Glorious sunny day so am able to sit in the garden to have my brunch. Excellent light in my studio for working on the big commission.
Not as bright today, more overcast and worrying reports over the UK of pollution including dust from the Sahara, pollutants from Europe as well as our own.
Continue on the large n/p commission.
Working intensely on big commission strengthening and giving more definition.
Up to London for Martin and Nick’s book launch within my exhibition in the gallery, which my lovely dealers Panter & Hall have allowed us to hold there. When we arrive Martin is being interviewed by a group of MA students so chat to his lovely son Luca who is being the techie - he’s also a website designer as well as like his Dad being a musician. We have a slight hitch when we can’t find the scary lead for joining the projector to the laptop but Adam (film producer) makes a phone call to a company he knows and dashes off to collect one as its already half past five and the shops wouldn’t be open. It all seems to be fixed up once he arrives back, probably within half an hour. The gallery is beginning to fill and I am pleased to see so many people there, many of whom are my friends and collectors. It is very full by the time I welcome them and do the introduction before handing over to Martin who after introducing Nick, introduces Maria Georgiou the education officer from Water Aid. Then he starts to give his performance which is much longer that I’ve seen it before so it must take a lot of sustained energy and good memory. Luca projects Nick’s fantastic illustrations into one side of the domed ceiling which looks terrific. Tiffany and Dominic’s beautiful little boy Inigo is standing at the front and looks quite mesmerised. People enthusiastically queue up for signed copies of the book and I’m delighted to see that Nick is doing a wonderful drawing of Gromit above his signature each time. So I’m delighted to buy my five books. Then its the big race to clear up and exit the gallery by 8.30 as this is Crown property and the lease specified it has to be vacated by 8.30. After paying Paula the lovely woman who had come to help serve the wine and wash up etc we bid our farewells to Tiffany, Dominic and Inigo etc and walk to Planet Hollywood in the Haymarket just round the corner to join Martin, Maggie and their children and Nick and Maggs. I sit next to Maggs who comments on the fact that some of the men are having salads whilst she is having steak rolls and chips. Nick tells us he’s still working on a script for a new film which doesn’t include Wallace and Gromit so he’s returning to Bristol tomorrow to work. We walk back to the car with Nick and Maggs. After a great evening arrive home about 2.30.
Good to be back in the studio working in the upper parts of the composition of the big commission though at half past midnight I commence work on the third of the Holst Planets series, Venus the bringer of Peace. Venus isof course also the goddess of love. Work on till 3.30
Making good headway on the big commission during the day and evening. In the wee small hours I’m working on the fourth of the small celebratory Holst Planets paintings, Uranus The Magician again until 3.30am.
The composition on the large newspaper painting is now looking more intense and colourful. At 12.30am return to The Magician which I am beginning to resolve.
In the evening we go to The Wilson (Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum) for the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire event organised by Sir Michael McWilliam and the Arts & Heritage group. Wearing a different hat I’m going to give a brief couple of minutes talk on the Friends of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum and all the brilliant help and support they have given to the Museum during the thirty years since they were founded (at the time when George Breeze was Director). During this time they have supported not only through their physical attendance and enthusiasm at the numerous exhibitions and events but have also raised hundreds of thousands of pounds sometimes helping to sponsor exhibitions or catalogues or the acquisition of a new item for the Museum’s collection or as most recently when they donated a quarter of a million pounds towards this splendid new development. These moneys have for the main part been raised gradually and consistently through the wonderful series of cultural and educational events that they hold; including the series of lunchtime lectures where members get not only eminent speakers but lunch too for a nominal sum. Their annual de Ferriers lecture where the speakers in the past few years have included Sandy Nairne the Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Richard Cork the eminent art critic and historian and this year it was the Oscar winning film maker, historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow. They also have many exciting cultural trips both here and abroad visiting exhibitions, museums, , architecture and other heritage sites; they even went to China to see the terracotta army. And in the course of doing all this I have to say they have a great deal of fun and form many new friendships. So you would imagine that the membership fee would be more on a kin with what we have at the Hon Co but in fact for an individual it costs only £15 per annum. So if any of you are contemplating joining we do have membership forms.
I’m really delighted as Arabella says that they are going to become members and several o others asked me where the forms are. The Friends Gallery seems to be very popular with its eclectic group from the museum’s permanent own collection and includes one of my three dimensional corrugated paintings. The newly refurbished Arts & Crafts gallery also looks splendid and Cheltenham has perhaps the best collection in the country since many of the craftsmen and designers (Ashbee, Barnsley, Morris, Gimson etc etc) worked here in the Cotswolds. The Tate’s Rodin Kiss is also currently on display on the ground floor due to its immense weight, celebrating the fact that it was exhibited here in the 1930s but Rodin actually stayed here in Cheltenham for five weeks in 1914 due of course to the outbreak of First World War. To compliment this loan the Wilson also has an exhibition in the top gallery called The Embrace which includes Chagall, Jacob Epstein, Chris Ofili and David Inshaw.
