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Over to Cirencester for drinks at Rory’s then on to Bristol for Martin’s party where I am giving a short talk on the Tread Softly painting now hanging on his newly painted dark blue wall.
R delivers three or four works to the gallery…
..and we take the remaining tow to hang just prior to the opening, although the gallery seems to be pretty full of pictures when we get there. Lovely friends and collectors like Tim Congdon and also meet for the first time Tom Tempest Radford who has put many of my works into collections like Standard Chartered Bank in London and Dubai. Its lovely to see Su who has travelled all the way up form Cheltenham especially; Wallace and Diana Hamilton as well as Robert Dent the cellist son of Reggie who was the Principal of the art school when I was thee and a great encouragement, we have not seen him for many years. Ian arrives with two of is lovely daughters and one of their husbands; later my sister Gill and my lovely Nathan and Clemantine preceded by two of his producer colleagues whose sister was one of Henrietta’s best friends at infants school. Then Henrietta and Kev arrive and Mark Coote and Joshua.
Afterwards Gill takes Ian and his daughter and her husband plus Richard, me, Henrietta, Kev, Nathan, Clem and Wallace just around the corner at Villandry where R had arranged a large table when he called in yesterday.
We all leave about 10.30 so we are back hoe in the early hours.
Wake when I hear my mobile ringing. Its the gallery ringing to tell me they have someone who was coming in to collect two paintings from the previous exhibition who has fallen in love with my large painting Red. It seems he likes work with a surreal slant and I guess with the shadow without a figure and the repetition of this group tiny on the other side of the lake in reverse, it has spoken to him, which is very exciting as he is someone new.
Painting miniatures for the Open studio
R and I go to buy the Christmas tree; he was a little reluctant as had so much to do but ..
..Lucy of GE Magazine contacts to ask if they could come on Monday or Tuesday to photograph me with our Christmas tree? !!
To London for dinner with Nathan and Clemantine in their beautiful flat. A lovely evening to catch up since they have been working on a film in Zambia for the past three months. Then drive over to Henrietta and Kev’s where we chat until the early hours.
Breakfast with Henrietta before we drive back into the West End for the informal being in the gallery to meet anyone who missed Tuesday’s opening. so delighted when we get there to see Joyce and Shane who have always been so supportive and such good friends - and lovely Audrey Guille who tells me she is adding Stoately Different to her collection.
Our treat this afternoon is walking up to the National Gallery to see the Carravagio and his followers exhibition. Breathtakingly beautiful gives lots of food for thought
Back home to paint a miniature
Drive to Birmingham for Toyah’s celebratory concert to mark her being given a star of fame in Birmingham’s Broad Street just outside where her father’s antique shop used to be. For the second half we change places with Maggie and Martin and have the pleasure of sitting next to Robert and a very close up view of Toyah who is on the same level as us in the Studio. We also attend the party afterwards. In the interval we’d met her friends Colin and Helen of English Eccentrics
Spend a lot of the day decorating the Christmas tree with nostalgic moments remembering where the different hangings and decorations have come from. The angel on the top from Ghent; the wooden angels hanging from the branches from New York all connected with exhibiting in these places, likewise the little doll from Estonia and the items from Dr Margus who was the Estonian ambassador here; from Professor Ken &Nancy Simmonds often hand made; from Henrietta Kev and the boys and even going back to cardboard star she made as a small child
Then back to painting miniatures.
About 3 the photographer arrives for GE Magazine particularly wanting photographs of me with the Christmas tree. Just as he’s leaving the feature writer Helen Blow arrives. Although Helen has interviewed me on previous occasions this is the first time we have met as the other interviews have been over the telephone. She’s lovely and we get on really well and she tells me to my amazement that its going to be a five page spread covering my exhibitions in Japan and Gloucester as well as the current London show but particularly to publicise the Mulled Wine, Mince Pies & Miniatures event at the weekend
Over to the wonderful Alderman Knight School in Tewkesbury where we join children and staff for their special Christmas lunch, always a highlight of our year. We notice on our way out that I need to give Pantomime Horse a little attention on his haunches.
Write a few Christmas cards before going for drinks at the Wilson as guests of Hilary Simpson, chair of the Friends committee. Also get her husband John to sign two more copies of his books The Word Detective which is about his time as Editor in Chief of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Painting more miniatures- already the Coming Home (flock) on the invitation has sold and the four R has put on the website seem to go in minutes!
