Rohana Darlington

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APRIL & MAY 2108

I visited the British Museum recently to see the Charmed Lives in Greece exhibition which features the work of Greek artist Nikos Ghika, and English artist John Craxton and English writer Patrick Leigh Fermour, both ex-pats who went to live there after the end of the Second World War. Together they formed an artistic community. Ghika was based in Hydra, his ancestral home, where he lived with his wife Barbara, Leigh Fermoy and his wife Joan lived in Kardamyl, and John Craxton’s home was a studio in Crete overlooking the sea. Later, after their house burnt down, the Ghikas went to live in Corfu, and the exhibition is structured around these four locations. The Study for a Poster by Nikos Ghika which I feature in this blog gives some idea of the vivid and colourful paintings on view.

This free exhibition was fascinating, with many art works that reflect their idyllic life of the island, and photographs and letters which reveal their artistic goals. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend everyone to see it before July 15 when it closes.  For more information visit www.britishmuseum.org

Back in Hampshire, enjoying the beautiful weather at last I’ve been out and about in the Hampshire countryside sketching. I’m currently working on a series of paintings of the River Itchen which has wonderfully clear water because it flows over chalk. I was surprised about this as I’d have thought chalk would make the water look cloudy but not so, the water’s so clear that watercress has been grown in it for centuries.

And I’ve now finished the embroidered silk patchwork wall hanging I began last year but which has taken me several months to complete because it is so intricate. I was inspired to make it after visiting West Green House Gardens in Hook in Hampshire, (westgreenhouse.co.uk) and the work features scenes from different parts of the garden over different seasons. I’ve made it from my own hand-dyed and painted silk embellished with a variety of coloured threads and embroidery techniques. You can see the completed work in this blog and also in more detail in the Craft Section of the Gallery section of this website.

 

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Well Dressings Bakewell
Well Dressings Bakewell
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Well Dressings Bakewell

Well Dressings Bakewell

Well Dressings Bakewell

Well Dressings Bakewell

 

FEBRUARY & MARCH 2018

A visit to the Tate Modern in early February to see the retrospective Modigliani exhibition was a real treat. This collection of stylish portraits, elegant nudes, Egyptian and African influenced sculptures shown in context with early films of the Parisian districts of Montmatre and Montparnasse where he created much of his work was fascinating and instructive. Modigliani was an acquaintance and contemporary of Picasso, of the sculptor Brancusi, and of the Spanish painter Juan Gris whose portrait he painted. In addition his work clearly shows the influence of Cezanne and of the newly available Japanese prints. The show is on until 2 April, and tickets can be booked at www.tate.org.uk.

Back in Hampshire I’ve been continuing with my ink and watercolour paintings of local buildings, and also of the winter woodland. An unexpected snow storm confined us to our village because the lanes from our house were impassable by car, but allowed me to take photos of the local fields to work from when I resume my pastels again next month. At last spring seems to be on the way though, I thought, when I bought this little striped primrose and couldn’t resist painting it.

Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying another exhibition at the Watts Gallery in Surrey: (www.wattsgallery.org.uk), this time to see A Pre-Raphaelite Collection unveiled: The Cecil French Bequest. This showcases a collection of works by Frederick Leighton, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, John William Waterhouse, Edward Burne-Jones and Albert Moore.

And something else to look forward to that I plan to visit will be Jennifer Greenland’s new exhibition entitled ‘Thames. This features 30 paintings and 12 drawings which take you on a journey from the river’s source near Cirencester all the way to the estuary. It’s on from Tuesday 10 April – Sunday 15 April at Denbies Wine Estate, London Road, Dorking, Surrey. RH5 6AA. Visit www.denbies.co.uk to learn more.

 

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JANUARY 18

Happy New Year to everyone who reads my blog, and I wish you all the best during these challenging times of political turmoil that seem to be happening all over the world.

To keep my spirits up during the dark days of winter and to celebrate the New Year I went to a gallery that’s become a favourite of mine since I moved south to Hampshire. This is the Watts Gallerywattsgallery.org.uk - in nearby Surrey where I visited the Helen Allingham exhibition. Helen Allingham RA was a leading Victorian illustrator and water colourist with a keen interest in ecology and conservation. She worked with the famous Arts & Crafts gardener Gertrude Jekyll, making vibrant paintings of Gertrude Jekyll’s famous experimental garden at Munstead Wood, very near the Watts Gallery.

I particularly wanted to see her paintings of local buildings in rural landscapes which even in her day were rapidly vanishing. As I now live in the same area where she lived and I’m currently making a series of ink and watercolour wash drawings of rural buildings I was really interested to see her works, many of which have previously only been held in private collections. I include several of these in this month’s blog together with some of Helen Allingham’s paintings and some photographs of winter walks which I’m now developing into watercolours.

At the beginning of the month I photographed a flowering snowdrop in my garden and have begun to record local flora and fauna in a new 5 year diary from the Royal Horticultural Society to increase my powers of observation in nature’s constantly changing seasons.  One result of my observations of the natural world is my recently completed embroidered wall hanging Irises and Dragonflies inspired by my son and daughter-in-laws beautiful garden pond. Made from silk, gauze and mercerised embroidery cottons it will now hang in my daughter’s home who has spent so many patient hours helping me with my technology and computer issues.

Finally, I’d like to give you advance notice of the Surrey Contemporary Art Fair which will be held at Sandown Racecourse, Esher on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th February where Jennifer Greenland will be exhibiting some more of her beautiful landscapes and some paintings of London and Paris she produced last year. I went to her recent show in Windsor and loved her work, especially the way she depicts light on water.

 

 

 
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DECEMBER 2017

This is the time of year when I search for unusual gifts for loved ones, so I recently visited the Windsor Contemporary Art Fair to see what I could find at www.contemporaryartfairs.co.uk

At the fair I was delighted to meet two artists who both work in oils en plein air whose paintings were new to me. Working out in the open air while attempting to complete a whole painting is no mean feat, as I’ve discovered when I’m out and about in the countryside with my sketch book. Apart from the challenge of one’s efforts being interrupted by vocal and often critical wits and the hazards of the English weather, there are often horses, insects and grazing cattle to contend with. It takes a very special dedication to one’s art to persevere with this risky occupation so I congratulate them both and encourage you to visit their websites. Who knows, you may discover something that just fits the bill for those Christmas presents you’re still hunting for. So I’m delighted to feature them here in my Blog with their photographs and one of each of their paintings.

