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Two nice parcels in today’s post, one from Germany containing postcards of my painting ‘Tuesday’ in the same range as Picasso, Hopper, Chagall etc. and in another envelope a couple of copies of a magazine called Resurgence (formerly The Ecologist) which uses two of my paintings as half page illustrations in an article on Non Violence.
Working on all fronts in the studio but especially on a little painting for Henrietta’s birthday tomorrow.
Up early and off to London calling first at Bromley where we go to collect Samuel who has just had an operation on his arm this morning to remove the wires that they had inserted when he broke it in August. He and his Dad Kev had gone in very early in a taxi this as their car had to have its MOT and work done today. The nurse says how very brave he’s been. We bought two large soft dinasours slightly different to one another who are sitting on the back seat to greet him, so I tell him he can choose which one he would like and the other will be for Isaac - he asks if he can have the journey to decide.
When we get to their house in Blackheath we’re greeted by Isaac who has just had a haircut and Henrietta whose birthday it is. Isaac tells me about the work they’ve been doing at school on simile and metaphor and he’s been picked to read the poem he wrote using these in Friday’s assembly. His guitar playing is coming on and he’s just been given the music for House of the Rising Sun which I seem to recall was Eric Burden and the Animals.
Starting to make marks on the big square commission for Cantilever. Its going to be a fairly complex composition so quite difficult to know where to begin. Decide to radiate out from a slightly off centre middle. As the song has it the first step is the hardest.
Thrilled as Echo have put in my piece on Bettridge School and the National Star College. Big photograph that R took of the children holding the giclée print of my star made by Sprint at the Star and also the photo of their winning piece.
After the day on the big square painting, we put on our glad rags and drive over to Gloucester to Stephen and Tony’s to celebrate the latter’s birthday and the completing of their house. we’re greeted by Stephen who’s wearing a beautiful red shirt and sends us upstairs to where Tony, looking elegant in a dark green velvet smoking jacket with black frogging and what look like silk tartan trousers, is serving pink champagne. We meet Tony’s brother who has traveled up for this special event and also Stephen’s mother , an elegant lady in black. Also meet very nice woman printmaker friend of Tony’s who’s traveled up by train who he tells me is a brilliant printmaker; an example of her work using a bed head that she had engraved to print from hangs in the hall and indeed it was very beautiful. We’re downstairs eating some of the delicious food which includes figs, aubergines and anchovy pizza having just spoken to the woman who used to be head of art at Cleeve School when someone comes and picks me up and its Pete who Richard had spotted upstairs, who is always such fun. He and Richard spend time sizing up the cheese and lemon drizzle cake. I’d spotted Jo Stringer chair of the new Cheltenham Trust and her husband earlier. I ‘d chatted to him but now chat with Jo who had just yesterday exchanged e mails with. I talk about The Wilson. Then whist having another conversation with a Japanese woman who has located here with her husband when Pete comes up to tell me there’s dancing downstairs in the basement so we bop around to what I think he feels is rather suspect music whilst Richard is taking great interest in Tony’s litho press which is slightly smaller but similar ( antique) to his. So when we come up from dancing Tony tells me how helpful Richard has been in analysing what the problem was with the press not printing properly.
Still battling with the big canvas trying to create a coherent composition out of so many different elements and on different scales
we go into Cheltenham to the Literature Festival event as guests of Gloucestershire College to hear Tom Kerridge 2 Michelin star and TV chef who is a former student of the College’s wonderful Catering Academy. Its lovely to be greeted by so many people from the College as we enter.
The two paintings have arrived in Toronto in good time for the art fair.
Mix up some vibrant Colours in old jam a particularly delicious zingy green for the new commission…………………
which am now applying in large circular motions to canvas.
E mail from Lea re The Aston Project which is in the process of becoming a charity so needs a constitution as suggested by the charities commission using their own template. Lea wants us to look through to advise on thoughts or changes. This is such an exciting project and I feel touched and honoured to be involved.
Ahead of the Curve at The Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum. We arrive about quarter to seven so have unfortunately missed the speeches. Some fascinating pieces. A bit later Stephen and Tony arrive and we say what fun their party was and that I’m going to work out dates on the calendar to invite them over as Tony particularly wants to see Richard’s litho press.
Richard’s busy in my studio over the Lane as he’s been putting together a big corrugated construction for another commission that has been outstanding for several years! He’s now in the process of covering it with canvas whilst I continue on the big square commission for Cantilever, which is beginning to fill with colour.
Really pleased to hear from Robert and Toyah that they’d like to come to supper in November. Robert’s reply comes from the airport where he’s about to fly to Argentina. Also one from Nick to say that he and Maggs can come on the following weekend along with Martin and Maggie.
