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Sunday, 18 January 2009

A Sad day for Art


Andrew Wyeth, famed and infamous artist, dies at 91

Andrew Wyeth, one of the most popular and also most lambasted artists in the history of American art, a reclusive linchpin in a colorful family dynasty of artists from tiny Chadds Ford, Penn., whose precise realist views of hardscrabble rural life became icons of national culture and sparked endless debates about the nature of modern art, has died at his home in suburban Philadelphia, The Associated Press reported.

He was 91.

Wyeth gave America a prim and flinty view of Puritan rectitude, starchily sentimental, through parched gray and brown pictures of spooky frame houses, desiccated fields, deserted beaches, circling buzzards and craggy-faced New Englanders. A virtual Rorschach test for American culture during the better part of the last century, Wyeth split public opinion as vigorously as, and probably even more so than, any other American painter including the other modern Andy, Warhol, whose milieu was as urban as Wyeth's was rural.

Because of his popularity, a bad sign to many art world insiders, Wyeth came to represent middle-class values and ideals that modernism claimed to reject, so that arguments about his work extended beyond painting to societal splits along class, geographical and educational lines. One art historian, in response to a 1977 survey in Art News magazine about the most underrated and overrated artists of the century, nominated Wyeth for both categories.

Art critics mostly heaped abuse on his work, saying he gave realism a bad name. Supporters said he spoke to the silent majority who jammed his exhibitions. "In today's scrambled-egg school of art, Wyeth stands out as a wild-eyed radical," one journalist wrote in 1963, speaking for the masses. "For the people he paints wear their noses in the usual place, and the weathered barns and bare-limbed trees in his starkly simple landscapes are more real than reality."

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Floyds Diary 16th Jan 09

16thJan Fri
I was due to meet up with Jamie at 7.00 – 7.30 but looking out into the blackness at 7.00 am showed it to be raining quite heavily. Jamie had text me shortly after saying that he would not be coming as he had a lecture at 9.00 and it would be cutting it too fine. I chose to work for a while in the studio and see if the rain would clear away around nine. Sure enough it did so at 9.00 am I was on the road out to Aveton , I had decided to do the yabbacombe Side of the farm. On the two stubble turnip fields and hedgerow strip. As I pulled up in the field, Woodies spilled from the trees and headed out into the neighbours stubble field. I went ro the back of the truck and got Floyd ready with transmitters etc. I stepped him up and walked out into the stubble turnips accompanied by the bland staring of a group of sheep bleating monotonously at me thinking I was going to give them extra food. Wilf the farmer had moved them there a few days ago to start grazing the turnips, keeping them fenced to small sections of the field as they work their way through it like woolly locusts. The Woodies were still in the stubble field and I was uneasy about their proximity to where I’d be slipping Floyd. I twirled the lure as I walked towards them to force them to take off some singles dropped out from the conifers too and left much to my relief. I walked on and stuck the braces on Floyd’s hood and un hooded him. He looked about him and I gave him a little longer than I usually give him before casting him off into the wind. He took off low across the field heading for the top of the wood. As he flew out over the top my insecurities about him surfaced and I gave him a short shout to remind him of his role. He nonchalantly looked over his back as if to say yeah alright, alright stop worrying. Just over the top of the wood as I expected a Woodie to commit suicide coming out underneath him he turned back down wind towards and high over me. Then he powered out into wind over the valley, climbing not with his usual clippy wing beat but with a powerful driving rowing action. As I walked on I thought I will give him more time today. I won’t run at any point or get animated in any way and see what happens to his attentiveness. Dave told me that he seems to need this animation going on underneath him but the more I fly him on my own the more I’m not sure of this. He is very quick to anticipate any behaviour that signals an imminent flush so I need to mix up my approaches with him to keep him guessing. As I got to the end of the first field I looked up, he was 400ft+ and making into the wind, out to my right. I moved to my right, getting below him and then started up through the cover strip from the bottom running next to the hedge dividing the two fields as I passed the first feeder a hen pheasant broke cover from the other side of the hedge. It flew out and then curled round, racing up the hedge on the other side towards the green lane. Floyd came streaking past above to my right following the path that the pheasant took. I didn’t see the impact but I heard it and saw his throw up about sixty yards further on from the other side. He winged over and was down in a flash. As I ran through the gap in the hedge three more hens and a cockbird flushed. I found him on his hen at the bottom of the hedge. Well Pheasant for the pot Yumm.