Emily Faludy’s lovely group of landscapes and glimpses of gardens were impressive in their quiet stillness and in the way she paints light reflected in water. If you visit Emily’s website at www.emilyfaludyfineart.co.uk you can see many more of her colourful and sensitive paintings, and can contact her if you’d like to get in touch.

I also really admired Jennifer Greenland’s lively urban street scenes. They sparkle with the bustle of London’s constant activity, no small achievement when working out of doors in such a fast-moving setting. Despite these challenges she offered an excellent range of paintings and prints at the fair. Jennifer can be contacted at www.jennifergreenland.co.uk

I recently visited London’s National Gallery to see the current Drawn in Colour Degas Exhibition. www.nationalgallery.org.uk until 7 May 2018. I enjoyed seeing this collection of his pastels, drawings and oils from the Burrell Collection more closely as I’ve been exploring this medium myself. I was accompanied by other family members, including my Russian ballet-student granddaughter as I wanted her to see Degas’ paintings of Parisian ballet studios. I do recommend this show to everyone, especially as it’s free to go to it.

In contrast I took the chance for a last autumn country walk in the Alice Holt Forest in Hampshire www.forestry.gov.uk.aliceholt. The colours were wonderful as you can see from these photographs I took. I did intend to show some of my line and wash drawings of local buildings on this website but I’ve been very preoccupied with a different art project, but hope to show the drawings next month.

Meanwhile, I wish everyone who visits my website a very happy Christmas and festive season and all the best for the New Year.

 

 

August Craft Sunflower August Craft Sunflower

 

 

 

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OCTOBER & NOVEMBER 2017

Now autumn’s really here and the days are getting cooler and darker. At this time of year I love to see the apple harvest and returned to West Green House Gardens in Hartley Wintney in Hampshire to photograph the trees lining the walkway to the house. We had a splendid afternoon tea in the conservatory there, where I photographed their colourful display of gourds. The dahlias were looking splendid too.

I also include a photograph of my new pastel painting of the local wheat fields before they harvest the crop. I’m continuing my exploration of this medium, both of oil pastels and the softer chalky pastels and look forward to visiting the Degas exhibition at the National Gallery in London next month to see how this master of pastels worked his magic.

Before winter sets in I completed one of my larger acrylic paintings of the lime trees on either side of the long walk in Farnham Park in Surrey near where I live. This beautiful park - a remarkable survival of a medieval deer park - with rolling grassland and veteran trees has a boundary that’s remained unchanged for 600 years. I love to walk among the trees there and painted this work to capture the contrast between the light and shadows at the end of summer.

Recently we visited the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, where we saw the cleverly restored lost Tudor ship which sank in the harbour in 1545, watched in horror by King Henry VIII and his entourage. With the museum’s permission I took a photo of the blue-lit vessel looking ghostly but fascinating. During our visit they projected life-life holograms of sailors going about their tasks on deck, making it easy to imagine their rigorous life at sea. We plan to return to this historic dockyard, next time to see the restored vessel HMS Victory, Nelson’s famous flagship.

Other plans are to complete a series of ink and wash drawings of local buildings – so far I’ve drawn twelve and will display some of them in my website next time.

August Craft Sunflower August Craft Sunflower August Craft Sunflower August Craft Sunflower

 

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AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER 2017

I’ve just returned from visiting the Kaffe Fassett retrospective exhibition Colour at Mottisfont 16 September 2017 – 14 January 2018 at the National Trust’s venue in Mottisfont Lane, Romsey SO51 0LP, Hampshire. I first encountered Kaffe when I was a young textile designer at a book signing and have followed his creative career with great admiration ever since. His patchwork, tapestry and knitwear designs have been so influential for many designers and craftspeople that it’s with much pleasure that I share some photos of his work from this beautiful show with the permission of the curators.

I also include a photo of my latest embroidered wall hanging in silks and cotton on a muslin base. Inspired by the summer fields in late August, it’s taken me almost a year to make on and off as it’s the largest one I’ve made so far, measuring 51 cm x 69 cm, complete with floating Brimstone butterflies. If you visit the Gallery section of my website you can see the other wall hangings I’ve made in this series. 

As usual I’ve been out and about this summer sketching and photographing more of the patterns the tractors make in the wheat fields near my home, and am continuing to experiment with pastels and acrylics, as this little painting illustrates. I find it interesting to photograph the patterns that the changing seasons make to the fields. See how the colours change in my photos of stubble, and see the photos I’ve taken of the wild flowers which proliferate at this time of the year. One of the loveliest is chicory, with such amazing blue flowers.

And as autumn grows nearer, I’ve had fun collecting wild fruit from the hedgerows just behind my house. Elderberries have been turned into an immune-boosting drink already waiting as individual ice-cubes in my freezer for winter days. (See my recipe for this in the Remedy section of my website: Hedgerow Harvest September 2012). Blackberries have been frozen with cooked windfall apples and new to me this year I gathered bullaces – a wild cousin of plums and made them into Damson Cheese, following a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall.

Finally I must draw your attention to the wonderful dancing performances offered by the London Russian Ballet School where my granddaughter is a student. We enjoyed their recent show: Romantic Revelation at Cadogan Hall so much I’m recommending their performances to everyone.

 

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JUNE & JULY 2017

I’ve been enjoying the beautiful summer weather here in Hampshire, going out and about with my sketchbook and camera capturing images that inspire me for future artworks.

At present the fields are full of interesting patterns made by tractors in the ripening wheat and I plan to use these for a new series of pastels that I’m continuing to develop. Thick oil pastel crayons are fun as you can scrape through them to create interesting textures layering them with different colours underneath. I like using oil pastel pencils with them when I need to make more clearly defined marks.

But I do also like the pure pigments that you get from chalky pastels and have been working with these to create other kinds of pastel paintings. Some of these feature chalky pathways that are so different from the paths of the northern Peak district landscapes that are more familiar to me. I’m also slowly developing a collection of works inspired by the theme of bridges and gateways, with pathways leading from them. When all these works are complete I shall show them on this website.

In addition I’ve discovered I live in a village full of ancient buildings which cry out to be made into ink and wash drawings. I include a photograph of one that shows the interesting patterns made by its bricks and traditional timber frames. The challenge of these is to avoid clichéd chocolate box images…

Finally I include two photographs of local wild flower meadows that will feature in my next two embroidered wall hangings. Bees and butterflies abound where I now live and I shall include them suspended from threads as I usually do in my wall-hangings. I’ve almost completed a large wall hanging of a field of grasses in late summer and this will be decorated with images of the local bright yellow Brimstone butterflies. I’ll photograph it in my next Blog.

