Spend the afternoon writing a short piece for Cotswold Life’s February(Valentine) edition. Katie had e mailed just before Christmas asking who my ‘secret love’ from history or literature would be - after contemplating Byron and Tolstoy and discarding.
The young man I think it would have been impossible not to love was a self taught artist who often visited the National Gallery where he particularly admired the Japanese water-colourists and was smitten by Turner and also Ruskin’s writings.
A romantic too he wrote to his mother that
If there was one whom I could trust and love and be so bound up with that she could share with me and understand my joys and my love, and my passion for beauty, for colour for form, for pure joy in nature - if she could enter into my thoughts and feel with me - if my sorrow, my pain my doubts, my unspoken thoughts and hopes and fancies and longings - my life and my love - if only -
But this was no ordinary man, he was also a doctor working at St George’s Hospital in London during the daytime whilst also practising midwifery and teaching children from the slums of in the evenings which deprived him of sleep. He lived very frugally and when he did have any money he tended to give it away there was sorrow too as one of his sister died of typhoid whilst nursing an epidemic in Leicester.
Due to the pressure of his self sacrificing work he contracted TB but even this did not stop him from later becoming part of two of Scott’s expeditions, perishing along with Scott and Birdie Bowers in a tent in extreme Antarctic conditions. Everyone wrote of him that he had the capacity to lift the spirits of others and smile.
He’s Cheltenham’s Courageous hero Edward Wilson and last year I did receive a kiss from his great nephew which I like to think had been passed down through the generations.
You too can fall in love with the man and his work at Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum who house a big collection of his water-colours and Antarctic equipment when it reopens later this year.
E mail from Katie Jarvis, features editor at Cotswold Life, who I’m delighted to say sounds pleased with the piece commenting she would have chosen the same man if asked to choose a figure from history or literature to fall in love with for their Valentine edition in February and that she wept when she read The Worst Journey in the World and remarked on how selfless Edward Wilson was. This really makes my day as I was a bit concerned they wanted a more frivolous choice.
Very nice e mail from Tiffany at Panter & Hall too.
When I come downstairs R says he has some rather sad news; Karen came across tell him the sad sad news that Roger had died this morning, losing his battle against cancer. He was such a lovely jolly man, so very positive and enthusiastic; he planted hundreds of seedlings last spring to plant in the garden and showed us with pride the work he had done creating a pond later in the year. He used to sit in the summer house playing his guitar or organising music evenings called Folk at the Oak down at the local pub. He’s always been passionate about feeding the birds too and loved to hear their song. He’d also taken up marquetry again. He used to drive his little red sports car with its open top out during the summer with panache. Roger was such a witty person who used to have long chats with Richard in the garden.
I call over to see Karen, give her a hug. She’s been trying to keep herself busy though is obviously still in shock and distraught even though they have known it was at some time inevitable they had been planning things for this year too. I think Roger rather defied the doctors’ predictions, going on longer and not giving up. I’m so pleased to see on the sideboard large and glorious bright red amaryllis lilies in full bloom which I had hoped he would have the joy of watching open as he so loved plants.
R delivers the cheque (from my Christmas Open Studio) for £8,000 towards the Friends fund for the new development at Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum to Gina the Chairman on his way to Bristol to deliver the Henrietta and Nathan painting for the Academy’s ‘Reigning Cats and Dogs’ exhibition.
Whilst I’m still busy trying to complete the painting I’m working on for Art London.
Richard goes to London where he meets Ren to deliver the paintings he bought from the Open Studio. They discover that they are both sitting in different cafes at the RA! Ren at the Cork Street side that used to be the Museum of Mankind and Richard at the Piccadilly side though thanks to the wonders of text messaging they soon make contact and Richard walks round to RAW.
Meanwhile I’m working on painting for Art London. Richard manages to get back in time to prepare supper bless him.
