T shirt with sleeve ends embroidered with ferns

Black T shirt with sleeve embroidered with ferns (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

This time mustard green leaves on a black T shirt – and once again probably the embroidery probably goes a bit too far up the sleeve. But ferns are wonderful plants and the variety of leaf shapes lend themselves to embroidery. Do I feel they work as well on a sleeve as on a painted chest of drawers (see below)? Probably not, but what is life without having a go at translating ideas into reality?

Black T shirt with sleeve embroidered with ferns (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

We often listen to art talks on YouTube and have found brilliant stuff out there. As I’ve said before, The Frick’s Cocktails with a Curator and its companion Travels with a Curator (each offering about 20 minutes long) are some of my favourites and London’s National Gallery has some good talks too about single paintings (the most interesting last for about an hour). The Waldy and Bendy podcasts  Adventures in Art are excellent but the format is a bit more chopped up into magazine like pieces, though rarely can you last a half an hour in their company without preconceptions being challenged or horizons widened (or both).  Recently, we came upon Philip Mould’s Art in Isolation in which he talks for about 10 minutes on individual works on art he has in his own house (and for those of us of a nosy disposition, the house is quite a star too). We enjoy him because he’s an art historian of  my husband’s ilk and goes to as much pain to discuss the methods and materials of painting as he does subject matter.

Design for T shirt sleeve embroidered with ferns

In contrast, the other day we settled down to listening to a new to us series of art history talks and found ourselves getting quite cross and irritated with the speaker for whom the theory of art seemed to be paramount, while the practical application of paint or even the joy of making a mark were scarcely granted the time of day.

Fern chest of drawers: showing the little drawers that sit on top of the main chest

Fern chest of drawers stencilled with pressed leaves

With joy in my heart I opened today’s Sunday Times Culture section and fell upon wonderful Waldemar Januszczak saying the following.

Art history is an indisciplined discipline. Invented by German scholars of the 18th century, it was an attempt to force the rules of science on to the wild and unrulable territory of art. This belongs here, that belongs there, the Germanic mind insisted as it sought to turn a blancmange into cubes. But in its hunger to describe, date and classify it got so much wrong.

Then, from a real and grossly underrated painter, Vanessa Bell, we came upon this comment in a letter written to thank a friend who had given her some small branches bearing oranges and lemons.

They are so lovely that against all modern theories I stuck them into my yellow Italian pot and at once began to paint them. I mean one isn’t supposed nowadays to paint what one thinks is beautiful.

Vanessa Bell: Oranges and Lemons 1914

Theorising on its own goes just so far and no more. As my husband always says of Analytical Cubism – it was a theory taken in practice so far that it quite lost the spectator. Canny people like Picasso realised this and took another track.

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  1. Posted April 4, 2022 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the ferns on the sleeves are too much, but then I do have a tendency to the flamboyant when it comes to dress…!

    I’ve not got into podcasts, but I do agree about the charm, knowledge, and interest of those you mention. They are all on the “reliably good value – always record” list for TV documentaries!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 6, 2022 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      Good to hear of your flamboyant dress tendencies!
      Lockdown was a door opener for me in hunting out interesting things to listen to while sewing – not so much time since, though.

      • Posted April 9, 2022 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        I’ve found I tend to only hear bits because I’m concentrating on the sewing, and that’s just exasperating!

        • Mary Addison
          Posted April 12, 2022 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I have to stop and go back sometimes when I realised I’ve been concentrating too hard on sewing.

  2. ceci
    Posted April 6, 2022 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Ah, I have long admired the fern chest of drawers – the motif translates well to sleeves, doesn’t it?


    • Mary Addison
      Posted April 7, 2022 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Well thank you for saying that Ceci.

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