Monthly Archives: August 2012

Lazy day and mosaics

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Just a quick post from me today. I am having a lazy day at the hotel before I fly out tomorrow, which has been fantastic. Watching some TV and I finally got round to doing some of that hand piecing. Also trying to catch up on some sleep before my absurdly early flight tomorrow.

What I wanted to post though was some pictures of mosaics and a woven rug. These are from the Um Qays (the rug was at a shop at Aljun Castle). The site is mostly roman but I believe the mosaics date from the Byzantine period. Use of images of people in art at this time seems to vary depending on which part of Jordan you are in. Some areas allowed it, others were against it. The mosaics at Um Quays are all geometrical, and the first thing that struck me about these mosaics was that a lot of the patterns are familiar as quilt blocks. It makes you wonder whether there are only so many geometrical patterns that you can come up with, so people were bound to come up with the same thing, or whether these patterns have been passed down through time, and across civilisations. Perhaps quilters saw drawings of old mosaics and took inspiration from them.

Been all over

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It has been a couple of days since I have had internet access, so I warn you this will probably be quite long as I have been all over, and seen lots of amazing things. I will try to stick to the highlights though.

Friday, after a brief look round the old citadel in Amman, I went north to a place called Jerash. It was quite incredible. It is a huge site. Has two large roman theatre’s which are almost completely intact, and a tangle of other ruins that were in use from roman times, to the Byzantine period.

This is the arched gateway at the site which was built to celebrate the visit of the emperor Hadrian to the region.

The next day I went south to the dead sea.

I have to admit that I chickened out of going for a swim. It is kind of muddy looking. I did dip my fingers in though. I can’t say it felt too much different from any other sea I have put my fingers in. I did see some people floating though.

From there it was up into the mountains to my new hotel for the night. The mountain range was spectacular and it would really be worth a visit to Jordan just for the scenery, even if there wasn’t also loads of historic stuff to see.

The next morning I had a full day at Petra. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about the visit because I wasn’t sure whether it was going to live up to expectations. Not many things look as good in real life as they do all lit and edited in film. However, I wasn’t disappointed. The site is spectacular. You walk through a long canyon and then all of a sudden you round a corner and catch site of the treasury building through a gap in the stone.

If you go in the morning it catches the light in the most incredible way. They must have known when they built it that spot would catch the light just like that. The whole thing was designed to make a statement.

However, Petra is not just about the treasury. There are hundreds of other smaller tombs, spectacular natural sandstone features, a roman street and temple. Most impressive though is this.

It’s called the monastery. It apparently predates the treasury by 100 years, and while the treasury combines influences from about 4 or 5 different cultures the monastery is purely the local Nabataean architecture. In some ways I actually think it is more beautiful. It is simpler, has a kind of elegance to it. However I could just think that because I had to climb 800 steps in 40 degree heat in order to get there. It’s times like that I realise how unfit I actually am.

The sad thing is that as we were going round my guide told me that tourism numbers in Jordan are really dropping off. People are being scared off by the political situation in neighbouring countries. Unfortunately the less visitors they have going through the less money available to preserve the site and do more archeological research. Apparently less than 30% of the site has been excavated.

This morning was a brief trip even further south to the desert of Wadi Rum and then back to Amman.

I have seen a lot of touristy type shops run by women’s cooperatives over the last couple of days. They have some of the most incredible embroidered rugs and throws I have ever seen. I am trying to resist, because my suitcase is already groaning. I don’t know how it got so full because I haven’t bought an awful lot but I really can’t fit much more in.

Amman

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I arrived in Amman yesterday, but since I got in at 2am I spent most of yesterday catching up on sleep. My tour doesn’t start till tomorrow so this morning I went out and had a wander around and got some local currency. Hot and dusty pretty much describes it, and white. Everything is made of this white stone. I did find a mall, but not a lot was open. I’m not sure whether that’s just because everything opens later here or because it is the final few days of Ramadan.

It’s been nice though, to have no schedule for a few days. I am happy just to sit by the window and read, and admire the view.

Victoria and Albert Museum

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I had a spare day yesterday. The quilt fair was finished and one more day till I fly out, so I made the rather crazy decision that I would like to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Crazy because it was about a 2 and 1/2 hour journey each way, plus the train ticket cost me a fortune. I could have flown Brisbane to Sydney for less.

It was fantastic though. It is like a massive maze crammed full of treasures. A quilt from about 1400, the outfit Adam Ant wore in the Prince Charming music video, paintings, sculptures, tapestries and gold, silver and ironwork. You could spend months in there and still not see everything. I adopted the strategy of meandering aimlessly and stopping when something caught my attention.

