Architecture · Art · Chicago · Kent · Life On The Road · Road Signs · Transportation · Travel · UK · Weather

Tudeley All Saints Church : Inside a Gem

#RochesterKent

A few years ago, I watched a BBC television feature on a little church in Tudeley which housed stained-glass windows by Marc Chagall.  By the end of the program, a visit to All Saints Church Tudeley was in my Bucket List.  So when 3 weeks ago the Hubby had a couple of days’ work with a client down in Rochester (Kent), I grabbed the opportunity to tag along with the goal of striking out to neighboring Tudeley from there.  I planned to go via Tonbridge, about an hour away by train from the Strood station, which was in turn a bus ride and walk from the hotel.  A long-time admirer of Chagall’s works, I have been lucky that 2 of them are within easy viewing for me when in Chicago :  the Four Seasons outdoor mosaic murals (4-sided) at the Chase Plaza entrance to the Dearborn Blue Line station; and of course the America windows at the Art Institute.  All Saints in Tudeley is particularly special because it is the only Church where all (12!) its stained glass windows are works of the Artist.  There is a tragic, heartbreaking story behind the Windows’ commission, but it all turned to good as both Story and Artwork are now immortalized by the collaborative genius of Chagall and glassmaker Charles Marq of Reims.

My trek to All Saints Church Tudeley began with this page, and the “How To Find Us” directions here.  For all the big-time, long-road, open-sky driving that I do in the US, I cannot drive here in the UK (yet). So, from among my available options to get to the Church, I decided to do so by-foot, instead of cab or bus.  That decision came easily enough : The walking directions, which I carefully copied by hand, had described the trek as “delightful”; and I was quickly sold on the lyrical characterization of the landmarks along the way:

“the road rises to the crest of the hills and then descends”

parade of shops”

little black and white lodge” 

green footpath fingerpost”

“charming foot path lane between high sided walls (may be wet underfoot)”

charming wooded dells”

Indeed, a pied it is.  Surely, I thought, there will be a throng of visitors headed the same way from the train station.  That scenic 2.5 mile walk will be dreamy and enjoyable; and it will give me a good 5,000 steps exercise on the walking app (multiplied by 2 if I walked back!).  I also envisioned having interesting exchanges with fellow enthusiasts.  EASY.  Or so I thought.  

I hurled the first of my assumptions out the window as soon as I got off the train.  I should’ve known that a gloomy, chilly, windy Thursday is not exactly the best day for the Chagall Window Enthusiasts sub-set.  Or perhaps any one for that matter.  I found myself walking alone, often bemused if a house or footpath qualifies as “charming” as described in the Directions, and second-guessing what exactly “wooded dells” looked like.  I was a City-Mouse lost in the deep country.  At some point I found myself the only human within sight, often shadowed by that nagging feeling of being followed.  Of course, it turned out that the imagined sound of footsteps or rustling was actually my backpack rubbing against my neoprene jacket.  I walked through lush fields, mountains of molehills, nettles and brambles that whipped at the hems of my jeans.  I wondered where to shelter if the clouds suddenly gave in and poured, and hesitated when a path Y’s out to different paths.  It amuses but doesn’t surprise me, on hindsight, that “The Blair Witch Project” movie was on my mind as I sallied forth.  [Slideshow below to view some of the bits I saw along the way.]:

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By the time I finally managed to get the Destination within sight, the clouds have given way and Sun was out full-blast.  I had sweat running down the small of my back.  My ankles were soft and wobbly.  My pedometer indicated that it took Lost and Flat-footed Me a total of 7.1 miles (2 hours +) to do the 2.5 mile walk. :)  I crossed the dusty road to a little village church that looked outwardly plain and unspectacular, curious to see what lies inside.  [Hover mouse over the bottom of each pics below to see my marginal notes!].

