Wednesday, December 3, 2014


There had been quite the storm during the night, but I was awake bright and early.  Eti and I made a quick trip to a local store to get Challah for the Sabbath. It was extremely busy and I found out that shops offices and public transport will all finish around 2pm on a Friday afternoon in preparation for the Sabbath. Quite a lot of people will also have the Friday off as well, except schoolchildren who will only have that Sabbath off and be back at school on Sunday. Maybe that is something that should be employed everywhere....

I actually enjoyed the Sabbath, it was a lovely day as it was a real family day and the Shabbat dinner the night before is also a time for families to get together and eat together, but it was nice to see people in Museums, enjoying a stroll on the promenade and eating in restaurants together. But I'm jumping ahead a day telling you this....

We got back, unpacked the shopping and then it was time to go off on my really exciting visit!! (Oh, do get on with it..........).

When Shoshi had met me at the airport the previous morning, they told me that Eti had been able to arrange a visit with Linda Bar-On..... the smile on my face was as wide as the Mediterranean. If you were at the Festival last year or at one of the trunk shows, then you will be familiar with Linda's work as we had eight pieces in the show. Exquisite work all hand done and each had a story to tell.

This one was a particular favourite of mine, "Blind Date", and was a wonderful piece, the camels had so much individuality. Linda is a very private person, so I think I should respect that and just show the quilts that we had. 

 It was a wet drive over to Linda's village and then the sun came out. As we parked outside her house the heavens opened and we waited a minute or two, but it just got heavier so we ran for the door to find Linda waiting with umbrellas as she was on her way out to meet us. She gave us a lovely warm welcome and invited us into her home. Her husband Gideon was also there, and while Linda was busy in the kitchen making tea, he and I chatted.

It turns out that we used to live not to far away from each other in the UK. We were in Croydon, and they used to live in East Grinstead, and later in Brighton. I taught in Lingfield at adult Education, so knew East Grinstead well, and also used to go car booting in Brighton as they did! Linda's home was very colourful, with white walls blue paintwork, and a wonderful collection of textiles from other countries and she was gracious in giving me a tour so that I could see it all. There were decorated hangings which would have covered a camel saddle for a bride to ride on to her wedding, amazing work, patchwork squares on end and bordered by panels of embroidery, it had a  locket of a child's hair attached as symbol of fertility, a fibre snake which features heavily in some folklore. Most of the pieces came from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and other countries in that area and also the Middle East that Linda had collected over the years, many looked to be antique. They were colourful and beautifully executed pieces of work which were even more breathtaking when you thought that they were done with the minimum of sewing aids, all by hand and with whatever fabrics or weaving were at hand. Every room revealed a new and exciting piece, beading, Kantha embroidery, fringing and tassels.

It is always wonderful to meet an artist in any medium, paint, graphite or textile, as it is only then that you get the full story. Having had this wonderful tour, I could then see and hear from Linda herself, where the influences for her own work came from. I have to admit to being slightly in awe of her as she works in a way I wish I could, but if I did, it wouldn't be mine. However, I have an idea buzzing around in my head, which is influenced by her work and I hope to start on it later today, or at least that's my plan. Her library of books was wonderful, more books on textiles rather than quilting, and on all forms of textiles, weaving, ikat, and many others.

I wish I could convey all that we talked about and all she told me, but it wouldn't mean as much. She was extremely generous with her time, and showing me around her home and it was a real thrill when she said that she had brought in three new quilts from the studio to show they say, OMG!! I was thrilled to bits as I got to hear the stories from the artist herself and to talk to her about her techniques, (if you want to know, she does all her sewing and embroidery standing up, her table in her studio is waist high so doesn't necessitate bending), and looking at the fabrics she uses and the precise work, all embroidery stitches are the same in length or look as if they are and are not marked out beforehand.  They were stunning works. She also told us that she was having an exhibition in Be'ersheva which would be opening on the 18th November. Oh, bliss, oh joy!! That was just before I would be coming home, so Eti and I made sure that Shoshi knew that so my itinerary could be adjusted accordingly, ( I will tell about it, but I am doing this as a day by day, blow by blow account so please don't fall asleep). I also met Linda and Gideon's cat, Sadie. Gideon expressed surprise that she came and sat on a chair in the house as she usually keeps away if there are strangers around, but I didn't tell them that I have this affinity with cats and can usually draw one near that doesn't normally like people.

I couldn't thank Eti enough for arranging that visit, and I have such wonderful memories of visiting someone I consider to be my heroine.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny with no further rain, and Eti and Ruth, whom I had met on Thursday were taking me off to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. I love museums and art galleries, and can spend hours roaming. I took the little ones from next door to Museum London just before I came away, they are getting too big for children museums etc., so I thought I should start introducing them to Art. We had a lovely time, a nice lunch and I thought maybe an hour would be long enough for them. I had to pry them away from exhibits and interactive computer displays. My only complaint would be that there are programmes for schools in the city, but we are rural and don't seem to be included in this, or at least that's the way I saw it as I've never heard of them going to  London with the school. I don't think it should be assumed that rural kids don't need that exposure, it's very important, I think the children should be comfortable going into any museum or gallery so that is my life mission, to accustom them to it and let them be comfortable. Problem is, Toronto's a long way away...................

Anyway, there I am off on a tangent again.

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art was a wonderful place. There were some amazing permanent sculptures outside on the concourse, and I spent a lot of time looking at them. On the inside, there was the biggest Roy Lichtenstein painting I have ever seen, the husband is a big fan of his, and I was sorry I couldn't take photos of it. There were some interesting exhibitions, the art of David Reeb, political, left wing and very dark themes but interesting, a gallery of Israeli art from 1900-1940, a personal favourite and I would have loved to have spent longer looking at it, video art, but forgive me I have never understood video art and this one was no different, it was about a woman with a bed searching for a home, or that's what I think it was supposed to be about, but it seemed to consist of her hanging from a wall or lying on a bed, so I think it is not meant for me to understand.

Some of the wonderful art on the concourse

I was being collected by Shoshi this afternoon as I was on the next stage of my journey, so we went home had a lovely lunch and then a brief rest.  Shoshi arrived later and we had a quick coffee and then it was off to Bat-Yam...........

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