11 November 2010

Old Salisbury Library and memories of the books we chose...

These are some pictures of the outside of what was Salisbury Library. I can't remember when it moved to its current location. I remember it being a very shiny new place compared to the old one, but being very sad that the library I had visited so many times with my father was to be no more. If I shut my eyes I can picture the interior even now - the turquoise fake leathery (must have been an acrylic as I remember on hot days my legs sticking to them) seventies chairs in the children's section, along with the dark wooden troughs for the books. I remember the light and the smell of polish on the parquet floor. It's there that I remember books by Eric Carle stuffed under my arm, or dropped as they were usually too big to carry! My father would be in the rows of the grown up books. There was a place a bit away where there was huge rows of huge books. They weren't of course... they were just normal sized picture books and novels and magazines but to me as a small child they seemed gigantic. He would always be in the same place, always pick books on two themes - photography and the two world wars. At home I would look through them. See the bodies, the twisted fallen soldiers and in absolute contrast, the glamour pictures of women in the photography books that erred on the side of a bit of soft porn. He would tell me of Tommies and the trenches and sometimes tell me of Wilfred Owen. We would watch Armistice day together and stand at the silence and talk of England and owning your own piece of land. This wasn't a man that had been widely educated, just a cobblers son that had left school when he was 14. It all stuck, seeped into my subconscious and enriched me.

Pictures of the library and my beloved father.

Vanessa Stone and Ted Stone

16 October 2010

Prayers from Ayots St.Lawrence church, Hertfordshire

I had forgotten about these little pictures. I have been getting down to doing an uber back-up today and sifteing through some files, up they came through the ether. I took these a couple of years ago I think when we went to visit George Bernard Shaw's house at Shaw Corner. They started off the gem of the idea of cutting the prayers, which resulted in the "People, Paper, Prayers" exhibition.

Ayot St. Lawrence church is absolutely one of my favourite - a Classical, Palladian inspired gem sitting quietly in Hertfordshire and thankfully not that far from me.

12 October 2010

Camden lettering - a first visit and some lovely lettering...

I have just been to Camden for the first time. I know, I know... the first time at age 44 seems la-la! Its a place that I have always known about and never been. My adolescence was pretty sheltered when I think back. Certainly I had my wild times, but in the scheme of things not that wild! I also have a problem with trendy places. Anything thats percieved as being where to go, where to be seen always makes me want to walk the other day. I hate feeling like a sheep even in unconformity! I do have an obstinate heart. Tell me to jump and I am generally a bit reticent! though peversely I am really enthusiastic about things so I am in a constant state of flux in my nature. Making art's like that though, the flexing between head and heart.

Anyway, getting away from the subject. Camden? It was cool. I actually loved the place. Loved the flow of it, the food and how easy and relaxed it is to just mooch and be about the place. We went down the canal and away from the crowds. It was a special day. And I bought a little plastic tiger that makes me chuckle.

10 October 2010

In it and walking to it - the Imperial War Museum

Walking to the IWM was this blue plaque and my heart skipped a beat!! Captain Bligh! The Bounty!! exciting indeed!

A great road name

And in the museum...

12 September 2010

A birthday, the Imperial War Museum and a blown up car.....

It was my birthday yesterday and the one place I wanted to go was the Imperial War Museum. I have never been but always been aware of it. I haven't any military connections family wise but my father worked for the MOD for a long time and going to school in Salisbury meant I was always used to a squaddy or three being about. Growing up in a Wiltshire village, Winterslow, also meant that I could regularly hear the guns on the Plain, and in deepest North Hertfordshire I still sometimes yearn to hear them again and realise that it's just the freight trains clunking through town. At school, in history, we didn't do anything to do with the two World Wars that I can remember. Our history lessons were all about early Christian life in medieval times. If push came to shove I liked learning about house building and looking at the beautiful jewellery made then, but to be honest the rest bored me rigid. In one history exam I wrote my name and answered one question and got 4% and that really was the death knell for me and history at school.

Growing up and maturity does strange and wonderful things to a person though. Whereas as an adolescent things were more black and white, as an adult my thinking landscape has changed dramatically to include a very wide range of colours and saturations. In experiencing these colours there is a cost of course - there are sadness's, tears and loss - but blowing all those out of the water is feeling more human at a fundamentally deeper level. Growing up is scary as life isn't so clear cut - but oh my God, there is a depth's to feelings and experience that makes me know that I have actually lived.

I think that why I hadn't been to the Imperial War Museum. I simply wasn't ready. I was just too young...and this birthday? I was 44, so no spring chicken. Add into the mix a birthday on 9/11 and the Imperial |War Museum was just the place to go.

