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FEBRUARY 2022 Tuesday 1.2.22 Lovely note from the writer James Campbell telling me that he has publishers in the UK ad the US who will be publishing his collected articles from his column NB on the back page of the TLS and he wonders about using my Happy New Year 2020 that he wrote about and illustrated in his occasional series The TLS in Art, Film, detective fiction etc. But he hadn’t been able to find a high resolution image of the painting so Richard sets to work and it’s not long before he has located it and which we then send to him. R takes timber for three frames to Sam the framer in the next village to have it made up. I am nearing completion on the piece I’ve been working on. Was supposed to be going to a meeting at the Gloucestershire Police Headquarters particularly to meet Rachel the Sergeant who now seems to be running the Aston Project. But shortly before leaving Richard’s feeling an overwhelming fatigue so I suggest he has a sleep and Lisa (ex Star College student) ‘phones and I spend the next half hour talking to her particularly trying to persuade er to have her Covid vaccination. She’s in a wheelchair and has several different conditions including asthma and epilepsy. But I fear it’s of little effect. Richard wakes up and tells me it’s too late to set out for Gloucester and the Police HQ so I write an e mail of apology and then go up to the studio and commence work. Wednesday 2.2.22 I’m amazed to receive a call from Paul at the framers who says that they have already made up the three frames which is wonderfully prompt so R cycles over to collect them. Hear back from James that his publisher “loves the image” he also attaches the mock up of the cover of his autobiography Just go down to the road that he hadn’t been sure about to start with. It’s actually very striking in just three colours. Thursday 3.2.22 R’s already cut the boards and primed them and the new frames, the smaller one being for John’s commission. But I’m still experimenting with the final part of the almost completed work. He then cycles into Cheltenham to the accountant and to pick up some colour charts. Friday 4.2.22 Whilst R’s in Cheltenham (buying paint) I carry two of the frames with panels that he has primed over which I paint a thin semi translucent dark ground and I’m still in the process of contemplation when he returns. Saturday 5.2.22 Working on the new piece in the studio, still tentatively trying to build the composition. Am very excited as R has started decorating one of the upstairs rooms. Sunday 6.2.22 John comes with three splendid new frames including a marvellous triangle and two square frames both in different mouldings. Then out of his bag one by one he gradually reveals a beautiful hexagonal for a miniature, then one and two triangles, a lovely oblong and two squares. He is such a kind clever and inventive man; it’s just like Christmas again. Monday 7.2.22 Richard cuts the birch ply panels for the new frames with his Japanese hand saw with which he is able to achieve a brilliant clean cut. He then primes them and the frames with three coats of gesso. Meanwhile I’m working in the studio above him. Henrietta ‘phones in the evening. Tuesday 8.2.22 Reply from Sgt Rachel saying she looks forward to seeing us on the 22nd when she comes to tea. Letter from Janet which I reply to - also write a card to Joyce. Speak to Nathan whose call I had missed yesterday evening. Preparations for the new film sets seem to be going well and fortunately this time they are filming in London. Still working on the third of the new set of paintings. Wednesday 9.2.22 Richard checking the emails while I am still eating my breakfast when he say “There’s a photograph of you here”. It’s on the front cover of the LINC Newsletter taken during the Open Studio on 4th December. I am with Clare who we were so pleased to see looking so well after such a difficult year having had surgery. Gareth says they were very worried about her and how brilliantly she has recovered she still looks as beautiful and bright as ever. Behind us you can see on the back wall a row of miniatures all wearing their red spots thanks to all my friends and collectors who came to support. The Newsletter is always an inspirational read as they usually give a case study and this one is by a young man unexpectedly diagnosed with leukaemia who had a stem cell transplant after being in isolation. He’s made a wonderful recovery too and recently took part in a golf tournament which raised several thousands for LINC. Thursday 10.2.22 Friday 11.2.22 Saturday 12.2.22 Sunday 13.2.22 Monday 14.2.22 Isaac’s Birthday Tuesday 15.2.22 Wednesday 16.2.22 Write to dear Myrtle at More Hall Convent as I received a card at the weekend asking how we are and hoping that Richard is still OK. Since fracturing her hip in a fall she has not been able to go out and work in the garden as much which is sad as she was growing vegetables enough for all the residents at the Convent as well as the wildlife who seemed to come and help themselves. And dear Rachel has had three falls since when her memory has not been as good Thursday 17.2.22 We had been invited to a lecture and supper at the University this evening on behalf of Dame Rennie Fitchie as she is standing as she has been Chancellor for the past ten years. However although I haven’t tested positive for Covid do feel I might have a bit of a cold. So decide to err on the side of caution and make our apologies. Make good use of the time working until 2.30am finishing off two of the newer paintings for this year’s body of work. Friday 18.2.22 Paint a dark and atmospheric ground on a larger commission and actually commence work on the central subject of the painting after having painted the background colours of a small commission to go to America in June. . Saturday 19.2.22 We drive up to London to check out the studio and flat there. also to have a sushi supper prepared by Samuel. We brought up a special box full of different sushi ingredients although I think they have already got most things for him. We go round in time to see Samuel creating a lovely range of sushi all wrapped in nori leaf