Nice e mail from Sharon at the Fosse saying she has got me pencilled in for a show 6th October if I go for this year or September if I go for next year which is very accommodating. So now having to work out the logistics of where would seem most appropriate for this year.
Still working on the painting for London Art Fair - it will have to be photographed tomorrow if we are to take it up on Sunday as the photographers don’t work on Saturday.
Lovely Tweet in the evening from artist Holly Brodie saying: Wonderful work by @drpjcrook in 'Reigning Cats & Dogs' at the RWA Private View
Also very nice message on Facebook from science student at Westminster University commenting on my exhibition at the Alpha saying that I visited many galleries that day, and it seems to me that you are one of the few contemporary painters who concentrate on the "art" part of the phrase "contemporary art". Its always good to get feedback from out there.
What a nice surprise to receive an e mail from Jean-Marie telling us that this week they’ve sold my painting The Kiss to a young couple. First sale of the New Year. So Paris 1 rest of the world still to score.
Working hard to refine and finish off the bottom tops and sides of the new painting for Art London...
...which we deliver to Jess in Little Venice for her to exhibit at Art London.
Then over to Blackheath for Samuel’s birthday celebrations. Nathan and Ruth have got there just before us and the little boys are very excited. Henrietta’s cooked a very nice meal and Richard’s made a birthday cake as H had already made one for his early shared party with his little friends last weekend. N and R leave about 5.30 as they have a meeting; we leave about 10 arriving home to only a small amount of snow just before 1 am; but I know its going to take me the rest of the night to put some finishing touches to the works that Richard is taking up to London tomorrow for Panter & Hall to show at Art London.
He sets off about 10 whilst I’m still asleep. He first calls at the Alpha Gallery with a couple of small pieces for them, then over to Islington with the bigger pieces where Matthew and Tiffany come out to meet him and carry the work in. So he’s then able to set off to rehangs a couple of pictures for a dear friend and collector also in London.
In the meantime my Mum’s been round for a cup of tea and I walk her back and do a few jobs for her.
I arrive home only minutes before Richard who has managed to achieve all the things he set out to do and still be back fairly early.
Call from Jess at the Art fair asking if we can send images of other available works for one of her clients to look at, to give him more choice. Also a biog and photo, which Richard sends off that evening.
At ten to eleven Richard and I walk down the Lane to St Michael’s for Roger’s funeral service. The family were gathered outside so I was able to give Karen a kiss and hug on the way in. The church isn’t cold as I had anticipated as Harry the churchwarden had arrived at 9 to turn the heating on. Its a lovely service with some very nice reminiscences of Roger from Jeremy one of his fellow Masons who talked about the money Roger had raised by doing a folk evening at the Masons who are apparently the second (to the National Lottery) biggest charity fundraisers in the country - also from other younger friends to whom had been a great inspiration. Roger was a keen guitarist, passionate about the garden and growing hundreds of seedlings, he loved birdsong and feeding the birds, marquetry and photography as well as being a professional website creator. A lovely man we will particularly miss his great enthusiasm, humour, garden chats and little red sports car.
Cotswold Life arrives and when I open it I’m delighted to see on the ‘my secret love’ page (to celebrate Valentine’s Day) that Katie Jarvis who had invited me to select someone and write a piece has given me the first and largest spread - about a third of the whole feature.
The young man I think it would have been impossible not to love wrote
..If there was one whom I could trust and love and be so bound up with that she could share with me and understand my joys and my love, and my passion for beauty, for colour for form, for pure joy in nature - if she could enter into my thoughts and feel with me - if my sorrow, my pain my doubts, my unspoken thoughts and hopes and fancies and longings - my life and my love - if only - ..
He was a self taught artist who often visited the National Gallery where he particularly admired the Japanese watercolorists and was smitten by Turner and also Ruskin’s writings.
