Wednesday 29 September 2010

Landmark Art Fair

Coming up in October is the Landmark Art Fair in Teddington. 

The private view will take place on Friday 15 October, from 6 - 8.30pm, and Saturday 16, Sunday 17 open from 10am until 5pm. 

I have some Private View invites and some 2 for 1 tickets. Please email me, stating your postal address and how many tickets you would like. First come, first served!

Friday 17 September 2010

The Herb Garret

After a visit to the British Library last Sunday, I went with Chris to see a really strange little museum.

Hidden away at the top of a narrow and steep spiral staircase in St Thomas's Church in Southwark, is a 300-year old herb garret. This roof space is where the herbs used in St Thomas's hospital were dried and dispensed from. The hospital moved in 1862 (as a consequence of the development of Waterloo station) and the garret was forgotten and fell into disuse, only to be rediscovered in 1957. 

Now acting as a reminder of times well before a national health service!

It's an astonishing little space, full of quite frightening ideas such as Snail Water.

The recipe quoted here was used by a Dr Richard Mead, St Thomas's Hospital in the early 18th century.

Selected notes from early Hospital Accounts
1560: Scaldhead Ointment recipe:Mustard and Strong Vinegar,
Verdigris, Spikand, Pepper and Salt. 2nd Salve: Lard of goose, sheep,
and dung, oil of Spikend, honey, poppy and Stavesacre(?) 3rd Salve.
Pitch, mes (?) in turps, vinegar and water.
1585: Apothecary's Salary raised from £32 to £36 to include cost
drugs. Later raised to £40 to cover cost of Scurvy Grass
1603: 'To Mrs Matron for gunypur & amp; frankincense for 1 month 1/4.d More for vyneger & amp; egges 1/-'
1605 Bath of Herbs and Sheep Heads for Woman suffering from
unknown illness.

The women's operating theatre was built into one end of the roof space in 1822 because there wasn't enough room in the hospital next door.

The Apothecary's Act, 1815, required apprentice apothecaries to attend at public hospitals, this meant that hordes of students poured in to watch operations. The majority of cases were for amputations or superficial complaints as, without antiseptic conditions, it was too dangerous to carry out internal operations. . . .

The absence of anaesthesia meant that speed was of the essence, and one Guy's surgeon, Alfred Poland, amputated a leg at the thigh in twenty-seven seconds.

Other 'oddities' on show are a series of photographs. They give an illustration of hospital life that is so far removed from our understanding, that it's almost impossible to think of these images as portraying places for the treatment of illness and injury. 

There is a certain morbid fascination in looking at the surgical implements and old photographs and the reassuring thought that medical ideas do constantly evolve!

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Plantago major

Plants for which we've forgotten the uses . . . . 
Plantain - Plantago major
In a report from Virginia, in 1687, it stated that the Indians called the plant Englishman’s Foot, due to the plant’s habit of growing wherever the White Man created a settlement, giving the plant two of its common names. Longfellow noted in his “Hiawatha” that wherever the English have taken possession of the soil, the Plantain springs up. It is believed to be one of the first plants to reach North America after European colonisation.

There is just so much plantain growing in the grass of my garden, and my gardening friend Terry thinks I'm completely mad not to try and eradicate it. He's an old school gardener and is quite ruthless in his destruction of anything that he considers a weed.

Anyhow, these plants are currently my inspiration and keep me busily making books, of which this is a result. It seems appropriate somehow, to show plantain in a map, after all it's created its own map while colonising the globe.

Friday 10 September 2010

An afternoon of sketching

What a difference a day makes, brilliant sunshine yesterday and the garden looked lovely. But today, well, windy grey skies - making it the perfect weather to get out and doooo some sketching.

Not before time after such a lazy summer.  

I just love the meadow, it's full of wonderful plants for which we've forgotten the uses, like this ribwort plantain. Plantago lanceolata, it's quite a romantic name - for a weed.

meanwhile the girls are quietly scrabbling along the other side of the hedge, in hiding from foxy. And just look at that sky . . . . . .

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Garden of earthly delights

I always wish for more time to garden, but even so this year we've had more runner beans than we could possibly use

and possibly, just possibly our tomatoes will get the chance to ripen before the frosts come.

Garden of earthly delights

I do love this time of year, when warm days give way to cool nights and you can feel autumn taking a firm hold.

the echinacea has been fab for the bees

and, very pleasingly, the raspberries are still in full force, we just have to beat the wasps to them, until the first frosts . . . .