100 Years, 100 Days

I'm very happy to be able to reveal a really exciting project I have coming up in beautiful Wiltshire. The commission has several parts to it and I'm creating very different work for two separate churches, St Laurence's in Hilmarton and Christ Church in Broad Town. The Broad Town project is a whole other kettle of fish, so I'll save that for a later blog and begin with Hilmarton.

Day1©KateSlater.jpg

This year, Remembrance Day will mark 100 years since the end of the First World War. All over the country, communities will be marking the centenary of Armistice on the 11th November, but at St Laurence's Church in Hilmarton, they're starting early - 100 days early.

I was really inspired by their decision to hold an Act of Remembrance in the church, every day for 100 days until Remembrance Day: 100 Years, 100 Days. So inspired, in fact, that I enthusiastically decided to join in and begin my commission by creating 100 ink illustrations. Which is why I now find myself beginning the massive challenge of painting or drawing something, every day from today until 11th November, to tell the stories of some of the local men who died in the war.

You can follow the project on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, support me on Patreon (coming soon!) and watch the work unfold over the course of the next few months!

I'm going to base the work on just four men whose names appear on the war memorial in the church and really want to make this project about their lives and experiences. There's an amazing local historian in Hilmarton, Richard Broadhead, who has done so much research into all the men who went to fight from Wiltshire, it's phenomenal - I definitely won't be short of material.

However, it doesn't end with the initial illustrations. What I'm really hoping to do is to use the work created over the 100 days as a starting point to make three or four installations inside the church. I’d like to commemorate the soldiers lives in a more personal way than names carved in stone, read out once a year. This part of the project all depends on whether or not we can secure more funding, but I really hope it will be possible!

In the meantime, today marks the very first day of the project, and here is the first painting-in-progress!

All the paintings will be exhibited in the church and are also for sale (although this first one has already been claimed!) so please do follow me on social media and sign up to my mailing list if you're interested in staying up to date!


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Blue Peter visits the Farnes Flock!

Finally, at the grand age of seven-and-twenty, I am the very proud owner of a Blue Peter badge! A couple of weeks ago, on my birthday in fact, I was heading into the Peak District for a celebratory luncheon, enjoying the sunshine and generally revelling in the fact that I had not one single bird to cut out, when my telephone rang. It was Blue Peter's director asking if I could go up to the Farne Islands that very evening to be part of a feature they had planned the following day! What would Diane Louise Jordan* do? I asked myself, and quickly said YES before I had chance to get too nervous. So, after a quick sandwich, we hot-footed it back home for a slice of birthday battenburg (homemade with lots of marzipan - my favourite!) before I caught the train back up to the Farnes, just three days after I returned home from hanging the exhibition.

It's very exciting having your travel arranged for you by someone else. I spent a good chunk of the journey quickly trying to get to the part of Susan Cain's Quiet where she enlightens introverts on how to deal with public speaking. It turns out you need 1) practice: "Aaargh, I have no time to practice!" and 2) a passion for your subject: "BIRDS! COLLAGE! BLUE PETER! YES!" Everything would be ok, I promised myself, my jar of Night Time Kalms rattling reassuringly in my pocket.

In fact, everything was super. It should come as no surprise that people who work on Blue Peter are very lovely people indeed. They even gave me a special HAT. Anyone who knows just how much I love a good hat will not be surprised by my delight in having such a fine, green M&S specimen to add to my collection.

The children from the local middle school in Seahouses were brilliant. They asked some great questions about my exhibition and made lovely bird collages in a really short space of time. We also did quite a lot of walking in and out of the chapel, donning our hats at the appropriate moment, and a good deal of pointing at puffins:

 Blue Peter

Blue Peter

It was broadcast today and you can now see the whole programme here if you're in the UK, it will probably be available for a week or so and the Farnes bit is about 19 minutes in.

I'll be back on the Farnes during the summer holidays to run some children's collage workshops (as seen on Blue Peter!), I'll keep you posted and should have some definite dates lined up soon.

 Diane Louise Jordan

Diane Louise Jordan

*My absolute favourite Blue Peter presenter when I was young:

A Chapel Full of Birds

I have some really exciting news which I can finally tell you ALL about! In August last year, I had THE BEST work day out, ever. It involved travelling up to Seahouses in Northumberland to meet some lovely people from the National Trust, taking a tiny boat across the sea on a beautiful, sunny day, eating cake delivered by post, a tour of a beautiful island and a really unique exhibition space, all topped off by a seal watching expedition (and fish and chips for tea)! It really will take some beating, although I am, of course, open to offers.

The result of all this northern adventuring is that from the end of June until the end of October this year, a lovely chapel on the National Trust's beautiful Farne Islands will be filled with a vast flock of my life-size, collaged birds! Similar to those I created for Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2010, but at least ten times as many and only species which can be seen on the islands (no flamingos this time), the birds will be suspended from the beams in the chapel so you'll be able to walk amongst them as they swoop to and fro!

The Farne Islands are a tiny group of islands just off the coast of Northumberland in the north-east of England. They're one of the most magical places I have ever visited, this is the breathtaking view looking back towards the mainland from the Farnes, with Bamburgh Castle on the coast and the Cheviot Hills in the background.

The islands are most famous for their incredible bird life - they have 23 species, including around 37,000 pairs of puffin! Look - it is impossible to keep yourself from beaming with joy at the sight of ONE, let alone 37,000 pairs:

Luckily, I'd been to the Farnes on holiday in my teens, so I knew a bit about them when Simon Lee, the manager for this area of the Northumberland coast, contacted me about creating a flock especially for this space. Somehow one of my dream commissions has become reality - a seaside, bird-based reality! It really couldn't be better.

The chapel is on Inner Farne which was once home to St Cuthbert in 678 AD. Built in 1370, the chapel is dedicated to the saint and stands alongside the Pele Tower which once housed monks and is now home to some of the National Trust rangers!

Imagine this space filled to the rafters with birds!

Chapel Exterior 1

Here are some more photos I took of the islands:

Look - SEALS! Unfortunately my camera failed at the last minute and I didn't get many photos of them. Huge thanks to Simon, David, Claire and everyone else for making it such a super day!

You can see more photos on the Pinterest board I've created here. Also well worth a look is the rangers' blog - they live on Inner Farne for eight months of the year (check out the photos of their mammoth supermarket shop just before they ventured out for the new season!).

You can follow @Northumb_Coast (National Trust's Northumberland Coast group of properties) and @NTSteely (head ranger for the islands).

I feel a puffin brooch in the offing. More importantly, I have A LOT of birds to collage...