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 OCTOBER 2022 Saturday 1.10.22 Doing a little more work to the commission for Audry which we are hoping to deliver to her next week, as well as packing paints and my case for travelling up to London tomorrow. Sunday 2.19.22 We set out about 2 packed to the gunwales. It’s a nice bright sunny afternoon and it’s a good journey up, arriving at the flat just before 7pm. The gate to the garden of the flat is already open - Henrietta and Samuel are sitting on our verandah ready to greet us. It’s such a joy to see them; we’re here to celebrate Henrietta’s birthday. Kev appears shortly after and they help us carry in the luggage, paintings and big bag of presents for Henrietta which Samuel carries next door where we join them and Isaac for a celebration meal that Kev and Richard collect from the Royal Nepalese restaurant where they often eat. On learning it’s Henrietta’s birthday they send a bottle of wine. It’s a glorious evening with lots of laughter and catching up. Monday 3.10.22 I spend more time on Audry’s painting and do a little more to the bottom of the frame of All In The Game. Whilst Richard spent his time doing odd jobs to the flat like new sealant round the bath, filling some dents in wall corners in the bay window and repainting the wooden step from the French windows to the decking of the verandah. We have dinner with Henrietta, Kev and the boys. Tuesday 4.10.22 Henrietta pops in to see us before she goes to meet Gill for lunch in Stevenage and we set off with the little paintings to Panter & Hall. It’s a nice bright day again though driving along the Embankment takes a long time as there is a 20mph speed limit. We arrive in Pall Mall at 2 and greeted by Tiffany (Panter) who makes tea and we discuss their latest exhibition just hung. We had seen photographs of the artist at work on the BBC website the day after the Queen’s funeral where he had been painting the procession from a vantage point overlooking Horse Guards. One paintings looks out from a window at Windsor Castle. He captures most of it in situ then adds more in the studio. Tiffany and Beth look at the little paintings before we take them in their box on foot to their Cecil Court gallery which we hadn’t visited before. It’s charming being smaller and less formal than the pillared elegance of the arched windowed palatial exhibition space in Pall Mall. We are greeted by Theo who studied at the Courtauld Institute he shows us round the two galleries each also having a lower floor and storerooms.It is divided into older period works in the black walled gallery and contemporary in the white walled gallery. There seems to be a lot of tourists visiting Cecil Court as apart from its historic connections, J K Rowling is thought to have based her Diagonal Alley in her Harry Potter books on it! Wednesday 5.10.22 Today we drive to Croyden to visit Audrey to deliver her commission. Such a sweet and cultured lady who has been collecting the paintings for many years. We take the painting in then go for lunch at The Fox where she has been dining over many years. We all had kedgeree fishcakes with poached egg. Afterwards a hot drink with a mini pudding which Audrey and I went for, having an Eton mess with our beverage and they looked almost as large as Richard’s full scale Eton mess. Back in her 1930s house which she has lived in for fifty nine years and andshe shared with her late husband Malcolm and late daughter Alison (for whom I painted a memorial triptych which she has almost like a shrine, surrounded by other personal momentoes. We discover that Audry also painted - there’s a rather beautiful painting of her mother with Audry as a little child and when she takes us upstairs to see the room she calls her studio, there are two other charming paintings based in the Second World War when she was a child, one of her mother peeling an orange which would have been very rare then with four small children peering at it. Another of American soldiers followed by small children to who they were giving chocolates. Richard notices on the side that there are six of my smaller paintings that she hasn’t been able to put up so he takes them downstairs to add to the wall on which he has hung the commission, making a total of thirteen of my paintings. We are impressed to see how many books she has and that she is currently reading Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend for her book group. She also loves to go to the ballet and opera Thursday 6.10.22 We drive to Ramsgate and its bright and sunny. Bea gets very excited when she hears us at the door. Nathan shows us some of the imagery he’s created for a project he’s working on, which are fascinating, in his beautiful studio that has a balcony overlooking the sea. We go out for a walk along the sea front, through the town then to the harbour where we find a very nice cafe cum bookshop under the arches and we are able to sit outside for our butterbean and tomato soup with sourdough bread and sweet potato salad. Nathan has a red wine, I a cup of tea and Richard a jug of water. It’s such a beautiful view seeing all those boats in front of us along the harbour wall and Richard thinks he spots a seagull floating on a thermal wave - it turns out to be a kite, though Nathan says it has caught a lot of people out. The sky is beautifully blue and cloudless. Whilst we’re chatting and eating Bea manages to make friends with a woman on another table and then a man at the other side. We then stroll back, past the house that Coleridge stayed at several times. Nathan lights a fire in the grate when we get back to his abode which Bea is very interested in. We sit and chat until it becomes dusk when we set