A Raft of Apples

Friday, 13 April 2018

Spring Butterfly

The first butterfly of the year one sees is supposed to tell what type of summer is in store for us all.  A yellow butterfly will forecast a long hot summer but alas it seems as though it might not be what we will experience as my first sighting was of this Small Tortoiseshell taking sustenance from the catkin nectar of a Goat Willow.  It is a pretty sight and deserves its Latin name of Aglais urticae (urticae meaning 'nettle' as the stinging nettles is where it will usually be seen) but Aglais, meaning splendor, was one of the Three Graces, admired for her beauty and is the personification of grace and beauty.  I can just imagine our Small Tortoiseshell flitting around this Spring garden 
By Sandro Botticelli - http://www.googleartproject.com/collection/uffizi-gallery/artwork/la-primavera-spring-botticelli-filipepi/331460/, Public Domain, Link

which shows the Three Graces on the left as imagined by Sandro Botticelli in his painting 'Primavera' or Spring with Flora the goddess of flowers in the floral dress sowing her magic.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Zebra Art

A zebra glistens under the arches and is the creation of the Michael Joo which he called "Stubbs (Absorbed)" which is a reference to George Stubb's portrait of a zebra , an animal which was kept in the British royal family's menagerie after it was gifted to Queen Charlotte.  Joo was struck by the zebra's incongruous English countryside setting in the painting.
It may not be obvious in my photographs but Joo's zebra has a highly reflective surface which is meant to absorb the external environment of the sculpture and he says he would love to exhibit it in a forest.  Stubb's 1763 portrait was so detailed that zoologists from a later century could identity it as a Cape Mountain Zebra, the smallest of the species.
The mountain zebra was the choice of another artist so it must have been why Jonathan Kingdon's "Hartmann's Mountain Zebra" was placed nearby. There is a bit of a scientific dispute as to whether the Cape and Hartmann are two similar distinct species or the same one. The person to ask would definitely be Jonathan Kingdon for not only is he an artist and sculptor but also a zoologist and science author. It was while putting together his 'An Atlas of Evolution in Africa' that he asked himself the question - what are zebra stripes for? He continues "After months and years of observation in many parts of East Africa and quantitative experiments with painted stripe panels I concluded that stripes, for zebras, had become a sort of bonding device... served to make any zebra attractive. An important quality in the progressive socialisation of a famous curmudgeonly mammal"

I like the sweeping mane on the sculpture and whatever the zebra stripes are for they are always mesmerising so here is the real thing - Hartmann's Mountain Zebra. 
Equus zebra hartmannae - Etosha 2015.jpg

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at Z here

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Xmas Star

I had nothing for this week's ABC Wednesday's Letter X until this shone into view on Saturday evening, an Xmas star. 
Well it must be said I could hardly miss as star standing 25ft high with 19,000 twinkling lights.

Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and Winter Solstice 
An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at X here

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Water of Life

For the 900th Anniversary of the foundation of the Benedictine Abbey of St Werburgh in 1092 in Chester a sculpture was placed in the Cloister Garden of  what is now a cathedral but is where once monks walked and drew their water supply at the centre of the abbey.
The inspiration is the story of Jesus and the woman of Samaria  and a quote from the Gospel of John is inscribed around the outside of the plinth - Jesus said "the water I shall give will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life"
The cathedral cloister passage windows can be seen in the background.
and the garden is as popular place to sit and walk as I imagine it was all those hundred of years ago for the monks. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at W here

Tuesday, 28 November 2017


 Here is Ellis O'Connell's "Capsule for destinies unknown" (2017) and a little girl with a balloon is starting her own journey.  This object was in the grounds of Chester Cathedral as part of their ARK exhibition and O'Connell made a sculpture for the event that she thought was relevant to the idea of shelter and refuge in these uncertain times.  It references the refugee crisis and also the sale of arms to repressive regimes.  So it could be a torpedo or escape pod take your pick.  The start of the apocalypse or the escape from it.  The material is corrugated galvanised steel and polycarbonate sheeting and as she says "humble everyday materials often used to make temporary living spaces".

Or perhaps this object has brought visitors from another dimension for nearby
are two of Lynn Chadwick's steel Beasts. In the foreground, Rising Beast (1989) and Duttan's Beast (1990) named after one of Chadwick's friends.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at the letter U here

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Land Rover Rebellion

Travelling the country lanes of County Wicklow in the second week of our holiday in Ireland we kept spotting groups of old land rovers barreling along in the distance and then we happened on one outside Avondale House, once the home of the Irish politician Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891) land reformer and leader of the Home Rule League.  The house and its 500 acre forest park, full of tree trails and walks, is justifiably a popular attraction.   Why the Land Rover was parked by the house I don't know but from what I can glean a hundred of the Land Rover Series One Club was having an event in the area. These were Land Rovers produced from 1948-53.
Then we came across another one in the town of Arklow.  We thought the rather grand renaissance revival building was the town hall but it turned out to be St Mary's and St Peter's Church.  The Land Rover is parked by the Michael Murphy Monument, a catholic priest and United Irishmen leader.  He was shot and killed here at the Battle of Arklow as he lead an attack on horseback in the 1798 Rebellion (the town of Arklow was British held).  One of the banners taken into battle said "Liberty of Death".  The rebellion was inspired by the American and French Revolutions.
Disappointingly no Land Rover here in Aughrim but there is a memorial which was erected for the bi-centennial of the 1798 Rebellion.
And the added bonus of the An Post van outside the Aughrim Post Office and general store. My favourite design on the An Post's Renault vans was the flying postman with a parcel but unfortunately
the nearest I came to getting a picture was of this one as it overtook us on the road.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at R here 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Bannishead Quarry

There are many remains of the slate quarries around the Coniston area of the Lake District but in this view  nature and industry have colluded to form a watery oasis, with a little help from two schoolboys in the 1950s. This is Bannishead Quarry, sometimes also called Tanearth Quarry, the different names because it lies between the two areas on the fellside.
The sloping area to the right of the waterfall is where once the slate was hauled up from the quarry below, there was no waterfall then.  I hope you can make out the waterfall for the day was drizzly and misty not really the best conditions for my pocket camera. Torver Beck rushes down the mountain to one side of the quarry and those original quarry men took care to block off its natural inclination to run downhill towards this hole in the ground.  The mine was abandoned as the slate ran out and the years passed until our two schoolboys roaming the fells decided to remove the stone slab stopping the beck running into the quarry and with much determination eventually their task was achieved, they stood back to admire their handiwork and see the a small trickle turn into a waterfall.  The story is told here   The quarry filled with water and today it is about 6m (19ft 6ins) deep and although the perimeter is fenced off it still remains a draw for schoolboy adventurers in summer to dive into it.  The water remains at a constant level because of the sandstone layer that lies with the slate.

I didn't take any photographs of the old slate spoil heaps which the path weaves through
but here it is one in miniature, the cairn marking the pathways at the bottom.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at Q here