Tuesday, 22 January 2013

News from the studio

My coop

The chicken coop

I've been enjoying my commute to work!  It's been wonderful to be in the studio at the bottom of the garden in the snow.  I never thought there'd be so much life going on there.  The studio decking is a crossroads for the neighbourhood cats. Black, white, marmalade and tabby all wander through on their journeys. There have been fox prints in the snow around the chicken coop which worries me.  The chickens haven't liked the cold snap and stand forlornly waiting for it to pass. They have been treated to scraps mixed with warm oats and cold liver oil to keep them healthy until Spring. One fine lady keeps rewarding us with her eggs. There's nothing better than collecting a warm egg on a freezing morning.

Having to come down the garden each day I am noticing so many more details. I'm already planning the changes for the garden for this year and a cosy evening in front of the fire was spent ordering seeds from the Real Seed Catalogue (I love the stories of the heritage of each seed).

I've been working toward my exhibition at Ferrers Gallery which starts on the first of February.  I have been developing new cards and prints that form ranges called 'Love & Light', 'Hill & House' and 'Seed & Stem'. Currently I have an art card giveaway on my facebook page.  Please 'like' and 'share' the link to take part.

Growing Wild

'Up the garden path'

'Up the garden path' is my favourite new limited edition print.  I really enjoyed the mark making and painting in the piece. I have had a huge version printed for the exhibition and can't wait to see it in situ.  It has been an image in my head for a long time with a few versions created over the last two years that never saw the light of day. It is a special piece for me as it feels like home and has been one of the first pieces created in my new studio where I feel so happy.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Grandma & Me 1974

Before Christmas my Grandma died.  She was 101 and 3/4. It was a simple end to a simple life. Not an easy life, not an uneventful life. A life that was grounded in simplicity.  She lived in her home for 72 years from the day that she married. She raised five children and went on to have many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Faith and family formed the focus of her life. She grew her own vegetables and kept chickens. She listened to the world. It amazed me how Grandma could live through two world wars, and so much change, and yet remain relentlessly positive and understanding. Her hands were riddled with arthritis but so expressive. Her smile was joyful.

At her funeral I was given a bag of all the cards and letters I have ever sent her. From my first attempts at writing, through to descriptions of teenage routines and on to university. There were letters prior to my wedding and letters when I was expecting my first child and descriptions of learning how to have my own family. In books and boxes and drawers, I have all her responses to these letters. Her letters always full of humour and encouragement. She believed in me.

Last summer, the last time I saw her,  I sat with her whilst she crocheted. She told me of the orphanage in Zambia that received the blankets that she made. She lived her life like she crocheted, one stitch at a time. One block tacked to another. Full of colour. Time and love given freely.

It has been a reflective time, as winter can be. I have been so fortunate to have a Grandma all the way to thirty nine. I have resolved to write letters to keep her memory alive and to strive to lead my life with faith and hope, to take the simple path and to believe in the journey.

Sketchbook page 2009

My Grandma is the smallest girl in the photo.  Her Grandma is in the middle of the photo.  The others are my Grandma's cousins.

Rebecca Mary Dean, nee Brittain

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