Category Archives: Wall Wednesday

Wall Wednesday – Week Ten (a little late)!

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National Theatre London Pillars Decorated with Green Plastic CollandersSorry, I know it’s Thursday, but I gave myself the rare treat of watching a film last night and forgot all about my blog!  This week’s Wall photo was taken in the summer when I was in London soaking up the cultural Olympiad.  This was the view underneath the Royal Festival Hall at the South Bank Centre – hundreds of green plastic colanders, cable-tied together around the pillars – what a cheery sight.

The Royal Festival Hall was built in 1951 for the Festival of Britain – a year before our Queen was crowned.  It was made of  concrete – in a very minimalist/modernist style.  What I love about it is the way you can see how it is made – there is no plaster inside or out it is just the natural concrete.  The South Bank Centre is made up of a number of world class venues clustered together in what is the largest single arts venue in the world.   It is on the South Bank of the Thames and from there you can see just about every iconic building in London – The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, The London Eye, St. Paul’s, The Shard.  The National Theatre is also adjacent although it is managed separately.

The whole area was buzzing when we were there and it was a day I will never forget, it was so exciting to discover all the different ways the building was “dressed” for the 2012 “Festival of the World”.  Here are some of the other images I took that day, every turn took in another great view and another great piece of “art.”

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Wall Wednesday – Week Nine

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Recycled and Upcycled Peter Scott Knitwear Stome WallThis weeks’ wall photo is of a fabric dry stone wall made from scraps of pure wool sweaters salvaged from a skip behind Peter Scott’s in Hawick, here in the Scottish Borders – if you can ever call the world’s finest cashmere and merino wool sweaters scrap!

The Wall is actually the back of a chair “decorated” by children from Burnfoot Primary School in Hawick.  It is on show at the Tower House in Hawick and is called “the blue pool” – the seat is covered with hundreds of buttons and the grass on the front is made from sweater scraps too.  The moss between the stones made me smile.

upcycled wool and buttons chair by Burnfoot Primary School, Hawick

I was in Hawick delivering some of my hand made eco-friendly upcycled owls to the Tower House Gallery and Museum shop and I had time to wander around the exhibitions – and I just fell in love with the chair – what with my love of creative textile upcycling and my love of walls.

hand made upcycled pure wool owl bookend black tweed tartan

My owls are also made from upcycled pure wool tweeds and tartans and sometimes cotton fabrics.  Their eyes and noses are also made from felted pieces of Scottish knitwear and their buttons are all salvaged.  They are stuffed with pure lambswool and some rice in the bottom to make them sit nicely and to enable them to hold a few books up on the shelf.    They can be purchased directly from me for £12 plus shipping or from local galleries for slightly more (commission!).

Hawick was, in it’s hey day, the largest producer of fine wool and cashmere knitwear in the world.  Today it has only a very few small mills still in operation but they still produce the finest knitwear in the world.  Chanel has recently taken over one of the last remaining mills and since knitwear is in fashion again, hopefully the last few jobs will be safeguarded.  Hawick is to knitwear as Detroit is to cars – only a million times more beautiful!

The Borders is also world famous for it’s Tweed and Tartans fabrics.  Border tweeds are, in my humble opinion, nicer than Harris Tweed – made on the Isle of Harris – they are so soft and subtle; but, unfortunately for the Borders, they don’t carry the kudos of Harris tweed.  Tweed fabric, incidentally, gets it’s name from the mighty River Tweed that flows through the Borders.

Wall Wednesday – Week Eight

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interior of the transparent factory dresden

For new readers, every Wednesday I post a photo or photos of an interesting wall or walls I have come across, it/they may be local (Scottish Borders) or in a far flung location.  The photos may be may be recent or from my back catalogue – it’s my way of sharing my pics in an organised way.  I’m not going to tell you what/where today’s “walls” are until the end – they are all views of the interior and exterior of the same building – where/what do you think the building might be?

the factory made of glass dresden

entrance lobby of the vw factory dresden germany

toilet door vw factory dresden germany

interior of the vw factory dresden germany

exterior of the glass factory dresden germany

beautiful factory in the park, dresden

OK, did any of you guess it is a car factory? It’s the VW Phaeton plant in Dresden, Germany – it’s made of glass and translates as “the transparent factory”.  We visited there in 2009 while on a week’s holiday in Dresden, it was truly fascinating (free tour but pre-booking essential)  The factory is in the middle of a big park in the middle of the City – the parts arrive by tram and the cars are assembled on a moving wooden floor.  I know it looks like an art gallery or a concert hall – and in fact they use it for that too.  There were loads of amazing buildings in Dresden – it wasn’t all bombed to bits – so I’ll share more soon!

