Monday, 9 December 2013

Lud's Church. A philosophical adventure.

Lud's Church became the focus for my first brief at University.

We nearly missed it.
My black and white interpretation of the journey to Lud's Church
Well, actually, we found it, but didn't know we had.
Max at Lud's Church
In July last year, I went for a short break with my son Max to the Peak District (Derbyshire, UK). We had arranged to meet up with our friends the Behrens from Berlin, to spend a few days in the environs of a youth hostel in Gradbach,
On arrival at this former flax mill in the middle of nowhere, tucked away in a verdant valley, we decided to explore the area before meeting up with our friends. A sign pointed to 'Lud's Church'; and so we set off, on a stifling hot July day at the start of summer 2013.
Max and I had no idea what Lud's Church was. After trekking along a riverside, over a stile and up a muddy bank, we asked the walkers we met how far it was.
"Oh, maybe half a mile," they said. "You can't miss it."
In our imaginations we saw a derelict church ruin, tucked in an open field, amid the woodland.
Onward we strolled, through dense woodland, past the mound of rocks where a young couple had paused to enjoy the view. After half an hour or so of walking, wiping sweat from our brows and swigging from a bottle of now warm water, we were still no wiser.
A break in the thick trees revealed boulders with strange steps leading down to an open cavern. We both reveled in the coolness of the stones; commenting on the refreshing draught.
Then it was back to the path.
Another 15 minutes later and we had both had enough. We had admitted defeat; we just could not locate Lud's Church. So we backtracked to head back to the youth hostel.
As we passed the strange cavern, Max noticed a faint carving of the words Lud's Church on a rock by the entrance. And sure enough, as we were able to confirm with the couple we had seen on the boulders who were now by the cavern, this was indeed the site we had set off to see.

We explored again with a renewed vigour. Heavy rainfall the night before meant getting down to the lower areas was not feasible, for me anyway. Max managed to balance on a plank of wood, clinging to the rock face, as he disappeared into the gulf. "It's huge," his voice echoed back. "Goes on even further."
On a drier day I would have explored further, but we were happy that we had actually experienced Lud's Church after all.

Now the philosophical bits:
Lud's Church:

1. We find it, but don't realise what it is, so carry on
2. We turn back, find the cavern, and still don't realise what it is so return to the hostel.
3. We turn back, find the cavern, realise it it Lud's Church
4. We don't find it at all ( walk past it, walk back.)
5. We don't find it at all (don't walk far enough)
6. We don't find it, but when we return to the hostel, someone tells us that the cavern was actually Lud's Church.

How would we have felt if we realised we had visited Lud's Church without realising it?

Some historical facts:
The rock cleft known as Lud's Church was used for Lollard meetings in the 14th Century, a secret place of worship for Wycliffe's Lollards, taking its name from Walter de Lud-Auk.
It also set the scene for a famous medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

For our first university brief, we concentrated on 'drawing from memory' and 'mark making', using black and white mediums. I was drawn to concentrating on our visit to Lud's Church, and as I learned new techniques, my sketchbook developed as did my work towards a final piece.

In knitting I made tubes and inserted pieces; we learned how to make Suffolk puffs (don't ask); we have drawn with our eyes closed and sketched in Saltaire; and couched lines and chain-stitched on embroidery hoops.

I enjoyed the brief and it was rewarding to be given a B+.
A detail of my Lud's Church final piece

Generation gap? More like a cultural chasm.

Being old has its advantages. You tend to know more - stuff - than 18 year olds.

There are 14 of us in the college textile group - three of us are 50 plus; the rest are 18 to 20 years old. There have been quite a few occasions recently when the difference in age has revealed itself in amusing anecdotal examples.

Choosing yarns recently, Zanab said: "Gold!" Immediately the song started playing in my head, and I mentioned it to Katie, 18. She had never heard of it. Of course Jackie and Denise knew what I was on about, and we sang the chorus to the bemused youngsters.

We had a 'guess the word' session where we all had to create a powerpoint show with a 'secret' word we were given by Andrea, our lecturer. Jackie showed slides of sweets from the 1970s, 1960s clothing and toys like Scalextrix. I guessed correctly - nostalgia; half the class had never even heard the word.

(Nostalgia, it struck me, is really only reminiscent to anyone over, say, 40. We are bombarded with trips down memory lane; vintage shops abound with kitsch; biopics on TV of Kennedy and the return of Dallas; Dr Who being 50 years old; repeats of Top of the Pops from the 1970s - without Savile, Gary Glitter, Jonathan King and others; we have to be politically correct these days).

Other words which baffled some included 'eclectic', and the aforementioned 'kitsch'. There was one word which was actually new to me - ecochic. What is the world coming to...

I've been working on a separate powerpoint presentation with Chloe, also 18. In pairs, we are to stand in front of our peers and talk with slides about a designer. Chloe and I are doing Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark. Going through it together, I relayed that Celia had been on Desert Island Discs last year. Chloe looked puzzled. I guess I'll be explaining what Desert Island Discs is when we give our presentation!

Lichtenstein - work in progress
Our brief for the second part of this year's term has been to create textile samples inspired by a particular artist. We all had to pick a name out of a bag - I got Roy Lichtenstein (and was not happy!) When all the names had been drawn, I commented (well, actually I ranted) to the lecturer that they were all men. "What about Bridget Riley?" I moaned. "Louise Bourgeois? Paula Rego? Frida Khalo?"
Sana piped up: "I've got a woman! Joan Miro!"