A Different World.

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Peacock Butterfly on Hemp Agrimony.

When I finished my last post by musing about the origins of the name of the Scotch Argus butterfly and a possible link to the mythical giant Argus, I didn’t anticipate that the first photo in the subsequent post would be of a Peacock, whose Latin name recalls the same story. The Peacock was known at one time as the Peacock’s Tail. It’s Latin name is Inachus Io, recalling the Greek nymph Io and her father (variously a King, a Giant or a River God depending on which version you read). I’ve referred to this myth before, but here’s a slightly different version taken from Robert Graves ‘The Greek Myths, Volume One’:

“Io, daughter of the River-god Inachus, was a priestess of Argive Hera. Zeus, over whom Iynx, daughter of Pan and Echo, had cast a spell, fell in love with Io, and when Hera charged him with infidelity and turned Iynx into a wryneck as punishment, lied: ‘I have never touched Io.’ He then turned her into a white cow, which Hera claimed as hers and handed over for safe keeping to Argus Panoptes, ordering him: ‘Tether this beast secretly to an olive-tree at Nemea.’ But Zeus sent Hermes to fetch her back, and himself led the way to Nemea – or, some say, to Mycenae – dressed in woodpecker disguise. Hermes, though the cleverest of thieves, knew he could not steal Io without being detected by one of Argus’s hundred eyes; he therefore charmed him asleep by playing the flute, crushed him with a boulder, cut off his head and released Io. Hera, having placed Argus’s eyes in the tail of a peacock, as a constant reminder of his foul murder, set a gadfly to sting Io and chase her all over the world.”

Trickery, lust, infidelity, duplicity, jealousy, deceit, murder, revenge – the Greek Gods seem all too human in this tale, as in many others.

Here’s Hermes slaying Argus, from an Athenian vase now held in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Argus seems quite awake in this pictorial version of the story. In some tellings, Io is irresistible even after her metamorphosis into bovine form, which is hard to imagine; her portrayal on this ancient pot doesn’t really help in that regard.

Panoptes, incidentally, means ‘all-seeing’, an attribute to which I can definitely not lay claim…

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Skullcap.

Skullcap is apparently a very common plant, but this is the first time I can recall spying it in flower. I found it in the increasingly wet meadow at the end of Hawes Water.

“Skullcap, Scutelleria galericulata, is a delicate species of fens and banks of ponds, canals and slow rivers, locally common throughout much of Britain. The plant’s English and Latin names both derive from the shape of the blue flowers, which reminded early botanists of the leather helmet or galerum worn by Roman soldiers.”

from Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey.

“Sufferers from nervous disorders might be advised to take skullcap in tablet form, for the plant produces a volatile oil, called scutellarin, which is one of the best treatments for such afflictions ever discovered. The plant is dried, powdered and infused in boiling water to make a strong tonic, which calms spasms and hysteria, and relieves epilepsy and St Vitus’s dance. However, care must be taken: it is a powerful drug, and an overdose might induce the very symptoms which, at correct dosages, it alleviates.”

from Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain.

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I wondered whether the colours of Hemp Agrimony, often somewhat washed out and insipid in my photos, might show to better effect in shade: I think it worked?

I’ve certainly had a bumper year for spotting Common Lizards. The two I met basking in their usual spot, on the edging along the boardwalk by Hawes Water, were, once again, quite different from each other in their markings and colour…

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I particularly admired the go faster stripes on this specimen…

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I wondered whether the variation in colouring might reflect the gender of the lizards and have since discovered that you can sex lizards this way, but need to see their undersides in order to do so. I suspect that I’m never going to be quick enough to get my mitts on them to find out. Never mind, I’m happy just to see them.

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Hawes Water.

I presume that these alien monstrosities…

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…are the early stages, or small examples, of Robin’s Pincushion Gall, or are something similar. They’re nothing like as hairy as Pincushion Galls usually are though, and those generally develop on the stems. You can perhaps tell from the picture that each outlandish, starfish-like protuberance is mirrored on the reverse of the leaf. Quite astonishing, even before you know about the asexual lifestyle of the wasps which develop within.