Wall Wednesday – Week Seven

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This week’s wall photo is an image I snapped on my iphone of an original David Hockney ipad/iphone “Drawing” projected onto the wall in Salt’s Mill, in Saltaire near Bradford.  I was nearly bursting with excitement at being in Salt’s Mill at a time when Hockney and I could synchronize our Apples – Hockney, Bradford, Apple and I go back a long way.

david hockney ipad flower drawing salts mill bradford

In the mid 80s, when I was at school, I loved Hockney’s art – his swimming pool paintings and California scapes in particular – and painted quite a few similar ones myself during my A-level art.  Then, in the late 80s, as part of my human geography degree, my course-mates and I spent a week in Bradford, Hockney’s Home Town, examining how such an important and proud Northern industrial town was coping with the demise of manufacturing and the coming of the new “post-industrial society” and the rise of the “service” society.  One beautiful evening we stood on a hill overlooking Saltaire and looked down at the imposing, but empty, Salt’s Mill and pondered it’s future.  I was a knitting addict even then and was sad to see such a landmark textile mill standing idle.

Salt’s Mill was built in 1853 by a Sir Titus Salt – he built the giant mill and a whole village to house his workers – away from the wretched conditions in Bradford – he named it Saltaire after himself and the River Aire.  As well as houses, he provided civic facilities for his workers – church, park, schools etc.   The village of Saltaire now a living UNESCO world heritage site.  Again, I am forever grateful of the philanthropic work of our industrial fathers who didn’t just take their money and pile it up for themselves.

Luckily for Salt’s Mill, a local entrepreneur and business man called Jonathan Silver bought the Mill in 1987 and planned to turn it into a gallery – with generous support in the form of “art” to hang on it’s large walls from his pal Hockney.

My first encounter with a computer of any kind came in 1990 when I myself was in Los Angeles (as was Hockney by that time!).  I was doing my Masters in geography and my Husband – a connoisseur of early computers – bought me the first Apple Mac Classic – oh how cute and wonderful that thing was – the iphone is not nearly as amazing as that thing was at the time.

So, this spring, en-route from Scotland to the South of England, we made a detour to visit Saltaire and to see Hockney’s digital doodles – the ipad images were indeed gorgeous and I cannot conceive how he did them; but, his giant portraits of friends and family “drawn” in Photoshop were mind-blowing, with a level of skill simply beyond comprehension – and he’s in his eighties.

I really thought I was in heaven – soaking up everything that pre- now post-industrial cathedral had to offer – giant walls dripping with Hockney’s, beautiful brick vaulted ceilings, amazingly ornate Victorian cast-iron radiators and the vast interior space filled with antique sofas for lounging and antique desks piled high with arty books for browsing – swoon.

Saltaire and the Mill are still alive and doing well, albeit in the service sector.  What everyone seems to forget – is that we can’t all work in the service sector – if we all work in a coffee shop – who is going to buy the coffee?  Someone has to actually make or manufacture something for an economy to survive long-term.  What would really make me happy would be to see the old Mill operating as a cooperative churning out gorgeous wool and woollens and providing hundreds of well-payed jobs for skilled artisans – maybe in thirty years time it will  – or perhaps each “cottage” in Saltaire will house a practising artisan and his/her family – making their living from small-scale “manufacturing”.

If you are ever anywhere near Bradford, you must visit Saltaire, and allow plenty of time and maybe leave your kids at home – mine liked it for an hour or two but I could have spent the day.  The Hockney digital art exhibition is still on and there is currently a new exhibition called “wool re-fashioned” which looks great too.

Wall Wednesday – Week Six

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This weeks’ “Wall” snap was taken on my trip to Newcastle last Friday (see previous post).  It is the outside of the Laing Art Gallery – we went to see a Quentin Blake exhibition – which was wonderful.  The paintings on the outside of the gallery are fun – I’ve never actually seen that before – the bricks are lovely too!

paintings on the brick walls of the laing gallery newcastle

Wall Wednesday – Week Five

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willow and thatch playhouse at Harestanes, Scottish Borders

This weeks’ featured wall was actually photographed this very day – and what a lovely day it was too.  Locals will recognise this “building” as the playhouse in the park at Harestanes Visitors Centre near Ancrum, here in the Scottish Borders.  It’s half-term here and so far the weather has been wonderful.  The trees are starting to turn but not in full autumn glory yet; however, while I was sitting under a tree in the park, watching my wee boy play in the sunshine, a sycamore leaf floated down into my lap.

Wall Wednesday – Week Four

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drystone wall covered in moss scottish borders scotland

Today’s wall – comes from my friend’s garden, she lives in a beautiful farm cottage between Lauder and Stow here in the Borders, this lovely wall runs along her drive and forms the boundary between her cottage and her families’ farm next door.  It was the moss that attracted me.

In Scotland such drystone walls are called “dykes” and someone who builds them is a “dyker” – dykers are amazingly skilled.  When I see these walls snaking across our landscape, I am in awe of the dykers who stood out in all weathers on the bleak hills, building miles of walls stone by stone, carefully selecting each stone for the perfect fit.  There is no mortar – just stone, skill and gravity – and the result – timeless beauty.