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Sunday, 30 June 2019

Wakefield Cathedral's new look

When I last went to Wakefield Cathedral (HERE) it was undergoing a reordering and restoration of the interior, and I promised to go back and see it. That was in 2013. I think the work was finished in 2016, so I'm only a bit late!

The cathedral sits right in the centre of Wakefield and has little around it, no cathedral close or gardens as some have. It was originally a parish church and was designated a cathedral in 1888 when the Diocese of Wakefield was created.

Its external appearance owes much to a Victorian restoration by George Gilbert Scott in the late 1800s. Inside, the recent work saw the pews in the nave removed, to create an open space for worship and public events. The nave was completely refurbished and overhauled and then, in a second phase of work, the East end, chapels, crypt and chapter house were all refurbished.

The end result is light, bright, attractive and welcoming. They have relaunched with a wide ranging programme of worship, concerts and events, aiming to make the cathedral even more a focal point of the city of Wakefield and its regeneration.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

The Hepworth Garden

Opposite The Hepworth in Wakefield is a fascinating old red-brick Victorian mill building. I'm not sure what it's used for now (if anything) but the two so different buildings are a wonderful foil for each other, both very strong in their lines and shapes. In between is a large, open space that has hitherto been no more than a strip of grass. They are now in the process of transforming it into 'one of the UK's largest free public gardens' (though how it deserves that title, I'm not exactly sure).

The garden has been designed by Tom Stuart-Smith, an acclaimed landscape designer with eight Gold Medal winning gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show on his CV. He specialises in combining naturalism and modernity, using sweeps of planting within a defined framework. 

The hard landscaping is well underway, some large trees have been installed and the first small area appeared ready for planting. It's all supposed to be finished by summer 2019, so I look forward to watching it as it develops and matures.

Shown right is an artists' impression of what the garden will look like when complete.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Hepworth light and shade series

I absolutely adore the main stairwell within The Hepworth gallery in Wakefield. It has hidden skylights and slate cladding, which emphasise all the angles and lines, giving wonderful highlights and shadows. I always stop to take photos of it; the subtle differences in light really interest me.

Even the lockers along the corridor (where people can leave their bags if they're too big to carry around the galleries) make for an interesting study in the right light.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Beautiful things

Here are a few more precious and beautiful objects from the Magdalene Odundo exhibition that I liked:

a reworked linen ruff,

a cute little gold alloy duck, that would have been a finial for a staff, dated between AD 500-1600, from the Sinú culture in Colombia,

a small Barbara Hepworth sculpture made of pink stone, called 'Mother and Child'.  It was made in 1934, when Hepworth was expecting her own triplets.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Magdalene Odundo

Kenyan-born Magdalene Odundo OBE is one of the world's most esteemed ceramic artists. I went along to The Hepworth in Wakefield to catch her exhibition 'The Journey of Things', and what a treat it was. There were a number of her own pieces, alongside other historic and contemporary objects that she has chosen to illustrate the influences on her work. There's a good review HERE.

I loved the burnished terracotta vases above. She builds the pots, not on a wheel but by constantly walking around them and shaping them by hand. Then she adds a slip glaze and fires them, with subtle and unpredictable results.
"I work very slowly. I think a lot. I work on pieces like a sculptor. I form, I model, I remodel."

The porcelain 'Three Ashed Bottles' below are by Gwyn Hanssen Pigott (1935-2013), an acclaimed Australian ceramic artist. I adored their simple lines and the crackled glaze.

The pot above is by Odundo, whereas the one below, dated to about 1900, is a traditional pot made and used by the Nupe people of Nigeria, whom she cites as one of her greatest inspirations. She explores the connection between pottery and womanhood in many African cultures; women make and use the pots, and there are associations with the fertility of earth and the female body's ability to serve as a vessel for a child.

I'm not always wildly excited about ceramics, but I did like these very much - such simple, strong shapes. It was also very interesting to see the other objects she had chosen to display and to trace connections and her 'journey' as an artist.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

The Hepworth (again)

I made another visit to The Hepworth gallery in Wakefield to see an exhibition. After being a little unsure at first as to whether I liked its architecture, over the years I've come to view it as a most exciting building, uncompromising in its starkness and yet full of subtle light and shade, both within and without. For once, it was quite a decent day for photos, though the brightest light is always behind its 'best side'. Somehow, it always manages to look more like an architect's drawing than an actual, real building. (Click the 'Hepworth' label below for posts I've done about it in the past.)