I managed to clonk my head on this bomber...
Sitting room in the 1940's house
As I say the Imperial War Museum is an amazing place, full of artefacts that by their very presence and reality makes you think about war. Makes you think about fighting for your country, death of children, of innocents, of greed, anger, violation of human rights and of course in seeing the films and models and artefacts in the Holocaust section, witnessing true evil. I love places like the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum as they are filled with such beauty and history, but the Imperial War Museum has artefacts and objects that are graspable as part of our own history, of our own time. The 1940's house isn't one where I grew up, but my 60's/70's childhood home certainly has many echoes of it with the quilts on the beds, the dark furniture and the odd enamel pans in the kitchen. It's not an abstract place, a place of cabinets that hold treasures that I can't relate to. It's the opposite, full of things to see, read and understand and fully enrich me. I have to go back of course. One visit isn't enough.

Trench signs

Epaulettes from captured German soldiers

 What was the exhibit though that affected me most? has stayed in the forefront of my head as I have been doing the washing up, sorting out the bedrooms and listening to the Archers on a Sunday morning?

It was the car bomb shell.  Have a  read of Will Gompetz blog to find out all about it. It wasn't the actual car that held the bomb, that was obliterated at the time of the explosion. No, this was a car in the street when the bomb went off, the bomb that killed 38 people. All that was left was a crushed and twisted piece of rusted metal, and was just on show in amongst the other exhibits of tanks, bombs and a suspended Spitfire. A really interesting member of staff - Grant Rogers - told me that it was probably a Volvo estate. I drive a Volvo.
If you haven't been to the Imperial War Museum please go , I urge you to soon. Have a look at that car and think what war does.

I just wanted to be silent and look and think.

7 September 2010

A Cambridge doorway

This is so typically Cambridge that as soon as I saw it I just smiled and had to take the picture. Wonderful.

31 August 2010

Three Poems - of sunflowers, sand and standing together

To Clytie

My dearest one (the sunflower)
I know when autumn calls -
leaves and seeds (and tears)
fall to the ground to lay asleep until
the summer sun returns.
And so does he come.
Out of the darkest days comes the burning ball.

My dearest one (the sunflower)
soak up those rays of light
and grow inch by inch.
Be strong and bloom.
Be bold,
show your fullest love,
pull up your head full face to the sun.

My dearest one (my sister)
On each new day turn again,
turn and turn again and see the sun.
Blaze like him.
Love him again.
Live in the rays and
hold your head high.

My dearest one (my sister)
I know,
yes, I know.
He is the song of your heart.

Vanessa Stone © 2010

The Sand in my Hand

Standing with the sun on my back
I can hear the swoosh of the waves
coming and going.
Their movements are as timeless as the sun rising and setting.
I know that the warm dry sand in my hand,
that slips through my fingers
is the most beautiful thing
in my world at this moment.
It's like liquid, the grains joined and intimate,
touching so close that there is no air between them.
I am so happy, but I know in its beauty
I have to let the sand fall through my fingertips.
It must fall away into the wind,
into the air,
into space.
I have no choice.
I long to hold it forever but I know I have to let it go.
And so the waves swoosh
coming and going,
coming and going,
coming and going.

Vanessa Stone © 2010


Let us stand you and I

Let us stand you and I
amidst this mad crowd
in a quiet stillness that
belongs only to us.
And in that stillness
let me always love you.
Let my petals fall on your shoulders
and I will wrap you in silk.
It is my whispered touch on your skin.
Let us stand together, you and I -
amidst this mad crowd.

Vanessa Stone © 2010

29 August 2010

Lettering from the Barbara Hepworth Museum in St.Ives

This photo is from my good friend James Mayhew - the childrens illustator and writer. James saw this when he was visiting the Barbara Hepworth Museum in St. Ives and sent it to me knowing I would love it!

21 August 2010

Doors and journeys and the number 88

Its going to be a funny posting this one. This is a door in Salisbury Cathedral Close. Nothing special in a way, just an entrance that someone thought would be more practical blocked off. It completely intrigues me though this ghost of a door. I have always been fascinated by doors. I have literally hundreds of photos of doors!! Its the designs partly, but its also the whole tantalising story of what's behind the door too. Where does it go? Who is behind it? Is there a whole new future if I was to step through it? How many people have walked through here on the same path? The same journey through that wooden frame? You see... it completely fires me up. Kick starts my imagination. I feel the excitement as I write this, the nervousness, the exhilaration of not knowing just whats through there, just whats around the corner.

This picture, of Hope House in Crane Street in the town, seemed to be saying something directly to me.

