Lea comes to pick me up at 9.50 to go over to Police Headquarters for an Aston Project stakeholders meeting. I haven’t met any of the other police officers before, though Hugh from HonCo and Rosie who I do of course know are also there. We all introduce ourselves and this meeting seems to be to do with what the Aston Project is for and how to best evaluate its success. It is starting to be rolled out in both Gloucester and the Forest. Don’t get back home until almost 2pm.
Today am working in my studio across the Lane on the very big three dimensional commission. In the evening I return to my studio in the house.
Busy working on the large 3D piece when Nathan rings and they are only 15 minutes away. So quickly wash my hands and change, just before they arrive. Its lovely to see them and Nathan friend Clem has brought a cake that her mother, who comes from Mauritius, has made; its a family recipe that has been handed down around only their family. A bit like a chocolate brownie on the outside but the inside is soft, rather like chocolate truffle. Nathan shows her round the house before we have dinner. He’s brought me two lots of flowers, one for Mothers Day and one for Easter and Clem presents us with big panatone in a rather magnificent architectural box and Nathan gives Richard a late birthday present which a wonderful set of enamel nesting bowls one being a collander. They remind me of the enamel mugs we used to take camping, which is what Nathan and Clem are going off to do in Wollacombe Bay, Devon tomorrow.
Friday 3.4.15 Good Friday
My Mum arrives at about 11 and Gill and Ian 11.30 having driven down from Bedford. We all chatter over coffee and hot cross buns before Gill and Ian take my Mum out to lunch and we wave Nathan and Clem off after having a look in the back of his Volvo, in which has the Laavu tent he’s just bought and a stove with a long chimney that is all packed inside it, camp beds and folding chairs. It all looks very exciting.
Then I’m back to work on the altarpiece which I originally started to paint on a Good Friday many years ago.
Mark calls for the little painting he’s giving to Viv for her birthday and gives us a little present, a small cross that he has cut out of an oak off-cut from the restoration of a building he’s been working on. Then its back over to the studio whilst R takes my dear Mum shopping. I’ve tried ringing Nathan a few times but there doesn’t seem to be any reception so am very pleased when he rings me just after 10pm. Last night there had been a gale force wind as they sat in the tent having cooked a delicious meal with produce bought from a local farm and some harrisa powder he’d brought back from Morocco and they had managed to sleep. Nathan already had bacon eggs and sausages from the local farm on the stove (which also heats the tent) when Clem arises. He’d been teaching her how to surf and says she can already stand up on the board. In the afternoon they played football with Isaac and Samuel who are also staying in Devon on the same bit of coastline at Kev’s parents apartment and in the evening met up with Henrietta and Kev for a drink whilst Kev’s parents baby sat. I’ve been working on the big 3D piece.
Good day in the studio over the Lane mainly continue working with the large corrugated work.
Glorious sunshine and 16 degrees so have my brunch in the garden.
We do some serious cutting back as it had become very overgrown, before I go into the big studio to work on the 3D painting.
We go over to Gloucester Cathedral to take the donated prints etc for the Carers Exhibition, which is being hung and arranged very nicely by Caroline Davies, Daphne, Sam from Nat Star and a team of volunteers.
Still working on big 3D piece.
Henrietta, Kev and the boys arrive early afternoon all looking suntanned and healthy from their days in Devon staying at his parents holiday apartment where they were joined by his sister and family - his lovely parents stayed at a bed and breakfast nearby. They also met up with Nathan and Clementine who were staying a couple of miles away in Woolacombe. Nathan also taught Clementine and Isaac to surf. H & K showed us lovely photographs of them all, also of Nathan and Clem in front of the beautiful tent.
After an early dinner, Kev having had a short nap drives back to London as he has to work tomorrow.
