Monday, 31 August 2015

Richard Dadd and Dr W.C. Minor

Phew! Back again.

Thanks so much for dropping in.

The Richard Dadd exhibition at the Watts Gallery displays some of his very detailed work.

Bacchanalian Scene

The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke

The Artist's Halt in the Desert - this painting was discovered at an Antiques Roadshow and was bought by the British Museum for £100,000.

Contradiction: Oberon and Titania

Sketch to illustrate the passions: patriotism

My photos are just to give you an idea and I would recommend you look them up on the internet so you can zoom in or go and see them in person.  There is so much to see in every square centimetre. The last photo has the tiniest writing, goodness knows how he could see to do it.

Richard Dadd was born in Chatham in Kent in 1817 the fourth of seven children. His family moved to London when he was 18 where his father Robert became a carver and bronze worker and Richard attended the Royal Academy at the age of 20 having sketched seriously from the age of 13. He won silver medals there, exhibited and had a number of commissions for illustrations. He was a member of the art group called the Clique.

Between 1842 and 1843 he and his patron Sir Thomas Phillips travelled extensively round Europe and the Middle East but Dadd became increasingly unwell initially  thought to be sunstroke and headaches but then to be paranoid delusions and violence with an incontrollable urge to kill the Pope during one of his public appearances.

One thing led to another and he ended up killing his father and being placed in Bethlem Hospital's criminal lunatic department known as Bedlam where he was encouraged to paint.  He was moved to the newly built Broadmoor, a high-security psychiatric hospital,  in 1864 where he continued to paint and died there in 1886. Here are a few more details about him.

His paintings are extraordinary as being inside the Institutions, he just painted what he wanted and not to please the public of the time or for commissions. Although he is known as the fairy painter, there are many other works of his that don't have any fairies at all.

On a totally different track, as I have mentioned Broadmoor, another patient there Dr W.C. Minor played a significant part in the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary and Simon Winchester's book The Surgeon of Crowthorne is a fascinating read about a book we take so much for granted.

Thanks very much for visiting.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Watts Gallery


When I first started my blog I posted about some of my favourite places and one of those was the Watts Gallery in Compton, near Guildford, here's the post which suggests a walk from Guildford station. We decided to go back, by car, and see the exhibition of Richard Dadd's paintings together with the permanent galleries.

The grounds were looking beautiful. Above you can see the sculpture gallery with Physical Energy on view - three full size bronzes were made from this model, one of which is in London.

William De Morgan's beautiful tiles and ceramics and Evelyn De Morgan's paintings had been given their own section of the gallery.

The main Watts collection had been rehung.

As this post is getting rather long, I'll tell you about Richard Dadd in the next one.

We just had to stop for a welsh rarebit in the excellent cafe which is always packed.  They use all sorts of mis-matched china which works rather well.

All so delicious.

I'll have to put the kettle on now, I'll be back in a jiffy.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Chilli Jam Mosaic Monday


It's that time of year. No not Christmas. Not Wimbledon. It's chilli jam time. Get the maracas out and do a little dance!!

Mr CK decided to make it this year - here it is. Ta da!

Nigella's recipe is very simple

150g red chillies
150g red peppers
1kg jam sugar
600 ml cider vinegar

Pulse the chillies, add and pulse the peppers

Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar over a low heat - NO STIRRING

Add the chillies and peppers to the pan

Boil and boil for 10 minutes

Allow to cool

After 40 minutes, put it in sterilised kilner jars

Of course it's a bit tricky to tell if it's set or not!

Jolly tasty on sausages not so good on toast!


I'm linking with Judith at Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Monday, Thanks Judith.

Bye for now.

Friday, 28 August 2015

River Reading


Hope you are enjoying a fun day.

I have now reached the River Thames in Reading, well just up the river at Caversham Bridge.

A pleasant stroll in one direction would take you towards the Reading Festival area and the other way to Reading Bridge and the station, either way you can enjoy all the boats, swans and a pleasant stroll to while away the hour till the next train departs.

