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34 Faces at an exhibition ...

The 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibitionThe 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibitionThe 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibition
The 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibitionThe 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibitionThe 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibition
The 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibitionThe 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibitionThe 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibition
The 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibitionThe 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibitionThe 'face of a vintage tractor at a ploughing exhibition

... a ploughing exhibition. (Just click on the tractors' 'faces' to see a larger image.)

The mister has been saving up his holiday days and starting today - he's grabbing his chance while in a lull between projects - has three whole weeks off work. Yippee! Sadly though the situation with the aged Ps is such that anything other than a staycation won't be possible. So we kicked things off on Friday night with a fish and chip supper, eaten in the car, parked up on the moors, watching it rain ... torrentially! And a list making session: things we absolutely must do (gardening ... it's a jungle out there!), things we probably ought to do, and things we really want to do. Needless to say it's unlikely everything will be ticked off before the 21st.

First up on the want-to-do list was attend the annual exhibition ploughing match. I'm never particularly comfortable pointing my camera at random people, which is a pity as there were some real characters there, but I have no such qualms when it comes to vintage tractors, as you can see. Some were red, some blue, some cream, some grey, and in consequence it looked like a bit of a dog's dinner when I put all the pics together, hence the black and whites. I've got a soft spot for '75', which seemed to be held together by little more than hope and string, and for the worried looking Ferguson (second down on the left) with its O of a mouth* (I know, I know, it's the hole for the crank handle ... humour me, will ya). Actually, if I'm honest, I think they're all quite cute. Please tell me I'm not the only one!

R.S. Thomas's poem Cynddylan on a Tractor, although playful in tone, hints at regret for an older and humbler way of life now lost. Reading it more than sixty years after it was written I can't help but feel a similar nostalgia for tractors like Cynddylan's.

Cynddylan on a Tractor

Ah, you should see Cynddylan on a tractor.
Gone the old look that yoked him to the soil,
He's a new man now, part of the machine,
His nerves of metal and his blood oil.
The clutch curses, but the gears obey
His least bidding, and lo, he's away
Out of the farmyard, scattering hens.
Riding to work now as a great man should,
He is the knight at arms breaking the fields'
Mirror of silence, emptying the wood
Of foxes and squirrels and bright jays.
The sun comes over the tall trees
Kindling all the hedges, but not for him
Who runs his engine on a different fuel.
And all the birds are singing, bills wide in vain,
As Cynddylan passes proudly up the lane.

R.S. Thomas

* Or maybe he's whistling?


42 The Colour Collaborative: August: Collection

I've never been much of a collector. I may own an inordinate number of books but my library is best described as an accretion, and the same could be said for my knitting yarn stash and my cupboard full of old jugs and gravy boats. Finding it impossible to part with old copies of Country Living magazine - there are boxes and boxes of them in the attic - is frankly an aberration. And having more hounds than most folk surely doesn't count. This was not a great topic choice for me.

So I wrote a list of things collected because of their colour - amber, jade, Whitby jet, Delftware - but nothing on it appealed as a peg to hang this post on. And then I thought of Boro ...

What do you know about sumptuary laws? Laws that regulate consumption and by so doing reinforce social hierarchies. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Japan's sumptuary laws were so strict that those in its poorest northern communities had access to only homespun hemp or ramie and discarded remnants of cotton for making household textiles and clothing. The cottons had been woven in the warmer south, where cotton grew, but were only available as scraps - in the permitted indigo blues, greys, browns and black* - which arrived baled and needed scouring before use. The best of them were then pieced together to make kimono, the worst torn into the narrowest possible strips and woven into a coarse, nubby cloth, saki-ori. Fisherman's jackets, futon covers, wrapping cloths, even mosquito 'nets', all were fabricated and re-fabricated from collections of wealthier people's cast-off oddments. Worn items were patched, and then the patches were patched ... making ends meet, literally.

Boro means tattered rags. But these utilitarian textiles, with their lines of reinforcing sashiko stitches and darned patches, although not intended to be decorative are beautiful. And now very collectible. Cloth frugally repaired over generations, by woman snatching time from chores or stitching while their families slept, cloth once reviled by the majority of the Japanese as the very embodiment of poverty, is now appreciated globally for its aesthetic charm and humble origins. I would love to own a few authentic boro pieces, but to collect them would be way beyond my pocket and probably beyond yours. I'm left with the Pinterest option, the way so many of us collect things now.

* The more opulent colours were the reserve of the Japanese aristocracy.

Afterword. From Boro: Rags and Tatters from the North of Japan.
Tanaka showed me the contents of an old lady's furoshiki wrap-cloth: hundreds of irregular cotton scraps, each washed, color sorted and ironed, all carefully saved up to be used who-knows-when ... [A collection of] this many swatches, he said, made her a rich woman! Poor folk were those who had to beg their relations for bits of cloth.

Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below ...

Sandra at Cherry Heart       Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

CJ at Above the River       Jennifer at Thistlebear     

And July's guest poster ...
Caroline at Scraps of Us

What is The Colour Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.


53 Thoughts

Six jars of blackberry jelly ... that would seem to be the sum total of my productivity since my last post. And a lot of thinking. I guess that counts too?

Thinking about being told, to my considerable surprise, that I give little of myself away here. Thinking about what is most meaningful to know about another. Thinking about trust, and vulnerability, and self-protection. Thinking about what it means to 'be oneself'.

Thinking that re-invention can be synonymous with re-discovery.

Thinking, again, about blogging as self-portraiture. And about the fact that I'm incapable of typing porttraiture without adding an extra t.

Thinking 'How much introspective rambling is too much introspective rambling?'.

Thinking 'What will it mean to be British come September 19th?', whichever way Scotland votes.

Thinking 'Could I, should I, limit the colour palette I use online to better reflect my personal aesthetic ... black and white, greys, browns, neutrals, terracotta pinks, leaf greens, indigo blues, soft yellows, and mustard. Thinking I've no idea why I think that's a good idea, but I do.

Thinking 'I need new reading glasses'. And that two years since the first pair I've still not adjusted to needing them, period.

Thinking 'Blackberry jelly is so very much nicer than blackberry jam'. And that it's best on warm from the oven scones, buttered, and then topped with clotted cream.

Thinking I wonder what's been preoccupying you lately? Or giving you the pip? Jam or jelly? And how do you like your scones?

Thinking that I am blessed with an awesome bunch of readers. For your concern, your wisdom, your friendship, thank you.

Postscript. Just to add, given a couple of the observations made below, that although I was surprised by the emailed comment to the effect that I perhaps keep too much of myself back, I was in no way offended by it. In fact, it sparked an interesting email conversation which the commenter agreed to my mentioning here.

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