…And don’t get me started on the bookshop. I could have spent a fortune in there. I decided though that I had better save some of my money and luggage allowance for the rest of my trip.

Unfortunately the only photos are of the outside, because there is no photography inside. Lots of people were doing it, but I decided I would follow the rules. Some of this stuff is irreplaceable and a lot of it is stored in low light galleries and I wouldn’t want flash from my camera to damage anything.

Going into the museum there is actually a tunnel from the London underground. It seemed a bit strange to visit a city and never actually see any of the outside of it, so when I was finished looking around the museum I decided to go out and walk around the block before I went to catch the train back. I didn’t get very far. Across the road from the Victoria and Albert Museum is the Natural History Museum, and in the grounds they had a display of photos from the wildlife photographer of the year competition. They were incredible. There was this beautiful one of an 10 month old baby gorilla. I had a look round that, had an ice cream and then back on the train to Birmingham.

All up, a very good day out.

More Festival of Quilts and Birmingham

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I finally got round the rest of the quilt festival yesterday. There was so much to see, so many little displays and exhibitions tucked in among the stalls. I also went to two lectures.  The first was a lecture by Martha Sielman on trends in art quilting and the second was by Pauline Burbridge, an art quilter, about her work and how she goes about it.

This morning I had my final class, called riches of stitches. It was about using stitch as the focal point of a piece. I am not sure it is for me mostly because my hand embroidery is atrocious.

Once I was done with the class I decided I didn’t need to see more of the festival and I caught the train into the centre of Birmingham and had a look round. It is a really weird city. You have the incredibly modern right next to the historic, and not in a way that merges the two. I wandered round a little bit, did a little bit of shopping, and then got sucked into doing some market research on rice. I probably should have said no, but they promised me chocolate. It was quite a strange experience though because they told me a product name and I had to try to find it on a shelf full of rice.

Anyway, today’s post is all about the pictures really – so here they are.

Festival of Quilts 2012

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I have made it to Birmingham and just finished my second day at the festival of quilts. The place is huge, and packed with people. The first day I spent having a look around and went to a couple of lectures. Despite getting started at 10.30 and not leaving till 5, I still wasn’t able to get round the entire thing.

While they did allow people to take photos, I was a little reluctant to take photos of the quilts because, aside from the special exhibitions, none of the quilts were labelled with the makers name. I didn’t think it would be right to put up a photo of someone’s quilt unless I could attribute it correctly. However, I found out today that apparently the names are in the catalogue, so I might go and see if I can get a catalogue tomorrow.

Today I did a mixed media class, with Wendy Cotterill, for the whole day. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about working with paper.

I am starting to feel a little bit worn out, though think that might have something to do with eating far too much junk. I was determined when I left to try my best to eat healthily while I was travelling, but am not having too much luck. Well, tomorrow is another day and I have almost exhausted my chocolate supply. I just need to not buy any more.Image

These are the paper bits I was working on in today’s class. Now I just need to join them together and decide whether I am going to back or quilt them. That might have to wait until I get back to Australia because it is slightly more transportable as it is right now.

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This is a shot of one of the halls. There are three of them, and the other two have less eating space and are just crammed with stalls and displays.

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This is a view of the England/German stash exchange challenge. People selected 4 fabrics from their stash – which were put into an exchange. They then had to make a quilt with the fabrics they received.

In England

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Well, I have arrived in England safe and sound, though much worn out after the flight. People keep asking me if I am jet lagged, and I don’t think I am. I keep waking up at 4.30 in the morning, but that is fairly normal for me.

I have been very rapidly adding new places to my list. I think I have managed 10 or 11 in four days. Mostly because most places round here are places I have never been before.

I got into Birmingham on Friday, and got my hire car and drove up to Yorkshire. Still getting used to driving on the very narrow roads, with so much traffic. And of course everything is in miles per hour, and speed limits are different. I hadn’t realised how much you judge your speed being right while driving just from experience.

Saturday was a family wedding, which was lovely. Sunday was family lunch (see photo of possibly the biggest chocolate eclair in the world below, four of us were having a crack at it and we still couldn’t finish it) and then that evening a 60th birthday party.

Yesterday we made a trip out to a place called Temple Newsam. It is an enormous Tudor era house. Unfortunately we couldn’t get into the house, but we were able to have a wander round the grounds and visit the home farm (they had lots of cute little piglets).  We also stopped and looked at a new footbridge they have built over the River Aire, near the Castleford Weir, which was quite picturesque.

I am staying put today I think, and then tomorrow I drive down to Northampton to visit my other Nana, then on to Birmingham for the quilt fair.

Big thank you to Uncle Alan for letting me borrow his wi-fi.