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MAY 2020


Friday 1.5.20

What a lovely surprise to find the royalties payment from the Bridgeman Art Library in my account today. They usually come at the end of the first quarter but with the lockdown I wasn’t surprised that didn’t happen at the end of March/ beginning of April as I imagine everyone is having to work from home.


Sunday 3.5.20

We do a family Skype in the early evening so good to see all bright and happy.


Monday 4.5.20

Statement from the Bridgeman Art Library showing that some of the payment was a for an Oxford University Press book, this time from the USA division on Global Publics and another book cover for a publisher in Barcelona on the polymath Boris Vian on his centenary.


Tuesday 5.5.20

Interesting e mail from Adrian Barlow, chair of the Friends, who has used one of my paintings ‘Patience’ (in the collection of The Wilson purchased from the Cheltenham Group exhibition by the Cheltenham Arts Council for the Museum) and has written an interesting piece on it in his blog along with a painting also in the Wilson's collection by Vanessa Bell.


Wednesday 6.5.20

Receive letter from Gill at the Star College enclosing the Star News booklet, which always has the most inspiring stories of students’ achievements. She says “…it’s certainly been challenging for us all. We have stayed open to support a significant number of our young people. Our nursing, care and therapies teams ave been working hard to keep everyone safe well and happy. We are barrier nursing those with symptoms. Two of our students have been very poorly in ICU in hospital but thankfully and against the odds, they pulled through and are making a good recovery. Getting PPE is a huge challenge but we have managed to buy what we need….” . Being closed to visitors etc has impacted on their income generation and all their fund raising activities have been cancelled or postponed. So like most charities they are facing financial difficulties


Sunday 10.5.20

Lovely e mail from Régine, translator and writer who is currently doing work for the French publisher Leon, Art & Stories, who have used a number of my paintings both on the covers and inside in the past. Régine is thinking of using ‘Manga’ and ‘Deadline’ on the covers of her next two albums Reading and Writing, due out in the Autumn. She’s looking for elements in my biography that relate to those topics which could be of interest to their young readers. I’m really touched as she also says she loves reading my diary and was very sorry to hear about the Marquess of Bath. Bath is a town very close to her heart and she has memories of visiting Longleat Safari Park as a girl. She has also very kindly offered to translate two of the reviews on my website one by Cressida the other by John Russell Taylor.


Friday 15.5.20

Start the painting on watercolour paper for the Secret Postcard auction at the RWA.


Saturday 16.5.29

Continue working on this little painting. The Royal West of England Academy (RWA) relies on this charity auction to raise money to help it keep going as it gets very little from any public funds. It is very sad as it had planned a big dinner on 9th June when Grayson Perry was coming to speak and lovely Laurence Llewelyn Bowen was coming as my guest and to be the auctioneer and Toyah coming as my guest too to add celebrity glamour. But of course this is having to be postponed.


Sunday 17.5.20

Finish the little painting and pack it up ready for when Jane comes next.


Tuesday 19.5.20

Phone call from Harriet re the talk I should have been giving to Art Bridge Emergent students on Thursday. It is taking longer than they thought to set all their students up online so my talk will be delayed by a few weeks.


Wednesday 20.5.20

E mail from Niki Whitfield , arts organiser and co-ordinator of what would have been Cheltenham’s first plein air art competition in July in Imperial Gardens and an exhibition in the Gardens Gallery. She was asking my thoughts on whether it was really a viable plan to go ahead with this and I think I confirmed her own intuition that it would be a shame for this to not get the entrance or attendance that it deserve due to the fact that some of them may be older or have underlying health issues and the general nervousness. It would also be difficult to organise social distancing in the gallery and even outside - the judges and the public do like to interact with the artists. So I thought it might be better to wait until things are at a different stage.

Jane comes at about 2 and we sit (socially distanced) in the garden and chat. Richard’s so pleased as when she entered the garden she said “how beautiful, it’s like a picture” as he works very hard on it every day.


Thursday 21.5.20

Lovely long e mail from Carol Abalon in Japan who Gill and I met when she came to my lecture there. She was originally from Nova Scotia. She has sent photographs of her beautiful Japanese garden which has a very sylish red bench painted in a similar shade to many of the temples etc. Interestingly she has recently tried making sourdough bread and like Richard was rather disappointed although also like him has clearly enjoyed baking. Richard now bakes all our bread and recently made a rather delicious banana, cinnamon, raison and walnut loaf but it’s rather too more - ish for my liking!


Friday 22.5.20

E mail from Yoshio, curator at the Morohashi Museum of Modern Art in Japan saying that they are hoping to open on June 1st but of course will only be able to take much smaller numbers of visitors at any one time. And to promote the Museum’s collection, they are going to be using the computer game Animal Crossing for their wider audience across the world so have asked if they can trim the reproductions of some of my paintings into a square format. It seems very enterprising.  Japan has done remarkably well with only 20,000 cases and 800 deaths from Covid-19. It is thought that two factors in particular may have played a big part in that, one being that they bow rather than shaking hands and two that it is quite commonplace for them to wear masks, especially on public transport. And of course they are always normally very aware of cleanliness ie it is commonplace to be given a sterile hot  wet cloth to clean your hands with before and after eating.


