Category Archives: Art

The frozen North

I don’t like posting personal things on this blog, but I’ve had one of the most stomach droppingly horrible times of my life in the past few months, and I am struggling to put into words everything I want to express. I sort of feel like I should write something. I’ve had this blog since I was a teenager and I regret not having written something about the most momentous events in my life which have happened since then. But I just don’t seem to be able to, I’m not one of nature’s tweeters or bloggers. So instead I’m posting a couple of pictures, and they’ll have to stand in for everything I want to say about sadness, love, isolation, the spirit of adventure and restlessness.

You huffy, puffy, loosey-goosey excuse for a whimpering whining wuss of a witness!

Here are some cool things from the internet!

A crazy kiln:

Crazy Kiln

And also some art:


“Can’t make the woman out at all, myself. Know what she said to me this morning? Asked me if I’d slept well, and when I told here that it beat me how anyone could sleep at all, with a dashed lot of cockerels crowing their heads off, she said that rural sounds exhilarate the spirit, and do something or other to languid nature!”

“Cowper,” said Kitty, in a depressed tone. “‘Restore the tone of languid nature.'”

“Well, it’s a bag of moonshine!” said Freddy. “What’s more, I always thought so! … It’s my belief, Kit, the woman’s touched in her upper works.”

“No, she is merely addicted to poetry,” explained Kitty.

“Well, that just shows you!” said Mr Standen, reasonably.

Oh Freddy! For you I’d give up my favourite most comfortable pair of pyjamas with the holes in and wear nothing but the most uncomfortably and beautifully tailored clothes forever. Continue reading

Strikes my soul with wild alarm

I saw the original of this once in London at a Millais exhibition, it absolutely took my breath away. It’s one of the most beautiful and detailed things I’ve ever seen, it glows so much it feels realler than real, if you know what I mean. I occasionally think about it and always thought it was the Lady of Shalott, even though she was looking out the window. I just looked it up and it’s actually supposed to be Mariana, from Tennyson’s poem. Which actually, I love, so that’s quite a revelation. It’s so cool how you can look at a painting like this, or read a poem, and … and… It’s like the most amazing music sweeping you up and carrying you away in its strong manly muscly sexy arms, it’s like:

Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!
Reject me not into the world again.
With you alone is excellence and peace,
Mankind made plausible, his purpose plain.
Enchanted in your air benign and shrewd,
With limbs a-sprawl and empty faces pale,
The spiteful and the stingy and the rude
Sleep like the scullions in the fairy-tale.
This moment is the best the world can give:
The tranquil blossom on the tortured stem.
Reject me not, sweet sounds; oh, let me live,
Till Doom espy my towers and scatter them,
A city spell-bound under the aging sun.
Music my rampart, and my only one.

The evolution of the painted cat

To paint a cat, you can’t just reproduce its image – for some reason ceramic seems to lack the gravitas of paper. You try to paint a cat realistically and you get something offensive to cats – a generic image that says ‘painted cat’. To paint a cat on ceramics, then, and not insult all felinity, you have to capture its essence. And the essence of a cat is personality.

More prosaically, the other thing to keep in mind when painting a cat on a bowl or a plate or any ceramic item is proportion. It has to really claim the space (if it’s an open surface) or compliment the form (if it’s a closed or cylindrical surface). Because every painted mark is permanent, it’s quite easy to get this part wrong!

Otherwise, all you need is a paintbrush, some oxide or underglaze and a fondness for cats.

Here is where there should be a photo gallery of painted cats, showing a range of more- and less-successful efforts. But all I have to offer are the following two images:

This cat knows how to pose for a photograph, but the photographer has left a lot of white space…

Also, the glaze is too thin, so the end result is a bit watered-down looking. Will have to have another go at this one. It needs to be bolder and the blue needs to be richer to do justice to this noble looking specimen (he looks just like Vladimir Nabokov’s father – I refer only to his expression, of course!).

I like this bowl quite a lot. This cat has found a comfortable spot to curl up, and is trying her best to be inconspicuous, but those stripes are pretty strong! I bet she’s a great mouser.

Underwater pictures with DiCAPac

I’m pretty impressed with the DiCAPac underwater camera case – considering how cheap it is the quality of pictures are great. As the reviews on amazon say, it does take a bit of fiddling to get the lens in the case aligned properly, and some of my pictures ended up having the case lens protector in them – I kinda like the effect though. I experimented a little bit in one of the lakes in the mountain and I’m quite excited about it. I really want to try it snorkelling in sea water now.

This blog, flickr and youtube

This has turned into a very boring and impersonal blog about Drupal shortcuts! I should really do something about that. It’s really quite hard to work out what to write about – personal stuff doesn’t seem appropriate for something that future employers might read, but it’s difficult for me to write about things which interest me without them having personal elements. So I think, all in all, I’m going to stop worrying about that and just write about whatever I feel like. After all, I’ve got to harness my vitriol somehow (I have a rant about the quality of writing in 9 hours 9 persons 9 doors bottled up that I really ought to expunge for a start).

So, working in one of the most beautiful botanic gardens in the world (Kirstenbosch, Cape Town), I have been trying to take up photography again and set myself a challenge of taking 3 images that I am happy with per week. I’ve been a bit distracted because what I really want to do is explore the beautiful reddish-brown colour of the water in the mountain streams, and I’ve been looking at cheap underwater camera cases on Amazon. I did try taking a photo with my camera wrapped in a clear plastic bag (because I’m impatient and I’d have to order it from as there is no, but it wasn’t great and was kinda blurry:


I love the red colours and the quality of the sunshine in the water – the colours really are like that, I’ve not photoshopped it or enhanced it at all.

Anyway, the point is that I’m setting myself a goal – to upgrade this blog because goodness knows what version of wordpress it’s running on, to theme it so that it’s got my flickr feed ( and also my little kitty cat’s youtube channel 🙂, because, honestly, I’m not just some kind of Drupal/programming nerd!