H,K and boys leave for Devon.
Nathan who has just returned from working on a film in Spain, rings.
E mail from the Brian Sinfield Gallery re an enquiry. Working on all fronts in the studio.
We drive over to Bourton on the Water for tea with Sue and Andy. As we arrive we can see their beautiful shepherd’s hut in the garden, a delightful place where we spend the first half hour. It has been made up especially for them to the traditional design and I’m amazed how spacious and warm it is and can see how a shepherd would have managed to live warming the new lambs next to the wood burning stove on which his porridge or kettle was probably simmering. Perched high on its iron wheels it gives an elevated angle from which to view the garden vistas and Bourton’s beautiful church (where Sue and Andy were married) tower with its cupola. The cottage is full of beautiful paintings and objects including two exquisite silhouettes that Sue had made of Andy and their son Jamie and a very wonderful portrait of him that they had commissioned. But the whole collection is fascinating. I’m touched as the the kitchen is devoted to my work where the pieces look exceedingly well as Sue and Andy are very good at placing things together and somehow the three dimensional qualities of Demonstration and Comic Strip lend themselves to the low heavy beamed ceilings of the cottage and the lovely slip ware pottery that they also collect. She’s a wizard baker; her tea bread, macaroons, scones and mini victoria sponges are heavenly. Not to mention the tiny crustless egg, smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches all arranged on beautiful 1930’s green glass cake stands with individual hand painted cup, saucer and plate sets that Sue has collected. We have such a lovely time that its already 7 o’clock when we leave.
Whilst working in the studio frustratingly floundering about on a new large canvas, receive e mail from Mikhail at the Hay Hill Gallery.
R bumps into Edward and Alyson who were at the the Olympics opening ceremony and the rowing. I was elated to find that Oscar Pestorius (the double amputee) had got into the 400m semi final. Unfortunately he didn’t get a place in the final but what an extraordinary achievement, running on his prosthetic legs - such an inspiration.
E mail to Jane Lillystone at Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum to say that I have managed to get certainly one and possibly two of the famous voices she had hoped for to agree to do the voice overs for the new Museum.
Busy working on all fronts in studio.
Received three e mails from the Morohashi Museum of Modern Art, Japan with beautiful installation shots of my exhibition there. They tell me there has been a lot of interest particularly as I am British and it coincides with the London 2012 Olympics.
Working on the two new paintings for my forthcoming London exhibition
Caroline comes to collect the two paintings that she and Simon loaned for the Gloucester City Museum exhibition. They’ve recently come back from Australia where they loved the space.
Continuing on the two large works for the London show and the commission.
Nathan rang - he’s just been working on two night shoots, a really exciting project with Barry Ackroyd the director of the Bourne series whilst Ruth has been working on a shoot with Kylie Minogue in Cornwall.
Richard notices on the DGM website that they have just realised ‘Live in Argentina’ wearing my painting ‘On Broadway’
Busy working on the two larger paintings; I’m still working both out compositionally. Though do take time out in the evening to watch Mo Farah who came here from Somalia as a refugee whilst still a boy who made the transition from junior champion to European champion and is now Olympic Champion in 5,000 and 10,000 metres. I also watch the men's 4x100 relay with the fabulous Jamaican team, particularly the duo of Bolt and Blake who as in the 100m and 200m came in first and second but in the relay setting a new world record. Bolt was picked out as a school boy in Jamaica; it seems very sad here that we now don’t have the school playing fields (that the government sold off) and games etc. in state schools.
Continue to try and resolve the two new big paintings compositionally although do enjoy a glorious hour in the garden too and watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Its wonderful to hear that tickets for the Paralympics have been selling out fast. I know that Kev has bought tickets for them, the boys and his parents to at least two events, one in Greenwich Park the other at the Stadium. There is going to be play on BBC2 on Thursday evening based on the life of Professor (Poppa) Ludwig Guttmann, the brilliant doctor who had the vision and determination to change the whole concept of how spinal injuries patients were treated. From being left on their backs sedated and forgotten to giving them exercise and motivation and ambition, revolutionising treatment and founding the Paralympics - a true hero.
Whilst I’m working away in the studio Richard is battling on trying to instal the new website whilst still maintaining e mail communications etc. all because Apple no longer offer the facility . Oh the frustration!!!
Working intensely on the two pieces for my exhibition.
Proofs for Who’s Who comes in the post for checking.
Still working late into the night or early morning on the new pieces as its wonderfully quiet then.
