In conversation with Jacob Heringman

Hello everyone, it’s Tom here. Today, I’d like to tell you about my collaboration with talented lutenist Jacob Heringman and how one of my “waterscape” images came to be on the cover of his new album Inviolata. An interesting development in contemporary photography has been the use of abstraction to distill a scene down to…

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keeping shop

As part of my research for the introduction to our People Make Glasgow book, I’ve been doing some highly enjoyable work poking about the city’s eighteenth and nineteenth-century post office directories, which provide intriguing lists of Glasgow’s merchants, manufacturing and retail businesses (much like the yellow pages). Looking at these directories across a century or…

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still life with asparagus

Adriaen Coorte, Still Life with Asparagus (1697), Rijksmuseum How is your growing season going? After the recent warm spell, our vegetable garden is coming along very nicely now: in addition to reliable potatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, leeks and onions, this year we’re trying some experimental beans, and just one variety of tomato. This may sound…

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virtual viewing

Kilbride Bay by me, Tom Barr, from my Light by the Sea exhibition Hello, it’s Tom here. This week I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s been happening with digital / virtual exhibitions, and I thought I’d spend today’s post talking about some of the ways in which galleries and museums, large and small, have…

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remembering Walter Crane

Walter Crane, The Triumph of Labour (1891) ©The Trustees of the British Museum It was May Day a couple of days ago, an occasion that puts me immediately in mind of this wonderful image . . . Walter Crane, A Garland for May Day (1895) ©The Trustees of the British Museum . . . which…

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a reading week

Eric Ravilious, Cuckmere Haven (1939) Thinking about what I might write about here yesterday, it occurred to me that, despite the fact that reading takes up a fairly large proportion of my time, I’d never used this space all that much to talk about the different books that I enjoy. I think that part of…

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light by the sea

“the times of dreamy quietude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean’s skin” Herman Melville, Moby Dick Hello everyone, it’s Tom here. In today’s post I’m excited to tell you more about my latest body of work, which also comprises my first solo exhibition – Light by the Sea. (Otter Ferry) Like…

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croft, craft, creativity

One of the many things I really like about the communities and cultures of crofting is their distinctive effect on the way people work. What I mean is this: in towns and cities, jobs tend to become more and more specialised, people do what they do within smaller and smaller categories, individual work occurs in…

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working hands

I’ve recently been writing about teaching my left hand to work again following my stroke. Because of this, I’ve been thinking very carefully about braiding hair, and knitting socks, about how it felt, and what it meant to re-instruct my hand (whose memory of habitual movement had been completely lost) in those activities. I’ve also…

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Helen Robertson

If you’ve read my introduction to The Book of Haps then you’ll already have come across Helen Robertson – a Shetland artist and craftswoman whose work I deeply admire. Working with silver wire and other precious materials, Helen has developed a uniquely thoughtful aesthetic which celebrates, commemorates and reflects upon Shetland’s history and heritage –…

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designing & publishing: part 3

From Folly Cove by Julia Farwell Clay and Celtic Cable Shawls by Lucy Hague Today I’m looking at another couple of recently-published books, from two very different independent designers, who both took completely different routes to publication. What these two books share, however, is an intelligent engagement with two specific aesthetic contexts, as both were…

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Delaunay retrospective

You all know of my Sonia Delaunay obsession, and I was extremely excited to attend the opening of the retrospective of her work at Tate Modern last week. Box, (1913) Delaunay crossed disciplinary boundaries effortlessly, and it was wonderful to see her ease in various aesthetic / commercial contexts properly represented. Delaunay did not impose…

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Sonia Delaunay: the dress of the future

Sonia Delaunay Rythme (1938) I don’t know about you, but I am extremely excited about Tate Modern’s Sonia Delaunay retrospective, which opens in a couple of months. I’ve long had a thing for Delaunay’s work, but have never had the opportunity to see much of her work in person, particularly her textiles. I wrote an…

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Great Tapestry of Scotland 60 – 92

There have been some interesting questions in the comments on my previous posts about the Great Scottish Tapestry. Elaine and Deborah asked what materials had been used in the creation of the tapestry – well, the stitchers used Peter Grieg linen and Appletons crewel wool throughout. Terry asked why it was called a tapestry at…

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Great Tapestry of Scotland 24-59

Some more details of the Great Tapestry of Scotland for you this morning. You’ll find the first post in the series here. Panel 25: Duns Scotus. The feet of Duns Scotus, the medieval philosopher for whom we have to thank for the concept of Haecceity Panel 26: Somerled, first Lord of the Isles A beautiful…

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Great Tapestry of Scotland 1-23

On Sunday I finally got to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland. I was completely blown away by the vision of Alistair Moffat (who produced the tapestry’s historical content and context), Andrew Crummy (the superb artist who designed these 160 panels) and perhaps especially by the skill and beauty of the work of the thousand…

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