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May 2013 Wednesday 1.5.13 Sunny weather seems more consistent now as I’ve been able to sit out in the garden for my late breakfast each day and deal with correspondence. We’ve also been doing more work in the garden which is always such a pleasant and creative thing to do. Thursday 2.5.13 Richard’s been busy stretching the new canvas for the Toronto commission. Friday 3.5.13 He’s now given it three coats of gesso - just awaiting the frame and dear John has again worked the magic as he calls in to say it will be ready for Richard to collect in the morning. Saturday 4.5.13 Wednesday 1.5.13 Phone call from Peter at Arts International re the arts fair at Olympia, making arrangements for when they will come and collect the works etc. Richard collected the large frame from John that he has so beautifully made up for the Toronto commission. Sunday 5.5.13 The weather’s glorious and we think about Isaac who has gone to his first Beavers camp. The canvas and frame for the large Toronto commission are now fixed together and standing proudly on an easel in the upstairs studio, beckoning me to start. Monday 6.5.13 This amazingly hot weather is still with us so we take advantage of the good light to take photographs of the house and garden at the request of the gallery. Tuesday 7.5.13 It’s always a little daunting beginning a new work making marks on the beautifully stretched and pristine gessoed surface of the canvas but so exciting when the composition begins to emerge. Wednesday 8.5.13 An e mail from Peter at Arts International saying he might have a buyer for one of the paintings that wasn’t going to Olympia so could he please take that too. Shortly followed by a second e mail saying that he really likes another of the painting too and asking its price. Thursday 9.5.13 E mails can be confusing. Another entitled International Arts is from the International Art Consultants saying they have moved to a different address. Friday 10.5.13 Off to the Alderman Knight School for its grand opening of the new buildings. It looks so pretty as we drive up with a large willow work stag standing outside the outer wall, a project that apparently the children had worked on a few years ago with two artists who work in willow, which they have recently renovated. Its a lovely occasion and we are very pleased to see that Pantomime Horse still looks in perfect condition in the central courtyard. After an introduction by Clare Steel the wonderful head, we’re allowed to visit the different classrooms independently. So its first to the art room where several of the children are working on ceramic plaques of air balloons which will form part of a big mural on flight. Its a brilliant arrangement where many of the children seem to have one to one help. The school is beautiful. Next we call in at the IT room and are amazed at the projects the children have been working on, including some animation. Whilst there we meet a very nice man called Chris who is a parent and tells me that he used to know my father. All the staff are very enthusiastic and so obviously love working with these wonderful children. There are lovely playground areas especially around the classrooms for the infants, that feel as if they are built with a rubberised surface with bold use of colour - large orange circles within it for instance. We end up in the Reception class where there had been much excitement as three of the eggs they had been incubating hatched today and we can see that another is on its way!already cracked and shortly to appear. Then it back to the art room to visit the lunchtime friendship club where we are reunited with several of the boys who we first met when they came to visit my exhibition at Gloucester City Museum, with their then amazing teacher Di Keeling. I’m so touched as a group of them want to sing along karaoke style for me. We all assemble in the hall after lunch, with the children and staff being seated and guests standing around the edge. There are a couple of seats left on the end of a row and one boy called Jake beckons for me to go and sit next to him. He’s a lovely chatterbox who is passionate about trains. It is being opened by Olympic Gold medalist Katherine Grainger who is really good with the children, having spent the morning playing with them outside and is very inspirational in the way she speaks to them - and witty too. Saturday 11.5.13 Cheque arrives from Fosse Gallery. Also call from Panter & Hall wanting to know the price of a large painting for their catalogue. Continue to workout composition of the Toronto commission. Sunday 12.5.13 Nice e mail from Julia with the official invitation to the Sensory Gardens opening that I’m doing in June. and another from Karl Monday telling me about an auction. Composition gradually developing. Monday 13.5.13 The large canvas for the Toronto commission