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MAY 2017

I’ve been making the most of the beautiful weather to visit one of my favourite places: West Green House Gardens in Thackham’s Lane, near Hartley Wintney, Hook, Hampshire, RG27 8JB. In April the tulips and bluebells were blooming, and in May I returned to see the iris water gardens where irises, ferns and willows were a wonderful sight planted informally by the banks of a stream. A selection of photographs of the apple blossom, roses, allium and amaryllis and pansies in the conservatory are inspiring some of my latest paintings, including a new watercolour still life of tulips.

Other recent paintings continue my interest in seascapes. I include an aerial view of sailing boats, and a new seascape featuring seabirds, a huge sky, lagoons and wave-sculpted sand patterns. Another new acrylic shows the tidal salt marshes at Pagham in West Sussex in early spring.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust is now offering opportunities to apply for its 2018 categories of Travelling Fellowships. My own Fellowship journeys to Ireland and Norway were a brilliant chance to research traditional folk art and textiles in these countries which led to the publication of book of my designs – IRISH KNITTING - and a lasting interest in Scandinavian arts and crafts. I do encourage anyone wishing to develop their own interests by travelling and later sharing their skills to visit their site at wcmt@org.uk. Travel to Learn – return to inspire! Travelling Fellowships are open to all British citizens to investigate inspiring practice in other countries to return with innovative ideas for the benefit of people across the UK.

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MARCH & APRIL 2017

These past two months I’ve been busy exploring the countryside in spring, sketching and photographing for future inspiration for my artwork.

A fascinating visit to the Weald & Downland Living Museum in Sussex was well worth the journey from Hampshire. (Weald & Downland Living Museum, Singleton, Chichester, West Sussex. PO18 OEU).

This collection of ancient buildings dating from the mid-eleventh century, saved from demolition and reconstructed on the 40 acre open air site contains a wealth of interesting examples of architectural styles, including wattle and daub Saxon homesteads,  oak-beamed Tudor houses and Victorian Railway cottages. Inside a Tudor farmhouse we sampled some vegetable pottage made from plants grown in the adjoining traditional kitchen garden, saw bee skeps and the nearby fields were grazed by Southdown sheep and lambs. Apple orchards were in full bloom and heavy horses and oxen pulled carts and ploughs.

And at Little Frensham Pond in nearby Surrey I saw the bright yellow gorse in full bloom near the reed-fringed water. In my own cottage garden, muscari and snakeshead fritillaries compliment my own little orchard of small apple, cherry, pear and plum trees flowering for the first time.

This month I’ve continued to experiment with new materials and have been focusing on a series of new seascapes, inspired by the Hampshire coastline. Previously we lived in the Pennine foothills of Cheshire, and although I miss that wonderful rugged Moreland landscape, being able to visit the sea so easily is a great new source of inspiration for my paintings and prints. I’ve also begun a new large embroidered wall-hanging featuring wild bleached grasses and flowers in late summer, but this will take me many weeks to complete before I can display it.

 

 

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FEBRUARY 2017

At last Spring’s no longer just around the corner. At a recent visit to Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey early flowering trees were in exuberant bloom, the various yellows of spidery hazel catkins contrasting with the delicate pinks of sorbus and the striking white bark of silver birch.

Near my home in Hampshire I photographed banks of snowdrops and in my own garden snowdrops, purple iris reticulata, striped crocus, hellebore and tiny tête-à-tête narcissi are all out now and lifting our spirits. In fact I was so inspired by hellebores that I made a small hand-dyed silk embroidery wall-hanging celebrating the intricate patterning of their stamens and splashes of contrasting colour on their petals.

We’ve had a little snow recently though, a surprising sight down here in the south of England, which for a short time covered the hills near where I now live. I was inspired to make a little pastel drawing of the scene which contrasted with the vivid red stems of one of my favourite winter shrubs, dogwood. And a winter walk among more dogwood and silver birches inspired another pastel drawing.

I like to keep experimenting with different media, and two books from Batsford that have just now been very influential in my work are: Experimental Landscapes by Ann Blockley and Painting Light in Oils by Peter Wileman. Both wonderful artists and I’m learning such a lot from both of them.

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JANUARY 2017

A Happy New Year to everyone! During November and December I became very busy with various projects, but now it’s the quiet time of the year again I have a chance to write my blog, to review my recent work and plan for busier times ahead.

I enjoyed displaying and selling my candles, handmade cards and paintings at the Winter Art Fair at the Granary Arts & Crafts Centre and later had an interesting trip to London to visit the Tate Modern and the adjoining Bankside Gallery where work by members of the Royal Watercolour Society was on show. Walking by the nearby river Thames opposite St Pauls Cathedral at dusk was a magical experience as the lights were just coming out reflecting in the water and a Christmas Market offering goods from all over Europe was a real delight.

At Tate Modern I took a photo of Ink Splash II, a fascinating mosaic by the artist El Anatsui made of flattened metal bottle tops which took recycling to a new level. At home, I began designs for two new wall hangings which I plan to submit to the SICAbritain website where they’ve made a gallery especially for my growing collection of textiles. These are inspired by the speckled Hellebore and the strange flamboyant petals of the Whirligig Osteospermum.

As January’s the time for new year resolutions, I took time to see how far I’d managed to achieve the ones I’d set myself this time last year. I’m glad to say I did make a series of paintings based on the theme of Heaven and Earth, with work exploring light reflected in water and the abundance of the earth. One of these is Autumn Mists, a new autumn-themed acrylic of a horse grazing by a lake with mists and fallen leaves. Others on this theme are already displayed in my website Gallery. But here I feature four new watercolours on the same theme: reeds reflected in Frensham Pond in Surrey, salt marshes at Sidlesham in West Sussex, the lake at The Vyne, a beautiful National Trust property in Hampshire, a fleeting glimpse of woodsmoke in a nearby forest and a harvest scene with swifts flying overhead at dusk.

Plans for other new projects this month include beginning a painting of a large woodland scene, and work on drawings for some colourful still life paintings with flowers, textiles and ceramics.

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OCTOBER 2016

What is Hygge?

This month I’ve been busy preparing for the Winter Exhibition: Affordable Art from November 11 – February 1st at the Granary Creative Arts Centre near Arlesford in Hampshire. The address for this charming rural venue is Granary Creative Arts Centre, Brockwood Farmyard, Brockwood, Brandean, Hampshire, SO24 OLQ, and you can contact the manager Kezia Hoffman at granaryartsinfo@gmailcom for more details.

