Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Fifty One Degrees North

I have been doing the do in West Mersea Yacht Club this morning moving two little dashes I painted two years ago.  They have been in the wrong place for two whole years.  I am feeling a little bit mortified about this.  I should have known better.

When I was first asked to paint the latitude and longitude over the club bar it was 2014 and no-one could agree what the coordinates actually were.

Quite a few variations were being bandied about so I decided to have go at plotting the position myself.  Using parallel rules I counted out the degrees, minutes and seconds from an old Admiralty chart in the lifeboat station. More likely I think I just stared, sucked my pencil and dreamed of heroically navigating across oceans whilst our LOM (Lifeboat Operations Manager) worked it out. Before I knew it he'd done it.

I was elated and thought I could smugly tell the Commodore,
"Look! These are they",  but back at the Yacht Club they had yet another answer. I was given a new set of correct coordinates with a decimal place.  A decimal place!  There's nothing romantic about a decimal place.  A very clever electronic box and a satellite had worked it out, the computer must be right, this must be where we are.

So, I painted the numbers with the decimal places, with a nice compass rose inbetween.  Now, what with there being a decimal, there weren't any seconds anymore, just minutes and points of a minute.  And me being a stupid artist and not knowing anything about GPS, and not really knowing anything about old school navigation either (despite having passed my Yachtmaster shorebased three times -it's about time I went to sea but that's another story)  I put the little dashy apostrophe mark that denotes minutes right at the end of the number when apparently it ought to go before the decimal.

Either everyone was terribly kind or nobody noticed or nobody cared.  No-one said a word until today.  Anyhow, tis rectified (but a bit squashed in) and all is well with the world.

About the Yachtmaster. I think I'm going to have to do night school and make it a fourth time...    now I have a boat and the whole world is just across the water but I am full of angst and not feeling quite brave enough to leap off and go.   Re-yachtmastering will surely bolster my beans !

This is dangerous talk.   Announcing here that I am going to do something sort of makes me actually have to do it.  And I know that thing that once you begin something it is never quite as terrifying as the thinking about doing it beforehand, but all the same, I might just hop round the island to Pyefleet Creek before I tackle the Horn.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Birds of Lady Grace

Hooray! I have managed to change the fontsize (and font) of this blog. It's still nigh on impossible to read on a phone, but hopefully easier on everything else. I really should have done this years ago. 

The New Year has catapulted ahead full of busy-ness.

I have spent a lot of January hunkered down over fiddly teabag-sized watercolours, my colouring pencils and my computer screen.  I did have plans for oil paint and canvas, for chunks of wood, for boats, for Pierhead(ish) paintings and sailor(ish) tattoos but things changed and their time will come.

So yes, lately I've mostly been drawing birds; natives and visitors (birdfolk not humans) to our Essex marshes all spotted from the Lady Grace.

Stacey is the skipper of Lady Grace.  She is a good waterfront ally (it's a man's world out there), you can find her at the end of the hammerhead jetty running boat trips around the creeks and islands.  If you're lucky she'll be dressed as an elf or even a pirate.  You can also find her here.  (And here and here.)

This is Stacey's picture, not mine.
This is Stacey's picture, not mine.

Stacey is having a new kitchen you see,  and the grand plan is to make her some tiles (with birds on).  Not knowing anything about ceramics it's been a bit of a worry finding the right person with the right sort of kiln to do the right sort of tile making.  Every ceramics trail leads us to Stoke-on-Trent, the home of the pottery industry, but surely there must be somewhere nearer?

Well, plans are afoot, the ball is rolling and we shall see.  

I am dreaming now, of tiles and mugs and plates and...   Oh the possibilities are endless!

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Bye Bye 2015

On top of the world with Ed and a patchwork of otherness.  All pics are mine except Jack Lowe's (can you spot it?) and another (an oldie) from my mother's album. Jack's looks like the oldie but it's not.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Death, Despair and Rainbow Crackers

This is my blog.  Sometimes I am here and sometimes I am not.

Not being here has become a bit of a thing lately,  glaringly obvious from the title of my last post  - Happy Easter. It's almost Happy Christmas, for goodness' sake !

Lost dreams.

Lost loves.

There has been a lot of dying going on which has filled me with sadness and made me lie low.