Floyd Diary entry 14thJan 09

Wed 14th Jan Temp 2 oC

Weighed him in the field, He was 1lb 11 3/8 oz a little heavier than i would have wanted but I was keen to get him back on the wing. I decided to fly him on the Valley set at Aveton, I drove down the road from the top barns where I weighed him and passed the other north side of the farm . Seeing the frost covered strip running down the the middle of the open wheat field on my right I wondered whether to switch but decided to stick to my plan. 2minuets later I was stepping out of the Landrover looking across the open stubble field into the sun and crisp morningchill. I opened the back and stepped floyd up onto my fist , Attached his transmitter and walked out , wondering all the time whether he would take to the morning flying that we will be doing till the season burns out at the end of this glorious of months. Floyd fidgeted on the glove, anticipating the game ahead . I looked across the valley to the Conifer trees at the valley's head . There were a few Woodies in there but time was pushing on and i needed him to be in the air. I removed the fastening clip and struck the braces of his hood , He leaned forward tiptoeing on the glove i left the hood in place,one last look around then tipped it from his face. The gold from the horizon glinted in his eyes as he took in the scene. I cast him off only for him to land in the stubble . i walked forward and he left the floor heading for the wood and the Pigeons just stirring from cold. As they spilled from the tree's he quickened his wing beat flying in amongst them as a
puppy would chase butterflies from a meadow. He pressed one hard making it bail into the trees. He continued on into the wind above the conifers and now high above the valley he turned and climbing came back towards me. I felt my body relax so much so that I hadn't realized how tense I must have been watching him have his play with the pigeons. Floyd was now high above in the crisp air and i was approaching the top of the strip. He now turned behind me at an impressive pitch keeping tight circles as I moved down the strip. About twenty feet in a Cock Pheasant broke from behind me and headed for the top hedge not far away. Floyd began his stoop but pulled out knowing it would make cover. Damn I should move that feeder I thought to myself, If only he had been another 30 ft down the strip Floyd would have had a good crack at him. Floyd immediately started to mount again above me I wasn't sure where the partridge would be in here today and I crouched to not alarm them further. Floyd read the signal and remounted to
a higher pitch than before and when ready came over signaling his his readiness.Not wanting to encourage this form of him training me, I stayed put ! He then powered off over the other side of the valley climbing as if his life depended on it . As he got out over the other fields I started to walk , Mistakenly I should have let him further latitude as he immediately broke off climbing across towards me but not as high as I wanted or knew he could have got out there.No matter he was on his way back now . I walked on thrashing cover and generally disturbing the peace. Eight Partridge flushed from about five meters in front of me and raced hell for leather down the field. Floyd rolled into a stoop but I watched the Partridge he Honed in on one at the bottom of the stoop , hitting it with a glancing blow which forced it to turn down the valley. Floyd threw up an turned on it too tail chasing it towards the valley bottom and cover. He connected just before cover and came to rest with his prize.

Diary entry from early on In the Floyd Experience

Well today , with a bit of wind and fairly clear conditions I was hopefully that Floyd would show me a little more. I've been slowly loosening the reigns in hope that I can trust him and the last two flights have been OK and relatively tight in their style. He has had a little bad luck regarding his closing the deal on flights but I still think he maybe taking a bit to get his eye or should I say footing in. Jamie joined me again today and we headed for Aveton one of the three spots that I fly game on. Its fairly typical of the countryside round here but has got some decent sized fields
that, with cover strips put in by the land owner and allows for some good gamehawking setups.
We flew on the Northwest side of the farm to make the most of the prevailing wind today. I sent Jamie to the top of the strip as I walked out on the windward slope to cast Floyd off . I'd already glassed the strip to see if there were partridge in there and saw at least four by the edge of it picking around. With Floyd now I just cast him off quickly to minimise his horizon chasing !!! With him on the wing I start walking immediately and try and keep him fairly centered. He did mount well and as I reached the lower fence line about to cross into the wheat field he was at about 300 + and still climbing. I quickly glanced to my right to see Jamie coming down the strip now only 20 yrds to the marked partridge . At about 10 yrds out the partridge broke and headed into wind across the open plough as I'd wanted them to go. Its about 250-300 yrds to cover that way. Floyd must have come thumping down as he gave one of the departing partridge a hell of a whack and it bounced of the plough he did a wing over but I was still to low to see over the ridge. the partridge gathered itself and took off hell for leather non the worst for its basket ball impression.It shot passed me heading for a bramble patch on the edge of the wood and fence line with Floyd hot on its heals. Both slammed into the hedge and I ran down to see if he had
snagged it in the cover. Unfortunately It made its escape and I was disappointed for Floyd he flew well and for some reason his feet aren't connecting in the right way at the mo. I'm sure it will come right for him . Jamie had my camera with him and took some shots of today's outing. One of the shots my face says it all . I'm getting more relaxed with Floyd now and slowly I think I will start pushing his mounting further.

Straying in to the Dark side.

Well with no Falcon to fly and allot of game to fly at I was in a real quandry as to whatto fly . I asked around to see if anyone had a Peregrine to fly but no cigar . I'm a bit of a purist at heart and love the peregrine pure and simple. Allot of my mates all fly Hybrids down here and some exceptional ones too but I've never been comfortable with them.They are stunning to look at and years ago I thought they were the bee's knee's but after flying a Peregrine tiercel a few years back i have never looked at hybrids in the sameway since.Now enter Floyd, Floyd is a gyr x peregrine tiercel that was originally flown by my late friend and hawking bud Bruce Huxham. Bruce passed away two years ago after a very short but bitter battle with cancer and has been greatly missed by us all down here. Floyd bruces tiercel was taken on and flown by Dave Scott and he has become a lovely little game hawk. His only real vice is his tendency sometimes to just do one! and you have to get in front of him via the telemetry experience to stop him flying clear to Ireland !!! so here I am with the chance to fly my late friends Gyr x Peregrine and I've accepted the challenge. Well its only till the end of the season and its a chance to have a bit of fun and to give Bruce who is looking down on me a real laugh at his purist mate finally dipping a toe into the Dark side!!! Watch this space
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