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Up to London. Pop into Varnishing Day at the RA for the last three quarters of an hour. The stairs have been striped looking a bit like a big colourful Bridget Riley. Then after bumping into the wood engraver Howard Phipps who also studied at Cheltenham, I meet Lucy Pratt who tells me that my little painting is hanging under hers and takes me down to the gallery where Mick Rooney also gives me a kiss and asks why I sent something so small. I’m just looking something up in the catalogue when Sharon comes up and gives me a big hug; I enquire after her Mum Nesta and family and she shows me photographs of them on her phone at a party for her daughter who is going to work for the Red Cross in Australia. A powerful Richard Long on the end wall of the main gallery catches my eye and a huge Grayson Perry tapestry on the end wall of another gallery and a very beautiful portrait by the late William Bowyer called ‘Sisters’.
Richard and I then walk down to Panter & Hall and are delighted to see both Tiffany and Matthew, who makes us a cup of tea. Tiffany asks how the work is coming on for my forthcoming exhibition with them. After this we spend two or three hours in the National Gallery looking at the early Italian paintings which is a remarkable collection. Walk back to the Academy and have another cup of tea in the Keepers House before going into the Friends Room for the launch of the New Hall catalogue of their collection of women’s art now the biggest in the world apart from that in Washington D.C. Matthew had told us he had heard about it on the Today programme on the radio this morning when they were interviewing Dame Barbara Stocking the President of Murray Edwards College (formerly New Hall) University of Cambridge. We also speak to Anne Lonsdale the previous President of the College and remember having lunch with her and Professor Ken and Nancy Simmonds. I’m rather pleased as the catalogue doesn’t just give me the one page colour reproduction allotted to each work in the collection but has a very nice installation shot of ‘Radio Pram’ in situ at Fountain Court too. Back home in the early hours.
Back in the studio. Finding it a bit difficult to reignite with a couple of painting started last year. This does happen and I find I have to change much of what is already there, which will hopefully help me begin to relate to them again.
Stop work in the studio at about 20 to 6 to get ready for launching Cheltenham Open Studios. This year its at The Wilson where it manages to spread out into several galleries. It soon fills up with a large number of the 200 artists who partake in 65 venues across Cheltenham and the outlying areas, as far as Little Buckland near Broadway. It encompasses many organisations too like the National Star College who are tonight represented by Molly and Beth; Artshape both of which are very close to my heart; the University who are well represented tonight; Su Billington’s Deepspace Workshops which also offers classes and discussion groups etc; artists from the collective also exhibit and work with the hospitals, schools, the festivals and the wider community. Some even working with Artlift which is prescribed by doctors as therapy for patients. This is a glorious celebration of creativity showcasing just what a talented and brilliant group these artists are.
Its a lovely evening and works exceedingly well, particularly thanks to Niki Whitfield who has masterminded the whole event with help form Mollie Abbot,the chairwomen the committee and Arabella Kiszley etc.
I should be going to the Bishop’s breakfast this morning but need to channel all my energy into the work.
Working intensely through the day and until the early hours.
Caroline comes mid afternoon to see and collect their big owl painting which they have waited patiently for, after spotting it in the studio in progress last November. She also likes the Elephant which is really for the exhibition although I have said Arabella can show it during her gallery’s Open Studios exhibition. I’m really pleased as she says she is going to take her Mum over to the Little Buckland Gallery next weekend.
Then its back to work on the interior that I’m working on for the exhibition
Continue with the interior through the day then return to the two commissions in the evening. It takes rather longer than I had anticipated so its 6 am when I get into bed.
Up again at 11 when R has already taken the paintings to be photographed at The Darkroom and is preparing the lunch for Lisa and Deb. I’m back in the studio when they arrive, Lisa bearing a beautiful bunch of deep pink lilies still in bud and two fish cook books for Richard. They spot their two commissions immediately and become engaged in the detail etc. which they feel the Schools and Colleges of Leicestershire will enjoy,
Hear from gallery in New Jersey saying they have a client who is after a painting. Richard delivers four paintings for the Fine Art & Antiques Fair at Olympia to Peter, the dealer showing them there, who also discusses with him having an exhibition at a private City club due to open next year.
R goes over to the Little Buckland Gallery near Broadway to deliver the three paintings that Arabella is showing as part of Cheltenham Open Studios.
Into Cheltenham in the evening to The Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum for the launch of Cheltenham Open Studios which is a brilliant event. The pace is buzzing and full of people. There are 200 artists showing with COS in 65 different venues across Cheltenham and its outlying areas, spreading as fas as the Little Buckland near Broadway. They are such a wonderful group and include students at the National Star College, another wonderful charity, Artshape; Su Billington’s Deepspace that also offers wonderful workshops; the University; Christ Church with Nikki Seville’s group of artists and a myriad others all well worth visiting. Again the artists have made exquisite little 5 x 5 works to sell to raise the money for the programme etc. and I come away with seven such treasures each only costing £5. Give a short speech before mingling with many artists who are new to me.