As it turned out, the church building’s deceptively unsophisticated exterior was the perfect tension before the BIG WOW.  Pushed open, the main wooden door was the rabbit-hole to a wholly different world.  The plain white walls and exposed beams provided the perfect canvas for Chagall’s masterpieces.   That day, within that smallish space, on a gloriously sunny afternoon, I walked into a magnificent crossfire of light from 12 vibrantly colorful sets of windows, — primarily beaming the Blues of night sky and deep sea, and a couple golden Yellows the color of corn and sunlight.  The Windows framed an eclectic collection of Biblical characters, members of the  D’Avignon family, the Moon, fishes and doves, sea creatures, playful donkeys, mythical birds, the whisper of Chagall’s term of endearment for his wife (“Vava”), and a selfie of the artist himself!

I’ve read somewhere that the experience of Tudeley All Saints Church feels like being inside a jewelry box.  That is an understatement — I felt like being inside the jewel itself, — and a perfect, most sparkling one at that.    Slideshow below : — 

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Best of all, I had that wonderful space all to myself for most of the time.  It’s not always like this.  The place gets packed with visitors in the summer apparently.  And so I lingered a bit, savored the quiet and the glow of natural and enhanced lights, and remembered my dad.  How I wish he were still around to hear me blabber about this.  And finally, when it was time to head back, I took the bus.  Exhausted and jelly-legged, thoughtful and happy. :)

VISITING TIPS:

1. Don’t forget to walk into the open Vestry on the west side of the Church (directly opposite the altar).  There is a switch towards the back which lights up the Boscawen Windows (Victorian glass) on the south wall.  These panels were replaced by the last Chagall installations.

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2.  The walking from Tunbridge station is indeed scenic and beautiful.  However if walking through isolated paths is not your thing, make sure you plan ahead and go with a group.  It may not be easy to navigate the Directions on your own.

3.  If you are taking the walk, make sure you pack enough drinking water, your phone is charged or bring back-up power so you can keep in touch if you get lost.  It is quite a long walk, —  with lots of ups and downs and uneven grounds, — and you WILL get lost if it is your first time.  Give yourself enough time allowance, and the cardinal rule:  wear comfortable shoes.

4.  There are interesting and very good publications and postcards on the side of the church.  And a donation box to drop payments and donations.

5.  There is a labyrinth on grounds.  I didn’t see it though.

6.  1.5 miles away is the St. Thomas a Becket Chapel. No longer in active use.  Supposedly has fantastic 13th century painted murals.  It’s still on my list of to-sees.

7.  Bus service to the train station is infrequent — an hour between buses.  And they don’t run late.  The last bus is just past 4:00 p.m., so plan accordingly.  

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.”
― Marc Chagall

Art · Asian · Birthday · Cooking & Kitchen · Food · Life On The Road · Photography · Restaurants

Postscript to Post

FYI.

1.  For good measure, to ensure that I tidy up the ends and not leave my glorious readership of 4 (one of whom is married to me) hanging on the identity of Mystery Man, the answer to the “Who Is It?” of my previous post is (as stated in the tag):  Bill Turnbull, who apparently is also a busy beekeeper.

2.  The place where we had dinner at was:

Sapporo Teppanyaki
91-93 Liverpool Road
Castlefield
Manchester
M3 4JN
T: 0161 831 9888
F: 0161 839 4030
E: manchester@sapporo.co.uk
M: Location Map

If there’s one thing I cannot be too modest about, it is that I know my Asian food, from the many years living and growing up there,  and a lot of travelling around the Continent.  I may not be a good cook, but I love to eat, and I eat a lot (although that applies to any cuisine, but Asian foremost).  This place is very good — quality and generous meat cuts, and an array of seasoning/sauces as you would find in the teppanyaki houses in Asia.  The place would be especially fun for groups, given all that razzmatazz the chefs put into preparation and presentation.  You get your show before your food, in other words.

The website encourages Friday and Saturday night bookings to be done 3 weeks in advance.  — If that gives you an indication how busy they get.  So book in advance.  Caveat:  the place is not inexpensive.  The sushi and noodle bar menu is pretty reasonable; the teppanyaki table could easily cost at least £25 per person for a starter and a main course.  But for those special occasions or business meetings — good place.  One more note — branches in Liverpool and Glasgow.

