Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Bird talk #3

More from our travels through New Zealand November 2019

I mentioned in Bird talk #1 how striking the birdsong is in  NZ,  and  I’m not the first to think so.

When the Endeavour first sailed into Marlborough Sound in, 1770.  The botanist  Joseph Banks  wrote.

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What a thing it must have been to hear, after time at sea.

But the predators that both the Maori and the Europeans brought with them began to have a devastating impact on the birds (that is still ongoing to this day… ) 

But there were some amazingly perceptive conservation pioneers.

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the death of conservationist Richard Henry who pioneered moving endangered native birds to island sanctuaries, to save them from extinction, more than 120 years ago.

I’m bewitched by this image by Ricardo Scott  showing Henry.

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rescuing Kakapo, a flightless, nocturnal parrot.

I’m bewitched by the birds too, there is something so endearing about them, they look so helpless I guess,  it reminds me of childlike clinging of Australian Koalas, that we’ve seen so much footage of in the last few months, as the lucky ones were plucked from the bush fires.  Who wouldn’t want to rescue them

I never saw one of course, they are now very rare as well as nocturnal, but I get a daily fix, in my social media feed each morning.

And I’ve also discovered another way to relive the sounds of NZ birdsong.  And it’s become my go to track to sooth a disturbed nights sleep .


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Time machine

Having seen astronaut Tim Peak’s landing craft, we thought we’d see if we there were any tickets available to see the exhibition of 12 Leonardo da Vinci drawings that was also showing. at the National Museum Cardiff,  ‘Yes’ they said, ‘two tickets available right now, come on in.’

144 of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection are displayed in 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing features 12 drawings at each venue, all selected to reflect the full range of Leonardo’s interests – painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.

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I was surprised we were allowed to take photographs, but we were, so long as there was no flash used. Fumbling around with my phone to take a snap or two to upload to social media, I had a bit of a moment where I realised the phone was about to flash! I quickly bundled into the folds of my fleece, for fear of  a 500 year old de Vinci disappearing like invisible ink, in front of my eyes! (The Banksy incident was running through my mind).

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Was there anything he couldn’t draw or imagine?

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Great feats of engineering and soft romantic portraits

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The anatomical drawings are incredible.

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Not only in terms of the observation,

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but he clearly had a rich understanding of how the body works, which seems a head of its time, as the information  screen explained.

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Leonardo da Vinci, wrote in backwards, ‘mirror writing’ as to why the jury seems to be out, but as a left handed dyslexic, who was made to write with ink  at primary school, yes a ‘dip pen’  it was 1968 not 1508! But I can remember the mess I made, so I can understand why he wrote the way he did, but not how!

And now I’m seeing the teacher responsible for insisting on me writing in pen and ink in this drawing, you get the picture?

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Afterwards we found our way to the coffee shop, to reflect that we had just been transported, from Tim Peake’s space travel, to five hundred years ago, when the polymath that was Leonardo da Vinci was sketching something remarkably like a helicopter all under one roof. Amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Beautiful Blackwell, a Second Look

Shall we feast our eyes on some more of the craftsmanship of Blackwell House? You seemed to enjoy the first course.  I’ve updated the header, to put the house in the context of the landscape.

Stained glass

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Textiles

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The Simpson family, certainly met that brief,

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with exquisite embroidery and woodwork  Rowan berries take centre stage, in carvings

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And iron work

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And of course mother nature provided both inspiration and the perfect foil.

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Beautiful Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House

Blackwell House is somewhere I love to return too, it’s my favourite period house, it seems I’ve not posted about it before, not sure how that happened.  I first visited here not long after it had been restored and opened to the public in 2001, its just south of the town of Windermere in the Lake District

Blackwell ext-1225.jpgBuilt in 1890, by the Holt family who had made their fortune in Manchester, and designed  architect Baillie Scott, it must have been a blast of fresh air after the dark heavy design of the Victorian period.  This is the white drawing room, that looks over lake Windermere, its so fresh and feminine.

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It’s a party house with its large spaces and mistral gallery

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It is full of glorious details,

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With wealthy industrialists coming to the area, to build their new homes away from the smoke of the cities, there was a ready market for the crafts and arts of the Keswick School of Industrial Art 

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Such delicate window latches

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Gorgeous textiles, rowan berries are a recurring motif ,

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It’s always been a place that encourages you to relax, sit in the window seats, play the piano (if able) the National Trust are moving towards this kind of experience, but Blackwell seems to do it best.