sail back to the flat. Friday 7.10.22 Henrietta pops in and invites us round for lunch - carrot and lentil soup, olive bread and the last of the apple cake Richard had made for her birthday. It has been so lovely being here for almost a week and getting to see them most days. We drive into London to the Park Plaza, Vauxhall, to meet Lee and Jim who flew in this morning but have been out doing Museums during the day. We have drinks in the bar until the restaurant opens at 6pm. It’s great catching up and Lee shows me on her ‘phone photographs of my paintings she has recently seen in clients’ homes, one of which she has sold and the other, a corrugated race meeting, was I think sold by Theo Waddington either at the Palm Beach art fair or at his Boca Raton gallery where I had an exhibition. Jim was a top New York lawyer who used to represent Jim Henson and hence the Muppets (“I did Kermit’s will in case he croaked”). He’s such an amiable witty man and Lee is sharp as ever. She represented my work in New York, exhibiting there etc for many years. The restaurant is good - Lee and I had a dish called Black Cod which had been recommended and was extremely good as was my exotic side salad and fruit platter afterwards. We drive back home to Cheltenham arriving in Bishops Cleeve about midnight. Saturday 8.10.22 Working on a couple of small pieces still in progress in the studio. Also look in the studio over the road which we had turned into a home for the Ukrainians who have gone home to Kiev, deciding on whether to turn it back into studio ready for my charity Christmas event. Sunday 9.10.22 E mail from Professor Brian Maidement. Interestingly he’s become involved with the Friends of the Lytham Art Collection which is apparantely housed in the basement of the town hall and has many significant paintings including a huge Fuseli. Maxine has joined a vigorous portrait painting group. They have a new dog that they take to walk the sand dunes each day - it all sounds rather blissful. Monday 10.10.22 Nice and long call with Mark from Trinity House. Tuesday 11.10.22 We walk down to the church in bright sunshine at 12.45 to attend the funeral of dear Eddie Boulton, a lovely man born locally in Winchcombe, who lived and practiced as a builder here in Bishops Cleeve all his life. Very clever, he could often work out possibilities that architects couldn’t see. We owe him much as he did a great deal of building work for us over a period of nearly thirty years. Even dismantling a gable end wall that he had just built to our design when I decided that its circular window would jar with the pattern of the brickwork ( it was Eddie who had spotted the large window in a church that was being dismantled and knew that it would be what we were looking for). So he took down about six feet of wall to then replace it with a new design of red and black bricks that we felt was compatible with the symmetry of the large circular window. At that stage he was working on the house solidly for three years with just one assistant, either Adrian his son (before he moved to Thailand) or sometimes his cousin Les. He also worked on my studio house opposite, knocking down wall and re-plastering etc to give me more continuous space especialy when I was working on GloCorama for Gloucestershire College which measures 2 x 4.5 metres. An attractive lean man, he was a talented and keen ballroom dancer who loved to go the Edinburgh tattoo each year. The service was a delightful tribute to him where Adrian actually used what I had written about Eddie especially the part about him organising and hanging my crucifixion or Rood painting above the chancel arch which he was standing underneath as he spoke. Eddie had no fear of heights - he was also the man who placed the new weathercock on top of the flagpole on top of the tower. May he rest in eternal peace or as his grandchildren’s poem said, may he continue to dance in heaven. Later we drive over to Cirencester to Rory’s house. Mark and Julia are already there with Mark’s brother Simon and sister in law Louise. Rory’s just changing as he’d been to pilates. When he comes back down, he cuts the most dashing image in a magnificent multi-coloured harlequin patchwork waistcoat that was made by a friend of his. It’s so good to see him, this talented and dedicated sculptor whose work adorns many cathedrals and churches including St Albans where he carved six life-sized martyrs for niches in the screen that had been empty since the sixteenth century and which took him several years to complete. We had the privilege of seeing them in progress. Before we go the restaurant Rory asks my advice on which jacket to wear - should it be the black velvet? which I agree with. He also points out the piles of papers, drawings and photographs that are going to the archives in Gloucester. He’s obviously being very organised in making arrangements like this and trying to see everyone whilst he still can. All his days seem to be packed but he’s also keeping very fit swimming, pilates etc. It’s such an enjoyable dinner and very interesting to find that when Mark tells us that Louise did her PhD in nineteenth century wood engraving so am able to tell them that Richard is a wood engraver. She also tells me that she ran a gallery in Taunton for five years. It’s also touching that she has bought Rory’s beautiful sculpture of a head wearing a surgical mask and cap, the money from this purchase will be going to the NHS. The food’s good - I have risotto salmoni and R a risotto with clams and salmon. All in all a very special and meaningful evening. Rory says he’s pleased to hear that I’m going to be using the old panelled triptych that he gave me some years ago and wondered if I