Monthly Archives: June 2013

Summertime

The English are defined by their summers. By the time we get to June the first complaints strike everyone’s lips – When will it ever stop raining? We’ve not had much of a summer? We need a bit more sun!

 

We spend the winter months hoping for the right weather to take part in all the things we love. Things like walking around other people’s gardens, touring around other people’s houses, walking through places we have never been before to discover the things we have never known. And every weekend from June to October there are many private houses, grand and small, which open to the public just one or two days a year to raise money for charity, and although they can be enjoyed in the rain a hot sunny day makes the outing more exciting.  

 

For the last seven years summers have been dull, August particularly dismal, the moment term ends in July the rain comes every single day. And recognising that the weather might follow a similar pattern this year we decided to take every possible advantage to adventure out in June. Last Sunday we made the acquaintance of Kirklinton Hall and the wild surrounding landscape which the guide describes as gardens. Once it was a palace but now the empty shell of this beautiful building sits like a sandstone crater at the side of a meandering river, conjuring up dreams of what might have been. Ruins have such impact, such enigma attached.

 Image

We met the owners, distributing the mandatory tea and cake, and talked of their plans to re-build the hall, to re-instate its former glory. And we learned something of its history. Once there was a castle, just beyond the gardens, but being on the fringes of the Debateable Land it met its demise in the fierce Border Wars back in the sixteenth century. Anyone familiar with those lawless times will be interested to know the stronghold then belonged to the Musgrave clan. But when the current building was raised England and Scotland shared a ruler. Its final claim to fame is that it sheltered a more dubious London family, the Kray twins. The house was an unlicensed casino in the fifties and sixties and whenever the ‘twins’ found it necessary to ‘lay low’ they hot-footed it to Kirklinton. If only walls could talk? 

 Image

Our day was only tested by the Faerie Glen. We set off down to the woods with the map provided and tried to identify the whereabouts of the host of faeries known to inhabit the trees. Reuben (aged 2) and Oscar (aged 4) crawled and climbed through the undergrowth in search of the little ladies but I think they heard them coming. We only managed to find about half the resident population, but what memories! We followed the path by the river until we came to a natural ‘beach’ where the boys paddled and played while we lazed in the sunshine and watched the buzzards wheel overhead. Such stuff as summers are made of.

 Image

If you want to learn more about Kirklinton Hall you can go to: www.kirklintonhall.co.uk

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Five Things You Should Know About Engaging With an Editor

Five Things You Should Know About Engaging With an Editor.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Creative Hands

Image

Apparently craftspeople can no longer be considered as creative according to the latest government think tank given the task of Classifying and Measuring Creative Industries. As someone who has spent most of her life working in crafts based industries I am confused. This change of status is based on the idea that a craftsperson is a manufacturer who does not apply any ‘creative input’ when making their wares, we merely follow a set of procedures. However the same paper gives the status of ‘creative’ to desk dwellers like Town Planners and IT consultants. Could this be down to a kind of snobbery about people who work ‘with their hands’?  

 

My brother-in-law was a town planner. He taught at East Anglia University and during his career researched and wrote several ‘white papers’ for the government. He was one of the team responsible for the Chelmer System of town planning which is used throughout the world but he would never consider his profession as creative as that of his brother Michael, a designer jeweller. In fact Dave considered his work scientific, always based on solid research.

 

Perhaps it is inevitable that as society develops a sedentary lifestyle it loses touch with the source of its wealth, the core of its culture. Without the hand skills employed in making crafts the Renaissance just couldn’t have happened. Guttenberg, acknowledged as the first printer, began working as a jeweller, and it was through his knowledge of manufacturing techniques he discovered how to make moveable typefaces and eventually print books at a fraction the price.

 

The first techniques to be learnt by any jeweller are the means of working metal. Precious metals require a huge variety of basic skills, such as drilling, milling, sawing, carving, chiselling, and grinding. Many hours of practise are required to become skilled in methods of cutting metal before proceeding to more advanced applications.

 

Lost wax casting was used by the Egyptians. An expendable mould is formed around a model that is also expendable, the main substance used being wax or a composition in which wax is a major ingredient. This can be removed from the mould with low heat without damaging the mould. In its place is left a void or mould cavity that is then filled with molten metal which replaces the wax and takes on its former form. Guttenberg realised a new use for an ancient technique and ‘tah-dah’, he kick-started the Reformation.

 

Archaeologists and anthropologists tell us that fibre technology preceded textile weaving which in turn preceded metal technology probably by thousands of years. It is not surprising that some of the skills gained in using fibres transferred to metalwork, fibres used in basketry are round in form, such as reeds and rushes, or flat strips, as in plant leaf strips, or wood. I believe it is the character of craftspeople to be constantly exploring new methods of making, to experiment with different concepts and designs, but they do not separate the work of the hand to the workings of the mind. A true master does not need to make such distinctions.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized