Wednesday 1.2.12

Lots of to-ing and fro-ing of e mails re Gloucester City Museum exhibition etc.

Touched again to see in the Friends of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Newsletter which arrives in this mornings post that I have generously been mentioned and thanked four times. It is always full of interesting pieces and reviews covering trips they’ve been on, museums visited etc. as well as a progress report on the new development. It’s such a wonderful thing to be part of; the Friends are all so nice and the committee work very hard organising the events and raising much money for the Museum.

Thursday 2.2.12

E-mail from the Great Roberto suggesting three dates which he and Toyah can do for meeting up; two have already gone but luckily one is still available.

Its amazing how soon I have forgotten the exact way in which I wound the silk cord around the first cast of my bronze horse. Then I was improvising on it, taking apart an old tasselled dressing gown cord to get the right width; the knotted tassels I made were both for aesthetic and practical reasons due to the limited length; in the first instance it was an experiment but now I have a whole reel of beautiful red lacing cord (as often used by both the Japanese and Chinese to decorate sculptures etc.). So it takes me rather longer than when I created the first Liberty Horse, although the attaching of the plumed head-dress is a lot easier as this time we made a hole at the foundry straight into the wax , whereas I had originally attached the first feathered plume onto the horse with black tac but then got Richard to drill a small hole into the bronze specifically for the purpose. This horse is really quite different from the first as I’ve had the mane, tail and ground treated with a slightly stronger green patina and the hooves are brighter being just burnished bronze.

Friday 3.2.12

R takes the bronze up to the Hay Hill Gallery in Cork Street along with six paintings whilst I continue on the big new canvas.

Saturday 4.2.12

Much of the world has been suffering from very low temperatures -20c etc. with a hundred people in the Ukraine dying from hypothermia. The canals have frozen in Venice. Margus had told us that it was very cold in Estonia and the forecast says it is going to be cold here this weekend. So we’re not surprised when we get a snow fall. I look at the tread on my Mum’s boots before she goes shopping with Richard and decide to treat her to a new pair - black suede with fur linings and tractor tread type soles. But the snow is followed by rain and has mostly disappeared when I’m talking to her on the phone at 9.30pm.

Steady progress in the studio.

Sunday 5.2.12

Its cold but the snow here has gone although I think there have been heavy falls in other parts of the country. Including Greenwich park where Henrietta and Kev take Isaac and Samuel to spend most of the day there using the sledges we had bought them at Christmas.

Quiet day; am able to make good progress in the studio.

Monday 6.2.12

Call from Norman Henry in Florida with an address I’d asked him for. He says things are pretty dire there and that like many in the USA his gallery has been hit hard by the financial difficulties America is suffering. I feel almost mean telling him things have been good for me exhibition wise.

Rest of the day in studio

Tuesday 7.2.12

E mail from Galerie Alain Blondel to say they’ve sold one of the paintings.

Send card to Jane, ex Star College student, as we’d received a card from her dictated to her Mum, she’s in hospital learning to use her hands and legs again! A lovely girl who we met when we  started visiting the College in the late 80’s she is now married and has a beautiful little boy. They came to the opening of my Burford exhibition before last a couple of years ago.

Continue working on big painting in the studio.

Wednesday 8.2.12

E mail from Lisa Webb at Artworks the Open Museum in Leicestershire, to say that Artworks’ held in the hand and touch tables have been long-listed for the Clore 2012 prize. This is very exciting as they are made particularly for people with SEN, dementia, autism etc. to experience Art. it’s thrilling  to think that when she came here for supper she met Peter and Beverley from which Peter managed to get her some funding from a small charity of which he is trustee, towards the project. Its very difficult for organisations like Artworks which primarily works with schools, colleges and the community to survive in this era of cuts

Thursday 9.2.12

Nice e mail from Margus who’s trying to organise the transportation of Yuri’s paintings for Gloucester.

Friday 10.2.12

Sad to hear of the death of the Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies. In 1989 he had the exhibition just prior to mine in the gallery in Greene Street, SoHo, New York. I also remember Lee handling one of his sales. It was on the Obituary programme ‘Last Word’ (BBC Radio 4) and Leslie Waddington (big brother of my dealer Theo)  was talking about him with great affection and respect; about his intelligence, their long conversations on books and how handsome a man he was. In 2010 he was raised to the hereditary title of Marquess by the Spanish government. I’m interested also to hear the  slight Irish accent in Leslie Waddington’s voice, very similar to that of Theo.

Saturday 11.2.12

My lovely framer John came with beautiful new frame. Richard had delivered the wood to him last week.

Sunday 12.2.12

Good day in studio.

Monday 13.2.12

It’s John’s Birthday and we have tricked him into calling in for a piece of wood! which he thinks is for a frame! but it’s his present! he doesn’t know how we know?

Tuesday 14.2.12

It’s Isaac’s Birthday today! the most wonderful Valentines gift.

Wednesday 15.2.12

Go to the Racecourse for a special service for Gillian Whittaker who sadly died last week. I got to know Gillian through Reggie Dent who had been principal of the Art School - he phoned me one day many years ago to tell me about Gillian who had been one of his students some years before I was there. She was seriously ill in hospital with what I think was a brain tumour and thought although we hadn’t met she would enjoy getting a card from me. She made a good recovery and we became friends. She painted beautiful water-colours, winning prizes particularly for her botanical studies. Gillian also Painted beautiful portraits especially one of her mother in law who was I think was 90 at the time and portraits of her grandchildren too. We have a beautiful water-colour that she made of the Summerfield Collection when it was being auctioned and its fascinating to recognise the people within the crowd. She and John came to our parties and we went to theirs for many years before they moved a few years ago to Cornwall to be near one of their daughters. It was with sadness that we heard four or five years ago that she had a stroke and I think was unable to paint, which will have caused her great sadness. The room was full with people some of whom we recognised from her parties and of course Ronald was there with Lyn; he and Gillean had been on painting courses together. A very interesting service as they were Christian Scientists and Lyndsey, the person who took the service was part of their church and had given a party for them before they moved away, in her large farmhouse which was full of Gillean’s paintings.

Gillean and John met when they were students, she at the art school, he at the Royal Agricultural College. At the time he rode a motor bike and sidecar. It was lovely to meet two of Gillean’s grandsons and to learn that she had great grandchildren too.

Thursday 16.2.12

Work through the night finishing the painting to be photographed tomorrow.................

Friday 17.2.12

......R takes it to the photographers.

Henrietta , Kev, Isaac and Samuel arrive at about 11.30 pm both little boys asleep in their pyjamas carried gently to their beds and followed after a chat by their parents.

Saturday 18.2.12

We start the day with a Birthday present for Isaac and for Samuel too, Lego, which keeps them busy for much of the morning. We’re baby sitting as Henrietta and Kev are taking my Mum out for lunch and shopping. We ask if they would like to go out but they want to stay in  and as they both had viruses recently and its raining it seems like a good decision. I say the word cardboard boxes and their faces light up; they become houses, shops, space ships and kennels. Particularly successful is a six foot box that the card stand had arrived in just before Christmas. They really love this, at times lifting one end onto the sofa and sliding out of it. I’m amazed at how long it keeps them going; until Henrietta and Kev return for Richard’s coq au vin and birthday cake with candles and more presents, including a ‘green science’ potato clock which Isaac and I wire up before he goes to bed; the digital clock is powered by electricity generated from two potatoes through two zinc and two copper rods that are wired together and to the clock - hey presto once we’ve done the wiring and Isaac has stuck the rod in, numerals appear on the digital clock face.

Sunday 19.2.12

Henrietta, Kev, Isaac and Samuel leave after lunch for their half-term holiday in Devon. Then its back to the studio.

Monday 20.2.12

Several framed, primed canvases and panels on the easels in my studio. I keep turning them around from horizontal to vertical, trying to visualise how best to work them. Painting structural colours on and then painting them out as I continue to contemplate - but it has ever been thus.

Tuesday 21.2.12

Adele won the Brit Awards for Best Album and Best Female Performer and Rihanah won best foreign artist. Nathan has art directed both Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ music video and recently one for Rihanah too (she had requested him).

Wednesday 22.2.12

E mail from Reet, Cultural Councillor at the Estonian Embassy, attaching two images of Yuri’s paintings for the Gloucester Museum exhibition.

Thursday 23.2.12

Thinking of a title for the Gloucester City Museum exhibition.