Over to Gloucester Cathedral in the evening to open the Carers Gloucestershire art exhibition. The cloisters are surprisingly full of people; we spot Ronald and Lyn Green - he has done a new piece specially for the exhibition; then Candia & Tony who have just returned from Europe where Incubus have been performing. See two of the prizewinners (from Marling School) being interviewed. Then make our way into the Chapter House to find Lyn and Roger, who had arrived an hour early as I’d got the time wrong when I invited them. She had particularly wanted to show me an item that she had bought at auction - a small painting that I had been commissioned to paint by Professor Ken and Nancy Simmonds as a present for Sir Frank Rogers, who used be on the board of the Telegraph and deputy chairman of the Mirror Group. On the board of EMAP with Professor Ken at the time. I think this was his retirement present. I remember that we had all been to dinner at 1 Canada Square in Docklands. We’d also been to a special lunch at a small restaurant in Northleach. After his lovely wife Esme died he married her nurse. Lyn was very pleased with all the information as she knew there would be a story behind it !
The Chapter House is now filling up ready for the speeches. I’m on after Daphne who has organised this exhibition and is particularly excited to have something from her friend Zandra Rhodes (they were at the Royal College at the same time, Daphne studying textile design and Zandra fashion) She also has a photograph of her taken by Rankin in a Rembrandtesque way which formed part of a TV programme. I get to announce the school prizewinners, the two boys from Marling School each aged 14 and a 13 year old girl from the Ladies College who has made a beautiful three dimensional papier mache shoe.
Just before we leave I have red spot put on Daphne’s exquisite Amarylis Lily which is very evocative of the period in which she painted it, for my collection of women’s art. I’m touched as my two prints ( a wood engraving and a stone lithograph) have each sold so we will have added considerably to their fund raising coffers.
We take my Mum, Henrietta and the boys to Pittville Park. We all sit in the sunshine eating ice creams then R and I take the boys on the lake in a rowing boat. There is great excitement when Richard rows us past the Island as George, the male swan, glides out from it, patrolling the waters as Zelda his wife is sitting on eggs. So we all become a little nervous until we have rowed out of that region as the notice had said he can be very fierce. Then take the boys to Clarkes to get new shoes for PE. Samuel is adamant he wants laces and says he WILL learn to tie bows. We come away with turquoise plimsoles with florescent laces and some red and green ones for isaac; they have of course become their favourite shoes!
R drives Henrietta and the boys back up to London whilst I’m working on the very big 3D piece. He babysits for them before returning about 3am.
Work intensely on the large 3D construction.
In the afternoon go into the Fashion Academy at GC to give an illustrated talk on how fashion informs my work and art history. They are a super group of students, very well informed and ask lots of questions. Sarah Clarke who works there is obviously a very good teacher.
On the way back pop in to see Hilary, chairman of the Friends of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum committee for her to run through tomorrow’s Special Meeting (for making changes to the Constitution) with me.
Work late on the 3D piece.
Into Cheltenham to chair the Friends’ Special Meeting which is well attended and at least doubles the number required for a quorum. Chat to Margaret Austen before the meeting, she is a partner at Willans and is hugely well qualified in charity law and advises the Wilson, the Festivals, the Cathedral, the Holst etc. has helped Hilary and the committee to draft this new Constitution.
The meeting runs well with a good range of questions from the floor including from Martin Horwood our Liberal Democrat MP who helped to draft the charity legislation that we are following here. The Charity Commission have approved it already. It is voted in with a big majority.
Back to the studio and get another couple of hours work in before Charles, Emma and Suzanna arrive after their day at the Races. Its always a joy to see them and catch up on what they are doing.
Over to Gloucester to help judge the art competition set up by Russell and his That White Room gallery and exhibition space. Then back home to work.
Interview with BBC Radio Gloucestershire about my Shaun in the City ‘Literary Lamb’ and forthcoming exhibitions etc. with Dominic.Very nicely Mark comes down from his office to say hello. Then back home to continue work in the studio.