3.  Finally, an unrelated update.  I received an unexpected email on my Flickr account from the Art Director of Philbrook Museum in Tulsa OK.  A friend and I had driven down there in the summer to take pictures of the garden — to test drive my Canon Rebel T2i.  What sticks to my memory was the sweltering heat that day.  106°F, thank you.  This is the text of the email:

Hello Miss Chicago,
I was wondering if I could use any of your images you took at Philbrook in Tulsa. I’m the Art Director here and always in need of different perspectives and photos for our website.
Thanks so much,
-Kim O’Meilia
komeilia@philbrook.org
Art Director
Philbrook Museum of Art
www.philbrook.org
9188103905

I am still getting to know the tricks of my camera.  So the email is a boost, and such an encouragement.  And yes, I replied immediately with the permission.  :)

Philbrook Museum of Art:  2727 South Rockford Road · Tulsa OK 74114 · 918 749-7941
View of the House
View of the house, pond and part of the gardens
The Art Gallery inside. They have a pretty extensive First Nation and Native American Indian collection.
The resident cat who sleeps in the gazebo as if she owned it.
Art · Fashion · Scotland

Fringe Benefits

From my desk in Chicago, IL.

Today, I was complimented twice on this tshirt I got from last year’s Fringe (The Edinburgh Festival). See below. First in Wow Bao on State and Lake. And later on the 148 bus. Pleasant surprise. I didn’t realize it was THAT special. :) But anyway, the said event was held last year precisely around this time.  My t-shirt says “Aug. 7-31”.  I bet this year’s is going on right now. I will find the link and update this post later.

p.s., Update:  And indeed it is ongoing:  06 to 30 August.  Click here for the home page. Here for twitter, and here for their Facebook “like” page.

Art · Chicago

A Very Special “Warehouse” In The Heart of Chicago

Just down the row of our offices, along the same quiet row of converted warehouses in Ravenswood by the Brown Line is this little gem of  a place.  Actually “little” is hardly a word to describe this place.  Architectural Artifacts, Inc., is a huge — and I mean HUGE — warehouse of architectural and interior pieces, tens of thousands of square feet of floor space.  I discovered it a few months ago, quite accidentally, while walking to meet up with a friend at a nearby restaurant.   Walking past I noticed a pair of unusually beautiful doors inside a showroom, rested against the walls.  If they were selling, I thought to myself, this would be exclusively for trade only.  I slowly walked in, with much hesitance, only to be welcomed by a lady inside — “hello, come on in”, as she turned back to whatever she was doing.  Ah, the perfect welcome — not ignoring, but not overwhelmingly hard-sell either.  From there on, I was like a kid in a candy store.  Happily lost.

The place has everything  from religious art —

to ironwork from industrial springs, candles and gates —

       

to time pieces that follow Sun or Stars —

Seats of Clergy, Choir or Churchgoers —

Pieces of whimsy —

The seriously intricate, ornamental or elaborate —

to things “retro” —

And yes, I wondered who could own this heaven of a business?  This guy.  Boy, I wish I had his job.  Or maybe half his enthusiasm and energy.

Architectural Artifacts,  4325 N. Ravenswood, Chicago IL 60613 • 773.348.0622.  Open 10-5, 7 days a week.

Oh, and by the way, those doors I saw leaning against the wall by the entrance?  They’re from the mansion of the family that founded Amway.

Me, clicking away ....
Art · Books · etsy

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These

I am a bit of an etsy junkie.  I superheart etsy.  It’s part of my secret life, though not so secret now.  I don’t think my clients would ever believe I indulge in that kind of a diversion — but I do, and friends from way back would not be surprised about it.  It’s just that in this day and age of high docket and case traffic in “The Practice” with heavy reliance/usage of technology (read:  you work on your computer almost the whole day), most all Practitioners need those precious few moments in between to rest the eyes.  Some look to the hills (yeah, there are a few of us that are non-worldly I would imagine).  Some take on the golf course or walk down to the pub.  Many sneak out to indulge in retail therapy.  Some plod on with work and become the cattiest creatures.  And some of us do the easy thing — we click on the “etsy” tab and enjoy quiet sessions feasting our eyes on pretty handmade things, feeling more and more covetous by the second, and throwing our choices into our virtual “shopping carts”.  And then, rational beings that we are, we calm ourselves down, edit our wants (carts), convince ourselves we’re not supposed to spend hard-earned money on gorgeous little silly things, and get back to work,  silently convinced that we are in the wrong profession.

