Monday, April 30, 2007

In Memoriam

I went to the funeral today of a friend of mine, Hilda Birchall. She was a member of Luneside Studios, and ardent biker (of the motorised variety), and a member of Regia Anglorum in the days when I was there too. We actually kept up our ethnic Regia names between ourselves: whilst I was Wulfric (which will explain my flickr name) and she was Vigdis [the Bear] know affectionally as Viggi. I also got to know her in motorcycling circles when I rode a DR650. We were both involved with MAG at the time and did many club rides under their auspices. And at Luneside studios while we had the premises on St. Georges Quay in Lancaster her space was adjacent to mine.
Ours was an intermittent friendship. We kept cropping up in each other's lives in these and various places.
Sadly her demise was most untimely, - she would have celebrated her 60# birthday on Wednesday had she lived. She was killed outright in a motorcycle accident at Pilling in Lancashire while returning from a bike club outing.
Her funeral had a motorcycle cavalcade as a cortege and the service was attended by poeple from all that she was; artist, teacher, biker, "viking" not forgetting the Dracs.
She was very popular amongst all she came into contact with in the Lancaster area.

VALE Hilda.
REQUIESCAT IN PACEM.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Morecambe Cyclefest

Morecambe is a seaside town some four miles west[ish] of Lancaster. Today the good burghers of our fair city held a festival of cycling. A mass ride was organised, leaving from the Lancaster Millenium Bridge and followed the cycle way to Morecambe. At the sea front several trade stands and other stands had been set up along with the inevitable heavy beat music. There was a beer tent as well although this picture shows us queueing up for something a little more healthy, - mixed fruit smoothies. The fruit mixer was power from very renewable energy sources. The customers were obliged to ride the static bicycle in the tent. This was connected to a generator!
This example, yes it IS a bicycle, not a motorbike sans engine, helped generate an atmosphere very reminiscent of motorbike shows I've been to in the past. This machine is not very practical. I corners abysmally but its got STYLE! I want one.
Dr Who reckons the Daleks are an unfriendly lot but this chappie, the one without the beard, is raising funds for the restoration of the Winter Gardens theatre complex in Morecambe. I had to pay the Dalek £1 for the privelege. All in a good cause.
Lancaster City is a "Celebrating Cycling" city and has an ever expanding network of cycleways both in and around the city, keeping us away from the motorised traffic. This particular event was to mark the opening of Morecambe prom to cycling by changing the bye-laws and making it now legal to ride your bike along it. The red ribbon was cut and along we all rode. Don't know how many but it took a good hour for the procession of bicycles to pass. Old bikes, very old bikes, museum pieces, modern bikes, mountain bikes, motorbike lookalikes, kiddy bikes, specialist trikes for disabled cyclists, - the lot.
Being in Morecambe gave me a chance to look at the improvements that have been done to the sea front. Its looking good.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Nice Cup of Tea

A lovely sunny day. Got out the bike and took a ride down the cycleway to nearby Glasson Dock, a small harbour village some four and a half miles south of Lancaster at the very mouth of the Lune. I used to take this trip (though not quite the same route) in my motorcycling days. I headed for the same tea caravan at the dockside.
It is as friendly a place as ever. It wasn't long before I had gotten into a conversation with someone. I thought he was a local. He had a pair of terriers with him. But no, he was an angler from Preston come to do a bit of fishing. We talked of this and that, nothing world shaking. He was about my age. We drank our mugs of tea, shared a gigantic chip butty and whiled away the sunny afternoon.
Two pensioners sitting in the sun.
Later we went our separate ways. I rode back into Lancaster.
It has been a good day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tempus Fugit

Dogen said, "Time passes as swiftly as an arrow..." how right he was. Is it really a whole week since my last posting? I have been back from Wales a whole week. Much of the time spent drawing/preparing presentations for future exhibitions, - like next year, - the Art market can be quite fickle. If you are inactive you can drop from the radar prety quickly. I certainly don't make a living at it but I manage to sell enough to finance a trip to Cyprus. That has been the other main cyber activity; finding a cheap flight for this year's trip.
Well it is all sorted now. The flight is booked and I shall be out there from the tail end of September through to the beginning of November. The CYCA studios have moved from Limassol to Larnaka so it will all be a new adventure.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Welsh Interlude