Up to Montpellier Gardens for rock the Cotswolds Perrier Jouett champagne event at the Daffodil marquee in the Food Festival. I meet Ali Russell from New Brewery Arts in Cirencester who invites me over to show me around it. Have to leave this event early as we’re going to the unveiling of the Bishop’s portrait by Lorna. Its a fine portrait and most people seem very pleased with it. The angle from which it is painted slightly elevates and looks up at Bishop Michael who is then looking up to as if to heaven.
To Cheltenham to All Saints Church where Holst’s father was the organ master and there are windows by William Morris and Burne Jones) for the launch of Artshape’s Open Studio event. It is rather gloomy outside but inside it feels warm and vibrant with works exhibited by both tutors and students and three musicians (who teach at the University), that Caroline introduces me to. They remember Robert Fripp’s performance here and at St Michael’s Bishop’s Cleeve. Their music too seems very atmospheric and abstract. I meet a very nice man called David who is a wheelchair and is one of Mike’s Alzheimer Group; he has produced two very nice pieces that his daughter points out to me but the lovely man laughs and says he can’t remember creating them. Mike tells me he sees great improvement in this group. He’s obviously a very good and dedicated tutor who started a volunteer. After buying some of the ‘secret postcards’ which Richard and I have both contributed to, I give an informal speech. Then tell Mike I’d like to buy his work ‘Anxiety No 2’ which is a very precise patterned drawing that he says he does when he’s feeling anxious. This is a particularly nice one as it seems to be drawn on the back of a receipt and has a red strip across the top.
We then have to drive to Gloucester again for the special service to celebrate the eleven years that Bishop Michael ministered in Gloucestershire. Meet David Ellis and Peter Horne form the National Star College in the cloisters where refreshments were being served after the Eucharist which took about 2 hours.
Then back home to work in the studio.
Richard takes my Mum shopping in the morning before we go over to the Little Buckland Gallery to see the exhibition that Arabella has put together, which looks beautiful in its grade 2 listed barn building. She shows me how she’s hung my big painting the Travelling Players on a black background and the other two in the first gallery on white. Met two very nice artist there, one a maker of jeweller, the other a ceramicist who has made some timeless looking cylindrical pots. The work of both artists was fascinating. We then drive to Bristol for the pv of exhibition of giclées of Martin’s poems and Nick’s illustrations from the latest book of green green poems. We are a little late especially as we have a bit of trouble finding it. We creep in quietly as Martin is performing in a beautiful medieval bards costume. I’m so pleased as my friends of many years Joan and Arril have come and its a real delight to see them after a long lapse. Joan is American and we first met when we were both exhibiting at an exhibition called the Westward Television Open in Truro where she was showing one of her beautiful drawings. Arril is a Canadian animator who also made exquisite models of prehistoric birds for a David Attenborough TV film. When Nathan was at school he went to stay with them for a week so he could get work experience that Arril had organised for him at Ardmaan. Standing near to them are Maggs and Nick plus wonderful Sarah who is the voice of Pickles in one of Nick’s films. A brilliant woman who as Maarfans syndrome and has devoted her life to performing incredible tasks such as climbing mountains, flying planes or singing in the Royal Albert Hall with Bryn Terfel to raise money for her lovely charity ‘Smiling Eyes’ (which benefits many charities) Nick is Patron. So I go along the whole row giving hugs. Its lovely to catch up with Joan and Arril who has worked with Martin and Nick too. The giclées which have been organised and published by a film producer friend of Martin’s, Adam who has done the layout and presentation beautifully. Afterwards we all (apart from Joan and Arril) go to Browns in Park Street for supper which is great fun. And its good to see Martin looking so happy. Its lovely talking to Maggs and Nick about his latest project; he is so dedicated and hard working.
Good to be back in the studio, working on a new canvas for the exhibition
Stop work in the studio about 6pm ready to go into Cheltenham to the Chelsea Brasserie which is 40% owned by Gloucestershire College for their students to train and work in. Its their Higher Apprenticeship launch. We arrive just after Peter the vice principal and just before Matt, the Principal. We are given a presentation by a group of their engineering students who also work at GE, earning as they learn. Bright young men, two from each year, tell us about all the wonderful advantages and how fulfilling it is to earn as you learn and applying their theoretical studies to the real world of making and designing high spec componants for aircraft. The final presentation is from a young man who has already graduated with a first class degree in the same time it would have taken him if he had only been a student - but at this very young age he’s just about to buy a house and points out his lovely girlfriend who has also just graduated from a full time university course but still has to find a job (in psychology). It was interesting chatting to them and GC staff and other apprentices afterwards - it made one wonder why everyone didn’t do an apprenticeship particularly as graduates often find it difficult to get jobs in their chosen fields afterwards.
Back in the studio working fast and furiously on the new works for my forthcoming exhibition with Panter & Hall in London, that opens on 29th September
Over to Dowdswell Manor for the luncheon that Peta and Richard Hoyle are giving for Jimmy’s christening. Jimmy is the beautiful seven month old son of their daughter Sarah and her husband Drummond. Drinks in the garden then there in the dining room the painting they had commissioned me to do for Sarah’s 18th birthday, a corrugated horse racing work. Its a magnificent spread and as we make our way to the drawing room we pass all Jimmy’s presents which include the elephant drawing that Peta bought him from my charity Open Studio at Christmas in aid of The Star. In the sitting room we spot two more of my small paintings hung in the panelling and one of Richard’s engraving of the Pump Rooms just inside the house entrance.