know yet what I’m going to paint on it. No! Wednesday 12.10.22 Delighted to see when I look at my bank statement, that I have received payment from Trinity House for two more recent sales, Anubis & the Bride, a painting I’d worked on over many years in mixed media and the smaller painting, The Party which unlike Anubis which had a flat frame on which I had painted some of the elements from the painting in a linear way, had a very deep curved frame that in area would have been at least twice as big as the painting within it and which continued and became part of the interior view. Thursday 13.10.22 Another invitation from Lily Blueman at the University of Hartpury inviting me to Maismore Riding for the Disabled 50th celebration with the Princess Royal. The University and Harpury College have been hosting them for the past fifteen years. Replying, I tell her I have a special interest in youngsters with disabilities as I have been Patron of the National Star for thirty years and that I also have a special relationship with Alderman Knight School - they own one of my painted horses Pantomime Horse who stands n their central courtyard. We usually get invited to join the children for their Christmas dinner, which I always find incredibly moving as they are so delightful and when they sing their Christmas songs the magic of Christmas for children is very apparent. So I’m sure the RDA anniversary will be equally moving. Friday 14.10.22 Working on the small charity postcard-size painting for the RWA’s Secret Postcard Auction. It’s hard to always know what to paint but decide on a similar piece to that I donated to the Chelsea Arts Club earlier in the year as that did so well, selling for £3,160, the highest price realised in that auction Saturday 15.10.22 Continuing on the little painting for the RWA Sunday 16.10.22 Lovely long ‘phone call from Andy and Sue Go down to the surgery for my fourth Covid vaccination. Monday 17.10.22 Richard sends off the little painting to the RWA in Bristol via Special next day delivery. I’m now working on the small paintings for my Mulled Wine, Mince Pies and Miniatures Christmas charity event which this year will be on the first weekend of December, the 3rd and 4th. Tuesday 18.10.22 Lovely letter from Audry Guille thanking us for visiting and taking her to lunch and for the planted lilies which she says are smelling glorious. She says her sister and brother in law visited and how they particularly loved her new painting of all the endangered animals. Wednesday 19.10.22 The politics of this country have become rather like a Shakespearian farce or more reminiscent of what happens in countries like Italy or Greece. Having sacked her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng who with her Trussonomics was going to be the magic remedy for growth particularly by benefitting the already better off, removing the cap on bankers’ bonuses and reducing the tax on the super high earners etc, without consulting the finacial bodies that advise. The pound dropped dramatically and the stock markets. In its struggle to curb inflation the Bank of England raised interest rates meaning that mortgage payers suddenly found their monthly mortgage repayments increasing by vast amounts.The threat of strikes seemed to increase. Rather than making the forecast better it reversed the situation and although the world is struggling with huge fuel price increases due to Putin’s wicked war, we are faring far worse for what was an affluent country. Jeremy Hunt was appointed the new Chancellor and almost immediately trashed the whole of the mini Budget. The pound and the markets improved a little. But the drama continued with Suella Braverman the right wing home secretary who feircly wanted to cut immigration and fly migrants to Rwanda, resigned over using her personal e mail to inform an advisor after she’s had a big row with Prime Minister Truss. But in her letter of resignation she inferred that if you’ve made a mistake you should resign…… Thursday 20.10.22 …..Today Liz Truss has been forced to do so by fellow members of her party. As far as I can see the Conservative Party have in recent years, taking us out of Europe and the beneficial trade deals therein, made the UK drop in the world’s respect. The NHS the jewel in our crown is struggling also because the Conservatives cut funding for medical training places by a huge amount. I know that it is exceedingly difficult to manage in a world that is finding it hard particularly having had to deal with Covid and now Putin’s evil war plus the plight of the planet which is telling us each year via flood, fire, drought and the starvation that it all brings about. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse! Friday 21.10.22 Penny Mordant has thrown her hat in the ring though there is a lot of discontent among other parties who are all urging for a general election but doubtful one could take place before Christmas, March or April have been suggested. Some of the world now sees us as a banana republic! Went to Cheltenham Races as the guests of Martin St Quentin, chair of the Jockey Club and Ian Renton the Managing Director. As we were entering the reception area for the Royal Box our dear friend Edward Gillespie followed us in. He’s there as the retiring chairman of the Pony Racing Authority who have two races just before the main race card. It’s so good to see him. He takes us up in the lift where we’re greeted by Martin St Quentin then someone says ‘hello’ and it’s Laurie Bell, CEO of the Cheltenham Trust and her husband; we chat and she asks if Ive been into the Wilson recently and what my reactions have been and I said I liked the way it was embracing the community and how moving