I'm a consultant and trainer specialising in the recognition, evaluation and control of health hazards in the workplace. I'm based in the North West of England, but am willing to travel (almost) anywhere
During our recent trip over the Pennines to the YSP (hard to believe it’s only just over 3 weeks ago) we called into the Chapel to take a look at the exhibition by the British artist Saad Qureshi, which was due to close a few days after our visit.
The old Georgian chapel has been converted into a really simple, beautiful and contemplative exhibition space and the YSP have programmed exhibitions that are really suited to it’s ambiance. During this visit, the strong sunlight was streaming in through the windows creating contrasting patterns of light and shadows.
In this exhibition the artist was exploring “what paradise means in a contemporary context” and the exhibition website tells us that
Qureshi is an avid gatherer of stories. In developing Something About Paradise he travelled around the country asking those with and without faith what paradise means for them. Speaking directly to people allowed the artist space to interpret the descriptions of indistinct and imagined places, as seen in memories and dreams, into physical installations that he refers to as ‘mindscapes’.
The result is a series of fantastic imaginary landscapes of hills, trees and miniature buildings of different architectural styles from around the world.
One thing that struck me about this “paradise” – there was a distinct lack of colour! I’m not sure what that was meant to say.
Besides the landscapes other works included this building on the moon
a number of large, ornate Gates of Paradise
and this ladder (cue Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven“!) , which the artist had very cleverly shaded to make it look as if was disappearing into the ether.
It seems forever since I took a week off work but it was only 3 weeks ago. Such a lot has happened since then. The weather at the beginning of that week hadn’t been so great but by the Thursday things had brightened up and we decided we’d drive over to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, A new exhibition had just started and we wanted to see how J’s name had weathered on the new “Walk of Art”.
It was bright and sunny when we arrived, but very windy. It continued like that for most of the day, and it was very muddy underfoot, so we didn’t spend as much time as we’d have liked walking around the grounds (in fact, the paths around the lake were closed off due to the strong wind). However, there was plenty to see in the Underground Gallery and the more sheltered areas close to it.
We parked up by the new Weston Gallery, Restaurant and Shop so we could take a look at the Walk of Art. The plates installed last summer had weathered and oxidised, blending in with the ones that had been installed earlier that year.
We set off battling against the wind across the muddy fields of the parkland over towards the old chapel and the Underground Gallery.
We called in to the Chapel to look at the exhibition Something About Paradise by Saad Qureshi, that was due to close a few days after our visit. More about that in another post
The new main exhibition, which had only opened a few days before our visit, features works by the Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. As has been the case several times during visits to the major exhibitions at the YSP, I hadn’t heard of this feminist artist. The exhibition website tells us that she
creates vibrant, often monumental sculpture, using fabric, needlework and crochet alongside everyday objects from saucepans to wheel hubs. She frequently uses items associated with domestic work and craft to comment from a feminist perspective on national and collective identity, cultural tradition and women’s roles in society.
I think that sums up what we saw very well.
The first of her works that we saw as we walked across towards the main visitor centre was this giant ceramic cockerel Pop Galo [Pop Rooster] (2016) which was inspired by the image of the Portuguese rooster.
The sculpture is over nine-metres-high and is covered by 17,000 glazed tiles. It also includes 15,000 LED lights which are illuminated at dusk while a composition by musician Jonas Runa is played. As we’d left well before dusk we weren’t able to see and hear that – perhaps we’ll have the opportunity towards the back end of the year – assuming we’re let out by then!
The large scale nature of this, and many other of her works, means that they’re necessarily a collaborative effort. The role of the artist is more of a designer than craftsperson – rather like that of an architect during the construction of a landmark building.
Moving inside the Underground Gallery the first works we saw this statue of the godess Diana covered by a cotton crotchet
and three ceramic animal heads, similarly adorned.
Moving into the first gallery there were several large works including this giant pistol made of 168 old style telephone handsets with the sound of a modern electro-acoustic composition by Jonas Runa playing. A number of the works in the exhibition incorporate music.
In the next gallery you couldn’t miss these gigantic high heel shoes made of stainless steel saucepans. The work was created for the Milan fashion show
and hanging from the ceiling was this massive work, inspired by the Valkyries of Norse legend, made from fabric and crocheted panels
Another large crocheted work in the 3rd gallery
Moving outside, there were a number of large scale works on display.
