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Skillful art, overflowing the British countryside

   On a recent trip out, I happened to see a simple banner on the wall of a nearby church that read "Art Exhibition, Free Entry."

  As a nearby resident, I sometimes receive free community newsletters, and I know that there is a "painting and crafts group" composed of residents themselves, and I want to come to this "art exhibition" to show the work of this group.

  The reason for this speculation is that I just visited an art exhibition outside Edinburgh a while ago. There are also works by local artists and enthusiasts. I also bought two pieces of pottery.

  Haddington is a town on the east side of Edinburgh, because it is only about 30 minutes by car from Edinburgh, and public transportation is also very convenient. In recent years, many people who work in Edinburgh have moved there. With working from home becoming the norm, this quiet, beautiful, convenient town, while being close to nature, is even more popular.

  The last time I went to Haddington, I just happened to be in time for an annual member exhibition at a painting and crafting centre just outside town. It was afternoon when I got to the door, the exhibition was still lively, and many people came out with a painting or a box in their hands.

  Entering the exhibition hall, I saw more than 100 paintings on the wall, and dozens of pottery, rattan, stained glass, weaving, etc. on the table, but many were labeled "sold", and some had been sold. taken away.

  It turned out that the people I saw at the door came to pick up the artworks they had bought in the afternoon of the last day of the exhibition. Among the exhibits that have not yet been sold, my family and I took a fancy to two large and small poppy seed pod-shaped pots with lids. Now two pieces of pottery are placed on the sideboard at home and in the kitchen.

  The one who took us to the Painting and Craft Centre that day was Valerie Pellat (Li Yan), a retired professor at the School of Modern Languages ​​at Newcastle University, who has been living in Haddington. We visited her this time because of the Patronus-themed calendar I mentioned in this column. Knowing that we were interested in how the almanac was made, Valerie warmly invited us to her house to see the creation process.

  Valerie's home on the edge of Haddington Township was extended a few years ago, adding a studio with garden-facing windows or floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. Although the area is not large, on a spring noon, the outside window is lush green, and the interior of the studio is full of light. Except for the two of us visitors and the occasional bird flying to the branches outside the window, no one else disturbs it. A place to focus on work.

  Using a small carving knife, Valerie shows us how to carve a zebra's head on a small piece of linoleum. Almost satisfied, she started preparing the ink. Black ink is first applied to a roller. For good results, the ink on the roller must be thin and uniform, so it needs to be rolled back and forth on a metal plate. When satisfied, she used a roller to apply black ink to the surface of the linoleum where the zebra head had been engraved, and then she could press the paper on the linoleum. The ink is transferred to the paper and the linoleum print is complete.

  The linoleum used for the demonstration on the day was very small, so just press the paper with your hands. If it is a larger print, such as the Patronus Calendar, Valerie said that it will use an embossing machine. She also humbly said that her daughter's drawing level is higher than hers and will use more professional embossing equipment.

  What an eye-opening and rewarding day, we brought home zebra heads and poppy pots like treasures. It seems that I can't become an artist, but fortunately there are still many opportunities to appreciate the works of rural and urban artists.

  I heard that "artistic village construction" is also very fashionable in China, but to keep it alive, it may also need to rely on the source of running water to grow and grow naturally, rather than bluntly transplanted and placed.


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