Textile art, Moniza Alvi and snowdrops

A visit to the latest exhibition at the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) in Aberlady proved to be rewarding. The exhibition featured work by Pat Beveridge and the East Coast Stitchers. There was some impressive work on show and some intricate collages of flowers and insects by the Stitchers which was much admired by my wife. The work of Pat Beveridge stands out in the exhibition with some superb stitched textile works. Indeed, if you were not alerted to the fact that some of the works on display were textile based, you could view them as “regular” paintings, as it’s only when you are closer to the frames that you see the depth of the art is enhanced because of its textile format. I contacted Pat and she was kind enough to send me the two works below. In both works, there are recognisable features – the birds, the sea, the waves but this accompanied by more abstract shapes and some surreal elements. If you get a chance to see this exhibition, don’t miss it. Otherwise, check out Pat Beveridge’s website.

Over the Waves - Pat Beveridge

Over the Waves – Pat Beveridge

Seascape_2 - Pat Beveridge

Seascape_2 – Pat Beveridge

The latest Poetry Book Society Choice  is At the Time of Partition by Moniza Alvi. The book contains one extended poem and although there are 64 pages, it is a book that can be read in 2 or 3 sittings. However, when you have finished the poem, you are likely to be drawn back into it, such is the depth of experience – and occasional horror – in the poem, which deals with one family’s view of the partition of India into India and Pakistan in 1947. Alvi has used the history of some of her family who were involved in the partition. The poem begins with a startling image: “It lies helplessly, wrong side up/like a turtle showing its underside -/ the family story”. The story which follows is, on the face of it, fairly simple – a family, along with thousands of others, is forced to leave their home in India to go to live in the newly created Pakistan. Alvi presents some striking images and manages to convey the uncertainty, the fear – “Not the thousand and one nights/but the thousand and one fears,/ each one as full/ as a night” – and finally, the hope of those involved. The grandmother is the focus of the poems and leaving her house in India is a severe blow – “The house was her second skin/hardier than the first”. I would strongly urge people to buy this book or request it at your local library.

It was a lovely bright day on Sunday – and a mild 6 degrees here – so we set off for our first visit to St Abbs Head – featured often on this blog – in 2014. There was a very strong SW wind and we had to be careful to keep away from the cliff edges at times. It ‘s a very rewarding walk, and looking down the high cliffs to the sea surging against the rocks, we were struck by the absence of birds – only the occasional seagull. Come May, the place will be swarming with kittiwakes and guillemots. At the beginning and end of the walk, we came across clumps of snowdrops, which raised their white heads above ground in mid January and are now in full bloom. Snowdrops (Galanthus) bring a welcome splash of brilliant white on the ground in winter and galanthophiles are in their element. These  flowers are mild mannered, shy, head down creatures and once again, I return to Alice Oswald’s poem Snowdrop, from here wonderfully illustrated collection Weeds and Wild Flowers. The second verse describes the snowdrop as “One among several hundred clear-eyed ghosts/ who get up in the cold and blink and turn/into these trembling emblems of night frosts”. So, here are my first two photos of snowdrops this year.







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