Spend a lot of time looking at the catalogue from the Accademia in Florence, not only marvelling at how Michaelangelo had the ability to turn marble into flesh even when rendering his eighteen foot high David and the tremendous plaster by Gianbologna, Rape of the Sabine Women composed of three figures making but also at the paintings like the Adoration of the Child by Lorenzo Credi and Sandro Botticceli’s Madonna of the Sea where the child-like Mary could almost be a young girl of today.
Receive very nice e mail from Lynn, one of Henrietta’s friends and colleagues at Rainham, to say they went into London to see my exhibition during half term and how welcome the Gallery made them, which is always very nice to hear. So touched as she says she keeps in touch with what I’m doing by reading this online diary.
Starting to work on miniatures - I already have one I painted earlier in the year.
Phone call from Rupert who has arranged an appointment for me to meet someone who is considering commissioning a painting and that he has strong interest in another of the bigger works, having missed The Meal.
Put on our finery for the 15th anniversary dinner of Linc the brilliant charity which helps people with Leukaemia or undergoing intense chemotherapy and their families, founded by the wonderful Dr. Gill Rouse, at the Ellenborough Park Hotel. Richard drops me at the door whilst he goes down to the car park which is a bit of a way off. As I look around the room I see someone waving - its Laurence Llewelyn Bowen who with his lovely wife Jackie, is hosting the evening as they are also both Patrons. He’s talking to Gill and very nicely asks me how my exhibition in London is going, as they haven’t yet managed to see it. Shortly afterwards Richard joins us. Jackie and I give each other a hug and I comment on how beautiful she’s looking in a stunning dress with tiny sparkling stones scattered densely across the corsage and also on the see through sleeves. She tells me how liberated she feels and how much she enjoyed their appearances on ‘Stepping Out’. The guest speaker is the great Bob Champion the amazing jockey who defeated testicular cancer to come back and win the Grand National and numerous other races - his list of achievements is incredible. After writing his autobiography a film ‘Champion’ was made with John Hurt playing him, this brought him world wide celebrity - the Bob Champion Cancer trust was then established particularly to research into the cancers that are particular to men. He’s a very nice man and tells me he has just visited his daughter in Manchester and although he comes from north Yorkshire he now lives in Newmarket. He’s a very relaxed witty and unpretentious speaker. The food is excellent Richard, Jackie and I have all gone for the vegetarian mushroom tartlet after our seafood terrine. Jackie was the master of ceremonies and Laurence in his wonderfully entertaining way, the auctioneer. I bid and won the two vouchers for tea at the Dorchester and later assist Laurence in pulling out the raffle tickets for the many prizes. We’ve bought quite a lot of tickets and three times one of our numbers comes up and we decline but Jackie insists we must win one of the beautiful cocktail glasses that Laurence has designed in its exquisitely patterned circular box. They had generously also donated a goody bag to everyone at the dinner in which there was one of her oven glove designs a bar of chocolate by the young chocolatier Louis Barnett which he started producing after being diagnosed with dyslexia and other learning difficulties at the age of 11 he began his chocolate making business. By the age of 17 he had begun exporting world-wide. Now 21 Louis is a world renowned entrepreneur, a world chocolate ambassador, an international public speaker and published author www.louisbarnettchocolates.com
We bid our goodnight to Gill and Michael as we are the last to leave. Arrive home and remember I am going into Bettridge Special School tomorrow to do a workshop so wander into the downstairs studio/storeroom to look for inspiration. The things that seems particularly plentiful are the large number of corrugated cardboard boxes so decide that as I want it to incorporate recyclingand the sides of these would make a good ground with a bit of cutting and folding by Richard in advance, they could make pop up portraits and we would call the session ‘Picture Me’.
Its rather wet when we arrive at Bettridge School, Richard carrying an easel, my portrait of Henrietta and Nathan and a big box of materials. We’re met by the young art teacher Grace who takes us up to the room where I am giving the workshop. As the two classes come in one at a time I shake hands with each student and ask their name. They are delightful young people uninhibited and full of enthusiasm and curiosity. I’m amazed that they all quickly grasp the idea of either the self portrait by remembering how they look, or a portrait of one of their fellow students. The two teachers and the teaching assistants sit or stand with the children helping or guiding those who need more direction. I open the procedure by producing a very quick caricature portrait of Richard which they had to guess at who it is. A lovely atmosphere and lots of industry first with pens and then using collage by adding ripped paper. Many have very strong ideas of what they want; Elliot produced a beautifully drawn and coloured self portrait to which he later added a silver halo and others did very original extras too. The afternoon whizzes by, it has been such an enjoyable experience and wonderful rapport with these two groups of lovely young people.
