An embroidered alphabet: letter Y and a visit to the Jeff Koons exhibition at the Ashmolean

Hand embroidered Y (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

A simple blocky letter surrounded by flowers, this week my initial brings a bit of colour back to my alphabet – which is probably a good thing as I’m considering working on an all white alphabet next. The days are noticeably lengthening – isn’t is something like three minutes a day? – which is encouraging for someone who has to put her needle down when natural light goes. My husband’s eyes have also been doing a better job for the last couple of day – only we tend to whisper this very quietly to each other in case the wrong bit of his brain hears and reverts to its old ways…

Hand embroidered Y (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

To Oxford last Saturday to meet up with old friends, we bumped into my husband’s old boss who pressed upon us tickets for the Jeff Koons exhibition recently opened there. It wasn’t something we especially wanted to see, but in the interest of intellectual openness we took ourselves along. It started surprisingly well with a basket ball suspended in the middle of a glass case, with no visible means of support and shifting perspectives as you moved around the case. Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times suggested this was a trick achieved with the help of Nobel prize physics; I suspected it was more Darren Brown magic and mirrors. For Waldemar Januszczak in The Sunday Times, Koons can make beguiling things which delight the eye and push at boundaries. Unfortunately, he found the Ashmolean exhibition devoted mostly to the poor stuff. And for us, after the basket ball it was straight down hill, precipitously so as near the end of the exhibition, a couple of dental perfection white statues (plaster casts? 3 D printed?) reminded you that the real thing was downstairs in the permanent collection. The addition of large bright blue steel balls – ‘gazing balls’ to statues and canvases was confusing and irrelevant. I’ve since gathered from Waldemar’s review that theses are garden ornaments designed to “bring a note of cosmic profundity and galactic infinity to the suburban American garden”. Me neither. Fortunately the way down was through wonderful galleries of double sided glass display cases and after wandering round classical funerary urns, Dutch delft pottery and Stradivarius violins, we reached the café much happier.

Sketches of Ys found on the internet

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An embroidered alphabet: letter X

 

Hand embroidered X (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Having nearly gone through the alphabet embroidering one letter after the other, I’ve come to realise I especially enjoy this sort of white on white Renaissance style letter. As hand quilting of the altar frontal will advance slowly I’ve decided I shall go back to the beginning of the alphabet and embroider all the letters again – but in whitework. Having two different pieces of work on the go can be enjoyable as when boredom with plain stitching strikes, a bit of embroidery can be a tonic.

Hand embroidered X (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

To the eye hospital this week to see if my husband’s squint and double vision can be corrected. Sadly,  it seems the brain isn’t playing ball, so to speak, and refuses to use both eyes to achieve binocular vision. We don’t quite understand why Botox, which worked so well before he had his cataracts removed, will no longer be effective. The consultant, however, working on the principle that one more dose of Botox would do no harm, was willing to give it a try. Fingers crossed, but so far no improvement.

Sketches of various Xs found online

Six degrees of separation suggests all of us can be linked to anyone via six or fewer social connections.  In our case we have got our link to the tyrannical dictator of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, down to just the one! My husband’s eye consultant was at the Western Eye Hospital in London at the same time as Assad and, indeed, appears as a talking head on a recent BBC documentary (A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad).  Assad was grateful for notes on a book the consultant was writing which helped him get through his exams and sent – of all the things he could – a tablecloth to say thank you! While you might have happily drunk a few bottles of wine and be done with it, how on earth do you ever use a tablecloth given to you by a brutal dictator?

Sketches of various Xs found online

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