We set out at half five to drive to Robert and Toyah’s for dinner. The most glorious red sunset illuminates the sky and cloudscape; so stunning I find it hard not to sit with my head turned to absorb its wonder. When we arrive dear Robert comes out to greet us as we park in their courtyard, then lovely Toyah too. Its such a delight to see them both, looking happy and relaxed having just returned from France and last month a second honeymoon in Las Vegas. Robert takes us on a tour of the stairwell up which many of my paintings are hanging, up to the beautiful roof lights and the newly refurbished attic which is now a delightful sitting room. with access out onto the parapet. We then enjoy hors d’oerves and apperatives in the superb salon which is hung with old C18th portraits of women and furnished with Louis XV sofas, chairs etc. Then down to the wonderful kitchen for the main course, red mullet with roasted vegetables. Toyah’s a very good cook at home, not just on the television  ( there are plates on the antique dresser celebrating her two wins in Ready Steady Cook). Followed by a cheese course. We are again in this room surrounded by paintings many of which are by me and two interesting new works by Bill Riflin (guitarist in the Humans and drummer for REM) wife, who is a surrealist, of the garden in the floods. Then the finale desert course, lemon curd tart and Haagan Daas ice cream, after which Robert takes us down to the recently refurbished cellar which has now become a magnificent library full of fascinating books including a complete set of Punch. Richard also spots the book we had given him on Symbolism which wears one of my paintings on its cover. There’s a little prayer desk (similar to one that I have)  in the corner which is very moving to see. Its a beautiful space with two other desks. His study is also full of books religious artworks and icons. In between we go through two others, a  charming formal dining room full of fascinating memorabilia with bay window and to the front a sitting room again full of my paintings particularly two that feature Toyah as their subject and one made in memory of Robert's mother who he also loved dearly.

Friday 24.2.12

Drive to Henley for lunch with Jillie and Stephen who also have a stunning house but totally different in character. This very cutting edge and new angular in a le Courbousier-like way with the most glorious views across the Chilterns. Not another house or person in sight just Red kites swooping in and out of the vista. Its an extraordinary house where we meet again Jackie Harrison who in the 90s with her late husband Bill, bought two of my paintings one of which they loaned to my 1996 exhibition at Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum where they purchased the second. Its really good to meet her again. In the huge dining area my painting Poem hangs on the opposite wall to the panoramic windows - they bought from my 2004 Brian Sinfield show. Stephen then takes us up to see Night Owl which is hanging in their bedroom where it looks perfect on the dappled grey wall, beside the vast expanse of landscape that I find it hard to tear my eyes from through the huge picture windows - a perfect situation for the owl. Its a delightful occasion; Jillie has cooked a delicious lunch followed by sumptuous fruit salad. They have a lovely Marie Laurencien, a Tom Wessleman and a Tracey Emin amongst their vibrant collection.

Then its up to London to see the David Hockney exhibition. This is perhaps the greatest celebration of the Yorkshire landscape that any artist apart from Henry Moore has made in recent art history. Its vast and spills through the Academy galleries with vibrant colour and sensitive observations that often seem to explode out of the walls in a most exciting and uplifting scenarios. I particularly love his remembered visions of the Yorkshire landscape, they bring a smile to the lips the sheer joy in the application of the paint. The gallery is packed and as we leave there are still queues and being a Friday it open until midnight.

Saturday 25.2.12

Richard’s birthday and we’re in London for the weekend. Today its tea with the little boys ....

Sunday 26.2.12

...a trip to the Science Museum followed by another birthday tea celebration.

Monday 27.2.12

Poor Richard seems to have gone down with a sickness virus and spends a lot of the night in the smallest room!!!

Tuesday 28.2.12

Richard’s fasting to try and extinguish the bug. In the evening I start with aching limbs but not affected like Richard as mine’s more respiratory. My efforts at painting seem to be a bit feeble at the moment.

Wednesday 29.2.12

Call from Nathan just before midnight saying that he and Ruth had arrived back from Thailand after their three week stay. They had gone for the wedding of two of their friends - the brides family were Thai so she particularly wanted to be married there. N and R spent their last week there at a retreat where fasted for a week drinking only freshly crushed juices  to detoxify the body and doing yoga.