Time to go after a very pleasant interlude. Cheerio Reading for now.

See you soon.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Heading for the cattle market

Hello, thanks so much for calling in.

Before we explore a bit more, it's definitely time for a cuppa.  Put your feet up and relax as I stop off at Carluccios for one of their delicious hot chocolates.

Yum. That's better. Suitably refreshed, of we go continuing our mooch through Reading.

Taking a short cut through St Lawrence's churchyard, I noticed this memorial to Henry West who sadly lost his life due to a whirlwind on Reading Station - eek I would be heading there later on.  The twenty- four year old  had been working on a roof when the whirlwind struck carrying him and the roof section 200ft away to his death.

There is a brass plaque at the station.

Pressing on through the shopping streets, this building caught my eye.  Reading is famous for it's Huntley & Palmers biscuits factory, set up by two Quaker families in 1822. The company was 'The Most Famous Biscuit Company in the World'.  This particular building was called the Palmer Memorial Hall after William Isaac Palmer who set up a temperance society to get their workers not to drink. The company looked after its employees' welfare even setting up a sick fund to pay them when they were ill which other companies didn't do in those days. Eventually Huntley & Palmers opened a large factory in Reading employing over 5,000 people.  Production moved to Liverpool in 1976 but Reading Museum still has a large collection of their decorative tins.

Turning away from the shops and heading along the busy main road to Caversham, Great Knollys Street is where we are heading.  The name is a reminder of Sir Francis Knollys, Queen Elizabeth I's Treasurer of the Royal Household, whose daughter Lettice married Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester the Queen's favourite. The family lived in Reading.

Walking further down the road, a house with a cow mural springs into view!  This is where the old cattle market used to be.  Nowadays they hold car auctions there, no cows were available to comment.

Time for another breather before we hit the river.

See you tomorrow for the next instalment.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Forbury Gardens


I'm in Reading again today. Actually, I mean 'today' as in blogwise which is just as well as today, as in today, it's tipping down and everywhere is soaked again. It's also getting noticeably darker at night now isn't it, still I'll transport you to a sunnier, brighter day to cheer you up.

Forbury Gardens, right by the old Abbey ruins, is looking a picture at the moment. There are a good selection of flowers in the formal beds with dahlias and roses dotted around near the benches. A lovely spot for a picnic lunch.

You can see tantalising glimpses of the Abbey behind the fences which keep the public away from the unstable ruins. Henry VIII and his Dissolution of the Monasteries again, I'm afraid.   Hopefully, the area will be made accessible again one day as there used to be outdoor theatre productions within the romantic ruins before Health and Safety took over.

A sneaky peek through the fence.

He looks awfully young, doesn't he?

You can't miss the Maiwand Lion memorial in the middle of the park with a bandstand nearby for summer concerts.

Grrrr! Unfortunately the sun was in the wrong place for a grrrreat photo, it looks like the poor lion has been impaled on the bandstand, sorry about that!

I used to walk through the Gardens to the shops in my lunch hour when I worked in Reading many moons ago. It is as if time has stood still, it looks just the same. Mind you, my workplace has completely disappeared - turned into a car park for the next generation of buildings. Oh well.

The gates are closing on today's post. If you'd like to read a bit more about Reading, click on the label above.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Reading Festival


It's Festival time!

Thousands of people (87,000 last year) will descend on Reading for this year's Festival taking place over the bank holiday weekend, now only 3 days away. It started way back in the 1970s as the National Jazz Festival found a permanent home in Reading and has continued ever since evolving along the way.

Arthur Brown, East of Eden and Colosseum were all headlining there in 1971 but this year it's Metallica, Mumford & Sons and the Libertines.

As I mooched about, I could see that preparations were all in hand.

This is the view of the colourful tents from the station.

This is the station!

