I can’t believe that it is the 1st of May already, this year is just flying by with the end of my undergraduate course zooming towards me faster and faster. This weekend I have been researching and concluding the work on two of my academic essays and because I get so absorbed I find that the hours just disappear and I nearly forgot to put my post on. So rather than bore you all with the intricacies of my essays I wanted instead to share with you one of the craft projects that I started last time I was at home. I find the distraction of doing something totally different takes my mind off my studies for a while, then when I return to college I find that I am better able to push on and tackle new projects with extra energy and focus.
I wanted to create some gifts for friends that were a little different from the thank you cards that I would usually make at home. I flicked through some magazines and discussed some ideas with my Mum and decided to create some hanging hearts as they seemed an ideal way of saying thank you 🙂
I started with MDF hearts about 20cm by 20cm
Then with the trusty essentials, PVA glue, foam risers, double sided tape and a hot glue gun it was time to get started.
The first job is to select scraps of paper in colours and designs that you think will go together.
For the first heart I cut out the backing paper with scissors, glued it down and finished off with a scalpel to fit.
Stick it on to the MDF with PVA glue.
To decorate I used chalk to dust the torn edges of pictures I had chosen. A torn map and a car I cut out of a sheet of men’s toppers you can get from craft shops.
I finished off with a some musical accents, an mdf clock and a little ribbon to hang it with 🙂
For the next heart I layered scraps of paper in strips and stuck them to the heart using PVA glue. Once dry I turned it over and cut off the excess paper with the scalpel.
I wanted to use an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme for this heart using some decoupage images.
Cutting them out and building up the picture with foam pads can be fiddly work.
After putting together the rest of the items and glueing them down here is the finished article. Playing cards from a set out of a Christmas cracker, a ‘drink me’ bottle from craft supplies from The Works, I cut out the teapot and china cup from a craft book and added hot glue to make the tea and coloured it when it was dry. Hope you enjoyed my craft day.
This weekend I have had a lovely time with my family who visited me in Glasgow. We spent most of the weekend walking up a good appetite and discovering new places. It was very picturesque, especially due to the snow falling. However it didn’t stick and we were greeted today with some glorious sunshine. My younger brother Thomas was competing in Leeds in a Latin and Ballroom event with his association from Glasgow University. They all did superbly and Thomas got into the Ballroom semi-final and the Latin quarter-final. I wish them all the best of luck for nationals in Blackpool at the end of the month!
Matt and me having afternoon tea in the Willow Tea Rooms
On the 17th March 2016, alongside my year group (fourth year Batchelor of Music students) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, we will be performing scenes from operas. I have been chosen to sing Fiordiligi in the humorous Cosi Fan Tutte Act 1 finale . I am really looking forward to staging rehearsals next week! I hope to get some shots and I will share what we get up to and the context of the scene 🙂 The tickets are £7.50 and rehearsals are going well.
On the 18th March 2016, George Todica and I are performing at the South Hill Park Arts Centre in Reading, a selection of beautiful art songs, piano and piano/voice. We are really looking forward to this performance.
Russell Lomas and I will be performing on the 30th March 2016 in a concert at Walton Hall, Warrington at 7:45 to 9:30pm with Elliot Gresty (clarinet) and Meera Maharaj (flute). The concert has been organised for previous prizewinners of the Warrington Young Musician of the Year. It will be wonderful to be reunited with these two fabulous musicians and I am excited to hear their progress and see how much they have achieved since we last met.
Elliot Gresty, Me and Russel Lomas when we performed together in Rochdale ( Aug 2013
The established photographic artist Pascal Barnier combined his holiday to Scotland with an opportunity to see me in my first operatic main role, as Eve in the Dove Opera “The Walk from the Garden” in Glasgow. He also came along to listen to me sing with my friends in the RCS Chamber Choir at our concert in St Mary’s Cathedral. Pascal is the artist that created several of my social media banners and I love his work and his passion for colour, vibrations and light that he says he imagines when listening to my singing.