it had been to see work by the National Star College students who had taken part in their fashion exhibition were they had exhibited work they created in denim including clothes which after they had modelled them were built into a large tower like a waterfall in the Charles Irving Gallery. I though it would also be good for Cheltenham Open Studios to be able to have their launches there again. We then meet Colin and Rowena Hay; Colin’s on the County Council and Rowena is the leader of Cheltenham Borough Council. Whilst we are chatting to them we see Paul and Viv Styles enter; Paul is chair of the trustees of the National Star College and Viv helps many different charities through their own trust, the Primrose Foundation. They had recently been to Oxford to listen to organ recitals. Whilst there they had seen some beautiful carving in stone by Grinling Gibbons (at the top of pillars) Grinling is more usually Known for his exquisite wood carving he did a lot of the original carving of choir screens in St Paul's in the early 1700s.We were also joined Lynnette the lovely new CEO at the National Star and her entertaining husband Carl. Sunday 23.10.22 ‘Phone call from Nathan on his way to the airport to travel to Bulgaria where he’ll be working for the next ten days. Sue and Andy come to tea bearing a a glorious bunch of blooms including the first double lilies I’ve seen and a jar of Sue’s marmalade. Richard in return presents them with a jar of his damson jam that he made with our own damsons. I give Sue a copy of Hazel’s wonderful book ‘Rolinda - painted out of history’ that was published last year and is a fascinating read covering the history of the Sharples family examples of their work can be seen in Bristol Art Gallery & Museum Ellen Sharples founded the Royal west of England Academy. It’s so good to see Sue and Andy as although we’ve spoken on the ‘phone and exchanged e mails we haven’t met up since my Christmas Open Studio last year. They are always so interesting and have wonderful stories, often historical. Andy grew up on a wartime service boat that his father converted into a house boat and Sue spent part of her early life in Germany where her father was stationed in the RAF. and told us a wonderful story about how she learned German from the family who let a house in their garden to them and their daughter would sometimes look after Sue and taught her the language so that when her mother took her shopping and was struggling to get the right words Sue piped up and spoke in German much to her mother’s amazement. When her mother brought it up with the German family they said "Yah Suzie speak German good." As we chat it gets darker and Andy suggests we light some of the candles we have out rather than switch on the electric lights and it does give a lovely warm glow which adds to the atmosphere. Andy tells us that if you take a nightlight and place it on a saucer and put a terracotta flower pot over it, it works well as a little heater. Monday 24.10.22 Working in the studio on the painting I started last week, as well as continuing on the miniatures. I now have eight though all need a little finishing off. At 2 o’clock the Conservatives announced that Rishi Sunak is our new Prime Minister having been the only one of the three nominees to reach over a hundred endorsements. Great relief that Boris didn’t as we really would have been pedalling backwards but he had tried to get both Rishi and Penny Mordant the other contender to stand down with the promise of a good job if he was Prime Minister which sounds rather desperate especially as Rishi had resigned probably hastening Boris’s fall. Tuesday 25.10.22 E mail from Leonora Simpson asking if we can do a chat on Zoom at some point re the study she’s doing on female artists and their relationship with home and domestic space. Wednesday 26.10.22 Continue on the miniatures. Thursday 27.10.22 Richard’s sitting on the bed with the laptop when I come in from the bathroom as he wants to show me image of a new Oxford University Press (not published until next year) book on their series on Time. It has another of my paintings on its cover, a fairly recent work that was in my 2020 exhibition at Trinity House, called Nightwalkers. A box-like construction that showed figures in a narrow street in a metropolis with light emanating out of windows. Whilst we’re looking at this an e mail arrives from the Chelsea Arts Club to say they have chosen my painting The Party as one of their Christmas card this year. Friday 28.10.22 Start a new larger square miniature although get on quite well with it, I’m very aware I still have a lot more to do, this being number nine. Saturday 29.10.22 Now working on my tenth miniature plus a slightly larger piece, whilst Richard’s cutting back the very prolific roses that have woven and entwined themselves across one of the studio windows which he’s then hoping to paint if the rain holds off… Sunday 30.10.22 …he manages to paint the studio front door even though out of the sunshine comes a sudden rainstorm. At first he was protected by the little porch but as the wind changed direction he had to open the door inwards to complete its new colour. Monday 31.10.22 I start the day with a determination to begin two new miniatures - small this time, the little round boards with circular frames that Richard made for me earlier in the year. Quite a few of the other nine were made by John which he gave to us as a present last Christmas in a beautiful bag and January. Such a good and kind man. Richard calls me outside to see the double rainbow that appeared after he had finished painting the two front windows of the studio; a beautiful apparition on Halloween the last day of the month.
MAY