Monthly Archives: June 2010

Oh! There you are, little skeletons

Whilst (yes, whilst, which is a bit uncomfortable for me to say instead of ‘while.’  But you see, I am in the UK now, so ‘whilst’ it is) my brother was visiting, he told me a very interesting story about my family.  For those of you living in the states and having listened to ‘Paul Harvey, News and Comment’ this may be of interest to you.  For those of you that have no idea what I am going on about, read on anyway.  It’s an interesting story.  Or the parts of it I wish to reveal, that is.

My relative was mentioned in Paul Harvey.  Paul Harvey was known for digging up the most obscure little stories in the states, weaving the tale then hitting you over the head with either a bit of a gasp-inducing fact at the end or quickly slipping in unexpected humour to his tales.  This particular story involved the a murder investigation that went a bit, er, wrong.  The catch at the end was a play on names, stating that so-and-so involved in the case was Batty and the chief of police was Green.  To have a family member make it to Paul Harvey’s radar is quite something, I think.  Even if it is for the wrong reasons.

So, anyway, this morning I started to delve into my Grandfather’s history a bit further.  He worked in North Platte just before moving to the town of my birth.  He was one of two FBI agents working in Nebraska and was stationed in North Platte.  From what I can gather, he arrived on the scene just after North Platte had gone a bit hay wire in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  During that period of time, it was known as ‘The Little Chicago of the West’ due to the number of bars, mafia activity and prostitution happening in the city.  Corruption abounded.  It is interesting to put my grandfather’s working life into context, as he would have been stationed there just after all of this went down.  Or perhaps he was part of the clean up crew?  Maybe this is why he was stationed there?  To keep an eye on the locals?  Who knows.  Unfortunately, he is not around to ask and to be honest, I don’t know if he would volunteer that information anyway.

My current read is ‘Evil Obsession:  The Annie Cook Story.’  Apparently, she was a rather large character in this Little Chicago scenario.  My Dad gave me a copy of this book and I can’t quite figure out if it is because it is a bit of my local-ish history or if my grandfather was working in the city during this era of Annie’s abusive, hateful actions.  From what I can gather so far, he arrived in the city about 10 years after the height of her disgusting/awful/sick activity.

I have decided to learn the history by working backwards.  Grandfather.  Great grandfather and so on.

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Filed under a good story, Nebraska, research

The next generation

Sir William on his trusty steed

Energetic.  Huggable.  Running around, after birds, down hill and sometimes in the opposite direction.  Page turner of books.  Reader of the word ‘Olivia’ at the age of just-turning 3.  I think he’s totally brilliant.  This is William, my wonderful nephew.

My husband, little dog Josey and I have played host to my brother, Matthew, sister-in-law Constance and, of course, William the Conqueror of Imaganinery Games Such as the Incredible ‘Coke’ vs Something That Looks Like Mr Potato Head But Isn’t.  We had joy.  We had fun.  We ran around the Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens grounds, weaved our way through Jupiter Artland then spent a tiring two days beating the streets of London.  I liked the mornings that began with an early walk with Josey, and then shortly after my return, William carefully making his way down the steps.  When I heard the labours of his descent, I knew that I would soon receive a revitalizing hug, complete with a ‘Good morning, Aunt Cassie!’

I am thankful for the time to get to know my sister-in-law.  She most certainly added her own flavour into the family.  I like that my brother chose someone a bit sassy, a bit bold, a bit entertaining whilst doing impressions of other people.  It was just the girls in the car during our excursion to Bamburgh during the first week of their visit.  Having a nice, long conversation with Constance was lovely as I felt like I got to know this feisty character a bit more.  I think ‘feisty’ is a particularly excellent character trait.

Towards the end of their 2 1/2 week stay, I was able to fenagle some alone time with my brother.  We took Josey on a nice long walk in one of her favourite haunts.  Matt, usually painfully quiet, thankfully contributed to the conversation.  As I find silence uncomfortable, I usually feel the need to fill in all the gaps with incessant talking.  This time, I made an effort to give him space to talk, gave long enough pauses for his response and tried to learn more about this brother of mine that at the age of 17, tricked our parents into signing the forms that were their permission for him to join the army.  It was a shock to us all, and made me realise that I didn’t know a thing about this boy, 8 years my junior.

Matt walks like my Dad.  My mother (long since divorced from my father and NOT the mother of Matt) has mentioned in a tone of irritatation, that I too have this same walk.  Upon reflection, I remember my grandfather walking this way and now wonder how long the Greens have had this walk.  Were we walking like this in Dudley, circa 1860?  Whilst talking to Matt, I also saw the occasional facial expression that was so much like something I have seen on my father’s face that I found it unnerving.

As for the conversation itself, it wasn’t deep, there weren’t any revelations, however, it was easy going and very nice.  I think that this soft spoken and quiet man has a very active internal life.  With all the obscure references to movies and past conversations I hardly remember, peppered with too many Dad Jokes to count, it was confirmation to me that there is a lot going on under the surface, behind those big, dark brown eyes that I have always admired.

After this visit, I feel that I have material for their special little section on the timeline.  My mind is buzzing with ideas for images, fabrics, textures, opacity even.  As William is the next generation to the Green Family Tree, he must be represented somewhere.  Although he is not on my personal thread, I can easily think of a million reasons to add him to the story.

This morning my husband and I took them to the airport.  After so many days of having them living inside my house, I got used to the busy-ness of each day, the added life and energy, the tantrums, the laughing, the last minute crazy drives off the motorway onto a country road because someone had to go pee-pee, the hours of Soccer played in the back garden, the hugs before bedtime, the four books read before bedtime, chats with Constance and the trips to Sainsburys to buy exotic foods such a ‘Jaffa Cakes’ and ‘Meringues.’  And now I feel…inconsolable.  So much was added into my life during their stay and now it feels, well, a little empty here.  A little too quiet.

My husband has left me to mope around the house and feel sad.  He did offer to take the bedding off of the guest beds, however, I told him that I am not ready to erase the visit of my family just yet.  I need time to…what?  Pretend that they are still in Edinburgh?  As if they have just popped out to play in the park?  I’m not even sure.  I just can’t let go of them just yet.

Green invasion

William and Me

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Adventures into Digital Imaging and Photolithography

The Isle of Skye looking more 'other worldly' than usual

Photolithography, Attempt 1

This is the Isle of Skye, or more precisely, my artistic interpretation, mistakes and adventures into manipulating a photograph of the Isle of Skye.  Try not to be too harsh in your criticism, helpful or otherwise.  We are all about learning and encouragement here.  After all, this blog is about the process more than the final outcome.  I think sometimes the importance of the process if easily glossed over and not considered in the lifetime of an artwork or project.

As it would be ridiculous to think that I am going to creat all of those large artworks for the art tour using my tiny little Gocco machine, I thought it was time I start experimenting with different forms of printmaking.  Although this method, the Photolithography method, is not suitable for the final work, it is good for me to lay down the usual tools and learn something new.  Hopfully, what I learn here will somehow feed into what I am doing later.  Unfortunately, my recent experiments with LEDs will not be useful to me for the large artworks as a) they will be displayed outside and may experience the usual British phenomena of rain in all its various forms and b) I don’t really want dangling wires and switches and battery packs to detract from the artwork on the front of the linens.

What to expect from future posts:

Whilst I do my little experimentations in the background, I am going to pick up my research once again and start focusing on the individual cities, Exeter circa 1800, Dudley circa 1850 and so on.

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