This massive mask, constructed from Baroque style mirrors, was on the lawn facing the Underground Gallery.
I wouldn’t mind a tea pot as big as this one! Although being made of wrought iron “lace work” it wouldn’t be so good for holding the tea.
and, similarly, this jug wouldn’t be so good for storing your wine
This gigantic ring, perched at the top of the lawn above the Underground Gallery, is made of hubcaps with a diamond made of whiskey glasses is a statement on consumerism and the greed for material possessions and wealth.
The final work outdoors, sited near to Barbara Hepworth’s Family of Man, was this oversized ice cream cone constructed of plastic sand moulds of apples, pears, strawberries and croissants.
As is usually the case with exhibitions at the YSP, this one merits another visit. Unfortunately the park is closed now for the foreseeable future.
Well, 2020 has been a real “annus horriblus” so far. First the storms in February which more or less kept us indoors, no walks no gallery visits, no theatre, no cinema. And now, to top it all, the Corona virus. At the moment I’m stuck inside on a nice day, work in limbo, wondering how our small training and consultancy company is going to survive, and pondering whether I should go out for a walk while maintaining “social distancing”. Oh well, an opportunity to catch up with all sorts of things I’m behind on, reading, watching some films and TV, DIY (ugh!) and, of course, writing up some blog posts.
Walking during February was mainly restricted to local walks around the Plantations during any “weather windows” that occurred. Just 2 weeks ago I took a week off work, as our son was using up some holidays, intending to get out for some family days out. The weather was awful on the first couple of days but the Wednesday afternoon was looking reasonably promising in South West Lancashire so I decided to get out for a walk by the coast near Southport. The family declined to join me preferring to stay indoors.
I travelled over by train (on reflection that might not have been such a bright idea) over to Freshfields, which is at the northern end of Formby. Leaving the station, I followed the path that runs along the east side of the railway line. I was soon walking through some woodland.
I crossed over the railway line
and was soon crossing the golf course (watch out for flying golf balls!) towards the extensive pine forest on the sand dunes.
There’s a network of paths in the woods and although I had a rough idea of where I wanted to end up I decided to wander randomly, taking twists and turns as I fancied. There were a few other people walking through the woods and several cyclists riding solo or in groups.
Eventually I came out of the woods and started following the path through the dunes in the direction of Ainsdale.
That was a bit of a mistake. Expecting relatively easy going I’d come out in my walking shoes rather than my boots and I started to encounter lengthy sections of the path which were flooded, too deep to consider wading through.
and most of the sections didn’t have conveniently placed (if rather wobbly!) stepping stones to cross on. I persevered, finding ways around the worst of the flooding and boggy areas and I eventually crossed over the dunes on to the beach at Ainsdale.
The sun was shining and the sky was blue but there was a strong southerly wind whipping across the beach so although I’d originally intended to walk back along the beach to Freshfields I decided I’d carry on in the direction of Southport. A little longer but, I thought, it would be easier going with the wind behind me.
The going wasn’t as easy as I thought
and eventually I reached an impasse where a wide channel of fast running water blocked my way. I had to retreated turning back along the beach walking into a strong head wind.
After about 20 minutes, when I was half way back to Ainsdale, there was a path into the dunes which headed in the direction of Southport. I set off through the dunes, thinking I’d either divert off to catch the train at Birkdale or, if I felt up to it, carry on to Southport.
Walking was reasonably easy on a good path sheltered from the wind, but I could see dark clouds looming out at sea which seemed to be rapidly approaching, driven by the strong wind. No worries – I had a waterproof coat in my rucksack.
I carried on, deciding to continue past Birkdale and on to Southport. It’s somewhere with a lot of memories for me as we had regular days out there when I was a child. My fathers parents both came from the Victorian sea-side town and we had family there, including great grandparents, who we used to visit. I think another reason for visiting Southport, through, was that it had fewer costly attractions than the brasher Blackpool further up the coast!
As I got closer to the town I was amazed just how much of what had been a sandy beach had silted up and had turned into salt marsh.
Reaching the outskirts of town I passed Pleasureland, looking rather sad and forlorn being closed for the winter
but then reached the Marine Lake.
Southport was always famous for the sea being a long way out, so the Marine Lake was created to compensate for this and give visitors a chance to promenade alongside the water, so that’s what I decided to do!