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On the upper floor there is a gallery space, that  hosts contemporary exhibitions and displays collections of period arts (these miniature Lancastrian pottery vases are my favourite, Mr Uphilldowndale, says I only want to take them home so I can feed them up)

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Speaking of food, the cafe is to be recommended too.

 


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Two for the price of one, part two

After a night at Welbeck, we travelled on to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

It’s not the first time I’ve blogged about this wonderful place.  This was a favourite exhibition

Here was an exhibition that was going to appeal to both of us,  Tony Crag, A Rare Category of Objects

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Mr Uphilldowndale, likes nice pieces of wood, especially when they are constructed like this

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It’s not all natural materials though,

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Sensuous curving dice

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and pinnacles of steel

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They have a feel of sandstone weathered through the ages, this made me think of the cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney.

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There were also working drawings and maquettes, that illustrated how Cragg’s time spent working in laboratories, provided inspiration, here you can see glass flasks and test tubes, layer upon layer. 

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It was his biggest exhibition to date in the UK, and there were many sculptures in the park. This storm laden sky had me worried about the sculptures ability to conduct lightening! 

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Two for the price of one, part one.

A potpourri of posts, about our adventures and experiences of the last few months whilst I’ve  been a lax blogger. 

August. Two galleries in one weekend.  First stop the Harley Gallery,  at Welbeck.  Welbeck and the Portland collection was somewhere  completely off my radar until I stumbled upon a workshop by the very gifted Mrs Bertimus, which was hosted in studios of Hope and Elvis, part of the creative complex of studios in the grounds of Wellbeck.

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I came home to tell Mr Uphilldowndale all about it; so we decided to visit.

As well as the collection and the gallery, with it’s changing exhibitions.

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The neatly landscaped gallery had some interesting fruit trees, this is I’m told a medlar, I’d not heard of  them before, maybe that is no surprise

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and a golden pear.

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There is a farm shop too, oh my, meat out of the league of the average supermarket.

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We pitched our van on the Welbeck campsite, it was quite, we were the only visitors.


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The Life and Death of a Flower

A potpourri of posts, about our adventures and experiences of the last few months whilst I’ve  been a lax blogger. 

November. A visit to London, to see family and a visit to Kew Botanical Gardens, always plenty to see and wonder at

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What ever time of year we visit

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however I wanted to make a beeline* to Rebecca Louise Law’s exhibition, Life in Death, its an installation, in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, right next to the fabulous paintings by Marianne North

It is created from thousand upon thousands of dried flowers, suspended on copper wire

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We think of dried flowers as delicate and ephemeral, and the effect is all of that, but it is something more besides, there is something enduring too.  I particularly loved the shadows of the flowers

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It is immersive, a path winds through the garlands, people come  in and out of view, now you see them now you don’t.  I think I can see where the existential title comes from.

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Given that flowers were, a long time ago, my world of work, I’ve been long aware of the importance many cultures place on flowers, in both life and death, so it was no surprise to read,  where Law’s inspiration came from.

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The exhibition Life in Death showcases her personal collection of plants and flowers, dried and preserved over a six year period. It is her most intricate large-scale artwork to date and examines our relationship with flowers and plants and how they are used, particularly through rituals.

Kew’s Herbarium specimens, including Egyptian garlands made with dried flowers dating back to 700BC, which inspired Rebecca to make this work, are also on display.

The Egyptian garlands made me think of Hawaiian lei (rubbish photo, sorry).

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We then went on to wander in the Autumn sun,

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I picked up a selection of fallen leaves, I had a little art project of my own in mind.

 

Now, if there is one thing that illustrates the the opposing, but complimentary mind-sets of Mr Uphilldowndale and I, it is that I picked up leaves because they were beautiful, he insisted we photograph them with the name of the tree from whence they came. Creative meets Engineer…

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However, it was all to no avail,  as the plan went a little pear shaped, when we left the bag of leaves in the cafe at Kew Gardens;  I hope we didn’t cause a security incident… Sorry.

* Oh no I haven’t written about The Hive yet, I took those photos back in January…