is now filling with the semi abstract shapes of papers heads and hands. Rather vague and ghostly at the moment but it will gradually grow stronger every day. Tuesday 14.5.13 ditto Start planning out the charity canvas for the Chelsea Arts Club auction - towards the Artist General Benevolent Fund and the Club’s student bursaries - entitled ‘Heroes and Villains’. Wednesday 15.5.13 E mail from Peter at Arts International asking if the sizes of the paintings I’m letting him have for Olympia including the frames as he’s having special bags made up! Thursday 16.5.13 Nice e mail from Sarah asking if I’ll donate a painting to a charity auction which I agree to as long as it sells for a proper price as otherwise I ought to give it one of the charities that I am connected to. People always expect a bargain at auctions, especially when they are for charities for some reason. Friday 17.5.13 Working on the Toronto commission during the day and evening but transfer to the Chelsea Arts Club charity canvas late night. Saturday 18.5.13 My sister Gill comes to supper with my Mum who she is going to take back with her to stay for a week or two. She seems a little more rested although says her sleep is still rather fitful as she worries about Howell her husband who has recently on the advise of his consultant and GP, gone into a nearby nursing home. None of the very expensive carers she had employed had been able to cope with the lack of sleep even though she was sharing the night time care with them, doing alternate nights. I fear she was on the verge of collapse herself. She visits him every day but feels great guilt as feels she has let him down him. Tragic, as the care he needs with his lack of mobility and Lewy Body disease was no longer feasible at home. Sunday 19.5.13 The commission continues to fill with figures and newspapers though still at an elementary stage. Monday 20.5.13 ditto Tuesday 21.5.13 ditto Wednesday 22.5.13 We visit the Linc centre at Cheltenham General hospital where its brilliant founder and Director Dr Gill Rouse takes us on a tour of the department. First we meet her wonderful team who all diligently beaver away organising fund raising events etc. each of the three young women runs on various half marathons etc. raising money for Linc and a very nice man called Tom who is in charge of the collection boxes (and had been a Samaritan for twenty years). She shows us around the consulting rooms it has a particularly beautiful linoleum floor with an abstract design based on blood cells. Then Gill takes up to the haematology department a fascinating series of laboratories each containing very sophisticated equipment to either store blood types or examine them for different types of leukaemia etc. The last machine we look at, purchased by Linc at £150,000 uses laser beams to show how blood cells will react to certain treatments which are contained in tiny phials which the young woman who is operating it tells us cost hundreds of pounds. Each of the chemist/researchers seems to be equally dedicated and work veryclosely with the consultants, doctors and nurses for every individual patient. Then Gill takes us to the ward where each of the patients is isolated in their own room Again the nurses work closely as a team. We’ve just missed the hospital shuttle bus so Richard drives Gill and I over to Gloucester to visit the centre there (it was opened last year by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, another of their Patrons, who lost his own father (a Gynaecologist) aged only 44 years old to Luekaemia. This is a centre for outpatients who come in for diagnoses, transfusions and consultations etc. Its a beautiful big room with smaller examination rooms leading off. Originally it had been several smaller rooms but both staff and patients seem very very pleased this new utilisation and design of the space. Gill points out smaller extra things that Linc has purchases such as the barometric chair and a refrigerator for keeping lunch packs in for people who are there for the greater part of the day. Again its a terrific achievement to have raised so much money to facilitate all this. One of the concerts Gill organised was given by Jose Carreras who had suffered from leukaemia himself. He told her that when he saw how some of the young children receiving treatment did not let it deter them from racing round the ward and playing in the way that children do He realised that if they could do it He should not give up. Treatment for Leukaemia can be very gruelling often with spells of in isolation for six weeks or so. Thursday 23.5.13 We go into the University just after 1 to discuss an award I am hoping to give. We also meet Angus the new head of Fine art who seems to very on the money and a great enthusiast. A phone call from Margaret Lucas who says she has been following my work ever since her three children went