Friday, 24 May 2013's a Secret Craft Fair

On the 15th and 16th June I will be taking part in a Secret Craft Fair in Loughborough. It will be the joyful union of gardening, art and craft at the open garden of Janet Currie. She will be proudly opening her garden for the first time as part of the NGS Open Gardens and will be the only garden in Loughborough to have received that accolade. Janet and partner Pete Mosley have got used to visitors being impressed by their home and garden when they host their regular Refectory Table events. So now it's your turn to enjoy it too.

I will be selling a range of garden inspired originals, prints, new decorative tiles and cards. You can read more about the event, here, and in an interview I did with Janet Currie, here.

A Slow Spring

Love and Life

Since moving in to my studio at the bottom of the garden, some of my work has been inspired by my home surroundings and my love of growing things. Looking out on to the garden watching the chickens and the birds go about their daily rituals and routines, I am inspired to keep on with mine. It really has been a slow spring but now my garden is glorying in its greenness.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Days of the Week

I recently enjoyed the series 'What do Artists do all day' on BBC4 and it is a good question! Creativity isn't easily quantified and packaged in to the spaces of the week that I have available to work, namely the school day. And if your job is 9-5 (do they exist anymore?)  the self motivated life of an artist or maker can seem an unfathomable mystery. For myself, I came out of the back end of winter overwhelmed by life and not really in control of what was happening when. The business of being an artist was taking over from the creativity of being an artist, and from the enjoyment of living a simple life.  So I have been trying a new strategy. This is going to sound like 'The Hungry Caterpillar'!.....

On Monday I don't work if I can help it! Dave doesn't work either. It doesn't feel like we don't work.  We deal with the fall out from the weekend, get washing done and go to the allotment and dig the garden and clear out the chooks. We have two plots at the allotment and a 3m x 3m plot in the communal polytunnel. I also decided to dig up some of our flower beds and integrate vegetables with flowers....that's another post!

On Tuesday, I am having a business day. Having moved studio twice in the last year I still have a mountain of paperwork that has no home to go to. Once I start it I quite enjoy sorting and filing it.  I also deal with invoicing on a Tuesday and package up deliveries. I follow up leads for new stockists and eventually I think I will feel like I am running this business!

On Wednesday I have the car so I plan all my gallery drop offs and meetings for a Wednesday.  Recently I have also had some creative time.  I have taken the long way round to appointments and found myself off the beaten track.  I have a bag of art stuff and a sketchbook and have really enjoyed the discipline of getting out there.

sketchbook pages from Creative Wednesdays

On Thursday I am in the studio creating originals. I am currently working towards exhibitions in the Autumn and I am creating new landscape work. Having been knocked off course by the burning desire to capture the inspiration of my garden, I have come full circle back to landscapes and capturing the forces of nature. I have recently struck a deal with a gallery to act as an agent for my prints and so I feel in compartmentalising all my activities I can effectively deal with one at a time.

On Friday I am in the studio again. As well as working on originals for framing, I am also working on some smaller collages playing with structure and colour. And if anyone wants a cuppa I feel I must say 'yes'!

So, the routine doesn't always fit in with the bursts of creativity but by allocating spaces to what needs doing and showing up in the studio I am achieving quite a lot and feeling more content for it.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A flush of rose, and the whole thing starts again

I've been having creative Wednesdays over the last few weeks exploring the landscapes on my doorstep. My work has often been about landscapes I've encountered on holiday, in East Anglia or Yorkshire. Living on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border, I take the gently rolling hills around me very much for granted. They are not so breath taking as the drama of the Yorkshire Moors, not so striped as the layers of landscape you get as the land recedes across the flats of Norfolk. It's a landscape I have lived with for ten years and yet I haven't felt ownership of it.

When I was a teenager I fell in love with the writing of DH Lawrence. I devoured 'The Rainbow' and 'Women in Love' with their colourful and vivid descriptions of relationships. I have recently returned to his novels. 'Sons and Lovers' was written 100 years ago in 1913. I'm currently reading it and love Lawrence's writing about my (and his) local landscape. Returning to 'The Rainbow', the opening passage describes the farm land below Ilkeston "...where the Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder trees, separating Derbyshire from Nottinghamshire". Lawrence writes with the colour and symbolism I try to capture in my work. His themes of life, death and renewal share a common language with my themes of life's beauty and transience:

'The Ship of Death' - 9

And yet out of eternity, a thread
separates itself on the blackness,
a horizontal thread
that fumes a little with pallor upon the dark.

Is it illusion? or does the pallor fume
A little higher?
Ah wait, wait, for there's the dawn.
the cruel dawn of coming back to life out of oblivion.

Wait, wait, the little ship
drifting, beneath the ashy grey
of a flood-dawn

Wait, wait! even so, a flush of yellow
and strangely, O chilled wan soul, a flush of rose.

A flush of rose, and the whole thing starts again.

D H Lawrence

'Quietly the World Awakes'

Through his eyes I am enjoying my local world. Enjoying too his descriptions of his sense of claustrophobia in his life and its daily mundanities and rituals, and the sense of escape that getting in to the landscape offered him. Setting off on a Wednesday with a sketchbook and some drawing things I have a sense of purpose. I love the element of surprise and discovery. Mostly though it is being in the landscape, the sounds of the world, the light and the openness. I am so glad that winter is over and like the leaves on the trees I am being restored to life by the sunshine.

'Early One Morning' - in progress

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