This beautiful sunny weather continues.
In e dialogue with the City Museum Gloucester about possible exhibition. Next year is going to be very busy with the show in Japan too. Lise the cabinet member for Culture & Leisure who has asked if I will be a judge at their arts festival on 30th July next year has suggested it.
Drive up to London as its Henrietta’s birthday. Get to the school just in time to collect Samuel whilst Henrietta takes Isaac to his extra maths lesson. Its lovely as he starts practicing his guitar as soon as we get him home.
We then go down to the kitchen and get out the birthday cake that Richard made last night and iced this morning so that Samuel can use the tubes of ready-made coloured icing to decorate it before we place the candles and nuts on top.
A bit later after Henrietta and Isaac are back, Samuel wants a rope but one can not be found so I tell him I’ll make him one out of all the biodegradable carrier bags I’ve just unpacked from the weekly shop that has just been delivered. I twist and knot them together until there’s a long enough plastic rope for us to turn for Samuel to skip over. It is far from perfect but Samuel manages to do ten at a time before it catches on one of his feet. It is really quite chilly in the garden but that doesn’t deter him at all, taking his shoes socks and shirt off to see if it makes him more effective at it!
Richard cooks the birthday tea and we have a little time with Isaac before he goes for a sleepover with one of his school friends.
After the birthday meal we give Henrietta her presents including the little painting I completed for her last night.
When they have all gone to bed, start writing the piece for The Messenger.
Into the gallery for the second (informal) private view. As we enter we see Ken and Nancy, both looking bright, happy and well. Sheila and two of her friends arrive shortly after; she’s recently back from Mongolia with one and off to India with the other in the next couple of weeks. Lovely Joyce comes in with Shane, who I haven’t seen for several years, sporting a beard as is fashionable currently. Peta Hoyle is there too; I introduce her to Sheila and we have an interesting conversation about dogs! I also introduce her to Henrietta’s friend Emma and her daughter Rose. Andrea and Peter ( also friends of Sheila) have fallen in love with the Little Chess Players. Jane and David with rucksacks on back have arrived by train and met up with friends from university days, Anne and Dick. I’m hugely touched that Jane, who mentioned in an e mail that she liked The Ship of Fools has had a red spot put on it when I notice that the painting next to it, Citadel also has one, shortly after I’ve been discussing its symbolism with Dick. Anne likes the Late Supper and I talk to them about that too and the other works. But after much deliberation they decide upon the supper too. In the meantime, Kev’s parents have arrived with Henrietta, Kev and the boys.
There’s a lovely atmosphere in this beautiful Gallery where Evie and Alice were very good at offering and serving tea, coffee, bucks fizz and brioches.
After a quick lunch with Jane, David, Dick and Anne, we drive over to L’Escargot to meet Peter who is keen to show some of my paintings there. After he’s bought us a cup of tea and shown us around and discussed the idea, we drive to the Royal Academy to see the Ai Weiwei exhibition which is monumental and moving.
We then travel home after an enjoyable two days.
Back to work in the studio, now need to catch up on the commissions I had put to one side for the exhibition.
Opening by the Duchess of Gloucester of the superb new accommodation for wonderful Star College students, Bradbury Court. It is the most stunning addition to the Star foundation facilities and these inspirational students are thrilled with it.
Back in the studio painting the three commissions.
To Bristol early evening for the big Shaun in the City auction, all 120 Shauns now brought together, including those by Dame Zandra Rhodes, David Gandy and lots of other interesting artists and celebrities ( including Martin Kiszko’s green poems) . But you can feel the love and affection within the room not just for Shaun but for his creator Nick who we have the pleasure of sitting next to and he shares his sandwiches with us. The evening is a great success and raises over £1Million for Nick’s & Aardman's Wallace & Gromit charity for children’s hospitals and hospices. Nick’s of course goes for one of the highest prices. The extraordinary thing is that the simple Shaun, unadorned by any artist goes for a very high price too showing the esteem with which he and his creation are held - what a brilliant and lovely man he is.
Continuing on the commissions
We drive over to Owlpen Manor for the last concert in their Refractions Music Festival in which Jennifer Moraches is performing with Reiko Ichise, exquisitely played on Jennifer’s baroque cello and Reiko’s viola di gamba - works by Couperin, Marais, Bach and Abel. Jennifer has put together and directed this magical festival now in its second year, in the exquisite little church of beautiful Owlpen Manor. We are touched to be invited to dinner afterwards with Sir Nicky and Karin Mander and artistes and other guests.
Lunch at the Star Bistro with Tiffany who has come down from London on the train specially and Matthew who is on his way back from Wales by car. A delicious and most enjoyable meal. Paul, director of creative and performing arts, joins us at the coffee stage then takes us on a tour to the art room and then the rest of the college and grounds.
Tuesday 13.10 .15
Back at work on all fronts in the studio.
Wednesday 14 .10 .15
Large box arrive from Ireland inside which is the most beautiful hare for me to paint for the Jack and Jill charity for sick children in Ireland, founded by two of my lovely collectors, Jonathan Irwin and Mary Ann O’Brien the award winning chocolatier (Lily O’Brien).
Drive up to London to the gallery to meet dear Michael Greenwald. He was sorry to have missed the little painting ‘En Famille’ which like several, would have sold two or three times, as his wall space has decreased somewhat as he now has at least five of my paintings. We decide to take him to dinner at the National Portrait Gallery as they do an early theatre goers dinner at 5.30 in their Portrait Restaurant which has the most stunning views across the London skyscape. It is fascinating to watch as the darkness falls . We have a leisurely look at some of the exhibits on our way back down before running him back to his hotel.
