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AUGUST 2022 Monday 1.8.22 We have a big cutting back session in the studio garden Tuesday 2.8.22 Today does not go well. I have a dental appointment with a specialist in Nailsworth at 3.15 and Richard has been unable to get the car out as someone has parked their small black vehicle directly in front of our gates. He writes a note to put on the car then goes to all the surrounding neighbours’ houses to see if any of them have a guest who might have parked there, to no avail. At ten past two I decide to see if I can get a taxi at short notice. I manage to get local Cleeve Taxis, a nice man originally from Mozambique, who left the country at the age of four or five because of the war and has been here in Bishops Cleeve for over thirty years apart from a spell in Portugal as in Mozambique he spoke both Portuguese and English. Also have to have a Taxi back after my hour long appointment. In the meantime the police have come and eventually locate the driver who is in another road helping his sister to move They suggest he might recompense the taxi fares rather than the fine which he does. Wednesday 3.8.22 Nathan rings on his way back to Ramsgate, having had a meeting with a director who is making a film in India and then a Skype meeting with the producer. He’s not sure whether he’ll be able to give up the five months in India that it would take as he has so many other jobs in the pipeline. Thursday 4.8.22 Henrietta phones as she’s back from Cap Solu where she and ‘Becca went to spend four days with Katrina in the flat that used to belong to her grandparents. They had a lovely time walking, swimming, eating and talking. Start new painting. Friday 5.8.22 Lovely e mail exchange with Paul in Australia responding to the photos of his two commissions. Start another new painting. On a bit of a roll after completing the commissions. Saturday 6.8.22 After I’ve come down for tea in the garden I admire Richard’s cutting back along the front of the house as he’s been reclaiming the stone pillars from the ivy when an Argentinian young woman stops to say what a beautiful house it is and how she has taken many photographs of it on her trips over here. I ask if their six year old son who is on a beautiful yellow bike is bi-lingual and she says he is. Her husband’s family live in Station Road. Then she tells me she really likes my artwork so I ask what she does in Buenos Aires and she runs a language school. I comment it’s not surprising that their son is bi-lingual. Interesting as I’m not often out at the front but do sometimes overhear people commenting to Richard how much they like the house, which is so pleasing as we’ve always wanted people to enjoy looking at it. Then after picking fruit from the studio plum tree across the Lane it’s back to work in the studio in the house. Sunday 7.8.22 Now have four new smaller paintings in progress Monday 8.8.22 Working further into the smallest piece. Tuesday 9.8.22 Richard drives me into the newly re-opened Museum where I meet Ro Kaye the new chair of The Friends trustees. It’s very serene in this part, the end room on the ground floor which now houses the splendid Arts & Crafts inspired high backed bench that the Friends gave to the Museum on the Friends 30th anniversary. Ro tells me that all the other very tasteful furniture in there had been made locally as had the cushions (probably members of the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen). It’s beautifully peaceful and very good taste. Richard later commented that it looked quite like a room from Heales, the highlight being the exquisite headdress and costume from one of the Ladies Morris Dancers in black and gold with the head of horned bull. Also very pleasing to see a new metal ramp which means Star students and people in wheelchairs etc. can access it. R tells me about ideas she has and how well she is getting on with Lisa who is the co-ordinator for the new regime. We are then joined by Sue who is chair of the Cheltenham Arts Council. We make our way into the reception area which also serves drinks etc. Ro explains that Lisa has filled a lot of the display spaces with ‘cultural’ objects. We go out of the back door to St Mary’s churchyard and on the outer wall of The Wilson is a large contemporary portrait created with lettering, black on white of Lilian Faithful Ro says this is her favourite work and I ask if Lilian Faithful had founded faithful House - she set up three of them and the Ladies College and seems to have been a hugely inspirational woman and philanthropist. We’re joined by Ann-Rachel who has been a curator at The Wilson for many years and she continues as our guide up the stairs into what is now called the Charles Irving gallery where there is a wonderful ’waterfall’ from ceiling to floor made up of items of denim worked on by National Star College students. On the opening weekend they had an exchange for clothing where you could give a piece of yours and take a piece from the hanging racks or if you hadn’t