Thoreau Quote

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Thinking about art under Fenland's big skies

Last year A decided she’d like to go to school for the first time. Having never been before, she was curious and so at the age of 9 we found her a place in the small village primary and she went straight into Year 5.

She fitted in immediately, and I mean within minutes! It was like she’d always been there. It does help that we live in a little village and have remained a part of the community even after taking the older ones out of school ten years ago (although I think everyone thought we were a bit strange - we were certainly the only home educators in the village!)

She had no consideration at all for me though. No sympathy that I now had to join the thousands of other parents across the country, getting myself up, dressed and organised of a morning. No understanding of how difficult this was!

However, I’m in the swing of it now (well, most days) and I have discovered that there is an upside to these structured weekdays. Not only am I getting myself a bit more organised, but walking to school every day is an ideal opportunity to fit in some daily exercise.

Now, when it comes to physical activity you could say I am somewhat challenged. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy sport. Sport and I have had a happy relationship for many years......... as long as there has been a TV screen between the activity and me. I see no reason to ruin that relationship by actually taking part. But I know I should actually get some exercise from time to time and I've often heard that the best way to do this is to find something you can fit into your daily routine, so you can keep it up on a regular basis. And, hey, whaddya know, now I actually have a daily routine, maybe I can fit something into it! So, the dog and I walk A to school and instead of coming straight home we take our morning constitutional along the river bank, where he can run and sniff and swim to his heart’s content and I can pound the grass and think.

Because another upside of these early mornings is that I get an hour to myself in the Cambridgeshire Fens, with all the space my mind needs. I mean, there’s a reason why the Fens are said to have big skies – just look:

On Thursday morning I spent the time thinking about art. More specifically, how I can get some art appreciation into our lives.

I decided to talk about it upfront. “With these GCSEs and other formal stuff we’re doing”, I said, “We’re in danger of getting really bogged down. I think it would be nice if we made time for some creative activities, especially since we don’t seem to have done much of that in recent months”. Nods of agreement, so I asked them if they’d like to look at some of the great works of art. We could see which we like, take a trip to London to the National Gallery and Tate Modern, maybe even try our hand at creating some works of art. They seemed to think this wouldn't be a bad idea (a trip to London is always popular!) and said they’d like to start by looking at Banksy.

So, yesterday morning we ditched the English and, armed with a few books found in the library plus the good ol’ internet, we started with Banksy. Here is one of his we liked lots:

Then we moved backwards into more general 20th Century art. We talked a bit about different art movements, found some paintings we liked:

Salvador Dali 'Persistance of Time'
And some we didn’t really get!

Kasimir Malevich 'Black Square'

I think what made the morning a success is that I hadn't planned it much. Apart from doing a bit of prior research so I could go quite quickly to some websites and images without faffing around, I tried to let the morning flow.

J (very nearly 13 years old) has decided he wants to have a go at a Jackson Pollock type creation, which sounds fab. Next week we plan to try out a few of his techniques. We’re going to rig up a makeshift thingy (that's a technical term, I think you'll find) in the car port from which to hang some of the old cans of paint we have in the garage and swing them over some wallpaper fixed to the ground. I reckon that with a few splashes and blobs he’ll be well on his way – I’ll be back next week to report!


  1. Beautifully written, was chuckling out loud throughout. I'm hoping to go to the Tate Modern this week myself. Meeting a friend there, should be nice :-) have you seen The Art Book - full of great pics...

  2. Great photos. Dali is one of my favourite artists. :)

  3. You're not alone pounding the grass and thinking! I did it for years; necessary for sane home educating! Nice to find your blog Jane. BWs


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