Having My Picture Taken With Pascal Barnier Just After My Performance In “The Walk From The Garden”
Over the past few months he has been listening to my first album “Canzoni D’Amore” whilst he creates and I’m truly honoured that he has used my songs as inspiration for some of his work. He has decided to group these images together and use them in a book “A Collision of Classical Music and Photographic Art”.
We first met on Facebook about 18 months ago when Pascal created a blog of his works. It’s great to collaborate with other artists and the photographic creations he gave to my parents last month were just lovely. I have also helped him out by reading the French to English translations of his other books and made suggested improvements to his English translations, although I didn’t want to alter the flow too much as I felt that it was important that his work sounded authentically French.
I was thrilled when Pascal agreed to let me interview him for my blog.
Pascal did you study art or photography in Higher Education or are you self-taught?
I actually studied photography autodidact until I was 18 years old. I then took a degree in Graphic Art and Printing along with photography lessons and art history. Then a 35mm projection degree to explore the continuous use of light.
When I read a magazine or book on the art in printing, it inspired me to meet the artists, to find out about their techniques and to work with the best images for reproduction. I seek to know the history of my photographic subjects.
I was also Head of the foundation of a painter. It was in an old chapel, the wall covered with a fresco of 700 m2, which represented the vision of the painter, the Apocalypse of St. John.
For about two years I have done personal research on art and parallel research on light.
So I would say that about 40% of my studies were through academic routes and 60% through self-taught research.
Where does your passion for your work originate?
I have always been fascinated by light. The sunrise, sunsets and lightning during storms, sun rays through the clouds or through the branches of trees in the forest. At first I tried to draw, then to paint and finally I discovered photography.
When I was little, my grandfather always said, if you want to achieve something, work hard at it, keep learning until you arrive at what you want. So for 30 years, I have not stopped and my passion is still there. I can patiently wait for hours at sunset, or walk for kilometers in order to take a picture, and for me it’s magical every time.
What inspires you, for example in your flamingo series I wondered why watering cans?
I have a degree on the acquisition of language and sign language. For me, shapes, objects, colours tell stories, they produce vibrations and make music. Flamingos standing on one leg, remind me of Yogi or Egyptian scribes, observing the world like someone ancient and wise, their pink feathers to me take on the colour of the morning sky, in the light of the new day.
In my work, I try to offer the public a different view on the world. The flamingos are there to act as guides, which encourages the viewer of my images to visit the locations rather than just watch as a spectator.
Watering cans symbolizes sharing, I hope that my images carry with them lessons that flow like water. To me a safe it is filled, it is closed, it is buried, but a watering can when it is full, it can be emptied when you need it, and fill it back up and start again.
As an artist who is in a touring show, every day they start with a new audience, sharing their passion, their work to bring happiness to everyone who comes along.
What is your musical taste, do you play any instruments?
I love music that tells me story that fills the imagination with background images, such as classical, jazz and folk. I do not like repetitive music, containing a phrase that is repeated indefinitely.
I love the harp, violin, and piano because you can feel the music as the vibrations penetrate through your skin. Unfortunately, I’m not a traditional musician, but rather a different type musician, someone who plays the camera to compose visual melodies.
What inspired you to make me the subject of your work?
Your first comment on my blog attracted me to yours, a wonderful discovery. Which I have continued to read ever since. I liked the way you talked about your passion and I found so much in common between the ways we both worked. Then there was your voice, I had to organize recitals in the painter’s foundation and had come across many singers who I considered “technicians” of their art. But your voice overwhelmed me with light, colours and images. I knew then that our artistic worlds would in some way fuse together. Working with you is to be in a world where song gives birth to pictures and where images are singing. Why would I not want to share this with the world around me?
Is there anywhere that people can see your work?
I have a website that I hope will integrate with my library and also my shop (late June) But you can find my work at the following sites :
and soon, I hope to exhibit my work at a shop in Brittany, in La Baule, with photos on paper, aluminum, plexiglass, books, CD, scarves and mugs.
When I was putting together my slides for my PechaKucha presentation last week it made me think about everyone that social media has introduced me to. I have met such a vast array of gifted people passionate about what they write and so helpful in sharing their knowledge with me.
