British Folk Art Exhibition: Tate Britain

Lack of an integrated approach

I visited the British Folk Art exhibition at Tate Britain yesterday and, like the curate’s egg, I found the exhibition was good in parts. (Closes today: moves to Compton Verney, Warwickshire, next month.) There were some truly amazing objects and memorable images. I liked the fact that there was a diversity of objects and styles and that they were allowed largely to speak for themselves by being hung together in context with one another. This worked really well with the trade signs where the artefacts were grouped together and it was a surprise to see early 20th century trade signs up against much older ones: it worked less well when there were only one or two examples of a particular strand – such as portraits of extremely fat livestock or landscapes of minor gentry houses – clearly proud of their homes, gardens, and farms, but not able to afford or have access to more accomplished artists to depict what was so dear to them. This is a common and important strand in what we understand as ‘folk art’ and it was difficult to see why so few examples could be provided, as there are usually several examples in regional museums and galleries. I can think of a few off-hand.

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Good vibrations

Hearing through your feet . . . 

We deaf people become attuned to vibrations: sound filters into our universe through feet and fingers, and through the medium of plastic water bottles. It can be a difficult concept for hearing people to understand, because they don’t notice them so much, so I thought it was worth explaining the mechanics of vibrations.

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Lost in translation

I’ve just spent a few rather lovely days in Caen, which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend as a place to visit – there’s plenty to see and do in Normandy, and we had lovely weather for it.

I’m just going to briefly review my visit to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum here. I fulfilled a lifelong ambition to see the Tapestry, which is said by many to be the culmination of opus Anglicanum or “English work”, Anglo-Saxon embroidery being highly prized (although, as with many other cultural artefacts, its origin may depend on which side of the Channel you are on . . . )

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Boundaries

Twice recently I’ve come across sign language interpreters who have very seriously crossed professional boundaries as far as I’m concerned. I have many years’ experience of both lipspeakers and sign language interpreters across many different settings and personal and professional context, which I admit makes it sound as if I’m applying for a job . . . however, with this experience, I can still be taken by surprise.

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Deaf English

As someone who has grown up with deaf people and moved in various deaf circles all her life, I’m fascinated by the diversity of approaches to English across the spectrum of the deaf community. I think there is enormous research potential to analyse how and why some deaf people are able to match or surpass their hearing peers in English while others do not. It’s both a live issue and a very touchy subject for all sorts of reasons – partly because so much fuss is made about it to the point where many deaf people will actively reject English as their medium of expression (e.g. being “forced to speak” at school) and because hearing people routinely focus on the wrong things in their general perceptions, including in the media.

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HCCIG Christmas meal

HCCIG members met in Penderel’s Oak, London for a christmas meal. A great time was had by all.

Penderels Oak 101213

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Extreme lipreading

At a recent ‘do’ I found myself slightly flummoxed. Lifelong lipreader as I am, I’ve come across a few conversational challenges in my time, but this one was a bit of a novelty.

I’m not very tall and ended up literally making small talk with a fellow guest much shorter than I am, who was also somewhat lacking in the old dental department, not something you encounter regularly these days. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to lipread anyone with few teeth …

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