I walked along the lake as far as the pier, and took the steps up on to the deck. The wind was still blowing so I decided against walking down to the end (the tide was way out, anyway) and set off towards the Prom, but I took a shot down the pier
Reaching the prom I took some shots of a couple of the sculptures held up high on top of long poles.
(Southport used to be famous for it’s shrimps. I used to pester my parents to buy a cone of them during our days out there when I was young!)
Facing the end of the pier is Nevill Street, where my great grandparents used to live in a flat with a view towards the pier, upstairs in this building
I remember looking out past the statue of Queen Victoria which used to be in the very centre of the road – they’ve moved her over to one side now
At the end of Nevill Street is Lord Street, a long boulevard which some people believe inspired Napoleon III to create the boulevards of Paris (he was exiled there for a while living in lodgings just off Lord Street). I stopped to take a look at the War Memorial. My Great Grandfather’s name is inscribed on it, along with many others. (My great grandmother remarried after the war so the Nevill street great grandfather was my grandad’s step father)
It was starting to go dark now and finally beginning to rain, but it was only a short walk around the block to the train station.
After our visit to the Windermere Jetty we decided to spend the afternoon in Kendal, which is only a short drive from Windermere. Abbot Hall has closed for renovation and moernisation so we won’t be visiting as often as we have over the past 10 years, but it’s a pleasant town with some decent shops. We wanted to restock with some coffee beans and tea from Farrars and pick up some supplies from the Booths supermarket in Waignwright Yard (makes a change from Tesco) and we thought we’d walk up to the castle, as we hadn’t been there for a while.
The Castle was built in the early 12th Century on a glacial hill left behind from the last ice age, to the east of the town. It was more of a fortified manor house for the local barons, than a military stronghold, but it would have dominated the town, looking over it from it’s prominent high position. And it would have been a potent symbol of their wealth and power. The most well known family to be barons of Kendal were the Parr’s, whose most famous member was Katherine Parr, the sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII. Although some locals claim that Katherine was born in the castle this seems unlikely as it was no longer the family’s main residence at the time she was born. The castle was acquired for the town in 1896 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and is currently in the care of English Heritage. Effectively a public park, it’s a popular spot for locals and visitors for a stroll and to take in the good views on a good day.
Although cloud had come in since the morning visibility was still fairly good and there was a good view from the castle over the town and across to nearby fells. There was still some snow up on the summits.
Afterwards we walked down into the town passing many interesting old buildings. I’ll have to make a special visit, I think, to take some photos.
After we’d done our shopping we decided that rather than head straight home and get stuck in traffic on the M6 we’d drive the short distance to Staveley and have our tea in the Royal Oak. We arrived a little early as they only start serving food at 7, but that wasn’t a problem as that gave us a chance to relax with a (non-alcoholic in my case) pint!
Just over a week ago we headed up to the Lake District to visit the Windermere Jetty steamboat museum that opened last year. Windermere Jetty is part of Lakeland Arts, so we were able to use our Friends membership to gain entry. The collection of boats is housed in a brand new purpose built modern building.
The museum has a collection of 40 vessels that tell the story of boating on Windermere from 1780 to the present day. There’s a conservation centre, where boats are repaired and renovated, a waterside cafe looking over the lake and mountains and they also run Heritage Boat Trips out on the lake on board Osprey, a restored Edwardian steam launch.
On arrival we booked our place on a boat trip (there’s an extra charge for this) and then had a look around the main exhibition spaces.
The collection includes examples of steam launches – pleasure boats owned by wealthy families – power boats used for racing and setting speed records on the lakes, and working boats
Th Steam Boat Dolly was built around 1850/60. Originally on Windermere it was transferred to Ullswater where it sank in 1895. It was salvaged in 1962 and then restored.
And here’s Beatrix Potter’s flat bottomed rowing boat!
We broke our exploration of the collection for our trip on the Osprey, which was built in 1902 in Bowness. Built as a private pleasure boat, from 1948 it was used as a passenger vessel for the Bowness Bay Boating Company.
It was a perfect morning for a boat trip. The lake was calm, the sun was shining, the air was clear so we had excellent views over the mountains of the Fairfield Horseshoe and the Far Eastern Fells, where the high peaks were capped with snow.