Up to London for a meeting with prospective client re large newspaper painting. Then onto Panter & Hall’s beautiful new gallery in Pall Mall with its large arches windows and magnificent gallery space it is an exciting proposition to fill with my exhibition there next year. Delighted to be greeted by Matthew who says ‘here is the artist’ he’s talking to a woman who has just come in off the street having seen my painting in the window there. Have a short time talking to Tiffany too before she goes home to her little boy. Matthew takes me on a tour downstairs through the storeroom into the lower gallery where a separate exhibition alternates with that of the upstairs. Its also a good space but not as grand as that upstairs with its pillars, arches and plaster work. We chat over our cups of tea about the gallery and my forthcoming exhibition there.
We leave at about 6.30 and drive over to Nathan in Stoke Newington where its quite a shock to see him on crutches with his leg in a brace after his operation last Friday to clear out some of the debris and investigate further the damage to his knee after a sports accident. It lovely to see him and he’s looking well apart from the aforementioned leg. We’ve taken some soups and have supper with him in his beautiful flat that he’s done so much work on, laying oak floors, building kitchen units and wardrobes etc. He’s also had the huge windows to the front and back rebuilt so its much warmer and quieter - they look fabulous and the flat is very distinctly him. We leave at about 11.30 and are home by 2.30.
Its very frustrating as our ability to send e mail is down so have to do it all via the Blackberry before we set off to London again and arrive in Greenwich with only twenty minutes to spare before Henrietta and Kev go out to dinner, Richard drives them there whilst I entertain the two boys, still full of energy. Isaac demonstrates on his new guitar what he has been learning in his lessons whilst Samuel takes out the smaller one. When Richard comes back we play chess. Isaac and I and Samuel with R. We are later than instructed when we read their bedtime stories. Whilst R is heating soup for us I start my charity drawing for the Museum in the park in Stroud Secret Artist event. The money from which help with the restoration of the garden there. I’m just getting into my pyjamas when they arrive back whist Richard is already reading in bed to warm it up.
Henrietta, Isaac, Richard and I are going in to see my exhibition via a visit to the Tate whist Kev takes Samuel to a birthday party. the traffic’s bad and it takes much longer to get to the Tate than planned so whilst we’re having lunch there I ring Rupert to say we’ll come on another day. Isaac has a lovely time with Richard drawing on one of the digital screens whilst Henrietta and I go in to the Myra Schender exhibition. This Brazilian artist was preoccupied with graphic interpretations and use of philosophical quotations within her work, sometimes letters are fixed within perspex rectangles attatched to a larger persex rectangle and suspended at a distance perhaps of twelve to eighteen inches from the wall, casting interesting shadows and provoking one to look or question it from differing angles. One room is full of an installation called the Wave where thousands of transparent glass threads are suspended from the ceiling to the floor making a large rectangular whole, that when one walks around, creates the feeling of both movement and fusion. Many of the quotations are from Cardinal Newman who wrote widely on his theological and philosophical thoughts. Its very interesting for Henrietta who teaches art and looks for the inspirational for her students. We can’t see Isaac or Richard when we come out for a moment or two then we see R waving as they have just come in from the balcony where they have been admiring the London skyline, particularly St Paul’s Cathedral. they excitedly tell us that Isaac’s picture that he had drawn on the screen appeared on the large viewing wall above, a few minutes later. How wonderful for a seven year old to have exhibited at the Tate!
We then make our way to the Paul Klee exhibition where I am surprised by the small scale of very many of the earlier works; beautiful harmonious colouring of geometrical shapes overlaid with his magical flights into fantasy. Isaac particularly likes the works that incorporate images of fish. As we work our way through the exhibition it covers the time that Klee was working at the Bauhaus. Its fascinating to see the subtle transitions in the work through the political changes and persecutions that were occurring at different times of his creativity. We meet up with Henrietta and Isaac in the Tate shop buying catalogues for us and books for the boys. Isaac is very excited and reads to us from a book on food which in its turn fantasises about the edible properties that the world is made of, including a nougat house. He reads this to us as we drive to Nathan’s,who is on good form and even manages to pick Isaac up whilst on his crutches and let off a couple of fireworks outside. He also plays ‘War’ the anti war song that Isaac is practising for his school assembly next week. We send out for a Thai takeaway meal which we all sit and enjoy whilst exchanging news and stories although Isaac doesn’t eat very much of his duck! We leave at a bit after 9 to return Henrietta and Isaac home before we set out on our return journey, arriving back about 2.30.
Back at work in the studio.
R collects some beautiful new frames that John has made up so superbly for me. Richard’s also made me one of the corrugated constructions and primed it in readiness. Start commission.
