Working consistently on the new piece, standing at the easel all the time.
Professor Ken telephones with the sad news that Joyce Elliot the lovely wife of Phil, has died of a particularly aggressive form of blood cancer on the morning after it had been diagnosed. It was a blessing that Phil, their daughter whose arms she departed this world in, and granddaughter were with her. Joyce embodied all that was good, maternal and fun in life. She and Phil have two of my paintings and it is through Ken & Nancy that we got to know them.
Matthew from Panter & Hall calls.
Busy working on all fronts - there’s so much to do.
E mail from Peter re showing my work at Olympia in the summer.
Angie, Nick’s PA, rings from Aardman re Shaun, which is still under wraps.
Working hard on the commissions particularly for Leicestershire.
We go for lunch at Martin and Shona’s. There’s a lovely aroma of food being prepared as we come up to the door - Shona’s been making delicious dishes with aubergine and pommegranites. The house has a lovely atmosphere and sound of children’s voices as apart from Mia and Sammi their two exquisite children, the other guests (also friends) Peter and Hannah Horne, have brought their two along, so the table is long to accommodate us all and the children are obviously having great fun. Artur a young man from Cheltenham’s twin town Annecy in France has been working in Martin’s constituency office and will be there until after the election. Its very interesting for me to talk to him as Nathan did a French exchange with Dominique, a doctors son in Annecy whilst he was at school. Conversation varies from the National Star College where Peter is a vice principal, to the Trust which now oversees Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museumon which Martin is a Trustee.
Up to London, collect Isaac from school, take him home then R goes to collect Nathan from Stoke Newington as his old classic car won’t start. Lovely evening
Watching Isaac play with the guitar trio in the school showcase then back to his home for early birthday celebrations as they will be Skiing in France on Saturday. Samuel is so excited as we have brought the small Guitar that Sammi Horwood is lending him so that he can start learning too.
Lovely e mail from Lisa at Leicestershire Museum Services Artworks letting me know that the Badger paining they purchased is on exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham and as been used on their banners etc. and asks me how the other two commissions are coming along.
Caroline comes to look at the owl painting and also their commission which we discussed.
Nice e mail from my young dealer Alan Loch in Toronto telling me they’ve wired the money and saying it would be great if they could have two or three new works for this year’s Toronto Art Fair and exhibition.
Phone call from Lisa who quite regularly phones on Saturday evening. She was a student at the Star College when I started visiting it in the mid 80s. She doesn’t mention whether she got the heart shaped lavender bag (made by Star students) that we had sent her for Valentine’s Day but that’s probably because I just put a question mark though she usually guesses. I also gave another three or four of the beautiful ceramic hearts made by the Art Factory (students at the National Star College and I think also children from the Alderman Knight School). We received a particularly nice one from Professor Ken and Nancy who had a Quentin Blake with our heads superimposed on the two figures both perched on the branch of a tree with me painting and Richard reading which is very sweet and very typical of them.
Back working on two commissions whilst R cooks a special supper, a new oyster recipe where they are baked on slices of apple and creme fraiche. And they didn’t seem to have lost any of their power.
John my friend and lovely frame maker comes for a visit with his eldest son Andrew, wife Ann and two delightful little granddaughters, Edie who has brought a lovely drawing for me of all the colours of the world and a portrait of her in pink and me in green. They have come to take a peek at Shaun in progress in my downstairs studio as they did the hole of the Gromit trail. Its lovely to meet Andrew again as I haven’t seen him since he came to Henrietta’s 18th birthday dinner party. I take them over to the studio too as Ann also teaches art at secondary level in Bristol. It’s also good to be able to point out to Andrew in particular the reference to his Mum (who was the school nurse) on the triptych altarpiece. At about midnight he sends me a photograph of the two little girls aged 4 and 1 inside the magnificent puppet theatre that John has made for them - he’s such a clever man.
R’s in London visiting the Gallery and collecting new paints and lots of gesso from Cornelissen whilst I’m busy in the studio.
E mail from Revd Dr Dee who would like to interview me for her hospital radio programme Dee-lightful Hour.
E mail from Louise at the Twocan Inclusive Theatre Company asking if I will do a short interview and film as part of their International Women’s Day video. She says that Neil the filmmaker is willing to come to the studio or we can send our own so R says he will get the video camera out so that we can fit it in to our schedule.
Lea comes for lunch looking very well after her two knee operations and so enjoying her retirement from the police force. She has come to catch up and talk about the Aston Project and the stakeholders meeting that we will be attending in a month or so.
Then back to work on the commissions
E mail from Lisa saying that my “Pity the Poor badger” painting is going down so well that they are also wondering if they could have permission to print T shirts. I’m really thrilled that they have been getting such good response to him and that he’s getting his message across.
R meets Nathan off the 10pm London train and we sit and chat over glasses of red wine. He’s just sold his classic car, a 45 year old Cortina and has his eye on a beautiful old top of the range Volvo estate with black leather seats. Particularly as its good for carrying a lot of things, especially his surf board. He’s also been looking to buy a piece of land in Devon or Cornwall on which to erect a small Huff-type house but is coming across lots of planning problems. He’s looks very well after his two and a half weeks surfing in Morocco in January before being back in the thick of it art directing and production designing
Nathan manages to buy the Volvo and is off back to London in the afternoon.
During the evening Tracey and her mother Jill come to collect the Holst Planets scarves which they ordered at my Open Studio were they had sold out. But the Holst have recently received a new consignment from Beckford Silk. We first got to know Tracey when she was a young journalist on the Echo and wrote a feature on Nathan and his puppet shows. She also wrote a splendid piece on my Mum for the RAF News to celebrate her 90th birthday and our trip to Tiree.
R drives to Beaconsfield to meet Kev so that they can exchange cars, Kev Henrietta and the boys having borrowed Land Rover to go skiing in France. R’s very impressed as Kev’s had it vale ted before they meet.
Meantime I’m working on commissions in the studio.
R arrives back just before Martin gets here for dinner; he’s staying the night and Richard is taking him to Gloucestershire Airport first thing as he is flying to the Isle of Man where he has been booked by the government to do a series of poetry performances for schools etc. this week.