I’ve been making candles and greetings cards decorated with pressed flowers from my cottage garden, on the theme of Hygge: the Danish word for ‘to give comfort and joy’. The idea conveys the art of living well as opposed to Scandinavian Noir, conjuring up images of convivial cosy candle-lit dinners and sitting by the fire with warm drinks as soothing balm for the traumas of the closing year. In this blog I feature a festive card I made using a hellebore on brilliant reds and pinks, and another card using a mauve flower on yellow marbled paper to remind me of summer days now long gone.  And I include pictures of a group of decorated dinner candles and also little stubby ones that could make a bright focal point to cheer up a dull corner of a room.

Other preoccupations have been my recurring interest in reflections of light on water. This time I include two new paintings on this theme: One of the Blue Pool in Dorset with ghostly white trees reflected in the deep water, and another called Sea Breezes of the sea also in Dorset of waves crashing on the pebbled beach. And I’ve been photographing the tide coming in at the salt marshes at Sidlesham in West Sussex, and at Waggoners Wells in Surrey the reflections of autumn leaves on water have been so beautiful this autumn.

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SEPTEMBER 2016

I recently visited The Granary Creative Arts Centre to see the Celebrating the Vernacular event, part of the Hampshire Open Studios annual show. This fascinating and unique collection of items by local artists and artisans was especially appealing to me as someone whose creativity is inspired by the local countryside and landscape.

Displayed in an ancient barn in a wonderfully wooded setting I loved the installations of woven coppiced wood, the hand-made kites using plant material and beautiful papers, the hand-crafted furniture, the exquisitely woven wall hangings and shawls made from plant based fibres. I coaxed Kezia Hoffman, the director of this exciting enterprise for a photograph, into posing next to some of her own exotic ceramic creations.

The Granary offers a wide range of creative activities with youth art workshops, willow weaving classes, life drawing and a special Winter Exhibition from November 11 to February 1 with affordable art, festive workshops and a mid-winter chocolate feast on December 21. To book in advance or to learn more contact granaryartsinfo@gmail.com

Another interesting recent visit was to Mill Farm Organic, (www.millfarmorganic.com), a local Hampshire organic farm which is almost self-sufficient in growing crops for its carefully reared beef, sheep and pigs. Encouraged by the Soil Association, great care is taken in conserving and improving the land and local habitats so that wildlife can thrive. My attention was drawn by the structured swoops and curves of the landscape where hundreds of trees have been planted alongside miles of new hedgerows with six metre wide margins which I photographed, inspired by these images for future paintings.  The season’s turning now and I also photographed hawthorn berries and the hips of wild roses escaping from the hedgerows on the farm.

Other illustrations this month include a little watercolour I made of swifts flying over the wheat fields, a black and white lino print of two swallows flying over the reeds at nearby Frensham Ponds in Surrey, and a watercolour of the wave-patterns made by sprats stranded on the beach in Dorset. I’m currently working on a new collection of seascapes made while on holiday there. Three in acrylics are shown here: a painting of grasses and wild flowers overlooking the sea at Burton Bradstock, a painting of seabirds over a silver sea, and another painting of the headland at dusk. More to follow next month!

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JULY & AUGUST 2016

During these summer months I’ve been developing images of light and fertile growth for my latest collection of work on the themes of Heaven and Earth. At the beginning of the year I set myself this goal and I’ve been experimenting with prints from lino cuts as part of the project. I include one in ink and oil pastels featuring the harvest scenes now all around me and have five other different lino cuts all ready for printing now.

Other images exploring the abundance of nature were inspired by the banks of daisies that covered nearby hills in early summer. I include a picture of these taken in July and another photograph taken at The Vyne, a nearby National Trust garden. Here I photographed a vivid riot of blue cornflowers and orange marigolds. I contrast these with the more delicate wild flowers I saw at Burton Bradstock in Dorset where we spent magical days at Chesil Beach and which inspired a new painting I’m currently working on.

Images of light are captured in the watery reflections at the Blue Pool in Dorset I visited on holiday and in the many photographs I took of summer skies over the sea at the Dorset coast. And I’ve just completed a painting entitled Dawn over the Downs shown below which shows the light just breaking over the chalky ridged hills.

Other images of light are displayed in my latest wall hanging Starry Skies featured below. Made from hand-painted gauze it’s embroidered with starry sequins and decorated with appliquéd sea-birds flying over the ocean created from various delicately textured fabrics and threads.

This new piece follows on from Wild Flower Meadow and my other landscape-inspired wall hangings which can currently be seen in the on-line gallery SICABRITAIN at www.sicabritain.co.uk

Currently I’m working on a new collection of seascapes and my lino prints which I hope to feature next month.

 

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JUNE 2016

At the beginning of this year I planned to make the theme for my art works HEAVEN AND EARTH. The idea was to portray the beauty of the skies and of light on water and the abundance of nature. This month the garden and countryside are overflowing with exuberant fertility, so much so it was hard to choose which of my photographs and textiles to show here.

I thought people who visit my website who live overseas might like to see pictures of my own English country garden and then contrast these with scenes from the nearby surrounding countryside. So to start with I feature photographs of poppies and lupins from my garden borders, now planted up as a typical cottage garden and contrast these with a picture of the famous creamy Old Glory Rose (Gloire de Dijon) so beloved by cottagers of the past, now growing up a trellis at the front of my house.

Then I include a view of a lane very near the village where I now live completely smothered by lacy Cow Parsley and in the field opposite local nature enthusiasts have planted a Wild Flower Meadow and created an Insect Hotel for bees to live and pollinate the lovely plants.

These wonders have resulted in my now completed Wild Flower Meadow embroidered wall hanging, with an Orange Tip butterfly hovering over it. As I was wondering how to exactly portray these beautiful creatures one obligingly fluttered over the flowers as if offering itself for inspection! Go to the Craft Section of my Gallery to see this work in closer detail.

I’m also taking advantage of the abundant plant material to create cards made from pressed plants from my own garden and nearby waysides. Here I show a card made from a Buttercup and another made from pressed Cow Parsley. Many more are awaiting new creations as they slowly squash down in my flower presses.

And I’ve now completed making a series of 6 lino-cuts of local scenes and have just begun to experiment with making prints from them which I’ll feature in next month’s blog.

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APRIL 2016 BLOG

Spring’s really here at last and on a recent visit to the National Trust run country estate of Hinton Ampner in Hampshire it was inspiring to see the bluebells out in the woods amongst the unfurling acid green beech leaves. Lambs were everywhere and the tulips just beginning to replace the daffodils of earlier days. In this blog I feature photographs I took at Hinton Amnper as well as a little ink and watercolour drawing I made of Cheshire bluebells.