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A male Small White, I think.

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Another Bull in a field with a footpath, in fact he was walking along the path, but I was turning off in another direction and, anyway, he didn’t seem remotely interested in me.

This walk was memorable for quite an abundance and variety of butterflies. Later on, I met a number of Lepidopterists, one of whom asked me if I’d seen any Brown Hairstreaks, which is what they were on the look-out for. I hadn’t. Not that I would have recognised one if I had. I did see lots of Brimstones though…

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Brimstone on Betony.

They seemed to be patronising the purple flowers by preference, which shows off their yellow to good effect. Is it vanity, do you think?

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Bumblebee on Knapweed.

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Painted Lady.

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Red Admiral.

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Another Peacock’s-tail.

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Eyebright.

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Scarlet Pimpernel.

Scarlet Pimpernel is tiny, but not really elusive at all, unlike the character named after the flower, scourge of the French Revolutionaries. Local names for the flower included ‘change-of-the-weather’, ‘poor man’s weatherglass’ and ‘shepherd’s sundial’, due to its habit of closing whenever the skies are dull and for large parts of the day, a property, it must be said, which it shares with many other flowers.

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The mystery plant – looking increasingly like some sort of Scabious, as Simon suggested.

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Grasshopper.

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I think this might be Orpine, or Sedum telephium, the same Sedum, or Ice Plant which we grow in our gardens.

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Speckled Wood.

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A Harvestman. Definitely not a spider or a daddy-longlegs.

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I was a bit surprised to see the orange berries on the Lily-of-the-valley; I’ve never seen them before. Apparently, they rarely develop, with the plant usually spreading by sending up new shoots.

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Female Common Darter.

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Another Brimstone.

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Male Common Darter.

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A Different World.

Tony Cragg (and others) at the YSP

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We went to a family wedding near Sleaford. Splendid affair, lots of catching up, lovely grub, a bit of a dance, oh….and a wedding. Marvellous.

On our way home on the Sunday we stopped off at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. We might have done this anyway, the YSP is a favourite day out for us, but this post over on Down by the Dougie definitely swung the decision: the latest Tony Cragg exhibition was something we wanted to see.

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First off, however, we wandered over to the old Chapel…

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Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei

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There were several art works on display in the Chapel, but two particularly caught our attention. This large ‘wall’, ostensibly made of bricks, which are actually wax and have been partially melted….

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And Neither From nor Towards by Cornelia Parker….

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….made from bricks from a row of houses which have slipped over a cliff onto a beach.

This…

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…is an Andy Goldsworthy sheepfold which B fell off during a previous visit.

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71 Steps by David Nash.

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On the way home in the car we each went through our top 5 ‘things’ of the day – the bluebells in the woods featured on everybody’s list.

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One of three Andy Goldsworthy Hanging Tree.

Although we’ve visited the YSP several times before, we’ve never been over to the Longside gallery. Sometimes it has been closed, or we haven’t had time, or it has been too far to walk with the kids. Anyway, this time we put that right. It’s a very pleasant walk over.

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There was an exhibition there of 1960’s British Art. I can’t remember who this was by, but I liked it.

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This, I’m pretty sure, is by Bridget Riley, I think I might have seen it somewhere before. I always enjoy her very geometric paintings, maybe it’s my mathematical brain.

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We walked back over for a very late and enjoyable lunch in the cafe and then finally made it to the Underground Gallery to see some more Tony Cragg sculpture.

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I wish I could articulate what it is I like so much about these sculptures, but I don’t know even where to begin.

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A and I took a lot of photos. Choosing a selection for this post has been difficult.

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I watched an absorbing documentary about both the creative process and then the fairly industrialised realisation of the sculptures. You can see part of it here – it’s in German, although Tony Cragg is English he has lived in Germany for a long time.