to the Abbey School, (a delightful small choir school in Tewkesbury founded by Miles Amhurst) overlapping with Nathan. She tells me she's phoning anyone she can think of who may not have heard the news that Miles Amhurst, who had also been the headmaster, has sadly died. He had been wheel chair bound in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimers and was in his eighties. She and I reminisce about what a wonderful a achievement this delightful little school was with its tiny classes. Nathan loved it as did her three children. Their morning assemblies were held in Tewkesbury Abbey which seemed such a magnificent environment in which to start every day. Friday 24.5.13 Up till 5am finishing off paintings to be collected today. When I cross over to the studio just after midday Peter and Mario have already arrived from London and are packing the works into their large protective silver bags. We have a very nice light lunch entertained by their stories of artists and collectors. Shortly after Richard drives to Tewkesbury Abbey for Miles' well attended splended funeral with as one would expect the most exquisite choral music. Saturday 25.5.13 Henrietta, Kev, Isaac and Samuel arrive at about 6; the little boys full of energy play ping pong and many other chasing games around the house and garden. Lovely supper all together. Sunday 26.5.13 Its a gloriously sunny day for our trip to Giffords circus this year in Pittville Park. A magical show based on the classical arts, which we all really enjoy. Then down to the boating lake where Richard and Kev row up to and around the Island with Samuel whilst Henrietta and I watch Isaac in a pedalo for 15 minutes or so. We then walk alongside the lake and over the bridge up to a landing stage where the row boat pulls in and Samuel gets out giving his life jacket to isaac who gets in.We then return to the Pedalos where Samuel in another like Jacket enjoys his time pedalling the small bright yellow boat around the children's lake. The others return at about the same time so its home for tea. Monday 27.5.13 Henrietta and Kev are going to stay at Cowley Manor for the night to celebrate their anniversarywhilst we look after the boys. They leave at lunchtime. The boys had alreadycreated paintings on my easels upstairs on Saturday - Isaac a small abstract canvas and Samuel a very innovative work on the back of a canvas and stretcher! Isaac also paints the handle of an easel! But today when I ask what they would like to make Isaac says soft toys, but suggests to a better standard than the last ones we made which I had to finish off very quickly on our return from Tiree. He wants an Angry Bomb Bird. Isaac actually sews round the circular edge of the black felt on my sewing machine (with a little help from me) and does manage to keep the foot pedal at a nice even and slow pace. They have great fun with the bag of filler and start stuffing their T shirts throwing it up like clouds or putting it around their faces like Father Christmas beards. They also have fun sitting on top of the horse in my sculpture studio. Then they make pirate ships out of large cardboard boxes in which they sit. I’m amazed at how well the paper sail we make on a long cardboard tube stands up to all the whizzing around and battles it seems to partake in. Richard makes rock cakes with them which disappear very quickly once cooked. we play telling the time games and they build cities out of the silver cosmetic box packaging I save for the purpose. Its rather late when we come to read the bedtime stories but both boys go off to sleep very nicely.... Tuesday 28.5.13 ...though Samuel wakes at 6.30 but Isaac sleeps till well after 9. I love the way they greet Henrietta and Kev on their return with such love Isaac jumping into Henrietta’s arms crying "Mama" and Samuel into Kev’s. They are off for their half term holiday in Devon shortly after so am back on the Toronto commission by late afternoon. Wednesday 29.5.13 Suddenly realise I haven’t written the answers to the in studio interview for SoGlos an online magazine. This will be the first of a series they are doing and will tie up very neatly with Cheltenham Open Studios too. Thursday 30.5.13 Spend time with Richard co ordinating the images with the SoGlos interview then more to the commission. plus some work on a miniature that is wanted for next week. Friday 31.5.13 Surprise call from the fabulous Robert Fripp inviting us to lunch tomorrow as he says he and Toyah are now both back in the country. I tell him that we had watched them on our laptop in ITV’s “Mr and Mrs” after Karl, one of my collector friends had told me how good they were in it. They made a wonderful double act. Followed shorty by a call from Miranda at the Brian Sinfield Gallery saying that one of my dear collectors, Ren, had just been in and bought the two small circular paintings. Such a lovely man.