Near Hinton Ampner is the pretty town of Alresford, which hosts the Alresford Watercress Festival on 15 May 2016. Alresford’s an ancient centre for watercress growing and this promises to be an exciting day out with the Hampshire Farmers Market showcasing the best produce in the area, with a street cavalcade, jazz bands, arts and crafts stalls, Morris dancing and watercress goodies from far and wide. To join in the celebrations I created my own recipe for Watercress and Gruyere scones which you can see on my Recipe page.

The Granary Creative Arts Centre at Brockwood Park, Bramdean, also near Alresfood and Hinton Ampner and is going from strength to strength. From 27th April Life Drawing classes start there on Wednesdays, and starting on 10th May an interesting series of basket-making classes begin, featuring how to make Catalonian tension trays, frame baskets, stake and strand baskets and willow sculpture experimental techniques. For more information and bookings email granaryartinfo@gmail.com.

This month I’ve been busy with my paintings and lino-cut prints. Here I show my completed painting Allotment Patterns. I find the repetition of shapes in allotments fascinating so this is what inspired me to make this work with its neat rows of lettuces, leeks and colourful dahlias. I’ll include this in the collection I planned earlier this year on the theme of HEAVEN AND EARTH, and this will feature in the EARTH section.

The other painting I’ve now finished is called Early March Sunset. Going home one cold March evening I caught a glimpse of the sun setting with mackerel clouds patterning the brilliant apricot and gold sky. Against this amazing light display were houses made of the local flint and terracotta bricks sheltered by the tangled lacy branches of leafless trees. They seemed like havens against the fierce equinoctial March winds and in the distance there was a ploughed field with the promise of a later harvest to come. It’s taken me until April to complete this one and it will go into the HEAVEN  section of my collection.

   
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MARCH 2016 BLOG

March has been the usual mix of brilliant sunshine and dark blustery days, but the season’s provided me with some interesting photographs. Climbing up the zig-zag path at Selbourne created by the famous naturalist Gilbert White revealed the most amazing views of the Hampshire countryside spreading below. In the sunshine an orange comma butterfly rested on blackthorn blossom and a lively yellow brimstone butterfly fluttered past too quickly to capture on camera.  Celandines and a single wood anemone were blooming though and I saw a solitary violet just starting to flower in the sunshine.

Some of the views of the landscape provided inspiration for a series of lino-cuts I’m making and the bare-branched trees silhouetted against a brilliant blue sky reminded me of the work of English Ruralist artist Annie Ovenden, a Cornwall-based painter whose landscapes I much admire.

On 26 March I visited the opening event of a new country gallery, the Granary Creative Arts Centre at Brockwood Park in Hampshire. Artist Kezia Hoffman presented an Easter Willow Weaving workshop offering people the chance to create willow spiral hanging baskets and pirate ships all in the beautiful setting of an ancient barn. Kezia plans a varied programme of arts opportunities and later in the year I plan to show there some hand-made greeting cards made from the pressed flowers and plants from my lovely garden and grasses from the local fields. I’ve been pressing plants and making cards from them for years and it’s only now I’m more settled here feel able to take up this peaceful and satisfying country pursuit once more.


Other work in progress is my wall-hanging of a wild flower meadow and a painting of an allotment full of an abundance of vegetables, fruit and colourful dahlias.

 

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FEBRUARY 2016 BLOG

I’m writing this on the last day of February, a month that can be dismal, but I like to go walking in the countryside to enjoy what nature can offer on quiet days of bright winter sunshine. This year we visited the Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Hampshire, although this walk was certainly not quiet, as a group of soldiers loaded down with heavy kit bags were training, noisily slithering down steep ravines in the muddy forest. Nevertheless we enjoyed exploring the winding pathways among the leafless trees.

A later visit was to Frensham Pond in Surrey where water and reeds inspired me, as I plan to develop a series of art works of light on water and in the skies this year as part of my collection of twelve contrasting paintings called Heaven and Earth. Here I’m displaying the first of these featuring the abundance of the Earth with Lavender Fields, a landscape of the local lavender farm that we visited last summer. Other work is in progress, including a separate series of lino-cut prints on the same theme of the earth and light, water and skies, and my embroidery of local Wild Flower Meadows which is steadily encroaching up its stretched muslin ground.

Another trip to Mottesfont’s Winter Garden in Hampshire lifted our spirits. Here we admired the careful planting of dogwood, cyclamen and daffodils below the mossy trunks of ancient trees. Some years ago I made a little ink and wash drawing of snowdrops, dogwood and silver birches which I include here. At home I like to cut and bring into the house branches of red-stemmed dogwood and arrange them in vases. I love to watch their buds develop into bright green foliage, reminding me of the green and red Chinese colour contrasts that I grew up with in my childhood in Hong Kong. And I photographed the early blue flowers of the Grape Hyacinths that are already blooming in my gravel garden.

Despite February being rather a gloomy month I created an orange and almond cake to cheer us up, reminding me of a lovely holiday in Sicily in a sunnier season. Visit my recipe pages for details on how to make it. Enjoy!

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JANUARY 2016 BLOG

A very belated Happy New Year to everyone. Due to a hectic time over the Christmas season this is the first chance I’ve had to get blogging and painting again, and now I’m planning my art work programme for the year ahead. And making plenty of New Year’s resolutions... These include completing and mounting the many unfinished art works that lie waiting for their moment in some of my neglected portfolios. And trying out my new walking boots! A lovely Christmas present from my family to aid my treks around the Hampshire countryside as I sketch and photograph inspiring local rural scenes.

I really enjoyed seeing my art exhibition What Happens in Hampshire (England) displayed internationally for the last 5 weeks of 2015 on The Green Chair Gallery and include some of the pieces shown there in case you missed the show. These capture some of my impressions of Hampshire and I plan to continue this theme further in 2016. Three paintings depicted here feature scenes from last summer: Summer Garden, Graceful Grasses and Chalky Furrows, and three celebrate last autumn with Harvest Patterns at Dusk, Tunnel of Light and Poplars in October.

I aim to make 12 new paintings this coming year: 6 on the theme of light on sea and sky and 6 on the abundance of the earth so will call this collection Heaven and Earth. Presently I’m working on a new landscape of Hampshire lavender fields; it was exciting for me to see lavender being cultivated in large fields down here in the south as the climate in Cheshire did not suit such a tender shrub. As I complete them I’ll show them on my website.