I’m busy filling the composition on the central area of the big square canvas for Cantilever
E mail from Jacqui re the large triptych alterpiece quoting the Diocesan Advisory Committee saying that “…members felt this would make a striking focal point to the newly re-ordered chancel end and had the potential in future to be a real asset to the church.” I now have to fill in all sorts of information for the Church Buildings Council but I suppose it is right that churches are respected in these ways and the more security hoops that the altarpiece has to go through the safer it will be protected against the possible whims of the various incumbents who will in future fill Malc’s place.
Up early to go to Gloucester to Gloucestershire College for the Big Draw. Am met at Reception by a delightful second year HND student, Lily, who tells me things are already buzzing in the atrium and that the photographer from the Citizen is there. And sure enough there are a lot of people drawing - most of the tables have filled. Nicole comes and introduces herself too as does the photographer from The Citizen who takes some shots both of me with the students and drawing with my big GloCorama mural as the backdrop which I am sitting with my back towards. but very touched when Richard keeps looking up at it being particularly impressed by the colour and the details. I tell him how fortunte I’ve been to have the honour of painting it and how I love my connection with the College and being an honorary vice president. Jess, the course leader, comes and introduces herself; a striking young woman who is very proud of her students for organising this event so well. Its actually very enjoyable sitting there drawing. Richard’s made several nautical pictures, another of a flounder, plus the Loch Ness monster; some rowers and a fishing boat all in lovely blue turquoise and orange, before he leaves for London. My lovely friend Nikki Seville form Cheltenham Open Studios (of which I am Patron) arrives and joins in. When Richard goes out to check on the car parking meets Carol who I’d invited to come along too, which was very fortuitous as he was able to take her to sign in. She didn’t think she’d been here before but R said it was wonderful that when they turned the corner into the atrium ad she saw my big triptych GloCorama she recalled the whole of the inveiling event and Robert Fripp’s concert. How wonderful to be able to trigger a lost memory. I am so pleased to see her. Richard departs for London whist the three of us spend the afternoon drawing. Carol starts quite cautiously using coloured pencils but as the time wears on she becomes much bolder and says how much she is enjoying it. Nikki, Carol and I all exchange stories while we ‘re drawing. I was touched when Carol, just after she arrived, commented on the growing mural saying “I love that Owl” I tell her how delighted I am as it was my first one. She then points to the rabbit which is also one of mine. Nikki, who’s doing some beautiful brightly coloured intricate pictures treats us to tea and cakes. At the end of the afternoon we take our drawings to be cut out by Nicole and fixed to the large collaborative mural that we are making out of many small parts and manage to take some nice photos on my phone of the two of them looking at the piece. We wend our way out through an entrance I haven’t been through before across the river and into the huge shining shopping mall The Quays. Nikki asks Carol if it gets very busy. As we exit Nikki offers Carol a lift home but she says no she loves to walk; such a sweet and happy person. Nikki’s going to send her things about Cheltenham Open Studios and I’m going to send her sketch book and pens. Nikki then drives me all the way back to Bishop’s Cleeve. I take her into the studio quickly to show her the altarpiece before she goes home to Cheltenham and her family. Recommence work on the commission for Lucy.
Phone call from Nathan about 11.30pm to tell me he’s back home safely after the sixteen day assignment in Buenos Aeries but he’s off to Hong Kong in a couple of days to continue work on the project, then possibly New York.
R manages to get back from London at exactly the same time as I put down my paint brush at 2 minutes to 2. He takes photographs of the painting whilst I answer the door to Andrew who with Joe had selected the painting which was in its infancy in my studio at the beginning of August. R brings it down to show him before I inscribe the back and R wraps it in bubble and wrapping paper which I adorn with a big bow. Then Andy’s off with it under his arm before collecting Charlie and Joe from school. How fortunate we are to have such delightful neighbours who have often come to our rescue when we’ve needed help. moving a horse!
In the evening Jane and David come for supper. Jane’s looking particularly pretty and David with his enchanting smile doesn’t let his frustration at now finding it very difficult to speak, mar his enjoyment. Using his i pad with its electronic voice to add particularly witty comments to the conversation. He’s an adoreble and hugely clever man who used to advise governments such as Singapore and Japan on ecological matters when they ran their SciTech journal and consultancy in Australia. Richard’s cooked a fish and fennel casserole.
Trying to draw the composition out from the centre so that it radiates towards the edges. Its made up of many small elements in the large circular motion so takes much longer in the painting.
I get Oysters Provencal for my dinner tonight which makes us reminisce about the wonderful inaugural exhibition I had in the newly extended magnificent Mussee Paul Valery in Sete, South of France where the director of the museum also ran a restaurant with his two sons and from their nearby oyster beds and served Alain and Michele Blondel Richard and I with the most enormous platter of these cooked oysters with an even bigger main course of halibut (I think). One of the most memorable meals I have enjoyed. Somehow it seemed to reflect the climate and way of life in the South of France where the lunch break goes on for two hours and they wish you bon appetite when you depart for it. In contrast to Paris where things are fast moving, here everyone was a lot more laid back but the attention to detail and perfection of the hang could not have been bettered.