This week is bridge week (a self study week) at the RCS and this year I decided to go home and visit my parents for a couple of days. I have quite a lot of work to prepare for college and I thought that mixing a little time with my family alongside my studies would give me a bit of a boost.
Saturday morning started bright and sunny and although cold we thought that we would go for a walk around the city of Chester. There is always something going on there and it is great fun just to wander around.
Views from Eastgate on Chester’s City Walls.
We were walking along the walls when we heard the sound of fire crackers coming from behind the Cathedral, so we went to investigate.
It was the Chinese new year celebrations outside the Town hall. Just as we arrived the Chinese Lions were leading the crowd into the Town Hall.
Excitedly we followed everyone inside the grand Town Hall where the festivities continued. A number of children from local schools performed an entrancing friendship dance with little colourful scarves, I wanted to jump on the stage and join in 🙂
Then some of the local representatives of the Mandarin Language centre came on stage to show the intricate stitching and brocade work on their dresses, they were really beautiful garments.
Finally we moved outside to watch the Dragon dance which was performed by a Liverpool based martial arts club. My Dad managed to video some of the dance to give you a flavour of the day 🙂
I just couldn’t resist getting in on the act right at the end 🙂
So in this year of the Horse I would like to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year 🙂
新年快乐 (xīn nián kuài lè, pronounced “sheen nyen kwy luh”) = Happy new year! (literally “The new year comes fast!”)
恭喜发财 (gōng xǐ fā cái, pronounced “gong shee fah tsy”) = Wishing you a prosperous new year! (literally “May you have much joy and wealth!”)
新年快乐 (san1 nin4 faai3 lok6) = Happy new year! (literally “The new year comes fast!”)
恭喜发财 (gung1 hei2 faat3 choi4) = Wishing you a prosperous new year! (literally “May you have much joy and wealth!”)
I would like to share this Happy New Year wish which was created by my good friend Pascal Barnier.
It started to rain shortly after the celebrations so we moved into the Cathedral. It is beautiful building with hundreds of years of heritage. You get a real sense of the history of Chester just by looking around the cathedral and soak in the sheer magnificence of the building.
There has been a Cathedral on the site since about 1093 in Norman times and has been added to and altered many times over the years.
One of my favourite parts of the Cathedral are the choir stalls. They date from about 1380 and it took 20 master wood carvers and 20 apprentices 2 years to complete what in my mind is a true work of art.
What amazes me is that part of the carvings on the pews in the choir stalls depict an elephant. But as none of the workmen had ever seen an elephant they carved them with horses hooves 🙂
These old stories are a great piece of our history and I just love to discover them on my wanderings 🙂
When I thought about setting myself a little challenge over Christmas I never imagined how much support and involvement it would attract. I set out the competition outline in the first post :
“Then we discussed how best to involve all my friends from my blog, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. I thought it would be fun to put all the names of those who comment on my posts over the course of the twelve days into a draw, The person that we select at random from those who comment will win the twelve pictures and a CD of the final song and a copy of the video”.
Thanks to one of my lovely blog pals mareymercy I had a random sample program to use http://www.miniwebtool.com/random-name-picker/ my Mum had typed in everyone’s name and day of the comment into a word file, over 470 entries, this was then cut and paste into the random name picker and Voila.,,,,
But you are going to have to watch the video to see who won 🙂
I also noticed that today I’ve just broke through 100,000 views thank you all so much for all your support 😉
My posts with the most comments from March 2013, when I started the blog, to-date were:
The top five most popular topics I’ve written about are:
1. Opera Singer 2. Soprano 3. 12 Days of Christmas 4. Art 5. Entertainment
Best Ever view date was:
1952 views on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 with 1091 visitors, 376 referrals that day were from Facebook.
I would like to thank you all for connecting with me during 2013 your support, help, suggestions and comments have been wonderful to receive and I can not thank you enough 🙂 I am really looking to what 2014 has to bring and I hope we can enjoy it together.