But this was no ordinary man, he was also a doctor working at St George’s Hospital in London during the daytime whilst practising midwifery and teaching children from the slums in the evenings which deprived him of sleep. He lived very frugally and when he did have any money he tended to give it away. There was sorrow too as one of his sister died of typhoid whilst nursing an epidemic in Leicester.
Due to the pressure of his self sacrificing work he contracted TB but even this did not stop him from later becoming part of Scott’s two polar expeditions, eventually perishing along with Scott, Birdie Bowers and Evans in a tent during extreme Antarctic conditions in 1912. Everyone wrote of him that even when things were dire he had the capacity to smile and lift the spirits of others.
He’s Cheltenham’s courageous hero Edward Wilson and last year I did receive a kiss from his great nephew which I like to think had been passed down through the generations.
You too can fall in love with the man and his work at Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum - who house a big collection of his water-colours and Antarctic equipment - when it reopens later this year.
Gary from the Alpha phones early to have a long conversation with Richard. Later in the day he drives over to the Brian Sinfield Gallery with one of the bronzes.
Nice e mail from Sally Rowley Williams re the Women in Racing group coming to visit my studio during the Gold Cup Festival week.
Here it is, the long forecast snow. Makes everything look very pretty and blissfully quiet; must remember to feed the birds.
Lovely e mail from Dr Gill Rouse, director of the charity LINC who says they are delighted I have agreed to become a Patron and would Richard and I like to go and see the unit that LINC support at Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucester Royal.
Call from Matthew at Panter & Hall to say they’ve just sold the large corrugated newspaper painting at the art fair. Very pleased as this is the first time they have shown my work and the first transaction.
We were going to London but due to the snow and ice we’ve stayed put. Its always a compensation to be able to do more in the studio; I’m working on a smallish painting that I started about six months ago as I’m feeling rather insecure so much of the work having sold recently and others being out on exhibition including the Royal West of England Academy Reigning Cats & Dogs; Art London with two different galleries; one floor of the Alpha Gallery.
Still snowed in and working on finishing an angel with animals for the Alpha Gallery.
Lots of e mail correspondence re the Friends of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum’s AGM - I’ve asked Mark Hurrell if he will be our speaker and am absolutely delighted he’s said yes.
Also from Gill Rouse re visiting the Linc centre at Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucester Royal which I,m very much looking forward too.
Call from Matthew at Panter & Hall re the large corrugated newspaper painting they sold last week.
Its amazing how quickly the diary is filling up with events; just had an e mail from Lady Arabella asking if I’ll launch Cheltenham Open Studios on 7th June - it was a delightful event last time I did it, a great opportunity to see so many artists from the region and their work in one go, I’m very touched to be their Patron.
Now all moneys are in from the Open Studio, send off £8,000 towards the creative arts at the National Star College being the other half of the £16,000 raised towards the Friends Fund for Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum paid on 4th January. Also £500 for my student bursary at Gloucestershire College, all achieved with Richard’s support and that of our many friends and collectors.
Receive our copy of Friends of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museums Newsletter this morning; its always full of interest and on today’s cover there’s a recently acquired star object which will be included in their new open archive displays. It was painted by Thomas Robbins the Elder (1716 - 1770) an important 18th century fan painter and landscape artist who was born and spent much of his life in Charlton Kings. The front of the fan shows a scene titled South East view of Cheltenham. I’m very touched as Gina has mentioned the £16,000 raised for my two charities. There is also a nice review of Joanna Trollope’s public conversation with Edward Gillespie by Martin Davis which also has a photo of Joanna and me talking during the break that I hadn’t been aware he had taken. Lots of information on the exciting talks they have, including John Wilson’s ‘Fakes, Forgeries, Facsimiles and Figments’ and another by Stephen Blake on ‘George Rowe 1796 - 1864 a notable Cheltenham citizen active in many aspects of the town’s commercial and political life for twenty years from 1832. An artist, painter and drawing master he was attracted to the town by the prospect of a wealthy clientele and a cholera-free environment for his young family. He produced a famous guide book in 1845.