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It’s apparent from the film that many of these ostensively abstract sculptures are inspired by shapes from nature or elsewhere. You can see that here: this small piece, clearly the viscera of some alien species…

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Is, in point of fact…

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….a Church!

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Outside, there were several bigger sculptures.

The boys weren’t very impressed by all of this, but this…

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…was a hit. They loved the distorted reflections it gave.

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Our time was almost up. In our whirlwind tour we hadn’t found time to see any of the sculptures by Anthony Caro, or Barbara Hepworth, or Anthony Gormley, or any of the many Henry Moore’s dotted around the park…

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Well, not properly anyway.

The kids insisted on one final visit: to James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyspace…

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I like every bit as much as they do, and I certainly enjoy staring at the sky, but maybe we should come again when the sky is a bit less monotone…

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Tony Cragg (and others) at the YSP

Barrow Dock Museum

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We’ve been intending to check out the Dock Museum in Barrow for quite some time and, last week, finally got around to it.

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It’s a small museum, but it has model boats, which are pretty irresistible,

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…and The Furness Hoard, found locally in 2011 and including Viking, Saxon and Arab coins plus fragments of arm-rings and bracelets, not dissimilar in fact from The Silverdale Hoard.

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Having examined the area’s Viking treasures, you may want to dress the part…

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There are also axe-heads and arrowheads of Langdale stone which were apparently brought to the Barrow area for finishing and polishing.

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A big surprise for me, and a great discovery, was this furniture by the late Tim Stead.

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I’ve not been aware of his work before, but shall be looking out for it in the future. He was one of the artists who built the Millennium Clock, now housed by the National Museum of Scotland, and definitely added to my ‘too see’ list.

Whilst the boys hared around the playground in the museum grounds, I took a quick look at the docks themselves.

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Our trip to the museum was intended to be a precursor to a trip to the Wildlife Trust reserve at the southern end of Walney Island, somewhere I’ve long wanted to visit, much like Foulney Island in fact. But, having had my sutures removed early that morning, I now discovered that everything was not quite going to plan, and we spent the next three hours, or thereabouts, sitting around in A&E at Barrow Infirmary waiting to see what was to be done. Not much, it eventually transpired. Patience is the order of the day apparently. Ho-hum.

Barrow Dock Museum

A Busy Day in the Dale

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Every Saturday morning in Silverdale, almost without exception, there is a charity coffee morning. This Saturday’s wasn’t in the usual venue, the Gaskell Hall, but in the Church Rooms instead…

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And was a Scout fund-raiser. I’d cried-off helping with a Rugby tournament which S was playing in, and sent TBH in my stead, but now felt well enough to help here by selling tickets for the raffle.

The reason the Gaskell Hall (named for Elizabeth Gaskell who holidayed in the village and whose daughters lived here)…

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…wasn’t used was because it was being filled with exhibits…

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…for the Spring show…

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A Hellebore? Cousin to the wild ones growing by Holgates caravan park?

There are classes for photographs and craft items as well as flowers and we usually submit several entries between us, but this year only Little S entered, in the Cubs craft-class which he won. (Being the sole competitor – he was very happy.)

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Later, we popped across the road to the Methodist Chapel where there was an Art Exhibition. Sadly, once we got inside I was too busy looking at the exhibits and forgot to take any pictures. TBH bought a vase. You can see the work of three of the artists by visiting:

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and

Threlfalls Art Studio

Given our recent adventure, it was particularly enjoyable to see a number of paintings and prints featuring Striding Edge.

As you can see, the weather was very fine and I was champing at the bit to get out for a walk. Which is what I did next…

A Busy Day in the Dale

Ulverston Lantern Festival

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Last year we stumbled upon the Ulverston Lantern Festival when we tried to stop in Ulverston for fish and chips on the way home from a walk across the sands to Piel Island, found that all of the roads into the town centre were closed and chose to park on the outskirts and investigate.