I hope that you’re having a happy day 🙂 I have just finished the final touches on the “Twelve Days of Christmas” cards ready for posting. I’m closing the competition tonight at midnight. I’ve entered all the commenter’s names to-date into a random selector ready to make the selection. Here’s a picture of the complete set.
Well folks this is my last post of my Christmas challenge and I have had loads of fun thinking what to do each day and allowing myself to break my voice back in gently. The response from everyone has been fabulous and it has been a wonderful help to me in getting back to full voice.
I thought long and hard about what to do for my last instalment and after mulling over two or three suggestions I decided to keep it simple, just me sat at my piano 🙂
Robert Gear and Me
My friends have all been arriving in Glasgow over the weekend ready for tomorrow’s first day back and Robert, my flat share, arrived late this afternoon. We thought that it would be a great idea to take my Mum, Dad and brother to Waxy O’Connors in Glasgow City centre before they headed off home.
It has a great atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon as many of our friends get together and play improvised Scottish folk music at the front of the pub and really gets you in a cheerful mood, which I needed before saying goodbye to my family 🙂
Susan Bates ( Harp ), Robert Gear, Me and Jillian Hunter ( Flute )
To give you a taste I filmed a short burst and put it at the end of today’s verse so I hope you enjoy it too.
With my boiler working again I started to unpack with my Mum and tried and get my flat looking straight again for the new term. Finding proper homes for all my most important things took a little re-organising but it is looking loads better this evening.
We walked over to the centre just after lunch as there was a break in the weather and as we walked down the steps opposite the centre I could see that the centre was closed 🙁
The National Piping Centre, Glasgow
We tried several times during the afternoon but there was no sign of the centre opening at all. I talked it through with my Dad and we decided to go back after dark and film outside on the steps.
As we walked back towards the centre it was still bathed in darkness but literally as we arrived on the steps outside all the lights went on inside and someone opened the doors 🙂
We went inside to try and persuade them to let us film inside but there was a wedding on and the bride and guests were due any minute but if we were quick we could film on the steps, All the staff on duty wanted to get involved and I asked them to get together for a picture 🙂
We went outside and filmed today’s verse and finished by taking some pictures of the centre.
I arrived back in Glasgow this evening and it was raining so we had to unload all of my luggage whilst trying to dodge the worst of the weather. Once we were settled in my flat I put the kettle on so that I could make my Mum and Dad a nice warming cup of tea. Then I ran around turning up all the radiators as the flat was really cold having been empty over the Christmas break.
Arghhh !! the boiler was not working, no heating and no hot water. My Dad had a read through the manual for the boiler but he could not get it working. So I telephoned British Gas to report the problem as I took out their Homecare cover when I moved in. Guess what they don’t class no hot water and no heating as an emergency and the earliest I could persuade them to come out is tomorrow morning otherwise it would have been Monday.
I am so glad that I had a hot water bottle from my Mum and Dad this Christmas because I am going to need it tonight 🙂
So you will have to excuse my little dance in tonight’s verse as I was trying desperately to keep warm 🙂
My parents both went back to work today so I packed up Christmas at home for them because they’re taking me back to Glasgow after work tomorrow and will return late on Sunday.
I don’t like packing suitcases but I hate unpacking them again and putting everything away even more. I’ve had a de-clutter and taken out all the clothes I no longer wear and books I’ve read and won’t read again to give away. We do this every year and used to get old unwanted toys too.
My youngest brother finds it hard to get rid of things though and Mum tries to persuade him every year to put ‘Match’ magazines and ‘Nintendo’ magazines in the recycling bags or to pass them on to someone new. Mum says he’ll end up like Mr Trebus,a famous hoarder, because he’s still holding on to his transformers, cars, etc. Then again I can’t say anything, I can’t part with my dolls house or beanies 🙂 Every year my Mum threatens to get rid of our rocking horse and all three of us say “NO”.
Packed up and ready to travel back to Glasgow.
There was just one last thing to do tonight and that was to record today’s verse, “Nine Ladies Dancing”. However after constant nagging from Mini Me to get in on the act I finally gave in and let her take the spot light for one night 🙂