Good day and good light in studio and very mild.
Little by little the composition expands.
Wonderful Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo and have included Photograph and piece on the Big Draw last week organized by the the second year HND students at Gloucestershire College such fun to be part of it - they did so well.
Just about to change after working in the studio when my lovely Henrietta rings for a catch up chat. While I’m talking to her I can hear Richard talking in the kitchen and I assume he’s on the phone too. But when I come into the room I discover its lovely Bob Sims who has brought a jewellery making kit for me to give either to the National Star or the Aston Project as Sylvia didn’t really get on with it. We are a bit late setting out for Owlpen but luckily seemed to regain a little of the time on the journey so manage to arrive whilst others are still collecting their tickets. We see lovely Karin who has brought her own chair into this exquisite church of the Holy Cross which nestles just behind Owlpen Manor (thought by many, Pevsner included, to be the most romantic house in the whole of England) she had probably got chilled standing in the garden for a TV shoot earlier in the week. All the seats seems to have gone so Nicky invites us to sit in the chancel with him, which gives me the most marvelous view of Jennifer Morches whilst she is playing. Her hand, head and body movements synchronise so perfectly with the piccolo ‘cello made in the 1730’s. The gut strings are very sensitive to the dampness in the atmosphere. and of course it has been raining outside as well as all the dampness in the atmosphere. Its a delightful recital which is helped enormously by Jennifer telling us about the instrument and the performance. Which includes Telleman and concludes with Bach’s 6th Suite. followed by wine and canapes in the Cider House. Chat amongst others to Rory artist who is now in the process of Painting the group of large figures he has been sculpting for many years for St Albans Cathedral we exchange paint methods and moth stories.
Cantilever commission gradually beginning to fill with a myriad of small figures
Add more tiny senarios to commission before indulging the temptation to start large moonlight canvas that R had primed for me before going to London particulaly so I would have a new beginning to show him on his return.
Day and evening on Cantilever commission
E-mail from Jess asking if I will have work for her to show at Art London in January?
Henrietta, Kev and beautiful boys arrive at about six, I had such lovely big hugs especially from Samuel it must have lasted for at least two minuets! and had been preceded by a phone call on route all about Monet and a Swan that Samuel had drawn but didn’t know how as he was trying to draw stripes!
Payment arrives for Badger. We take the boys over to Gloucester to visit Crucible 2 the superb Sculpture exhibition at the cathedral looking both at the sculpture and the Architecture the latter being particularly good for exploring the word erosion one of Isaac’s spellings this week. Then tea in the Cathedral cafe before home for their departure back to Blackheath.
Its a gloriously warm day, the warmest Hallowe’en since records began. We walk down to St Michael & All Angels for midday as it is the funeral for Lyn Horne our friend and long time neighbour, who we used to periodically go to lift up when she had fallen over until six years ago when she went into a nursing home. A remarkable woman who’d had a brain haemmorage at the age of 18 and spent several months in Frenchay Hospital where she had three operations, the last one using some of her rib to fill the cavity in her skull fixed in with copper wire. It was hard always to remember that she was thus partially paralysed and had no feeling down one side. But this never stopped her delivering charity envelopes or church newsletters etc. She lost her husband Barry ten years ago who we often chatted to when we were out on our midnight perambulations and he was walking the their Basset Hound. Lots of people come up after the service to enquire how the altarpiece is progressing and they all sound to be waiting with great anticipation. We go over to St Michael’s Hall for a short while and chat to Lyn’s two daughters Ros and Theresa and her sister Jackie and husband Duncan.
Shortly after we’re back Rosemary, one of the Friends of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, comes to visit the studio with her 17 year old Granddaughter Jaye, who is doing a BTEC course in art and Rosemary particularly wants to encourage her so I spend an hour or so showing her the works in the studio and talking a little about each project and my methods of working. I’m very pleased as Rosemary points to the commission I’m working on for Cantilever and comments that she likes it and how bright it is. I then ask Jaye if she’d like me to look at the sketchbook she is clutching. She takes me through it and I try to encourage and make positive suggestions; telling her also she mustn’t be daunted when others seem as if they might be better at it, telling her it took a long time for me to get a pencil to what I wanted it to in life drawing classes but then one day somehow the pencil seems to become an extension of my hand and eye and moved with more sensitivity than it had before.
Three trick or treaters come a knocking at the door, a bride of Frankenstein, a vampire and a witch in a pointy black hat.
Back to work on the commission.
E-mail from Rory sending photograph of the exquisite green moth that had landed on Elizabeth, one of the very beautiful sculptures he has carved for St Alban’s Cathedral, in July. The craftsmanship and expertise is stunning and I can see why it has taken him so many years to create them - he’s now in the process of adding colour. I’d sent him a photograph of the etherial white moth that landed on the door just as I was returning from the studio in June in the early hours, from painting the altarpiece.