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This year we did much the same thing, this time on the way home from our trip to Roa Island.

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I think that there’s more to it than this, but the part of the Festival we’ve seen is a huge parade through the town with people displaying their amazing lantern creations, accompanied by marching bands of drummers.

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Some of the lanterns are amazing – witness the enormous Gruffalo above – but what I really like about it is the sheer number of people who are involved: it seems to be a superb community event.

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Last year’s theme seemed to be toys, this year I think it must have been woodland creatures. I took lots of photos, thinking that they were coming out sharply despite the darkness. Oddly, the camera’s video function seems to have coped rather better with the light conditions:

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Edit: WordPress doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge that this is a video. Click on it and a new tab will open in flickr where you will be able to watch it. (It’s only 15 seconds and you can hear one of the marching bands into the bargain.)

Ulverston Lantern Festival

Minimum Monument

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“Minimum Monument is a poignant and moving display featuring thousands of figures made out of frozen water by the artist, her team of technicians and volunteers – a public intervention artwork which is a powerful reminder of the fragility of our planet and the communities it supports.”

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“Néle Azevedo has be working from a temporary studio in K Village with volunteers and her creative team to make over 3,000 200mm tall icemen.”

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“We’ve been working on the moulds for the past two weeks – getting them filled and frozen, then the sculptures were de-moulded and fettled by hand before being stored in freezers and the process starts over again. ”

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“The icemen and women will be transported to Kendal Castle on Sunday morning.”

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“On Sunday Azevedo will invite members of the public to place the beautifully crafted sculptures on the ruins of Kendal Castle where they can watch as these tiny ice figures melt and return to rain water.”

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I’m not sure if this art is the kind of thing which Michael Gove recently derided as ‘modish crap’. Probably.

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“Is this = to Turner, Ruskin, even Holman Hunt – of course not.”

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Which limited frame of reference suggests that the underlying questions is: is this art Victorian?

Of course, Turner’s own art was controversial in it’s day. Had Twitter existed then, no doubt some self-publisizing, narcissistic, failed politician would have been using it to rail against Turner’s non-conventional vision.

(In a politically bleak year a lone high-spot was watching Gove skewer himself with his own back-stabbing machinations.)

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Anyway, we enjoyed Minimum Monument immensely and there were a lot of other people there who also seemed to be thoroughly engaged and appreciative.

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Naturally, I took a preposterous number of photos.

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It was interesting to see how people had chosen to group the figures.

Almost all of the sculptures were placed on the walls, facing in to the castle. This couple…

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…being a rare exception.

Eventually, we dragged ourselves away and walked down into Kendal…

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…where there were numerous other activities on offer.

We added to a large clay sculpture…

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…donned goggles for a 3D virtual reality flight over the Lake District, watched a three handed show (a mime I seem to remember) and visited St. Thomas’s Church to see this…

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…enormous model of the moon by Luke Jerram.

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A highly enjoyable day!

(The quotes at the top of the post are from the Lakes Alive website.)

Minimum Monument

Barcelona – The Miro Foundation

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Any visitor to Barcelona will inevitably eventually confront the cities three famous artistic giants: Picasso, Gaudi and Miro. The Miro Foundation, a gallery which mainly, but not exclusively, features Miro’s art, is conveniently situated on the hillside below Montjuic. It was high on my list of places to visit during our stay.

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TBH and I have visited a Miro exhibition before, at the wonderful Yorkshire Sculpture Park.      That was mostly sculpture, as you might expect at the YSP, whereas at the Foundation Miro’s paintings are more to the fore.

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I think we all enjoyed it, I know that I did, apart that is from Little S who was infuriated.

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“It’s kiddy scribbles, Dad.”

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He was particularly incensed by two very large white canvases. One with a single small blue dot slightly off centre, and the other with a single line across it. (A scribble in S’s view.)

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Even S must have enjoyed the view from the roof terrace though.

Barcelona – The Miro Foundation