Should be going to the opening reception of BAFM but Richard persuades me that I have too much to do - which is very true.
Up early for the British Association of Friends of Museums (BAFM) annual conference which this year we (Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum and the Holst Birthplace Museum) are hosting here in Cheltenham at the Chase Hotel. I’m fractionally late so Dame Janet is already part way through her welcoming speech so I stand a the back until she is finished then make my way down to sit next to her at one of the front tables. I compliment her on being able to talk so knowledgeably on any subject and she tells me she’s off a bit later to award a British Empire Medal to an 85 year old man in a church where there will also be a service. There is an award here too to Jasmine who works for the museum in Tonbridge Wells given to a person under 30 who has contributed much to their museum, for her project “Selfie” working with young people from schools getting them first to look at 17th and 18th century portraits within the collection. She gives us an illustrated presentation and also takes questions. Our keynote speaker is Francesca Canty from the Bishopsgate Institute who is very keen to engage their visitor audience in conversation rather than talking at them although they do not have a Friends group. Likewise with our next speaker Luke Syson from the Metropolitan Museum in New York who was previously at the National Gallery here in London. His work at the Met includes displaying British decorative arts - a title he’s not fond of - and showed us images of beautiful ceramic pots from the collection and described how he’s trying to lay out the galleries to make people look afresh and again about being in dialogue with the audience. A recent exhibition contrasting the fluctuating fashion for ornateness of some ceramics in between the simpler more basic shapes in vogue in different eras which they entitled the exhibition ‘Plain and Fancy’. After lunch their AGM followed by the newsletter awards, some groups of Friends being as small as 250 where others will be over 1000. In Cheltenham we are between 600 and 700. Then there’s the panel discussion chaired by Adrian Barlow who has also been the chairman of the conference which includes Laura Kinnear curator of the Holst, Kay Symonds hon sec of the Friends of the Ashmoleon in Oxford and Brian Lyntot of the Polar Museum in Cambridge. Discussing how to engage the young in the past. Then I’m on as the closing speaker with my address of thanks etc.
In the evening we attend the dinner at the Daffodil and are sitting on the table with Gina and John Wilson. It s very much thanks to Gina that we have had these eloquent speakers today including Lord Peter Hennesy.
Back to work.
R goes up to London to collect the boys who are both asleep in back of the car when they return at about midnight.
Its such fun having them and we are on the whole led by them as to what they want to do, which varies from playing the guitar or the piano to painting, drawing and going to the shop to spend some money! Before bed in the evening we watch the first part of Michael Morpurgo’s ‘War Horse’ as turned into a film by Speilberg. It is perhaps a little old for them as they become quite lively about half way through.
After a good day, Samuel learning the piano (which he has asked Richard to teach him) and other activities. R takes the boys back home whilst I work on Charles’ big cheese rolling commission.
Continue on the large corrugated cheese rolling painting.
A big black London taxi draws up outside just after midday. Larger than life with twice as much exuberance as most, its Rick Rumrell with two of his friends , Wally also from St Augustine and his lady friend Tabitha from California. Regular readers might remember that it was Rick who is a lawyer, who hired a private investigator to locate my missing paintings from a gallery in Palm Beach, which were restored back to me a couple of months later. They are over here for the NFL where the Buffalo Bills were playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although Richard has cooked his famous fish pie and serves champagne, they have come laden with two beautiful large loaves and a carrot cake from Huffkins in Stow, bought en route; three bottles of wine from Jeraboam near The Goring in London where they are staying; six quiches; four sorts of cheese and two different packets of crackers to go with them. At Rick’s request we go over to the studio to start with as he had wanted to see the altarpiece and other works. He’s a little disappointed that I’ve sold one of the Elephantinies and asks me to put by two of the others for Aiden and Elija. Wally is a great friend of Bernie Taupin and at one time handled the licenses for him and Elton John, leasing rights for ten years after which they got it back. He also handles the Douby Brithers. We have great fun over lunch exchanging stories and news. And Adrian the taxi driver who had brought them down, who has become a friend of Rick’s over the years.
Up all night finishing the 3D painted construction cheese rolling painting…
…which Richard delivers to Sussex this morning.
Dr Gill Rouse of LINC comes for tea to discuss an art exhibition that she would like me to organise for the charity.
Have been in e dialogue with the curator from the Morohashi Museum in Japan re works they would like to borrow for the exhibition next year, as well as working on the outstanding commissions. Charles rang to make sure Richard got back safely and to say how pleased they are with cheese rolling commission.
concentrating on the still outstanding commissions.
Samuel went into Kings College Hospital to have the small ball of calcium that formed on his elbow after breaking his arm last year. Henrietta and Kev had taken him in at 7 this morning and e mailed to say they were due to go to theatre in the next hour or so but its not until 4 that he’s back on the ward as he spent quite a long time in the recovery area due to pain. But its so lovely to hear his voice when he phones! When I ask how he is, he say “good” he’s such a brave little boy.
Working on all fronts - commissions and a new piece in the studio.
Beautiful sunny day and mild too for late October. So have brunch in the garden whilst catching up with correspondence and this diary in the garden. Then back to my brushes!