Working on the large commission though at about 3am I do a little more work to the four of the small circular painting I’ve started for Holst’s Planets Suite.
Richard and I go into the Holst Birthplace Museum just before 2pm as he has made drawings of all the venues that will be used in their Listening Post Trail (for the map & leaflet ) including The Wilson, The Everyman Theatre, All Saints Church (where Holst and his father Adolphus were organists) the two Lloyds Banks which are both housed in historic buildings and the Town Hall and the Holst Birthplace Museum itself. Graham Lockwood the chairman of the Trust, Laura the curator and the designer are all there and there’s a very enthusiastic response to his drawings and design for the map. The debate is more on the wording. After that has concluded I show them the little paintings and there is then a discussion about how they will exhibit them; the current plan is that they will be auctioned at the end of that time. I’m delighted as Laura the curator takes us on a tour of the Museum which is the Cheltenham townhouse where Holst was born and spent his early childhood. The remarkable thing about it is that apart from Laura it is all run by volunteers and whilst we are there, Catriona Smith who is the membership secretary comes in and it was her wonderful husband Richard who sadly died last October, who worked tirelessly for the Museum and it was through them that I became a benefactor.
As we arrive home my Mum is just arriving for Richard to take her down to bowls.
Continue on the newspaper painting until the early hours when we start to look at how we could display the seven small circular paintings together within a larger frame, by laying it on the floor and arranging them within it.
Phone call from Rob wanting work for an art fair and a client. The problem with the exhibition doing well is that of course it decreases the number of possible works that are available which has always been a bit of a dilemma.
As usual working on the big commission during the day and The Planets by night.
We go to lunch, taking my Mum also, at Maureen who was at art school with me and Gordan’s, her husband who has built the house that they are now living in. A considerable achievement and the fulfilment of one of his ambitions. It is stunning. So delighted when we enter as Maureen has also invited Joyce so its a little reunion. I’m also surprised to see how many of my paintings they have collected over the years and which seem to fit into this brand new and stylish interior very well. Maureen’s cooked a delicious salmon lunch for us as we don’t really eat meat, with stuffed peppers and roasted vegetables amongst which is chard that they have grown in the garden, a relative of beetroot though not quite as deep in colour. They tell us that its a very economical vegetable to grow as you can start off by using the leaves whilst they are still in the ground and later the stems before finally digging up the root. Followed by an apple tart using their own windfalls. A lovely afternoon then its back to the paintings.
Very nice e mails from Paul in Australia who bought a painting from my exhibition at the Alpha towards the end of last year. who is wondering if I might make another companion work for him. he’s also very interested to hear about my Holst paintings and says he’s going to listen to The Planets on his morning walk, which I imagine goes at quite a pace especially with Mars playing.
The newspaper painting for the Dutch company is beginning to look much fuller and more resolved.
Another lovely sunny day - so pleased as Henrietta, Kev and the boys are on holiday in Devon this week at Kev’s parents’ beautiful apartment there.
Do quite a lot of strengthening increasing tonally on the newspaper painting and turn another into a pink one.
Call from one of my more recent past dealers asking if I’d like to do a show either in September or anytime from April next year. but I explain that this year I’m going to be devoting most of my energies to the altar piece for St Michael & All Angels, once I have completed this big n/p commission and the seven small circular works for the Holst Museum etc.
Phone call from Gary thanking me for the help I’d given him.
Homing in on various areas of the n/p commission, intensifying tone and colour. But in the early hours I start work on the planet Neptune, the Mystic.
Lloyd Silverthorn comes to collect the painting that he purchased from my exhibition at Panter & Hall, The Angel, Horse, Dog and Dove. A fascinating man who sings with two choirs, the Cheltenham Bach Choir and Gloucester Choral. Last weekend he was singing in Janacek’s Glagalitic Mass in both London and Bristol with Gloucester Choral. He used to be part of the BBC’s Radiophonic workshop and also trained actors, camera men and sound technicians. He and his lovely wife Sue live under a mile away and visited my open studio for the Star and Linc where they bought a little Hare and a Fox.
Just after Lloyd’s visit, Sue and Andy Roberts our dear friends and collectors come to collect two paintings one being On the Ball that they bought from my exhibition at the Alpha Gallery last year with her lovely sister Natalie in mind who is very keen on football; also a tiny Angel with Mandolin and a horse racing linocut that they again bought from my charity open studio for the Star and Linc. We sit and chat over cups of tea and hot cross buns until my Mum arrives to go to bowls.