Its the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire’s AGM and we’re taking Beverley as our guest as I recently nominated her for membership and got Stephen the vice chancellor to second it and am really delighted that Black wrote to her and me to say that she had been accepted. The AGM is quite short and suddenly I’m called to say my piece in any other business. I congratulate Sir Henry on having the vision and imagination to found the Company and its successive Wardens on the achievements it has made via its large donation to the Gloucestershire Community Fund which I think was doubled by the Government; it’s work and awards to young people and Cadets; the annual young people’s lecture; its awards to young Gloucestershire craftspeople and support for the public foundation catalogue. etc. But I wonder, in response to Ceri’s letter on becoming Warden, entitled Your Company Needs You, whether there is more we can do to help the many disadvantaged and excluded within the County and suggest perhaps a good way would be through the various Gloucestershire based charities who work tirelessly often under difficult circumstances for little or no reward. I suggest that recognition from the Honourable Company perhaps small awards of even a few hundred pounds would actually both encourage and give momentum and that seal of approval from the hon Co might even encourage other organisations to do similar. So the gist of my question is, do we the Honourable Company need another group to actively address this problem? and that by reaching out to the disadvantaged and excluded, might dispel the myth that we are an elite dining club.
Its then the Victoria County History lecture, a fascinating account of how they collate the information from many sources. There’s no room for surmising or adding to the facts. Much of the information is collected by volunteers who actually get to do a lot of the writing for the particular volume covering their area. Most of Gloucestershire has now been covered but there is still quite a large area in South Gloucestershire that is yet to be written. Funding is always a problem. After this we go for the supper which has been excellently prepared, cooked and served by the wonderful students of the Catering academy at Gloucestershire College.
I was so upset that the Big Give had withdrawn its doubling after only a short time, for the appeal towards the heart rending conditions in the devastated Philippines after the savage tornado had taken so many thousands of lives and wreaked such horrendous damage, that I thought I ought to double my donation through the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and make two payments. Even though we see film and hear news of the dire circumstances there, it must only convey a fraction of the real terror and deprivation that it has brought. There seems now to be a question of whether global warming is contributing to the increase in such extreme weather conditions.
R’s gone to London to collect more materials from Cornellissen where he discovers that the wood used in my stretcher frames comes from a small timber merchant in Estonia! Must tell Dr Margus. Also calls in to the Alpha Gallery to deliver new painting and and into Panter & Hall re next years arts fairs and exhibition.
Meanwhile I’m working on the commission and a new corrugated piece that Richard has just made.
Kate, the Director of Appeals from the National Star College calls in and over a cup of tea updates me on much that is happening there.
Drive over to glorious Owlpen Manor for dinner party with Sir Nicky and Karin. Very warm welcome from their two lovely dogs and Nicky who introduces us to the other guests who are all artists. Rory is a sculptor who is presently working on a large piece for St Albans Cathedral and says he’s had to give up lecturing and teaching so that he can concentrate all his energies on that. It’s a most enjoyable evening in the most beautiful home and house perfectly magical in the glow of the candlelight and the roaring fire in front of which the enormouse Ridgeback and the tiny Jack Russel Politely take turns to Lay echoing the Charm and warmth of our fascinating hosts. Karin who also creates the menus for Owlpen’s resturant is a superb and original cook who has prepared and cooked this delicious meal especially for us as we do not eat meat. How wonderful to be surrounded by history & art in such entertaining company most of whom are artists.
On our way for a drink with Martin Horwood we call in at Linc’s charity shop as they are having their ‘Party Season Shopping Event’. Its actually buzzing with people and they are serving wine and mince pies. Buy lots of beautiful Christmas tree decorations, wrapping paper and gift bags. Also a pair of terracotta cherubs based on those we saw in Florence!
Work for a short time on the commission then in the evening we go to Beverley’s for dinner party. Single handedly she’s prepared a magnificent feast including a fish mouse as starter followed by cauliflower cheese and other nice veg and wonderful fresh fruit salad with mini jellies etc for dessert. Her friends are all very interesting. The nice man sitting next to me tells me that his son was very interested that we’d be at the same dinner as he knows my work from Gloucestershire College where he studied textiles and fashion. Beverly is the most delightful host very enjoyable evening.
Trying to get into a more regular work routine for the next few days.
Working on the miniatures again!
Very pleased to receive an e mail from Meyram at Paintings in Hospitals letting me know that the painting I had donated sold at auction at ther champagne reception on Thursday evening. 50% will be donated to PiH and 50% to Link the Leukaemia and Intense Chemotherapy fund.
Also one from Arabella saying she had just sold an engraving.
Sad to hear the Nobel prize winning writer Doris Lessing has died. She wrote very movingly about apartheid and womens issues. I was honoured to have one of my paintings, The Witness, on the cover of the French publisher Livre de Poche’s edition Mémoires d’une survivante.
I was hoping to let Sarron at the Fosse Gallery have a couple of paintings for her Christmas show but suddenly realised that there are only two and a half weeks to go until my Open Studio and that I’ve also promised a painting for the evening I give the talk to Women in Racing in London for their bursary fund.
