Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Home from England--West Dean adventure ended with more than expected!

Thousands are still stranded at Gatwick, from what I read in the BBC news this morning.  Others at Heathrow.  Absolutely distressing situation and I'm both so very glad that I made it home on Sunday--and so guilty that I was one of the lucky few.  I don't know if my friend, Diana, is back in Dublin yet--her flight was supposed to leave Monday.  Is Warren still at Gatwick as well or did he finally get back to the States on Sunday?

A few photos from the return... these by no means show the state of the whole situation.  I learned, by the way, that apparently if one makes photos from a departure lounge of the view from the window--of plane de-icing and overviews of the runway--that one then becomes subject to both full body search and bag inspection even through I'd already been admitted into the area with my boarding pass.  I enjoyed two full body searches while trying to depart, in fact... once going through security for the flight that was scheduled after the cancelled one, then the one at the departure gate.

It was bright and sunny as I left on Friday afternoon.  I stayed overnight at a hotel near Gatwick so that I could get to the airport by 6 a.m. on Saturday morning as it was recommended to arrive three hours in advance of the flight departure--scheduled for 9:15 a.m. on December 18.

We drove off with a cheery farewell from Magenta, LouLou and Diana
On the way to the hotel near the airport snow began to fall.  It had stopped by arrival and I spent a calm evening in my comfortable hotel room near Gatwick.  I got up at 4 a.m. on Saturday to get myself together for the short trip to the airport... gave myself the luxury of a taxi after standing in the slush and freezing conditions for several minutes waiting for the airport shuttle bus that was to arrive every twenty minutes.  The snow had gotten worse through the night although it wasn't snowing at that point.  After arriving at the terminal, I checked in easily and was on my way... I thought.

Our plane was to begin boarding at 8:20 a.m. and was to depart at 9:15.  We actually were allowed onboard later than expected and by about 9:45 this was the view from my seat inside the plane as the snow got heavier and heavier.  The pilot said we would wait while the plane was de-iced and the runway clearer.  Then he said more de-icing would occur.  After about an hour all of the passengers feared the worst... that we wouldn't be able to take off after all.  And that was indeed the case.  We were unloaded from the plane after a couple of hours, told to be at the gate at 5:30 the next morning (Sunday, December 19) and that our flight was rescheduled for ll a.m. 

Here's what a parking area looked like from a breezeway between the gate and the terminal... snow continued to fall through the rest of the day.

One view of one area inside Gatwick... this was one of the more comfortable areas because there  shops and cafes around.  Food was running short by the morning in most of the places, though.  There was limited seating and most shared the spaces graciously.  However, there were instances of people lying across several seats.  I have no photos of all of the people lying in the floors.  There were a few blankets--but those were ones passengers had taken off the planes with them.  I regretted leaving mine behind!

Warren, on the left, and Diana, in the center, came from the South Terminal where their flights were cancelled to the North Terminal to find me.  We met the woman at the right, Georgina, when we had a snack at the bar.  She joined us throughout the evening.  She was having little success of finding information about her flight.  People were forming small group relationships all over the airport, small "tribes" to look out for each other--share watch over luggage when going to the toilet, for instance.   

On Sunday morning, after being in long lines for many hours, first to get the boarding pass needed to re-board the previously cancelled flight,  we then pushed through the hundreds of others waiting for their turn for boarding pass to get in the next long line to go through security once more.  We overheard one of the airline employees referring to us who were herded between the stanchions  as "those in the pit" -- it felt more like cattle in the chutes.

Through all of this during the day on Saturday and throughout out the long night until Sunday morning there was mostly calm resignation.  Our flight, scheduled to leave at 11 a.m. was finally in the air by around 1:30.  However, we had a long delay in boarding because the airline OVERSOLD the flight by twenty tickets!!  Once the announcement was made of that fact and that Delta was offering $1000 Delta dollars (whatever that means), plus overnight lodging (like, right--a hotel room was available anywhere and even if it was... could one get to it??), plus a ticket for a flight the next day (guess where those people still are now???!) for 20 people to volunteer to not be on the plane, a near riot broke out among those of us who'd been on the plane the day before and had to leave it--a plane that hadn't been overbooked then.  Of course I know people were desperate to get away--but for the airline to continue to sell tickets was unbelievable.

Eventually there was resolution... don't know what it was--did "volunteers" appear or did the Delta delete the passenger(s) if they'd bought their tickets later.  I wish them well but those of us who spent the long day and night at the terminal were desperate to leave.  When the plane finally lifted off the ground there was a spontaneous applause throughout the cabin.  And almost nine hours later, after a very smooth flight, there was even more applause as the plane landed in Atlanta.  Unfortunately for thousands of others, continued cancellations have caused more delays.  This news report with short video shows some passengers three days into their stay at Gatwick.