Good Friday 18.4.14
Discuss the altarpiece that I will be commencing work on next month, remembering that I started preliminary work on it on a Good Friday about eight yeas ago but have been so busy ever since I haven’t had enough clear time to contemplate it. But last year went to look at some of the beautiful and magnificent altar pieces frescoes and art in Florence, Sienna, San Gimigniano, Panicale with a short pilgrimage to Assisi in preparation for making a fresh start on it this year, which also meant postponing an exhibition I was due to have at the Fosse in October.
Work both on the commission and the Planets.
Henrietta, Kev and their little boys arrive early afternoon, all looking healthy with golden tans after their holiday in Devon, where it was even warm enough to swim in the sea in their wet suits. Its such a joy to see them all.
An Easter Egg hunt is one of todays highlight but alas I think the clues were a little too easy! as all were found in a relatively short time.
Henrietta Kev and boys depart for their return to London
Working on the commission during the day & the Holst Planets during evening & early hours.
Work on the large back board and frame for the severn Planets painting many distant stars and and minute planets onto a fairly atmospheric deep blackish blue.
Up to London to collect a painting from Panter &Hall for art fair next week.Then over to Blackheath to hear Isaac in the Final of the Public Speaking competition.We think Isaac is probably the youngest in this final bout as he goes up onto the stage in his Shark hat first
although we can tell that he is a little nervous he does extremely well making eye contact with the audience and remembering all his words and facts and has a very witty ending with his own jokes we are thrilled for him as he wins the prize for his class. I then walk with Henrietta to collect the boys from school whilst Richard picks up from the shops a few things she needs for dinner.
Unfortunately the Blackwall Tunnel has been closed sine we came through so rathe than Richard picking him up, which would probably take a long time, we arrange to visit Nathan on our way home. So after the lovely meal, we bid our farewells and drive the long way over to Nathan’s. His flat looks beautiful after all the work he has done on it, including ghte plumbing. He has some very stylish new furniture. We spend a lovely hour or two chatting then make our way back to Gloucestershire.
Over to the National Star College with STARSTRUCK, the big star I have created for their ‘Be a Star for the Star’ appeal. Its raining as Richard pulls up outside reception and I am touched to be met by two people, a young woman and young man who come out with umbrella to help me in with the star. But even more moved as I come through the door, to be greeted by a beautifully smiling reception committee including Kathryn the Principal, Gill Henry who deals with Trusts etc, Kate director of the appeals office, Mary Hussey Kathryn’s secretary and several more. I am introduced to Nathan, President of the Students Union, a most charming and articulate young man who I have the pleasure of being photographed with along with the delightful young womb who is an ex student who volunteers to work in the Appeals department. It always gives me the most warm feeling to be in the College amongst people I love. We are invited to stay for coffee in the Star Bistro but as there are still things I need to do to The Planets we have to decline. Leave bearing star shaped biscuits made by students in the Bistro which look much too beautiful to eat.
Then couple of hours finishing the Planets painting now all assembled on back board within a frame which R has lettered ready to take to the celebratory dinner tonight. Whilst there receive email from Peter White of Glos Col congratulating me on being voted as someone who Rocks the Cotswolds! How typically kind - I sent an image of their huge Triptych painting GloCorama when asked for a picture to represent me as it was the most exciting of commission. I’m sitting next to Meurig, director of the Cheltenham Music Festival who has recently become a Trustee of the Holst Birthplace Museum and is also appearing on TV this evening as the chief adjudicator for the BBC Young Musician of the Year
Jovial Jim Hart of Radio Winchcombe comes to do interview about my talk, exhibition and Horses on the Sculpture Trail at Winchcombe Festival of Music & Art
R went up to London yesterday to deliver some of his London Business School prints to the School who seem to give them to VIP at the end of each academic year. He then goes over to Henrietta’s to help with the little boys as Kev is walking with his Dad in the Peak District, his birthday present to John. I am busy working on both the large newspaper punting and a racing piece for a local collector who is being very patient waiting for it. In the afternoon he delivers three of my paintings to Rob as he is showing them at another London Fair..
Busily working on the big commission when telephone rings and it’s Rhiannon from Panter & Hall phoning to say that the person who bought my big Tango Tea Dance wants to buy another of my works and for one horrible moment I’m sure its going to be 11.12.13 which Rob has just sold! So its a great relief when she tells me its Nocturn the big owl in the City, which is brilliant news but makes me realise I am now very short of work as I’ve had such a busy and successful year.
Phone call from Rob at the Fair, asking if I have any other available paintings as he has a collector there who would be interested in having a work larger than the two or three he has. I think I need an extra arm!!
Ross and Jacqui come to the studio on behalf of the PCC to have a look at the structure of the altarpiece triptych. There is some concern that the base the front of which will be the predella might be wider than the marble shelf. We make arrangements to go down to the church to meet them and the architect on Friday.
Then back to work on the big commission and the other painting that I started last year but have also been trying to complete for a lovely new local collector.