I’m also continuing with my collection of seasonal textile designs. A new three dimensional wall-hanging based on my painting Wild Flower Meadows is going well with hand embroidered grasses and embossed and appliquéd hand painted silk wild flowers swinging in a summer breeze. After such an amazingly mild winter here, many spring flowers are already out in my own garden – primroses, hellibores, snowdrops and the delicate flowers on the witch hazel I planted last year – all wonderful sources of inspiration for new works in the year ahead.

 

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NOVEMBER 2015 BLOG

I’ve been busy working on paintings for my solo exhibition with the Green Chair Gallery and on 21st November it goes out internationally for 5 weeks. The title is WHAT HAPPENS IN HAMPSHIRE (ENGLAND) and features 14 new paintings that show my response to the beautiful landscapes, gardens and coast of my new environment.

I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with a variety of techniques and materials to stretch my creativity and in this show I’ve produced work in acrylics on canvas as well as using oil pastels and watercolours on textured watercolour papers. As the result of this series of paintings I’ve decided to continue with this theme in 2016 by focussing on two themes: light on sky and water, and in contrast, a more earthy approach exploring the fields and wild flowers of the local landscape.

As I write in my artist statement at the beginning of this show ‘I often begin with quite literal interpretations of what I see to help me absorb, appreciate and form an emotional connection with new images before taking them further with a more stylised or abstract approach.’
If you visit www.greenchair-gallery.co.uk you can see my latest work!

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SEPTEMBER BLOG 2015

The first signs of autumn are appearing, and it’s been fascinating watching the patterns on the fields as the harvest is gathered in, they’re inspiring several new paintings I’m working on. I’m delighted to have been invited to show a collection of my landscapes in The Green Chair Gallery, an online art gallery based in Canterbury but presenting art works to an international audience.

Last year two of my landscapes were displayed online in Mexico in the SICArte International show resulting in an invitation by Solihin Garrard, owner of The Green Chair Gallery to display more of my work. So I’ve been busy painting around the Hampshire countryside and coastline, preparing for my exhibition this November 2015 at: greenchair-gallery.co.uk. Watch this space!

It’s also been intriguing watching a Civil War Re-enactment entitled The Battle of Alton in the Hampshire town near where now live. I’ve always been interested in 17th Century history, so much so that my history mystery first novel Lady of the Ascendant was set in Chester during the English Civil war. This is still available in paperback from Amazon. Although sadly rain prevented a re-enactment of the actual 1643 battle in the Flood Meadows, we enjoyed demonstrations of soldiers in period costume marching with pikes and shooting with their muskets in the Market Square.

Nearby in the grounds of St Lawrence Church where Royalist soldiers led by Colonel Bolles were massacred by Lord Crawford’s Parliamentarian forces, the English Civil War Society had erected marquees where we could see 17th century pottery, basket weaving, a forge and an apothecary stall. This genteel display contrasted oddly with the devastating events that led to Alton falling into Parliamentarian hands and Oliver Cromwell taking up residence in the town.

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JULY 2015 BLOG

After fasting in Ramadan and living like a recluse for a month now the fast is over life has suddenly exploded into a sequence of inspiring events.

One of our daughters held a big family Eid party in London for us and it was great to all get together again. One outcome of this was my granddaughter asked me for help with her school project involving her cats. These are two beautiful Siberian Forest cats which have the loveliest markings and I’m having fun pattern cutting to help her make life-sized models of them. There seems little time for crafts in the busy school curriculum these days and I really value being able to pass on sewing skills to a younger generation, having descended from a long line of dressmakers.

Another amazing afternoon was spent at Farnborough in Surrey at the Air Accident Investigation Branch Family Open Day where we were invited to a celebration of 100 years of the work of this important organisation. Our son Afandi works there as a senior Aircraft Accident Investigation Engineer and he and his colleagues fascinated us all with a series of presentations showing how their work has developed over the years to make flying safer for everyone.
We saw a collection of early versions of the famous black boxes which record what happened in an aircraft which had crashed, and the more modern orange boxes which work using the latest technology to help discover the cause of accidents ranging from micro-lights to events such as the mysterious crash of the Boeing 777 MH17 in Ukraine last year where Afandi travelled to this war zone to help with the investigation. Later we were taken on a tour of the hangar where the wreckage from past accidents is stored while experts analyse why each crash happened. It was a sobering sight but one which gave confidence in the future of air travel because of the thoroughness and dedication of all those involved in trying to make flying safer. On a lighter note afterwards we enjoyed tea and cakes in the shape of aeroplanes that the staff had kindly prepared for us.

Back home in Hampshire I’ve been working in my new garden having planted it out in traditional cottage garden style. Already our first harvest of gooseberries has been picked and little apples are starting to swell on the James Greave tree, and the garden’s alive with buzzing bees and a wide variety of butterflies including Commas, Red Admirals, Peacocks, Cabbage Whites and Painted Ladies. Visits to a local Lavender Farm and to Mottisfont Abbey’s famous rose garden are inspiring me to work on a series of new paintings and wall-hangings.

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JUNE 2015 BLOG

May was such a busy time for me this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write my blog.
The highlight of the month was Churchill Fellows’ Day on 27 May 2015 held at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston. This was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, established as a lasting memorial in honour of everything he had done to save this country in the war. As a living legacy to his memory and his belief in the power of potential, the Trust provides Travelling Fellowships to enable people who wish ‘to travel abroad to learn... to return to inspire.’

British citizens who are selected are funded to investigate groundbreaking practice in other countries and return with innovative ideas for the benefit of themselves and their communities. This year, 150 Fellowships in a variety of fields, (including an Open category for people to make their own proposals) are available, so do visit the website at wcmt.org.uk to learn more to see if you’d like to apply for one. In this way, people can attempt to put into practice Sir Winston’s own ideals which he stated in 1908:

‘What is the use of living if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we have gone?’

On Fellows’ Day, hundreds of people from all over the UK who, over five decades had been awarded Travelling Fellowships met together to see and be seen and to hear presentations from over 45 Fellows ranging from subjects as various as Hindustani drumming; CSI: Crime Scene Insects, and From Medicinal Plants to personalised medicine (my favourite!).

I was honoured to have the poster featuring my achievements in textile design entitled The Origins of Aran Knitting selected to be displayed in the Colonnades Gallery where I had the satisfaction of seeing many people enjoying reading it...

At the end of the day we were entertained by the daring acrobatics of a Spitfire flying upside down and by the music of the British Imperial Military Band all wearing splendid scarlet uniforms and antique white spiked helmets. Altogether, a really wonderful event.