After a good hour on the water the Osprey returned tot he Jetty
After disembarking, we had a bite to eat in the cafe, enjoying the views through the large windows and then finished our tour of the museum. We had a look at the Conservation workshop
We had a look at the old boat that was on display outside the workshop. We couldn’t go inside but were able to look through the large windows where we could see a couple of the staff hard at work.
We then passed through the boat yard, where there were a couple of larger boats on display and then on into the boat house.
There were more boats from the collection inside the boathouse, together with other privately owned boats that were moored up.
After looking round the boat house we went back into the main gallery for a final look. We’d spent a good 3 hours in the museum and it’s somewhere we’ll certainly be going back to in the future.
Well February was an utterly miserable month and I’m glad to see the back of it. Rain and wind every weekend which curtailed getting out and about other then snatching a local walk out into the Plantations when the rain decided to stop for a short while. Will March be much better? We had a decent day last Thursday and I managed to take a day off work. I’m off this week but so far it’s not looking good for getting out. May even be forced to do some decorating 😦
So, not much to write up lately. But last weekend I got “tagged” by Wednesday’s Child with a nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award –
given to creative, positive and cheerful bloggers by their peers as a token of appreciation and admiration.
If you’re an avid reader of blogs you’ll be familiar with this “meme” where you’re asked to answer some questions then tag some other bloggers and set your own questions.
The “rules” for the award are
Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him/her.
Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.
Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.
I started writing this blog as a type of diary for myself, recording what I’ve been up to so I can look back and remember. It’s worked like that but it’s also been good as a way to communicate and make virtual friends with other bloggers. And I feel like I’ve become part of a little community of bloggers who comment on each other’s posts. So thanks to Wednesday’s Child for being part of that and also in showing some appreciation for my ramblings.
The first tricky one! I’m scared of heights, which wouldn’t normally count as bizarre, but given my love of mountains, perhaps it is!
Which fictional character would you invite round for dinner (or lunch, afternoon tea, breakfast, brunch or any meal of your choice), and why?
Another difficult one. So many books so many characters! After scratching my head I’ve gone for Shevek from Usula le Guin’s novel, The Dispossessed. We could spend some hours discussing science and analysing and debating the practicalities and difficulties of establishing a fair and equitable society.
What are the last 5 songs/pieces of music you listened to?
But if I’d written this another time the list would have been quite different as I’ve got quite a broad taste in music. Besides Northern Soul (I have quite a collection from my 20’s) I might have been listening to Indie music on Radio 6, Prog Rock from my collection accumulated from my 6th Form days, Folk, Jazz or Classical. My Spotify play lists are very wide ranging.
What’s something about your job/field of study that people/media often get wrong or misunderstand?
An easy one to answer! It’s the title of my profession – “occupational hygiene”. Hardly anybody knows what it is. They usually think I’m responsible for cleaning the works toilets, or perhaps looking after teeth. It’s neither of those, of course – it’s about preventing people being made ill by their work.
What is your favourite type/flavour of chocolate?
At the moment favourite is dark chocolate with sea salt
Have you ever been profoundly affected by a book/movie/piece of fiction? (Feel free to share as much/little as you want!)
There’s a few where that’s happened. probably the first one was To Kill a Mockingbird that was a set book for my O Level in English Literature.
What country have you always wanted to visit, but never had the opportunity?
Victoria sponge, lemon drizzle cake or chocolate cake?
Oh dear – all rather verboten as I’m diabetic – but of these three Victoria Sponge with a few extra shots of insulin!
What would be your superpower of choice?
Well we’d all love to be able to fly, wouldn’t we? But I reckon I’d like the power to make people more empathetic, to stop being selfish, xenophobic and racist. I reckon it would be easier to fly, though!
What makes you happy?
Family days where we get the chance to spend some time doing something together with our 2 grown up offspring; alternatively, spending some time on my own up on the fells and mountains
What one thing to do you hope to achieve in 2020?
Spending less time working so I can do more of the things I like to do. I’d always planned to slow down gradually towards retirement when I hit a certain age and start to pick and choose which work I take on. I’m in the fortunate position that I can do that if I want and I’m finally starting to do just that (not easy, mind).
So now I’m supposed to nominate another 11 bloggers and set 11 new questions. That’s not easy as my tag list would be very much like Wednesday’s Child’s. So I think I’ll bend the rules and think a bit longer about that!