Monday, 24 June 2019

There was a dragon...

... in Roberts Park. Well, it was the Dragon Boat Races, so perhaps it wasn't surprising. The event was, once again, spread over three days. Saltaire and the park were heaving with crowds. However, unless you are involved or know someone who is, it's much the same year on year. I didn't really go and watch the races this year. Instead, I walked through the park and took a quick look and then carried on walking up to Shipley Glen, where it was much less crowded, though the music and announcements from the park carried a surprisingly long way on the humid air.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Blue sky in the park

Sunny days and blue sky make for cheerful photos, if not technically good ones. One such day at the end of May, I took a stroll round Lister Park. I always think the back view of Cartwright Hall, Bradford's civic art gallery, is rather more attractive than its front. Lawns at the rear, sloping down to the lake, were covered in daisies. Though they're a common flower, it's not often you see them forming a complete white carpet like this.

The boating lake was an unlikely shade of bright turquoise. I've never observed it looking quite like that before. There were no boats in evidence though. Perhaps the boating season hadn't started, despite the bright weather.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Clean Air Day

June 21st was (apparently) Clean Air Day and I did something I rarely do - joined in a street demonstration. A small group of people, led by the environmental group Extinction Rebellion Bradford, got together to demand the right for our children to grow up breathing clean air. It's ironic, when Saltaire was specifically built by Sir Titus Salt to remove his workforce from the pollution and city smog of the 1850s, that Saltaire Road is now one of the most congested roads in the country, outside London. Measurements of nitrogen dioxide (largely produced by emissions from road traffic) regularly exceed legal levels. The legal level is 40mg/m3. Monitoring last November at the Saltaire Road/Bingley Road junction showed levels of 55.08! That is shocking, I think, especially when you consider there are two primary schools on the road. The school nearest my house has windows that open right on to the road just a pavement's width away. (The noise levels must be horrendous too.) And yes, my house is not far from all this pollution as well. Saltaire Road is regularly completely congested in both directions with slow-moving traffic, including many huge lorries.

The demo was good-natured and orderly, marching up the pavements either side of the road from one primary school to the other. Where there are pedestrian crossings, we stopped and pressed the button a few times, standing in the road when the lights turned red and then moving off when they turned green again. No doubt that would have enraged a few motorists but many tooted their horns in solidarity.

It's hard, isn't it, not to feel hypocritical about this? We mostly enjoy the luxury of cars - albeit mine is a well-maintained hybrid (petrol/electric) vehicle. I do undertake most of my local journeys on foot too and use the trains/buses when it makes sense to do so. I even walk to the supermarket with a shopping trolley 90% of the time, rather than use my car. But even so, I am guilty of being part of the traffic jam on Saltaire Road at least some of the time.

In discussion with one of the more seasoned protestors on the march, she emphasised that individual action can only go part of the way to solving the problem. What is really needed - and needed quickly now, as we definitely are in the last-chance saloon globally on this - is action at government and big business level to tackle toxic air and climate change. There is lots that could be done: skewing taxation in favour of green alternatives, putting more money into research, an end to polluting fuels, a movement towards a cleaner, greener, affordable transport system and so on. It's not an impossible dream...

In the meantime we can all help, by choosing to minimise and protect against air pollution by our own actions: walk/cycle more, use public transport, choose an electric or hybrid vehicle when you next change your car, keep your car tyres properly inflated, minimise those polluting door to door deliveries (choose click and collect!), avoid burning polluting fuels, ensure heating and cooking appliances are serviced and well maintained, grow trees and have houseplants, avoid harmful chemicals in the products you use at home...

Air pollution causes as many as 29,000 deaths a year in this country and causes or worsens debilitating illnesses like heart disease and asthma. Young children, pregnant women and those already frail are especially vulnerable. A street demonstration can't change that in itself but if it makes one or two people stop and think, and if it adds to the growing pressure on our governments to take action, well, I think it must be worth raising our voices in protest.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Favourite flowers

Daisies are one of my favourite flowers.
I love the philadelphus or mock orange shrub too, with its pretty white blossom.

Blue iris were one of my mum's favourites. I have inherited from her several items decorated with iris, including a china mug and a biscuit tin.

Alchemilla mollis, or lady's mantle, look so pretty in the rain as, for some reason, the raindrops bead on the surface of the leaves.