Sunday 24.5.20

Today is Henrietta and Kev’s wedding anniversary. Samuel had taken them breakfast in bed and in the evening had laid the table beautifully with a Happy Anniversary cad leaning against some flowers and placed the heart shaped tin of walnut cookies that Richard had made for them and Jane had posted special delivery for us.


Monday 25.5.20

Régine and I have had several exchanges of e mails over the past couple of weeks and she has kindly sent me a copy of the pieces she has written about me to go with ‘Deadline’ and ‘Manga’ which will be covers on two of the delightful Leon Art & Stories books. She has also very kindly written the translations of the two reviews on my website. How wonderful to have such an interesting and talented new friend in France; it had been interesting to share information on our different stages of Lockdown etc.


Tuesday 26.5.20

Phone call from lovely Nancy today with the sad sad news that dear Ken had died that morning. Such a brilliant man, clever and kind and so encouraging to us. He and Nancy have been our dear friends since 1986.  Ken was Professor of Marketing and International Business at the London Business School. Their children were a bit older than ours but we have fond memories of their son Peter, who belonged to the Magic Circle, doing magic tricks particularly as Nathan was interested in magic too. Over all the intervening years they have collected our work and been so enthusiastic frequently loaning back works for Museum shows & touring exhibitions etc. and cheering us on when exploring new ideas and ways of working. They have remembered us on every birthday and every Christmas; Nancy having made many of the beautiful and personalised presents. Dear Ken travelled a great deal and was also concurrently a Professor at universities in Florida and New Zealand where he was professor of Global Strategy and  fellow of the Oxford Business School. He was originally from New Zealand where several of his family still live. Ken had been treated for cancer for ten years and I’m sure it was the tender loving care of Nancy, who had been a nurse when they met, that he survived so long. Coupled with having Peter their youngest living next door with Clare and their two children Caroline and Jeremy. Their daughter Jane and her family went back to live in New Zealand and their eldest son John lives in the USA with his family and of course Nancy is an American from Boston (they met when Ken was doing one of his doctorates at Harvard). There has always been the joke that you could play scrabble with amount of elevating letter that he had after his name. He wrote several books  and one of the last telephone conversations I had with him, only a couple of months ago, with his infectious optimism said ‘I’ve still got to finish writing my book’. We are going to so miss him, his wise words, warmth, generosity of spirit, his wonderful smile and sense of humour.


Friday 29.5.20

As I come downstairs from the studio for our al fresco lunch, Richard tells me he has two interesting things to show me. One is that the RWA have shown my 2016 contribution to that year’s Secret Postcard auction to flag up this year’s along with a Maggie Hambling.. The other was a BBC feature on how helpful computer games are in lockdown and the first one they show is Nintendo’s Animals Crossing which is what the Morohashi Museum of Modern Art are using to show my paintings to a wider public. Can be seen at   https://dali.jp/archives/morobi-animalcrossing   https://www.animal-crossing.com/new-horizons/


Saturday 30.5.20

After I’ve done my workout I write a card to dear Nancy. It still doesn’t seem possible that she has lost Ken. I think they must have been married for about sixty years. It is always hard to find the right words to try and comfort. Also write one to dear Myrtle who used to be head of Art at the National Star College but now in her nineties tends the vegetable garden and flower borders at the convent where she and Rachel, the poet who taught English there, live. One to John Turney, lovely friend and collector who we met through the Friends of The Wilson. He had just moved into an apartment in Virginia Water. another to Peta Hoyle in return for the card she had left in our porch when shopping at Lidles of Raffles Hotel, Singapore as it looked in the 1920s. Her daughter Sarah and husband Drummond and their three young children live in Singapore. And last but not least Janet, my friend from art student days and her husband David. The reason for this busy writing session is that Jane is about to call in for a chat in the garden and she will take them to her small local post office which normally houses a lovely little cafe and antique shop upstairs. She brings lettuce and sage plants that R is particularly excited about. She doesn’t stay long as she’s also been to visit her friend Ellie and had been on a long electric bike ride this morning. She’s really missing all the volunteering work she does particularly for the Gloucestershire Wildlife Fund, the National Trust


Sunday 31.5.20

Another gloriously sun blessed day when we are able to eat in the garden where Richard is working on so many new projects to enhance it. The last day of the month so the last opportunity for people to bid on my large watercolour ‘Heroes of the Hour’ which Trinity Modern are organising with 100% going to the NHS Together Fund. The government lockdown rules are being eased tomorrow although there is scientific debate about whether it might be too far too soon. I think it’s primarily to get people back to work so that the economy might start to recover. It still feels a bit like mixed messages as we have just been told that we could meet up with six other people in an outside or garden space but looking at the BBC’s coverage of people flocking to beaches travelling bumper to bumper the proximity looks to be all too close and is of great concern to the inhabitants of those areas. Though most people will I think have more common sense, self preservation and respect for others to overplay it. There is also of course the fact that many people have been on their own during lockdown so this is their chance to see family or friends again but I think it’s still debatable whether we are being cautious enough. Even those with immune compromising conditions have been told they can go out again.