which are delicious and having tasted the real thing freshly made at the fish market in Tokyo (at 6am!) I can vouch that Samuel’s are very authentic. Isaac arrives back from Sheffield (!) where he has been to a scootering and skateboard centre practicing his stunts just in time for supper. Sunday 20.2.22 We have brunch with H, K, I & S then go back to the flat where I am trying out the sewing machine I bought that does embroidery etc. with a view to showing Isaac. Funnily enough I find the best way is squiggling about with the straight stitch rather than using the programme selection here the letters are all rather small. Then just after 6pm Nathan, Clem and their boxer puppy Bea arrive for a belated family celebration of Isaac’s birthday which was on Tuesday and Richard’s which is on Friday next. They are both looking well and Bea has grown and is probably twice as big as when we saw her last. Kev has roasted chickens, potatoes and vegetables etc so it is like a belated Christmas dinner for us all being together. Henrietta has made a beautiful victoria sponge with candles for Isaac and Richard to blow out. We then exchange presents with Nathan and Clem - we didn’t get to see them at Christmas as Clem lost her lovely Dad Peter on Christmas Eve. Nathan has given me a beautiful bag made in Ghana by a women’s collective where the moneys help them to provide for their families and children’s education etc. And in another parcel two most beautiful carved and painted figures also from Ghana; they almost feel as if they could have stepped out of one of my paintings. Richard has a magnificent pair of Japanese culinary scissors and a set of heavy steel boules from Nathan and Clem. From Henrietta, Kev and the boys a lovely big recipe book ‘Jerusalem’ and a most beautiful solar powered Moroccan-looking lamp. Monday 21.2.22 Have brunch with Henrietta and Kev then Richard helps her with an architectural model project. We set out for home arriving back about 9pm. Tuesday 22.2.22 Sgt Rachel who is now co-ordinating the Aston Project comes for a cup of tea and a chat. She’s very nice and updates us with her hopes and plans for the youngsters who partake. I am so pleased they have managed to regenerate so well after such a restrictive period of the Covid pandemic. I also take her over for a quick peek at the studio and am very happy for her to arrange for the Aston Project to visit; she tells me that one of their forthcoming projects is on street art. Wednesday 23.2.22 Thursday 24.2.22 Post an image of Other Mothers’ Sons saying I’m still praying for a peaceful resolution but as one Facebook friend points out it’s now too late for that as the Russians have started attacking Ukraine from the East, North and South. I feel my eyes welling up with tears at the thought of a war happening in Europe and in 2022 and cannot believe that when there are so many things we should all be working towards that the Russian president could be so foolish wicked and naive to attack a country that is so obviously enjoying democracy and freedom. Work on little painting for Richard’s birthday Friday 25.2.22 Richard’s birthday. I leave his card and tiny parcel on the table. He’s also opened many of the gifts that came by post. We now have to decide where we can put this tiny painting Richard the Gardener and last year’s golden angel which has been propped on a ledge of the dresser all year. We locate two positions on the wall in the dining room which has the collection of many of the paintings I have created for him and Henrietta and Nathan. I’ve just lit the fire wen John arrives, our dear friend who makes so many of my frames, bearing a gift and card for R. He like Richard and Lesley who arrive shortly after, have come to partake of Richard’s birthday feast which he has spent the day preparing. Daphne and Michael couldn’t come as he had recently fallen and incurred head injuries. And Martin in Bristol is now without a car. Saturday 26.2.22 My lovely sister Gill drives all the way from Bedfordshire bearing birthday gifts for Richard and of course our conversation does turn to the terrible and barbaric way Putin is attacking Ukraine. It was the same last night at Richard’s birthday dinner. We are all so shocked and full of admiration and empathy for the Ukranians who are valiantly fighting back; Putin isn’t going to get is way without the utmost resistance from the Ukranians. Gill has brought three agapanthus plants for Richard and three bags of bulbs for the garden to be planted in April and a Folio Society edition of Marcus Aurelias with large wood engravings by Simon Brett. We have a lovely lunch for which Richard has cooked a salmon curry followed by fresh fruit salad again. She sets off back to Bedfordshire about 3.30 and sends us a nice e mail on her safe return. Sunday 27.2.22 I’m working on one of the smaller commissions today, trying to work out the composition and basic structure. But my mind like millions across the globe who believe in humanity and democracy is preoccupied with the conflict in Ukraine; so many young mothers with children catching trains driving or walking to the border with Poland being the main one and the other smaller countries such as Moldova. It’s very moving as the Poles are welcoming them with open arms and showing affection to these young families who have usually left their husbands or fathers behind in their stand against the Russian forces. It doesn’t really seem possible in this day and age that such a barbaric and malicious aggressor could come and attack these people who were just going about their everyday lives as we all do. They had caused no harm to this fierce aggressor. Monday 28.2.22 Working back on the larger commission today trying to build a background and composition that I hope the client will relate to. I begin to make a little more progress and am pleased when Richard mentions over dinner that he likes the way it’s going finding it exciting. Though most of our conversations are about the terrible war Russia is waging against the Ukraines. Make a donation to the Sunflower for Peace charity appeal and Richard puts an image of Fin de Siecle on social media with the details of three charities.
MAY