Another really interesting day was a visit was to Dulwich Picture Gallery where I saw a retrospective show of over 80 of Eric Revilious’ watercolours. Eric Revilious, who died at the early age of only 39 when his aircraft disappeared off the Icelandic coast during an air-sea rescue mission in the war, is largely responsible for the revival of English watercolour painting. His career spans peace and war. He was a celebrated war artist; many of his paintings evoke disturbing and ghostly dream-like images of this time. But it was the distortion of perspective in his landscapes and the patina of the meticulous marks he uses to convey texture that captured my attention. He’s been called the Seurat of Sussex, but his use of glimmering light and dark and a lyrical other-worldliness in some of his landscapes reminded me of the work of William Blake and Samuel Palmer. The show is on until 31 August – catch it if you can. www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk.

In my own work, I’m beginning a new series of paintings of summer gardens and continuing developing my sequence of wall-hangings inspired by these and the Hampshire countryside. My own garden’s also stimulating my visual sensitivity with new images for these creations, as was a visit to the National Trust gardens at Nymans where I photographed these amazing tulips.

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APRIL 2015 BLOG

It’s been a very busy time this spring, with a family wedding in a Somerset. The occasion was absolutely wonderful, a lovely get together for the families and all 120 guests, many of whom had travelled from far and wide to attend.

One of the high points was the Welsh bridegroom’s brother’s speech, a beautiful poem in a very obscure form of Welsh, which sounded as if it would have gone down well in an Eisteddfod. As no translation was offered, we all had to take the contents on trust! As he and his wife had travelled all the way from Canada we were touched he’d gone to so much trouble to prepare it.

The cake cutting ceremony shows how happy the bride, our eldest daughter, and her husband were. The accompanying picture showing her high, glittery silver shoes were the subject of much fascinated comment. We held our breath as she slowly descended the fairy-light-decorated steep stairs wearing them. How she kept her balance as she made her dramatic entrance amazed us all.

Afterwards we spent the night in nearby Bowlish House in Shepton Mallet, a very interesting experience for me as I’ve discovered in my family history research that my maternal-great-great-grandfather Moses Stone lived there with his wife Rebecca Garton and their family when he managed the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery in the mid-nineteenth century. We spent the night overlooking the lovely garden in the same room he would have slept in. Bowlish House is now in the process of being redecorated after the TV series Broadchurch was filmed there and the building had to be restored to make it suitable for guests again. The restoration is being really beautifully done, as my photos show, and the food and kind welcome we received there were really special. I would certainly recommend it to other people. What was really astonishing was to discover that my ancestor Moses Stone had married his second wife Rebecca, a member of the well-known brewing family in the same village Abbotts Leigh where our daughter had just been married. None of us knew of his existence until recently!

Other family events have kept us busy; one of the most fun was a visit to Bird World in Hampshire with two of our grandchildren. Photos of the flamingos, avocets and penguins illustrate our trip and again I can recommend Bird World for family trips; I have another one planned for next month!

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FEBRUARY 2015

I’ve been busy painting my grandchildren’s portraits in time for meeting them again for an exciting half-term trip to the big city where they live. We met at the Shard hotel for the amazing views where you can see the whole of London below in a 360 degree panorama. Since moving south it’s been much easier to get together. The children are both teenagers now so I wanted to depict them at the threshold of their lives while they’re still young enough not to be blasé about being painted in watercolours by their grandma....

Another connection I’ve made recently is with the Southern branch of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellows - formerly I was a member of the North West branch. We met in Hampshire where I was asked to give a presentation of my Travelling Fellowship. I showed them my book IRISH KNITTING which describes my journey to Ireland and Norway, and also brought in some of the garments which my research trip inspired. In May I shall attend the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Trust at Blenheim Palace where a poster describing my Fellowship and its long-term consequences will be on display; a great honour to have been selected, among many others.

These Travelling Fellowships are a wonderful opportunity to develop any dreams you might have; if selected you’ll be funded to travel anywhere in the world to do original research in many different categories. Your project should show how you’ll be able to benefit your community on your return. To learn more visit www.wcmt.org.uk.  Any British citizen is eligible to apply.

Now spring’s in sight I’ve been busy working in my new garden on dry days. At the moment hellebores, primroses, crocuses, snowdrops and a single tiny iris reticulata are already in flower; also a larger purple winter-flowering iris has just opened, not sure what kind. For a treat we recently visited the nearby Hillier Gardens in not far from Winchester where the most beautifully scented Daphnes were in bloom in their Winter Garden. Visit www.info@hilliergardens.org.uk for more information.

 

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DECEMBER 2014

A last blog for 2014 as I’ve been so busy getting ready for Christmas with our many family members and working on our house I haven’t had a chance to write it until now, Christmas Eve.
I did manage to complete the embroidery of some Hampshire sand dunes that inspired me earlier in the summer. It took several months to finish but now it’s ready and part of the set of three I’ve made to record the seasons in our new location here in the South. It hangs between the one I did of harvest hares and of tulips with the beautiful blue downland butterflies that are so numerous here.

Also featured in this blog are some pictures of our Christmas decorations all ready for a visit from two of our grandchildren. One of our friends makes amazing gingerbread houses for sale at this time of the year and our grandchildren absolutely loved theirs. Everyone else in the family wanted one too so I’ll have to place my orders for next year early – their maker says her kitchen’s transformed into a gingerbread housing estate throughout the whole of December before she decamps abroad to a skiing holiday to recover!

 

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SEPTEMBER 2014

After rather a long interval I’m now able to contribute to my website once more. The builders have left at last and we’re settling into our newly refurbished house and attempting to tame the garden which went rampant during the five weeks we had to leave it to its own devices.

During this period we made the most of exploring more of the area and the photographs I’ve added show some of the places we visited. We saw ponies in the New Forest nibbling the wayside grasses against a backdrop of a cricket match, an archetypal English scene. At Farnham Park we strolled down an ancient tree-lined avenue and at Polesden Lacey we saw rings of delicate autumn crocus just coming into bloom around single specimen trees.

At Selsey Bill on the coast we visited the Lifeboat station and were threatened by an approaching storm which produced some amazing colours in the sky. At West Itchenor near Chichester we watched the sailing boats and at Pagham we spent a lovely quiet afternoon in a RSPB bird reserve where seagulls flew over marshy pools and sand dunes.