Afterwards we go to All Saints to pay Mike for his drawing “Anxiety no. 2” and meet the musicians just putting their instruments into the cars. Caro, who works for Artshape, with her cello; Chris who has a doctorate in performance is guitar and Mark who teaches printmaking at the University on keyboard. They say how much they have enjoyed playing in All Saints and particularly remember coming to Robert (Fripp)’s performance there with Theo Travis and also tell me they came to those that I organised at St Michael’s in Bishop’s Cleeve for Robert and for Toyah and Humans. So I’m really pleased to be able to invite them to private performance at the beginning of the King Crimson tour later in August. They are such nice people and great enthusiasts. Mike says how well the Open Studio event has done for them, having many more people in this time than last. I also say how lovely it was to see and meet one of his students David from his Alzheimers group - he obviously has a real gift for working with people and I say I hope however successful he becomes with his own work he never loses that.
Then to Beverley’s rather late bearing flowers and a box of cakes as a belated birthday celebration. She has laid out a whole delicious tea for us and her lovely friend Tony who has come up from Devon. Such a delightful man.
Back home to work. Start a new circular painting.
Royalty payment from the Bridgeman for paintings reproduced. Richard looks up the list on which I’m quite surprised to see that Doubla, the double self portrait that Wallace owns has been used in a German publication and After Assisi in a German book. It also includes The Adoration (Gloucestershire Nativity), Playground and a newspaper work.
Its fascinating for me to see how my paintings even when in private collections can have continued exposure through reproduction.
Working intensely for the London show.
Over to Gloucestershire College’s Renaissance Restaurant at the Cheltenham campus where I have the great privilege of being speaker, master of ceremonies and guest of honour. Its a beautiful evening and there is already live music on the go and a buzz of excitement among the staff when we get there. I’m sat next to Matthew Burgess the Principal and we also have Graham Ripley, chair of the governors. Its wonderful chatting to them as they are of course passionate about the College and all it does for its learners. The food is exquisite to look at and delicious to eat, all served and prepared by the Catering Academy students and staff. A chilled gazpacho as first course was superb, followed by for me a squash risotto - others had chicken and tagliatelli. Then a beautiful berry and meringue dessert. After the coffee I’m on with my speech after a generous introduction by Matthew.
Its surprising how much quicker it seems to go. As someone who has spent most of her working life in the solitary confinement of her studio, I am totally in awe and fascinated by the vast team that Gloucestershire College is, each player interdependent on the other, all moving towards helping their student learners to reach their full potential and realize their dreams.
As master of ceremonies it includes reading out the names of the sponsors and inviting them onto the stage whist I read out the names and details of the three nominees of each of the nine awards along with a description of the reasons why they have been nominated. It is touching to see how moved the winners are to receive them - a very well deserved pat on the back for them all. Its such an exciting evening and a great honour to be part of it.
I’m presented with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers at the end of the evening which I have so enjoyed.
Henrietta, Kev, Isaac and Samuel arrive having spent hours in horrendous traffic out of London. I’m just outside playing with Isaac and Samuel when Nathan comes through the gate having also driven through terrible traffic out of London. We all have a lovely time chatting outside with drinks, Nathan playing an early form of tennis with Isaac using the flat of their hands. Followed by a delicious dinner cooked by Richard. Nathan leaves about 11.30 to drive back to London (because he has a shoot starting early tomorrow) after giving me a beautiful beaded bag in brilliant colours in a rather tribal or art deco triangular pattern and a huge and impressive book on Velasquez which has the most magnificent reproductions of all the known paintings.
There’s lots of activity as Richard’s cooking lunch and Henrietta’s making a beautiful cake. Gill, Ian and my Mum arrive shortly after the boys return from the park with Kev. Isaac presents me with a parcel that he says his Mummy has worked hard on - its an exquisite painting/collage of a white crane on an orange background with a branch of cherry blossom and she has written its beautiful symbolic meaning on the back. Isaac and Samuel had also made me beautiful picture cards. Isaac had also taken pleasure watching Richard paint a pink lily from the bunch had bought for me this morning and had patiently waited for his breakfast telling Richard that this was far more important.
After we’ve waived everyone off I go back to the studio to work.
Continue in the studio working towards my forthcoming exhibition at Panter & Hall, which is growing ever more imminent.
Over to Gloucestershire College late afternoon to present prizes to the Arts, Media and Performing Arts students in the theatre. Lovely to see John Howe a delightful man who is also an honorary vice President of the College. I’m so pleased that some of the students who are getting awards I had come across during the year, like Lily who had welcomed me at the Big Draw and two very nice students from the Fashion Academy who had both been good at asking questions when I gave a talk on how fashion informs my work there earlier in the year.