One of my favorite etsy sellers is “Lapomme“,  — She of the hand that is as nimble with the needle as it is skilled with the pen.  The artist-writer too is an expat.  She lives in the South of France.

I adore her lavender-packed pillowettes, as I like to call them (and of which I have a few, including in the form of uber-loveable worry dolls); —

worry dolls
squish 'em and you get a whiff of lavendar -- wooooh!

and greedily eye her bigger ones (which I must admit shuffles in and out of my shopping cart as I wrestle with my conscience).  But best of all, I love her little sleep angels.  Here are the ones I have.  Or “had” sounds more like it —   most of them are now in the hands and homes of my friends who are now Lapomme’s fans as well.  A sleep angel definitely is one of those things that is a delight to give and to get.  How did the artist manage to make each of them so loveable, well-dressed (in flowers and leaves) and sleepy looking, with just a few stitches here and there? I wonder —

I'm keeping the "black sheep", second from right.  She is actually made of heavy denim.
I'm keeping the "black sheep", second from right. She is actually made of heavy denim.

And to prove their really angels, look here, they have wings!

ok, now they have their backs turned to you, hohoho!
ok, now they have their backs turned to you, hohoho!

And because they have lavender inside, their aim is to get you sleeping but the downside is they just can’t keep themselves from dozing off —

lapomme 4
Zzzzzzzz

Meanwhile, I’ve made mental note to get the book (“Provenciana”) when they hits the shelves.

Art · Websites

Virtual Little Shop

I found out about this little virtual curio shop called theshopfloorproject.com through the pages of Easy Living (UK mag).  The little boutique is run by mother and daughter, Denise and Samantha Allen, and is packed with quirky, interesting little pieces. The website is so much fun.  It is like entering a secret world…. or navigating through an architect’s 3-D blueprint (is there such a thing?).  Come see

I love this cube pendant by Tatiana Sanchez:

tatianacubependant

and how about this little egg by Stephanie Simek?

simekeggex

Keep using the scroll bar to open more cabinets of stuff. :)

Art · Books · British "stuff"

Frou Frou for Free Free

Among the first things that struck me about British magazine stands (they call them “news agents” here) are the proliferation of gossipy tabloids (note to self:  is not “gossipy tabloids” a tautologic term?), and — tadah —  the many interesting freebies that come with their lifestyle, fashion and art publications.  Magazines in the US don’t give freebies the way they do here — cookbooks, DVDs, scarves, body butter from Body Shop(!), soaps, notebooks, gift wrapping prints… you name it.  

I decided to go for a walk down the street to the Co-Op at the end of the day yesterday for air and to top up on our groceries.  At the end of the run I thought to treat myself to a magazine — any no-brainer light read that had nothing to do with the practice of Law.  Maury skype’d his suggestion:  get a really trashy tabloid for a dose of cultural exchange.  Hahaha, nice.  I stood in front of the overflowing rack taking the longest time to pick something I would enjoy reading and not just pick out for the fancy freebie.  I ended up with “Easy Living”, a Conde Nast publication which I believe has no US counterpart, although the racks of Barnes&Noble certainly would have them in their foreign mags.  Nicole Kidman on the cover, and a Cath Kidston “washbag” as a freebie, plus a Cath Kidston mag/catalogue.  That looked like a fair enough deal for GBP3.20 ($4.50).

easy-2

Cath Kidston does a lot of floral oilcloth stuff.  Her work is equal parts sweetness and quirk.  The frou-frouness of florals is something I must admit I have yet to get used to, much less appreciate.  But this side of the pond, it is a style/design de rigeur and well entrenched in many places, whether in the bigger cities or the smaller towns.  And, when in Rome….

