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Working in studio
Attend meeting and lunch for honorary vice presidents at Gloucestershire College, where the Principal Matthew and senior management tell us about the new developments and changes at the College both physical and organisational. Peter (Vice Principal) shows us the brilliant new web site which gives easy access to all courses and those for foreign students too. They are marketing more of their skills and this seems to be a very exciting stage in the development. Part way through we adjourn to the next room for the buffet lunch which we take back to the table to continue with the presentations and then give our responses. Its a very enlightening and informative event. followed by a tour round the campus, the highlight of which is the visit to the Fashion Academy. It is lovely to be greeted by a big ‘hello’ from Sarah who teaches the course we had met at the Rock the Cotswolds event at The Wilson and then at the launch of the University’s new fashion course.
Richard drives me over to Stow for the Hon Co Community Support Group meeting particularly as Hugh had asked me to give them feedback on the Aston Project where the Company have been very helpful. They have also been to see the Nelson Project etc and Karen reports on that.
Morag from the Aston Project comes to lunch to update me on it. She is very dedicated and so good at working with the children. I find it moving listening to some of the stories she tells us.
Over to Gloucester very early for the Bishop’s Breakfast meeting when Stephen Lake, the Dean, gives an update to his presentation ‘We are Project Pilgrim’ about the new developments at Gloucester Cathedral. As he says “Project Pilgrim will help breathe new life into Gloucester by turning sacred space into common ground”.
After the breakfast meeting in the Parliament room of the Cathedral, we go over to That White Room gallery and art space, as they have asked me to help judge their Gloucestershire Open Art Competition 2015. .As we get out of the car to cross the road to it we seen the lady Mayor and her escort who we had first met in the summer of last year when I joined the Bishop’s Pilgrimage for its last lap to the Cathedral. I’m greeted inside by Sue and Russell, whose very large individual portrait heads of the Gloucester rugby team are on exhibition there. The gallery starts to fill up with other people including Dominic,a reporter from BBC Radio Gloucestershire, a photographer from The Citizen and another from Gloucester Review. I am slightly taken aback as I had thought I was just coming to say hello and have a quick look around the space. But touchingly they have all been invited here now because this was the time that I could make. One of the other judges is Mike Carter from Artshape who had approached me the year before last about being their Patron. He’s a wonderful success story of someone who started as a volunteer and is now a full time tutor. Its a brilliant charity as I tell Dominic. I then go into the white room to be photographed and am very impressed with the way it looks, full of Russell’s large portrait heads. He later tells me that he didn’t become an artist till he’d had a stroke and his doctor prescribed Artlift, a theraputic scheme where artists work with patients. Kim Hill (who was awarded first prize in Bishop Michael’s Christmas card exhibition at the Cathedral that I organised the year before last) works for them. Russell is a very good example of how successful and effective that can be. One of the judges who I hadn’t met before is Dan Young - artist and University lecturer
Good to have a day free of other commitments so am able to devote it all to Shaun.
My sister Gill has come down from Bedfordshire with Ian, a very nice man whose company she has been enjoying. They walk round from my Mum’s with her holding Ian’s arm. Richard had prepared the lunch over which we chat and its good for me to see Gill looking so much happier.
We’re off at 3 as I’d promised Tony that we’d go to the opening of Alchemy in Stroud especially to see his very large print of a Tattooed Man. The first person we bump into there is lovely Arabella Kiszley who owns and runs the Little Buckland Gallery. Also see Maxine Relton from RWA and Laura Kinnear from the Holst Museum and Andy who shows us his beautiful multi media print. Their second baby is due in the next few days and Laura will be off work for maternity leave. Then we see Tony and I tell him we have already been admiring his enormous print made up of six large sheets of paper. I also meet Abigail who runs the museum in the Park where this exhibition is held; she thanks me for supporting their secret artist events in support of the refurbishing of the garden around the Museum in the Park. We walk back to the car park with Tony and admire the beautiful light on the grass and deep shadows thrown by the trees.
Then its back home where Shaun is waiting.
Devoted to Shaun …..
…which is just as well as Angie, Nick’s PA, rings to see how Shaun is coming on since they would like to exhibit him in London as part of the London trail of two cities and could they collect him on Friday! But when I explain that it will be the last day of the Gold Cup Festival she says she will see if they can come on Saturday. I send photos to her in the early hours.
Pleased to hear from Angie who says “Wow, that looks lovely, I love the fun of the design it really makes me smile” She has arranged that Shaun will be collected on Monday to allow me more time.
Interesting dialogue on Facebook with Denis Rodier who was the artist who worked on the cover of the centre comic in my Comic Strip painting, discussing copyright, appropriation and reproduction.
Working intensely on Shaun.
Still frantically painting Shaun with only two days left to go.
