Sunday, 18 February 2018

University Towers

I went to Aberdeen University for a talk about creative education last week. The campus is beautiful, especially these; the amazing Powis Gates. The design is inspired by Islamic minarets.
The gates formerly marked the entrance to the home of Hugh Fraser Leslie of Powis and were erected in 1834.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Sustainable Fashion

This year, as last year, I am trying to avoid buying clothes from the high street. Fast fashion is destroying our environment and creating a mountain of cheap, unwanted, poor quality clothes. Also it is a great money saving measure and an interesting challenge. I have cleared out my wardrobe and will be wearing more of my deep stored and vintage items.
Instead I am making or buying clothes second hand.

The score so far this year includes a turquoise cashmere cardi and a tweed jacket from the Clan shop in Ballater and two exercise tops from Cancer Research Rosemount. Total cost £26.
I am currently sewing a 1950s denim skirt with giant pockets, but my big sewing project is a dress for my brother in laws wedding in November.

Things not included are: underwear and nightwear (bit icky second hand) t-shirts (usually wrecked by the time they are passed on) shoes (ditto) and an allowance for a couple of high quality investment buys.

Do you buy second hand or vintage? Or does it horrify you? Are you addicted to fast fashion or an organised shopper? Did you resist the sales?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Moody Mono

Another mono ink to try and catch the foreboding aspect of the fascinating Blairs Museum where I volunteer. Much of the building is empty and looms terrifyingly out of the woods, like a gothic palace. On the left, the museum and chapel, on the right the seminary with papal crown dome, seen as coming up the long drive.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Cookery Project: Italian

This year I am focussing my cookery projects on one cookbook at a time and making as much as possible from it. My current book is 'Gastronomy of Italy' by Anna del Conde, which was I think a gift from the awesome Maria, queen of Italian food. A classic book on Italian food which is also an encyclopedia of recipes and ingredients.

I gravitate to easy recipes which are either quick (for weekdays) or slow cooker friendly (for sundays). I am trying to follow the recipes closely, with the right ingredients and no shortcuts, which is unlike me...

So far I have made: 
Potato and lamb stew 
Spaghetti alla Amatriciana (tomato and bacon)
Beef with vegetables and Lombardy spices
Pollo alla Cacciatora
Tagliatelle with speck sauce( cream and ham)
Beef stew with paprika and sage
Potato gnocchi
Tagliatelle with lemon and herbs
Aubergine parmigiana
Pumpkin gnocchi.

So far the standouts for me have been gnocchi making (fun), the speck sauce (unhealthy but insanely delicious) the spaghetti (super tasty) and the beef stew with paprika and sage ( interesting new flavour combo). I plan to complete the gnocchi classic trio with ricotta and spinach next.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Wall and Window: The Backs of Buildings

I spotted this lovely wall and window on a back road by the ancient Hardgate road in Aberdeen. This was the original medieval road from the city to the Bridge of Dee and then south. 
I love this wall because it is a hidge podge of many materials; brick, stone, cement, all from different times. The ghost of a door can be seen at the bottom. Also, a lovely arched window has been put in but edged slightly wonkily with old bricks. Often the back of a building or a messy or chaotic wall will reveal where older structures stood or where places have been redesigned, the real history is round the back!
I pass this wall often on my way to the Chinese takeaway!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Into the Highlands

Last week I went to an informal job interview at Braemar Castle. Not sure if anything will come of it, but an amazing drive out into the Highlands through wild, lonely countryside. 

This is the castle which sits just outside the village. It is an astonishing, gaunt, fortified structure backed by weather torn hills. Inside it is a maze of spiral stairs, tiny dark rooms, and unexpectedly domestic spaces, quite liveable until you look out to the hills. An unforgettable and evocative place.

I tried to capture all that with lots of wet on wet ink here. I think my art class is really helping with loosening up my work and making me more experimental.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Beautiful Blairs

I have recently started volunteering at Blairs Museum. The museum is just south of Aberdeen set in rolling countryside. The buildings include the remains of a C18th mansion, a stunning chapel and a Victorian Seminary School, pictured here. It is a fascinating place to work with a little known but hugely important collection of art, religious relics and historical objects.