Richard’s feeling very pleased as the problem that he’s been incurring with sending and receiving e mails since he’s been reforming the web site on a new server, seems to have now been resolved (with a lot of patient help from Adobe). So he’s now a lot happier and enjoying the process.
Its been really nice not having distractions for me too as it means I’ve been able to paint in a more intensely and uninterrupted way.
Good day in the studio
I have known for only a short while that all was not well at the Hay Hill. There seems to have been some misunderstandings over the selling of work at their big Warhol exhibition (as reported in the Evening Standard etc.) which has sadly meant that Mikhail has sold the lease . But luckily my early dealings were all with Gary who has the Alpha Gallery on the other side of Cork Street so when I e mail him on his yacht in the Med he says that he would be delighted to hold my next exhibition there. Although even that group of galleries are at risk of closure as the building has recently been sold to a property developer. This would be dire as it houses seven galleries on street level and Cork Street has historically been an important centre of London’s international art market and history. So it would be very sad for it to be lost for ever, since its proximity to the Royal Academy etc. make it a hub for students, tourists and collectors.
Working on the commissions
Its Ruth’s birthday today though she’s too busy art directing for Florence and the Machine so unable to have the planned dinner with her fiancé! but she tells me he makes it special for her any way.
Still beavering away on the commissions trying to tie as much up as possible before we go off to Tiree at the weekend.
big bash on Arab internationals!
To Oxford to treat my sister to lunch at the new rooftop restaurant in the splendidly renovated Ashmolean Museum. Eat on the terrace in glorious sunshine with my Mum too.
Then back to work finishing the commission for Richard to have photographed in the morning - so up most of the night.
R drives the commission to London whilst I pack for the grand expodition. Henrietta and Kev arrive with the sleeping boys in their arms at about 10 pm.
Up early for mini bus taxi which collects us at 9.15 so arrive in good time at Birmingham airport for our flight to Glasgow at 11.30 am. Just one worrying moment when my Mum, who is 90, brings out her senior residents card which hasn’t got a photograph in it for identification but luckily she has bank cards etc. The flight to Glasgow only takes 50 minutes - have never flown with FlyBe before. At Glasgow Airport we’re met by Flora of Clarksons minibus hire. We’re soon all assembled on board and Richard begins the drive to Oban through stunning mountainscape. We stop for tea by the top of Loch Lomond - I can well see why so many artists love the Highlands. Arrive in Oban early evening; deposit luggage in Royal Hotel and then stroll along sea front for the best cod and chips ever (though Richard drives my Mum) and we sit watching the boats and seagulls whilst eating them. Richard then drives my Mum back whilst we go to the Pokey Hat ice cream parlour where the selection almost rivals that of Berthillon in Paris. Its a beautiful evening as we walk back to the hotel where I’m amazed to see how big the family room is for Henrietta, Kev and the boys, who think its wonderful especially the little ones who bounce from bed to bed.
Up early again and its a bit of a rush with breakfast as my Mum seems settled in for her full English but somehow we all manage to bundle in in time to register at the ferry at 8.20 as the it leaves at 9 am. It’s a magical sea journey passing between Mull and the coast then out into the sea at Auchtermury Point between the misty moody mountainous islands - sublime. The crags and peaks are so sculptural, often disappearing into cloud or mist; one could devote a lifetime to painting these as of course many artists do. Its a four hour journey and at last we glimpse the little isle of Tiree lit by the sun and very flat by comparison. it is as promised sunny when we disembark and only a short drive to Gott Bay, the island measuring only 12 miles by 2. We are delighted that the croft we’ve rented to H,K and the boys has chickens, gobbling turkey and ducks as well as cows as its still a working croft. The boys love the chickens who take to following us and bliss, only a couple of hundred yards across the field to the beach which has glorious white sand and turquoise sea. And our cottage is only one field across from them. After buying provisions at one of the islands two shops (and the only one open today) we go onto the beach; we seem to have the Bay all to ourselves. It is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been on; the sea’s warmed by the Gulf Stream although there are often strong winds from the sea which is thought to be one of the reasons why there are very few trees on Tiree (though Dr. Johnson and Boswell wrote in their book about their tour of the Highlands and Hebrides that it was because the cattle ate them before they could develop).