Going into Cheltenham to help celebrate Shona’s birthday but on the way call into the Holst Birthplace Museum to buy one of the Planets Suite scarves as a birthday present for her. The ladies manning the Museum are all so jolly and friendly and tell me the scarves are going well. So I compliment them on what a good job they are all doing ( all volunteers ). I also buy a couple of the little water warblers for the boys. After we’ve parked and as we walk up to the door of the Exmouth Arms we see Shona coming from the opposite direction - we have a feeling that she has perhaps also spotted us and realises that this is a surprise birthday party lunch! They have just been to stay at the Greenaway where they stayed overnight as a birthday celebration with their beautiful children Maya and Sammi. We all eat (about forty of us) in an upstairs room and I sit next to Martin’s brother and Richard next to the young woman who used to be the children’s nanny - she now has two lovely little children of her own who are sitting busily drawing and are very well behaved. R and I enjoy our goats cheese salad and chatter with the other guests.
Then its back home to the studio to work and Martin will be going off to canvas for the General Election.
Making good progress in the studio on the big owl painting.
Its English Language Day and Shakespeare’s Birthday so my Literary Lamb get picked out by Shaun in the City organisers and retweeted lots. It’s also the last day for the Portman Brown iPad Mini competition.
After working in the studio change ready for Martin’s ‘Rock’ party in Bristol, which means we’re missing the Rock the Cotswold dinner at the Daffodil with Alexander Armstrong (who my Mum adores being an avid watcher of Pointless). We can hear that things are in full swing from the road and are followed in by two other people also wearing dark glasses and the one in the baseball cap who I didn’t recognise at first is Nick. We ring the bell and down comes Martin as Alice Cooper, (foam) python round his neck with tattooed arms and heavy black eye make up. Notice at least two Toyah lookalikes, one in an orange wig another in a green. I’m most touched as people start talking to me, remembering me from a couple of years ago. I think I’m talking to an Olivia Newton John while Richard chats to Rob. Always interesting people there - I buy a book by Jackie Hill-Murphy who I did meet before; an explorer who has just written ‘Adventuresses - rediscovering daring voyages into the unknown’.
Also chat to a theatre director who works a lot with children with learning difficulties.
Come over early from the studio as Jane and David arrive for super at half past seven, followed almost immediately by Maureen and Gordon and Joyce, who haven’t met Jane and David before. Although I met them as girls when we were art students and Jane a year later as she came on the student Paris trip which was mainly made up of painters and as Maureen did illustration and Joyce fashion didn’t go. So I tell them how Jane and I were pushed on a tea trolly through the streets of Paris at about 3am by two young men who had hitch-hiked over to join us. They all get on very well particularly as Jane had been at school with two of our other art school friends, Camilla and Janet so is able to tell us a little about Camilla and her family who she has seen rather more recently than us.
We go over to the studio and I’m delighted that they immediately home in on the big 3D work and know exactly what and where it is. They also look at the owl painting and Jane tells the others that she has one of my owl paintings too. She is fascinated by the embracing angels on the tower and also very keen on my Je Suis Charlie painting and gets a lot of the references within it.
Its great fun and everybody chatters over Richard’s adaptation of Lotte Dunkerkquoise and all seem to the enjoy the Oysters Provencal especially as Maureen and Gordon hadn’t eaten oysters before so were a little nervous. Interestingly about three quarters through Jane says that if they were in Australia (where they also live) and an election was so imminent, everyone would be discussing politics. Which is interesting as the conversation then turns to that topic. Maureen says that her parents were both Labour voters as she and Gordon have always been and that their two sons are also. I say that although my parents were both staunch socialists too that I have never followed just one party indiscriminately but try each time to weigh up the current situation as they now mostly seem to occupy the centre ground and I still haven’t forgiven Tony Blair for taking us into Iraq and making the world a less safe place. I think Richard’s having a similar conversation with Gordon at the other end of the table whilst Jane and Joyce are talking wildlife as Jane and David do a lot of volunteering physically clearing rivers wearing waders and check on the nesting birds in Highnam woods doing counts. Joyce, who used to live on Rodborough Common told engaging stories of the animals and insects they used to see there - glow worms etc. Joyce, who trained as an art teacher, works in an infants school in Stroud where she was a volunteer for a year or so. Suddenly before we know it, its midnight and they begin to depart.
Working intensely to finish commissions.
Stay up late trying to round off the commissions that I have been working on for the last few months so that tomorrow I can begin the new month by starting a big new canvas for the exhibition that opens at the end of September!!!