Dad died first, slowly, stoically, horribly, accompanied by an agonising illness.  After years of pain and struggle we grew to expect and even welcome death, but when it finally came it was gut-wrenchingly awful and a shock.

Then all of a sudden it was Ed's turn.  Ed died suddenly and in tragic circumstances.  I thought he'd be here forever.  I loved Ed.  He was my rock and a bastion of strength and support.  Then one day he just disappeared from this earth,  shockingly, quickly and without warning.  Just like that. Tuesday all smiles and chats on the 'phone,  Wednesday gone.  Bang.

Both deaths beyond awful.

I am all at sea.

Grief changes you.  I feel more inclined to hide,  I have a new and more cynical view of life and a greater impatience with people who are unfamiliar with loss.
In a bubble,  here on this earth but not really connecting, functioning but not really feeling.  Heavy hearted but not entirely hopeless...  I have held my daughter's head above the waves,  although sometimes I think it is she who holds mine.

I shouldn't harp on about it so much, for heaven's sake !   People die, I will too. We all will. Get a grip, Leafy.

I have an uneasy relationship with character bolstering quotes (surely they are for the weak and needy) but privately I am an addict;  here are some words that are helping to shake me from my reverie,

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.

Scribbled in marker pen inside the cabin of his ocean going rowing boat, thank you Alastair Humphreys (a newfound hero of mine -absolutely NOT weak and needy at all), but original thanks must go to William Ernest Henley and his poem, Invictus.

Onwards with high hopes for a new chapter,
And sending love, happy Christmas wishes and thanks too,
Thanks for all your looking, browsing, following, buying and general spurring on, I really do appreciate it.

Christmas cards of the image above (and others) are still available to buy (click here).  You could put some in the cupboard for next year perhaps...

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Friday, 20 March 2015

Ring Out Wild Bells!

Ring Out Wild Bells!  ...I've opened an Etsy shop!

IN AND OUT OF THE SEA,  the artwork of Leafy Dumas.

Purveyor of fine quality cards and prints;  illustrations for grown-ups and children (boats, maps and the English seaside).

I find it slightly terrifying that the whole world (well, those connected to the internet at least) can now click and buy something Leafish from www.etsy.com/shop/leafydumas if they so wish.

Marching onwards and upwards I am carrying on regardless.  I will be listing more items in the coming weeks.  Do keep checking in...  greetings cards are a comin'!

And a big thankyou to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, for his wonderful words.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Lifeboat Station Project.

Last week I was lucky enough to meet Jack Lowe.

Jack is a lifelong enthusiast and supporter of the RNLI.  Travelling in Neena, his decommissioned NHS ambulance (and mobile darkroom), Jack is on a mission to visit all 237 Lifeboat Stations in Britain and Ireland and document them all using an early Victorian process known as Wet Plate Collodion.

He is making three or four photographs (ambrotypes on glass) at each lifeboat station;  a group portrait of the crew, a portrait of each Coxswain or Senior Helm, and a view or two out to sea.

Here he is with his camera,  a fantastic affair made of wood...
Photo: Jack Lowe

...and here he is in West Mersea composing our crew picture,
Photo: Martin Wade

...and Jack's glass plate of Matthew Haward, our Senior Helm, sitting in the wash tray.
Photo: Jack Lowe

and steelyfaced on the slipway, a last minute extra.
Photo: Martin Wade

Jack said,

"Every now and then, the chance arises to make a special additional portrait 'outside the schedule'.

On our travels, it's quite striking that RNLI crews tend to be very male-dominated - about 98% I reckon so far.

I saw an opportunity at West Mersea Lifeboat Station yesterday to make a point of highlighting the fact that women can and do also volunteer as crew.

Leafy Dumas kindly agreed to spend an hour or so making her portrait.  Made with the sun blasting through a stormy sky, it's a beautiful plate and very similar in feel to the 'Old Man of the Sea' photograph made at Hunstanton in January...   "

Photo: Jack Lowe

Feeling hugely honoured to be given such a part in this project.  Thankyou so much Jack, and please forgive me for whipping half your photos from the internet to make this post. Some of the pictures are Jack's...  please folk, note the credits below each pic. ...and read about Jack's mission here.