This last venue has proved the inspiration of a new wall hanging I’m making now the hanging that I began in the spring featuring tulips and forget-me-nots has finally been completed. I made the Tulips and Forget-me-Not hanging in silk using batik, silk painting techniques, appliqué and embroidery sewn onto a sponged cotton reverse backing.  It features little blue butterflies floating over the flowers, dangling on semi-invisible strings. The colours of the fronts and backs of the butterflies are taken from the Common Blue seen all over the chalky Hampshire South Downs.

During the time when the builders were transforming our house I heard the good news that two of my paintings had been selected for showing at a prestigious international exhibition in Mexico: SICArte 2014: A Show in Mexico from 1 August – 5 September. They can be seen online at www.greenchair-gallery.co.uk

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MAY 2014

In between recruiting builders and selecting fittings and fixtures to renovate our house we’ve found time to explore Hampshire a little more. On one of the most beautiful days this spring we discovered Mottisfont.  This National Trust-owned country house created from a medieval priory has been a centre for the arts since 1934 when Maud and Gilbert Russell moved here.

Home to paintings by Edgar Degas, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and John Piper acquired by painter Derek Hill, Mottisfont also contains five large new gallery spaces where the work of more contemporary artists is displayed. There’s a changing programme of illustrations, photographs, sculpture and ceramics as well as installations by various artists in residence. A mosaic angel created by Boris Anrep in honour of Maud (reputed to be his lover), decorates a niche near the 13th century cellarium.

Mottisfont also houses the national collection of old roses chosen by Graham Stuart Thomas that flower in the walled garden. I took plenty of photographs of this part of the garden in spring when the irises were looking their best as I intend to use them as a basis of future paintings. Mottisfont is also home to an ancient spring – the original font in the name - that flows into a quiet contemplative pool leading to a stream garden winding down to a river.

This month I include some photographs of chalky Hampshire fields with the new crops just showing through making amazing geometric patterns which have also inspired me to begin a new series of landscape paintings. I hope to show some of my recent work next month but in 2 weeks a team of builders will descend for 6 weeks to completely transform our house. Ceilings and walls will be removed, new windows put in to make more light for my studio area and the place will be in utter chaos. If I can’t manage a June blog, I do hope to have comprehensive blog featuring all the places in Hampshire (including the coast!) I plan to visit ready by July.

 

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APRIL 2014

Here we are at long last in beautiful Hampshire after many vicissitudes produced by the moving house process. The property we’ve just bought needs a great deal doing to it, not least having extra windows installed to let more light into my new studio. But we’re balancing the hard work of decorating with exploring the local area and last week we visited Winchester and marvelled at the amazing carved stonework in the ancient cathedral.

In addition we’ve been walking in the Ashford Hangers, hillside woodland beloved by the poet Edward Thomas. Watered by clear streams bubbling over the chalky stony ground, violets, celandines and primroses thrive on the stream banks. In the old days, wild watercress grew profusely in the fast-flowing and often flooded Hampshire rivers and I shall experiment with developing recipes using this locally grown plant once I can get my cooker installed and working properly again.

Meanwhile I’ve now completed the embroidered wall hanging I started last autumn of hares escaping over ploughed fields from the stubble of the wheat harvest and its now hanging in our new home. The embroidered hares are suspended on invisible threads so if you flick them they can swing as you move past. Already I’ve begun another landscape of the Hampshire fields in spring and another silk wall hanging celebrating the tulips and forget-me-nots I found growing in my new cottage garden. Also in the garden I found several lovely Auriculas growing in a gravel bed. These gave me the idea of creating an Auricula theatre staging a collection of Auriculas in pots. I shall begin to collect them to display on the rather dull shed we inherited with the new property which we plan to extend and cover in rambling roses and clematis.

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FEBRUARY 2014

At last we’re about to move! Packing up all our possessions from the past forty years + hasn’t been easy, and as I write we’re surrounded by boxes of all shapes and sizes ready for the long journey south. At present the weather’s absolutely dreadful but whatever gales and blizzards we may have to face we’re all set to go.

Of some concern to me is my lovely china, which I’m taking great care to swathe in soft cloths, cushions and bubble-wrap to transport it safely to our new abode. One particular item I’d be very sad to lose is a Chinese tea-set I inherited from my mother. When we lived in Hong Kong she taught English to the wife of a wealthy Chinese businessman, and when our family was about to return to England this lady gave my mother the beautiful tea-set as a thank-you gift for the lessons she had much appreciated.

I decided to paint the tea-pot and matching cup and saucer with spring tulips to remind me of what they look like before we leave just in case they break on our long journey. I used watercolours for this painting, a medium I often return to as I love its delicacy. The cup is so fragile when you hold it up to the light it’s quite translucent, so I felt it would suit watercolours. One book I particularly recommend for people who want to push their painting skills further in this medium is TAKING RISKS WITH WATERCOLOUR by Shirley Trevena published by Collins. ISBN 0-00-713326 – x. Shirley Trevena is a council member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour; I find her work always inspires me.

Next month no doubt I’ll have more to tell you about Hampshire, but there will be a bit of delay until we get our computer up and running again in the new house. Sad as I am to be leaving the Peak District behind I look forward to discovering the Downs, the New Forest and the South Coast.

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JANUARY 2014

Happy New Year! I did think I could write that we’ve now moved into our new home but we’re still delayed by legal matters. However, we should be able to move by the end of this month and so we’re hoping the winter gales floods and blizzards won’t impede our journey south to beautiful Hampshire.

This year we spent Christmas with our family in a Hampshire hamlet during a terrible storm. Rain poured in through the flashings that adjoined the windows and there was a power cut for 24 hours. However we all gathered round a blazing log fire and read by candlelight until my son was ingenious with his generator and we soon had warmth and light in time for Christmas Day.

Now we’re back in Cheshire, getting ready to pack up and I’m using the extra time to get more of my art work framed. I’m also working on a very colourful still life and on the second of a series of twelve embroidered textile wall hangings inspired by the countryside. Although it will be a wrench to leave the Peak District I’m looking forward to exploring Hampshire which has the advantage of sea, the Downs and the New Forest.

The pictures below are of three landscape-inspired pastels I completed last month. I made them using rigid mounting board and created a textured background of thick Plaster of Paris mixed with acrylic paint using the pastels freely on top of this once this ground had dried thoroughly for several days. Working in this way with pastels is rather messy and requires old newspapers to be spread below which immediately get covered with fine pastel dust afterwards so if you want to try this method make sure your workroom is well ventilated! However it was a change from working on the specially prepared pastel papers that I usually use with soft pastels and I plan to develop this style further in the future.

Please note that my February 2014 Blog might be a little late as I don’t yet know how long it will take to get my computer links up and running in our new abode.

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