I made a good choice with Easy Living.  It is a cross between Domino, H&G and a little bit of TheNest, translated to CondeNast-ese.  It entertained me enough as I laid in bed battling the sneezies that night.  Light read, although, as of now, very foreign to me still.  :) 

See anything you like?

easy-43 easy-51

 

I love the butter dish.  So English country cool.
I love the butter dish. So English country cool.
Art · etsy

Medlar the Cat by bloomsburygroup

One of my favorite etsy artists is Zena, the genius behind the Bloomsbury Group (etsy seller name:  “bloomsburygroup“).   Zena lives in White Sussex, England. I have 2 of her art dolls which I ordered in the Fall of 2008. I’ll save the write-up on them for another day, and show pics.   Today, I want y’all to meet the loveable (…. drum roll….) Medlar the Cat, by Zena.  Grains and seeds at the base prop Medlar on his own.  His face is painted, and he has an interesting tail curled at his side.  I love Zena’s works for their detail, and the little twists and surprises she tucks here and there:  a button, little bell, ribbon, tiny felt balls.  The badges of a well-thought, this-is-made-just-for-you piece.  The small twists make you not just like and admire the work, they make you love it.  The “twist” I love about Medlar is the frayed ribbon on his neck (see left side of pics, color strands).  It’s almost like the artist quickly, randomly, tied several pieces of silk string together.  And yet, the resulting ribbon is beautiful; and I still have to figure out how it makes Medlar just perfect.  So here he is:  Medlar on the shelf —

medlar-1medlar far

And did you notice the little “heart” pin Zena gave me?  It’s by Medlar’s feet —

medlar-3  

Look closely at the details and stitching…

medlar-4

Thank you, Zena. :)

God is in the details. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Art · etsy · Holidays

On The Same Holiday Wavelength

Last Christmas, I had the wonderful experience of being part of a small ornaments exchange club with 3 of my best high school friends, one of whom I had the serendipitous luck of finding through Facebook!  All four of us are now in different parts of the world and the Christmas ornaments exchange allowed us to muster whatever little artistic talents we may have (or claim not to have) and enjoy the joys of silly, loving, girl-power friendships.   This year’s theme being “stars”, I titled my series “stars dripping from a tea cup” and used unique tea cup designs from a paper/poster bought from the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh (Scotland).  I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my favorite etsy sellers (Munieca from Argentina) has been selling triplets of ornaments of a similar concept.  We must’ve been on the same holiday wavelength! yay!

Here’s mine:

stars dripping from a tea cup

And Munieca’s (you can visit her etsy site here):

il_fullxfull472019731

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly.” (Deck the Halls)

“Door bells and sleighbells and tinsel with noodles.”  (My Favorite Things)

“Frosted window panes, candles gleaming inside, painted candy canes on the tree…” (Sleigh Ride)

Art · Chicago · Friends · Gifts

Welcome Christmas Visitor

This Christmas saw a small “influx” of handmade little treats for me. This loveable thing was made for me by my friend, Anna. She patterned the dress of the doll after a dress she and I bought at BCBG Max Azaria a year back. At that time we had marvelled at the quirkiness and detail of the dress. Now I have a doll with a mini one. I love her sparkly shoes, and her long legs. And Anna’s comment? “yes, it won’t be you without the skinny long legs.” Thanks Anna. She has an etsy store under seller name “1760sundayhouse”, and a very interesting and fun blog.  Go visit.

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Take note:  This little darling came in the handmade box hat beside her.  The box is a piece of work in itself.  Look closely. 

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I haven’t had something handmade for me in quite a while, so this one is special.  No wonder every time I pass by her work room (the artist and I share an apartment when I am in her little town of Joplehem) she turns the lights off and hollers “you can’t come in here!”.  Yeah, Santa’s workroom.  As I said, it’s very special to get treats like this. :)

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.  ~Janice Maeditere