In the evening Beverley comes to dinner with her friend Tony from Devon, a very entertaining man. They had been to the Races on Thursday. Tells us some wonderful jokes.
Then back to Shaun until 3 or 4 am.
Its Mothers Day today. Receive phone call from Nathan who’s working in Prague for two or three weeks and Henrietta who has sent me a very beautiful scarf. My Mum comes for tea and brings me one of her knitted ducks in a bobble hat, sitting in a basket. I give her a big terracotta bowl full of beautiful mauve polyanthus.
Then its back to Shaun who consumes the whole night…….
…..until the morning when the two men and a truck arrive at 9.30am to collect him.
So don’t see much more of the day, yawn.
Return to the commissions
Into Cheltenham to meet up with Lucy, director of Artshape and Andy who used to be a neighbour and is now on their Board. Artshape has been doing very well recently particularly with the help of the apprentice they have taken on and an intern. They have developed a new course for events leadership and are particularly hoping to encourage NEETS onto it. They are once again going to take part in Cheltenham Open Studios and are hoping to make quite an event out of it. I volunteer to take out an ad in the COS Guide - it helps the two organisations as I have the honour of being Patron of both.
Its the Spring Equinox and many children across the country will have been out in darkened glasses looking at the solar eclipse.
I always feel a surge of energy as Spring rushes in so I treat myself to a day of starting new paintings. The light is especially good now that the days are lengthening and when sunny, my studio becomes rather more illuminated.
Good weather and light continues though temperatures are still quite chilly unless you are in the direct sunshine.
I should have gone to the installation of the new High Sheriff at Gloucester Cathedral but the new painting is at such a crucial part I daren’t break that fragile creative thread.
Had lovely e mail from Nick (Park) “… I saw some photos you sent of your Shaun the Sheep. Absolutely beautiful and wonderful I must say. I absolutely Loooooove it. Than you so much, it will be such a big highlight of the trail and so visually stunning and funny too – with lots of great puns worked in cleverly and artistically. I love your style, and can’t wait to see it in situ. It works so well….”
Also hear from Lucy the PR from the Wallace and Gromit charity for children’s hospital and hospices and now know that my ‘Literary Lamb’ is to be positioned at Temple Bar the pedestrian area of Paternoster Square between the Stock Exchange and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Making good progress in the studio.
Invitation from Bishop Martin of Tewkesbury to the Cathedral later this week to hear a ‘very important announcement’ Methinks it might be the new Bishop of Gloucester - will it be a woman?
Busy in Studio.
Over to Gloucester for special historic service to Welcome the Bishop-Designate
the Venerable Rachel Treweek who will become the first woman Bishop of Gloucester and the first diocesan woman bishop in the Church of England. She seems very nice and speaks with great confidence she has a lovely face and warm handshake. On the way in we meet John Hazelwood and are joined by John Thurston too and Revd Ian Calder who came to sit in front of us.
There’s tea afterwards and we chat to Mark and Julia Hurrel and Stephen vc of the University.
Whole day in the studio.
We go over to Cirencester to Rory Young’s Open Day. Its wonderful, he works in what was a cow shed creating these glorious and beautiful almost life sized figures not just carved in stone, these sculptures are painted too, lovingly layer by layer. And now he’s anguishing over varnishing or not. I recommend just using a matte medium because he could paint over it if they ever need repair. Its fascinating too how much preparation he has done; not just maquettes but often full sized figures working out exactly how he wants them too look. There were at least four busts of St Amphibalus. I so admire his endless quest for perfection the dedication and passion with which he creates. I feel there will be very few sculptors who could work in this way now.
Richard’s cousin Susan rings to say that his Uncle John is in hospital and very frail, not eating. So we decide he should go up to Hull to visit him tomorrow.
I decide to start a beautiful big white canvas that R had stretched and primed for me some time ago but has been sitting on an easel patiently waiting. About ten to four he rings. I imagine he has just come out from visiting but I can tell from his voice that he’s quite emotional. He had arrived just in time to hold his Uncle John’s hand and stroke it gently for a couple of minutes before he drifted quietly out of this world. He was 98 and and been a farmer all his life and was still cutting back brambles and similar things in his garden last year. He did three crosswords every day, having been on his own since Aunty Elsie died. He got into the wonderful bohemian habit of spreading newspaper on the table to have his meals - strikes me he could have a good read at the same time which is perhaps why he was so very well informed. Richard has wonderful memories of long childhood holidays he spent with them both and is frequently telling me about them, particularly the smell of camomile as he cycled over the fields to take Uncle John and the other farm workers bottles of tea and homemade fruit cake for their ‘snap’.
He’s pleased with me when he gets back for making such good progress.
R’s gone to London today to collect paints etc. s I’m working very hard to achieve as much as possible on the new painting.
Working on a very big commission.