By the end of the night I surprise myself as I’ve managed to create twenty six mostly tiny miniatures; albeit that two of them I made earlier in the year and started a few more in November. R’s been busy filling in all the holes where paintings have hung on the walls in the studio and repainting it to give a fresh start.
R got up early so that he could collect some of the GL Magazines before hanging and labelling all the miniatures and brings one to show me whilst I am washing my hair, showering etc. I am totally amazed at how generous they have been and Helen Blow has written it beautifully. The photograph of the Christmas tree has come out really well even showing the fire ablaze
I meet Patricia McGrava coming out of the Studio as I’m going in and she tells me she has just bought another two little miniatures for her collection. The wonderful aroma of mulled wine and mince pies fills the air and it is already buzzing with lots of lovely friends and collectors who support each year. The effervescent Peta Hoyle arrives leaving shortly afterwards clutching a canvas giclee of ‘A Good Read’ in her hand. Maeve and Ian have added two more to their collection too. Ren has driven all the way from Luton in the fog and asks if it would be greedy to buy three and tells us he now owns nineteen. Denys had been deliberating on which sheep painting to put their red spot on as David hadn’t arrived but he does so shortly afterwards with Richard and Tessa, two artists who had it seems come to the house and had lunch with us about thirty years ago. A delightful couple who buy the little Tango painting. Richard teaches printmaking at the University of the West of England and asks if I give talks and would I like to give one there; I tell him that is where Nathan had studied and got a first before going onto the Slade. I’m so touched as Caroline and Simon add the skiing to the Coming Home they bought; they are always very generous and donated £1,000 for the use of one of my images on their Christmas card. They probably have the largest collection in Gloucestershire. Lovely Sue is here with her Mum Eileen and sister Natalie. Sue and Andy who is a pilot and still in Africa, also have a very large collection which somehow they manage to fit into their delightful cottage. Dear Sue has bought two paintings from my London exhibition and her Mum had bought two of the miniatures; such a supportive family. Helen is here with her little girl Isla who causes much fun telling Richard she doesn’t want to win the hamper in the raffle with the ticket she as bought - she would prefer the tin of chocolate biscuits. Helen commissioned a large Owl in the city painting which is now hanging in their new home. She is with her partner in the Little Cheltenham Tea Company who also happens to be Maureen and Gordon’s daughter in law. Later in the afternoon the enchanting Dorianne comes with her beautiful daughter Venetia, discussing broadly a commission the family have been contemplating for some time. Martin comes with Maggie, whose son and partner follow shortly afterwards. Martin is looking for a Christmas present for Maggie and one of my three dimensional mannequins that is modelling a Holst scarf catches her eye. Martin is trying to look at the back and when I turn it round discover I haven’t painted the lace in on the corset so Richard comes over to my studio in the house to collect a similar larger more finished work. The charming and witty John Baker is delighted that there is still a small nautical painting White Steamer, available. Wallace enters after George who is now a hundred and one - he sits and holds court and is most taken with Maggie who spends a lot of time sitting with him listening to his stories. His friend Peter has accompanied them- another very engaging man. I’m so pleased when Michael Shinn who taught me when I was at the art school comes through the door and George shows him a miniature on ivorine - he is temporarily worried that it has been stolen as it is in my hand when I turn to talk to someone else. Michael tells me George has been searching his bag for it. At six o’clock we bring him Wallace and Peter over to the house to see the Christmas tree before they wend their way back to Banbury - Wallace with the tiny circular painting he has bought for his sister Madge for Christmas.
The studio becomes equally busy. Gill Henry, director of appeals at the Star is here with her family when Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester arrives with his son Rowly who is at Durham reading engineering. I introduce him to Josh Gill’s son who is at the LSE. Richard has come to collect a framed print of my painting of St Francis which he had seen in the Cathedral a couple of years ago. We hadn’t set a price but he writes a generous sum down and I say that is very kind. I had introduced him to Gill so he is able to give her the cheque directly which all seems very fortuitous. My lovely friend from college days Maureen, comes with Gordon; John Turney ; Revd John Mead and Jenny discuss the altarpiece with Richard. Ronald is dropped off by Lynn - it is so good to see him and last but not least Suzy and Vic Coppersmith Heaven; Vic has already earmarked the little painting he want to give Suzy for Christmas so it required Richard surreptitiously taking the painting down and slipping it into Vic’s pocket while Suzy and I are in conversation.
R packs up the three little paintings to send to Ren in Luton and the two for Karl and Sharron on Ilkley Moor.
