Nice e mail from Jenny Scarbro who is now back from Alicante but is having to be in quarantine for two weeks and says that the filling in of forms at Bristol Airport on the return was quite daunting although is pleased that she can spend the two weeks dead heading etc in her garden. She wonders if she and her friend Sue, who are coming here for tea in the garden can collect her painting Distanced Dancing then, which won’t be until September.
It’s Nathan and Clementine’s first wedding anniversary today. Memories of a glorious day last year, even the sun shone on them as they walked on their wedding day from the flat to Hackney Town Hall; an elegant art deco building in white Portland stone with a set of wide steps which were wonderful for the photo opportunity when the bride and groom descended them at the end of the ceremony as we awaited them outside. They looked so beautiful as they came out to a loud round of applause, similar to that when they’d first appeared in the rather grand panelled Council Chamber. As I congratulate Nathan on the ‘phone, he tells me they had been back to Bistroteque where the wedding breakfast and reception was held, to celebrate this anniversary last night, eating out in the little courtyard. How changed it seemed from their lovely reception buzzing with excitement to this quieter more socially distanced dinner and how fortunate they we are that it was last year rather than this that they were getting married as the 120 guests would have been reduced to a rather limited in number.
In the studio I’ve been working on a largish horizontal newspaper painting for the past couple of weeks.
Ben our accountant arrives at 3.30 in suit and mask. He had been to see the exhibition in Broadway and says they had opened up especially for him and walked and talked him around the exhibition. It’s good to get his feedback and advice on many things. This is an exciting time for him as his girlfriend is expecting their first child, a little girl, during the next couple of weeks. So we tease him about how busy he’ll be. It’s just after 5.30 when he leaves.
Recommencing on a medium sized work for the Royal West of England Academy annual exhibition.
Caroline and Simon call on their way back from seeing the exhibition in Broadway and comment on how many red spots there were. They thought the exhibition was lit beautifully and that Stephen spoke very well about the paintings. They have also come to collect the three paintings they generously loaned me for when the BBC television crew came to film in my studio for the ‘Divine Inspiration’ a feature on Songs of Praise. We sit in the sunshine in the shade from the large parasol in the studio garden sipping prossecco and nibbling Richard’s walnut cookies. They tell us this has been their first trip out. Simon tells us that he had cried when their daughters Kate and Bel along with Caroline, presented him with the little painting Kate had commissioned for his special birthday. It’s such a joy to see them after so many months. A lot of discussion on gardens.
E mail from Fiona, President of the RWA asking if I would consider adding a financial contribution to the Academy Prize to which of course I agree
Wallace rings to say how much he’d enjoyed visiting my exhibition in Broadway and how impressed he was that there were so many red spots. And again said how well the person in the gallery spoke about the paintings.
Nathan rang. He’s off to Foreign parts on a new project.
Jane comes to visit and for a cup of tea and walnut cookies in the garden.
The forecast for the next week or two is both windy and wet and the wonderful sun sails Richard had put up for the last time Henrietta and the boys came were only protective in light rain - in heavier rain it tended to stretch the fabric and make a deep puddle. So decide to look for a small marquee. I find one on the internet which R likes the look of too and after making some measurements he thinks it would fit into a little courtyard at the back of the house if we are lucky.
Hurrah! Richard has now completed the wonderfully winding stone and tile mosaic like paths at the top of the garden under the trees. It looks really beautiful and he’s used up an enormous amount of sand and cement recycling so many old stones, bricks, tiles etc.
We’re really excited as yesterday he planted more heuchera and a whole tray of cyclamen bordering the path up to the bench in the little arbour in the right hand corner and also the long run up to the summer house and it looks really beautiful all of which garden he’s reclaimed from areas previously covered by low branches, rampant ground ivy and comfrey.
Amazingly the marquee we ordered in the early hours of Sunday has arrived so Richard spends the whole day and evening assembling the metal framework and then attaches the double tiered roof and then the side curtains. He has to elevate the legs on blocks of bricks so we can open the door of the house directly into it. Then he collects a rug we brought back from Saudi Arabia from the cupboard in my studio, designed for the interior of Bedouin tents. It looks perfect on the ground under the marquee although I do suggest we take it back up in case the rain gets in.
When I come down I can hear running water which I assume is Richard in the kitchen until I put my head through the door into the marquee on the side of the house and see that it is flooded! So we revert to plan 3 after the summerhouse was 1, marquee was 2 of opening both sets of french windows in the garden room and put the plates of open sandwiches that R has made and walnut cookies etc onto two small tables and the two wicker chairs near the open doors. Viv and Paul arrive in a slight break in the rain and admire the summerhouse which probably wouldn’t be quite sheltered enough for the four of us. It’s so good to see them, for the first time this year. Paul is chair of the trustees of the National Star College (where I am a Patron). He and Viv also have their own charitable foundation. They had been to see my exhibition at Trinity Modern and were impressed by the way it was hung and lit. They know Mark well from their other gallery in Broadway that shows old masters etc. They are off to London in a couple of days and are hoping to visit the National Gallery etc.
Henrietta, Kev and the boys arrive during the afternoon. They’d set out after Samuel’s football match, playing for the A team which they won. It’s so good to see them all looking so well. Richard cooks on the barbeque and we sit in the marquee which was a surprise for them all. Kev is still having to finish work on the project of designing the interior of the departure lounge for Beijing airport, a Norman Foster hanger-like building. We open a bottle of champagne to celebrate Henrietta’s achievement of getting the new job of lecturing at Goldsmiths. Isaac’s keen to go off to the scooter/skateboard park nearby to practice the stunts that he is now so brilliant at.
H,K,I,&S leave for Devon at about 1pm after Henrietta R & I had spent a relaxing morning in the garden chatting whilst Kev took the boys to the scooter/skateboard park where Samuel has also found a curved ping pong table for footballs etc.
Nathan’s birthday. We have a short conversation on the phone in the evening as he is in foreign parts working. It’s sad really that he won’t get to see Gia Coppola’s film ‘Mainstream’ on which he was the production designer which is premiering at the Venice Film Festival on 5th September. He also missed seeing ‘Really Love’ which premiered at SXSW Film Festival in Austin Texas on which he was also production designer, which received the Special Jury Award; he worked on both films back to back in Baltimore and Los Angeles/Hollywood last year.
Mark from Trinity House calls with paintings from the exhibition that are being collected from here by their new owner sat separate times with tea in the garden.
Have been working on a couple of pieces for the RWA for the past couple of months
Last day of August feels quite Autumnal when we return from our evening walk, when I’m picking plums, apples and tomatoes for our evening meal.