I don't know what the flowers below are. They were prettily blushed in pink and reminded me, for some reason, of shrimps! Can anyone identify the plant?

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Garden glory

Keen gardeners in Shipley opened their gardens to raise money for charity one weekend in early June. Unfortunately it was damp and showery, not the best conditions for seeing them at their best. I had limited time too, but managed to get a few photos. Most of the plots are quite small and it's amazing what people manage to pack into them. Even the smallest garden can have a pond, providing a rich habitat for wildlife. Some gardens are a riot of colourful flowers and shrubs, whereas others make use of the huge variety of foliage to make a more subtle show of colour and texture.

These red and pink flowers are almost like weeds, they grow so prolifically, but they are very cheerful. I think they are called valerian.

Anything daisy-like is a hit with me. I liked the way these yellow blooms were complemented by the natural stones around the base.

Thanks for all the lovely messages yesterday, by the way. It means a lot to me and I'm thankful, so thankful, for all the friends I have through my blog.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Ten years of reasons to be glad (iolus)

This is another image I produced in Photoshop. I've used layers and some motion blur to give an impressionistic feel. It's a bed of gladioli, stately blooms with long colourful spikes of flowers, that were growing in the allotments in front of Salts Mill. They're kind of old-fashioned; I remember my grandma used to grow them in her garden. She used to call them 'gladdies'. Plenty of reasons to be glad... not least that it's my birthday today!

I also realise that I have now passed the ten year milestone for this blog. Ten years! How did that happen? When I started it in June 2009, my aim was simply to challenge myself: to take more photos, to take better photos, to take more notice of and learn more about my home village (Saltaire, which had recently been designated a World Heritage Site) and to learn how to compose a blog. I had not expected to fall in love so completely with the process and discipline of blogging. Nor did I foresee just how passionate I would become about photography or how that would open up the world to me, to learning and exploring. Nor did I realise that I'd make friends through blogging and through photography, some of whom have become really special to me. It's been (and still is) a genuine pleasure and a wonderful hobby. One day too, I guess, I'll be glad to look back on what is effectively my personal journal. It'll make me smile and remember all the good days. And if, as it seems, in the process I am making a few other folk smile sometimes, well, that's well worth it too, wouldn't you say?

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The yellow house

Wales: Have you ever become obsessed by a single photographic subject? That's what happened to me when we were on holiday in Wales. This yellow painted house lies just across the Teifi estuary from the flat where we stayed. It caught the light differently at different times of the day. In the evening light it positively glowed. It was also visible from many viewpoints on the walks we took around the area. I found myself snapping it and snapping it.

Called Bryn-y-Mor, it's a listed Georgian house, built in about 1802 on the site of an older property (Pritchard Fach) for a master mariner, Captain Samuel Jones. It was restored in the late 1980s, but I can't find out much more about it, although on the internet there is a list of names of people who've lived here. It seems to have been a farm for some of the time. It's not very accessible as it is down a private road. Such a beautiful house though and in a lovely setting. I could imagine it being the subject or the backdrop of a mystery novel. Certainly it should feature on that TV programme 'A House through Time'. I'm sure it has many tales to tell.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cardigan

Wales: It was a good walk from our flat upstream along the River Teifi to the Welsh Wildlife Centre and Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve - a return trip for us, as we enjoyed a visit the last time we were in Wales. Run by the Welsh Wildlife Trust, it has hides looking out over the river and areas of marsh and reedbed. It's popular and you would no doubt see more if you went early or late in the day, when there'd be fewer disturbances. Nevertheless we were pleased to see a little egret fishing. We saw them occasionally on the estuary outside our flat but this one was much closer.

The hides are all named and in the Kingfisher Hide we saw... a magnificent grey heron:

and - would you believe it! - a kingfisher. That was a real thrill. We watched it for quite a while as it was sitting on a branch and then diving for fish. It was too far away for a good photo (my lens isn't long enough and this is heavily cropped) but it's the best image I've ever got of a kingfisher. I don't know why they are so exciting as they are not uncommon on our rivers. I guess it's their vibrant colour and the speed with which they move, so that you rarely get more than a glimpse of a flash of electric blue.

After that excitement, it was time for a coffee in the Visitor Centre, though I stopped to capture some pretty pink hawthorn, which is much rarer than the usual white blossom.

The Visitor Centre is an imaginative glass and wood structure, with a nice café on the upper level and a shop and educative displays lower down.