Normally it would be packed with Festival goers but there is a planned train strike with no trains running over the weekend of the Festival.  We have been warned that the roads will be jam-packed full around Reading instead.

Hope the weather is good for everyone.

I'll be at home!

Bye for now.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Mosaic Monday Around Reading


It's nice to see you again and many thanks for all your kind messages.

I hope you've all had a great week, the weather here has been a bit up and down again so when the sun came out with the prospect of a rainy week ahead, I decided to have a trip to Reading and see what wazzup!

The Mosaic shows some of the different types of building around the town situated on the Rivers Thames and Kennet. I have done a few posts about it before, just click on the Reading label above.

The first photo is of the Town Hall designed by Alfred Waterhouse in Victorian Gothic style in 1875 photo nine is a detail from the exterior.  Nowadays it houses Reading Museum, a cafe and concert halls.  Local schools can go back in time to attend a Victorian School all suitably dressed up, the classroom comes complete with slates, ink pens and a stiff and starchy teacher.  Someone will get the cane and another the dunces hat but it's all taken in good part.

Photo eight is in Reading Museum and is a mosaic (very appropriate for today!) taken from a Roman settlement at nearby Silchester - Calleva Atrebatum.

The church featured in the second photo is The Minster Church of St. Mary the Virgin and dates from the 11th Century.  Maybe if you zoom in on the picture you will see it's distinctive chequerboard tower.  During the reign of King Edward IV, it was compulsory for all yeomen in Britain to learn archery.  An archery butts was set up on the land in front of the church for men to train on Sundays, some even fighting in the Battle of Agincourt.  This area is where the town of Reading began. The shops in photo seven are opposite the church.

The tower in the third photo is part of the prison which has now been closed but is famous for housing Oscar Wilde when he wrote his poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

The 16 ton cast iron Maiwand lion shown in photo four is a memorial in Forbury Gardens.  Rumours abound that the sculptor, George Blackall Simonds, committed suicide following the realisation that the gait of the lion is wrongly depicted, however he made careful observations of the animals and lived for a further 43 years.

Finally we go all modern in the sixth photo - a recent building is the Blade which has a curving spire on the top - I have inconveniently chopped that off in the picture!  Still you can see it from a distance all around the county.

I shall be doing a few more posts on Reading during the week to show it's other sides.

Thank your for dropping by and many thanks too to Judith for hosting Mosaic Monday.


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Artwork Inspiration


I have found so much to show you on my visit to the Park by the Shops this week! It looks like the students have been very industrious and imaginative with their creations so here is a sample of things on display.

As well as the quilts, there's stained glass,

 and a ceramic bear!

Lots to inspire and a cafe too!

Bye for now!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Magna Carta Quilts

Hello again!

It seems ages ago since my Five on Friday Magna Carta post and in fact it is even longer since the Magna Carta was drawn up - 800 years in fact.  To mark the anniversary a group calling themselves the Magna Carta Quilters have produced 8 wonderful quilts showing the story and legacy of the Magna Carta. They were unpaid and any donations received will be sent to Human Rights charities such as Amnesty International.

If you haven't managed to catch an exhibition, here are the four quilts showing the story:

The squares round the edge each represent a letter and spell out the 39th Clause from the document.

Here are the four Legacy Quilts:

Although my photos are a bit wonky and the lighting conditions varied, I hope if you zoom in you can see all the beautiful stitching.  Each panel is 60" x 80", here is the website giving details of the story and all the people featured.

Here are a couple of close-ups. Look at all that squiggly black stitching to make the faces. Incredible.

The panel below was designed to look like the Thames and area near Runnymede where the signing took place. People can sponsor a square and have their name sewn on. It was originally displayed on the back of the quilts but as the room in the Arts Centre is smaller, it is on it's own.

I've found a few YouTube videos about the making of the quilts.

Now we can all dash off and make one!

Tomorrow I'll show you some other quilts and items made at the Arts Centre that were also on display.

Thanks so much for popping by.