Whimsey and Enlightenment.

It’s been a frustrating week as we are decorating, which is not a popular activity in this house, but alas, very necessary. As part of the room we are tarting up is the conservatory, where I work, and I have been full on with the afore mentioned slapping of paint on woodwork, it’s not been a work week in the art sense, and this always puts me in a mood which can accurately be described as foul.

Still, it’s nearly done, and things will be moved back in there later on, and I can fit in a days work before we wade into the rest of the room, which is really three rooms as much knocking together was done years ago. I never really liked decorating but have done loads of it, but now I think saturation point has been reached! However, I have been putting this off for a long time, and it is looking good; so when my mood improves I will be happy, and feel a good old dollop of achievement too. Other necessary jobs are also about to be done on the house too, and that is a relief, as I had got to a point when I wondered if anything would ever move forward.

Before we got going with the paint and brushes I put two pieces of work together, using some Photoshopped images I had taken of the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum. I will be basing a series of work on these images, combining the museum exhibit with the live creatures, the herbal with the living plants, the collections of natural history with the objects in their previous living or original environment. At least the decorating has given me a good amount of time to mull over ideas as I grappled with the unpleasant properties of Dulux satinwood finish.

DSC_0228Laying the first piece down. This is just over A2 size, with the images printed onto two A3 pieces of Khadi paper, which were cut up and spaced apart a little, to allow the piece to breathe. I drew and cut the the rooks out of painted silk and painted cotton, with added  acrylic painted fabric flowers.

DSC_0229Under construction. I wasn’t too sure of how I was going to use the photographic images, but I am happy with this, and can see ways to use more digital and altered images in my work.

DSC_0230This chap is made from acrylic paint on pink glazed cotton.

DSC_0231The whole piece after construction and machine stitching, with a detail below.

DSC_0233The second piece, below, has a background of images from the British Museum and a natural history display at a local country park. It’s just over A2 size, too.



DSC_0237A close up, after machine stitching, of one of the hummingbirds, made from white acrylic painted calico. Now they are both ready for some hand stitch and the addition of the inevitable beads.

I did have a morning off this week to go to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to see the Rowland Emett exhibition, Marvellous Machines. If you want to see something uplifting and jolly, this is ideal. He designed amazingly whimsical but solidly working machines, including those used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and drew a multitude of cartoons. The fun and inventiveness of it all is built on a bedrock of astonishing hard work.

It’s a wonderfully put together show, and here are a few images, not brilliant as I used my ‘phone, but not too bad either. Every 15 minutes they all get going and the effect is magical, music and movement all around. As a completely non-mechanically minded person, unfortunately I didn’t take after my Dad in that respect, I was astounded.






8 thoughts on “Whimsey and Enlightenment.

  1. Thanks for sharing your work and visit. I just wanted to encourage you as I know that doing blogs etc takes time, I look forward to your posts, it’s great to take time out of my busy day to enjoy your posts and photos. Marvellous Machines as such fun! This is the amazing world of the internet, I wouldn’t have known this even existed on the other sided of the world from New Zealand. Thanks again for sharing.
    I am just looking at using wordpress to set my art website and a blog, not certain whether to do both. I take it that this is your blog stephanieredfern.wordpress.com? Do you have a website as well? Have been doing a lot of looking online at artist sites and think yours if far the best. It is clean, simply to find everything and your photos always load fast.


    1. Hi Jenny, many thanks for your lovely comment. I do enjoy writing the blog but I must admit to getting to a point occasionally when I wonder if it’s all a bit boring for the reader, or even the looker at the images. I think this happens when you’ve been at it a few years.
      I always love the fact that people basically on the other side of the Earth can read and join in though, that is something to be treasured, so thanks for letting yourself be known!
      Marvellous Machines was brilliant, I need to watch CCBB again to see them; I certainly took them for granted as mere props when I saw the film in the past.
      This blog is my blog and website. I did have both, separately, but I think having both, and indeed some people have more than 2 internet presences, was silly. Keeping up two sites, and expecting people to look at both seemed ridiculous, so I tidied it all into one. If you look at the side panel you can spot the Pages list, which is basically the website bit of it all. It’s a blogsite or a webblog really.
      You can just keep it up to date as easily as a website and WordPress allow loads of free space. I don’t pay for this blog, but you do get the occasional advertisement. Next year I intend to upgrade to a paid site, to avoid the ads. This year we need work done on the house first!
      I’m pleased the images load well, that could be WordPress efficiency in combination with your nippy computer I imagine. You can choose from a whole load of templates, still for nothing. I chose the simplest I could find, and then crop and load my own header. It is easy to use, I must say. Hope this ramble was of some use.

  2. What a great comment to read from Jenny. As ever, you are generous with your detailed response. Let me first to say that this blog is never boring for the reader – well, not for this reader definitely! How good to see where the photos from the Enlightenment room are heading. That visit caught my imagination and it’s good to see where the ideas have led you Steph. I’d commiserate about the decorating and say I know how you feel because we’re doing the same thing…. but, my assistant is so good at it, he says it’s quicker if he does it all. Sadly, this means I cannot do any painting with the Satinwood or emulsion. I’m the one on curtain making duties instead with some great fabric I bought yesterday with beetles, dragonflies and the like on. As soon as I saw it I knew it was for us. I’ll stick to the machine and leave the paintwork to him. Good luck with finishing the job and getting your space back!

    1. Still splashing the emulsion etc about Lesley, but it won’t be long before I’m happily back in my space. It does all look so much better though, that’s one of the good things about leaving it for so long there can be no possibility other than improvement.

      I would love to see that fabric, it sounds wonderful.

  3. Love the machines they look amazing! I must echo the comments above that your blog is never boring and I also enjoy sharing the progress of your projects as you post them.

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