For the past couple of days I’ve been wading my way through the mountains of paper, books etc. on the top of my desk in the upstairs studio in an attempt to find the details of a long outstanding commission. The trouble is as I work my way down through the pile everything needs putting away or recycling. I’d actually given up hope of finding it and started to look in other places too, when almost at the bottom I pull out a sheet of paper in a plastic envelope and to my surprise it is it! Have also retrieved other items of interest on the way.
Listen to interesting play on Radio 4 based on Boris Pasternak after the publication of Dr Zhivago; his persecution and the threat of being exiled especially after he’d been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature which due to the pressure, he refused. How that regime stifled the creativity of so many poets writers, artists and musicians. It makes me very grateful to be living here and now.
A student rings up to ask if I might be able to help her with her painting of fruit as part of her A level course. I explain that it wouldn’t be quite right for me to work on the painting with her but I could tell her the names of some good artists to look at who have used fruit as an inspiration - people like Mary Fedden whose famous still lives frequently incorporate fruits. I suggest she might try cutting some pieces in half to look at the shapes, patterns, colours and skin textures. I also mention Sam Taylor Wood’s video in the Tate of fruit on a stand rather like an old master painting filmed speeded up to show the gradual degeneration and rotting of the fruit.
Up early as we’re driving up to Bedfordshire to visit Gill my sister and Howell. We’d asked my Mum to be here for half past ten but she’s running rather late but is here in half an hour. Luckily I ask if she’s remembered her tablets just as we’re getting into the car - she’s forgotten them so we collect them en route. We’re very fortunate as the sun shines for most of the two and a half hour journey and all traces of snow gone but now turned into the water we see in many of the fields as we pass but we only drive through one water filled dip or gully.
Richard’s brought a fish pie he made last night to try and give Gill a bit of a break as Howell’s health is now rather more fragile and he has problems with walking so a lot of her time is spent caring for him which she has to combine with her work as CEO for a free schools trust. But she has just employed Csabi a young Hungarian man as a full time carer. Csabi speaks several languages and has travelled widely including Africa where he has helped nurse the sick. I spend my time talking to Howell whilst R and Gill prepare the vegetables. After lunch I accompany Gill taking the dog for a walk alongside the fast flowing and over swelled river which feels angry; I’m amazed at how fast flowing it is and think how awful it would be for a human or animal to be carried away in its swell. But its invigorating and gives a good opportunity for talking to Gill. When we go back Richard is talking to Howell who we then give the rest of his belated Christmas presents which we’d been prevented from doing sooner the virus and the snow. My Mum comes out with Gill to say good bye when we leave at about 8.30 as she is staying with Gill for a few days.
Send images to Panter & Hall who’ve had a request to see some of my sculptural more three dimensional works.
Nice call from Robert Sandelson, my former dealer, to catch up and say happy new year.
I phone Art International who are exhibiting my work at Olympia in the summer.
Wallace phones in the evening with the sad news that Gretel, his half sister, has lost her lovely partner Andy who at 41 seemed much too young to suffer a stroke or die. At six foot eight he was a most amiable, handsome young man, hard working and very supportive of Gretel’s writing, illustrations and felt sculpture. I’ve just made a donation on a very interesting American site called Indigogo which raises money in the form of numerous small donations for all sorts of charities and enterprises and projects. Seems rather a clever idea to me.
The weather is still milder and I look out of the window at the brave buds that with stood the snow and winds and a feeling of optimism that whatever happens in the world the seasons continue even though slightly altered by climate change.
Receiving quite a lot of messages re the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail.
Today, the last day of January means that self assessment tax returns have to be in by midnight. It seems to be a good system now that it can be done online and must save a lot of money, time and paper. We reminisce about when Richard used to stand in a long line of people waiting to put their paper returns into the box and speaks fondly of queuing to talk to one of the many tax advisors who sat at tables in readiness to answer questions.