Still a lot of cards and presents to send out too.
In the evening Mark A-P comes to collect his two little paintings.
Jess came in the day to collect hers.
John my beloved frame and construction maker comes, he bearing a present for us, I have to tell him I haven’t wrapped his yet - which is a bit of an exaggeration as I haven’t in fact finished painting it yet! We have a glass of wine and a mince pie and chatter. I say we will have to drop his present off but he says he will come back so that he can also see Richard.
Andy comes to collect Sue’s mother’s paintings. We have a cup of tea and a mince pie as he missed the Open Studio having as a pilot been in Africa.
He also helps me getting the fire started . Just as he is leaving Bob comes for the little painting they had bought and also a little angel he had subsequently asked me to paint.
Henrietta, Kev and the boys arrive about 8.30pm full of excitement.
Richard Webb collects the painting he and Tessa bought at about 11am by which time Richard has already been over to Winchcombe to collect the turkey and pheasant (he takes a photo on his phone to show what he calls the dawn rising over Cleeve Hill) then Waitrose to complete the shop.
John calls about 2pm and the little painting I have been working on for him is on the table as I’ve just varnished it having stayed up to complete it whist also labelling and tying bows on all the parcels Richard had wrapped. We discuss the pantomime as of course he has been working on the sets with of course his colleague Roger. And we enjoy another mince pie together.
I’m very pleased as Henrietta, Kev and the boys arrive back whilst he is still here having been into Pittville Park to meet friends from Blackheath who are staying near Gloucester. Henrietta grew up knowing John’s three children so they share some nice conversations.
We leave about 3.30 for the pantomime which this year is Jack and the Beanstalk again starring Tweedy the Clown and is huge fun.
When we return I light the fire whilst Richard puts on the supper. Gill and Ian arrive about 8pm; they have rented a small cottage in Winchcombe for the week. Isaac suggests after supper that we play cards and Samuel sits with Gill as she teaches him how to play knockout whist.
After all are in bed we fill the stockings and wrap the remaining presents.
Sunday 25.12.16 Christmas Day
When the boys return from the park whilst Richard was cooking the mammoth meal (Gill making the brandy butter to accompany her pudding) we all assemble round the Christmas tree for the big opening of presents. So many the tree is almost lifted off the ground. Its always very exciting particularly watching the boys opening their gifts , having already had their Christmas stockings, or we should say sacks, left by Father Christmas.
A lovely Facebook message from Vic Coppersmith wishing peace and happiness and remembering others less fortunate at this time of year.
After this Ian goes to walk their dog whilst we finish laying the table and R completes the cooking. Its a wonderful traditional turkey dinner that he has lovingly prepared.
After the dinner we are playing cards; the boys keep asking what time Nathan and Clemantine are coming and Henrietta wonders if it will be tomorrow but I reassure everyone that they said they were coming tonight after they have spent time with Clem’s parents and sure enough they appear shortly afterwards bearing gifts. We all have a lovely time exchanging presents. Its so good to see them both and Clem has brought a cake made by her Mum from a special handed down family recipe.
Monday 26.12.16 Boxing Day
Richard has made a pheasant casserole and gravad-lax (raw marinated salmon).
In the evening Nathan & Clementine take the boys and Kev and Richard to the cinema to see the new Star Wars film whilst Henrietta, Ian, Gill and myself play cards which is fun.
After lunch Henrietta, Kev, Isaac and Samuel leave for their visitation to Kev’s parents; Gill and Ian go off to walk Duke; Nathan and Clem also depart on their return journey to London.
E mail from Jess asking if I have anything large to show at the Art Fair in London in January.
Gill and Ian come for supper bringing beautiful colourful flowers as they are driving back to Blunham in Bedfordshire tomorrow morning.
I’d been feeling pretty pleased with myself as I had managed not to get the cold that poor Richard has had this week but after Gill and Ian have gone when I’d been checking e mails on the lap top, I suddenly feel it coming on.
Unfortunately the cold has well and truly arrived and I’m sneezing and spluttering so drop Daphne & Michael and Catriona e mails to apologise for not being able to get together with them and a few others I had hoped to invite for fear of passing it on.
As has been usual over the past few years, Richard and I will see the New Year in in the studio with a glass of warming ginger wine.
Its been a strange year in politics both here and abroad but its been a good happy and productive one for us. We count our blessings and pray for those less fortunate particularly in Syria and war torn countries and those displaced and homeless.
Wishing you all Good Health, Peace and Joy through 2017