Phone call from Tiffany asking if it would be possible to take the painting they have recently exhibited back for one of their clients to see.
Call from Rob also enquiring to see if I have a suitable painting for one of his clients.
Miss journalist’s call wanting to do interview for two page spread re exhibition.
Over to Gloucester Cathedral for the Gloucestershire College lunch and Higher Awards ceremony. Its a beautiful sight to see all the students in their caps and gowns outside the Cathedral and beginning to fill inside. The buffet lunch is always nice as one sees staff from the College and the other two honorary vice Presidents, Really thrilled when talking to John who until last year was a staff governor of the College as he tells me usually he has sad news but today he has very good news as t he too is being made an honorary vice President. I am so very pleased for him as he is passionate aobut the College and even though his life has been hit by tradegedy, his loyalty and affection for the College is undiminished. Its so wonderful to see the array of students, many very young and some maturer, graduating; the culmination of all their hard work, supported often by their families and nurtured by the very dedicatd staff. Some of these students will also have been working either part time or full time whilst studying, which makes their achievement even greater. I am particulaly fascinated as I think most of the audience is, by the wonderful array of fascinaitng footwear the students have showing below the hems of their gowns; many beautiful high heeled shoes, some colourful some sparkling, and all dressed elegantly for the occasion.
We then call in at he Hub to see Nikki Seville and the way she has hung and exhibitd the works from the Presentation at the Temple exhibition at Christ Church. I’m particularly thriled as someone has purchased Kim’s (who was awarded first prize) painting. Nikki is always so full of wise words and energy and tells me that the Hub was almost bursting at the seams with people on Sunday.
We then go on to the Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum to see the new hang of highlights from their collection in the splendid new “Friends gallery”. Really pleased with how the exhibition looks, the walls in a tasteful grey throw up the colours in this varied collection dating back to the 17th century Dutch paintings to the present. I think the latest acquisition is a Chapman Brothers, an old portrait they have doctored by painting a series of almost blood coloured lines in vein like patterns on the nose and mouth. I’m very pleased with the way my corrugated painting looks within this exhibition.
When we get home I hear Richard give a yelp of joy when he discovers that one of my big paintings has been sold.
Have again been painting miniatures for my Open Studio ‘Mulled Wine, Mince Pies & Miniatures’ on 7 and 8 December. Its always such an enjoyable event getting to see so many friends, many of whom also collect the little paintings. Richard’s been busy preparing the tinyand small circular ones; he’s already put together and primed 17 roundals and has got the framer in the village making up tiny squares and rectangles for me.
Hard at work on the miniscule creations.
Nice note from a Henrietta Butler who tells me she has won the drwing I donated to the Secret Artist auction for Stroud’s Museum in the Park for the restoration of the walled garden and student bursaries at Stroud College.
Miniatures growing in number!
Busy day on the dealer front. Call from Tiffany first to confirm that they have sold Burlesque which was in the On a Grand Scale exhibition, in the catalogue and in the window earlier this month. Then a call from Gary at the Alpha and later that afternoon Michelle Blondel phones from Paris. So things for next year getting very busy.
Now nearly completed ten miniatures.
Busy working on the tiny paintings when Richard receives a call from Matthew thanking him for his help and discussing plans for next year etc.
Painting miniatures during the day. Nice call from Lyn just as we are about to leave for the music festival programme launch, re the dates for the Open Studio. I tell her I’ve just written her invitation this evening as she says last year many had gone by the time she arrived so she wants be early this year. I mention the website but she doesn’t have a computer.
We rush off to Ellenborough Park for the Festival event presented by Edward Gillespie the Chairman and Meurig Bowen the Director sounds like a fabulous line up for next year including Cheltenham born Holst’s centeenary of the Panets and Estonia’s Arvo Part.
Ouch! up very early for Bishop’s Breakfast at the new Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum. As Richard drops me, Bishop Michael, John Holroyd and Ruth Fitzjohn are outside the musuem so we all go in together. On entering the upper level of the cafe there are already several members here including Mark who has been in London working on the programmes for next years commemoration of the start of the First World war, so am happily surprised to see him. Bishop Michael brings the new suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury, Martyn Snow, around to introduce him to us. This morning’s presentation s from Suzette, the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, on the Ashton Project; a project inititatd by a police woman who sadly died in 2011, out of concern for youngsters who perhaps come from difficult backgrounds offering them opportunities they might not otherwise have like canoeing or going to look after the animals on the city farm by Timebanking hours which they can then put towards these activities. Jane Lillystone had also given a short presentation at the beginning and it concludes with some words from Graham Lockwood who is chair of the development board at the Museum. Amongst his thank yous he generously thanks the Friends for the quarter of a million pounds we have raised (which was all hard won) but says they still need to raise a bit more.