got something to exchange you could pay a nominal fee. Wednesday 10.8.22 Richard makes a strong double box for Paul’s two paintings to travel to Western Australia in whilst I’m finishing and varnishing them. Thursday 11.8.22 Nathan rings in the evening Friday 12.8.22 Richard gets up early as UPS are coming to collect the box I’m back on finishing off the commission for Nicky and John ……….. Saturday 13.8.22 & varnish it today Sunday 14.8.22 Nicky and John come to collect their commission and I’m so pleased as she spots it on an easel through the open doorway and is so pleased with the colour and how bright it is as she had worried that it might be darker like the owl painting their friends Paul and Viv. So I explain that owls are nocturnal, thus they are mainly seen when it is dark. Monday 15.8.22 E mail from the gallery as they have a client who wants to know more about one of the paintings High Hats. So I tell her that it is probably inspired by my Fathers love of gambling; he looked rather like the man at the top of the table and the racecourse just a mile up the road from my studio . Henrietta calls. Tuesday 16.8.22 Richard calls out excitedly that High Hats has a red spot on it in Panter & Hall’s Summer Exhibition. It’s going to a man who lives in Australia who owns La Chambre Mysterieuse and it sounds from Beth’s e mail that he is as excited as we are. Wednesday 17.8.22 E mail from Nicky saying they have now hung their painting in a position were they can walk past and appreciate the painting on the frame. She also says all their family love it which is always very pleasing. Thursday 18.8.22 Nice e mail from Helen at the Brian Sinfield Gallery who was approached yesterday by someone that she and Miranda had sold a large 3D construction to after taking it on commission from someone who commissioned it from me a few years previously. And she added at the end that she’s love to have a couple of paintings by me in the gallery. It has been some time since I’ve had any to spare but this occasion I decide I could manage it as I hadn’t scheduled an exhibition for this summer due to having so many commissions. We arrange to meet at the gallery on Sunday when Richard and I will be on our way to my sister’s at Blunham in Bedfordshire. Friday 19.8.22 Now I’ll have to make sure I complete & the two works for Helen. Saturday 20.8.22 Finishing off the two paintings to take to Brian Sinfield Gallery whilst Richard makes two apple & almond birthday cake using fallen Bramleys from our oldest apple tree. Sunday 21.8.22 Up early then drive to Burford. Helen had come into the gallery specially to receive the two new paintings from me and says she’s really thrilled to be having them. She has bought the gallery from Miranda who is related to her and she speaks to her in Australia every day. Her husband comes in with their two dogs who he has been walking, one is golden one and belongs to them, I think he’s a retriever and a black spaniel who is owned by their daughter who is on honeymoon. It’s a pretty gallery near the top of Burford Hill and I’m sure she’s going to do well, especially as she still has Brian coming in to help her quite a lot. Then we drive on to Gill’s in Blunham Bedfordshire. It’s always lovely to see her beautiful old white manor house opposite the church were John Donne had the living whilst he was Dean of St Paul’s and he stayed in the house when he was in residence. It’s a bright sunny afternoon and her garden looks beautiful even though she says she lost a few plants during the heatwave. Ian’s busy cooking and preparing Dover sole for lunch and whilst we are talking to Luda, her Ukrainian refugee guest. Gill and Ian say her English has improved over the two months she has been here. Later her fifteen year old daughter appears, who seems charming; she speaks English fluently with an American accent and like her older sister, who is currently in London wants to be an actress. She spends a lot of time in her room studying online courses as she’s hoping to get a scholarship to an American College. We then have lunch and Luda eats with us and always has meals with them though Kasusha only likes fruit, cheese, yogurt and chocolate which she often likes to eat on her own. Monday 22.8.22 Over to Ramsgate to see Nathan. Bea is very pleased to see us and leaps up with excitement. We go for a walk down to the seafront and have a brunch of smashed avocados with two poached eggs at The Little Ships sitting outside in the sunshine. We then walk up to Potters for Nathan to choose a present and decide upon some rather beautiful hand crafted plates. He already had two so we buy him four more, each one slightly different in shape in two different colours they have a wonderfully speckled circle in the middle. We also bought Bea some squeaky tennis balls as it’s her first birthday tomorrow. Nathan’s is actually on Saturday but he’ll be in New York then. We walk back past the guest houses where Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Wilkie Collins and Princess Victoria all