Good day in Studio
Bright sunny day as we drive to Winchcombe to the Methodist Church, for a thanksgiving service for the life of Joyce Ford, Jane’s dear Mum. She was ninety three. We’re greeted by Jane and David in the porch; she has a lovely bunch of daffodils grown from the bulbs from her Mother’s garden at Lanes Cottage where she lived for fifty years. We surprised at how many people there are there as the older one gets the fewer friends left to attend. Joyce’s Union Flag covered coffin is preceded by a British Legion flag bearer and there is a reading from one of its members and memories of working with Joyce who was secretary of the British legion for very many years preceded by a period when she was in charge of allocating funds to ex servicemen and their families. The Minister describes her as a ‘small whirlwind’ which seems very apt as this Cambridge tri linguist had boundless energy and enthusiasm; also secretary to the Parish Council for many years and organiser of the Poppy Appeal, she had kept a large number of chickens (selling eggs to the egg marketing board), a cow and sheep on her three acres, which was in fact a small farm. She also belonged to the Horticultural Society and others. After the service we stand talking to Jane’s friends from school Ellie and her brother Robin and her friends Penny and Don, before the six of us plus Jane and David and the two Methodist ministers and her pastoral visitor follow the hearse in our five cars as it wends its way through the beautiful landscape up and down hill to the tiny hamlet of Compton Abbot. the tiny Early English church cannot be seen from the narrow road, It feels like a painting as we follow the coffin and its bearers down a steep incline into the small graveyard surrounding this tiny towerless church. We can see why Jane’s Mum had requested that this be her final resting place as it overlooks the remote valley in which Lanes Cottage nestles, although obscured by trees from this vantage point. It’s again like a painting as the two Methodist ministers, one male and one female, stand side by side with our small group as the coffin is lowered into the ground in this still beautiful early April sunshine. It is so blissfully peaceful and quiet and she’s positioned at the rounded edge next to the dry stone wall which is enhanced by its aged state of dilapidation. Rather than a feeling of great sadness I feel its a life well lived with this fulfilment of Joyce’s wish to be yet again in her valley of tranquility.
Light not as good today as we’ve returned to normal weather conditions - working in studio.
Set out 4.45 for the Gardens Gallery which I had the honour of opening (with the Mayor’s help in 2007), for the Cheltenham Art Club where I have been asked to select the ‘best in show’ make commendations and open the exhibition. Selecting a best in show is of course impossible one can only select something that one particularly relates to or admires for its imagination, skill or technical prowess. Its a very joyful exhibition and the work is of a much higher and more varied standard than I had anticipated. There are lots of delightful pieces that bring a smile to the face or thought to ponder. I walk round the show several times dictating notes to Richard. The piece I eventually decide upon is appallingly framed - the painting doesn’t even touch the frame in many parts but the colour and vigour of application of paint and the eccentricity of the tiny figures against the seascape and wide expanse of sky lit by a yellow light. There was an energy about it that caught one’s eye. Whilst I’m talking about the work and opening the exhibition I’m being recorded by Reg of Cheltenham Radio, an independent community pod caster www.facebook.com/cheltenhamcommunityradio.
back in studio working.
Beautiful Easter card from Margus in Estonia franked from the President’s office and a lovely one from Myrtle who used to be head of art at the National Star College. And two beautiful tiny crosses affixed to eggs from Professor Ken and Nancy.
I spend the day in contemplation, working in the studio listening to the Good Friday services and programmes on Radio 4. On Sunday the early service is being performed by Stephen Lake, the Dean, from Gloucester Cathedral.
Busy in studio.
My sister and Mum come, Gill bearing beautiful eggs for all the family.
Henrietta, Kev, Isaac and Samuel arrive although unfortunately Nathan and Ruth aren’t able to join us due to Ruth having an operation on her wrist and the assignment Nathan s working on. My Mum joins us too.
We take Isaac and Samuel to see Pirates, Aardman’s latest film, directed by Peter Lord who I chatted to at Nick’s party in the summer. Its the first 3D film Richard and I have seen. The boys are spellbound by this incredible action packed adventure. The amount of work and dedication that must have gone into the animation is almost beyond belief. Its very witty and their depiction of Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin are very amusing though not very politically correct.
Lovely day entertaining the little boys before they all depart for London at about 7.30pm.
E mail from Niki Whitfield re the exhibition she is working on at the Parabola Arts Centre, wanting information on the two paintings that I have said they can borrow.
Work in studio until early evening, then we’re off to dinner with Gina and John Wilson who deal old manuscripts. We’re delighted to see that Graham and Eilleen Lockwood are their other guests. An entertaining evening; Gina has prepared a delicious cod dish and a lovely orange and cointreau jelly with home made shortbreads for the desert. When we go upto their drawing room for coffee, we are all fascinated by the beautiful hand made and painted harpsichord which Graham, never having played one before, plays beautifully using his piano skills. We are also all amazed at the sight of the splendid church organ with gilded pipes that elegantly sits in the centre of the wall with pedals too, a birthday present from Gina to John. Its a magnificent instrument. John also has a vast collection of books on organ building and playing which are of particular interest to Graham who wrote a history of the Cheltenham Music Festival and is now compiling a history of all the music that has been performed in Cheltenham since Handel came.
Call from Rick Rumrell in St Augustness re his visit next week.
Write e mail to apologise to Martin Horwood who kindly invited us to a dinner that Nick Clegg is to be guest of honour at as unfortunately its already booked with a family commitment.
Lovely e-mail from Toyah saying that 11 May is the one day that she is not on tour so she will happily come and open the Exhibition.
Visit Alderman Knight School to to meet it’s brilliant Head Clare and Matt from Planning to discuss HORSE commission. Stunning New buildings,delightful children and head of Art Di who remembers Henrietta when she worked there after graduating.
E-mail from Candia McKormack of Cotswold Life saying that she is coming to the Private view and would like to do an interview.
Stephen sends info on the Hon co Craft Awards that he has masterminded, I send them out to Gloucestershire College and the University etc.
Hear from dear Margus of the North re Gloucester City Museum exhibition and arrangements with Yuri Arrak
R drives to London to deliver painting To Rob at fair then collects Rick and Andy(American lawyers) from hotel and gives them a guided tour via Oxford Colleges, Burford and Stow before bringing them back for a late lunch and studio visit. Rick and his wife Jo have a big collection of my work.
Busy in studio
Just had phone call from Rob who’s very excited as he’s sold my new painting The Dancers on the first day of the fair.
R goes to Guildford to buy a wheelchair ramp
Two mini bus loads of Art students visited my studio today. Amongst them Greg Murray who won one of my photography prizes at my The National Star College - such lovely young people.
Visit Gloucestershire College and enjoy brilliant performances by students in celebration of them becoming one of twenty colleges in the country to become part of the Skills Academy Creative and Cultural. Have the great honour of cutting the ribbon on the plaque.
Claire Steel head of Alderman Knight School and Matt visit studio to see horse.
Henrietta Isaac and samuel were supposed to come to us last night but as Isaac has a party R’s going there to lend a hand whilst Kev takes his Dad walking in the Peak District.
Busy in studio until R returns ................
...................during the evening
R’s off to Huddersfield for his Aunty Mabel’s funeral. She was 100 years old.