I'm so very glad to be home and I hope all others will make it home safely and soon.  My West Dean TAPESTRY adventure postings will continue eventually with more photos and comments.  But for now...

Happy holidays--safe and warm ones--to all of you.  I hope you are where you wish to be and I hope others will be there soon.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

still at Gatwick airport--11:25 p.m. Dec. 18

Snow as the plane was to leave... delayed at first, then cancelled.  Spending the night with thousands at Gatwick Airport.  Supposed to leave 11 a.m. on Sunday... over 24 hours after schedule.  Still awake and will be for some time to come!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Left West Dean this afternoon... still waiting to get home.

I have hundreds of photos in the computer from West Dean... just hope to get home to sort through them all and post a few (not hundreds, don't worry!)

Right now I'm at a Premier Inn across from Gatwick Airport.  I was picked up by taxi at West Dean College this afternoon and after an hour and a half drive (through snow part of the way) got to the hotel.  I'm settling in now for the evening and will be up and out of here by around 5 a.m.  Check in is recommended three hours prior to boarding and boarding time is 8:20 a.m. UK time.  Flight's supposed to leave at 9:15.  HOPE IT DOES!  I'm ready to get home, see husband and cat, get some rest, then get ready for visit from friends for the holidays.  Of course, the studio calls to me at home and I'm ready, willing and able to get there and get busy.

What have I learned at West Dean?  More to come about that...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

West Dean College in the SNOW!

Lots and lots of snow... about 9 or 10"--beautiful but COLD!  This is what I saw when I looked out my window around 7 this morning:

Leaving the main house, the men were working to clear some bit of the drive...

Walking to the studio was a bit of a challenge without boots... 

... here's Diana, struggling through the snow in the garden...

but got there to find... that Pat was there before us--here she is waving from her office window...

She'd scraped the path to and between the tapestry and painting/sculpture studios and salted it...

Lunch was what was on hand at the studio today--didn't want to brave the elements again until the end of the day...

and so, spent most of the day weaving.

We'd had a London trip scheduled today but that was obviously postponed.  Next week, perhaps, for the trip.  My time here is now growing short... 15 more days.  Lots to do in the time remaining!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Third week at West Dean--Thanksgiving tomorrow

I haven't posted in a few days because the time is flying by with many things to do. But it's 8 p.m. and I've decided not to go back to the studio tonight because is so cold!  So I thought I'd spend some time with iPhoto and select a few photos from the past few days to post.

I am away from home for the first Thanksgiving that I can remember and I hope my husband has a great time with friends and family tomorrow. I'll be going to an aesthetics lecture in the morning and then to the studio for the afternoon. Many of the U.S. students are having a Thanksgiving meal tomorrow night but I'm not going to that. The reservations were made by those who were here during the first six weeks before I arrived (although I'm sure I could find a place)--but choosing to come to this six weeks session means I've also chosen not to have a Thanksgiving celebration with my own family & friends. I'm sure the other U.S. students will have a great time together tomorrow night--but I'll have a great time at dinner with everyone else, being very thankful that I'm here at this place and in this time--a once in a life-time experience for me in which to be absorbed.

Last Saturday I rode into a nearby town, Midhurst, with LouLou... here she is as we began the trip. She drove to town with another student from the tapestry & textile art program, Diana; her daughter, Meg who was visiting her for the weekend; Warren (who's in the stringed musical instruments program), and me along.
Here's a shot of Warren, Meg and Diana (who you can just see through the car seat headrest) in the back seat of LouLou's car as we began the trip
We arrived in a short while and LouLou found a place to park right away. We began walking the streets looking in local charity shops and antiques shops, as well as a few other places from which we needed supplies.
I didn't stop here but the pigs in the window were too good to pass without a photograph
Marmaduke's proved to be a wonderful place to wander and wonder. Warren found a great vintage top coat and I think a few other things were bought, as well...

... here are Diana and her daughter, Meg, checking out.
LouLou left us in Midhurst and we continued to shop. We caught the bus back to West Dean in time for lunch.
Later on Saturday I put a warp at one side of one of the large scaffold looms in the studio, then got the leashes on the next day.
I've not yet started weaving on this loom but will probably be ready to do so by tomorrow or Friday. I've been working on more samples in the meantime, along with several other things on the schedule.

Friday, November 19, 2010

West Dean -- another day

It's so hard to believe that I left home two weeks ago today! Only four more weeks here for me now although my colleagues in the T & TA studio will be here for the rest of the academic year (and some beyond) as they finish their degree programs. The four others in the studio-- Erica, Diana, LouLou and Magenta--have accepted me into their midst with hospitality. They all made me feel quite at ease immediately. All are quite willing to share with each other and with me, the newcomer. I appreciate their kindness very much.