stayed in the first half of the nineteenth century. We are back to the house where Nathan has a few business calls to make then he and I take Bea for a walk down on the beach where she leaps over and swims through the waves to retrieve the ball that Nathan throws for her each time. Meanwhile Richard is having a rest. When we get back Nathan starts to prepare and cook an amazing dinner with oysters to start followed by a spaghetti he’s cooked with fresh clams, chilli etc which is amazing, followed by a lemon tarte and for a finale the almond and apple cake Richard has made adorned with lighted candles and we give him a few more presents. We leave 10ish arriving back at the flat 20 to midnight. Tuesday 23.8.22 Henrietta, who only arrived back last night from the Swedish archipelago where she had spent the last four days with friends invites us to lunch. She said it was wonderfully remote, rather like the Isle of Tiree and depended on it fishing industry. It produces a lot of salted and pickled herring and rather beautiful linen wear. Wednesday 24.8.22 Good to have some rain today as we have been declared drought region. It is Ukrainian Independence Day today and the six month anniversary of the start of Russia's war against them . Thursday 25.8.22 We are elated when Henrietta sends a photograph of Isaac’s GCSE results. They need at least 4 As to go into their sixth form so we are thrilled that he way surpassed that. It gives him so many options for the future. He’s off to the Reading Festival which many of his school friends etc. are also going to its their first and seems to be a rite of passage. Friday 26.8.22 We decide to have a look at the Reading performances and really enjoyed the rapper Dave who had a brilliant line up and set and touchingly relates to his audience when he tells them that when he was doing his A levels at Richmond College he only had a 27% attendance rate but it was thank to his teachers (who he named) who taught him to care and his mother who always believed in him that he passed his music and has become so successful. Saturday 27.8.22 I’m busy in the studio completing one of the paintings for the group I’m showing at Panter & Hall’s Cecil Court gallery which is charming, situated in a pedestrian alley full of antiquarian print and bookshops etc. In the early 20th century it was known as ‘Flicker Alley’ as much of the early British film industry was located there and in the late eighteenth century it is where the boy Mozart lodged. It’s a convenient walkway from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square and the National Portrait Gallery. So good that there are still some parts of London that haven’t been swallowed by big commercial fashion brands etc. Sunday 28.8.22 It’s good to be working on new pieces although I’m not quite as prolific as the garden has been. Even with the heatwave I’m amazed how abundant the fruit on the plum and damson trees are and huge numbers of Golden Delicious on the more recent little apple tree in my studio garden where we also have apricots, a few figs and a medlar tree, a black current bush and rhubarb. Here in the house garden we’ve had a plentiful picking of loganberries, red gooseberries a few raspberries and red currents though my goji berry bush doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit - probably the wrong terrain and climate. Still no kiwis. But surprising that we get to reap such a good crop of most fruits as we are haphazard gardeners due to the unpredictability of our days where most of the time is devoted to the paintings. Monday 29.8.22 Starting new small painting with a frame within a frame I never know quite what I’m going to paint until I start trying out ideas. I always feel I’m doing it in a tentative way but in fact it’s really rather a bold manner that I start this so that I force myself to react to whatever I put down. This is the smallest of the small group so far. Tuesday 30.8.22 Post back receipt of payment to Panter & Hall for my painting High Hats which is making its way to Australia to another newer collector there. Wednesday 31.8.22 Nice e mail from Dr David Wilson, great nephew of the Antarctic explorer Dr Adrian Wilson, who The Wilson Cheltenham Arts Gallery & Museum is named after, asking if he and his partner could come and stay on the weekend of 1st October as their dear friend Dafila Scott (granddaughter of Captain Scott) has an exhibition opening at The Wilson of her Antarctic paintings. Such a shame as we would love to have seen them but will be in London to celebrate Henrietta’s birthday and to take up the small paintings for Panter & Hall to show in Cecil Court. They are travelling to Ghana tomorrow to celebrate his old nanny’s 90th birthday and then on a bird watching safari. He says .. so we will be travelling in the remote parts of what was always euphemistically known as 'The White Man's Grave'... every mosquito bite could be your last... they carry almost every disease known to man ...We will be voyaging from deepest jungle to wildest Savannah
MAY