I was down in the Valleys of South Wales last week visiting my youngest daughter and her children at their home in Bargoed. The town of Bargoed is a bit run down. It was originally a coal mining town but the colliery has long gone. Indeed many such towns in the Rhondda and Rhymni valleys have suffered this fate. The old slag heap that dominated the town has had trees planted on it making it into some sort of park. However, the new by-pass is being built and slices through this piece of land. Find out more here.

Away from the urban sprawl that creeps along these valleys there is a secret Wales. This is the Wales the locals tell you about. The land of myth and legend. Within a ten minutes or so walk from Bargoed a bridleway leaves the busy main road under cover of trees and climbs steeply up the mountainside to a hidden valley. See picture above. It is a world away from the town. This, the Nant Llan, can be found on an OS map, the grid ref is SO139021. This particular bridleway, so a local farmer told me, is the original packhorse route from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfyl. In times past packhorses carried imports from the docks at Cardiff into the Welsh interior and slate and other rproducts back for export. Now it is only used by shepherds on horseback and curious visitors like myself. Looking back from wher the Nant Llan opens out into Cwm Rhymni you can make out the town of Bargoed far below.
Walking deeper into this small valley the track climbs ever higher until it crests the ridge of Celyn Brithdir, high above another small town, New Tredegar. On the crest of this ridge is an ancient graveyard with a celtic cross as a centrepiece. It stands amid the ruins of a chapel.
At a farm called Groes Ffaen you will see this Australian sign nailed to a tree. Koalas in Blighty? Must be global warming!
Talking of which, my sojourn in the Valleys enjoyed most un-welsh weather. Wall to wall sunshine and temperatures more akin to the Eastern Mediterranean.

While I was there, in Bargoed, my seven year old grandson showed me some of his drawings. I was quite impressed. They are featured in my other Blog, The Draughtsman.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Headless Woman of Lancaster

This statue, set between Priory Church and Lancaster Castle has already become the stuff of local legend. A myth has arised that she was vandalised by some of Cromwell's overzealous soldiers.
Alas the evidence doesn't support that idea. The statue is either Graeco-Roman or Victorian Romantic. It has weathered a bit too well to be two thousand years old so it has to be Victorian. A visit to the City museum threw some light on it. Its exact provenance is unknown but is most likely Victorian. She did have her head until it was removed by an opportunist with an angle grinder in 1980. The museum arranged for a fibreglass replacement. It too disappeared.
Now she is known as the "Headless Lady of Lancaster". She did rise to fame recently when it was proposed to tarmac over the churchyard and make it into a car park. This would entail removing the statue. There was a huge public outcry of "Hands off our headless lady!"
And so, she has been left alone. The car park never went ahead, - thankfully.
She may not be as old as the castle but she has become just about as famous a local landmark.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

She is not amused

"We are not amused", was Queen Victoria's catchphrase. As you may recall from my posting on March 25 about the Ashton Memorial I mentioned her statue was originally intended to be housed in that building but instead she finished up in Dalton square in the centre of Lancaster. Click on the picture for an enlarged view and you will see she doesn't look exactly delighted.

But she has spent the last hundred or so years looking at the town hall, also a gift from Lord Ashton. I suppose she is getting a bit bored.
Having said all that, it is a fine example of period public art. Lancaster's answer to London's Nelson's column?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Movin' on...



"Life's a Beach" finished on Friday. Took the exhibition down. Not a bad show, sold three. This one featured here is called "Sands". Now I shall have to turn my mind to the next venue. I will be showing again at Kielder Forestry Centre in Northumberland in July. Hopefully some of my Luneside colleagues will be showing alongside me. Also, a bit later in the summer, a venue at Merthyr Tydfil in Wales has been pencilled in. more of that anon, should it come off.

At long last, the cold damp of English winter has given way to spring. It is not really warm just yet, but there is a definite softer feel to the air just now.