Off to find where my mother lived with my Dad whilst he was stationed here in the RAF for whom he flew out over the Atlantic to collect data on the forthcoming weather condition so that other aircraft knew if it was safe to fly. They lodged with a crofter, Hector MacLaine who she thinks was about 80 at the time; Hector’s dog Moorland, used to creep in at night when my Father was away flying and sleep beside their bed - he obviously loved my Mum and was very protective as he also ran beside her when she cycled across the island to the shop and Hector would say “Mistress, you’ve taken my dog.” I think Hector loved her too as he was very sad and upset when she left the island to have me. The croft had been built by Hector and his son, who was away at sea. She has always reminisced quite lyrically about life on the island so now we have brought her back to port na craig the croft in which she stayed in Cornaigbeg. She has no qualms about opening the door and walking in and luckily there is no-one there as the woman has owned it since the seventies apparently lets it out so the man next door tells us. As she described, it was only about 12 feet from the beach which is partially covered in moran grass and wild flowers; its so pretty and she remembers walking out on the little strand of rocks that run into the sea to the right hand side. After sitting on the beach with Henrietta for a short while we drive back to Gott Bay as we are meeting Margot and Ben who are hiring us a bicycle for Kev, Henrietta and Isaac plus a tag a long for one of the adult bikes for Samuel. Its really touching to see them cycling en famille down the beach road to their croft.
Henrietta, Kev, the boys and I go onto the beach whilst Richard and my Mum collect things for supper. I walk back to ours whilst they and the boys cycle home.
Over supper in the evening we ring Nathan as its his birthday today. They would have liked to have come with us but pressure of work etc. does not permit. They are just on their way out to diner as we all sing Happy Birthday to him.
After H, K, I and S have been for a cycle ride we drive in the mini bus to Ruaig Bay . We clamber over the exquisite fauna on the rocky surrounds of Ruaig Bay and manage to catch a glimpse of two of the beautiful large grey seals swimming there, who would from time to time pop their heads out of the water to look at us. A fishing boat bobs in the bay as we scan the sea for the sun glittering on the seals heads as they emerge - and as usual no-one else in sight. Tiree is well known for it wildlife as well as its sheep cattle and chickens; hares are often seen sunning themselves or racing through the grass. We take the boys back to our cottage whilst we prepare the supper and H and K go for a run in the sunshine along the beach and out to a little spur which is sometime mostly covered b the sea. The sea is the most glorious turquoise - unbelievably so as the waves lap upon the white sands.
I’m amazed to receive a call from Caroline of the Gloucestershire Echo wanting a quote on my thoughts on the Honours system I say that there are many unsung heroes in the community who do so much for others without looking for reward who are perhaps more are deserving than those who just do their highly paid jobs well with out giving back. H,K,S and I cycle round leaving Samuel with us since they are riding into Scarnish. Its the perfect place for Isaac to gain road sense since there is so little traffic and very few pedestrians on these beautiful coastal roads.
There’s less wind today so we decide to fly the kites we have brought with us for the boys.
We visit the island’s other shop to buy buckets and spades and travel on to the far end of Hynish Bay which is again very beautiful. Much fun is had flying the kites although whilst Henrietta is holding the reel of the red and black buzzing ladybird it takes off and flies away over the field. Samuel and I make a sand castle and he also digs a large hole! Again we have the beach to ourselves.
We take the boys back to ours whilst Henrietta and Kev have their evening run in the sunshine on the beach, before going back to their croft to cook pancakes for us all which are delicious.
We arrive back at our cottage in the Inky darkness only the full moon reflecting on the sea to discover we haven’t got the key and as I remember finding Richard’s wallet which had fallen out of his pocket whilst his jacket lay on the settle there, we drive back - but no keys. Richard then texts Elaine, the lady who owns the house who says she hasn’t got a spare key as the last two sets of people went off with them but there is a separate door! As soon as has she opens this door! Richard finds the key on the grass in front of the minibus, so all’s well that ends well.
This morning Kev and the little boys discover that the Chickens have laid 16 eggs! in the Garden so its omelettes tonight! Amazingly beautiful, sunny and warm on Hynish Beach where we go for Picnic after they have had their cycle ride to and from Scarnish. The little boys run in and out of the Sea collecting water in their buckets to fill the moats of the the splendid Castles they have built with the help of Henrietta and Richard. My mum sits and Kev snoozes whilst I take photographs. Then Kev organises more Kite Flying. When we get back we have the boys whilst H and K go for a run.
It’s raining when we depart over a misty moody sea on the Big boat for our return to Oban the Islands being more shrouded by cloud and vapour this time. Fish and chip lunch in Oban before the drive through the Glorious mountains and cup of tea by Lock Lomond. Flight to Birmingham only takes 45 minuets as the wind is with us. Our Minibus taxi awaits and an hour later at about 9.30 pm we are at home having dropped my Mum off first. Such an adventure.