I’m sure in Oxford you will find beauty.

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