I have been feeling a bit weird lately, just unsettled and jangly inside. Going back to Salisbury (to stay over night at the Salisbury YHA last wednesday) always makes me feel better. Its a place that I can just connect to, even though the numbers of people I know there are counted on one hand! The ghosts there, the memories, the knowing that this is where I come from, where my mother is from is so powerful I can almost taste it in the air. Weird indeed. One day I have to return. I know that I must.

This number 88 is in Salisbury too.I love the number 88. Its so perfect,balanced, can be tipped upside-down and still be the same.Its a number of image integrity if you like, has a wholeness that I simply love.

12 August 2010

A Philippe Jaccottet poem

I bought a small book of Jaccottet's poems and loved them instantly. Clean, mysterious... my kind of poetry.

Leaning out of the window tonight
I saw that the world was without weight
and there were no more obstacles. All
that detains us by day appeared, moreover,
to take me through one door after another
in an abode of water, towards something
as frail and luminous as the grass
I was about to enter without fear,
giving thanks for the freshness of the earth.
in the steps of the moon I said yes and off I went.

from Ignorance (1957) by Philippe Jaccottet

9 August 2010

More of the feast for lovers of Lettering at the Shuttleworth Collection

A feast for lovers of Lettering at the Shuttleworth Collection

Yesterday I went to visit the Shuttleworth Collection at Swiss Garden, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. Its a fantastic place, full of early aeroplanes that are simply a wonder with their tensioned wires, varnished fabric skins and wooden carcasses. Labels written by retired chaps from long ago exist alongside neatly digitally printed text and image. Apart from the beauty of the planes there are fantastic logos and lettering everywhere: on the side of planes, on tin cans of varnish, enamel car badges right through to carved propeller made in honour of service by men who have flown and fought. Its a rich place to feed the eye and think about history too, of the men who flew those first aeroplanes and how much was literally flying by the seat of their pants! There is a curious light there in the hangar - kind of warm and other worldly on a humid day in August. The planes are flown, so there are drip trays under most of them and they feel tangibly alive... like a little of their blood has been spilt. I can only imagine that when the lights are off and the hangars are empty of visitors and the engineers, the planes shift just a little to chatter to each other.

So here is a little taster of the lettering and numbers delights I found. Have a look on my Facebook page for me photos of the planes themselves.... and whenever you can - visit the Shuttleworth Collection. Its a magical place apart.

7 August 2010

This caught my eye

This picture caught my eye and made me smile. My mother's name was Jeanne. It was just a little walkway up in Newcastle.

1 August 2010

Being out of the loop in Norfolk and reading Task Force Helmand...

It's funny how just getting away from seeing the same old same old for just a week can do me the power of good. I have just been to north Norfolk for a family holiday. Nothing grand at all... just us four and a little bungalow tucked away in woods and near the lighthouse at Weybourne. No mobiles, no internet and out of the loop. I had hoped to see a clear night sky but the weather was patchy at times and cloudy every evening so that wasn't to be. During the day though there was some blissful sunny times of crabbing at Wells-next-the-Sea and swimming at Overstrand,Wells again and at Sheringham. I love the pebbly buildings in the little villages and the open fields. The corn really was as high as an elephant's eye and ready for the combines. It glowed gold in the sunshine. And of course the sea. How to describe the whoosh on the shingle of the beach at Weybourne? Its hypnotic and comforting and exhilarating in equal measure. All of my worries and sadness's... they could be added to the sweep of the waves going in and out. It's at those times of contemplation that I can tune into the sea. Somehow be absorbed by the sound and the sight of it, my ego seems to slip away for a while. It's a cliche and corny too, but it's a truth, that the - bigger-than-me -bigger-than- everything- that the sea is that brings an inner peace afforded nowhere else.

Apart from the landscape and the buildings and the sun, I saw some quirky, interesting little bits of lettering out and about... and here they are for you to see...

And I nearly flipped when I read this... THE BOUNTY!!! Hms Bounty! how completely cool is that? to think I have walked in the footsteps of a sailor that was on the Bounty. That was very exciting and makes history become real and of my world too.

And set against this was my reading. I read Task Force Helmand.

Its the book by Doug Beattie MC that details his military experience in Afghanistan in 2009. Its an amazing read. Shocking and thrilling and gives a very good insight into what the soldiers deal with and their mind set. I ate it up everyday.Started it at the beginning of the wekand ended it on the last evening,listening to the wind in the trees outside. Its a harrowing read but its written with much compassion and lots of humour (it had me laughing out loud at the thought of our finest strapping men smelling of lavender shower gel sent by ladies of a certain age) and helped me get the tiniest wider glimpse of what's happening out there rather than simply watching the headlines on the telly about another Brit soldier being killed by an IED. My God! they are brave men and women.They are a breed apart I think. I would recommend it to anyone.