Rohana Darlington

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AUTUMN 2020

I’m afraid I’ve had to delay writing my blog for quite a while, as like everyone else I’ve had to contend with problems the Corona Virus has delivered to me and my family and friends. Art and the countryside have been a wonderful distraction though, and I’ve spent most of the year painting, drawing, gardening and going on long walks. The result is a collection of nature-inspired pieces, some of which I’m displaying for the first time on this website.

This season is a great time to visit Waggoners Wells, three ponds in a wood in East Hampshire near where I live, that long ago was used to cool hammers in the iron industry. The leaves are just turning gold now and the title of the painting I made of their reflections in the water is Waggoners Wells in October. This is a National Trust property, so do contact them at www.nationaltrust.org.uk. to confirm opening times in these unpredictable days if you plan to visit. 

Another beautiful wood to visit is Chawton Park Wood in Hampshire. Run by Forestry England, this is such a great place to go for peace and quiet in the midst of the pandemic. Contact them at www.forestryengland.uk for more information. Here’s a photograph I took of the trees in the afternoon light, and a close up of what I think is a beech nut. This wood is near where Jane Austin lived and where she often walked.

I went on some amazing other walks in the Southdown Way and include a little painting I made of some blue butterflies I saw feeding on the wildflower meadows. The Southdown Way is near Chawton Wood and you can learn more about this resource by visiting www.southdowns.gov.uk. I include a painting I made of some of the wild flowers I saw there in July.

These trips inspired a whole series of paintings of insects on plants that I observed when out and about. I include one of an orange-tip butterfly on an echinacea, one of a blue Adonis butterfly on a cornflower, and another of a dragonfly that I saw in the pond in my son and daughter-in-law’s garden. This iris and dragonfly painting has been selected as one of four designs being made into greeting cards sold in aid of the charity Susila Dharma International, an organization which runs educational, environmental and health care projects in 29 countries around the world. Do visit their website to learn more about their projects at www.susiladharma.org. You can order them in packs of four from syfa.uk@gmail.com.  £10 for each pack including p & p.
Another painting inspired during lockdown is a still life of elderflowers from nearby hedgerows and gooseberries from my garden.
I do hope you enjoy looking at the paintings I’ve made during this extraordinary time and that they help to lift your spirits.  Keep safe!

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SPRING 2020

This the first blog I’ve written in 2020, in what turns out to be the year of the pandemic. I’ve been busy designing a new range of greeting cards but as these designs are copyright, I wasn’t able to display these on my website yet.

Then came lockdown, where everything stopped, and we’re unable to leave home for the foreseeable future. Fortunately I and my husband are well so far, but I decided to use the time constructively to share all the photographs I’ve been taking since January with you, my blog viewers. I know not everyone has a garden, so I hope they might cheer anyone up who may be feeling claustrophobic being indoors for so long. Take a virtual tour with me and see what I’ve been up to…

They start with the snowdrops growing in my little courtyard cottage garden in January, a colony I established when I first moved here. Then in February I was so glad of my blue iris reticulatas and mauve crocuses in their terracotta pots; they always lift my spirits on the darkest winter days. In March I was able to pick the first bunch of flowers from my spring garden. I’d already brought in bare branches of dogwood and forsythia, but nothing beats the cheery sight of daffodils with muscari and borage, and the perfume of white hyacinths.

Chinadoxias, and snakes head fritillarias bloomed next, then my tulips, wallflowers, camellias, pear and apple and trees blossomed. All along one side of the garden pink clematis montana is in flower now, and already my many roses are beginning to bud.

Within walking distance of our home is a large recreation ground where we take our daily exercise. I’ve photographed the grass there, studded with daisies, and a local wildlife group have planted a wild flower meadow and a willow dome there too. These willow domes capture carbon and provide shelter for over 200 different kinds of insects which in turn offer food for birds. We’re lucky too, to be surrounded by fields and woods where sheep graze and we can hear the birds singing, although the rooks sound even more raucous than usual.

Out walking so close to nature each day, counting my blessings, I think of the work my daughter Irmani Smallwood is involved in, as a director of the registered charity Look Ahead, based in London but also serving communities across the South East. This organisation, which provides services for vulnerable people – they are specialists in delivering mental health, learning disabilities, homelessness and young people services - has been challenged even more than usual by the Corona Virus epidemic. There’s been an unprecedented urgency to get over 7,000 people off the streets before they get infected by Covid-19, and finding them shelter, food and medical help has been no small task. They’ve recently launched a new appeal as so many more people, having lost their jobs in the epidemic, are having to resort to using food banks, and supplies are drying up. If you feel moved to support them, contact www.lookahead.org.uk to learn more.

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