Today we had photographers from the college in to photograph the new space for Tapestry & Textile Art and also of us, working in the space. I took a few photos as they were working--here they are shooting Diana at her area:

And they took several closer shots of her hands as she worked:
These are a few more photos of my four cohorts as they worked today--
Erica is working on color sampling for her piece. Earlier in the week she dyed several of the yarns she'll be using.
LouLou is working on a sample based on the line drawing that's on the wall in front of her. It's a wonderful organic line that she's weaving in varying textures including a "scringy" line... see her blog to read more about it...
Magenta is nearing the end of a shaped tapestry; she's weaving on a dark blue warp with a bit lighter blue as weft.
Here's my loom with the second version of the sample yesterday... lights are better but still too dark, in my opinion. I turned the loom around and set it up again to weave the third version...

and here it is as I left tonight...

there's sampling of dark mixtures on the right side. I'll do more sampling for the mid-range and light mixtures tomorrow and I hope to finish the third version by Sunday.
And, finally... a few photos from my walk over this morning. It was cold but NOT raining! I took a few minutes to look at the glasshouses--a few details of those. I've yet to walk inside one of the several that are here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

West Dean Tapestry Studio--a visit to the Professional Tapestry Studio today

I took part in a visit to the Professional Tapestry Studio today along with a couple of the class members and several outside guests. The studio is only open for visitors for a brief time each week as the work of the weavers is very demanding. The Tapestry & Textile Art students must also maintain a schedule for going to the Professional Studio to obtain yarn if more than what's available in our studio is necessary. To hear a description about the current projects then the scheduled visitation time must be adhered to. So between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m. today I was at the Professional Tapestry Studio. Photographs aren't allowed there but here are photos of the brochures that are available to anyone about the studio...
This side of the brochure describes the postgraduate courses available. I'm in the 6 weeks Foundations of Tapestry and Textile Art part.
The Professional Tapestry Studio works to commission for both private and corporate clients. According to the brochure, the tapestries by the studio are found in the Henry Moore Foundation, The Victoria and Albert Museum, and Stirling Castle, among others.
The studio is engaged in a many year project to recreate seven of the few surviving sets of medieval tapestries, theme of Hunt of the Unicorn, for Stirling Castle in Scotland. This is being done both in Scotland at Stirling Castle and at West Dean, under commission to West Dean Tapestry Studio.  The tapestries for this commission are being woven on a low warp loom at West Dean. We saw only bits that were exposed of the current tapestry of the set.

Earlier in the day I took part, along with the other students from the Visual Art program, in an aesthetics lecture by guest lecturer, Dr. Carolyn Wilde. Her topic today was "Intention and Interpretation" and this lecture was two of a three part series that began before I arrived. I'll be here for her next lecture to take place next week and have readings to do before then. Her lecture was very thought provoking and it was quite challenging to follow along since I'd read only one chapter of the suggested extensive readings list before hand.

In the afternoon I made a short walk to the West Dean General Store for a few supplies like toothpaste, dropped those things off and then walked the other direction to the studio. It was raining again today... seems that the bright days are only punctuation marks for the cold and rainy days! I think we've had four days of sunshine since I've been here--and it's hard to believe I arrived eleven days ago.

I continued to work on my second sample from the sketch--my goal was to get the light values light enough. But when I got back to the studio this afternoon I saw that those light values seems not yet to be light enough! I thought I might stop and start over but decided to muddle on and then re-do it yet again once I see what the final result is. I should be able to finish it tomorrow and re-warp the loom for the try. Maybe I'll only be weaving and re-weaving this cartoon for the next four weeks while I'm here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

West Dean again

Of course, any post I make right now will be West Dean, won't it?

Today dawned bright but very frosty.  The sheep didn't seem to mind munching on icy grass, though.  Perhaps a bit of sorbet for breakfast for them?

Walking to the studio this morning was wonderful... no rain to slog through.  Cold but when wrapped enough enough that doesn't matter so much...

There were wonderful views of ice crystals on leaves and branches throughout the garden on the way to the tapestry studio:

Diana and I walked through the grounds a bit in the later morning... here's Diana photographing the leaves of a willow tree:

And here's more of what Diana and I saw as we walked:

But, yes... we all got work done, as well!  I finished a value study strip and began weaving the second version of the cartoon from the earlier post.  Diana is well into a piece she's working on; Erica and Magenta were both in the dye room today to do dyeing.  We're all very busy, even through the outside was tempting today.  

Tomorrow begins with aesthetics lecture at 9:30 and going until noon.  Maybe studio time later in the afternoon... am not quite sure about the rest of the schedule yet.